From Dufus to Discerner

by Andy Wood on May 7, 2008

in Ability, Insight, Life Currency

NetsIt’s one of the most amazing transformation stories in history.

From dufus to discerner.

Pathetic to prophetic.

Simon, the wishy-washy to Peter, the Rock.

This fisher became a fisher of men.  And the guy who was nearly always getting it wrong ended up writing two books of the New Testament under the most powerful level of inspiration there is.

“He who has ears, let him hear,” Jesus said (Matthew 13:9).  Peter learned to listen to God.  And if that guy did, you can, too.

I want to show you three ways Peter learned to hear God’s voice. Are there others?  Of course.  But these three speak out of the experience of someone on whose type of faith Jesus said He ‘d build His church.  You and I are in here somewhere.  Peter learned to hear God’s voice:

1.  In the Bible.
In Peter’s “final word” he said this:  “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT).

These are intimacy words.  Love language.  God’s power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness through “knowledge.”  This isn’t head knowledge, but an intimate, personal relationship.  And out of that intimate, personal knowledge, God offers us the language of commitment.  We call that “promises.”  And by them, Peter says, we become “partakers of His divine nature.”

A lot of people approach the Bible like they are reading a contract.  From God’s perspective, it’s a love letter, written in the language of commitment.  Listen for His voice as you read it.  Allow Him to draw you into intimacy with Him as you study it, meditate on it, or pray through it.

2.  In his “architecture.”
Rick Warren and Purpose Driven have given the Body of Christ an extraordinary tool for helping people understand their place in it.  By discovering your S.H.A.P.E., you are better prepared to serve in a way that is consistent with God’s unique design for you.  “S.H.A.P.E.” stands for spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences.

This is demonstrated in Peter’s life.  There are ways that God spoke to Peter that were unique to him.

  • Spiritual gifts – sometimes the way the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to you is by revealing Himself through you.  Peter, known for his “big mouth,” actually heard the Lord speaking through him prophetically.
  • Heart – Peter was a fisherman by trade.  But what stirred his passion was not fish, but people.  How do I know?  Well, you never see Peter actually catching any fish unless Jesus tells him to.  And the minute Jesus says, “Follow me,” the nets are on the beach, and Peter’s outta there.
  • Abilities – God will sometimes speak through your skill set.  As a fisherman, when faced with uncertainties, Peter would routinely go back to what he was good at.  Three of his most powerful lessons took place during those times.
  • Personality – Whenever God wanted to teach Peter something really life-changing, He drew him a picture.  Peter was a visual learner with an outgoing personality.  Remember the vision of the sheet? The transfiguration?  All living pictures aimed at a visual learner.
  • Experience – Peter had some amazing life experiences, and in that “final word” I mentioned earlier, he was still hearing the Lord speak through them.

How about you?  How does the Lord speak to you through your S.H.A.P.E. – your architecture?

3.  In the “unusual.”
The Holy Spirit still speaks in a variety of unusual methods.  He did so with Peter, and with Paul.  And while many people question whether He continues to do so, I believe He does.  He could use:

  • Pictures– dreams, vision, “mental impressions”
  • Words – to the ears or the heart
  • Feelings – a sense of peace or anxiety
  • Relationships – other people (prophecies, words of knowledge, words of wisdom) or angels
  • Circumstances

As in the case of Peter’s vision of the sheet, we don’t always know immediately what the Lord is saying to us.  Nevertheless, God will often use a variety of means to confirm both the message and the timing for what he is saying.

Why does God do that?  Now that we have our Bible, isn’t that sufficient?  Often, yes – and as a final authority, always.  But sometimes God wants to interrupt our pattern of thinking, or our limited interpretations of His truth.  Sometimes He speaks in unusual ways to overcome the limitations of the natural.  Sometimes he wants to use us as instruments of ministry or leadership.  Sometimes He wants to confirm something He’s already said.  All of this is present in Peter’s experience.

So what does the experience of a transformed fisherman teach us about hearing God’s voice?  First, always begin with a heart toward God, and assume He has something to say.  Don’t assume that everything you see or hear is God.  There are counterfeits!  Test what you hear (1 John 4:1).  The ultimate test is ALWAYS the word of God.  Look for confirmation – often through different means.  Peter had a vision, then heard a voice, then had some visitors, then observed circumstances, then was reminded of something Jesus said over and over.  Remember you – and only you – are accountable for responding to what you hear.

Hey, remember those object lessons I mentioned in Peter’s life?  Next post, I’ll show you what they were, and how they can teach you to tune in to God’s voice.  (What was a fisherman doing with a sword?)

And Peter’s greatest legacy is his greatest lesson – Don’t be afraid of making a mistake! Yes, Peter missed God sometimes.  But he didn’t stop listening or looking for the Lord.  It’s always better to make a mistake with a heart toward God than to quit listening entirely.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivy May 9, 2008 at 8:10 am

Excellent message. Thank you for sharing, Andy.

Francis Meador June 22, 2009 at 9:16 am

Dear Andy,
I`ve never heard one of your messages that did not speak to me, and this was no exception. I`m so glad God has not given up on me. I know that sometimes I am more able to hear what the Spirit says than others. My agendas tend to get in the way.
Thanks for the reminder that God speaks in different ways. There are a couple of things on my heart regarding ministry. I`ve been asking God to show me clearly which, when and how. It may sound strange, but I don`t want to step out on my ideas, or my need to feel of use and miss God`s will.
With great love and respect,

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