Want to position yourself to hear God’s voice more clearly in 2016? Here at the blog we are kicking off the new year with some practical wisdom for hearing God’s voice. Today is the first in a three-part series called “Wising Up.” It answers the most commonly asked questions I receive as I talk to people in churches across the world. This one’s about hearing God’s voice in the big decisions you may face in your life this year; a job, a relationship, perhaps a financial or health issue. It will take you about 10 minutes to watch, so grab a tea or coffee, have a listen and let’s make it our aim to wise up in 2016!
(PS. Our apologies for the poor focus on the screen!)
Love to hear your thoughts on this teaching here!
By now you’ve probably sung the words of that ancient Christmas carol “Silent Night” in church or at a Carols event under the stars. The story goes that a pastor was walking home on Christmas eve and felt inspired to write them as he walked through his village set with yellow lights and snow-lined rooftops. The words of “Silent Night” were sung in a little Austrian church the next day, then spread throughout the German speaking world in the early 1800s and came to the US fifty years later to become one of the great classics we sing every December.
Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright. It’s a beautiful line but it doesn’t fully capture the story. Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation gives us a slightly different version of the events. Unlike the scene depicted by the lilting carol, we see what was really going on in the spiritual realm. Instead of the peaceful glow surrounding the holy family pictured on our greeting cards, we see an enemy symbolised as a red seven-headed dragon. Instead of a baby sleeping peacefully in a manger, we see a vicious attack on a pregnant woman as she cries out in her pain. There’s a violent outbreak of war in the heavenlies and a cosmic uprising as the powers of evil seek to destroy God’s plan (Revelation 12:1-9).
You wake up drowsy eyed, wander into the kitchen and sit down with a cup of coffee. Slowly the images return, flashing through your mind in fleeting sequence. It’s like you were there. You can still feel the emotion, stirring and lingering like the taste of last evening’s meal. Strangely coherent, they seem to shed light on your thoughts from the day before.
But was it God?
We know that everybody dreams – usually for 1-2 hours every night. Psychologists tell us we dream to process the events of the day – it’s our brain’s natural healing mechanisms doing some ‘house-cleaning’ – in the same way that sleep allows for restoration of our physical body.
But we also know that God speaks in dreams and that he’s been doing so throughout history. The Scriptures tell us that dreams are one of the most common ways he speaks (Numbers 12:6), that they are made accessible to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:16-17) and that many of the great biblical events began while someone was sleeping (eg. Gen.15:8-21, Gen. 28:10-22, Gen. 37:5-11, Matt. 2:7-23, Acts 10:9-17, etc.)
So how do we know if a dream is from God?
It’s important first of all to understand that not every dream comes from God – in the same way that not every waking thought is from him! Most of the dreams we have are natural dreams – they are the activity of our unconscious minds while we are asleep. They may be interesting to take note of, and occasionally helpful in understanding ourselves, but they are not the voice of the Holy Spirit.
When God spoke to Joseph about his future destiny as a great leader, he waited until he was sleeping. When God spoke to the Apostle Peter about his strategy for building the church, he put Peter in a trance. When God answered Paul about which direction to go next on his missionary journey, he chose to answer in a dream.
Why would God speak to us in the night and not the day? Why wait until we are sleeping?
In this podcast, we explore some of the answers to these questions. You’ll learn how dreams can be used to get difficult messages through, how dreams make God’s voice accessible to everybody regardless of their personality type and how dreams and visions reveal God’s masterful creativity and his incredible heart to communicate.
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Learn More: The Awaken Your Dreams 3-part CD Series will equip you how to recognise God’s voice in dreams and visions. Learn how dreams are God’s most common mode of communication, how to understand the language of dreams and how to recognise if a dream is from God!