Luke 2:28-32 (CEV)
28Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God, 29 “Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace, because you have kept your promise to me. 30With my own eyes I have seen what you have done to save your people, 31and foreign nations will also see this. 32Your mighty power is a light for all nations, and it will bring honor to your people Israel.”
How Does He Know?
I have had newborn babes placed in my arms seconds after birth on dozens of occasions. And you know what? It’s always awesome to hold them, but I’ve never been able to tell at that moment what their lives would become – who they were destined to be – what the impact of their life would be on the world around them.
And yet Simeon is “told by the Spirit to go to the Temple” (from yesterday’s passage) and then picks up this baby and knows that this is the one he’s been praying for – and not only that, knows a new piece of the story that we haven’t heard yet: that Jesus isn’t just here for Israel, but for “all nations”.
We don’t hear anything about an angel visiting Simeon, so how does he hear from God? It’s one of those questions lots of people have. Some people assume that to hear from God means hearing a present, audible, maybe even recordable, voice. But over the centuries that Christians have talked about ‘hearing from God’ they’ve talked about hearing it in a number of different ways:
Dreams: some people have dreams, and God shows up in them and tells them things or shows them things.
Visions: some people have visions where they get a mental picture or idea of something that they would never have come up with on their own.
Thoughts or Ideas, A “Sense” or Intuition: sometimes when people are praying or journaling or talking to a friend or sitting in nature they will have a sudden thought or idea, a ‘sense’ or an intuition that there is something they’re supposed to say or do.
Still, Small Voice: some people do actually hear a voice, but it’s usually very quiet and they are usually only able to ‘hear’ it in their mind at times when they are intentionally making space to listen for it.
In all of these cases, they can confirm that it is God speaking in part because what they hear is in keeping with the character of God, and in part because it helps them or someone around them to become more fully the person that God made them to be.
The interesting thing to me is that this ability to hear from God isn’t something that just gets given randomly to some and not to others. It’s actually something that we as Jesus-followers can learn and grow in – if we choose to make time and space to do so. Today’s journal questions are designed to get you started in thinking about how God is already “talking” to you and practice listening to what He has to say. I encourage you to take some quiet time today or later this week to sit down and create space to hear from God. You might be able to think of the answers to these questions right away, or you might actually have to ask God to remind you of the answers … which is just another opportunity to get to hear from God!Journal Questions:1
- Has God ever invited you into His family? How did that look for you? Was it through another person, a dream, a ‘sense’ that this was just what you needed to do?
- Have you ever heard God through Scripture? Maybe you had been praying about something for a while, and then read or heard a verse from the Bible that kind of ‘jumped out at you’ with an answer?
- Has God ever spoken to your heart through a sermon or Bible lesson? One of those moments when you maybe didn’t even know why you’d shown up at church and then out of the blue Nathan says something that “gets you” right where you’re at?
- Has God spoken to your heart through worship? You’re listening to the music or singing along and then all of a sudden you’re weeping, or dancing or somehow responding to something you totally weren’t expecting?
- Does God ever address issues you need to make right with God or others? Like one of those days when you’ve had a fight with your partner and you’re driving along and you suddenly realize you actually did hurt them, and how? Does he ever affirm areas where you truly please him?
- Have you ever felt a strong urge to pray for someone? Maybe while they’re with you, or maybe just out of the blue?
- Has God ever prompted you to encourage someone?
1Today’s questions are adapted from a book by Brad Jersak, called ‘Can You Hear Me’. If you’re interested in learning more about how to listen to God, I would encourage you to check out this book. I have a copy – if you’d like to borrow it, send me a message through [email protected].