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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
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Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net

Discerning God's Voice

Lesson 2
God Reveals Himself To Us

By Teresa Seputis

In our last lesson, we talked about how God speaks to us today, but there are two things that might try to imitate God's voice to us and mislead us. Those two things are our own heart/desires/mind and the enemy. So when we think that we hear God speak to us, we need to judge what we hear against God's truth. And God has given us two powerful tools to use in that evaluation process. The first of those tools is God's written word, the Bible. If we think we hear God say anything to us that contradicts the Bible, then we know we have heard wrong and we must reject what we heard. The Bible is the higher criteria of these two tools. We must never receive anything as "from God" that contradicts the Bible.

But God does not limit Himself to only speaking to us through the Bible today. He also reveals Himself to us, shows us His nature and what He is like. The more we grown in intimacy with God, the more of a friendship we have with Him and He will begin to show us more of Himself.

We see and example of this in the life of the Apostle John, who was nicked named the "beloved" disciple; he was the one who laid his head on Jesus' breast. John was part of Jesus' inner circle of disciples, along with Peter and James. Those three probably knew Jesus better than most of the other disciples because they spent more time with Him. And because John was closer to Jesus than most of the other disciples, he seemed to have a special "in" with Jesus that the others did not enjoy. Apparently they did not all feel the liberty John felt to make physical expressions of their love for Jesus, and they did not feel as much liberty to ask Jesus questions.

Remember at the Last Supper when Jesus told them that one of them would betray Jesus? They all wanted to know who it was, but they did not dare ask Jesus themselves. Instead they motioned to John, the one who had the special friendship with the Lord, and asked him to ask Jesus. Now, here is the really neat part -- Jesus answered his question when he asked. And God likes to do that in our lives today. John laid his head on Jesus' breast and asked the question; he asked God for information and God gave it to him. Look at John 13:21-26:

21When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." 22Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.

23Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.

25Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast, he said to Him, "Lord, who is it?"

26Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

The closer we draw to God, the more He reveals Himself to us. He loves to show us what He is like and we end up really worshipping Him more and more as we come to know more and more of His true nature. John had drawn very close to Jesus. And even though he knew Jesus well, he still did not know everything about Him. And we have an account in the book of revelation of how Jesus revealed even more of His nature to John. John knew the Jesus who had become human and walked on this earth. He even had some knowledge of the resurrected Jesus who spent 40 days with the disciples before He ascended into heaven. But there was a side of Jesus that he did not know very well: the glorified Jesus.

So Jesus gave John an experience where He revealed this aspect of His nature to him. We see this in the book of Revelation, especially in chapter 1, verses 10 to 18. John knew what Jesus looked like, he had lived with Him and had walked with Him and had studied under Him. And after Jesus rose from the dead, John became His witness. He was arrested and put in exile on what we think was a prison island, called Pathos, because of his faith. And one Sunday morning he was worshipping the Lord and was suddenly caught up in a vision. Let's look at the vision in Rev 1:10-17:

10I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."

12Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands, 13and in the midst of the seven lamp stands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

This vision was not the Jesus who John walked along side and followed for those years as a disciple. This vision was not the Jesus who had been raised from the dead and who had not yet ascended to Heaven. Jesus showed John an aspect of Himself that John had not seen before. Jesus showed Himself as the ascended and glorified Lord of all creation. John knew Jesus really well, possibly better than any of the other disciples knew Him. But even John did not know this side of Jesus until Jesus choose to reveal it to him. He was allowed to see and experience the glorified Jesus in this vision. Now look at John's response to this experience with God in verses 17 and 18:

17And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

John, the one who knew Jesus so well, was overwhelmed and terrified when Jesus revealed this aspect of His nature to John. Why? because he had never seen Jesus in that much glory before. It was new to him and he did not know how to handle it. He ended up falling on His face before the Lord in sheer terror and became totally non-functional. Jesus had to lay hands on him and tell him not to be afraid before he could go on with the vision. His experience with God really blew his mind. You might say it "overloaded his circuits." And it gave John a better understanding of what Jesus' glory was like.

And at times God will reveal Himself to us in a way where we have not experienced Him before. Sometimes it is big and overwhelming, like John's vision of Jesus. Other times God allows us to experience Him and His true nature in more gentle ways.

For instance, we may have experiences where God reveals His love to us in a manner that makes us secure in His love for us. Perhaps we are feeling "dirty" because we had recently fallen in some sin and repented, or perhaps we made a mistake or experience a failure. And we assume that God is mad and displeased with us or disappointed in us. But then we have an experience where God meets us and wraps His arms around us and loves on us. We begin to see that God's love for us is not dependent on our performance, and we begin to feel more secure in His love for us.

How does God reveal more of His character to us? It can happen in many different ways. The most common is when God comes to us in an intimacy moment and reveals an aspect of Himself to us. He allows us to experience Him in this way so that we have more than just head knowledge to go on. Our personal experiences with God make Him more real to us and build our faith and grow and mature us in Him. And we are not to discount those after we have bounced them off of the Bible to verify the experience with God is consistent with Who God has revealed Himself to be in His word.

And once we have those experiences, they become a part of what we can draw from in recognizing false revelation and discerning when we hear things that are not really from God. We use our experiences of God along with our Bible knowledge of God to evaluate what is truth and what is the enemy trying to imitate God's voice to us.

I will talk more about this in our next lesson.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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