Week 5, Day 2: Hearing God
READ: 1 SAMUEL 3:1-11
As a boy, the prophet Samuel learned how to hear and respond to the voice of God. We can do the same.
Is it all that surprising that the God who created us and knows us inside and out would provide just what we need to live the life we were made for? Yet this is reality; and it is the Holy Spirit through whom we experience this presence of God. Every reality and truth and experience of God is mediated to us through the power of this Spirit, our divine guide; and every person who chooses to follow Jesus has been “baptized by [this] one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
What does the Holy Spirit do? In short, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God in us and through us, accomplishing the will and the mission of God so that the kingdom of God might come on earth as in heaven. The Holy Spirit guides us in truth, teaches us, reminds us of what Jesus has said; testifies about Jesus, shows us what is true about sin, righteousness, and judgment, and makes known to us the will of God. The Holy Spirit turns our hearts toward God and makes us aware of our sin; gives us new life and allows us to live in that life. The unique abilities and talents God has given us—what are often called “spiritual gifts” — are conveyed to each one of us by the Holy Spirit.
How does the Holy Spirit communicate? Through a variety of ways. French philosopher and priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said that “God speaks to every element in the language it can understand. Thus, God lures hydrogen through its attraction to oxygen. God draws everything else, including each of us, in the same way.” Here are some of the ways God has been present to people by his Spirit — these may seem familiar if you read Richard Peace’s piece on “Noticing God.”
Mystical or supernatural experiences: these sometimes inexplicable, sometimes mysterious occurrences can range from the gentle (an inner sense) to the dramatic (a dream or vision or healing that couldn’t otherwise be explained).
Ordinary experiences: Brother Lawrence, a 17th-century monk, wrote about “practicing the presence of God,” about finding God in the mundane. Often God can be found and met even in the everyday events of our lives — the conversations we have and the tasks we engage in.
Prayer: this is what we can most commonly experience in personal prayer (and what can often be hardest to distinguish from our own thoughts!). Dallas Willard describes this as “the preferred or highest form of individualized communication for God’s purposes.”
Genuine friendship or community: where there is love, joy, peace, and the fruit of the Spirit — all things that characterize the way human beings relate to one another — in some sense, God is there.
The Church: because the Holy Spirit lives in each person who gives their life to Jesus, God is present in every Christian. As daunting as it may sound, we are image-bearers of God, imitators of Jesus, and in community we are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We are mediators of the presence of God to one another.
The Bible: the clearest way God communicates to us is through the Bible. It is the Holy Spirit that brings words or phrases to our minds that challenge or encourage us; it is the Holy Spirit that grants clarity or discernment or understanding; it is the Holy Spirit that helps us apply the truths of the Bible to our lives.
Creation, culture, and creativity: our creative Creator God also loves to show himself to us, to inspire us, and to communicate with us, through creation (what he creates), and through culture and creativity (what we create). Perhaps you have wondered at God as you hiked a beautiful trail or surveyed an awe-inspiring landscape; or perhaps you received some spiritual insight through a book, a film, a song, or a piece of art; or perhaps even as you created something, you felt the presence of your Creator with you.
These are just some ways the Holy Spirit fulfills God’s purpose in us — heightening our awareness of God, transforming us more into Christ’s likeness, and equipping us for the work of the kingdom on earth. Tomorrow we’ll learn more about how to discern God amidst all of the competing voices.
REFLECT & RESPOND
Head: Read through the list of the ways the Holy Spirit communicates. Have you experienced the presence of God in any of these ways? Note down at least two, if you can.
Heart: “God speaks to every element in the language it can understand.” The Holy Spirit can communicate with us in every one of the ways we listed, but we may be more inclined toward or tuned into a few. Are there any ways in which it is easier for you to hear or sense God?
Hands: “We are mediators of the presence of God to one another.” What might it look like for you to be the presence of God to someone today? Ask God to speak to you today; and pay attention as you go about your day!
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in us and through us, accomplishing the will and mission of God so that the kingdom of God might come on earth as in heaven.