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How does God speak to us today? Maybe the word "communicate " would be more appropriate because the word, "speak", strongly suggests the use of words heard audibly by our physical ear.

I've never heard God's voice in an audible, physical sense. I don't know that I ever will hear it. Even if I did, I don't know how much I would recognize it and whether or not I am a worthy recipient of such an experience.

Maybe that's why I get somewhat uptight when I hear Christians glibly talk about how God has spoken to them. "The Lord said this........", "the Lord said that....", "God told me such and such". I am not disputing the fact that God does communicate with us. For example, many of us believe the Bible to be God's inspired word to us and, through the activity of the Holy Spirit, God "speaks" to us through what is written in the Scriptures.

I find that one of the ways in which God speaks into my life is through my thought patterns. From time to time I will have a thought or an idea or an insight that I recognize as not being my own. I find myself suddenly aware of this thought and it is just "so not me" that I respond with something like, "Where did that come from?" I realize that such a thought originated elsewhere and, because of the nature, quality, timing, appropriateness and value of the insight, I believe that God "deposited" it into my mind for just such a moment.

Recently I spent some time visiting a Church over a period of 8-9 weeks. Towards the end of that time I was endeavouring to summarize what I saw that Church could become in the future. As I worked this through, I said to one of the Elders that the Church could become - indeed, was meant to become - a Church serving the other Churches in its area.

As the words came out of my mouth, I thought, "Wow, where did that come from?"!! A Church serving the other Churches in its area. I had never read or heard of a Church having a mission statement like that. The Elder said to me, "What do you mean? What would that look like? How would it work?" I had to confess that I had no idea how such a concept could be implemented. It was a brand new thought - and I knew it was not my own.

I'm pleased to report that, before I left that situation, I was able to suggest two ways that they could begin to fulfil such a vision or mission. My purpose in mentioning this example is to alert you to one of the ways God may speak to you - in case you have not recognised it. Further, I mention it to you as a valid means of communication lest you are inclined to discount its value because it lacks something in the "spectacular" department.

Of course, such thoughts have to be evaluated and tested against the supreme authority of Scripture. But I am appealing that those thoughts that surprise us with their appropriateness and unexpectedness should not be treated with suspicion and ignored as of little or no value. Test them? Absolutely! But don't discount them or dismiss them out of hand.

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