Jimmy Evans - How to Hear God Speak to You
The proof of Jesus being alive is he interacts with us. This is not a dead religion, of serving a statue or a deity that is somewhere out there but does not interact with us. Jesus interacts with us, so the proof that he's alive is that interaction, especially the fact that he speaks, but the another level of the proof of hearing God is the proof of life, is it proves our relationship with him. See, when we have a relationship with Jesus, Jesus says in John 10, "My sheep, hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. Neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand".
"My sheep, hear my voice" - if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, if you're a Christian, you should be hearing the voice of God. And if you're not hearing the voice of God, I want that to be of concern to you, ok? And I'm going to talk to you about how to hear God here in just a minute, but Jesus said, "My sheep, hear my voice". When I got saved, the day I got saved, at 19, you know, I'd been very rebellious and very immoral and just a bad person, but 5 minutes after I got saved, I heard the Lord say to me, "Never see your friends again". And you say, "Well, how did you hear that"? I didn't hear it with these ears. I heard it inside of my heart, but it was clear. The Lord was saying to me, "Never see your friends again".
And two weeks later after I'd gotten saved, Karen and I got married a week after I got saved, and so a week later after we had gotten married, the Lord called me into the ministry. And I was sitting in the backyard. And I don't know how to describe it, but I saw myself preaching. I saw myself from the back preaching to a multitude of people. Again, God was speaking to me in another way. But God unmistakably called me into the ministry, and it changed my life forever.
And so this was in the first two weeks of being a Christian and never hearing a message about hearing God and never being trained in how to hear God. I began to get impressions. I began to sense and hear God speaking to me. That should be the way it is for all of us. Every single person who's a believer in Jesus Christ, we ought to be hearing God. But it's proof on another level, it proves that Jesus is alive: it proves that we have a relationship with him, but also hearing God is proof that Jesus is the Lord of our lives, is if we have made Jesus Lord of our lives, we need to be hearing him for the sake of him guiding us. Making Jesus Lord of your life is saying, "God, I'm not in control of my life anymore. You are. I'm giving you control of my life". In other words, "I'm not gonna be the king sitting on the throne of my heart. I'm asking you from now on to be the king sitting on the throne of the my heart". In other words, "And you're gonna tell me what to do".
Well, you have to hear God. Hebrews 6 says this: "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God". Now, the writer of Hebrews is talking about just the basic elementary principles of Christianity. The number one most basic elementary principle of Christianity is repentance from dead works. Well, what that means is the things that I did without consulting Jesus. A dead work is anything that I do out from under the Lordship of Christ, because he'll never bless it, because he didn't tell me to do it. It was done in rebellion. The second elementary principle of Christianity is faith toward God. "I renounce the things that I did on my own apart from Christ, and now I put my faith that God is going to lead me in my life. I have faith that God is going to speak to me in my life".
Now, I want to say this to you, and I want you to listen. One of the most important reasons that Jesus lives within our heart is that he guides us as our shepherd, he guides us in life. Did you know that because of God's voice in your life, you can make every decision right for the rest of your life? Even though you may have made some big mistakes earlier in your life (dead works, things that you did without consulting God) they seemed right, they felt right, but they weren't right, and the fruit of those things was bad. That's the way I was before I came to the Lord. But did you know when you ask God to lead you and guide you, he will? When you ask him to speak to you, he will? And did you know that every single thing that he says will work and succeed in your life? Everything he says to you will bear fruit in your life.
See, God has an eternal perspective. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. He knows what's going to happen for eternity. I don't know what's in another person's heart. He knows what's in every person's heart. He knows what's going to happen to the economy. He knows everything. And so when I'm asking him to guide me, he has the master plan, and he knows every move to make in my life. When I'm guiding me, I'm just using emotion or reason or fear or whatever it is that I would use to guide my life. And so, if Jesus is truly the Lord of my life, I'm going to stop and listen to him before I make a decision, and then I'll make that decision. So hearing God is proof that Jesus is alive, that we have a relationship with him, and that he's Lord of our lives.
Let me talk about how God speaks. So you say, well, "I want to have, Jimmy, a relationship with God, and I want to hear God". Well, good. Well, let me tell you how Jesus speaks, because he speaks to us in different ways. The first way that God speaks to us is through the Bible, obviously, is, every time you're reading the Bible, you're reading the Word of God, and God is saying something to you on some level. Now, when the Bible uses the word "Word", in other words, the Word of God. There are two words for the word "Word", and one of them is "Logos". That means the written Word of God. It just means the Bible. You pick it up and you're reading what is universally true for every person, ok? The other word is "Rhema", Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God", that word there is Rhema and it means the living voice of God.
One of the most important things that we do in reading the Bible is every time you're reading the Bible, you're giving God an opportunity to speak to you, and he is. But many times when you read the Bible, you'll be reading along and a verse will just jump out at you. A verse will just kind of explode off the page and the Holy Spirit will begin to say something powerful in your life through that verse or that passage. That's called Rhema. That's called the living voice of God. The Logos is just, I'm reading the Bible, and that's the Logos. But the Rhema is something exploded off the page and gave me faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Rhema of God. This Rhema word that comes into my heart, this Rhema word that jumps off the pages of the Bible, and God uses that to direct me in my life.
The second way that God speaks to us is his still small voice inside of our hearts. This is 1 kings 19. This is speaking about Elijah and his encounter with God. "Then he said, 'go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord'. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire, a still small voice". And that's how God spoke to Elijah. A lot of people say, "Well, you know, how does God speak"? He speaks in a still small voice inside of our heart.
When God is speaking to you, it's not here now, he's in here. And you have spiritual ears. When you're born again, you have spiritual eyes and you have spiritual ears, and he's living inside there. And you say, well, why doesn't he speak louder than he speaks? Well, for several reasons, one is because he doesn't want to intimidate us. God doesn't bark. One of the most important things you need to know about the voice of God is it's the most loving voice you'll ever hear. God's voice is always loving. Even when God is warning us, his is the sweetest, most tender voice you will ever hear in your life, and that's how you know you're hearing from God.
If you're hearing from the devil, he'll bring fear and condemnation and all of those kinds of things, but God doesn't use fear, God doesn't use condemnation. Because we're forgiven and we're friends with God because of the blood of Jesus. But the other reason that God doesn't talk loudly is because he's inside of our voice. When you're close to someone, volume is a liability. My little granddaughter Kate crawled up on my lap one day, and she said, "Pappy, I want to say something to you and I want to tell you a secret", and I said "Ok", and so she got up right in my ear. She put her lips, like, right on my ear, and she started talking.
Well, first of all, I was laughing because it was tickling my ear. I didn't hear a word she said because she was right there talking, and when you're right there, you have to be so quiet in what you say for a person to be able to hear you. Well, Jesus isn't right here. He's in here. He speaks your language. When you're quiet and you're asking God to speak to you, he'll speak your language. In an unmistakable way, you'll hear inside of your heart when you listen, this voice speaking to you. And you would say, "Well, Jimmy, how do I know it's not the devil? How do I know it's not me just telling me what I want to hear"?
Well, let me tell you how you know. Everything that God says always agrees with scripture. It always does. God will never tell you to do something that is sinful. So always when you believe that you're hearing something from God, always measure it against scripture. It's always consistent with the character of God. God's a loving, generous, good God. God's not going to tell you to be immoral. God is not going to tell you to hate somebody or hurt somebody. God's not going to tell you to rob a bank and do things like that. He's not going to tell you those things. So, God's voice is always consistent, and it's consistent with his character, but also it works.
When you're cultivating a listening ear to the Lord and you believe that God is speaking to you, again, always scriptural, always loving, never condemning, never uses fear or anything like that, but the most wonderful thing about it is it works. And you believe the Lord is telling you to do this or go here or take this job or, you know, whatever it is that he's saying to you, as you step out and do that thing, you'll see that it works. Now, if it didn't work, you have to go back and question, did I not hear God? You know, was there some flaw in the process of me hearing God? But more times than not, when you're hearing that voice and you step out, you'll find out it was God and it will work in your life.
Another way that God speaks to us is peace. Now, by the way, in hearing God, God can also use dreams and visions. Acts 2 says, "When the Holy Spirit comes, young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams". Even upon my maidservants, God says he'll do this. And a vision is just, I'm seeing something in my heart. God is giving me the ability in my heart to see something beyond the natural realm. Well, God uses those things in our lives, and we need to ask God to use those things however he wants to communicate, that he does... Let me tell you why God uses dreams. Because God can bypass your conscious mind. Sometimes your conscious mind will keep you from hearing something from God. I find out that sometimes when I'm just on the verge of waking up that God will speak something to me because he can bypass my natural mind, because my natural mind sometimes blocks what God is trying to say.
Number 3 way that God speaks to us is peace. Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are called in one body: and be thankful". Let the peace of God rule your heart. That word rule is the word brabeuo, and it means to umpire. The peace of God, like balls and strikes or safe or out, or something like that, the peace of God umpiring the decision of our lives. Remember when Jesus saw his disciples after he was resurrected, the first thing he said was "Peace to you". John 14, Jesus said, "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid".
This is a profound thing. Peace is a profound thing. And you can feel it. The peace of God is not something that's intangible or just supernatural and spiritual. It is a tangible thing that you can feel God's peace. And the Bible says, "Let the peace of God rule in your lives". And Jesus said, "I'm going to send the Holy Spirit to teach you everything". Peace, he's going to bring with him when he comes. And many times when you're making a decision and you're asking the Lord to guide you...
See, if the Bible says don't do something, don't do it. If the Bible says do something, do it. I mean, it's very clear. But there are many things the Bible just doesn't say anything about. The Bible doesn't tell us which car to buy. The Bible doesn't tell us which house to buy. It tells us principles of how to handle our finances. The Bible doesn't tell us which major to take in school or which job to take or who to marry. It tells us to marry a Christian, but it doesn't say marry Bob or marry Teresa. You know, it just gives you principles. But who do you marry? What job do you take? What major do you choose? And I'm saying as you're consulting God, as you're asking God to guide you in life, his peace is profound.
Hundreds of times as Karen and I have made decisions, sometimes everything looks right, but you just don't have peace about it. In the natural, you're looking at it, everything looks right, but something inside of you is telling you, "Don't do it". And you hear someone say, "I just didn't have peace about it". That's a very important statement. Because God's telling, the lack of peace is God speaking to you. But sometimes things cannot look so right. Sometimes things can kind of look, on the outside, they're just, you know, they're blurry and you don't see things clearly, but you have a profound sense of peace. I've made hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of decisions in my life based on peace, and I've never made a wrong decision based on peace. The only times that I have made wrong decisions is when I did something and I ignored the lack of peace that I have.
Karen's really good at this. And we were making a decision last year, and it was something that made sense to me, and I said to Karen, "I'm good with that". You know, we were doing this and this, and Karen said, "I don't feel peace about that, Jimmy. I just don't feel peace", and I said, "Well", because we don't bully each other. We always make all of our decisions together, and Karen just said, "I just don't feel peace about it". And I said "Ok", and so we didn't make that decision. Thank God, because it was a wrong decision. And so listen to the peace level in your life, because that's God speaking to you.
Another way that God speaks, I'll hurry up here, is circumstances, open and closed doors. This is revelation 3. "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, these things says he who is holy, he who is true, he has the key of David, he who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens". And here's my prayer that I pray on a regular basis, "God, close doors for me that no man can open, and open doors for me that no man can close until I'm standing in your perfect will". And he'll answer that prayer. Be sensitive to circumstances: be sensitive to open and closed doors: and when a door opens to you, ask God, "Do you want me to walk through that door"? And again, he'll give you peace about it, and he'll guide you. But sometimes, you know, when God closes a door in our lives and we get frustrated because we didn't have that opportunity or we didn't get to do this and that, is sometimes it's the best, it's God loving us not allowing us to do some of those things.
The final way, and this is probably not exhaustive, but another way that God speaks to us is people. Many times God won't say anything specifically to me. He would say it maybe through Karen or maybe a friend. Proverbs says, "Where there is no counsel, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety". Sometimes, when you don't know what decision to make or maybe you think you know but you need confirmation, one of the best things you can do is find a believer who is successful. Needs to be a believer, and they need to be successful in the area that you're needing help. And you go to them and you ask them to consult with you, and, again, it has to be biblical whatever they say. But sometimes God speaks to us through other people, but that's generally how God speaks to us, but God speaks. And there's an interactive relationship that we have with God, with him guiding us as our shepherd.
And let me close by saying here's what hinders God from speaking to us. Number one is unbelief. If you don't believe that God speaks, you're right, he doesn't. He doesn't speak to people who believe he doesn't speak. And Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him". He is, God is in my life. You know, let me tell you the faith that you need to have to hear God. Now, I want you to listen what I'm about to say now because this is really important. You need to have faith that he loves you. See, sometimes, the devil comes to us even as I'm speaking in this message, and the devil will say, "Yeah, God speaks, but he's not going to speak to you because you're a louse". Well, that's the way the devil speaks, demeaning, condemning, you know, "God doesn't love you enough", things like that.
Let me just tell you something. I have faith that the blood of Jesus paid for my sins, and I have faith that the anger of God was taken away on good Friday and now God's my daddy, and he's my friend. I have faith. But I've heard that condemning voice in my life from the devil that tried to come and shoot... See, the devil's worst nightmare is you being friends with God. Because everything he has designed for your life can't happen if you're walking with the Lord. So as you begin to commune with the Lord, you need to have faith that God is living in your life and in your heart and that he loves you. The second thing that hinders hearing God is disobedience. God always loves us. We don't have to be perfect to hear God. This isn't a point system. But when the Lord speaks, if you don't obey it, he'll stop speaking, until you make it right.
I was talking to a man out here in the foyer one day after church, and I had been speaking on hearing God and he said, "Pastor Jimmy, I hadn't heard God in two years". And I said, "You heard him two years ago"? And he said, "Yeah". I said, "Well, what did he say"? And he told me what he said. It was very specific. I said, "Well, did you do it"? And he said, "No". And I said, "Well, you need to make that right with the Lord, and he'll keep speaking to you". But what the Lord said to that man was extremely important for him to have obeyed. It was God. I mean, when he told me, it was just obviously something God wanted him to do.
Well, if the Lord speaks to us and we just kind of throw it over our shoulder and we say, "I don't like that word. Could you give me another word"? You know. The Lord's response to that is, "I'm not your friend Joe". You know, "I'm not just another person talking to you. I'm God. And if you value my voice, I'll keep speaking. But if I say things to you and you just kind of throw them over your shoulder, it's not going to work out". So again, he always loves us, and he's easy to get along with. And if we've done something wrong, all we have to do is talk to him about it, and he'll forgive us. But you can't just throw God's word over your shoulder and expect him to keep speaking to you.
Number 3 (and this is the end) - busyness and distraction. It's the old saying, "If the devil can't get in front of you and stop you, he'll get behind you and push you too fast". And just not ever slowing down, God isn't obligated to chase us down and talk to us, we're obligated to slow down and listen to him. And this is what we call a quiet time.
When I talk about your prayer time every day, I call it a quiet time because it's so important to get a quiet time every day alone with God. You know, if you're just, 5 minutes, 10 minutes is so important. Hopefully, it could be longer than that. And you say, "Well, Jimmy, my house, you can't imagine all the activity around my house". Get in your car before work and show up to work early, and just sit out in the parking lot by yourself for 5 or 10 minutes. Or school. Or wherever you can go, at the park, just to get time alone with God. And in that alone time when you're quiet, turn the radio off, turn the TV off. Get quiet and ask God questions.
You know, read your Bible, read Proverbs, read a Psalm every day. It's so encouraging. You know, read the word, and tell God what you're worried about. Tell God what you're needing. He's your daddy. He loves being your daddy. And then say, "Lord, I need you to speak to me about this". And then just get quiet. You'll be... Let me tell you, my experience with the Lord, he's a talker. He's a talker. He talks a lot. And when the Lord talks, it's so comforting. It's just... Through many years of hearing God, he is the most gracious, wonderful, sweet, consistent person I've ever known. And he lives inside of here. He doesn't come and go. He's here to stay. And we always have God to direct us in our lives. It's more than important. It's fantastic. You can make every decision right. You can know that God is leading you in life. And everything you can do can succeed.