“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
Every day, God speaks to us. Sometimes He invites us to draw close and listen as He reveals Himself, His character and His direction. Other times He calls us to participate in His purposes. Still other times He simply whispers, reminding us of His amazing love for us.
I realize this is where some hands might be going up with a few questions. Hearing from God is one of those topics that can easily stir up frustration and confusion. Maybe you’re asking some of these questions today: How do I know if God is speaking to me? How do I discern whether it is His voice speaking or just my own idea? What if I feel God telling me to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense?
The truth is, there’s no magic formula for discerning God’s voice. We learn to recognize His voice the way we recognize voices of those close to us: by knowing Him. And when we know Him, we can tell if what we’re feeling led to do is from Him or not.
I’ve never heard His voice audibly. But I’ve learned I can still feel His direction and sense His presence when I seek Him. I also ask myself five questions to determine if what I’m hearing is from God or not:
1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?
God will never speak to us or tell us to do something that’s contrary to His Word. But unless we know Scripture, we won’t be able to discern whether what we hear is consistent or not with the Word. We know the will of God when we read and pray the Word of God. I encourage you to get a journal and start recording the verses you study and some of your personal experiences with the things you’re learning as you read God’s Word.
2. Is what I’m hearing consistent with God’s character?
God’s Word also provides rich information regarding His character. Just as God always speaks in accordance with His Word, He speaks in accordance with His character. God will not say anything inconsistent with who He is. The longer we know Him and the more we experience Him personally, the more we learn about His character.
3. Is what I’m hearing confirmed through messages at church or in my quiet times?
When God speaks to me about a particular issue, I cannot escape it. Around every corner there’s a sermon or Bible study lesson, a speaker’s topic or conversation with a friend, that’s consistent with what I’ve been hearing from God in my time alone with Him. When we invest in spending time alone with God, He will speak to us. Listen for His voice, and then look for the message to be confirmed.
4. Is what I’m hearing beyond me?
Sometimes God calls us to do something big that we can’t do in our own strength — either it’s beyond our ability or beyond our natural human desire. It’s not something we can strategize and manipulate into being in and of ourselves. It can only happen through God’s divine intervention. Don’t look at your inabilities and dwell in insecurities. Look at the Almighty God. See this call as your opportunity to watch Him work in you and through you. If you answer “yes” to the question — Is this beyond me? — chances are, God is speaking.
5. Is what I’m hearing pleasing to God?
It’s easy to talk ourselves out of thinking we’ve heard from God. I think we’ll pretty much use any excuse to convince ourselves it’s not His voice so we don’t need to act. But there’s one question that takes away our excuses: Would this please God? If what you are doing pleases God, then even if what you thought you heard from Him wasn’t His voice, you still please Him. We should always seek to err on the side of pleasing God.
This five-question filter is a good starting place in our conversations with God. When we live in the expectation of hearing God’s voice, we will. In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I’m so thankful we serve a God who still speaks — to each of us, individually, right where we are.
Father God, thank You for reminding me that You aren’t hiding from me or trying to frustrate me. You still speak, and You speak to me. And when it does feel hard to hear You, I can know that Your Word is You speaking to me in written form — always available and never silent. Help me live with a heart that’s quick to lean into You, ears that are always listening for You, and feet that are ready and willing to follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV)
Have you ever wrestled with wondering if something you were hearing was from God or just your own idea? Look back at the list Lysa uses. Share which point most resonates with you in your life today in the comments.
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