RECOGNISING GOD’S VOICE“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. Andthe Word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was nowidespread Revelation… Now Samuel did not yet know theLord, nor was the Word of the Lord yet revealed to him.
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he aroseand went to Eli and said, „Here I am, for you did call me.‟ ThenEli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down and it shall be, if Hecalls you, that you must say, „Speak, Lord, for Your servanthears.‟ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times,„Samuel! Samuel!‟ And Samuel answered, „Speak, for Yourservant hears.‟
Then the Lordsaid to Samuel:„Behold, I will dosomething inIsrael at whichboth ears ofeveryone whohears it willtingle.‟” 1Samuel 3:1-11
Discerning the Voice of GodIn order to understand the Will of God, it isessential that we recognise the Voice of God.
We cannot do His Will if we cannot discernHis Voice from the clamour of peer pressure,the noise of the world and the cacophony ofour emotions.
Our Duty to HearOne of the persistent commands in Scripture is for us tolisten to God and to hear His Word:“Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that itmay be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly asthe Lord, the God of your fathers has promised you…”Deuteronomy 6:3
“Blessed is the manwho listens to Me,watching daily at Mygates, waiting at theposts of My doors.”Proverbs 8:34“The ear that hears therebukes of life willabide among thewise.” Proverbs 15:31
“Walk prudently when you go to the House of God and drawnear to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, forthey do not know that they do evil.” Ecclesiastes
“O Lord, I have heard Your speech and wasafraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midstof the years!” Habakkuk 3:2
“But the onesthat fell on thegood ground arethose who havingheard the Wordwith a noble andgood heart, keepit and bear fruitwith patience.” Luke 8:15
“So then, my beloved brethren let every man beswift to hear …” James 1:19“He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit saysto the churches …” Revelation 2:11Spiritual deafness is condemned throughout theScriptures:
“Behold the Word of the Lord is a reproach to them; theyhave no delight in it.” Jeremiah 6:10“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellioushouse, which has eyes to see but does not see, and earsto hear, but does not hear; for they are a rebellioushouse.” Ezekiel 12:2
“But theyrefused to heed,shrugged theirshoulders andstopped theirears so thatthey could nothear.” Zechariah 7:11
“And they will turn their earsaway from the truth, and beturned aside to fables.” 2 Timothy 4:4
When Last Did God Speak to You?What did Hesay?Did you obey?Do not expect God tospeak to you againuntil you haveobeyed what He hastold you before.
The Purpose of Hearing GodTo deepen anddevelop ourrelationshipwith God.“God is faithful,by whom youwere called intothe fellowship ofHis Son, JesusChrist, our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9
To learn principles inthe ways of God.“And they said to one „Did not ouranother,heart burn withinus while Hetalked with us onthe road andwhile He openedthe Scriptures tous?‟” Luke 24:32
To learn to knowthe Will of God.“And do not beconformed to thisworld, but betransformed by therenewing of yourmind, that you mayprove what is thatgood and acceptableand perfect will ofGod.” Romans 12:2
To experience and understand more of the character of God.“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you,being rooted and grounded in love, may be able tocomprehend with all the saints what is the width and lengthand depth and height – to know the love of Christ whichpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullnessof God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
Conditions for Hearing GodSin is a barrier to hearing from God. “Behold the Lord‟s handis not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that itcannot hear, but your iniquities have separated you from yourGod; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that Hewill not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
A Clean Heart“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If wesay that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness,we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the lightas He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another andthe Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.
But if we say that we have no sin, we deceiveourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess oursins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and tocleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:5-9
Faith“Now Faith is thesubstance of thingshoped for, theevidence of thingsnot seen … by Faithwe understand … butwithout Faith it isimpossible to pleaseGod, for He who comesto God must believe …He is a rewarder ofthose who diligentlyseek Him.” Hebrews 11:1-6
RelationshipThe more we hearGod speak thebetter we will beable to recogniseHis voice. “… Thesheep hear Hisvoice; and He callsHis own sheep byname and leadsthem out … thesheep follow Him,for they know Hisvoice.”John 10:3-4;
“My sheep hear My voice, and I knowthem and they follow Me.” John 10:27
Worship & ReverenceWhen God has your attention in worship you can discernHis voice.“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloudovershadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the „This is My beloved Son incloud, saying,whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Matthew 17:5
Applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of lifeJesus is Lord. He has all authority in Heaven and on earth.We are commanded to make disciples and teach obedienceto all things that He has commanded. Our attitude needs tobe: „I will go wherever You send me. I will do whatever Youtell me.‟ When we are receptive and responsive to the Wordof God we can expect to hear from God.
Ways In Which God Speaks“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show yougreat and mighty things, that you do not know.”Jeremiah 33:3
AudiblyThere have been occasions when God has spoken audibly,such as to Moses through the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:4); toSamuel (1 Samuel 3:1-14); and to Paul (Acts 9:4-6).
VisionsThere have been occasions when God has communicatedthrough visions, such as to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1-28); toDaniel (Daniel 7;8;10); and to John (Revelation).
DreamsThere have been occasions when God has communicated toHis people through dreams, such as to Jacob (Genesis28:12-15); to Joseph (Genesis 37:5-9); to Joseph, thehusband of Mary (Matthew 1:20-24; 2:13); and to Paul(Acts 23:11).
AngelsThere have been occasions when God hascommunicated His will through angels,such as to Gideon (Judges 6:13-23); toAbraham (Genesis 18); to Lot (Genesis 19);to Daniel (Daniel 10); to Mary (Luke 1:26-38); and to Peter (Acts 12:7-11).
Circumstances of God’s Design“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughtswill be established.” Proverbs 16:3; “A man‟s heart planshis way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9; “Andwe know that all things work together for good to those wholove God, to those who are the called according to Hispurpose.” Romans 8:28
The Conviction of Our Conscience“My conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.”Romans 9:1; “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, towhich you were also called in one body; and be thankful.”Colossians 3:15; “Having faith and a good conscience,which some having rejected, concerning the Faith havesuffered shipwreck.” 1Timothy 1:19
The Advice and Counsel of Dedicated and Mature Christians“A wise man will hear andincrease learning, and aman of understanding willattain wise counsel … thefear of the Lord is thebeginning of knowledge, butfools despise wisdom andinstruction. My son, hear theinstruction of your father anddo not forsake the law of yourmother.” Proverbs 1: 5-9
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, butas wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the Will ofthe Lord is and do not be drunk with wine, in which isdissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to oneanother in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singingand making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanksalways for all things to God the Father in the Name of ourLord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear ofGod.” Ephesians 5:15-21
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymnsand spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to theLord.” Colossians 3:16
The Gifts of the SpiritThe voice of the Lord can also be discerned through the giftsthat He has given: through those with a “word of Wisdom”, a“word of Knowledge”, “Prophecy”, Discernment, Languagesand Interpretation (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ and individuallymembers of one another. Having then gifts differingaccording to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: ifprophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; orministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches inteaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, withliberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy,with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:5-8
“And He Himself gave some to beapostles, some prophets, someevangelists, and some pastors andteachers, for the equipping of thesaints for the work of ministry, for theedifying of the body of Christ till we allcome to the unity of the Faith and ofthe knowledge of the Son of God, to aperfect man, to the measure to thestature of the fullness of Christ; thatwe should no longer be children,tossed to and fro and carried aboutwith every wind of doctrine, of thetrickery of men, in the cunningcraftiness of deceitful plotting, but,speaking the truth in love, may growup in all things into Him who is thehead – Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-15
God Speaks through His Word, The BibleIn our daily quiet time as we study and meditate on His Word.“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in seat of the scornful;but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law hemeditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by therivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whoseleaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shallprosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
ThroughmemorisedScripture“Let the Word ofChrist dwell in yourichly in allwisdom, teachingand admonishingone another …”Colossians 3:16
Through the reading of Scripture. “All Scripture is given byinspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the manof God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every goodwork.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. “So thenfaith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”Romans 10:17
“For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper thanany two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of souland spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thethoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Let the Earth Hear His VoiceSo God has spoken audibly, and through visions and dreamsand through angels and these are recorded for us to study inthe Bible. Generally we are guided by our daily study of theScriptures, through memorised Scripture, through carefulattention to the reading of God’s Word, and listeningattentively to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
We can further seeGod’s hand in thecircumstances whereinGod works all thingstogether for good forthose who love Himand are calledaccording to Hispurpose.The conviction of ourconscience and theadvice and counsel ofdedicated and matureChristians can be usedof the Lord to guide usin His will.
God has given prophets,teachers, apostles,evangelists and pastorsto the church andthrough their collectivewisdom and knowledgewe can learn much ofthe Word of God, theways of God and theWill of God. ThroughPsalms, hymns and inspiritual songs, andwhen we are attentive inworship, we can discernthe voice of God.
Beware of Being DeceivedThere are many warnings in Scripture against deception.“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperatelywicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
We cannot trust our emotions.We must never confuse voices in our head with the voice ofGod. God guides us primarily through the principles andcommands of Scripture.
Our duties andresponsibilities inthe light of HisGreat Commissiondetermine His willfor us on a dailybasis. It is easy tobecome disorientatedand confused. Thereforewe should seek theadvice and counsel ofdedicated Christiansand learn not to trustour own inclinations.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on yourown understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, andHe shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes;fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7
Distinguishing Between Subjective and Objective GuidanceWe need to discern between subjective and objectiveguidance. To use a mountaineering analogy: Your compassreadings are subjective. It is relative to where you understandyour position to be.
A map can be objective, as long as you havea correct perspective of where you are onthe map. A boundary marker is objective.
It is easy to be lost while climbing on the mountains,particularly in bad weather and with limited visibility in cloudcover. Following your compass reading is similar tofollowing your conscience.
This is subjective and cannot be taken as confirmation ofanything. Compass readings can be misleading if interferedwith, for example by a magnet.
The map is like the Word ofGod, objective reality.
However, we can sometimes be completely lost even whilehaving the perspective that we are making good progressaccording to our understanding of where we are on the map.You can even be on the right path, but going in the wrongdirection.
It helps to have a guide who has travelled this way before.Godly counsel from mature and experienced Christians canbe a tremendous help.
So too are finding boundary markers. When we comeacross a cairn, a pile of rocks, perhaps cemented in withthe name of the location, ravine, beacon, etc. it enables usto orientate ourselves and recognise where exactly on themap we are.
If the boundary marker does not accord with where weperceived ourselves to be, we need to recognise that ourperception is what has been in error.
Seeking ConfirmationIn the same way, if we are confronted by a boundary markerof an authority in our life, such as our parents, pastor,mission leader or an employer, who informs us that we are offthe path and out of bounds, we need to be humble, teachableand re-evaluate our position in the light of God’s Word.
The Scripture encourages us to test all things.We should ask for confirmation, and in major matters weshould expect major confirmations.
Questions to AskIs it Scriptural? It is always right to do what theScriptures command: To repent of our sins, to do thoroughrestitution, to be thankful, to be wholehearted in our duties,to seek sanctification and holiness.
Does it glorify God? “Therefore, whether you eat ordrink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1Corinthians 10:31; “For you were bought at a price; thereforeglorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God‟s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
Is it in accordance with the Laws of God? “TheLaw of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimonyof the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7
What do the authorities in my life say?“Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right …Bondservants be obedient to those who are your mastersaccording to the flesh with fear and trembling, in sincerity ofheart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men pleasers, butas bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from theheart with goodwill doing service as unto the Lord, and not tomen.” Ephesians 6:1-7
Does your spirit within you bear witness bygiving you inner peace about the decision?“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience alsobearing witness in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 9:1;
“And let thepeace of Christrule in yourheart to whichalso you werecalled in onebody; and bethankful.”Colossians3:15
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow ofwickedness; and receive with meekness the implanted Word,which is able to save your souls, but be doers of the Word,and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is ahearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observinghis natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goesaway, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was,
but he who looks into the perfect Law of liberty andcontinues in it and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer ofthe work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:21-25
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