Verbal communication sets man apart from the animal kingdom. Suppose God never made us so we could communicate with each other. What would our culture be like? How lonely would we be? Worst of all, we couldn’t communicate with our Creator. Thank God He made us so we can communicate.
When we communicate with each other we use verbal words, body language, or written words. God uses various means to communicate with us, too.
First, let’s look at some of the ways God communicated to man in Bible times but doesn’t use to communicate to us today. We want to mention these so you don’t expect God to speak to you in these ways.
The first is God speaking in an audible voice, as He did to Adam and Eve in Eden and Moses at the burning bush. Isaiah states, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying … “(6:8).If God ever does speak audibly today, it is very rare and just for a very special reason.
In Bible times God sent angels to speak to Mary, Zechariah and the shepherds. They ministered to Jesus in Gethsemane before His arrest as well.
Nor does God speak to us today in dreams or visions. Both Josephs, Pilate’s wife and others received messages from God in dreams. Abraham, Isaiah, Peter and John on Patmos were given visions. Don’t expect God to you in these today. He may use a dream to get your attention, but His message will be communicated to you directly.
Another method of communication no longer used is casting lots, as when Matthias was chosen to replace Judas. The last method no longer in operation is the use of the Urim and Thummim by which God communicated His message to the priests.
While these are ways God spoke in the past but not today, there are ways He then spoke and still does speak today. These apply directly to us today. For example, God still uses nature to reveal Himself to those who have never heard of Him. He shows His greatness to all of us through nature.
God speaks through other people, especially mature believers who know us, to give good guidance and advice. He puts the wisdom in their minds and the compulsion to pass it on to us. We must recognize this as one of the ways God speaks His will to us today.
Then there are circumstances and experiences which God uses to reveal His plan and will to us. Often we aren’t sensitive enough to hear God as He speaks in these ways.
I love the story a friend shared with me several years ago about this. A man was caught in a flood and ended up floating on the roof of his destroyed home. He prayed desperately for God’s help. In time a rescue team came by in a boat. “We’ve come to help you,” they shouted. “Get in our boat and you’ll be safe.” “No,” the man shouted back. “God’s going to save me.”
It grew dark and scary and the man prayed harder. The beat of a helicopter’s blades could be heard coming from the distance growing louder and louder, until they were thumping overhead. A bright light framed the house wreckage and the man. The loudspeaker boomed, “Take the rope, you’ll be safe.” “No, thanks,” the man shouted as he waved the helicopter away, “God’s going to save me.” Shortly thereafter, the roof disintegrated and the man drowned.
He was grateful to arrive in heaven, but irritated that God hadn’t answered his prayers.
When he stood before Jesus, he complained. “Why didn’t you save me as you promised that you would?” “Whatever do you mean?” the Lord said, “I sent a boat and a helicopter!”
Many times God is shouting to us through our circumstances, but we are so intent on just one option that we fail to hear Him. We can be so fixed in our point of view that we cannot see what He is doing or saying.
Paul’s thorn in his flesh is an example of that. David Jackson tells about how God used a tree falling on his house to help him straighten out some priorities in his life. We came to this church because God spoke through another person, a pastor, to lead us here. God used a series of circumstances to show us this was where He wanted us.
Acts 16:7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
1 Corinthians 16:9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When has God spoken to you through circumstances? What can you learn from that experience?
Spend some time now asking God to show you what He is trying to communicate to you through the circumstances you are going through. Don’t pray for God to change them, but to use them to change you.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)