Once again this year I’m enjoying a slow pilgrimage through the Bible. I don’t read through the entire Bible every year, but my daughter and I are using The One Year Bible, and it’s been wonderfully refreshing and enlightening.
The best 30 minutes of my day are at the beginning. They’re the ones spent reading and reflecting on God’s Word. That certainly was true this morning when I was once again gripped with the fact that, at times, God spoke to people directly. I’ve been reading the book of Numbers over the last few days and have repeatedly come across the phrase: “Then the Lord said to Moses.”*
Has God ever spoken directly to you? While I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, many credible people have. This morning I spoke with the wife of one of our elders about her recent experience. Betsy had just finished teaching a Bible lesson on the experience of Hezekiah as recorded in 2 Kings 20. If you remember the account, the prophet Isaiah told the king he was about to die. The king fervently prayed, and God spoke through the prophet once again, promising to extend Hezekiah’s life by 15 years. Isaiah knew exactly what the Lord had said.
Does God ever clearly speak like that today? Betsy said shortly after teaching that lesson to her class, God taught her one as well. After a coffee break, she was praying while walking back up the stairs to her classroom. Her prayer concerned the possibility of her husband’s job being moved to another city. She was anxious. But during the prayer, she was stunned by a calm but challenging voice: “Why do you not trust that I will take care of you?” The surprising clarity of that message brought immediate peace. Even though Betsy didn’t yet know where her husband’s next assignment would be, the message God spoke was both deeply calming and convicting. She renewed her commitment to simply trust the Lord.
While I’ve never received a stunning audible message, I regularly hear God speak through his Word. Nearly every day I am gripped by a passage, paragraph, sentence, or word that radically reshapes my thinking. That’s why I’d rather go without breakfast than without my morning Bible reading.
Over the last few years our ministry has been challenged to the max—which means I have been challenged to the max! I don’t know of any other congregation that took on two expensive challenges just as the economy cratered. First, we dared to move forward in a demanding land use battle with Boulder County that led us to the door of the U.S. Supreme Court. We also dared to open an additional 30-acre campus in neighboring Weld County. Both of these unanimous decisions were made after prayer and careful contemplation by our leadership team. Unfortunately, these risky ventures were more than stretching, they were exhausting. Time and again I felt discouraged and depleted, and I wasn’t alone. But then the Lord spoke—not through an audible voice, but through his Word. Passages like these just leapt off the page:
• “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:5, 6).
• “But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial. Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land” (Psalm 37:33, 34).
• “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness” (Psalm 57:2, 3).
I have no doubt that God still speaks. Occasionally he speaks in an audible voice, but most of the time he speaks to me in that “still small voice” as I read and reflect on his Word.
How long has it been since you pressed the pause button in order to better hear from God? Personally, I heard from him again even before breakfast today!
*All Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.
Alan Ahlgrim is lead pastor of Rocky Mountain Christian Church, Longmont, Colorado, and serves on Standard Publishing’s Publishing Committee.