Summary: Your very presence here today is an indication that you have heard, or are hearing his voice. But developing that companionship often remains a challenge; learning to listen to God is not always as simple as we’d like?
The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:2-4, 27)
Your very presence here today is an indication that you have heard, or are hearing his voice. But developing that companionship often remains a challenge; learning to listen to God is not always as simple as we’d like?
- Perhaps you can identify with those who may say, ‘I’m not sure I’m really getting any inner direction from God’ or… ‘Ideas come, but how do I know they’re from God?’
- Are they just my conscious or subconscious? Maybe voices from the past are being projected onto a present setting?
- How do I know that the enemy, who is also spirit, isn’t influencing me?
- Are there solid principles to discern God’s guidance?
Before answering that question, I believe it can be helpful to address another, which may naturally arise:
Why isn’t God’s guidance more clear? If he really desires to speak to us, why isn’t it always obvious… direct… immediately clear?
Here’s where it’s help to remember…
GOD DOESN’T WANT ROBOTS, BUT RELATIONSHIP.
God doesn’t want to program us, he wants to parent us
- He wants to deepen not just our intelligence but our intimacy, moving from information to formation, from knowing to growing, from head to heart, from accepting to understanding…
3 Qualities that come from the process of discovering and discerning God’s voice…
o Passive learning that demands little of our involvement is usually forgotten; never truly formative
o Actively involved, pondering, seeking, searching… then when we get an answer, when the light goes on… and the revelation isn’t easy to forget.
o You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)
o How much do you really want to grasp God’s heart?
o But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14)
So it is that God is parenting us; helping us to develop as spiritual adults; to become familiar with the sound of his voice and the counsel of his heart… far from being left out, we are learning; far from doubting his voice, we are to discern.
Towards that end I want briefly offer
7 PRINCIPLES OF DISCOVERING AND DISCERNING GOD’S VOICE.
- Drawing from a study of God’s word and the experience of myself and others, I offer these not as a checklist but as guides to getting familiar… to getting tuned into the right frequency
1. GOD’S VOICE WILL HONOR CHRIST
When the counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (John 15:26; 16:14)
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognized the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. (1 John 4:1-3)
The implication here is in regards to prophetic counsel more than practical; that is to say, I believe God’s natural wisdom can be spoken to us by those who don’t know Him… parents, authors, and such; but spiritual insight which claims a spiritual source, must be spiritually tested. If it is from the Holy Spirit, Christ will be acknowledged as Lord; if not , He will stand as threat to the source of all powers. Needless to say there are many offering “spiritual” guidance today. While many may simply be charlatans, I don’t doubt spiritual powers at work. We need only ask from what source? Who is Lord?
2. GOD’S VOICE WILL BE CONSISTANT WITH HIS WORD
- If you go to pray and your inner heart speaks of condemnation… or feels worthless… it’s not from God
- God does not change; “Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
- His counsel will not contradict itself
- Rather, God’s spirit will speak to us in a way that will apply the counsel of His word to our personal and specific situations.
- Being consistent with his word, does not simply mean applying a quotation from Scripture