“The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths. Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 107: 42-43, NIV
Last Sunday I heard a conversation among our youth about how to know if God is really speaking to you—or if you are just making up the conversation and speaking to yourself. It was a great question; I have struggled with the same question at times. I want to hear God…..I want Him to say something that makes me feel good or that puts my mind at rest, so, perhaps, what I am hearing is really just my sub-conscious speaking in a pre-determined way.
Actually, I did not hear Him speak to me until many years after I accepted Christ as my Savior. No one taught me how to distinguish His voice or how to listen. But today, we need to be listening for Him. Life is full of noise. Music, traffic, people yakking—there’s always noise and, more and more, we’re even wearing little plugs in our hear to hear more noise from the radio, or a blog or our favorite music. There’s not much time to be quiet, is there? And if you take the time to talk to God, are you being quiet, part of the time so that you can listen to Him?
Christians need to hear God when He does speak—-but we must be sure that we are hearing God’s voice, not just our own voices, the the input of devils, or our own and imagination. We all need to hear Him for some reason today: finances, family, health, going to college or going to retirement, etc.
A.W. Tozer once said, “It’s the nature of God to speak.” He wants to have fellowship with us and He wants us to talk to Him—-we’re not taxing His time when we pray. He also wants you to to speak to Him. God has promised to lead His children by His Spirit and enable them to know His voice. That means we can learn to know exactly what the Spirit of God is saying to us about every situation. We don’t have to go through life blindly or relying on your own abilities.
But here are some things to consider if we can’t hear God, or we are not sure we’re hearing His voice:
First, do I really want to hear Him, or would I rather hear someone else? If I tell you what you should do or not do, you can think, “Well, that’s just your opinion.” But when God speaks it’s not an opinion, its absolute truth and you have to decide whether to live in obedience or defiant disobedience to an Almighty God.
“And you will seek for Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” –Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV)
So if you are not hearing God, first ask yourself this question: “Are you seeking Him? Do you really want to hear from Him? Do you expect it?” If you do, you will hear Him. But He never screams or yells at us. Listen to how He spoke to Elijah: “And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9-13, NIV)
He whispers. It’s a gentle, soft voice. It’s a voice full of love As you talk to Him more and listen more, you can gain a certainty that you are hearing God’s voice and not just your own—-or the voice of the enemy. Like the whisper of your wife, husband, child, parent or close friend, you will recognize that voice the more time you spend with Him.
“They know his voice” –John 10:4 (NKJV)
Sometimes we don’t hear Him because we expect Him to say profound and incredible things. But most often He is giving simple instructions. That’s what He will do when you hear from Him—and He will continue to do this for the rest of your life here on earth. If you want to grow in Him, He will test you to see if you are really listening when He whispers, “turn it off”, “don’t say that”, or “tell her you love her”…”say you are sorry”.
“My sheep hear my voice.” –John 10:27 (KJV)
If someone you love calls you on the telephone, do you know it’s them before they tell you? Most likely you do. How? Because you’ve spent so much time with them, the sound of their voice and their way of saying things has become well-known to you—easy to recognize. The same is true when it comes to our relationship with God.
If you want to get to a place where you don’t have to wonder whose voice you’re hearing—yours, the devil’s or God’s—you need to spend time with the Lord. But, if you keep your mind and your heart full of the things of this world, it will be difficult for you to differentiate between the Spirit of God and your own thoughts. That is the definition of a carnal mind—one that has not been renewed by the Word of God. Do you seek Him first each day? Do you inquire of Him all day long about the things with which you direction?
The more time you spend with Him, the more certain you’ll become about hearing God’s voice. It isn’t just time talking to Him, though. We have to shut our mouths and listen. That’s why in Matthew 17:5 (NASB) He said, “This is My beloved Son…listen to Him!”
“All Scripture is inspired by God.” –2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
One sure way to know if you’re hearing God’s voice is to line up what you hear against the Word of God. God will never tell you to do, think or say anything contrary to His Word. If you have a thought and you don’t know if it’s God or not—you can look it up in the Bible and settle it right away. So test the voice that is talking to you if you are not sure if it is from God.
To live in confidence that I am hearing from Him, I need to have a knowledge of His Word continually in my heart. And I do this by drawing near to God (James 4:8). That’s my part—to seek Him. God’s not going to chase after me. My part is to diligently seek Him. That involves spending time in the Word and in prayer.
In Jeremiah 33:3, He says, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NASB). I have to do is pursue a life in which I want to hear the voice of God, obey Him and then walk into a victory I never thought possible.
So is my ear sensitive enough to hear even the softest whisper of the Spirit, so that I know what I should do? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30). He does not speak with a voice like thunder— His voice is as gentle as a zephyr— easy for me to ignore. Oswald Chambers once said that, “The only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of ever listening for Him and to God. When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, “Why can’t I do this?” You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once the Holy Spirit speaks. Whatever it is— drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.”
Consider this example of hearing Him speak: “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the Lord (spoke) to Samuel…” (I Samuel 3:1-11)
If you bring them up right, children begin their lives listening to their parents and those in authority—-just like Samuel did with Eli. And when He, our heavenly Father, does speak, they will arise, they will listen and they will obey….and they will do great things for the Kingdom of God.
Let’s teach our children to listen, recognize and obey that voice.
And finally, please hear this:There isn’t a single person reading this, right now, whose life would not be radically changed and transformed by listening to the the voice of God better. Finances, family problems, personal issues that no one but you and God know about, worries about friends of family members that are lost or sick…no matter what it is.It’s just a matter of hearing His voice to change everything. Are we listening? Are we seeking? Are we ready?