FIRST-PERSON: The God who speaks

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (BP) -- I can remember participating in worship services when the speaker asked us to stand and shout out our favorite name for God.

The Great I Am. The first and the last. Jehovah Jireh. El Shaddai. I've always liked "beautiful." God is beautiful in every way. His purpose is beautiful. His heart and mind are beautiful. His creation is beautiful. His love for man is beautiful.

But I've recently added another name for God: "the God who speaks."

Why this name?

On vacation this summer I walked by a gift store that specialized in Asian pottery. The store was filled with statues of Buddha. I know from my studies at California Baptist University that Buddhists don't really worship any particular god. I've also learned that due to the influence of Christian missionaries over the centuries Buddhists have started to worship Buddha as their god.

But there is one thing I've never heard: I have never heard of Buddha speaking to anyone. He is popular but never speaks. The same is true for all the popular gods in the world. They do not speak to man.

Have you ever shared with friends at work that God spoke to you? Perhaps they gave you a funny look. Most people don't know that God speaks. Their gods don't speak so they are uncomfortable when Christians talk about God speaking to them. And yet the God of the Bible and of creation is fully capable of speaking to us.

Hebrews 1:1-2 gives us a brief history of how God speaks to man: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds."

The pattern is very simple: God spoke through His prophets during the Old Testament era. Since the coming of the Lord, He Himself speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. What an amazing blessing.

Peter confirmed this in 2 Peter 1:21 (prophets spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit) and 2 Peter 3:2 (God spoke through prophets and now through the apostles). God spoke to Abraham and Moses. If you take a look at each of the prophets you'll see that all of them claimed to hear from God -– Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Micah, Micaiah -- as well as King David.

Are you hearing from God? He speaks to our hearts today from His Word. His Holy Spirit whispers to us on a daily basis quietly answering our prayers and speaking to our hearts. Isn't it amazing that the God of creation speaks to us?

How would our lives change if we knew with confidence that God was speaking to us through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. I'm a simple soul and I fully believe that God speaks to me right when I need to hear Him. Once a believer discovers the voice of God, their lives are never the same.

Randy Bennett is director of missions for the Kern County Southern Baptist Association in Bakersfield, Calif., and a former president of the California Southern Baptist Convention.
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