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Abide 2 – Does God Speak Today?  

Day 1 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)  

In Abide 1, Day 4, you briefly took a peek at a tool that many have found helpful in their daily devotions - the SMORP acronym. Today you’ll focus on the “Message” piece of SMORP: hearing what God may be saying to you.  

First, there’s a really big word that needs to be introduced: cessationism. Don’t skip this! May you be a learner – loving God with your mind. He is pleased by this! Think about that … isn’t this incredibly motivating, know that you are pleasing God as you discover new things and deepen your understanding on all truths? So read on.  

Cessationism is the theory that God spoke only in the Bible and does not talk to his children directly anymore. Some cessationists (a name for people who hold this belief) also deny that there are still miracles today or certain gifts from God. This is a very sad and unfortunate belief. After all, how could anyone have a real relationship with their Father in heaven if they could only interact with him when they’re reading their Bible? Would that be a good Father?   Or imagine if a wife wrote her husband a letter and said, “well honey, that’s all you will hear from me. When you need to make decisions, the letter won’t cover everything. You’ll just have to guess. But the letter also tells you that I love you, so yeah, there’s that! When you need very specific encouragement, hopefully you can find something in there that will boost your spirits.” That would be ridiculous!   Praise God that it’s not this way at all. He still speaks TODAY. The Way of Jesus is one full of his powerful, yet gentle voice!  

We Need to Hear God to Understand the Bible   It is silly that some still argue that God only speaks to people in the Bible, because the Bible itself teaches that God will speak directly to people through his Holy Spirit. As it states in John, John 14:26 (NIV) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

You may not grasp this completely, but what an incredible reality that God gives you his Spirit to teach you what you need to know! And this includes helping you understand the Bible!   Many cultures worship intelligence and education? This is why some of the most “intelligent” people deny that God speaks to people today. Here is a profound reality – God hides his truth from those who have no intent on obeying him in the first place.

Listen to what John said, John 7:17 (NIV) If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.   Do you want to know what God is saying? Be ready to obey! Think about this …. Jesus, the Son, actually praised the Father for deliberately hiding knowledge from stubborn and prideful people.

He said, Luke 10:21 (NIV) I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. It pleases God to do it this way!   You need to become like a little child to hear the voice of God. This does not mean being immature. It means having a soft, trusting heart, ready to obey. Children love to ask questions, but they are also trusting of their parents early on. Will you be like this as well?  

Then, consider what Jesus said to the religious scholars of his day, John 5:39-40 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. Where is life found? In the Bible? No, in Jesus! They were very smart and knowledgeable – but they were missing the life of Jesus!   Of course, you must avoid some possible misunderstandings.

First, very intelligent people, scholars, “experts” – they too can hear God’s voice. Jesus greatly desires to generously favour everyone with the blessing of hearing his voice! However, the guidelines will be the same for them as anyone else – they will need to humble themselves and be ready to submit to Jesus, who is king. All stand equal before him.  

Second, in future days you will see that this does not minimize the importance of the Bible in any way. Instead, what’s being established is that of course God speaks today – since one cannot even understand the Bible itself without the Holy Spirit’s help!  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading. 2. Can you fully understand the Bible simply through formal training and personal study? Write down what kind of heart and attitude you need to have instead. 3. What is cessationism? Write out a definition.  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. If you have made the decision to follow Jesus, what happened in you that made you think or feel that you needed to do that? Journal what was going on in your heart and mind. (this was God speaking!)

2. Has there been a time when a Bible verse you read seemed to be directed at a particular situation or circumstance you were going through? Or a verse seemed to pop out at you? (this was God speaking!)  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 4:1-11.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 2 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) The Bible Itself Says That God Is Still Speaking   Today you’ll dig into a specific passage a bit.

Do not be afraid to dig! You can do it. It will bear beautiful fruit in your life. Consider 1 Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (NIV) But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When this passage mentions prophecy, tongues and knowledge, it is referring to ways that God speaks to his people (some call them the speaking gifts – say that out loud; it helps with memory).  

Cessationists use 1 Corinthians 13 to support their claim that God doesn’t speak apart from the Bible anymore. Yet this passage actually says the very opposite! It does say that these speaking gifts will cease. But when? When perfection comes!   You may not have noticed, but things aren’t perfect yet!

Even a couple verses later, Paul said, 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV) Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. When will you see God “face to face?” At his second coming! Therefore, these gifts are still here today. God is still speaking.  

Paul also says, 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV) Now I know in part; then I shall know fully Do you understand everything fully today just because you have the Bible? No. Do you understand why a dear couple lost a teenage daughter and then six months later a teenage son? No! And you won’t until Jesus returns. You only see dimly now!   If speaking gifts like prophecy, tongues and words of knowledge remain until Jesus returns, then obviously they are here for the purpose of God speaking to people! Further, the Bible even describes what such communications are like:

• UNDERSTANDING from God: Ephesians 1:17 (NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation

• MESSAGE from God: 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NIV) When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation

• DIRECTION from God: Galatians 2:1-2 (NIV) Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation  

These additional messages from God do not compromise or contradict the Bible, for they’re a very different type of message! Do not forget this. The Way of Jesus relies a lot on the Bible! The Bible fixes the boundaries of what God will say to his people. This is a great blessing from God! Thankfully, knowledge of the Bible acts as a filter through which the events of your daily life must pass before you can discern if God is truly speaking in these events.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. How does 1 Corinthians 13 support that God is still speaking to his children? Journal the answer.  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Have you ever heard a sermon that really seemed to be directed right at you? If you have, journal what happened. (This is God speaking!)

2. Have you ever felt a prompting or urgency to do something good, or to not do something bad? (This too may have been God speaking!)

3. Write a prayer out to God, thanking him for speaking to you in the past (even if you haven’t heard him – “signals” can be missed) and thanking him in faith for how you will hear him in the future.

4. Memorize Romans 12:2.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 4:12-17.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 3 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Some Really Good News!   Imagine someone doesn’t hear God. It happens. Yet this isn’t proof that God doesn’t speak to people today. This is an objection rooted in lack of experience. It’s simply an admission that they can’t hear God! Have you personally heard the sound of every animal on earth? No. This doesn’t mean they don’t make sounds!  

Does God still speak today? The Bible answers with a resounding “Yes!” And here’s the good news – God absolutely delights to speak to two kinds of people.  

First, he speaks to people who think they’re too simple. John 10:27 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. Jesus said his sheep would hear his voice; not the highly educated; not geniuses - his SHEEP! Sheep are dumb! So when Jesus said that his sheep would hear his voice, he was setting the bar very low. In places where hearing the voice of God is taught and practiced, adults, children, those who are hurting and broken – they all begin to hear his voice.  

It all starts with the willingness to be like children and a desire to be dependent on God. Again, he is a good father!  

Second, God speaks to people who think they’re too bad. In John 4, Jesus talked to a woman who had five previous husbands and was living with another! Jesus was accused of speaking with gluttons, drunkards, and sinners! No matter how simple you may think you are (it may be to your advantage!), or how bad you’ve been, Jesus longs to speak to you. In fact, he is already speaking to you. He loves you that much.  

Maybe you simply have not recognized his voice yet – that’s what happened to Samuel. He had just laid down for the night, 1 Samuel 3:3-5 (NIV) Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down. So, he went and lay down.   After the third time Eli figured that it was God calling out to the boy, 1 Samuel 3:8-10 (NIV) Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."   What a powerful story and lesson! You too can hear God like this, learning to discern as you grow and mature. Seeking his voice, but being patient as you (and others) learn.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What kind of people does God delight to speak to?

3. Can you learn more about hearing God’s voice? What is the biblical example that was used in this lesson, where one of God’s servants had to learn to recognize God’s voice?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Can you think of a time in your life when you felt inadequate, dumb, or hopeless about pulling something off? This can be in the past or present (about anything, not just spiritual matters). Write this down.

2. Ask God to speak to you about HIS perspective on this time in your life. Record what you receive (if you’re still learning to hear God, don’t stress if you seem to get nothing). Don’t overanalyze what you get. Just write it down.

3. Text or call someone that you know who follows God. Ask them to share with you a time in their life where they heard God. 4. Review Romans 12:2.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 4:18-25.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 4 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Story Time!   Throughout the Abide lessons, you will consider some inspirational stories. Stories can motivate, teach, and bless! Of course, it’s even better to walk through these lessons with someone, sharing what Jesus is doing. New examples of the abundant, overflowing life that Jesus brings you is like tasting the freshest bread or fruit day after day!  

The New Testament is full of cases in which the early church ordered their lives by what they heard God say to them apart from the Bible. For example, do you ever need direction on what God wants you to do with your life? Acts 13:2 (NIV) While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” You see that they were directed specifically by God. This happened a lot! And it happens today as well, if you’ll listen.  

Then, there are many illustrations outside of the Bible of people who received God’s specific direction. For example, A.W. Tozer said, “the voice of God is a Friendly Voice. No one need fear to listen to it unless he has already made up his mind to resist it.” Here are some other names of those who heard God (don’t worry if you don’t recognize them!):   Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, John Wesley, George Mueller, Andrew Murray, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, A.W. Tozer, James Dobson, Elizabeth Elliott, Dallas Willard, Jack Deere, Richard Foster, Francis Schaeffer, John Ortberg, Francis Chan, Rick Warren, etc. Many others from history expected God to lead them through his voice. Consider the titles of some of the old songs of faith: “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” “All the Way, My Savior Leads Me,” “Lead on, Oh King Eternal,” “Where He Leads Me,” “Holy Spirit, Faithful Guide,” “Jesus Savior Pilot Me,” “Guide Me, O Great Jehovah,” etc.!   This is not a new idea at all! In fact, the idea that God stopped speaking is a very recent invention. To believe that God speaks is to be in the “camp of historical Christianity.” Put another way, you’re normal if you seek his voice.  

Here is a very personal story from Pastors Ray and Fran Duerksen, founders of Church Renewal – the ministry that has produced these Abide lessons. Please take the time to read this longer story.   George Mueller & Driving School   “I had been taught that God doesn’t speak to people like he did in the Bible. Then one night I was reading the autobiography of George Mueller. The people of England didn’t believe in God, so he prayed that God would show him how he could demonstrate God to the people – God gave him the idea of an orphanage. He would start and run the orphanage entirely by faith, asking no one for anything.   During his lifetime he did just that, caring for over 10,000 orphans, and never asking for money! He had secured a location to start, but the night before the first children arrived, he realized that he had none of the usual household items and food. He was distraught and had no modern means of communication to call for help.

As he prayerfully read the Bible, God spoke to him: Psalm 81:10 Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. The next day carriages arrived with everything Mueller had asked God for the night before.   I saw something for the first time! If God spoke to Mueller in the 19th century, then God was still speaking today! I wept and wept in my bed as the Spirit revealed these things to me - I didn’t realize it then, but he was already speaking to me - he had used an autobiography to do it!

The next morning, I excitedly told Fran: God still speaks! I then determined to see if he would speak to me about a huge need in our lives right then! You see, in 1982 interest rates had skyrocketed and many industries were closing their doors. McGee Industries, where I worked while going to school, had also laid everyone off. I had spent $1000 to get my driver instructor’s license to get a job, but then the job evaporated. Someone I knew owned 2 driving schools in Kitchener and offered to sell one of them for $5000. Only problem - I didn’t have one nickel, never mind $5000! On June 29, 1982 I got up very early, and sat down with a little green notebook and Bible.  

I wondered how I would know if God had spoken or not. What would this look like? Then I wrote the following words: ‘Lord, I have never done something like this before – if you really speak and guide people you have to make it plain.’ With that, I began to read in John, where I had left off in my previous devotions. When I came to John 16:13 and 25 it said (forgive the older language), ‘… whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.’ I don’t know how to explain it, but when I read that, the words came right off the page and buried themselves right in my heart!  

My heart was racing and again I wept! I couldn’t believe it! The very words I had just prayed, I then read in the Bible, and when I did, something incredibly powerful happened inside of me - I KNEW God had just spoken to me! And I couldn’t get over it! It was worth more than silver or gold! I could talk with the God of heaven. WOW!  

But I wasn’t done - I still didn’t know how I would buy this business with no money. So I continued my Old Testament reading in Psalm 37. When I reached the 21st verse my heart was again stirred. It read… Psalm 37:21 (KJV) ‘The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.’ It happened again when I read a few verses later … Psalm 37:26 (KJV) ‘He [the righteous] is ever merciful, and lendeth.’ Both times the Spirit spoke a word into my heart - but it was confusing: giveth or lendeth?   We made a trip to Steinbach about a week later for a family wedding.

On Saturday morning at 8 am, Fran’s dad came down the stairs, dressed in his wedding attire. I was sitting on a couch, already dressed for the wedding, reading the Bible. He asked if he could interrupt. Then he told me that God had woken him in the middle of the night and prompted him to phone someone about the money we needed to buy the business.  

The woman said, ‘Go to the credit union and I’ll co-sign a loan for Ray and Fran.’ So Dad and I went to the bank and secured the loan to buy the business. After the wedding we flew back to Kitchener and bought the business. The statement came every month and we paid it. But on the fourth month, the statement came, and the balance said, ‘$0!’ We knew that was impossible. Fran called the credit union to straighten everything out. But they informed her twice that it had truly been paid off, though Fran insisted we hadn’t.  

As we thought about it, we thought about this woman - had she paid it off? She hadn’t told us. Finally, I got up the nerve to write her a letter and ask. The following week we received a letter back telling us that she had, but not to tell anyone. As we stood in the living room, suddenly the two phrases exploded inside me: ‘the righteous lendeth; the righteous giveth!’ WOW!!! With such precise accuracy, the Lord had done exactly what he had spoken to me about!”  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. If you have a specific story of how God has spoken to you, write it out in full. When done, pray about 3 people that you can send it to – those who are following Jesus or not (be wise about your choices). Being a disciple includes sharing your story with others!

2. Review verses Romans 12:2 and John 15:5-6.  

Bible Reading 1. Take your Bible and turn to Matthew 5:1-12. Practice using SMORP with this passage in your journal (see Abide 1: Day 4 for reminder of what SMORP is). Don’t rush it! Significant conversations should never be rushed.  

Day 5 For this day, you can go straight to the Life Application section. It’s time to practice! The Way of Jesus is one of obedience.  

Life Application (James 1:22) At times the words, “listening prayer” will be used. It’s another way to speak about hearing God. Some well-meaning people object – “the Bible does not use the words ‘listening prayer.’” They are correct! But it does speak about listening to God and prayer. ‘Listening prayer’ is just a term that captures a practice many have ignored.  

1. A “Simple Question” (Listening Prayer)   a. Are you excited for Jesus to speak to you? If this feels uncomfortable or odd, do not give up. You will learn. If this is something you are experienced with, why not seek his voice more?  

b. First: thanksgiving & praise

• A great way to enter God’s presence is through praise. Psalm 100:4 (ESV) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

• Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something he wants you to be grateful for and why

• Then begin to praise and thank him from a heart of deep gratefulness • Write it out (journal it)  

c. Second: ask a question

• “What do you like about me? Why?” Or …

• “What do you see when you look at me?”  

d. Third: write down an IMPRESSION, thought, ‘word’ or picture that comes to you

• Write “G:” (for God)

• Then put your pen on the paper and write the 1st thing that comes to your mind

• Do not wrestle with the impressions or thoughts – just write them down

• Do NOT reject positive things he may want to say to you. Accept them by FAITH!

• Keep writing as long as you get thoughts - don’t stop!  

e. Fourth: respond (journal it)

• Next, print your first initial on the next line and write out your response to God

• It could be a question you have or you may simply wish to make a comment. There is no right or wrong thing here

• It’s just part of normal conversation, only this time the conversation is with God!

• Why write these impressions, ‘words,’ thoughts or pictures down? In order to focus one’s thoughts, so that minds don’t wander

• Next, listen attentively, for another response from God – and write it down again

• It will likely be a logical and rational response, one that makes sense for the context of your question or comment. Again, place a “G” before it

•                 Then respond again and keep the conversation going!

• The conversation will look something like this:

G: Begin by writing down an impression, thought, ‘word’ or picture you get

R: Begin with a question

G: Be quiet (listen) and write down the thoughts

R: Respond to the thoughts you receive, addressing them to the Lord

G: Be quiet (listen) and write down further thoughts that come to you  

2. Begin a Devotional Journal. Each day: a. Write down the date.

b. Next, begin your time by thanking God for something, such as what he did for you the day before.

c. Then follow your praise portion with a prayer conversation.

d. Of course, you may also wish to note other things in your journal as well, such as what he taught you, or what he did for you or any other thing that may be noteworthy to you.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 5:13-16.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 6 Final Steps 1. Review John 15:5-6 and Romans 12:2 2. Try using SMORP again using only 1 verse. You can choose your own verse – i.e. from a sermon you heard this week. Or you can use Philippians 4:13. God bless you as you continue to abide in Jesus!    

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