Posted by: Brad Stanford | April 15, 2010

Positioning Yourself: Hearing God’s Voice Outside Of The Noise

After we first moved here, I went through some very stressful times. For two or three days I was paralyzed by worry, and I would even go out to pray, and say, “God, this worry is so dishonoring to you! You have always provided for me. Please forgive me, and take this worry away!” For two days, He gave me peace, but no solutions.

Finally, on the morning of day three, I came out with the same problem. He told me to open the Bible, and it flopped open to Ezekiel 47. When I first saw it, I said, “God, please! Not Old testament regulations!” The Whisper said, “Trust me. Read.” In Ezekiel 47, God is giving instructions to Ezekiel about how to rebuild the Promised Land, because God is about to bring them out of exile. God was reminding me that He called me here to help rebuild this city, and bring people hope. In essence, His answer to my worry was, “Yeah yeah, you have problems. I know. But listen: when you rebuild this city, I will instruct you on how to do it. God cured my worry by telling me the end of this chapter, pouring that prophesy over me. He anointed me with the end of the story, so I would not worry about the first part of it.

What commentary do I read to get that interpretation of Ezekiel 47? There isn’t one. You only get that kind of direction and encouragement from hearing God. And only God can show you where He wrote you into the Scriptures, because He’s the (still living!) author of it.

So hearing God – the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, according to Romans 10. I grew up being taught that “word” means “Bible”. But then “word” also refers to Jesus himself, and “word” can refer to a promise, or something that someone says. So how do we know?

Hearing
The word for “word” in this verse is “rhema” (RAY-mah). The wikipedia definition is:

The Greek noun ῥῆμα “saying, utterance, verb, word” is analyzed as consisting of the root ἐρ-/ῥε- (er-/rhe-) “say” (confer εἴρω “I say”; ἐρῶ “I will say”) and the suffix -μα (-ma), a suffix used to form nouns from verbs. (However, according to a falsified but popular folk etymology, ῥῆμα is derived from the verb ῥέω “I flow”.)
In the New Testament, this noun is used in such instances as the following: “τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα Κυρίου μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα” “the Lord’s utterance/saying remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25). Rhema “saying” in this context bears a different meaning than Logos “word”.

The word of God can also be the saying, utterance, or verbage of God. Plugging this into our verse, we get:

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the [saying, utterance, verbage, or word] of God.

Notice, too, that rhema is also used in Matthew 4:4 (and Luke 4:4) –

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every [saying, utterance, verbage, or word] that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Yes, the Bible contains some of the content of God’s word. But even the Bible itself states that:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. – John 21:25

This was just talking about the 33 years in which Jesus was on the earth!

The Bible does not and can not contain everything said by God. The Bible is designed to point to God. It is a map, a love letter, a warning, a history book, and and a signpost all in one, inspired by God. If God actually never spoke to anyone ever again, then you could easily run your life, your business, a church, even cities and governments by the principles found therein. But living just by the letter of the law was tried once before, and both Paul and the Hebrew writer make it clear that this Old Covenant has been completed, and removed from active service, replaced by life in the Spirit:

1Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

4So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5For when we were controlled by the sinful nature,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
-Romans 7

15The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16″This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.” 17Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”
-Hebrews 10

The good news is, He still speaks! And when He speaks, He puts skin on the bones and muscles found in the Bible. Just like He did with Jesus – Word in the flesh.

I grew up thinking that Matthew 4 was saying you don’t just need food, but the Bible as well. How can that fulfill the definition to say or to utter? Well, the explanation was, “God said it, and it was written down.” But this is why we see the church in its dreadful condition today. We walk around reflecting the written word – all of the bones, muscles, blood vessels exposed to the world. Without the skin on the body, people are revolted by the image. It is almost the image of God, but not quite complete.

My personal translation of Matthew 4:4 is:

Yes, you are designed to sustain the body with food. But it is a useless affair to do so, if God does not command or allow each breath. When He says you’re done living, food won’t help anymore. However, if He leads you to fast for 40 days, His very command for you to live can sustain you without food, as I, Jesus, have just demonstrated.

So, then, my translation of Romans 10:17 is:

When God speaks (in whatever form) it generates faith the moment you hear it. The ability to hear what He is saying is just like breathing: it’s by His permission, pre-aproved for His glory.

Instead of getting into an endless Calvinist discussion loop about how much is up to us versus how much is up to God, my belief is that if you learn to hear the living God, you can simply ask Him directly. If you believe He is alive, then He is accessible. If not, what is there to believe in?

Positioning Yourself
At the end of a championship football game, the players grab the big water jug and dump it over the coach’s head. Why don’t they try to put the jug on the ground, and throw the water up at him? Gravity. When something gets poured out, it goes from higher to lower.

The same is true in the spiritual realm, because the physical is simply mirroring the spiritual. There is a spiritual gravity, which is why it’s important to “…not to think of yourself more highly than you ought,” as it says in Romans 12, right in the middle of Paul talking about transformation. Want to be transformed? Know where you are in comparison to God.

Every time I start to position myself – by going to my prayer platform, or hiding away somewhere in the house, or just stopping what I’m doing to meditate – God responds. For instance, He lets me know whether to grab my Bible or not. And when He does, all I do is flop the Bible open, and let God show me what to read. In faith, I say, “You know what you want to show me, and I trust you have that much power.” I position myself below God, so I can receive what He has to pour out.

When you don’t take time out to meet with God, you are declaring your stuff more important than His. You position yourself above Him, out of the path of what He wants to pour down on you.

Sometimes that outpouring is a feeling, or scenario that only means something to you. But, more often then not, it involves conversation. When God blesses people in Scripture, He speaks it over them. When God comes to visit Abraham, He spends all day in simple fellowship – eating, drinking, talking, laughing, and listening. It’s only when God is leaving that He gets down to business about Sodom and Gomorrah.

God is a God of relationship. he wants to converse with you. Conversation is a blessing that He pours out. To hear God, you have to position yourself for conversation.

If I want to have meaningful conversation with someone, I try not to go somewhere noisy. Why? Noise is distraction. I need to hear the other person, and be able to think about what they are saying.

This world is very noisy.

If my wife comes in while I’m concentrating on my work and tries to have a conversation with me, I sometimes come off as grumpy. Why? Because I’m not really able to listen. I’m still trying to solve all the world’s problems in my head, even though my eyes are looking at her. That’s not really listening.

Quiet Time™ is a buzzword that I have always disliked. It carries with it (for me) the notion of checking an assignment off a list. The idea is correct – getting away from what worries or distracts you so you can concentrate on God. But it lacks a major component. We need to position ourselves to hear and react to God, rather than telling Him when to meet with us. No wonder we feel powerless! God is only deeply available when conditions are perfect. And conditions are never perfect.

In one of my earlier posts, I pondered why Daniel prayed three times a day. When the economy changed my salary here of late, I realized why! He was a young man, stolen out of his country by a more powerful and aggressive country. His man parts were forcibly removed from him, and he was put into the service of the king, a role in which a wrong move could mean your life. God was Daniel’s only refreshment each day, in a country where it was easy to lose one’s sense of reality.

Daniel was not some amazing guy who could make “quiet times” happen three times a day. He was positioning himself every day to hear how God was going to get him out of this. Once we start seeing the world – especially during the peaceful times – through God’s eyes, we will desperately seek solutions from God as well. And it won’t be about bills, promotions, or how to talk to a neighbor. It will be about nations, kings, education systems, media, families – how to take ground away from Hell, and return it to under God’s feet, where it belongs.

Next Steps
I would highly recommend that you do not schedule a “quiet time”. We’re not trying to put God into our schedules. We’re trying to make God’s schedule ours. If you’re just starting out listening to God you must discipline the flesh to listen to the Spirit. God will not yell at you. Check this out:

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
-1 Kings 19

Notice the gentle whisper. Your goal is to be able to hear the gentle whisper in a crowd, over the media, above your worries, and in spite of the enemy’s accusations. You need to train yourself to hear God at any moment. So instead of scheduling a quiet time, you need to practice becoming still and doing what He says whenever He says it.

What It Looks Like

  • You’re cooking dinner, and you get this strong sense that you should look at the sunset. Do it.
  • Someone’s name pops into your head. Pray for them as you keep working.
  • You’re driving along, and you feel the need to turn down a street you’ve never been down before. Do it, and drive a little more slowly as you listen for which house needs prayer right now. Pray for that house the best you know how – declare for them financial freedom, freedom from worry, freedom to see God.
  • It’s late. You’re zonked. But your mind is saying over and over “Read your Bible. Read your Bible.” Get up and do it, even if your eyes are too tired to read, your brain doesn’t register what they say, and even if you fall asleep reading. Be obedient. God’s words will surpass your eyes and your mind and go straight to your spirit, because you are being obedient.
  • You’re bored. You grab the remote. Take that thought captive, put down the remote, and go find a tree, a flower, something God-made to sit by, and be still and quiet. It doesn’t matter if you hear anything. You’re practicing taking thoughts captive and bringing yourself before God.

We’re not trying to be religious, or trying to show God or the world how pious we are so that either one is happier with us. We are positioning ourselves in a place that God can pour out His Spirit on us.

When I really got serious about hearing God, I said, “OK, God. I have no idea which voice is yours and which is mine. So I’m going to obey everything that I think is you. So please protect me from my own mind, and teach me your voice.” He was so faithful to that! He is trustworthy! Don’t worry about not knowing what you’re doing.

Would you discipline a crawling infant because they fall down trying to take their first step? No! Every parent longs to watch the first step, hear that first word, or sleep that first full night of sleep! There is much celebration over first steps. So it is in heaven!

Getting Started
How badly do you want to be excited about getting up in the morning? How badly do you need direction? How tired are you of being conquered rather than conquering? Well, faith needs action. These actions I’ve listed will get you well on your way to hearing God so you don’t have to ask me what to do – you start hearing it straight from God, heart to heart.

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Responses

  1. Good words!!! What great peace there is in listening to Him.

  2. Brad, you are a special mind with a special insight into your life experiences—thanks for sharing them. I’m always moved by what you share of your life. As you know, I’m still in the “mainstream” that you often criticize—easy to do, for we are indeed lost at times. However, in my 80 years I’ve seen our fellowship change, diversify, and deepen in a way that makes me think the Spirit of the Lord is at work here, as well as where you are! I’m encouraged, yeah thrilled, by the willingness of those around me to live in harmony—even when we disagree, and to rely on the Spirit and prayer to aid our shortcomings. I’ve been especially blessed by a Spirit-lead ministry to those in prison—out of the mainstream for sure! The Lord has now brought 13 of our ExO’s (exoffenders) to our Sunday morning Bible Class where the church is learning as much as they are!
    May God continue to give you spiritual insight to share with others, Brad! (Missed you at the excellent FM11 bash in Dallas yesterday!)
    Bye R@y

  3. Brad–

    I echo Ray’s words! You are not only incredibly gifted as a writer, your ability to describe your relationship with God is simply an incredible blessing. …And you are able to come into it from a background of logic, so you understand where many of us are starting.

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve taken your suggestions to heart; I’m praying continuously for God to assist me in “positioning” myself, and I pray that he helps me to discern my own thoughts from His speaking.

    Again, I can’t say how much of a blessing this two-part series has been for me. You should be writing books. Seriously.

  4. i am really blessed by this notes, you are indeed a blessing. my prayer is that God makes me to be more spirit sensitive

  5. i am really blessed by this notes, you are a blessing. my prayer is that God makes me to be more spirit sensitive

  6. I NEEDED THIS SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!! I am looking forward to hearing Him all the time!

  7. God or rather Yahweh for clarity, is talking to people all the way through the bible. Hello !
    Read Counceled by God by Virkler. for an explanitation for all the stuff going through YOUR HEAD !You didn’t really think all of the stuff ( voices you hear in your head) was from You did You ?
    The bible teaches that there are many voices in this world and none without signafication. That goes to signature. The ” voice ” will put it’s signature on what they are saying. The accuser of the brethren, accuses Us. The spirit of suicide tries to get us to kill ourselves. The angel of light is a name for the devil. a Holy Spirit counterfit, it will quote scripture to you and yet wants you to beat someone with it. The BBC has an article on hearing voices and their article is the only one I have found the says that this is NORMAL ! ( google ,hearing voices )
    God is speaking to everyone and everyone has already heard what He said and it is easy to prove. BobScott8888@yahoo.com YOU be the witness, YOU be the judge !
    Read Counceled by God by Virkler and get back to me. The instructions for the book are. Sit down and read the book straight through. Meditate on what you have read, look up the scriptures fort yourself. Skip a day and study on it and repeat. Read straight through and meditate on it and skip a day ane repeat. What YOU did not get tyhe first Two times , Yahweh will clear it up by the third reading.. Give me 40 hours during a week and I call it giving someone a leg up an their horse Isa. 31-3.. What You did not understand Him saying to You the first times , Her will clear up by the third.
    God spoke to Jerimiah in the womb and He is not a respector of persons.Listen to the pronouns in your head, If You are thinking it , You would think, I am going to do this or that. If someone else was talking to You, they would say You do this or that. We are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..1Cor. 10-3,5 . Hear Yahweh’s voive and Obey !. Jer. 7 & 9.
    I was an athiest when God started talking to me, crazy that’s all. Ha Ha ! Well this went on for four years before I believed God really talked to people today. He answered ALL of my questions and dispelled ALL of my doubts and there was no longer a reason Not to Believe.
    There was a shift in the matrix and I went into a trans or vision state for 5 days the first time. Yahweh explained everything He had told me in parables, ( war stories and cowboy and Indian stories) and explained them to me Face to Face after I believed.. ( when I read the sermon on the Mt. I was standing on a sand bar next to John when he called out the LAMB of GOD, I saw the Holy Spirit decend as a dove would decend and covered YAHSHUA and went inside of Him. There was no actual dove.Now I teach on hearing Yahweh’s voice for ones self. The bible beeters say the we DON’T HAVE A RED PHONE TO HEAVEN !
    Their full of it . religious spirits,,,traditions of men.
    Faith come by hearing and hearing by the Word. Word here is the Holy Spirit. Faith comes by hearing the Holy Spirit talking to YOU PERSONALLY ! MIXED WITH FAITH = God spoke to YOU first and then put someone in front of you to say the SAME THING , WORD FOR WORD to let You know that you heard correctly. Now every evil spirit out there can talk to you also and give you visions etc. Just like Jesus being tempted in the desert by the devil. discerning between Your voice and God’s voice and the others is the training. You need to know the bible to compare the ” other words” with the scripture. The Holy Spirit will ONLY testify of JESUS ! In Yogoslavia people would be killed for going to church or a bible study,,,they would get the word on the location 30 minutes before the bible study from the Holy Spirit and congregate. Most of the churches on the corner don’t have a clue. Three points and a poem is all they are interested in,
    Yahweh is teaching the remnant personally. The Father the Word and the Holy Spirit agree in one in heaven as the Spirit the Water and the Blood agree as one in the earth, this is Wheel within a WHEEL thing. Washed by the WATER of the Word.this is a soul relm thing and blood is the natural relm. OUR SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY agree in one in the earth.
    Cleans YOURSELF of all filthyness of the spirit and the flesh. spirit here is worldly spiritual strongholds in Your mind.
    AS LONG AS THE HEIR REMAINS A CHILD, THEY DIFFER NOTHING FROM A SERVANT, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE LORD OF ALL ! Well Lord, it’s time to GROW UP !

    THE WAY TO GET SILENCE IN YOUR MIND IS TO SING PRAISES, GOD INHABITS OUT PRAISE, the demons can’t stand it and go away, ( just like David playing the harp for Saul )Now you can hear God better. SILENCE THE NEGATIVE VOICES IS THE WAY TO START. Heb. 11 the so called faith chapter,,,everyone of those guys, HEARD YAHWEH’S VOIVE AND OBEYED ! God counted it to them for righteousness. Want to be righteous,perfect in the eyes of God ,,HEAR GOS’S VOICE AND OBEY!
    DEMONSTRAIGHT ,the first five letters here are DEMON , a person being activated by demons in demonstraighting ! ” Familiar spirits ” are the ones that you had and now are on the outside talking crap. So familiar that you might notice that their back, until they bite you.
    Faith or Fear are the choices. Yahweh says , HAVE NO FEAR ! Go Forward with God !

    Remember the weapons of OUR WAREFARE ARE NOT CARNAL BUT SPIRIT !

  8. When I first believed, the Holy Spirit told me to call in Fire on my own position,
    In the Marines that meant call in artillery fire on your own position because the enemy has over run your position. Chances are slim and none. Slim if you do and none if you don’t
    Call down the Firey Presence of God in prsyer, He will inhabit our prases and the demons will flee. Just like David playing the harp for Saul.
    ( want to test it, put some sweet praise music on a boom box at a low level at your next bible study and see Who can’tstand it and want it OFF for any reason. )
    When we are born again the Holy Spirit comes into us and the demons flee. They are on the outside now but still active. Familiar spirits are the ones that WE used to have. So fimiliar that You don’t notice when they are back talking trash to Youi. They get more subtle the more you get on to them.
    Pauls thorn in the flesh was a MESSENGER OF satan TO BUFFET HIM !
    GRACE or POWER will see you through. The Power to both will and do the Father’s will.

    CALL DOWN FIRE ON YOUR OWN POSSITION !

  9. God Bless you !! I got this just by sitting in the room alone and asking God how to position myself these next two weeks to Believe Him to stand in the court room with my eighth child. He didn’t kill anyone thank God ,he and I live together all his life. His father lifted me years ago ,I want down south to help another child and lifted him with his older brother, out of disobedient he got with the wrong people. he is a baptized believer still in the church, but got caught with a hand gun, am fasting ,praying, crying out to God for Grace in the courtroom and mercy, thank you for this writing!! it has really given me a Big Leap of Faith! that God will speak to my heart!! because His servant is Listening .

  10. This post is so very helpful. Thanks!


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