I believe that God speaks to me personally, specifically, and directly through the Scriptures. Let me share with you the first time that I heard His voice. I was ill and very afraid that I would die. My fear was so encompassing that it colored my whole world death-gray. One evening I attended Bible study. The leader gave me a Scripture to look up in the sixth chapter of Judges. I located the verse and as I was waiting to share it, the particular affliction that was mine overwhelmed me. Frantically I looked around for an easy exit but I was hemmed in by many rows of chairs and bodies. Desperately, I cried out to God. At that precise moment I glanced down at my open Bible. And out from the printed page, through the eyes of my spirit, and into the depths of my soul thundered the voice of God -- "Peace be unto you, fear not, you shall not die". From that moment on, reading my Bible became for me a daily, vital, living, breathing encounter and conversation with God. I had talked to God for a long time and now I had discovered how God talks to me.
Since that night God has continued to speak to me through the Word, giving me specific orders, telling me about future events, answering my questions, warning me about wrong attitudes, pronouncing me sometimes blessed and sometimes guilty of sin, informing me about what pleases Him, teaching me about Himself and His Kingdom, and sharing with me who He is and who I am.
I also believe that I can know the will of God for me in every situation that arises in my life; that He will tell me what He wants me to do. Let me share with you, how it works for me.
1. I expect God to speak to me right where I am reading in my daily Bible study. Would God tell me I must be obedient and then leave me guessing about what He wants me to do? Psalm 119: 105 states: "Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". So I go to God's word with a purpose. The Bible is God's letter to me and I read and re-read it to see what He is saying to me personally. I approach the Scriptures with my spiritual eyes and ears open. I try to put aside all preconceived ideas so that I am teachable. I ask the Holy Spirit to be my guide and interpreter and to lead me into all Truth.
2. When God speaks I underline it in my Bible. If it is an answer to a specific question I act on it, bringing my will in line. If He says harsh things, pointing out sin in my life, I admit it, search out its depths, and ask for forgiveness. If I do not understand what God is saying or it is a promise for some future date I keep reviewing it -- hide it in my heart. Sooner or later (sometimes years later) it will be the Scripture for the moment and the Holy Spirit will call it to my mind and I will understand and know what to do. "I have hid His Word in my heart that I might not sin against Him."
3. How do I know when He is talking to me? Earlier in this article I described it this way -- out from the printed page, through the eyes of my spirit, and into the depths of my soul, thundered the voice of God.
Other descriptive phrases are:
The words warmed or burned my heart My spirit leaped within me.
The Scriptures stood out in capital letters.
My eyes and mind were glued to the verse and I couldn't go on.
4. The Scripture God gives to me is not usually in context. The Holy Spirit interprets its meaning to me. I used to try to interpret it myself when I couldn't understand what it meant. I wasted a lot of energy that way. Sometimes my thoughts ran wild and I was guilty of vain imaginings and spiritual vanity. And sometimes I tried to bring the words to pass. The secret is to wait on the Lord, hide His Word in my heart, knowing that I will recognize the moment of fulfillment and will understand at that time. Interpreting and trying to bring it about are futility and frustration, and most serious of all -- rebellion.
5. I do not claim the promises and privileges of the Bible until God tells me that they belong to me. When I am ready in knowledge and have fulfilled the conditions the Holy Spirit informs me that the Scripture verse is now true of me. (I cannot relate to the present teaching in many Christian groups that when you are saved all promises and privileges belong to you. This, I believe is violence against the Kingdom, trying to take it by force. Matthew 11: 12)
6. When God is silent I search out the reason. If He has withdrawn from me the following things may be wrong; I have been disobedient, unbelieving, or have failed to act on something He told me to do. I may also be neglecting the study of His Word. It is especially important for me to read my Bible the first thing in the morning, to put God first in my life.
I believe that God has a plan for my life; He wants to answer my questions, direct my steps, help me make decisions, tell me about Himself and His Kingdom, and my future. He has written down the answers, He has put them in my hands, He has given me the Holy Spirit to explain and teach me what I need to know. So you see, if I am out of step with God, I have no excuse.