Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Listening to God 4: 'Voices from Heaven'

Francis Schaeffer was one of the most respected and admired evangelicals of the twentieth century. The following is a story his wife, Edith, recounted of a remarkable happening that took place early in his ministry.

Francis and his young family faced a crisis, they needed temporary accommodation during a transition time but had very little money. While Francis was praying about this, he said to God, "Where can we live, Lord? Please show us." Immediately, in response to his question, he heard an audible voice. It wasn't simply a voice within his mind, it was as if another person had spoken. It simply said, "Uncle Harrison's house."

Uncle Harrison had never given the Schaeffer family anything, and they reckoned that it would be very unlikely he would offer his house to live in. Yet because the voice had been so startling and direct he felt that he had better obey it and ask his uncle.

He wrote to his uncle, asking him what he intended to do with his house for the next year. To his astonishment he uncle replied that he planned to live with his brother for the next year and would like to offer the Schaeffer's free of rent for a year. This proved to be a turning point in the Schaeffer's lives, and later Edith would say the clarity of that voice helped them through one of their most difficult years.

Now I must point out that even those who believe that God speaks to people in such ways today admit that such occurrences are rare. But they do happen!

When Peter stands up and explains what had just happened on Pentecost he begins, ‘In the last days …’ Bible commentator F. F. Bruce explains that the last days are the days between Jesus’ first coming and his second coming. So we are in the last days. What happens in those last days? ‘Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dreams dreams … I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy’ (Acts 2:17-18).

Prophecy, visions and dreams are a part of the Christian life in these last days. We should be open to the idea that God may speak to us in these ways.

One encouraging thing to mention! There are many reports coming from the Muslim world of people who are meeting Jesus in their dreams. Missionaries are finding that when they share the gospel with Muslims the way has been prepared by Christ.

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