Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Methods that God Uses to Lead His People! Part 3
(ver 1.2) This is Part 3 in a series of basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. The spiritual value contained within this series will be significantly greater than most other lessons that I have done if you can grasp them. I am currently going through a list in random order of the recorded methods in the Bible that God has used to communicate with the human race in order to lead them into the paths that they should go. I believe that by studying the past we can better understand the present and even possibly the future. I am convinced that God wrote these things in the Bible to teach us who He is and how He operates. While God is certainly not limited to these methods, He has set precedence for establishing their validity and importance for us knowing about them by recording them in His Word. God reveals His unique character and His personalities to us in many ways that are often missed. In the first lesson I showed you that God says the secret hidden qualities of God are clearly seen in the things that He has created. This of course confounds the wisdom of natural men who proclaim a self-creating world. These people deny the intelligent design patterns found in plain sight and believe they have occurred by random chance and an unexplained origination of order from a disordered big bang. Organization and structure from chaos is a popular imaginative theory of man used to explain away God’s involvement. However I have never seen an explosion bring anything but destruction. That is a scary approach to base your eternal destiny. I would suggest if you have not read this series from the beginning that you would go to “Part 1” and start there first. So today I will continue with the Spirit of God’s methods of speaking to us and hopefully someone out there will see and understand them to know how God can still communicate with them today. Let’s review my list of 12 methods that I gave you in the last lesson:
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
These are the 12 methods that I have discovered while reading and studying the Bible. Some I have experienced and others I have learned about from others who have experienced them and all of them can be found in the Bible to establish their importance. From this list I have introduced you to methods 12, 7, 2 and 1. We saw the Finger of God writing on the tablets of stone which contained the Words of God for the children of Israel. We saw the voice of God walking in the Garden in Genesis and speaking to Adam and Eve. We also reviewed some of the facts presented in creation that reveal God’s hidden characteristics. Let’s go to number 3 on the list now and see how God has used angels to communicate with man in the Bible.
ANGELS, GOD’S MESSENGERS!
I’ll start by saying that I have never seen an angel that I know of. But, I have spoken with people who have seen them so I believe that they exist by reading the Word of God and hearing the testimony of Christian witnesses. There are several verses in the Bible that indicate the angels can appear as men and look exactly like one of us and therefore we are not always able to know when we have encountered one. Read in Genesis 19 and see what God says about the angels visiting Lot in Sodom. They come walking up to the city just like any normal man would have done and they eat and sleep in Lot’s house like any normal man would also do. Finally, the next morning they take Lot and his family out of the city before it is supernaturally destroyed. It sounds more like the actions of men rather than it does of angels from reading the description of them in this chapter. However, this was the direct ministry of the angels of God in full demonstration. These angels were sent by God because of God’s conversation with Abram. Lot’s family was saved because of the covenant relationship that God had with Abram at this point in time and Abraham’s request to save the righteous Lot. Lot is a type of the church in the present evil world before the coming of Christ, if you did not know it? It is also important to know that Jesus taught about this in the Gospels as a direct patterned type of the end times that we are living within right now. Let’ me show you:
Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Understanding that angels will be involved in the last days exactly like they were in the days of Lot should cause you to rethink what to look for in the coming days before Christ’s return. If angels came to Lot and ate and drank with them and even slept in their houses we should really come up to a higher level of expectation to what they will be doing right now before the coming tribulation. It also says that the angels will be the ones to take us out of here before the destruction of the world comes to fruition. You can learn this by seeing the parable that Jesus taught on the wheat and the tares where the harvesters or the reapers we are told are the angels and the wheat are the children of God and the tares are the children of Satan (Mat 13:39). The story of Lot proves two things to me; we (the church) will know the day that the destruction will come because it will begin the day that we are taken out by God. I did not set any dates, so do not misunderstand what I just said. Let’s continue to study the subject of angels and see what else the Bible says about their work methods. The New Testament actually has a verse that will fit here very nicely on this subject of angels:
Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
You can see that we are requested or even required to entertain strangers because we might be entertaining angels and even be unaware of the encounter. What would have happened to Lot’s family if they would have not hosted the men that came to them in Sodom? That is a very good question to consider. What you need to know about reading Hebrews 13:2 is that you may not always know what is happening when an angel shows up to help you. There are clearly instances when angels do not present themselves as humans in the Bible, but there are also those times when they do. This seems to be another demonstration of the sovereign will of God in determining how to manifest and how to communicate with people. This makes walking with God much more complicated doesn’t it? Or perhaps it makes it more simple depending upon your point of view. To be consistently kind and loving to everyone will result in a simpler Christian life rather than trying to be kind to some and then to ignore all of the others. This however can be misleading when you are good to evil men and they do nothing but hurt you. That is where wisdom comes in. One night I was walking in downtown Dallas TX late at night with my two young children. All of sudden I noticed two teenagers coming towards me rapidly and the situation looked grave. I then pleaded the blood of Jesus Christ for divine protection and turned to walk the other way when I saw 4 people out of nowhere come towards me who were very safe and peaceful feeling so I walked to them and then turned and walked with them. The two thugs came to the 7 of us in a group and started asking stupid questions and eventually ran off. One of the ladies in the group turned to me and said “thank you”. I had not said anything to them about me or what was happening to me. So why did she say “thank you”? I do not know other than me praying and asking God for help. That is all I did. Were these angels that came to answer my prayer from God? I honestly cannot say. I just know they came at the right time and then disappeared in the darkness and I never saw them or spoke to them again. Maybe it was just an amazing coincidence, but I believe otherwise. I believe Hebrews 13:2 is saying that we should be kind to everyone because it just might be an angel with a message from God that we are speaking with. I have heard the testimony of other people where a man suddenly appears and saves them or pulls them out of a burning car and the man disappears not to be known again. These could all be examples of modern angelic encounters and we will probably learn about them someday when the Bible says that we will Judge the angels (1 Cor 6:3).
Exo 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Here are actually two methods of God communicating with humans combined into one. Understand that God can combine methods for greater emphasis when it is necessary. Exodus 3:2 says that God has sent an angel to Moses with a message and the angel appears to him in a visible form of a burning bush, but the bush is never consumed by the flame. Clearly this was an example of a supernatural fire and not a natural one. It is also not an angel in the form of a man with a message either. Reading the rest of the chapter we can see that the angel was given a very direct and specific message for Moses by God. It is actually very interesting to read this conversation. It is clearly as if God was present and speaking to Moses in the first hand. In each verse it says “The Lord said” and “God called unto him”. So was it the LORD or was it the angel present or was there a difference between the two? In other words did it matter? Here is where you should begin to understand if an angel shows up with a message, it is not the words of the angel, it is the Words of the Holy God sent through an angel. So when the words come out and are spoken by the angel, they are the direct Words from God. This makes the words as important as if you were standing before the throne of God and listening to God in person. This is a factor that is very important for you to grasp. Treat the Words spoken to you by an angel to be God’s Words with respect, awe and reverence. The Words of God have great significance, power and meaning no matter how they are delivered to you. If God has a message for you using any of the 12 methods in my list, you should treat it like you were hearing it directly from God. This is called faith and it demonstrates reverence, respect and humility. God is never required to speak to anyone, but He does this out of love by His grace.
We can clearly see that the angel got Moses’ attention using the external visible sign post of a burning bush. Sometimes on rare occasions God will do spectacular supernatural things to get people’s attention that are either stubborn, hard headed, spiritually deaf, dull of hearing, unaware of God’s leading or do not want to listen to God’s voice. This normally occurred more often in the Old Testament before people were saved and the Spirit of God becomes resident within them. Keep this in mind that the more dull or dense that you are spiritually speaking the more spectacular God may have to become to get your full attention. It is always much better to rise up and become receptive and aware of spiritual things than it may be to try to wait for God to come down to your level of carnal awareness. In other words you should be gravitating upwards towards spiritual things and away from the downward natural things of this world. This is called spiritual growth and it is a key factor in learning to be led by the Spirit of God.
Angels are common messengers sent by God to deliver messages to His people from Genesis to Revelation. If you look up the Greek or the Hebrew words translated as angel you will see that it means a literal “messenger”. I equate angels to be like our modern delivery services like UPS or FedEx. These companies do not generate packages, they just deliver them. You can see the activity of angels in almost every book of the Bible. Even today an angel can still appear to you with a message from God. I have heard several people tell me about how they saw angels and even heard a message from God from one of them. Do not discount or discourage angels and do not seek for their manifestations either. If God so chooses He can use an angel to deliver a personal message of direction to you, but it is up to God. You can see angels coming to Lot, Abraham and Jacob in Genesis. You can see angels coming to Moses and Daniel. You can even see God’s usage of angels in the books of Acts with Peter and Paul. Finally you can see that angels play a very key role in the book of Revelation. I did not attempt to mention every example, I just wanted you to see that angels are real and that they can be used by God to deliver a message at any time in several different forms. Let’s jump down to number 9 in the list and look at dreams next.
VISIONS OF THE NIGHT AKA DREAMS!
Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.
Dreams from God are nothing but spiritual visions of the night when the body is at complete rest and the human mind is still enough to be able to hear the voice of God. Most of the time you have to realize that one reason why people do not think they ever hear from God is because their mind is constantly active thinking on something unrelated to God. God will not interrupt your thoughts to even give you an important message. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate Gentleman. He never interrupts and He is always courteous using the utmost gentlemanly manners. Dreams are mentioned in nearly 90 different verses of the Bible, but mostly in the Old Testament. Dreams are used by God many times in the Bible to get the attention of people to deliver them an important message. God used dreams in the life of Joseph in Genesis to help prepare him for the coming hard life that he was going to go through. God also used dreams to help the future husband of Mary who was also named Joseph in Matthew to marry her. God uses a dream here in Genesis 20:3 to tell the king that he was a dead man for taking another man’s wife. God is in effect directly warning the king that what he has done violates common decency and the plan of God for Abraham and Sarah. Abimelech could have ignored the dream as just a bad meal that he ate before he went to bed or it could be that he gave it the priority it deserved and changed what he was about to do. Sometimes dreams are more vivid and real than at other times. You might know what I am a talking about. I believe Abimelech must have had one of these dramatic vivid dreams to get his full attention. Dreams are mentioned by God even in the book of Acts so we know they are still an active method used by God to communicate with people today:
Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
There are actually three methods of God used to communicate with people on the earth in this single verse. God clearly tells us that dreams will continue to be used even in the last days (final two thousand years). This means you should give dreams greater priority than you probably do today. A dream that you had last night might have been a direct message from God. Sometimes dreams need interpretation from God and other times they do not. The dream in Genesis 20:3 needed no interpretation. But, the dream of the pharaoh in Egypt when Joseph was in prison needed interpretation from Joseph in order to be understood. Not too long ago I had a dream about somebody I knew. I dreamed that they were killed and died a very young death. So I took it to be a message from God to pray for them and I did that. I do not discount or discourage dreams from occurring. I try to take them and use them as a message from God and I hope you will do this also. I probably could spend a lot more time on the subject of dreams, but I do not want to get into that level of detail in an overview lesson about how God speaks to people today. I’ll end the subject of dreams with this important verse:
Dan 2:19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
God declares to us that Daniel was given secrets from God in a dream of the night. God called this a night vision into the spiritual dimension. What is a secret? Why is it sometimes good to know secrets? I guess it depends on who has the secret, but in this case if God gives you a secret it will be incredibly important new information. I believe that God leads His people by occasionally disclosing secrets. I hope you are grasping the concepts that I am giving you about why it is important to listen to even a dream. You can see that Daniel was called blessed because of this supernatural encounter. Awesome stuff to know! The other two methods in Acts 2:17 of divine communication are the Prophet prophesying and the use of visions by the Spirit of God. Since we are discussing night visions let’s talk about number 8 in my list, the subject of day visions briefly and we will do prophets later.
DAY VISIONS – WINDOWS INTO THE SPIRITUAL REALM
Gen 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
God comes to people with guidance in the Bible using spiritual visions many times. I’ve done other lessons on what visions are so I will not go into great detail about them again today. However, a spiritual vision is a temporary window into the unseen spiritual dimension seen or observed from someone within the natural realm. In other words you do not have visions in heaven, you can see the real first hand there, but here in the temporary natural realm we are occasionally given glimpse of the supernatural realm to help us or teach us something that is important for us to understand. Natural human vision is limited to the narrow natural light spectrum and I personally believe that the spiritual dimension is on a much higher frequency level that is way beyond this normal visual range. I believe that spiritual beings like angels and demons are moving at much higher frequencies than is necessary for humans to perceive them with their natural eyes. I certainly do believe that spiritual beings exist all around us at all times, but that we just do not perceive them with our physical senses. We however see that angels and spiritual beings can manifest in the Bible within the natural realm. How they do this is not given to us by God in the Bible that I know of right now. I speculate that the angels slow down their movement to allow their frequency of measure to become visible but that is just my opinion and probably not valid. God says in Genesis 15:1 that the Word of God came to Abraham in the form of a vision. This is clearly just another method that God uses to communicate with people on the earth. God is doing something supernatural to Abram in this verse to permit him to hear the voice of God and to see the things that he could have never seen otherwise. If you read this chapter we are told that Abram sees a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passing through the bloody covenant animal pieces on the ground. This is clearly symbolism for a greater spiritual truth that is being presented. Jesus when speaking to the Jewish leaders said “Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). You see the vision that God gave to Abraham was a future display of Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth. That is another good lesson to learn, but I do not have the time to expand it fully. However know that many times when God speaks to people it is an attempt to point them to Jesus who is the only way to be saved.
John was given a major vision in order to write the book of Revelation. God showed Him many things that would not occur for nearly two thousand years. This is just another New Testament example that God still uses visions. Saul had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. You can read about this vision in Acts 26 being described by Paul. In Acts 16 and 18 there are two other night visions described that happen to Paul. These are potentially dreams, but he may have been awake and just having a vision in the dark of night while praying. Visions can be open or closed and I do not have time to fully explain the difference. One occurs with your eyes wide open and the other is you with your eyes closed in a trance like state. In the Old Testament the servant of Elisha came to him while they were surrounded by an army that was about to wipe them out and Elisha said this to the servant:
2Ki 6:16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
This is a great example of an open vision in the Bible. The natural eyes of the servant were opened to see that the mountains around them were full of spiritual chariots of fire. The servant was permitted by the prayer of Elisha the prophet and the grace of God to be able to see what he normally would not have been able to see. This is still how it can occur today also. Prayer can cause your eyes to be opened if God chooses to enlighten you with this privilege. It is still up to God. You are not going to make God do anything.
I know I have not covered every example that I wanted to today, but I have gone long enough for another lesson. We covered three more methods in this lesson so in all I have introduced you to half of the ways that God has recorded in the Bible to speak to us. If God has ever used one of these methods in my list to get your attention, I would like to hear about it. If you know of other methods that God used to communicate with you, I would like to hear about that also. You may share your personal experience with me and my readers to help us all grow in the knowledge of the Lord. If you have ever seen angels I would like to hear about them. If you have ever seen a vision or had a dream it would be great to hear about that also, but you do not have to tell me what they said. Please come back and we will cover more examples of how the Spirit of God communicates with the people on the earth in the next lesson. If you have comments or questions on anything that I have said or if you want to share your experience of how God has communicated with you, then please do that. God Bless you until next time.
If you would like to continue reading in this series you may go to “Part 4“.