How Can I Hear God’s Voice?
Not long ago, I was playing golf and faced a tough shot. I began to think about which club I should use, and part of me was saying, Use the 7-iron so you can be sure to clear that sand trap in front of the green. At the same time, another part of me was saying, No, a 7-iron will overshoot the green. Use the 8-iron and you’ll be right on it.
Well, I didn’t pray about it. In fact, asking God which club I should use didn’t even cross my mind. I made a decision and went with the club I thought would give me the best shot.
The truth is that in the scope of eternity, God doesn’t care which golf club I use. In fact, never once have I received a word from the Lord about my golf game (though I often could have used it!).
Some people today want to hear from God concerning every little choice they make… like if the Lord wants them to have soup or salad with their entrée! To me, people like that have moved from spiritual to “spooky” (which is not good!). How do we know when God wants to speak into a situation? And when it seems like He is speaking, how can we be sure it’s His voice we’re hearing?
To answer these questions, I want to share some thoughts with you from the New Testament, which can serve as guidelines for recognizing when God is speaking to us by His Spirit.
First of all, Jesus Himself gave us clear guidance for knowing God’s voice in John 15:26, when He said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” This means that God’s voice, speaking to us through the Holy Spirit, will first and foremost give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. Any voice that doesn’t do that simply cannot be God’s.
Again, in John 16:13-15 Jesus declared, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
This tells us that the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son are always in perfect agreement. Any voice that is contrary to the things Jesus has declared in Scripture or contrary to the written Word of God is not from God. And notice, once again, that when the Spirit is speaking, He will glorify Jesus.
This point is reinforced in 1 Corinthians 12:3, which says that “No one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Also, in Revelation 19:10 we read that “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The lesson here couldn’t be clearer: We know God’s voice because it always points us to Jesus Christ. When God speaks to you, what He says is going to put Jesus at the center of your life. And when God speaks, by His Spirit, it will always line up with His written Word, the Bible.
As Jesus spoke to His disciples about the coming Holy Spirit, He made it quite clear that He would speak to them. They would have expected to hear the Spirit’s voice, and so should we.
In John 10:4 Jesus said that His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
He will not speak to us about every issue in life (like which golf club to use), and there is no need for Him to tell us to do things that are clearly written in His Word—those things we just need to obey.
But, as His children, we should expect Him to speak to us by His Spirit, and when He does, His voice, will never take glory away from Jesus, and it will never contradict His written Word, the Bible. Use these guidelines when listening for God’s voice, and may your heart, like that of the psalmist of old, say, “I will hear what GOD the Lord will speak…” (Psalm 85:8).
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