When do we know when God speaks? I believe the correct answer is “anytime”! We may think that only preachers and those with a ministry are the people who God chooses to speak to as they study the Word and these are then spoken to us. But, really, even if they share what He says — the Word — with us, we don’t hear if we are not open to them.
Infact, no one can “hear” God if we are not open, first to Him and, then, to others. When we are open to Him, we read/hear His Word and we become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and are able to recognise what He is saying. The Holy Spirit thus impresses the things of God on us. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and that’s when we hear God and know He has spoken. We don’t hear just because this or that preacher, prophet, pastor, evangelist or minister of God said it. We hear when the Spirit of God convicts.
Even without God, people can change from listening to others or even from watching nature. It is part of the human condition. As Christians, the Holy Spirit will also use the same means of the human condition to minister to one another. We need to be open to this aspect of His ministry.
When the Holy Spirit illuminates, we should share it with one another if it isn’t a personal matter meant only for the individual. As we do this, the Holy Spirit ministers in a personal way and the Body of believers are also built up. It is a great way to encourage the Body of Christ, in addition to the corporate ministry.
But, we sometimes don’t want to hear because there is sin in our hearts — the sin of unredeemed nature. It blocks us from being open to receive how, what and when the Holy Spirit wants us to hear. Envy, pride, a competitive spirit, anger, frustrations, lack of confidence from a lack of self-esteem, deceit, conceit etc, etc closes our hearts to each other and we can’t reach out nor receive.
In relationships we need to learn to quickly get past sin and shortcomings so that we can hear Him again. When we remain in sin and ignorance, our Lord, abounding in love and slow to anger, waits patiently until He changes us to make us hear Him again.
When He does that, we become humble in spirit and it becomes easier to relate and to be open to hearing God through and in others.
A time is coming when we will no longer be dependent on a corporate ministry. “Going to church” may not be feasible and the personal ministry will have to take over. We need to learn and teach others to be open to hear Him through one another.