How to Discern God in Nature

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Scripture reading: Psalm 72:3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

In the hymn ‘Speak Lord in the stillness’, we are reminded of the messages that we have had in the past years. God’s voice is to be understood and received through various different agencies. One of them is nature. As I was walking through nature, the thought struck me that many people have difficulty seeing God as Moses saw Him. Moses saw ‘the invisible’. Can you hear Him through nature? What is He saying? How can I actually recognise His voice?

When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. {MH 58.3}

My purpose in this study is to seek God’s guidance to see, hear and recognise Him. The first thing is to bring ourselves into silence of the soul. This can be done for a period of time in nature when there is nothing but silence. In the silence, something begins to happen inside of the mind. Something drops into the mind because it is no longer permitting all sorts of thoughts to toss around in the brain, all the different voices that keep on affecting the brain.

A person who struggles with psychological difficulties hears voices in his brain. To them the thoughts in the mind are so loud that it becomes like a voice. Most of us have thoughts running around in our minds frequently; there is no peacefulness or rest. There are all sorts of thoughts running around. Which one of these thoughts is actually from God and which ones are from stress, troubles with situations, what people have said and what the world is saying? We need to discern the voice of God. We need to recognise the voice of God. It is a valuable thing to spend time in contemplating this.

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I [am] God: …

As we seek to understand this; that nature is able to communicate with us things which we need to understand, God will speak to us through nature.

By many, man’s wisdom is thought to be higher than the wisdom of the divine Teacher, and God’s lesson book is looked upon as old-fashioned, stale, and uninteresting. But by those who have been vivified by the Holy Spirit it is not so regarded. They see the priceless treasure, and would sell all to buy the field that contains it. … {COL 107.5}

There are wonderful truths in nature. The earth, the sea, and the sky are full of truth. They are our teachers. Nature utters her voice in lessons of heavenly wisdom and eternal truth. {COL 107.4}

Did you notice that? Nature has wonderful truths in it. “The earth, the sea, and the sky are full of truth. Nature utters her voice in lessons of heavenly wisdom and eternal truth.” We need to experience this. My burden is that we actually experience God speaking in nature.

But fallen man will not understand. Ibid.

As these truths are brought to us in nature, fallen man will not understand. Isn’t that true? Have you understood nature? Have you understood God speaking in nature? Have you seen God? Have you seen the truths in nature? How many have had difficulty in that? It is because we are fallen. God is speaking to us in nature, but we don’t understand.

Sin has obscured his vision, and he cannot of himself interpret nature without placing it above God. Ibid.

What has sin done? It has obscured your vision. God is right in front of you, and your vision can’t see Him. Here is the answer why Moses spent time in the wilderness to actually come to see God face to face. He had to deal with the obstruction of his own sinful nature. But when he stopped and spent that time, then he could rightfully look at nature and correctly see God in it.

Correct lessons cannot impress the minds of those who reject the word of God. The teaching of nature is by them so perverted that it turns the mind away from the Creator. Ibid.

It is interesting that the pagans actually worship the gods of nature. They worship nature itself; that is where pantheism comes from. This is because fallen man is not looking at these things aright. This poses before our mind a very serious consideration. If God is visible in nature around me, if I can hear His voice and sense His presence, what must happen so that I can actually see the invisible in nature around me? We must consider this very carefully. I pray that the Lord will break through the barrier that prevents us from seeing Him as He really is in nature.

Take your children and see whether you can help them in the mornings to tune into God. Do this personally with yourself and also with your children, so that we can begin to make a beautiful discovery that we may have never made in the past. God is trying to lead us on step by step. Follow very attentively the precious answers that are coming to us through God’s inspired word.

The reason why we have no more men of great breadth and extended knowledge, is because they trust to their own finite wisdom, and seek to place their own mold upon the work, in the place of having the mold of God. {FE 110.1}

God has to lead His people along and touch them in their own mould and finally bring them out into His mould.

They do not earnestly pray and keep the communication open between God and their souls, that they can recognize His voice. Ibid.

If I want to recognise God’s voice in nature, what must happen inside of me? The soul must be still inside, there must be stillness within, all the wisdom and clamourings of my own nature must be pushed aside. What I think is not relevant; that is my own voice speaking to me in my head. What I want to hear is God’s voice speaking to me; there must be silence in the soul. We must pray and keep the communication open between God and our soul; otherwise we cannot recognise His voice.

Messengers of light will come to the help of those who feel that they are weakness itself, without the guardianship of Heaven. … Ibid.

This is not to disturb you when you feel you are so weak that you cannot even think straight. It is when a person feels that, Without the guidance of heaven I am going to be all weakness and helplessness; it is when this mentality has taken hold of me that I am then able to distinguish and recognise God’s voice. But while I remain in my own thoughts, my own wisdom and my own ideas, the preacher can say to you, “Come! Come see God in nature,” and you will respond: “Yes, I am waiting; I can’t see anything you are talking about; you are just talking about your imagination.” This is how Satan comes to us, and how people speak to us: “Oh, come on, you can’t hear God in nature.” Their vision is obscured, and ours is also, unless we are in this state of mind, “I am total weakness. I can’t bring anything to you, God. I need you to speak to me.” Then in the stillness of my own thought activities, focusing on the stillness of God around me, I will begin to recognise Him speaking to me. That is an important thing.

Jesus makes a beautiful statement in reference to people who are keeping their minds open by communion with Him and by realising their own weakness without the help of heaven. Those kinds of people Jesus regards as His sheep. Sheep are not like goats; they are very blank. They need guidance, whereas goats know what they want to do. That is why the Lord sorts out the sheep from the goats. Sheep are dependent on their shepherd’s voice.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.

What a precious promise this is. I want to tell you personally that this promise I have held to from my earliest years. When my mother showed me this scripture, it became very dear to me, at the age of 12 or 13. ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and then I give them eternal life.’ Isn’t that what we want? If I want eternal life, I need to be a sheep that will hear His voice. What do I need? I need to have an attitude of total helplessness and weakness if I am going to recognise it.

It is not every heart that responds, but every heart may and can, if it will, respond to that love that is without a parallel. “My sheep hear My voice,” Christ said. A heart yearning for God will recognize the voice of God. God cannot respond to one soul that does not respond to His grace offered, His love bestowed. {21MR 370.4}

Can you see how that connects with the previous statement? Only when we feel our absolute weakness—that only heaven could help—can we recognise God’s voice. A heart yearning for God will recognize the voice of God. Sin has obliterated my vision; but as I am aware of my sin and weakness, if I embrace that reality as an important ingredient in my walk with God, I will then begin to become aware and discern God’s voice. I will become a sheep of God, and not a goat. I will hear the Shepherd’s voice. As I am yearning for God, He knows that I am yearning for Him.

I was out in nature this morning, and Satan came with his suggestions, “You want God to listen to you? You want to hear God? You can’t hear Him, can you? It is all in your imagination.” As I dismissed the terrible voice that was coming to me, I sensed my great need of the Lord. I stood there quietly in silence, and very slowly the Lord drew near and reminded me of my past experience with Him and of how He spoke to me here and there. I could then hear Him speaking to me already. He connected it with the nature around me, and by His wonderful grace my Shepherd spoke to me and comforted me. What is it? It is a yearning for God that must be there if I am going to hear His voice and discern it in nature.

Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, . . . and they follow me” (John 10:27). The Shepherd of Israel does not drive His flock, but He leads them. His attitude is wholly one of invitation. “My sheep hear my voice.” If we are indeed sons and daughters of God we not only hear, but recognize the voice above all others. We appreciate the words of Christ, we distinguish the truth as it is in Jesus from all error, and the truth refreshes the soul, and fills it with gladness. . . . {TMK 52.4}

Did you see another ingredient coming in here? If we are indeed sons and daughters of God – who are they? His sheep. Who are they? People who yearn for God, who realise their sin and utter weakness without guidance from heaven. It is these who will recognise the voice of God above all the other voices that are around us. You become capable of discriminating the different things that come to you and disturb your peace. Even in nature things may disturb your peace—especially man interfering with it—like a jet flying over.

I will never forget the day when I was still watching television off and on in the past; there was a beautiful nature scene in a park and a man who was just trying to be alone in nature, and there was a bulldozer making noise in the distance. The man got frustrated and left to another place. Then he was just beginning to really tune in when over flew an airplane. He pulled his hair out and got wild, because there were so many things that were interfering. As I was seeing that, the Lord drew near and said, ‘Can you see what you have to learn in this world? You have to learn to shut out all the other voices and just focus on mine.’

When I learnt to do that, in the days when I was doing my nurses’ training, I spent lots of time in nature there. There I was basking in the quietness of God’s closeness, and there was the noise of some machinery. As the Lord drew close I had this deep sense: Nature is more powerful than that sound. Even with the sound of man’s noise, if you are focusing and totally tuned into God, His nature is more powerful. It is only a distant sound.

All we need to do is to be in tune with Him, sons and daughters who are yearning to recognise His voice amongst all the others. “If we are indeed sons and daughters of God we not only hear, but recognize the voice above all others. We appreciate the words of Christ, we distinguish the truth as it is in Jesus from all error, and the truth refreshes the soul, and fills it with gladness.” Do you have trouble concentrating? Do you have trouble being able to tune in to what God is doing, amongst all the other sounds that come to you? You may distinguish the truth as it is in Jesus if you yearn for God, if you crave for Him and deliberately throw yourself upon God’s wonderful love in your weakness. There are a people that are going to be saved who have never read the Bible. There are people who are going to be saved without ever hearing a preacher.

Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

These are the Gentiles who recognize God very close to them. Even pagans can be saved.

Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God. {DA 638.2}

We are greatly blessed that we have the knowledge of theology. We are richly blessed with the knowledge we have of God’s word, and we sometimes think, “Those poor people who have never heard what we know, how can they be saved?” But they can be, because they are the children of God when they—in their bereft condition—have a yearning for the great God that they can see is speaking to them in nature. The Red Indians call Him the ‘Great White Spirit’. They know He is out there, but not all the Red Indians will be saved. It is those who submit to that God of nature, those who listen quietly to God, that are His children, because they have a yearning for Him. These are the people that will be saved, like you and I.

It is this personal relationship with Jesus that is the primary purpose of all knowledge of God’s word. We often become thrilled and excited about certain subjects: “Look, what I know here! Look what this truth is!” and we highlight it as some fantastic discovery that only I know about. This is where the majority of Christian churches have fallen, with the mentality of, “We are the great blessed ones that know it all”. Yet there are people who do not know as much as they do who will be saved, while they will be lost. The concentration is in the wrong direction; it is just getting information and rejoicing in it, instead of rejoicing in a relationship with the God who wants to speak to us personally, an indwelling Christ. What is the great mystery? Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Little children, can you see that you are disturbed? how everything mucks around in your brain and you cannot be still; it is because you are not listening to God. You get disturbed by all sorts of little things that are not right. You have your problems and adults have other problems. They are not still and quiet to listen to what God is saying. We want to be able to really understand how to find God speaking to us. The heathen have discovered it. I look forward to meeting these heathen one day, on the earth made new.

Zechariah 13:6 And [one] shall say unto him, What [are] these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, [Those] with which I was wounded [in] the house of my friends.

Didn’t they know what these marks were? No they did not. They had never heard of Jesus and of where the marks in His hands came from. He will tell them, ‘These were done to me in the house of my friends.’ My friends? But these real friends will be amazed that this had happened to Him. They will remember what they had learnt in nature, because nature demonstrates death and resurrection all the time. My communion with God in nature is so imperative.

In training His disciples, Jesus chose to withdraw from the confusion of the city to the quiet of the fields and hills, as more in harmony with the lessons of self-abnegation He desired to teach them. {DA 291.1}

That is what He taught Moses in the discipline of the wilderness. He taught the disciples the same way, because there in nature are the lessons of self-abnegation.

And during His ministry He loved to gather the people about Him under the blue heavens, on some grassy hillside, or on the beach beside the lake. Here, surrounded by the works of His own creation, He could turn the thoughts of His hearers from the artificial to the natural. In the growth and development of nature were revealed the principles of His kingdom. Ibid.

Now we can start hearing. The principles of God’s kingdom are taught me in nature. I am now able to see the principles of heaven as I look.

As men should lift up their eyes to the hills of God, and behold the wonderful works of His hands, they could learn precious lessons of divine truth. Christ’s teaching would be repeated to them in the things of nature. So it is with all who go into the fields with Christ in their hearts. They will feel themselves surrounded with a holy influence. The things of nature take up the parables of our Lord, and repeat His counsels. By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest. Ibid.

Psalm 72:3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

If you follow it very carefully, your mind will be tuned to be able to actually see and hear God in nature. If I am craving for the answers of life in my heart, then God will draw near to me. I am His child, He will speak to me and I will be able to discern His voice. And what will I gain? As it was with Moses, a sense of God’s presence will be continually with me. This sense of God’s presence is in nature all around us. As we go into the fields and nature we will feel ourselves “surrounded with a holy influence. The things of nature take up the parables of our Lord, and repeat His counsels. By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.” I will see God, because I will experience the sense of His presence, which Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness to discover. It grew on him and became part of him. Then he could go through the helter-skelter of the ridiculous experience with Pharaoh and with all the children of Israel. He could just calmly move on because he had the experience of God very close to him, face to face. Even in the negatives he saw the Lord at work.

Some people have said to me, I don’t think I need to go to camp-out. I just say nothing, I pray, Lord, please! We miss out on such precious things when we think that church is only there for the going, and camp-outs are unnecessary. Everything that the church is engaging in is necessary for my soul because everything is specially coordinated by God to help us come into a closer relationship with Him.

Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity. Nature testifies of God. The susceptible mind, brought in contact with the miracle and mystery of the universe, cannot but recognize the working of infinite power. {Ed 99.1}

The susceptible mind – a mind that feels that, Sin obliterates my view, therefore I am totally weak. I am so weak, unless the Lord helps me I am never going to see straight. That mind is now susceptible; it is the mind of the sheep, the mind of the sons of God. They are now susceptible and they will recognise the working of infinite power.

Not by its own inherent energy does the earth produce its bounties, and year by year continue its motion around the sun. An unseen hand guides the planets in their circuit of the heavens. A mysterious life pervades all nature—a life that sustains the unnumbered worlds throughout immensity, that lives in the insect atom which floats in the summer breeze, that wings the flight of the swallow and feeds the young ravens which cry, that brings the bud to blossom and the flower to fruit. Ibid.

Are you picking up how to discern God’s voice in nature? and how to see God in nature? Everything you are looking at is being sustained by God: an unseen hand is doing all that. Can you see now why Moses continued? Because he saw the invisible. This is very important. How did Moses see the unseen? He looked at the demonstration of a hand that was invisible, moving upon nature around him.

Not by its own inherent energy does the earth produce its bounties, and year by year continue its motion around the sun.” You can study it in science, people think: “It is just going around. It has to, that’s the way it is.” They do not realise that an unseen hand is constantly doing all this. As your mind is tuned in, you will see God everywhere in nature. “A mysterious life pervades all nature;” it lives in the insect atom which floats in the summer breeze. Have you ever looked up and seen those little webs floating along high up in the sky with a spider on the end of them? They travel long distances, guided by an unseen hand. The hand that wings the flight of the swallow and feeds the young ravens which cry, that brings the bud to blossom and the flower to fruit;

The same power that upholds nature, is working also in man. The same great laws that guide alike the star and the atom control human life. {Ed 99.2}

“In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” We become part of the handiwork of God as we look in our mind to these things. It is such a bad interpretation to think that we have come from ‘Mother Earth’ and that we have evolved and that everything around us has evolved. They do not acknowledge that they can actually see God instead of simply ‘the things around them’. It is such insanity to think that it all happens without a guiding hand.

The laws that govern the heart’s action, regulating the flow of the current of life to the body, are the laws of the mighty Intelligence that has the jurisdiction of the soul. Ibid.

Feel your pulse and think; can you make that heart slow down or speed up? Can you control that heart? Only God can. This is what keeps me healthy: a deep appreciation of the reality that, when my heart plays up, God can control it.

From Him all life proceeds. Only in harmony with Him can be found its true sphere of action. For all the objects of His creation the condition is the same—a life sustained by receiving the life of God, a life exercised in harmony with the Creator’s will. To transgress His law, physical, mental, or moral, is to place one’s self out of harmony with the universe, to introduce discord, anarchy, ruin. Ibid.

To him who learns thus to interpret its teachings, all nature becomes illuminated; the world is a lesson book, life a school. The unity of man with nature and with God, the universal dominion of law, the results of transgression, cannot fail of impressing the mind and molding the character. {Ed 100.1}

You can actually find the reason for sin—and what sin does—in nature. It speaks to you about everything that the Bible speaks about. It is important for us to be in tune ourselves to receive those kinds of messages. May the Lord guide us and teach us while we are in nature to occupy our minds, to pay close attention and let our minds pick up God’s thoughts to us. First, in the silence. And when there is silence in your soul, then you will be able to begin to think and see God speaking. You will see Him working by His invisible hand.

May God help us to pick up this important segment of God’s voice working to our salvation.

Amen.

Posted on April 6, 2013, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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