Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Date: 19 May 2013

For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Hearing God 04 – 4 Keys to Hearing from God

 

Show the video clip: Mark Virkler – Our Message in 8 Minutes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8czdKN4U0hc).

 

The video is a good introduction to the courseHearing from Godby Mark Virkler which we are currently studying in our home groups. [If you are not yet in a home group, please join one or do the study by yourself – maybe using Mark Virkler’s book “Dialogue With God” (http://www.koorong.com/search/product/dialogue-with-god-mark-virkler-patti-virkler/0882706209.jhtml).]

 

Before Mark Virkler was able to hear the voice of God, he had a lot of unlearning to do – the same unlearning – which challenged many of us. He grew up with the mindset of the Western world which – even in the church – was secular – you may name it “rationalism” or “rational humanism”. People my age and older have grown up with this kind of worldview which enthrones the human mind and makes the mind the judge of all truth.

Listen to Mark Virkler’s testimony and reflections:

 

Mark Virkler: Wading Deeper Into the River of God: The Roots of My Christian Experience. The church where I was saved: I was born in 1952 and grew up on a farm in northern New York State. I was saved at age 15 in the extremely conservative, fundamentalist, separatist Evangelical Baptist Church, which is part of a network called the Apostolic Christian Churches. It is one of the most conservative churches you could possibly imagine. It had no musical instruments be­cause they believed they were of the devil. The men sat on one side of the church, the women on the other. Members greeted one another (of the same sex) with a holy kiss. Women wore head coverings. We could only marry other members within our denomination because everyone outside our church was believed to be a non-Christian. There was no dating, no television, no mov­ies, not even any Bible study, because we were taught that “too much study causes weariness of the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12). When my brother wanted to start a home Bible study, he was faced with excommunication. How’s that for conservative roots?

So I studied Baptist doctrine, listened to Baptist radio programs, read my Bible, and evangelized. The best part of my last year in high school was my hands-on work as a youth pastor and coordinator among the churches in my hometown. When I felt a call in my heart to go into the ministry, I, too, was faced with excommunication. You see, my church did not believe a pastor should prepare or receive any training. Yet when I asked other pastors (outside my home church) how to prepare for ministry, I was instructed to go to a Bible college, and Roberts Wesleyan was recommended. Once I chose to go to Bible school, I would be excommunicated. I decided to withdraw my membership from my old church, and went for training as a pastor to Roberts Wesleyan College near Rochester, New York.

I took the only major recommended for pastors, Religion/Philosophy, with a minor in Psychology (so I could understand the emotionalism of revivalist meetings. I actually wrote a research paper on “The Psychology of Revivals.” It makes me shudder even to think of it now.).

My college courses required me to skim-read portions of the Bible and study comparative religions, philosophy, and psychol­ogy. Of course, in order to be well-rounded, I was also required to take courses in biology and dissect small animals, so that I would be able to intelligently communicate with others who might have done similar things (or something like that!). Actually, since col­lege, I’ve never fulfilled that expectation. Maybe I have never run into another person who also dissected rats and felt it would be a great thing to discuss. Oh well, at least I am well-rounded. (A look at my stomach will confirm that.)

I had a hard time understanding the value of school, or college, for that matter. It was all so impractical and irrelevant to where I was in my life. I grew up on a dairy farm, so I had a passion for down-to-earth, practical things. School didn’t fill that need. If it weren’t for my passion to minister, I never would have even considered attending college.

Unfortunately, it gradually became clear to me that college was not training me properly for ministry, either. The fact that I was not even required to read through the entire Bible was one sure indication, as was the fact that the philosophy courses which I was required to take were so far over my head, I had no idea even what they were talking about. The dissecting of rats left me cold, as did most of the courses. But I persevered because I loved the Lord and wanted to become the best I could possibly be for Him, and this was the path I was sent on to properly prepare me for ministry.

While in college, I decided to do on my own some things I felt were necessary to equip me for the ministry. I knew I needed a Bible education, so I read the Bible through from cover to cover and charted and graphed each of the books. Since I knew as a preacher I would be required to read the Bible from the pulpit, I practiced public reading by reading the New Testament aloud with my girlfriend, Patti, who is now my wife.

And the best learning experience I had was a job as youth pastor in a nearby Wesleyan church which I held for three of my four college years. There I learned the practices of ministry and how to hold attention by becoming a good speaker and planning a good program. I definitely learned more from this “accidental” (i.e. God-ordained) stint as a youth pastor than I did from my Christian college experience.

Obviously, this should have been my first inkling that learning occurs best on the road of life, rather than in a classroom. I would observe years later that God generally does not use a classroom to train His leaders. Instead, Jesus discipled the Twelve as He took them with Him and let them watch and help Him minister. God also seems to use the wilderness as a great place to develop His leaders. However, at this point in my life, these facts totally escaped me since I was so caught up in the western culture, which places a high priority on classroom study and systematic theology, that it never even crossed my mind that it might not be the only, or even the best, way to develop spiritual leadership. I was totally blind to God’s educational processes as recorded in the Bible.

The Roots of My Theology – Theologically, I began as a Baptist (Calvinist) and then, at Rob­erts Wesleyan College, moved more toward Wesleyan Methodist doctrine (i.e. Arminianism).

Both of these theological em­phases were evangelical, fundamentalist, rational, and anti-super­natural. I embraced these teachings fully. I was taught that God no longer spoke to His children, because now we have the Bible. I was taught that there is no longer any need for the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because now we have the Bible. I was taught that dream and vision were no longer for today, because now we have the Bible. I was taught that casting out of demons was no longer for today; I’m not sure why not. Perhaps now we have signs up at the borders of our countries saying, “No demons allowed. We are a western civilized nation.” I am sure that as long as demons can read English, they will honour the signs and stay away, going to more uncivilized countries to molest their populations.

 

Isn’t it amazing that even the denominations which shut themselves off completely from the dominant culture (no musical instruments, no television, no movies, no marriage outside of the denomination, head-coverings) are still taken over by the godless worldview of rationalism?

 

I was taught that expressing emotions was merely emotionalism, part of the soul, and therefore, to be avoided. That was fine with me since I have a choleric tempera­ment and little tendency toward emotions anyway. In addition, my culture taught me that men are not supposed to express any emotion. All the pieces fit together extremely well to make me into an unemotional robot who loved with commitment (i.e. non-emo­tional love) and acted out of decision, not because I “felt moved.” So, I loved my wife with “commitment love” (i.e. agape love), and refused to cherish her, because that was an emotion which was soulish, and I surely didn’t want to be soulish. If you want to know how wise this is, ask any woman if she wants to be cherished by her husband, and see what she says. Of course, I didn’t need my wife’s opinion, because she was supposed to submit to me. And women are more emotional anyway, so how could they properly appreciate the value of non-emotional love? (Trust me, Patti has gotten me straightened out over the years!)

I was taught that clear, well-thought-out theology is what is important. Growth in the Lord is equivalent to one’s theologi­cal maturation. Therefore, I loved theology (especially applied theology, as it is more practical) and studied it and taught it continuously, even to the extent of graphing and charting every book of the Bible.

I was taught to scorn those who “spoke in tongues,” prayed for healing, cast out demons, raised their hands in worship or prayer, and were into spiritual emotionalism. So childish, and even cult­ish. I was glad to be free from, and above, such craziness.

I had a verse to back up everything I did and everything I be­lieved, and I would be glad to give it to you whether you wanted it or not. My passion was to be like Paul, to have either a revival or a riot in every city I went to. Well, I succeeded. Generally, I brought riots and was thrown out, but I was serving God! That was all that was important. I was speaking and teaching the truth, and I was evangelizing.

However, my heart was hungry for more of God. I would read the book of Acts and hunger to have the same experiences they had—to hear the voice of God, to do the miraculous, to see vi­sion. But those who were older and wiser (?) just patted me on the head and assured me that I would get over such cravings as I matured. I would soon learn to settle down to the good, important stuff—theology and doctrine.

Well, I got over something, all right. But it wasn’t my spiritual cravings; it was the emptiness of mere religion. God began to open for me the door to the spiritual world through the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the operation of the gift of speaking in tongues. However, we will save that story for the next chapter.

What I was far too young to realize during those early years was that I, along with much of the Western Church, was trapped in the western culture’s worldview of rational humanism.

My Western Cultural Roots: Rational Humanism? What in the world is rational humanism? Is it good? Is it bad? What is it? Let’s start with Webster’s definitions of these two words. Please take a few minutes to ponder these definitions and try to decide if they are biblical concepts.

“Reliance on reason as the basis for establish­ment of religious truth. A theory that reason is in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions.”

 “A philosophy that asserts the dignity and worth of man and his capacity for self-realization through reason, and that often rejects supernaturalism.”

My culture, my nation, my church, my school, and my college all fully embraced these two philosophies, as did I, because it never crossed my mind to question them. Of course, they had to be right. Everyone I knew believed them, from my parents, to my pastors, to my educators. No one disagreed.

Everyone agreed that: Man’s ability to reason is the heart of life. We even had a saying, “God gave you a brain; you’re supposed to use it.” It never occurred to me to question either of these premises. They just have to be true. The Bible must support them, doesn’t it? As we will find out in a later chapter, the Bible speaks directly against both of these assumptions.

I could reason about God and develop proofs for His existence, ontological proofs that God really exists. I trained and sharpened my mind so I could be skilled in theology and debate, able to convince people of their life of sin and lost condition and need to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

That, of course, was pure rationalism—reliance upon reason to prove God exists. But, you see, I had to do that, because God was no longer active in the world today. He no longer spoke or gave dreams or visions or did miracles or healings or provided tongues or interpretations. We were alone to think about God and to reason about Him. We were not to expect any active in­teraction with Him in our own lives.

I was taught that we are to make the most of ourselves that we possibly can for God. We are to give our all to serving Him, to living for Him, to obeying Him, to following Him. We are to stretch ourselves for God, in service to Him. That, of course, is humanism—man making the most of himself. Did the Bible tell me to give my all for God? I assumed so. The answer seemed so obvious that it never crossed my mind to examine it to see if it was biblical.

Both humanism and rationalism are false religions. One is the worship of the mind, the other is the worship of self-effort. How­ever, I was too naive to know that I had been led into idolatry. I had a passion to serve God with my life, and that was what I was going to do. Even when I mocked and ridiculed the charismatics and Pentecostals for their emotionalism and aberrant theology, I felt I was doing God a favour by keeping the Church pure. It is amazing that as we kill the prophets God sends, we think we are doing Him a service. This has been true all through Church and biblical history, and it was true in my life.

Now, the Bible never encourages rationalism (reliance upon the mind) or humanism (self-actualization). As a matter of fact, the Bible pointedly discourages both, very clearly and with very little room left for dispute. However, when you are caught up in something, it is hard to see the verses of Scripture which counter your position.

Well, the verses are clear about both. Concerning rationalism, the Bible never once commands or encourages us to reason on our own. This I discovered when I finally got around to looking up every verse in the Bible on reason (25 years after I left college). We will examine this in detail in a later chapter. Suffice it for now to say that the Bible commands that we: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). That is a pretty clear start to clarifying God’s view of man’s mental abilities. We are commanded specifically not to lean to our own understanding.

When I consider that I only earned a “B” on my courses in high school and college, it becomes clear that perhaps any theology I build about God with my “B-level” brain might only be a “B-level” theology. Is God’s truth’s actually bigger than can be dis­tilled or fathomed by someone with a “B-level” brain, or even an “A-level” brain? I surely hope so! If not, how big is the God I am worshipping? Perhaps the biblical alternative to the false religion of rationalism is to present our hearts and minds to God to use, letting Him give us anointed reason, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, dreams, visions, and discernment on the level of our spirits. I have no doubt this is true.

Humanism (self-actualization), too, runs directly counter to many Bible verses. One could start with Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

It must be pretty hard to self-actualize when you have been cru­cified! Perhaps the biblical alternative to the heresy of humanism is learning to release the power, anointing, and wisdom of Christ out through our lives. I am completely convinced this is so.

My heart breaks when I hear story after story of people who went to Bible school and had their intimacy with God extin­guished by rational humanism. Church members tell me that they used to journal and hear God’s voice and see His vision, but were told by their pastors to stop because it was improper. When I come along with a Communion with God Seminar twenty years later, God is able to restore to them what was robbed by rational humanism.

How do you think God views this? Do you think He is pleased by what happens in our Bible colleges? Do you think He is pleased when His children are drawn away from intimacy with Him and drawn into the worship of their minds instead?

Does this anger God? Did it anger Jesus? Did He not call them blind guides who lead the blind (Matt. 15:14)? What will be God’s response to those who poke out the eyes of God’s children and make them blind? What will be God’s response to those who break the eardrums of God’s children and make them deaf for many years, until someone comes along to restore their faith to believe they can see and hear from God?

Does God’s anger and fury burn against such people? Study your Bible and decide. I surely do not want to be in their place when we all stand before God’s great white throne judgment, and He asks them why they blinded the eyes of His children and why they deafened their ears.

My Psychological Roots. Not only did my culture and my church lead me astray in my early years, but I was created by God with a stronger left brain than right brain. And I was created with the personality of a choleric. Unfortunately, I allowed both of these to encourage me along the path of rational humanism ...

No subjectivity means no place for the Holy Spirit: There was no place in my life for subjectivity or having an experience with God, because my culture told me there was no place for subjectivity.

“Subjectivism—a doctrine that individual feeling or ap­prehension is the ultimate criterion of the good and the right” (Webster’s Dictionary).

Actually, the Bible is full of subjective, inner experiences. From Genesis to Revelation, we read about dream, vision, prophecy, the voice of God, the leading of the Holy Spirit, peace ruling in your heart, etc., etc. And these experiences led people to the truth—to what was good and right.

However, since my theology of dispensationalism had conve­niently removed all these sections of the Bible, and said all subjec­tive portions of the Bible were no longer relevant, I was able to simply and blissfully write them off as irrelevant to my life! Wow! Pretty scary, don’t you think? ...

Let’s take, for instance, my salvation experience. I was told it was to be an objective, rational experience. I was to have faith in the facts about the ef­fects of Christ’s blood at Calvary in washing away the sins of the repentant believer. So I repented, and I believed. I did not expect to feel anything because, of course, feelings are soulish and we do not base our life in God on feelings, but on the truths of the Word of God. God’s Word said I was now in relationship with Almighty God because I had accepted Him into my heart and He was my Lord and Saviour. I totally ignored Romans 8:16 which said that “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” There was no place for bearing witness in my life. That would have been an inner, subjective experience and we could have none of that. So I just ignored that verse.

Now I had a relationship with this God whom I couldn’t see (no vision), couldn’t hear (God doesn’t speak today), and couldn’t feel (because feelings are soulish and God is spiritual).

Let me ask you: Is that really a relationship? If you were engaged to a person you couldn’t hear, see, or feel, would you consider that a relationship? I think not! And yet, that was exactly what I was saying about my engagement to God! Maybe I had a theol­ogy that said I had a relationship, rather than actually having a relationship.

You say, “Oh, but we have love letters from 2000 years ago which we can read and understand and live out of.” Well, great. You love someone and the only contact you have with them are some letters they wrote many years ago. You call that a relation­ship, an engagement, a marriage? You can, but I’ll tell you what the world thinks. They laugh in derision at the Church. To them it is dead; it has no meaning. They want an experience, not some 2000-year-old letters as a substitute for a living experience.

 

There is a price to pay for the worldview of rationalism in the church: the emptiness of religion (which God overcame for Mark Virkler in his baptism with the Spirit) and desperate cravings for a real relationship with God – experiences with a loving God that satisfy the soul.

Do you have a relationship with God? Do you want one? In the video, Mark Virkler shared that he tried for six years to figure out how hearing from God works. This included four years at Bible College (also days and weeks of fasting) but he failed which tempted him to quit his faith altogether and for brief stints he did – walked away from the Christian faith. He resigned himself to not making progress but still pressed into God for another four years until – one day – he had the faint impression that he might invest one year to learn about the voice of God and this is what he did. For one year – ten years into his search – he listened to sermons on hearing God in prayer, went to conferences on the voice of God, kept praying about this matter, studied Bible verses on the subject and – finally – (toward the end of the year) God answered him:

 

Mark & Patti Virkler: Dialogue with God, Alachua: Bridge-Logos 1986, p7-8: The beginning of the revelation came in a quiet way. My wife, Patti, and I drove to a nearby town to attend some tent meetings and after the service browsed through the book tables. A book by Michael Scanlan on inner healing caught my eye, since it was a new ministry at the time and I knew almost nothing about it.

I bought the book and was very blessed by what I read ... Shortly thereafter Patti and I attended a retreat on inner healing by Father Dennis and Matthew Linn. Although we spent a lot of time dealing with theological questions, it was there that God affirmed in me the need for dream and vision in the adult Christian life.

I spent much of the next several months studying everything I could on prayer. I read about twenty-five books and everything I could find in Scripture concerning prayer. I experimented with different kinds of prayer. Near the end of that year, the Lord awakened me from sleep with the sound of His audible voice.

 

P1: “Mark! Get up!”

The commanding voice woke me from a sound sleep and I sat straight up in bed. Though I had never heard it before or since, I immediately knew that I had heard the audible voice of God!

“What? What? I said in confusion. “Wake up! I am going to teach you to hear My voice!” “Great!” I said, as I lay back down. “Okay, go ahead.” “GET UP! Go to your office. I am going to teach you to hear My voice tonight!”

Finally grasping the significance of the moment, I quickly obeyed. That night, as I knelt at the altar of our little country church, the Holy Spirit gave me the precious gift I had been seeking for so long and launched me into the calling that would become my passion for the rest of my life. He drew together all I had learned during a year of intensive study on prayer and hearing God’s voice, and showed me how it all fit together into four simple keys that were revealed in Habakkuk 2:1-2.

 

What a breakthrough! It was a long time in coming but – finally – God gave Mark Virkler the desires of his heart and commissioned him to share the breakthrough with others in the Western world that were still trapped in a rationalistic mindset. The long years of waiting prepared Mark to value the breakthrough and understand our desperation for the voice of God.

Would you have persisted for ten years? How long are we prepared to wait on God? How much do we value the good things that come from God? This morning, don’t give up. God may delay but he is faithful. His promises and word can be trusted:

 

Waiting on God:

 

Isaiah 40:31: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

 

Psalm 37:7-9: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Psalm 37:34: Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

 

Habakkuk 2:1-3: I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me ... Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

 

Isaiah 64:4: Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

 

 

The Value of His Word:

 

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

 

Revelation 2-3: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Genesis 1:1-25: “ … And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light … ” 2 Peter 3:5: “ … by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed … ” Hebrews 1:3: “ … sustaining all things by his powerful word …” John 6:63: “ … The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

 

Ephesians 6:17: “ … the sword of the Spirit . is the word of God.” Revelations 19:11-16: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True … his name is the Word of God … Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations … ” Hebrews 4:12: “ . the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword … judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Acts 10:44: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.”

Isaiah 55:10-11: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

 

Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” John 20:22-23: “And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’”

 

1 Peter 1:23-25: “ . you have been born … through the living and enduring word of God … ” James 1:18: “God chose to give us birth through the word of truth … ”

 

Luke 8:4-15: “ … This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God … But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Colossians 1:6: “ … this gospel is bearing fruit and growing … ” Acts 6:7: “So the word of God spread … ” Acts 12:24: “But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 19:20: “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”

 

Titus 1:3: “ … he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me … ” Philippians 2:15-16: “ … in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life … ” Ephesians 5:26: “ … cleansing . by the washing with water through the word … ” 1 Timothy 4:5: “ … it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Thessalonians 1:13: “ … the word of God . is at work in you who believe.” 2 Timothy 4:1-2: “ … in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

 

Matthew 8:8: “ … just say the word and my servant will be healed … ” Matthew 8:16: “ … he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” Mark 7:33-35: “ … Jesus put his fingers into the deaf man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, Ephphatha! (which means, ‘Be opened!’). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.” Psalm 107:20: “He sent forth his word and healed them … ”

 

What did God show Mark Virkler from Habakkuk 2?

 

Habakkuk 2:1-2: I will stand on my guard post ... And I will keep watch and see what He will speak to me ... Then the Lord ... said, Record the vision ...

 

Key #1 – God’s voice in our hearts sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts. Therefore, when I tune to God, I tune to spontaneity.

 

The Bible says that the Lord answered me and said...(Hab. 2:2). Habakkuk knew the sound of

God’s voice. Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12). I had always listened for an inner audible voice, and surely God can and does speak that way at times. However, I have found that for most of us, most of the time, God’s inner voice comes to us as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions. For example, haven’t each of us had the experience of driving down the road and having a thought come to us to pray for a certain person? We generally acknowledge this to be the voice of God calling us to pray for that individual. My question to you is, “What did God’s voice sound like as you drove in your car? Was it an inner, audible voice, or was it a spontaneous thought that lit upon your mind?” Most of you would say that God’s voice came to you as a spontaneous thought.

So I thought to myself, “Maybe when I listen for God’s voice, I should be listening for a flow

of spontaneous thoughts. Maybe spirit-level communication is received as spontaneous thoughts, impressions, feelings, and visions.” Through experimentation and feedback from thousands of others, I am now convinced that this is so.

The Bible confirms this in many ways. The definition of paga, the Hebrew word for intercession, is “a chance encounter or an accidental intersecting.” When God lays people on our hearts for intercession, He does it through paga, a chance-encounter thought, accidentally intersecting our thought processes. Therefore, when I tune to God, I tune to chance-encounter thoughts or spontaneous thoughts. When I am poised quietly before God in prayer, I have found that the flow of spontaneous thoughts that comes is quite definitely from God.

 

{Other Biblical ways that God may speak to us:

 

§  Impressions [Sometimes we get impressions in the form of “gut feeling”. This sense is usually just the witness of the Spirit. People also get impressions in their bodies.]

§  God’s still small voice [God speaks most frequently through our thoughts – our flowing thoughts. See 1 Kings 19:11-13.]

§  God’s inner audible voice [It sounds like a clear voice, which seems to come from inside you.]

§  God’s outer audible voice

§  Smells

§  Visions [Mind pictures or open-eye visions]

§  Divine revelations [Instant downloads]

§  Dreams

§  Trances [A dream-like state]

§  Angelic visitations

§  Holy Spirit flashbacks

§  Visitations of the Lord

§  Translated in the Spirit [Out of the body experiences, 2 Kings 5:26, 2 Cor 12:2-4]

§  Transported in the Spirit [The whole person is relocated, Ezekiel 8:3]}

 

 

Key #2 – I must learn to still my own thoughts and emotions, so that I can sense God’s flow of thoughts and emotions within me.

 

Habakkuk said, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart...” (Hab. 2:1). Habakkuk knew that in order to hear God’s quiet, inner, spontaneous thoughts, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions. Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still, and know that He is God. There is a deep inner knowing (spontaneous flow) in our spirits that each of us can experience when we quiet our flesh and our minds.

I have found several simple ways to quiet myself so that I can more readily pick up God’s spontaneous flow. Loving God through a quiet worship song is a most effective means for me (note II Kings 3:15). It is as I become still (thoughts, will, and emotions) and am poised before God that the divine flow is realized. Therefore, after I worship quietly and then become still, I open myself for that spontaneous flow. If thoughts come to me of things I have forgotten to do, I write them down and then dismiss them. If thoughts of guilt or unworthiness come to my mind, I repent thoroughly, receive the washing of the blood of the Lamb, and put on His robe of righteousness, seeing myself spotless before the presence of God (Is. 61:10; Col. 1:22). [I personally quieten myself by walking as I pray.]

As I fix my gaze upon Jesus (Heb. 12:2), becoming quiet in His presence, and sharing with Him what is on my heart, I find that two-way dialogue begins to flow. Spontaneous thoughts flow from the throne of God to me, and I find that I am actually conversing with the King of Kings.

It is very important that you become still and properly focused if you are going to receive the pure word of God. If you are not still, you will simply be receiving your own thoughts. If you are not properly focused on Jesus, you will receive an impure flow, because the intuitive flow comes out of that upon which you have fixed your eyes. Therefore, if you fix your eyes upon Jesus, the intuitive flow comes from Jesus. If you fix your gaze upon some desire of your heart, the intuitive flow comes out of that desire of your heart. To have a pure flow you must first of all become still, and secondly, you must carefully fix your eyes upon Jesus. Again I will say, quietly worshiping the King, and then receiving out of the stillness that follows quite easily accomplish this.

 

Illustration: One Screen and Three Projectors

 

At this point, I may add that the spontaneous thoughts are not originating in our human minds but come from the Spirit of God who communicates with our spirit. However, these spontaneous thoughts are making use of our minds. God is using rational thought but insists that the mind is a servant, not the master:

 

In his testimony, Mark Virkler shared how his years of studying prayer enabled God to talk to him about listening to him in prayer. Reading many books and listening to countless messages taught Mark concepts which God could then sort and simplify. [Example 1: When you have a goal-scoring opportunity in soccer, much training gives you a few options: left foot or right foot, power or placement, low on the ground or lop, etc. Having built up a repertoire, you are in a position to be guided toward the right option. Example 2: When I write a sermon, I cram my mind with all available books and study material. I exercise my mind in tracing themes and collecting background data, but then I go prayer-walking and let God sort the material into the message that he wants. Frequently, new thoughts and outlines arise from the previous studies.]

 

Norman Grubb: Touching the Invisible – Chapter: How to Obtain Guidance: Realizing, then, that guidance is to be obtained from an indwelling Person, the Holy Spirit, and is the privilege of all believers, we will examine the manner of obtaining it. The best known to the writer and practised continually in our daily Headquarters meetings when dealing with our Crusade problems is as follows:

First, we make as sure as possible that we approach the subject upon  which we desire light as God’s servants seeking the fulfilment of His  will in His way; this, of course, should not and does not take long,  for it is the normal attitude of Christ- indwelt lives. We examine ourselves to make as certain as we can that our objective is His glory, and that we are ready to do all that He may say.

Then we recognize and utilize the mind in its rightful position. It is at this point that there is most confusion in the matter of guidance. Some put too much emphasis on the human reason, ‘common sense’, confusing it with the Lord’s voice; others too little, turning from it as from a carnal thing and attempting to find guidance with an emptied mind. The truth is that the human reason is a pre-eminently useful servant, but was never created to be the final arbiter of truth in the human personality. The exaltation of the human reason to the throne of authority in life is the sin of ‘the wise of this world’.

The reason is the great sorting house, but not the sorter. Its function is to investigate, tabulate, theorize, memorize, but not to direct. That is the function of the Spirit in the regenerated life. Sanctified reason remains the noble endowment by which man can contemplate and expound the heights and depths of the divine mysteries; but direction leading to decision is to be found in the renewed spirit, the dwelling place and throne room of the Holy Spirit. Thus the man who knew guidance more perfectly than any other in Bible days, Moses, makes the clear distinction, when he said concerning the source of his authoritative declarations, ‘Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of my own mind’. His reasoning and expository faculties were the instrument for the reception and declaration of God’s revelations. The reason is to be used to the full, but not abused: it is to be the instrument of guidance, but not the guide.

Consonant with this, we thoughtfully examine our situation, know all that we can about it, let the Scripture throw any light upon it, but then we refuse by such reasonings and investigations to make the decision. That must come from the Inner Witness.

So, in order to know His voice, we now change our tactics. We have been occupied in thinking over our problem, but now we deliberately cease to think about it. When God speaks, He always speaks in stillness. While our hearts are disturbed and our minds busy on a situation, His voice cannot be heard. Our inward attitude must be like a pool of water. If disturbed, no reflection can be seen in it. When still, the features can be seen. So the best thing we can do, having stored our mind with the facts, is to leave them with God. It is not a state of forgetfulness, but a redirection of our attention. We were concentrated on the problem; now we concentrate on Him, the Solver.

We do not attempt to strain for an answer, nor to make one up. We remain like little children, free from concern, free from urge, but refusing to act until we know. We maintain that we have a right to know, for by His grace we are His servants and the one thing to which a servant has a right is orders.

Then the conviction comes. It does not matter how it comes, so long as it comes. Often circumstances arrange themselves so as to make a certain course obvious -- this is a very usual method. Sometimes a verse of Scripture or a strong inner assurance is the way. But the point is that whatever means the Spirit uses, He communicates to our spirits, through a mind stored with the facts, a solid certainty that thus and thus is God’s way. That is the peace of God sitting as a referee ( Colossians 3:15), and declaring God’s verdict on the situation. When we know that, then we can act, declare, believe, in full assurance of faith; for we go out, not to gain a victory or find a way, but to gather the spoils of a victory already won, or to reach a goal with the map of directions already in our hands.

 

Back to Mark Virkler: Key #3 – As I pray, I fix the eyes of my heart upon Jesus, seeing in the spirit the dreams and visions of Almighty God.

 

We have already alluded to this principle in the previous paragraphs; however, we need to develop it a bit further. Habakkuk said, “I will keep watch to see,” and God said, “Record the vision” (Hab. 2:1,2). It is very interesting that Habakkuk was going to actually start looking for vision as he prayed. He was going to open the eyes of his heart, and look into the spirit world to see what God wanted to show him. This is an intriguing idea.

I had never thought of opening the eyes of my heart and looking for vision. However, the more I thought of it, the more I realized this was exactly what God intends for me to do. He gave me eyes in my heart. They are to be used to see in the spirit world the vision and movement of Almighty God. I believe there is an active spirit world functioning all around me. This world is full of angels, demons, the Holy Spirit, the omnipresent God, and His omnipresent Son, Jesus. There is no reason for me not to see it, other than my rational culture, which tells me not to believe it is even there and provides no instruction on how to become open to seeing this spirit world.

The most obvious prerequisite to seeing is that we need to look. Daniel was seeing a vision in his mind and he said, “I was looking...I kept looking...I kept looking” (Dan. 7:2,9,13). Now as I pray, I look for Jesus present with me, and I watch Him as He speaks to me, doing and saying the things that are on His heart. Many Christians will find that if they will only look, they will see. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). It is as simple as that. You will see a spontaneous inner vision in a manner similar to receiving spontaneous inner thoughts. You can see Christ present with you in a comfortable setting, because Christ is present with you in a comfortable setting. Actually, you will probably discover that inner vision comes so easily you will have a tendency to reject it, thinking that it is just you. (Doubt is satan’s most effective weapon against the Church.) However, if you will persist in recording these visions, your doubt will soon be overcome by faith as you recognize that the content of them could only be birthed in Almighty God.

God continually revealed Himself to His covenant people using dream and vision. He did so from Genesis to Revelation and said that, since the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, we should expect to receive a continuing flow of dreams and visions (Acts 2:1-4,17). Jesus, our perfect Example, demonstrated this ability of living out of ongoing contact with Almighty God. He said that He did nothing on His own initiative, but only that which He saw the Father doing, and heard the Father saying (Jn. 5:19,20,30). What an incredible way to live!

Is it actually possible for us to live out of the divine initiative as Jesus did? A major purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection was that the veil be torn from top to bottom, giving us access into the immediate presence of God, and we are commanded to draw near (Lk. 23:45; Heb. l0: 19-22). Therefore, even though what I am describing seems a bit unusual to a rational twentieth-century culture, it is demonstrated and described as being a central biblical teaching and experience. It is time to restore to the Church all that belongs to the Church.

Because of their intensely rational nature and existence in an overly-rational culture, some will need more assistance and understanding of these truths before they can move into them. They will find his help in the book Communion with God by the same authors.

 

Key #4 – Journaling, the writing out of our prayers and God’s answers, provides a great new freedom in hearing God’s voice.

God told Habakkuk to record the vision and inscribe it on tablets...(Hab. 2:2). It had never crossed my mind to write out my prayers and God’s answers as Habakkuk did at God’s command. If you begin to search Scripture for this idea, you will find hundreds of chapters demonstrating it (Psalms, many of the prophets, Revelation). Why then hadn’t I ever thought of it?

I called the process “journaling,” and I began experimenting with it. I discovered it to be a fabulous facilitator to clearly discerning God’s inner, spontaneous flow, because as I journaled I was able to write in faith for long periods of time, simply believing it was God. I did not have to test it as I was receiving it (which jams one’s receiver), because I knew that when the flow was over I could go back and test and examine it carefully, making sure that it lined up with Scripture.

You will be amazed when you attempt journaling. Doubt may hinder you at first, but throw it off, reminding yourself that it is a biblical concept, and that God is present, speaking to His children. Don't take yourself too seriously. When you do, you become tense and get in the way of the Holy Spirit's movement. It is when we cease our labours and enter His rest that God is free to flow (Heb. 4:10). Therefore, put a smile on your face, sit back comfortably, get out your pen and paper, and turn your attention toward God in praise and worship, seeking His face. As you write out your question to God and become still, fixing your gaze on Jesus, who is present with you, you will suddenly have a very good thought in response to your question. Don’t doubt it, simply write it down. Later, as you read your journaling, you, too, will be blessed to discover that you are indeed dialoguing with God.

Some final notes: No one should attempt this without having first read through at least the New Testament (preferably, the entire Bible), nor should one attempt this unless he is submitted to solid, spiritual leadership. All major directional moves that come through journaling sh should be submitted before being acted upon.

 

What is the outcome of hearing from God? Everything changes. For Mark Virkler, the most important transformation came when – for the first time – he heard God say to him: “I love you.” He knew this truth in his head but his heart had trouble believing that this could be true. God loves you. [Mark Virkler’s marriage was also transformed as God began to speak about practical relationship issues.]

This is the Good News of the entire Christian faith. God loves you – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8-9: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . we have now been justified by his blood ...

Mark Virkler spent ten years searching for a way to hear God. You will learn what he learnt in less time but – please – spend the time that it takes for you to hear God. Learn to listen to him because otherwise your faith will remain empty (and boring) and sad. Hear God who says to you: “I love you.” Amen.