How to discern the voice of God?
While growing up in Chennai, India I remember we use to have a certain neighbor who would come to our house only when she had certain need. Soon it became a joke in my house, because my mom had understood the pattern in which this neighbor functioned. Whenever this lady stood in front of our house, my mother will silently whisper to us and tell us with a smile the reason for the woman being there. I used to be surprised by the way she knew the heart of this person. As human we can discern the heart and the voice of the other fellow humans sometimes. But as for God how do we discern his heart or his voice.1Co 2:11 No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to know the voice of God clearly and surely. It is my desire to teach our readers the significance of not only hearing the voice of God right but also to know the different ways in which God speaks.
I remember doing a exercise in the church I pastored. I asked a man in my congregation to go to the corner of the room and make some intelligent conversation or just to utter something. So he did exactly what I said. He went and shouted out saying “Hey how are you doing” so all the congregation turned their heads towards the direction of this person. The lesson I was communicating was “if you identify the voice it leads to the person”. Throughout the OT and NT *we read of God’s desire to speak to his people and in return that His people would heed to his voice and recognize him. Great men throughout history have accomplished great things and transformed cultures just by hearing the voice of God. From Martin Luther to Mother Theresa the list of super heroes and heroines who have obeyed the voice of God to fulfill their destiny in being a blessing to many.
Why do we need to discern the voice of God?
I would like to echo the scriptures ,2Co 11:3 But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent. Here we see Paul the apostle warning the Corinthian church concerning deceptions. Even today we need understand that Satan is the master deceiver. He pretends as though the people are hearing right and he pretends as though you are doing the right thing. I am reminded of joke that I heard many years ago. One day a man was taken to heaven and there Peter the apostle of Jesus had asked him if he would choose heaven or hell. It was then he was revealed hell and while he was surprised that there were beautiful beaches and woman in bathing suites running and the excitement made his heart leap. Later heaven also was revealed and it looked a little boring to him as he saw people constantly praising God. So he choose the place where there was excitement and fun and it brought him to hell. So while he was in hell things changed he was surprised again this time for eternity. He cried out to Peter from hell and asked “ sir I thought I was just going to have some fun, I did not expect the come here”. Just then Satan and his demons began to eat his body and say “Surprise, welcome to Hell” and one of them said it was just a screen saver that you saw. Deception, Church is the reason why we need to discern the voice of God.
Understanding the different ways in which God speaks:
The voice of God can be manifested to us through different forms and ways. It is important for believers to discern and dissect the voice of God. It is important for us to understand the God speaks to us who are in the dispensation of Grace through his son Jesus. Heb 1:1. According to Acts 1:2 God spoke to his disciple through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in turn conveys the heart of God and transmits the message through dreams and visions, impressions, intuitions , prophecies and Logos the written word of God. I remember when my son was a new born baby. He would cry every time he had a dirty dipper or was hungry. As parents it took us some time to figure out as to what he was trying to say. Was he hungry? Was he not feeling well? Was he having a dirty dipper? Was he wanting to be held? It took us a while to discern as to what he was saying and to understand him. Eventually we became pro’s at understanding his cries to a extent we would sometimes even show off to strangers when he’s crying we would let them know he was hungry and that’s why he was crying. My point is in order to hear the voice of God and to me accustomed to the different ways in which he wants to speak to us, we need to have a fellowship with the Father , Son and the Holy Spirit. Just as it took time for us as parents to understand the language of our baby, it will take time for each believer to understand the way in which God chooses to speak to us.
Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Ask God to speak to you so that you will obey His voice: Why would you expect God to speak to you if you would disobey his voice?
- If God chooses to speak to you through dreams and visions make sure the avenue through which it comes is always washed by the blood of Jesus and that there is no room for adultration.
- It is always good to place to word of God received to people you are accountable to like your spiritual director or a mature Christian friend . So that they are able to say Amen to what you have received.
- Always choose to operate in grace and not in law.
- Expect God to speak and sanctify you vessel to receive from God.
- Be doers of the word and not hearers only.
- Be quick to obey. Delayed obedience is equaled to disobedience.
- Believe what you have received from God and don’t doubt it.
- Always get a confirmation through the written word of God. Have God’s word your final authority.
- Walk by faith and not by sight.
There are many things that can be learnt from people who have walked with God. Especially the way they have learnt to navigate the voice of God. It is necessary that I suggest to our readers, the most important trusted source through which we can receive the voice of God is through the Logos the written word of God. In Psm 1 ; 1 we are encouraged to delight ourselves in the Torah which is the extension of what we accept as the complete word of God. It is necessary that we practice to rightly divide the word of God , whether is of law or of grace. To many have walked in err holding on to the law. To hear the voice of God rightly it takes a person to mature to discern and separate the law from grace. The purpose of hearing His Voice is to lead us to the person of Christ.