Hearing the Voice of God – Part 9

God speaks through people as there is safety in a multitude of counsellors.

I have often heard the Lord speak to me through the counsel of others; and more times than I can count, the Lord has used a close friend or my wife to speak something that God wanted to say to me. God wants us to pay attention to godly people who have consistently listened to Him and obeyed Him. These wise counsellors have become familiar with God’s voice and can give us godly insights that will aid us in making proper decisions.

Proverbs discloses the benefits of listening to godly counsellors for advice, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NKJV). God often uses the counsel of other believers to clarify ambiguous areas or to give us the assurance that we are truly hearing from Him. These people speak “a word in due season” to help us to discern God’s voice. Sometimes they can give us a word of advice that confirms what we already feel in our own spirit. 

I think the reason God uses others to help us hear His voice is to remind us that we are not self-sufficient. God placed us on earth to interact with others and give up our self-centredness and independence so we can become interdependent. We need each other.

The Bible says it is a privilege and a joy to be able to hear from God and pass that guidance on to another. “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23) I was talking recently to a friend in Canada, and he asked me for advice on decisions he was making for his future. I gave him the guidance I felt the Lord was giving me for him. He mentioned it was the same advice a friend from the Philippines gave him earlier in the week. In this case, the same word was confirmed by two people, and my friend joyfully received it as a word from God.

Paul, the apostle, believed in the importance of getting a confirmation of two or three people. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1). If God has spoken something to you, God will usually confirm it through another person.

The Scriptures tell us there is power in agreement. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:19-20). God often speaks to us through agreement with others.

Sometimes people tell me, “God spoke to me, and I am not accountable to anyone, just God.” People who rarely ask for or take advice are usually dealing with pride in their lives. Pride can keep us from accepting counsel from others.

Our culture may tell us to stand on our own two feet because we don’t need anyone to help us make decisions. A proud person thinks seeking advice is a sign of weakness; however, as a community of believers in Jesus, we were designed for interdependence. God speaks through other believers to benefit every member in the body of Christ.

A common way God speaks to us is through one of His servants who is preaching under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Biblical preachers believe God is speaking through His Word and His Spirit and through them, as they are faithful to the task of teaching and preaching God’s Word. 

I have often heard God speak to my spirit while listening to a preacher or teacher expounding God’s Word, and it became alive to me at the moment. Preachers and teachers help us to hear what God is saying. They are part of that “multitude of counsellors.”

Romans 10:14 shows Paul’s concern for those who cannot call on the name of the Lord because no one has told them of Him: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” 

Without someone preaching or sharing the Good News, the lost have less chance of hearing God’s voice. Although salvation is available to everyone who calls on Christ, if they have not heard, how can they call on Him? Someone has to tell them, and no one will be told unless believers share, teachers teach, and preachers preach.

Throughout the Bible, from the prophets to the apostles, preaching is given a central place. Godly messengers proclaimed God’s message publicly by saying, “This is what God says…” Through preaching, God reveals Himself. We can hear God by listening to what He has to say through godly preachers and teachers. 

I have found the best policy is to seek God and let Him choose how and through whom He wants to speak to us. If God chooses to speak to us through others, we should humbly receive from those God chooses to use. Proverbs tells us that our plans may fail if we refuse to take counsel from others. “Plans fail for lock of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:2).

The purpose of a “multitude of counsellors” or “many advisors” is to receive a variety of wisdom. Obviously, we do not listen to just any person who gives us advice. When listening to the godly counsel of others, it is sometimes difficult to know if you have heard from God correctly or if others have heard accurately. The Bible urges us to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). If another believers claims to speak a word from God for you, test it. Ask God to confirm to you if it is really from Him.

If you have any doubts, go to your pastor or other proven Christian leader. These trusted leaders have travelled down the road before you, and they are examples of godly living. You can trust them for advice. Ask them to pray about it with you.

The Bible says that we should not just take counsel from anyone, but we should know the lives of those from whom we receive wisdom and direction, “…know those who labour among you — your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12 AMP)

Godly counsellors are people who practice what they preach and have a track record of making good decisions. A godly counsellor will be able to hear God’s voice and confirm what God has been speaking to you. Godly counsellors are those who love the Lord. You can trust them because they bear the good spiritual fruit of living close to Jesus (Matthew 7:15-20). Additionally, the benchmark of godly counsellors is that they will be concerned about what happens after they give you advice because they care about you and want to see you succeed.  

We should take the advice of others only when we also have our own peace about it after having prayed about it. A godly counsellor’s goal is to give words of advice that confirm what you already feel in your own spirit, always leaving you to make the final decision on hearing God’s voice and what He is telling you to do. 

Hearing the Voice of God – Part 8

We need, as believers, to expect to hear God speak in the quiet of our hearts.

When we use the catch phrase that God speaks through a “still, small voice,” it comes from the story of Elijah when God spoke to him on a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13 AMP) in the quiet of his heart. Elijah discovered that when God was not heard in the mighty wind, earthquake, and fire, he heard Him speak with the sound of a gentle whisper known to his heart.

The quiet whisper captured his attention because it was a tender communication from a loving Father who came to encourage Elijah in a personal way. This steady, inner voice gave him specific guidance in a time of need. 

God often speaks quietly to our spirits, nudging us to obedience to His voice. Many times we are looking for the Lord to speak to us in an earth-shattering way; but He usually speaks to us by His Spirit, deep within our spirits by Holy Spirit-inspired impressions, thoughts, and feelings. We really should pay attention to those impressions that clearly come to us.

For example, have you ever been driving down a road and had a spur-of-the-moment thought that you should pray for someone? Most would agree that this is God speaking to us in His still, small voice that we should pray for that person. 

I like the way one author describes this “God voice” in our hearts, “God’s inner voice comes to us as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions. Therefore when I tune to God, I tune to chance-encounter thoughts or spontaneous thoughts.” Many of the major decisions in my life have come as a result of that quiet voice.

Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit causes us to hear when He speaks. The Lord desires to speak to us by this witness of the Spirit. The Bible says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” ( Romans 8:16). The mind receives head knowledge, but the spirit receives a deeper sense of knowing by the Holy Spirit. I believe there are things we know through head knowledge, but there are also things we know that we haven’t learned because the Holy Spirit communicates them to us through our own spirits. For example, many times when I am teaching, the Lord drops a new thought into my spirit that I then share, but it was not in my notes. This is God speaking through the Holy Spirit in His still, small voice that causes me to be sensitive to Him. 

Many times we hear a voice within us but excuse it as “just us.” It may be God! Take that inner voice seriously. 

These divine or heavenly “nudges” are a way God sends messages to His own. God gives these impulses to guide and encourage us in our walk with Him. They may be what we pass off as just coincidental but after awhile God will confirm that these inner special nudges of conviction are from Him.

Remember, your spirit along with you soul dwell inside your body. It is only your spirit that will live forever. Your spirit communicates with the Holy Spirit. We are learning on this earth how we can communicate with the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants to teach us to trust the Holy Spirit to speak to our spirits.

The Bible says, “The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of man; it searches out his inmost being” (Proverbs 20:27). Your spirit is a light the Lord has illuminated. He will throw its rays into the darkness recesses of the heart so you will know how to distinguish right from wrong. You can trust this “Holy Spirit flashlight” to hear God’s still, small voice speak. 

One of my friends tells me that he hears the Lord speak to him more often while mowing the lawn or taking a shower than at any other time. Why? We often hear God when we are doing some activity that has become automatic for us (exercising, cooking, driving, cleaning) because our minds are free to receive through our spirits from the voice of the Holy Spirit.

We often think that hearing God’s voice is complicated. It is really not as hard as we think. When we are really serious about listening to Him, we can expect an answer from the Lord. The Scriptures tell us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Look back at your life and see how the Lord has directed your steps. Sometimes God speaks to us by putting a desire or burden in our hearts that we know would not be from anyone else but God. We just have a certain intuitive conviction that gives us faith. 

Over the years, the Lord has changed my life by speaking personal messages to me through His still, small voice. 

Sheep follow the shepherd because they “know His voice” (John 10:4). They quickly become accustomed to their shepherd’s voice with its peculiar inflections and sounds. Sheep can distinguish it from other voices, and although they hear other voices, they will not follow the voice of a stranger. The sheep know that their shepherd cares for them and has their best interests in mind.

Rest assured that you will learn to recognize that inner voice, that impression from the Lord within that you come to know as God’s voice. Let God capture your attention through a whisper. His voice is one of love and concern for your well being. Listen for Him to speak in a still, small voice amidst the noise of human life. 

Hearing the Voice of God – Part 7

The third “lighthouse” that needs to line up along with the Word of God and the peace of God is “circumstances.” God speaks to us through opening and closing doors of circumstances. The Bible says that God can open a door or close it at will.

Revelation 3:7 AMP “And to the angel (divine messenger) of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘These are the words of the Holy One, the True One, He who has the key [to the house] of David, He who opens and no one will [be able to] shut, and He who shuts and no one opens…’”

Paul saw God open a door of opportunity for him and believed it was the Lord directing him through the providential circumstances. “After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you —for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

The Lord clearly opened up a door for Paul in Ephesus. The circumstances lined up with the Word of God and with the peace of God (the other two “lighthouses”) and although Paul faced many adversaries, he knew the Lord wanted him to stay in Ephesus.

We must be aware that not every open door means we should go running through it. The key to walking through an open door is to know without a doubt that the Lord has opened it. The Holy Spirit must be speaking to us before we make a move to walk in a new direction.

Circumstances that seemingly reveal open doors may not necessarily be the Lord speaking to us to move in a particular direction. Focusing only on the circumstances can be misleading. So, before we walk through an open door we must believe that it is God who is speaking to us within the circumstances, have the peace of God about it, and know it does not conflict with God’s Word. The three “lighthouses” lined up.

Sometimes we can be so sure that something is God’s will, but God does not open up the doors for us because it is not the right timing. If you feel this way, it is best to let the desire die. If it is really from God, He will resurrect it (bring It back to life) in the future when the timing is right. Remember, God does not always speak in such a way as to reveal the whole picture and so timing is so important. We only know “in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). Timing is so, so important. 

You may have the right direction from the Lord, but the wrong timing as you try to fulfill it. Moses had the right vision from the Lord (deliver the Lord’s people from the slavery of the Egyptians). The only problem was that he initially missed the timing of God (by forty years!) when he killed an Egyptian.

Someone may feel called to start a business or go on a short term mission trip overseas, and the plan is a genuine vision from the Lord. Often the problem comes when they jump into it too fast. When the Lord is in it, the circumstances will work out. The third “lighthouse” will line up.

Jeremiah gives an interesting account of heeding the voice of the Lord through circumstances.

Jeremiah 32:6-8 (LB) “Then this message from the Lord came to Jeremiah: Your cousin Hanamel (son of Shallum) will soon arrive to ask you to buy the farm he owns in Anathoth, for by law you have a chance to buy before it is offered to anyone else.

So Hanamel came, as the Lord had said he would, and visited me in the prison. “Buy my field in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin,” he said, “for the law gives you the first right to purchase it.” Then I knew for sure that the message I had heard was really from the Lord.”

After the circumstances lined up, Jeremiah knew that the message was a sure sign from the Lord. If the Lord is asking you to do something, He will make it clear. You can trust Him.

If we are not sure about the open doors, we can trust God to speak within the circumstances in which we currently find ourselves. In Acts 27, Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. This shipwreck circumstance led to Paul’s three month stay on the island resulting in many of the people opening up to the gospel. Sometimes the interruptions in life are in reality “divine interruptions.”

If we believe God wants us to move ahead in a certain direction but the circumstances do not match God’s revealed will, He may be calling us to prayer, spiritual warfare, and action to see the circumstances change. In 1 Kings 18, God showed Elijah that He would send rain to end a drought. Elijah prayed for the rain, but it did not come. Seven times he sent his servant to look at the sky to see if rain clouds were forming. No rain! Elijah was persistent in his prayer. Rather than get discouraged, he simply kept on praying until he saw evidence of the answer to his prayers and a change in the circumstances. Elijah believed God would send rain because God had promised it, but he had to keep praying until the circumstances changed. The circumstances did change. It rained just as God said it would, but only after Elijah resolutely prayed and persevered for the circumstances to change.

A Bible teacher once said, “Sometimes the only way to discover God’s will is to practice what I call ‘stepping out and finding out.’ If I have prayed about a situation and don’t seem to know what I should do, I take a step of faith… trusting Him is like standing before the automatic door to a supermarket. We can stand and look at the door all day, but it won’t open until we take a step forward and trigger the mechanism that opens the door. There are times in life when we must take a step forward in order to find out, one way or the other, what we should do. Some doors will never open unless we take a step towards them”

In the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians 16, Paul, Silas, and Barnabas did not sit and wait for an angel to appear or a vision to be given to them while praying for direction. They took steps in the direction they felt were correct. Many times God did not open the door, but there where times when He closed the door. This did not discourage them. They were not afraid of “missing God.” They were men of faith and action. They also knew to back off quickly when it became evident that God was not permitting them to follow their plan.

Today, we too can hear God’s voice through circumstances as He opens and closes doors of opportunity. The key is to always be led by the Holy Spirit, not by the circumstances themselves. He may capture our attention by a combination of factors that include open door circumstances and a word from a friend. Other times He could speak through circumstances that lead us to Scripture that confirms the circumstances. God speaks to our individual need. We will sense when He has truly spoken. 

Hearing the Voice of God – Part Six

God’s peace is a lighthouse to guide you in the right direction as it confirms what you believe the Lord has spoken to you.

I learned this principle many, many years ago. It is found in the story of the three lighthouses. Three lighthouses were built in a formation to warn ships of the monstrous rocks below the surface of the water as they sailed into a particular harbour. To avoid getting snagged on the huge rocks, the captain had to be sure that the three lighthouses were perfectly aligned as he guided his ship into the harbour. If the captain could see two or three lighthouses at the same time, he knew he was in the danger zone.

In order to avoid shipwreck in our lives, we need to be sure that three different “lighthouses” are aligned before we begin to move in a new direction or make a decision on what we think the Lord is saying. The three lighthouses are the Word of God (the Bible), peace, and circumstances. We covered the Word of God in our last blog. Let’s look at His peace today and then tomorrow at how He speaks through circumstances.

Lighthouse #1 – The Bible – to confirm His word to us we must always compare it to what He has already spoken in His written Word. So, God says to Joshua, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

Lighthouse #2 – The peace of God is also a great way to confirm you are hearing from God. So we add this second lighthouse – the sense of inward peace of heart and mind.

Jesus spoke of the kind of peace He offers when He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

When you really believe and trust, having confidence in God, you will not have worry or fear in your heart. Peace is the result of trusting completely. Inner peace is hard to define, but the Bible says it surpasses human comprehension (Philippians 4:7). As you learn to hear the voice of God, a distinct calmness fills your heart.

Inner peace comes from an unwavering trust in Jesus. When our trust is in Jesus, who is our only source of peace, He dispels the fears that grip us in an uncertain world and in the midst of our own faults and failures. It is only through faith in Jesus and in the work that He has already done on the cross that we can know peace.

The Bible says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Another version states it this way: “The peace that God gives helps us in the decisions we make”

The word “rule” literally means “to be an umpire.” In other words, the peace of God in our hearts is an umpire to alert us as to whether or not we should make a certain decision.

A lack of peace may be the Holy Spirit warning us that we should not go ahead in a particular direction in our lives. We should not make decisions if our hearts are unsettled. The peace of God in our hearts will lead us to making the right decisions in daily life. 

I speak at a church in a city or town somewhere in the world almost every weekend (before Covid). How do I know which invitation to take and which ones to decline? I often depend on the peace of God. When I am asked to speak and do not have the peace of God in my spirit, I decline. I have learned over the years it always pays to obey the peace that God places in my heart. 

The key here is to remember: “…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

Remember, when the deceiver speaks to us, he cannot give true peace. When we try to solve things with our own reasoning, we cannot get true peace in our spirits. You don’t have to explain to other people why you don’t have peace about a certain thing; sometimes you won’t even know why yourself.

Even when you believe God has spoken, you should wait until peace fills your heart to do what you believe He has instructed you. In this way, you are assured that your timing is right. Peace is a confirmation that you are hearing from the Lord. 

We should never act without peace; it is a vital ingredient to hearing God’s voice. Peace is an “internal confirmation” that the action being taken is approved of by God. Obeying the peace of God in our hearts allows us to carry on with a sense of His acceptance and favour in our lives.

Along with the previous “lighthouses” of God’s Word and God’s peace, a third spiritual lighthouse that needs to line up is the lighthouse of circumstances (open doors) that the Lord places before us.

But that is for next time…

Hearing the Voice of God – Part Five

The Bible – #1 Way God speaks to us

God speaks through the Bible … He has spoken and continues to speak through His Word, the Bible. It must be the first and last word in your life; it is your ultimate authority, the measuring stick that you can use to gauge your life.

The Holy Bible is an amazing book. It is the most influential book in all of history — the world’s all-time best seller. In every generation since it was written, it has been looked at as a source of understanding for the world we live in and the reason for our existence. We should read it with the expectation that God will speak to us here and now through its words. If we listen, we can hear God’s voice addressing us through the Bible.

The Scriptures are filled with life values, stories of God’s mercy towards mankind, and parables packed with important truths for every individual, regardless of culture or background. It is written as a personal love letter to each of us. God speaks to us and directs us, molding us into vessels for His purposes and plans by His written Word. He sets the direction for our lives so we can know where we are going.

The Bible is the written, divine expression or revelation of God to humanity. In the Greek, there are two words that describe God’s Word — logos and rhema. Logos is the truth spoken or revealed (established) and rhema is the truth speaking and communicating personally (illuminating our lives). God can take the logos Word and make it rhema to you personally.

For example, your name doesn’t appear on the pages of the Bible, but God can speak to you personally at any time. Sometimes a Scripture will seem to “jump off the page at you”; it comes  alive in a particular way. That is when the logos becomes a specific rhema to you. It only becomes alive when you apply it to your life. The Bible would be a lifeless history book without this kind of personal revelation. 

The rhema Word of the Lord is the “voice” of the tried-and-established Word of God. The rhema Word will always be supported in the established truth revealed in the logos Word of God. Without logos there would be no rhema. And, logos is the standard that all rhema words are judged by.

If you want to hear God’s voice, you must read and study the Bible. Of all the other ways that God may speak to you, He will never contradict His written Word in the Bible. His logos applies for every situation in life. His written Word does not change. You can trust it for final authority. Reject anything that contradicts the written Bible.

When God speaks to us about something that is not directly addressed in the Bible, it will always be in agreement with the Bible. For example, the Bible doesn’t tell us where to work or where to live or whom to marry, but God will speak His rhema Word to us about these things if we seek Him. The Bible confirms whether what we think is the rhema Word of the Lord really is His voice.

Jesus reveals to us that the words He has spoken to us are spirit and life (John 6:63). God’s Word divides between truth and deception. If God has truly spoken to us, it will always line up with the Bible.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He made it clear that God’s Word is what gives us life and strength. We can use food or other material goods, but our trust must be in spiritual things — God’s Word. “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Bible contains the food that our souls require. We must feed on God’s written Word for spiritual health. We can always trust the Bible. 

The Bible is our final  authority. It tells us, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP)

The Bible gives us direct guidance on many issues of life. For example, should a believer in Christ marry an unsaved person? God’s Word gives us a clear answer when it tells us to not be unequally joined together with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:4). If we do not know what the Bible says, we can be easily deceived into thinking that whatever we are feeling is the Lord leading us. This is very dangerous, This is why we must study the Scriptures. 

We must know the Word of God and so we need to be reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it, studying, it, and then living it on a regular basis. Then we will know the Word well enough to actually be guided by it. Any dream, prophecy, teaching, vision, or audible voice that does not line up with God’s written Word is not the voice of God. Scripture is given as a standard so that we will never get off track. God’s Word is described this way: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

The Bible says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). God speaks to us through our minds and our spirits and reveals His purposes to us.

So, God’s advice to us as we desire to hear His voice clearer and more often … “My son, attend to My words; consent and submit to My sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart, for they are life to those who find them” ( Proverbs 4:20-21 AMP)

God’s written Word will steer you in the right direction as you make it the first and last word in your life. 

Hearing the Voice of God – Part Four

We are looking at the dominate voices we hear on a regular basis…

1> Your own inner voice

2> Other people’s voices

3> The devil’s voice

4> God’s voice…

As a Christian, the voice that you strive to learn to hear and obey is the voice of God speaking to your spirit. He wants to speak to you!

Psalm 46:10 invites us to “be still and know that I am God.” It is so important to take the time to be quiet and listen to the Lord speak. If we meet with a close friend and do all the talking without listening, the relationship is one-sided. In our prayers to the Lord, we should talk, but we must also learn to listen.

God is constantly speaking to us, but like listening to the radio, we must tune in to the right frequency to hear Him. Radio, television, and cell phone signals are around us in the atmosphere continually, but we need the proper receiver to hear these signals or see the pictures projected properly to our TV set. We must place ourselves in a listening posture to hear God’s voice.

Samuel, a young boy who later became a mighty prophet in the Bible, learned as a small boy to hear and recognize the Lord’s voice; but it was a process (1 Samuel 3:1-12). He didn’t even recognize it was the Lord when God first spoke to him.

In the beginning, the voice sounded like Eli’s (the priest in the temple of that time). Perhaps God first spoke to Samuel in a voice that was familiar to him so that he would not be frightened. I believe God often speaks through a voice that we will recognize. Sometimes it may sound like a voice that you will recognize. Sometimes it may sound like your own voice or even your own thoughts, while at other times God may speak through someone you know. If it is God’s voice, even if it is unclear at first, it will always lead to His peace inside you. 

Just like Samuel, you too have to learn to discern if you are hearing the Lord’s voice to another voice. Don’t worry if you feel like a modern-day Samuel who does not recognize God’s voice right away; you will learn in time! Listening and hearing His voice accurately takes time and requires discernment.

Discernment comes with practice. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we can train ourselves to recognize the voice of God above all the various other voices. “Solid food is for the mature people who have been trained to know right from wrong” (Hebrews 5:14 CEV). It is by practicing that we are able to discern whether what we hear is of God, our own voice, the voice of others, or the devil.

Discernment comes with practice. You have to constantly evaluate beliefs, feelings, other people, the media and your own inner life in light of God’s Word. Over time, you train your senses to do it almost by reflex.

Ask God to communicate to you during your prayer times with Him and throughout the day. You will learn more and more to discern the difference between your voice, others’ voices, the voice of the enemy, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. You will learn to hear the voice of God and obey Him. Remember, listening is an art. 

Hearing the Voice of God – Part Three

Listening is a complex art. Listening for God’s voice and hearing clearly is the most important communications we will ever have. When we listen attentively for God’s voice, He will reward us by speaking to us. The Bible says God rewards rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). He wants us to take time to seek Him and especially the time to listen for His voice.

As soon as you earnestly desire to hear His voice you will become aware of the many other voices that you also hear on a regular basis. Some of them include:

      • Voice of religion
      • Voice of tradition
      • Voice of your parents (family)
      • Voice of your heritage (ethnic group, language group)
      • Your friends have a voice in your life
      • Your music has a voice
      • Your emotions have a voice
      • Your thoughts have a voice
      • Your education has a voice
      • You age group (generation) have a voice
      • The voice of the devil

There are at least four major voices that a Christian will hear within: their own voice, the voice of others, the devil’s voice, and God’s voice.

1> Your own inner voice…

What happens when you hear your own voice instead of God’s? The decisions that we often make originate from our belief systems. Mixed into our belief systems are our personal feelings. This is our own voice which includes our personal preferences and desires, such as whether or not we like pizza, or if we prefer shopping, motorcycles or cherry pie. These things are not wrong, but they are personal preferences, not necessarily the voice of God.

Sometimes we confuse our own desires with the voice of the Lord. Often our soul (thoughts and emotions) can feel under pressure if want something so badly that we confuse it with hearing from God. We must be very careful if we are hearing something that primarily caters to our own creature comforts and desires. God speaks in order to accomplish His will, not ours. 

We quiet our own voice by dying to self. As Christians, we take up our cross and follow Christ. As we daily sacrifice a life of self-centredness for the sake of our Lord who laid down His life for us, we will be able to hear the voice of God more clearly.

2> Other people’s voices… 

Rather than  hearing God’s voice, we may also hear other people’s voices vying for our attention. These voices are not to be confused with those people who give us godly counsel. Instead, there are the voices we hear deep inside which have been placed there by persons who try to sell us their products or philosophies. These are the subconscious voices we have collected over time — the things we have been taught or experienced through life. Whenever these thoughts and opinions are hostile to the Word of God or distort the Word of God, we are told to demolish them (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The truth is that our histories (life stories) mold us, sometimes detrimentally. A middle-aged man told me that he felt he would never amount to anything because he had heard his father speak those words to him as a child. He had allowed this voice spoken years before to influence his life, rather than the voice of His heavenly Father who says, “I love you and I am pleased with you. I have a purpose for your life.”

What we have been told about ourselves and our world (what was reflected back to us even at a very early age) will become those things we believe about ourselves. If these beliefs are in disagreement with God’s truth, they are misbeliefs and distort our ability to hear from God clearly.

3> The voice of the enemy… 

Contrary to popular opinion, the devil does not appear to us in a red jumpsuit with a long tail. He most often comes very slyly as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He may place thoughts into our minds that are contrary to God’s Word, or use well-meaning people to speak words that could water down our faith. The devil often quotes scripture and uses spiritual-sounding language. His goal is to confuse, entrap, and derail. He wants to get people to question God’s character and turn away from Him. He aims to confuse us and get us off track.

How often have you decided to get serious about studying the scriptures and a voice reminds you that you are hungry, or that there is a TV program you really want to watch, or chores that need to be completely immediately? Tell the devil the same thing that Jesus told him, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks’” (Matthew 4:4 TEV). “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7-8).

But you can also hear God’s voice … more next time

Hearing the Voice of God – Part Two

God’s distinct voice stands out!

Jesus told His disciples one day that sheep follow the shepherd, “because they know his voice” (John 10:4). How did they know his voice? Because they learned from experience to trust the voice of their shepherd.

To hear God’s voice clearly, we must have a growing love relationship with God and trust Him. It’s that simple. The better we get to know God, the better we will recognize His voice.

The Bible is filled with examples of common and ordinary people who heard the voice of a mighty God who spoke to them. The end result was lives that were changed.

Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden. The Lord startled Moses at a flaming bush in the desert when He called him to deliver the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt. God advised Joshua to be strong and courageous, and gave David fresh strategies for each battle against his enemies. The Lord told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus. God affirmed Jesus at His baptism through a voice from heaven, and Paul was totally transformed by the Lord’s voice on the Damascus Road.

God delights in revealing Himself to us. He promises to answer if we call on Him. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). When we pray, we engage ourselves in conversation with God, and God responds.

These are only the major highlights of God interacting with people in the Bible. And throughout history God has guided and directed His people by speaking to them. The same is still true today as we relate to Him on a personal level. God has made Himself known to me countless times over the years. He has spoken to me in thousands of occasions in a variety of ways. 

Learning to discern God’s voice takes effort on our part. We can get so involved in the affairs of the natural world that we forget to listen. It would be easy if the Lord spoke to us in a deep echo effect, like in the movie, “The Ten Commandments,” where the Lord spoke to Moses in a booming voice! That would certainly get our attention.

The Lord wants us to take the time to listen as we open our hearts to hear. He wants us to become increasingly familiar with His voice as our relationship deepens with Him. The more often we meet with God in prayer and talk to Him, the clearer His voice becomes.

The Bible instructs us to make a concerted effort to meet with the Lord. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). We can’t make demands on God, but we can ask, seek, and knock, and the Bible promises that God will open the door (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; Revelation 3:20). God will reveal Himself to those who humbly seek Him.

God wants us to acknowledge Him in our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we acknowledge a friend, we talk to him, express our appreciation for him, and recognize his presence in our lives. 

Imagine your friends not acknowledging your presence when you are together. You try to talk to them, and they completely ignore you. In fact, they talk right over you as if you were not even there. That is how we treat the Lord if we are not acknowledging Him moment by moment in our lives. If we are not recognizing God’s presence in our daily lives, it is little wonder we are having trouble hearing Him.

The truth is, even when we diligently seek God for an answer, we sometimes find ourselves struggling to hear. We really want to do what the Lord want us to do. We know that we serve a living God who speaks to us, and yet we struggle with the fact that we do not hear as clearly as we would like to.

Other times we think we have heard the Lord’s voice and respond to it, only to find out that we were wrong. Instead of pressing in to find out why we “missed it,” we hesitate to step out in faith the next time. 

Frequently it may seem as if we are trying to tune in to a weak radio signal with a lot of static. In this series of blogs I want you to discover that God wants to speak to you even more than your desire to hear from Him, and He has many different ways to communicate with you. We cannot put Him in a box. 

Although we may wish that God would send a ten foot angel dressed in white so have no doubt it is His voice we are hearing, I believe He often teaches us through our stumbling attempts of trial and error.

Even Jesus’ disciples did not always recognize His voice.

When Jesus joined two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus and began to talk to them, they didn’t recognize Him even though they had walked with Him, talked with Him, and eaten meals with Him for the past three years (Luke 24:13-32). Perhaps they were so immersed in the details of the dark events of the past few days that they couldn’t hear clearly.

I think there is a good chance, however, that they did not see Jesus because they simply did not expect to see Jesus. He appeared to them in an unfamiliar form, at an unexpected time, and their ears remained closed.

Before we criticize these disciples, we must ask ourselves, :How often do we experience the same loss of hearing today”? Could it be that the Lord sometimes speaks to us in ways that are unfamiliar to us, and we don’t recognize His voice? We lament that we can’t hear Him speak, but in reality He has been speaking all along. Could it be that our understanding of hearing His voice is limited? Maybe we have preconceived ideas how God will speak or not speak to us, and they limit us from hearing from God when He speaks. 

I’m convinced we should not get too selective about the method in which the Lord speaks to us. Instead we should stay open for the Lord to speak to us any way He desires. 

God desires to build a relationship with us. One way our relationship is built is by having ongoing dialogue with Him. It is talking and listening to each other. From the very beginning of time, God desired a two-way communication between Him and humankind. Adam and Eve were tuned to God as they “… heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day….”

This is how God wants to relate to us today as well. It is God’s desire to walk with and to communicate with His children. He yearns for you to hear His loving, distinct voice.

Hearing the Voice of God – Part One

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that God is a God of surprises. We can never limit God in any way, including the way He will speak to us. He created us to communicate with Him and He longs for those times when we do. What we’ll explore in this series of blogs is that we can expect God to speak, but He may speak in unexpected ways.

It would be easier if we could just dial a number on a spiritual cell phone and hear the reassuring voice of God answering, “Hello, this is God speaking!” Yet, in reality, He is speaking to us every day in ways we may often miss. The Bible says, “For God does speak — now one way, now another — though man may not perceive it” (Job 33:14).

The Bible gives us many clues to hearing God’s voice. We’ll discover that are our ears must be tuned to hear Him. The Lord has an enormous range of options for speaking to us. He may use the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, His Word, prayer, circumstances, or other people. The Lord may speak to us in dreams, visions, or even by His audible voice; however, don’t expect God’s audible voice to be the common way He will speak! God’s voice often blends into a melodic harmony to which we have to tune in.

Jesus promised that if we listen to Him closely we will receive more and more from Him. He said, “Be careful what you are hearing. The measure you give will be the measure that comes back to you, and more will be given to you who hear” (Mark 4:24 Amplified Version)

When we take the time to listen carefully, we can know the difference between His voice and other voices that do not match the character of God, His nature and the history of how He has led others before us. Jesus urges us to learn to listen like sheep, “They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not know the voice of strangers or recognize their call” (John 10:5 Amplified Version).

As His children, His voice becomes familiar to us as we develop a relationship with Him. The Bible says that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are given a deposit of the Holy Spirit as a promise of what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5). With the presence of the Holy Spirit within, we receive the help we need to pray and discern what our heavenly Father is saying to us (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Although we will consider 32 ways the Lord speaks to us in this series of blogs, it is not the final word on how He will choose to communicate. God is sovereign. He speaks in different ways at different times. Our faith must always be in God and not in a certain method.

Among the myriad of ways God speaks, we may not consider some to be particularly spiritual. For example, in the list below you will see that one of the ways God speaks is through common sense. If you want to buy a new house and cannot afford it, God is probably telling you to wait until you can afford to make the down payment as well as the monthly mortgage payments. . That would be common sense.

I believe even those who have experienced divine intervention or amazing angelic visitation will tell you that most often the Lord speaks through the Word of God (Bible), the peace of God (see Colossians 3:15), circumstances, His still small voice, other Christians, and through common sense wisdom.

Even with that said, our God is infinitely amazing and wise and creative that He does not limit Himself to speaking in the same way all of the time. God thinks outside the box! He is a little unpredictable. 

If you want to hear from God, you must trust Him even if you can’t use one safe method or formula to hear from Him. Allow God to surprise you! Trust Him to speak to you. Cultivate your friendship with God. You are in a lifetime walk with the Creator of the universe, and hearing His voice is a skill to be learned over time. 

Thirty-two of the many ways God speaks today…

1> The Bible ….. John 6:63

2> His peace ….. Colossians 3:15

3> Circumstances ….. 1 Corinthians 16:9

4> His Still Small Voice ….. 1 Kings 19:12

5> People ….. Proverbs 24:6

6> Common Sense Wisdom ….. Proverbs 16:21

7> Conviction ….. John 16:8

8> Worship ….. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

9> Authorities ….. Romans 13:1

10> Natural Things ….. Psalm 19:1

11> The Church ….. Hebrews 13:17

12> His Character ….. 1 John 1:9; 4:8

13> Visions ….. Acts 2:17

14> Dreams ….. Acts 2:17

15> A Word of Wisdom ….. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

16> A Word of Knowledge ….. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

17> Discerning of Spirits ….. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

18> Speaking in (Public) Tongues ….. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

19> Prophecy ….. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21

20> A Daily Encounter ….. Proverbs 8:34

21> Journaling ….. Habakkuk 2:2-3

22> Prayer ….. Daniel 10:2-3, 10-14

23> Fasting ….. Matthew 6:16-18

24> Angels …. Hebrews 1:14

25> Surprises ….. Numbers 22:28-30

26> The Unique Way He Made Us …..    Proverbs 22:6

27> Signs ….. Judges 6:36-40

28> Practicing His Presence ….. Genesis 5:24

29> His Silence ….. Psalm 139:7-8

30> Partial Revelation ….. 1 Corinthians 13:9

31> Audible …. Mark 1:9-10; Exodus 33:12-14

32> Whisper …. 1 Kings 19:12

Hearing the Voice of God – Part 10

God speaks, as well, through COMMON SENSE.

“O Lord, listen to my prayers; give me the common sense you promised” (Psalm 119:169 LB)

The first time you go hiking and camping in the snow, you are told that certain things you do out in the wilderness are “simply common sense.” You may not be sure what this means the first time you go winter camping, but you will soon realize that keeping your socks dry is “common sense.” After one experience of wet socks and the consequences of frozen socks, the next time, your experience tells you that it is just common sense to keep your feet dry!

It I amazing to me that so many people seem to think that all their common sense must vanish in order for them to be really spiritual. It is often just the opposite. God gave us common sense as a gift from Him. I like to call it “common sense wisdom.”  

Common sense is an ability to look at things straightforwardly. This kind of common sense is mostly based on our experiences and not on our knowledge. In other words, our previous experiences add up to knowing intuitively what makes sense in a certain situation. As we accumulate more wisdom throughout life, we can automatically sense what to do in a certain situation because it is based on our past experiences. We can use our own sound judgment to make a decision.

Wisdom goes hand-in-hand with common sense. Straight thinking is the result of both experience and wisdom. The Bible emphasizes that we should ask for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Our God desires to give us wisdom if we only ask and believe; He will give it to us.

The book of Proverbs is a great source for common sense. I encourage you to read at least a few verses of Proverbs or Psalms regularly. The book of Psalms encourages us, builds us up, and helps us express our innermost feelings. Proverbs, with its common sense wisdom, shows us how to stay out of trouble. 

Slowly read through the following Scriptures on common sense from the books of Psalms and Proverbs. These verses tell us it is possible for you and me to accumulate godly common sense wisdom.

The man who knows right from wrong and has good judgment and common sense is happier than the man who is immensely rich! For such wisdom is far more valuable than precious jewels. Nothing else compares with it. (Proverbs 3:13 LB)

Have two goals: wisdom—that is, knowing and doing right—and common sense. Don’t let them slip away, for they fill you with living energy and bring you honour and respect. (Proverbs 3:21-22 LB)

“Learn to be wise,” he said, “and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point” (Proverbs 4:5 LB)

Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment. (Proverbs 4:7 LB)

Men with common sense are admired as counsellors (Proverbs 10:13a)

A godly man gives good advice, but a rebel is destroyed by lack of common sense (Proverbs 10:21 LB)

A mocker never finds the wisdom he claims he is looking for, yet it comes easily to the man with common sense. (Proverbs 14:6 LB)

Wisdom is enshrined in the hearts of men of common sense, but it must shout loudly before fools will hear it. (Proverbs 14:33 LB)

The wise man is known by his common sense, and a pleasant teacher is the best. (Proverbs 16:21 LB)

Lord, deal with me in loving-kindness, and teach me, your servant, to obey; for I am your servant; therefore give me common sense to apply your rules to everything I do. (Psalm 119:124-125 LB)

Never tire of loyalty and kindness. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart. If you want favour with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. (Proverbs 3:3-4 LB)

A rebuke to a man of common sense is more effective than a hundred lashes on the back of a rebel. (Proverbs 17:10 LB)

The man who strays away from common sense will end up dead! (Proverbs 21:16 LB)

Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. (Proverbs 24:3 LB)

If people would listen to the common sense wisdom that comes from God, they could spare themselves a lot of trouble. Common sense has a remarkable capacity to interpret our current situation in light of our history and God’s Word. As we hear God speak to us, we can make a godly decision rather than a bad one. 

Paul, the apostle, told the Corinthians Christians that they should learn to judge the small matters among themselves now, because at the end of this age, the resurrected saints will help to judge the world and even angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). As Christians, we can learn to exercise good and wise judgment or common sense right now, in this life. Common sense allows us to make evaluations and assessments according to God’s wisdom. God has given us a sound mind.

When we walk in the Spirit, we are in tune with God’s voice and can make common sense decisions according to God’s will and wisdom. In Acts, the Jerusalem church leaders made a decision by saying, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28). God entrusts us as His children to use our common sense as we seek the Spirit’s guidance. The audible voice of God or a prophecy or a dream or a vision is not needed when common sense wisdom is already telling us what to do.

Not everything that seems like common sense will be the voice of God speaking, however. We need to use wisdom and discernment as well the wisdom that comes from a multitude of counsellors (see Part 9). 

There are times when God speaks and it will go against what you think is common sense. I am sure the widow in 1 Kings 17 had second thoughts about giving her last flour and oil to Elijah. It just did not make sense to make a meal for Elijah when she and her sons were about to starve. But Elijah told the widow that God had spoken, and the flour and the oil would not run dry. Their obedience to the Lord’s voice caused a supernatural miracle of abundance.

God’s voice seemed the opposite of common sense in another biblical story in 2 Kings 5. The prophet Elisha told Naaman to dip himself in the Jordan river seven times and he would be healed of leprosy. Common sense might tell you that washing yourself in a dirty river would not be good for your health. Additionally, common sense would tell you that if you dipped in one time and were not cured, six more times wouldn’t do it either. But Naaman chose to trust that God was speaking through the prophet even though bit did not make sense. He kept dipping himself seven times until he was healed.

When we do get a “rhema” message from God, we need to use common sense wisdom in the choices we make to walk that ‘rhema” into reality. I have also found that if God doesn’t speak to me specifically it does not mean He is not leading me. There are some issues about which God already trusts me and you to know what is right or wrong and the way we should go. We don’t need a “specific word” from God; however, we must always stay open to waiting on Him to see if there is a need for Him to intervene in the way we are planning to go or in the choices we are making.

God tells us to do the seeking, and He does the speaking. We can be assured that He is the Spirit of wisdom and He will not lead us to do things or make decisions that are unwise.