As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:22
My husband has a tradition. When one of his daughters or his grandchildren celebrate a birthday, he calls and sings happy birthday to them over the phone. I had been wondering if, as the grandchildren got a bit older, they thought this was silly.
My granddaughter stopped that thought cold. John (my husband) had gotten her voice mail when he called and because she was working was not sure if he would catch her in person, so he recorded his song on her voice mail. She called back later to talk to him and said, I’m going to keep that recording so when you are gone, I can always play it on my birthday. I’m a bit envious really because I’ve lost family members whos voice I’d love to have recorded but do not. However, I imagine that if they were to call me on the phone today, even these many years later, I would recognize the voice of those I loved.
John writes in Revelation 4:1 that the voice he heard was a voice he’d heard before. God spoke similar words at both Jesus baptism and at the transfiguration on the mountain, which John saw with his own eyes, and heard the words with his own ears. It’s not clear to me if it was the voice of the father or the voice of the Lord Jesus, but I have to tell you, I love that the voice of God is familiar.
I have never heard God’s voice audibly. But he speaks to me as I read his word and to my inner being through the spirit. I am learning his voice. I want to be like John; I want the voice to be familiar.
The Old Testament prophets testified that in the last days, God would pour out his spirit on his people. The apostle John tells that John the Baptist was told that he would know the Messiah because he would be the one upon whom that the spirit settles, the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit rather than just water. (John 1: 32-34) God didn’t just send a dove, he proudly claimed his son. There you have it, undeniable credibility!
As Christ-followers that same spirit has settled on us. Not only are we also proudly claimed, I believe the spirit aids us in recognizing God’s voice. First, I think the spirit is that voice I hear in my inner being (John 14:26). And, I believe the spirit aids me in understanding what God is saying through his written word (Hebrews 4:12). This is one of the ways the word can be living and active by my way of thinking.
Source of Joy
God loves his son, and I’m sure he brought joy in many ways, but being an obedient servant who came to walk this earth experiencing the human experience and offering himself as a sacrifice, that was a source of Joy. Why can I say that? Because God loves us. Jesus is proof of that. The obedience of Jesus set us free. No cheap freedom for us, but a costly one. When you pay that kind of price, it’s valuable. Our freedom is a source of joy for God. I get giddy just thinking about all that love poured out.
I take joy in knowing I can hear and recognize God’s voice. I long for the day when I hear him say to me, face to face, well done beloved daughter, you bring me great joy!
Looking Further at This Week’s Verse
- How do you hear God’s voice?
- Are there times you wonder if it’s God you are hearing? How do you think you can break through that doubt?
- Do you think time spent in God’s word helps us to recognize his voice? In what ways?
Father, Thank you for making it so clear that Jesus was your son. And thank you that even though we have not met him face to face we share with him the gift of your spirit.
I pray that the spirit will become a beacon in our lives pointing us to you so that we can point others in the right direction too. Help us to learn to listen closely as we hear the spirit speak in our innermost selves and as we read and speak your powerful words.
Help us live lives that express the joy we feel at being set free from sin’s grasp. And keep us faithful until the day we meet you face to face and recognize your joyful voice of welcome.
Unless otherwise noted, all verses quoted here are from the New Living Translation.