James W. Goll

B. Childress
Apr 02 2010 08:00AM

    "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."   John 10:27

    "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and
    will sup with him, and he with me."   Revelation 3:20

Does God really speak today?  Will He speak personally to me?  If I listen, will He speak in such a manner that even
can understand?  Thank God, the answer is yes?  And, believe it or not (I expect you will believe it by the time you finish
this book), God Himself wants all of us to hear what He is saying - more than any of us do!

Each of us was created with a deep inner longing to hear our Master's voice.  He didn't make us to be mechanical
robots that just march around doing preordained things.  Our Father God created us to have fellowship with Him.  It is
our birthright to have an actual relationship with our God.

If our yearning for an intimate relationship with the lover of our souls is to be fulfilled, hearing His voice is a must.  We
cannot grow in our relationship with God unless we draw near to Him, trusting that He wants to speak to us personally.

Jesus came to restore humankind into the sweet fellowship that Adam and Eve first had known in the Garden.  Sin cut
them off from God and they could no longer be close to God.  Sin in the same way today cuts off each of us from God.  
But sin doesn't have the final word.  Because of the cross and the shed blood of Christ Jesus, we can be restored to
fellowship.  One of the main reasons Jesus came was to enable us to walk in restored communion with God.  

From my perspective, the greatest need in the Church today is for believers to clearly hear the voice of God for
themselves.  For us to reach our potential for a intimate relationship with God, we must be able to communicate with
Him.  Communication with God goes two ways: (1) talking to Him and (2) listening to Him when He talks to us.  To have
good communications, we must learn how and when to speak up and how to push the "pause button" in order to listen.

Most of us seem to do okay on the first one.  But we have to take the time to learn the lost art of listening to Him,

It Takes Two

Fellowship is not a one-way road.  It takes at least two, with both parties - in one another's presence - sharing attentively
in some kind of communion.  Our relationship with our heavenly Papa was never meant to be a long-distance telephone

"Available" is God's middle name.  He is just aching to spend time alone with each of us.  He yearns to hear from us.  He
wants us to know how attentive He is.

As I travel in my ministry, I am often away from my family for days at a time, but I diligently attempt to keep in touch with
what is happening at home.  Some times I do a better job than at others.  Using today's wonderful modern technology -
cell phones, faxes, email and such - my wife and I attempt to keep in touch.  But cell phone calls and email messages do
not compare or replace being with my dear wife and family.  Sometimes I just need a hug!  True love requires being
together.  The greatest key to hearing God's voice is cultivating a love-based relationship.

Mark Virkler states it this way: "The voice of God, I've discovered, is Spirit-to-spirit communication, the Holy Spirit
speaking directly to my spirit."  True fellowship requires that both parties speak and listen, both sharing their hearts
deeply with one another.  This is the key to keeping all relationships fresh and alive.  In an atmosphere of truth, we
share our heart with someone else.  Communion with God is much more than a ritual or an "information time."  It's Spirit-
to-spirit time!

Dutch Sheets said, "What topic could possibly deserve more of our attention than listening to God?  When the source of
all life and wisdom speaks, those who would be wise listen.  The foolish either don't care to or don't learn how.  The fruit
of both is the same: destructive ignorance."  We do not want to walk in the path of destruction but in the path of life.  Oh
God, deliver from formulaic Christianity and restore to us the pathways of constant dependency.  Teach us the ways of
life.  Teach us to live transparent, shared lives.

As for me, I want to hear His voice and intimately know Him, not just on a casual basis, but also on a daily, vibrant one.  
Join me and thousands of others who are leaning to hear the Master's beckoning voice by leaning our ear toward Him.  
Come with me now on a journey of beginning to hear and (love hearing) God's voice.

How It Began with Me

By the grace of God and the influence of my praying mother and church community, I grew up knowing that Jesus was
my best friend.  As a child, I would go on long walks in rural Missouri and just talk incessantly to God.  Often, while
gazing into the skies, I would try to listen to see if He had anything to say back.

As the youngest child, with two older sister, I always had wanted a brother.  So Jesus became the brother I never had.  
Years passed, and I graduated from high school.  But one thing remained the same - Jesus was right there with me as
my close friend.

At college, I hungered for more of God.  This quest led me into divine collision with a group of people with whom this
straight-laced, rural Methodist kid did not have much in common - the Jesus People.  When I got filled with the Holy Spirit
and released into His gifts in the Jesus Movement, it was like my little black-and-white TV set turned into OmniVision
overnight.  I was absolutely transformed.

Suddenly, my life was very different.  I had attempted to walk with the Lord all along, but now my life in the Spirit took a
quantum leap.  Somehow I had been able to detect His voice before, but in comparison to what I had previously
experienced, now it was as if God had just given me a hearing aid.  I really didn't know what to do with all this stuff -
impressions, mental snapshots, hunches, knowledge, short thoughts and full phrases that were being released into my
heart and mind.  But the Holy Spirit became an awesome tutor to me on this immense learning curve.

Still being quite young in this realm, I thought all believers lived this way.  I thought that at last I was living the "normal
Christian life."  (And I still think it is supposed to be that way!)  I didn't realize how many believers cannot point to one
single instance of hearing God's voice for themselves.  Yet even with my heightened experience of God, I knew I needed
more if I was to really advance in maturity in hearing and knowing His voice.

A Desire for Discernment

In the middle of my junior year at Central Missouri State University, this drive to know God led me to cry out for
discernment.  Late one night, I went to pray with another Jesus freak in an episcopal church where a friend's father, an
evangelical, Spirit-filled Episcopal priest, was the rector.  At the front of the sanctuary, on the wall close to the
Communion rail, there was a lighted candle.  It was a symbolic representation of the light of God and presence of God.  I
loved sneaking away when I could to spend time in quiet reflection, as His sweet presence seemed to reside there.

While basking in the light of His presence late that same night, I began to vocalize my desire to hear and know the voice
of God better.  I proceeded logically:

    Based on John 10:27, You have stated, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me."  Now I
    don't have any problem with the first part of the verse, "My sheep hear My voice."  I know I have heard Your voice
    because in Revelation 3:20 it says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens
    the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me."  I have heard Your knock at the door of my
    heart and I am one of Yours.

    I continued with my line-by-line presentation:

    So, Father, I accept by faith that I do hear Your voice.  The second part of the verse I don't have any problem with
    either.  I know that You know me, and You know me better than I know myself.  I don't have any problem with that.  
    But it's the third part of that verse that I have a big problem with, "and they follow Me."  So, God, I need to do
    more than just hear Your voice - because I also hear my voice, the voice of my flesh, the voice of others, the
    voice of the world and the voice of the enemy, Satan.  Therefore, if I'm going to be able to "follow You," I must do
    more than only hear Your voice.  I need to be able to discern Your voice from the other voices.

That night, my friend and I knelt in prayer and simply said, "Lord, we ask that You enroll us in Your School of the Spirit.  
Teach us not only how to hear but also how to discern Your voice from the voice of the stranger and all the other voices
that contend for our attention.  Please do this so that we can truly follow You."

Perhaps there is a book in heaven called
The Book of Godly Desires that God keeps a record in.  All I know is that night
in November 1972, it seemed to me that the Lord wrote down my name in His book.  I enrolled in His School of the
Spirit.  Thirty-plus years later, I'm still taking various classes in that school.  I don't think I've graduated from it yet.  I want
to be among those who are continuously learning how to hear and discern His wonderful voice and how to follow Him.

How about you?

Lessons from the Original Couple

A good starting place in the School of the Spirit is the lessons we can learn from the original couple, Adam and Eve, as
recorded in Genesis 3.  After they tasted the forbidden fruit, God came looking for some fellowship with Adam and Eve -
to walk and talk with them (as he does with you and me).  In
The Coming Prophetic Revolution, I wrote about what this
must have been like:

    Can you imagine, after Adam and Eve had known God, and He knew them, how quickly the spiritual climate
    changed?  As a result of their disobedience, they experienced instantaneous barriers to their intimacy with Him.  
    Walls shot up.  After their sin they plucked off leaves from the nearest bush as quickly as they could and sewed
    coverings for themselves.  They were hiding from the Lord their Creator for the first time in their lives.

    But God, in His passionate pursuit, was still drawing close.  A new reaction stirred within them as He drew near.  
    Previously they had run toward the sound of His footsteps.  Now they ran in the opposite direction.  Before, their
    response had been for joy: "Oh, wow, it's Father!"  Now it was dread and fear: "Oh, no, it's Father!"  They were
    guilt-ridden.  Never had they had such an emotional reaction or even such a thought before!  They had not
    known condemnation or fear or shame.  Now, as a result of their disobedience, they ran and hid from the voice of

This pretty well sums up the difference between the joy of hearing God and obeying His voice and the
dilemma of hearing God's voice and
not obeying.

Here's the good news:  God is searching for us.  He is drawing near - whether we want Him to or not!  He is the glorious
intruder.  God does not give up on His beloved;  He wants to walk and talk with you.  But there can be some sad news
also - barriers to intimacy result when we choose to ignore what He tells us.  So let's listen up and learn.  We need Him.  
We need to hear His voice.  Let's cultivate a heart and life that responds when He speaks.

From the Pioneer of Faith

Many pilgrims of the faith have walked this path before us.  We can look to them and learn from both their failures and
their successes.  They needed to hear God in their day just as we do in ours.  And God drew near to them in His loving
grace just as He will draw near to us.

With this in mind, let's look at the life of Abraham, who is called the father and pioneer of our faith.  This man heard
impossible promises from God, things that would require God's presence for their fulfillment.  (By the way, a good test of
whether we have heard God is that He rarely asks us to do something  that we can do in our own strength or by our own
effort.  God doesn't want to give us a mere word - He wants to create a constant need in us for more of Him!)

Abraham had to feel rather desperate and dependent, don't you think?  God required everything of Abraham.  Through
miraculous intervention, the promised son finally was born - in Abraham's old age.  But when this precious son, Isaac,
reached early manhood, God spoke to Abraham again and told him to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice on
Mount Moriah (see Genesis 22:1-2).  What a test!  But Abraham obeyed, and what an outcome!  At the zero hour, God
supplied a ram that could be sacrificed in place of Isaac, and God was satisfied.  This makes Abraham our finest
example of believing God and obeying Him fully.

Have you ever had to learn the grace of yielding?  Have you ever wanted to hold on too tightly to every little bit you
have?  I know I have.  But as I see more of the revelation of His great love for me, I, like Abraham, eventually melt and
yield to His kingdom ways.  So will you as you too learn to walk this pilgrimage of faith.

Abraham was called the "friend" of God (see II Chronicles 20:7).  How did he become God's friend?  Maybe it was
because he was with Him so much.  He became familiar with God's voice, and he learned to recognize even His shadow
when He was walking past.

I too want to be the friend of God.  In fact, that is what I think hearing God's voice is all about.

We Each Have a Desperate Need

Many other people in the Bible are examples for us of how to maintain a personal relationship with God.  As distinctly
different as they are in personality and circumstances, they all show us a desperate face.  Oh, to be like Moses, who
talked to God face to face.  But please, Lord, save me from 40 years of wilderness wandering!  If we want to hear God in
the gentle breeze as Elijah did, then we must be aware that it might involve getting the moody blues and hiding out in a
cave.  If we want angelic encounters like Daniel had, then we must get ready for the fire of God's furnace as well!

If we want to do the impossible, we must simply respond as a young teenaged girl named Mary responded when she
received the words of an angel and conceived a gift from God.  (
But God, that was a one-time deal, right?)  Or simply be
like Paul, the amazing apostle, who recognized that the words he heard from the Lord were to prepare him for the costs
that lay ahead.

There are scores of others, of course.  They may seem famous to us now, but Abraham, Moses, Mary and Paul were
only ordinary people like us.  Each person ever created has a need and a longing to hear our Creator's voice.  Each
person can talk to God, and we can hear Him, too.  Each person is created with the need to be continuously dependent
on His voice.  I think of the words of an old hymn: "I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need thee."

We all need to hear and know the voice of our Father, the voice of the Son, Jesus, and that of the Holy spirit, our
Helper, Guide and Comforter.  All three desire to speak to us.  It's all about being in God's presence.

Veteran teacher and author Fuchsia Pickett states:

    We must enter into unity with God's will for our lives through divine revelation.  Christ wants our minds to think His
    thoughts and our wills to choose His will to be performed in and through us.  [This happens as] we cultivate our
    relationship with Christ.

Perhaps you too will add your name to the list of those who heard God speak and then became strong in faith, doing
mighty exploits in His great name.  Remember, "faith comes by hearing" (Romans 10:17, NKJV).  Take time to listen for
His voice with all your heart.  Are your ready to get started in a few lessons?

Enroll Now!

You don't have to wait any longer - classes start every day!  School is in session at all times!  You can enroll right now
and be a student with me in the School of the Spirit, where we learn to hear the voice of God.  


THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO HEARING GOD, by James W. Goll, Copyright 2008, Regal From Gospel Light.