HOW TO HEAR GOD – PART 2 – IMPRESSIONS
Categories: Life Enrichment
As you sit there reading this there is music playing all around you. But even if you close your eyes and focus all your energy to listen for it, you cannot hear it because your ears are not built to pick up radio waves. If you want to hear the music you need to switch on the radio. In the same way, God is always speaking but we need to learn how to listen using the right tools. God wants an active relationship with you but it is impossible to have a relationship with someone without communication. As a good Father, God is proactively communicating with you as His kid. We need to do our part and learn to “tune our receivers to His station.”
This is the second instalment of hearing God’s voice. If you missed the first step then you can catch up here, “Hearing God through dreams.” If you want a glimpse into my personal journey in hearing God or if you have questions about whether God still speaks today then check this out, “I’m not crazy, I’m just hearing God. “
One of the ways God speaks is through impressions. What does this mean? When God speaks through impressions it can be described as an inner voice or God’s still small voice. Hearing a “God planted thought” is one of the easiest and most common ways people hear from God. I believe all of us have heard God in this way, but we may not have recognized it as Him speaking to us. Have you ever experienced a bible verse just “drop” into your mind or remember having the right life-giving word to speak to a friend? These are God implanted thoughts which we intuitively or inwardly hear.
Kris Vallotton wrote “At times, the Lord speaks to us in a still small voice from within our spirit. This is not a booming, audible voice. This can be heard as a passing thought, sudden impression, or internal “sense” of something that God is saying. This still small voice is illustrated in the book of 1st Kings. In this account, God is not in the strong wind or the earthquake, but rather He is in the gentle blowing (1 Kings 19:11-13).”
Yesterday, I wrote down a long prayer. As I clicked my pen shut and closed my journal, God interrupted me, “Wait! Wouldn’t it be really fun to see what I have to say about all this? Why close your book after writing all your questions and expectations down? Don’t you want to know what I have to say?” This beautiful impression was so subtle that I almost missed it. God’s still small voice is often overlooked if you are not looking for it. So, I reopened my book and waited to hear from Him.
Getting still and making room for God to speak is your inheritance as God’s kid. God is reawakening His kids to slow down and give Him space. Be discontent with one-sided prayers because God 100% has something to say to you. The most important thing we can do in our relationship with God is to expect Him to talk with you every day.
The purpose behind the conversation…
Remember, the reason God speaks is to build a loving relationship with His kids! God does not want distance and His goal is never to punish or drive us away. While God does convict us, it is always with the intention of restoration in our relationship with Him. And when God speaks through you to others it is always in tune with that same heart of building a relationship with people. (Romans 8:15) It is also important that we judge the impression with the standard of scripture because God does not contradict His written word.
Knock, knock. Who’s there?
Not every thought you think is your own. Kris Vallotton wrote an awesome post on how to discern where your thoughts may be coming from. (Linked below) Here are the 4 voices who may be influencing you: your spirit, the Holy Spirit, evil spirits, or Angels.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
When you became a new believer God killed off your old way of thinking and gave you a brand new mind. He made you a new person! God is not interested in working on your old thought life because He ended it. God does not run a rehabilitation or self-help program, He is in a resurrection to new life program. God set you free from you! You have the mind of Christ! (1 Cor 2:15-16) Not, “you will one day have it” or “if you work hard enough you can learn to achieve it” – it says you already have the mind of Christ! So you have the ability to hear God hardwired into you. Repentance simply means, “turning around” or “saying the same thing God says!” So the way to live from the new mind you have in Jesus is to think God’s thoughts.
Wait, I have questions…
Good for you! I am glad you think critically! You may ask, “How do I know if what I am hearing is just me or if it is actually God?” It can be difficult to accept impressions as a way God speaks because what we hear in our head often “sounds” like our own thoughts. But it is logical that God would speak in a way that we can relate to. If you only know German He would not accomplish anything by talking with you in Spanish. When God speaks, it is usually in a way that intertwines our person with His by using our terminology, personality, and flare. For example, when the Apostle Luke recorded his account of the gospel he wrote according to his perspective as a doctor. As a physician who was also a first-hand witness, he reinforced the credibility of Jesus’ healing testimonies. While the Apostle John focused on showing how Jesus is the promised Messiah that the prophecies in the Old Testament predicted. Each man recorded in their area of expertise. God will not override your personality when He speaks because the things which set you apart as a person brings Him glory. This is why God will often speak your “language.”
Bill Johnson wrote, “Faith is considered to be anti-intellectual by many. In reality, it enhances the intellect. But faith is superior to human intellect in that it is the product of God’s mind instead of ours.”
Imagine the process of making a cup of tea. When you brew the tea the essence of the leaves weaves into the water until you cannot separate the two. I think this is a great picture of how God fills us with His word. When God speaks to us He will infuse our thoughts with His own like tea infuses water, imprinting His voice and permeating His desires in us until we think like Him. The Bible constantly teaches us to submit our minds to God… but the purpose is so He can fill it! Fill it with what? With His thoughts! Our mind is designed to be a vessel with the flavor of Heaven. I love that!
Our mind vs. God’s mind
How do we practically know if God is speaking to us?
Our mind’s thoughts are often straightforward and reasonable. Your mind will think logically and linearly. But when God is speaking to you it will often drop in as a surprising affirmation, unrehearsed thought, inconvenient challenge, or spontaneous instruction. For example, if you walk past a drug dealer on the street, your natural reaction is to stay away from them and not get involved. But let’s pretend you get this sudden perception, “this person does not know how loved they are by God… they are a lost son, a lost daughter. God wants to remind them that He has not forgotten them.” Wow! Where did this come from? Here you are thinking about what to make for dinner and suddenly it is like you are seeing with Another’s eyes! We know it is from God because only He is that awesome! Remember, God’s voice is often inconvenient or uncomfortable for us to follow because we are being stretched to His unending capacity instead of our capacity. God gave us the Holy Spirit as our Comforter because He knew we would be uncomfortable.
“Naba” the Hebrew word meaning “to prophesy” is used in the Bible when a man or woman of God received a download. This word, “naba” means to “bubble up.” When a thought or impression “bubbles up” from the inside and is infused with God’s “flavor” you can trust that it is Him. In contrast, the Hebrew word for false words, “ziyd” means to “boil up” or “cook up” something out of our own motives or another’s influence. When our eyes are on our personal objective we can produce or “cook up” ungodly thoughts, fooling ourselves into believing something that we conjured up. We can separate our own impressions from God’s implanted ones because His thoughts are higher than our own and they produce things that look like Jesus. We recognize God’s genius because His thoughts are fabulous. God’s voice will be wiser, deeply healing, powerfully convicting, and more loving than our own thoughts.
In a sweet way, this rings true in the gospel. Only God could come up with such a grand rescue! Humanity has always created many stories about how we need to earn our place and spread a table of our sacrifice in front of Him. But God as the Master Storyteller sacrificed His own Son for our sins and spread a table before us welcoming us back home. God is brilliant!
Real life application
God not only speaks to you, but He wants to speak through you to your community. We are all commanded to mature in hearing God’s voice. “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” (1 Cor 14 : 1-3) Prophecy is simply a God-inspired thought that strengthens, encourages, and comforts people.
Hearing God should have a real impact on our daily life and impressions is the easiest way to give God room. In Act 14:9-10, Paul was having a normal day, but then he stopped in his tracks because he perceived that a crippled man had faith to be healed. In that moment he had a choice to stop what he was doing and live out what he preached. So Paul stepped over and prayed for the crippled man and the man was immediately healed. God often tells us to do the most inconvenient things. If a thought “drops in” or you feel something “bubble up” take a second to stop and ask God if it is Him speaking. When you honor God’s voice He will show up and do the extraordinary through you!
Let’s live expecting to hear from God! And let’s live off His words! We don’t presume to boast, “I hear God! What I say is from Him!” but we take the posture of a servant just like Jesus did to lay our lives down every day for others. We are here to serve as Jesus served and hear God the way Jesus did. Let’s live like Jesus! Let’s live as sons and daughters who listen to their Father’s voice.
Do you have a story to tell of when God spoke to you? Do you actively live expecting to hear from God? Do you want to grow in this? I would love to hear your story in the comments below!