Is It You Lord?
Three ways to discern if what you’re hearing is God or not.
I can still remember the first time that God spoke to me. I don’t remember much before the age of 9 because of depression. Filled with anger and hatred toward myself and others – I just wanted to end it all. In the midst of a suicidal attempt God spoke to me. His words were kind and loving. He told me not to end my life because He had a purpose and plan for me. At that time, I didn’t want to hear that God loved me but He continued to gently and lovingly beckon me to be His. After arguing for a while, He finally convinced me that my life was worth something and ending it would be selfish. I also had a vision, but at the time didn’t fully understand what it meant – at least until this past year.
The struggles continued for the next few weeks because Satan kept telling me I was worthless, that God hadn’t spoken to me, and that I should still end my life. He would repeatedly tell me it was all in my head. I didn’t understand Satan or his tactics, or that God had already given me the power through Him to overcome the voices. Eventually, I went to church with my parents out of desperation to silence the harassing voices (don’t remember ever going before that time). Despite the enemy taunting me, I walked forward, then back, and finally ran to the altar and prayed. Since that time, the voices lessened. Many thought that I gave my life to God that day; however, as I matured in my faith, God showed me that I became His when He spoke to me originally in my bedroom, beckoning me to follow Him instead of ending my life.
Throughout my life, God has led me on an amazing journey. He has spoken to me many times and provided me with direction. His loving presence is around me as He leads me. Through listening to His direction, I have been blessed with a wonderful and godly wife, a college education, and nice home. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when He has spoken to me that I went my own way, but He would always gently guide me back.
Hopefully this will encourage you in your desire to hear God’s voice and know it is Him speaking. Hearing His voice not only saved my life, but has continually provided guidance through hard times and blessings through obedience.
One of the main questions I have been asked over the years as I have encouraged others in along in their walk with God is, “How do I know when it’s God speaking to me?” I have heard countless debates, read articles, and heard complex ways to “hear” His voice. Some claiming we have to be “super” spiritual – which is not true. It amazes me how many try to make things so complicated in the body of Christ.
Scripture states in John 10:27 that His sheep (or those who have a relationship with Him) know His voice. So we know if we have a relationship with Him we can discern His voice. We also have found that God has spoken to people directly before they even knew Him. He spoke to Abram, Moses, Samuel and Saul (more well-known as Paul) before they knew Him. And while it’s not likely that God is going to knock us off our donkey and appear to us like He did to Paul or Moses, there are three simple things we can do to hear God’s voice and know it is Him.
- First we must listen. This may seem oversimplified, but truth be told if we aren’t listening for His voice we won’t hear it even if He is speaking to us. In scripture we find that Jesus often went away to be alone and pray to the Father (Luke 5:16). This is how he knew when and what to pray for. We get a glimpse of this in the story of Lazarus who was raised from the dead (John 11). When Jesus first hears the news he knows that the event Lazarus wouldn’t end in death, but for God’s glory. He then waits a two days before leaving to visit Lazarus. Before He prays for Lazarus to come forth, He makes an odd statement. “Lord I thank you that you heard me, I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me”. This statement gives us a hint that Jesus had a conversation with the Father before He stood in front of the crowd and declared “Lazarus come forth!” We see in this example that Jesus and God had conversations. Not just prayers that go up and silence at the end. The same can be seen when Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane, and eventually declares, “Not my will but yours be done”. Jesus know’s the Father’s will because He asks Him and then Listens.Many times we are so quick to speak to or even at God that we forget to take time to listen for a response. Just like when talking to a person, after we ask God a question, if we want to know their response we must stop and listen. Don’t be afraid of silence. Many of us are scared to have silence between two people, so waiting in silence before God can be even more daunting. But don’t be afraid of awkward silence, don’t be so quick to move on the next “prayer” or thought. Instead, wait to hear a response.
- Secondly we must test. When listening let’s not accept the first thing that comes into our heads as “God’s” voice. We are programmed in our culture to be impatient and our mind has many things that float in and out of it on a daily basis. Because of this the first thing that comes to mind may be a random thought or one from the enemy. Remember earlier when I shared how Satan harassed me and told me God didn’t love me and it was all a lie? Don’t think for a minute Satan will not try to deceive us. Just as John tells us in 1 John 1:4 that we should not believe every spirit, but test to see if they are from God. We shouldn’t believe every “voice” that pops in our head. One quick way to do this is to ask this question, “Is what I hear bringing glory to God, to me, or someone/thing else?” If the voice we hear is telling us to do something that brings glory to ourselves or anything other than God then it is not of God. Matthew 5:6; I Corinthians 10:31; 1 John 4:1-3;7-8;11;15If it passes the “glory” test, then we ask a second question, “Does what I hear fall in line with God’s nature?” Some things we hear may sound as it could bring glory to God, but if it doesn’t fall in line with His nature then it still isn’t Him. For instance, God would never tell us to do something that controls or manipulates another person even if the action may “appear” to bring glory to Him. God is love (1 John 4:8) and love does not control or manipulate or seek its own. So we can test if what we hear is from God by understanding His nature. To learn about what love is in God’s view, not just what people deem “love”, then take a moment to read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Also check out: 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8
- Thirdly we must trust. This is not “trusting” that what we hear is coming from God. Instead is what we are hearing requiring us trust in God? We should ask ourselves, “Is what I am hearing directing me to go beyond my ability?” When God is speaking to us His words will invite us into deeper relationship with Him or challenge us to a deeper commitment – neither can in our own power alone. The invitation to trust in His character or a challenge to obey will require trust – or faith.“But the righteous one will live by his faith” or in Hebrew syntax
the righteous, by His faithfulness – shall live”. Habakkuk 2:4 (Read 3-4 for context), Hebrews 11 (whole chapter); 2 Corinthians 5:7; Romans 1:17; Acts 17:28; Psalm 84:11,12When referencing “faith,” it’s not just a belief in Him, but instead it’s the Hebrew word “Emunah1” which means to nourish, make firm or strong. This “faith” requires perseverance, fidelity, and steadfastness – in spite of the circumstances. It may sound daunting, but in truth anywhere God directs us will take us on a path that requires us to depend on His faithfulness. Whether it be transitioning to a new career path or praying for your neighbor for healing or deliverance – both would be dependent on God making it happen and thus receiving glory.
So as you seek to hear God’s voice, remember to take time to listen, test the voices that you hear, and ask yourself, “Is what I am hearing inviting or challenging me to trust God”? You are His child and if you ask Him He will give you direction and guide you in all truth.