2. Steps to hear God’s voice
3. Listening to God’s voice
4. What’s next?
5. Questions & Answers
This is the story of a young man desperately trying to know God’s will for his life. The son of a farmer, the man is out in the fields one day praying when all of a sudden he notices that the clouds have formed a shape of the letter “P.” He looks a few minutes longer and another cloud forms itself into the shape of a “C.” The young man thinks and thinks – surely this is a message from God. What could P and C mean? Suddenly it comes to him – “Preach Christ”. So the young man leaves for the city, puts together a message and gets his first preaching engagement. One by one, the audience just gets up and leaves. The young man is horribly confused and discouraged and again asks God, “What happened? You told me P C – “Preach Christ.” “No,” replied God, “I was telling you to plant corn” (www.barringtonumc.com).
Many times the problems we face in our lives require us to make decisions and we are naturally bound by its consequences. If we were to decide by ‘how things appear’, most probably, we could make foolish decisions resulting in we suffering unnecessarily and also, often, subjecting those with us, to trouble. Proverbs 14:12 (KJV) says: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” But Psalms 33:11 (ESV) “The counsel of the LORD stands forever . . .”
We know it is dangerous to get into any battlefield without the hot line communication system. Likewise, it is suicidal to get into the spiritual battlefield without being tuned to listening to God’s voice, also, without which, we can neither keep our spiritual lives intact for long, nor can we effectively minister to the people under our spiritual care. Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 10:27 (KJV): “My sheep hear my voice...”
Will not God, who will hold us accountable at the judgment seat, for all our decisions in life, not be willing to speak to us and let us know His will?
Does not God, who gave us mouth to talk, has a mouth for Himself to speak?
Has the Lord withheld any thing of His that would be a blessing to us? ..... His body, His blood…Has He not shown His love when we needed it the most? Will He withhold the privilege of listening to Him?
Can any two people be in love and not be talking to each other?
God speaks. Bible says it so. It’s true. I know it. I believe without an iota of doubt. It’s exciting to hear Him speak. Every time we hear Him, we will be blessed. It’s wonderful; too wonderful to deprive our self of this privilege.
This book is all about how to listen to God’s voice, which I like to humbly share with you. May you be blessed by reading this book. It’s my desire that every child of God will desire to hear Him speak, work it out and get into the hot line communication system with God, thereby become a friend of God.
Please continue to read without getting distracted. Remember the saying: “When opportunity knocks, the grumbler complains about the noise.”
2. STEPS TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE
A young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So he went to see an old preacher. Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me, preacher, why doesn’t God answer?” The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply, something so hushed, it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “So we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard and he understood.(www.turnbacktogod.com)
Yes, many times God whispers. To get the message we have to move closer to Him.
The Bible lays down few specific conditions or steps to come closer to God or to get into ‘talking terms’ with Him. They are:-
The Bible teaches we must be born-again. Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned…” and so we are bound to end-up in hell, a place of suffering in fire for eternity, that is, with no sight of end of time (Romans 6:23). But Lord Jesus loved us so much that He came into the world, suffered for us on the cross, died in our place, rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven after promising to come back to earth to take us unto Himself. Bible says, only the blood of Jesus Christ has the power to cleanse us from all sins, so we are expected to seek His forgiveness by confessing our sins and thus be cleansed of all sins (1 John 1:9). Then, upon asking Him to come into our heart, He comes happily according to His promise in Revelation 3:20 and make us His children (John 1:12). Our life changes for good, that is, our old sinful nature loses its grip and the new nature of God takes-over (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is what is called being born-again; that enables us to live with our dear Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, a place of wonderful presence of God, for eternity, after we leave this planet-earth. This is why the Lord Jesus told a religious teacher, “… Except a man is born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, KJV).
I once read: every person has a God-shaped vacuum within the heart. It cannot be filled with anything else like wealth, fame, achievements and so on; but only Jesus Christ fits-in perfectly, thus giving us complete contentment in life.
By His grace, I can testify that when I repented of my sins, asked Him to forgive me and received Him into my heart, He has changed my life. He filled me with love, joy and peace that does not depend upon any circumstance. The vacuum in my heart left me, never to return and it never will. He did it for me. He will do that for you too.
In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:17 gives the definition for the word ‘Christian’, meaning, is the one who holds a testimony saying, his old life of sin is passed-away and all things have become new, upon encountering the Lord Jesus. If you do not hold a testimony on these lines, you are not a Christian according to the Scriptures and hence, you need to be born-again; despite your Christian background, present church affiliations, involvement in social or religious activities or your reputation in society and so forth. Please say this prayer meaningfully from your heart, before we proceed any further.
“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that you died for me on the cross, shedding thy precious blood for my sins. Please forgive me of my sins and cleanse me with your blood. Come into my heart Lord Jesus and make me your child. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Lord Jesus, I want to hear you speak to me. Amen.”
After saying this prayer, be conscious of the fact that you are never alone and that Jesus Christ is in your heart. Don’t expect to feel anything emotionally. Just believe. Keep thanking Him for making you His child. Follow the Lord by reading Bible (Joshua 1:8), praying to Him (Philippians 4:6), being in close fellowship with God’s children (Hebrews 10:25) and testifying about His goodness (Acts 1:8) on a regular basis. All this is the starting point of an exciting, fulfilling, blessed and a life of ‘no-regrets’, that cause us to declare with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need” (Psalms 23:1 GNB).
Next, one is expected to be water-baptized into and in the name of Jesus according to Galatians 3: 27(KJV) that says: “For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” and Act 2:38 (KJV) that says: “. . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .” The significance of baptism is that it is an outward sign of an inward change (Romans 6:4). It has been instituted by God and we are commanded to follow it.
In this context, please note that as per Acts 2:38 & 8:37, the sequence puts believing and repentance before baptism. Also, we see in Matthew 3:16 & Acts 8: 38 - 39, that those baptized, went into the water and came out of it. Hence, we can conclude that, one should believe, repent and then be baptized by immersion. To honor the Word, we need to obey the Word.
Being born-again establishes the lost fellowship between God and man, thus, paving a way for the restoration of communication.
Have no unconfessed sin:-
Though saved from eternal damnation, it is possible, though forbidden, that one may commit sins. Even though the Holy Spirit indwells us to help us live a sinless life, we may like to have our own way. These things may look very trivial in our sight, but in the sight of God, they are not acceptable at all. Psalms 66:18 (ASV) says: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear:” The good news is that if we repent and ask God to forgive us, He will forgive us in a way ‘as if we have never sinned’. Jeremiah 31:34 says, He will never remember our sins any more. But don’t forget what the Lord has told the women caught in adultery after forgiving her: “…go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
In fact, the Bible says, we have to give an account to God of everything we do (2 Corinthians 5:10). John 12:48 says, we will be judged according to the Word of God (Bible) and not according to the constitution or rules and regulations of any church or denomination. Lord Jesus rebuked the religious people of His day saying: “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings” (Mark 7:8 GNB). Any tradition that contradicts Scriptures should be brushed aside.
Please note that unless and until the written Word (Bible) is obeyed, don’t expect God to speak to you to give you any personal guidance. In Ezekiel 20:1-32, we read about some of the leaders of the Israelite community who came to Prophet Ezekiel to know the will of God. But God rebuked them through the prophet, telling them to first obey the laws that were already given to them. In Matthew 19:16-21, we read about the Lord revealing His will to the rich young man, ‘ . . . sell all you have and give the money to the poor . . .’. This personal revelation he was able to get because he was already obedient to the revealed Word (verse 20), that is, the laws in the Bible. Logically, will we tell a child to do anything, if the child has already failed to do what was said to him?
Obviously, if anybody is a smoker or boozer (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) or in secret sins or indulging in any kind of acts that the Bible forbids or not obedient to rules laid-down by the Government (Romans 13:1) and still professes to be hearing from God on a regular basis (except for rebuke), is a liar or a person deceived by the devil, according to the Scriptures (Ezekiel 20:1-32).
Submit to God:-
Lord Jesus declared in John 4:34(MKJV): “. . . My food is to do the will of Him who sent me. . .” We know that food is so very important for our survival. But Lord Jesus considered doing the will of the Father to be as important as food. He accomplished the will of the Father that involved facing hardship, shame, humiliation, physical suffering, pain and death. Thereby, He has been highly exalted (Philippians 2: 8-9).
What a wonderful example the Lord has set for us to follow! Likewise our purpose of living should be to do His will for our lives, gladly enduring all that we have to face along the way.
In Luke 5:12 (ISV), we read about a leper, who asked the Lord: . . . "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” What did he mean by that? He meant, he doesn’t mind living and dying as a leper, if that is what the will of God was for him. Anybody in his place probably would have said: “Lord, please heal me at any cost.” Two conclusions can be clearly drawn from this event. Firstly, what a great understanding he has received about the preciousness of the will of Lord. Secondly, his willingness to be submissive to the will of God is certainly a matter of appreciation. The Lord had pity on him and healed him. This proves that the Lord has good and perfect plans for us. In fact, Jeremiah 29:11 says, the Lord has plans to prosper us.
Oh! How wonderful it would be if we understand the preciousness of God’s will for our lives and be submissive to it so as to please the Lord. Our only intention behind obeying God's will ought to be to please the Lord because of our love for Him. Real success or blessings will ultimately come our way when we are obedient to His leading, but that should not be our goal. A saying goes like this: “To know God’s will is life’s greatest treasure, to do God’s will is life’s greatest pleasure.”
Can a master give any instructions to anybody who has not committed himself or herself to him? Can we hear God give us commands when we have not yet submitted ourselves to Him? Hence, let’s submit. Remember, submission has its roots in humility.
Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit:-
On being born-again or saved, certainly the Holy Spirit comes and indwells us (Revelations 3:20). Nobody can say: “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). But Scripture is very clear that there is spiritual power available beyond our experience of salvation.
If we read Acts 8:14-18; 10:44-48; 11:15 and 19:5-7 with an open-mind, I repeat, with an open-mind, we shall arrive at the following conclusions:
(i) After being born-again, one is expected to be filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit.
(ii) When one is baptized with the Holy Spirit, it can be seen by people around, as some form of physical manifestation is involved.
As per Ephesians 5:18, we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can receive power for witnessing (Acts 1:8). According to Luke 3:16 and Acts 11:16, Lord Jesus is the baptizer. We are expected to ask for it (Luke 11:13). Obviously, as this has been instituted by the Lord, it should be for our good.
If you are saved, have no unconfessed sin in your heart and living a life of submission to God, then ask the Lord to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Receive by faith. Sometime it happens with laying-on of hands by God’s servants (Acts 8:17 and 19:6) and also without laying on of hands (Acts 10:44).
Once baptized with the Holy Spirit, our prayer-life, Bible-reading, faith, forgiving, loving people, etc, becomes enriched. Without this, no believer can lead a life to its fullness and real satisfaction.
Then, according to His plan, the Lord will give us the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11) and use us for His glory. Finally, there are two things that we should always be mindful of. Firstly, we should not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), which means, we should not do anything that He does not want us to do. Secondly, we should not quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), which means, we should do what He wants us to do.
Definitely, baptism of the Holy Spirit brings us closer to God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be clearer to us. Therefore, it is much easier for a Spirit-filled person to hear the voice of God, then why settle for anything less?
A preacher once said: “If you only have the Word, you dry-up; if you only have the Spirit, you blow-up; if you have both, you grow-up.”
3. LISTENING TO GOD’S VOICE
There once was a shepherd that lived in the Scottish highlands. This shepherd had a daughter and he would take her with him when he went out on the moors to take care of the sheep. The thing that the little girl liked best was to hear the call of shepherd. His voice sounded so free and beautiful as carried across the valleys of the moors.
As the years passed the little girl became a beautiful young woman and went off to one of Scotland's great cities--Edinburgh or Glasgow. It was there that she was determined to build a life. On her arrival, she would write back home to her parents every week. But as life began to take her by the hand, her letters soon dropped off in their frequency and soon there were none.
Rumors begin to filter back home to that shepherd and his wife that their daughter had started hanging out with some unsavory characters and they were having a very negative influence on her life. One day, one of the boys from back home ran into her in the city streets and she acted as if she did not even know him. When the old shepherd heard this, he gathered a few things together and dressed in his rough shepherd’s clothes went to the city to find his daughter.
For days on end he looked for her. He looked everywhere; the slum, the rows of houses, the markets, the taverns, and everywhere in between to no avail. So after all of this searching he became very discouraged with the thought that he had lost his daughter to the evil city.
As he started the long trek back home, just as he was on the outskirts of the city, he remembered that his daughter had always loved to hear the voice of the shepherd calling out to the sheep.
So he turned around and on this quest motivated by his sorrow and his love, he began to stalk the streets. His voice rang out the shepherds call. The citizens of the city all looked at him as if he had lost his wits. It wasn’t too long as he walked the streets of one of the degraded neighborhoods that inside of one of those houses, his daughter sitting among the vermin who had led her astray, heard his voice. With great astonishment on her face, she heard that call of the voice of the shepherd, the voice of her father calling out to her. She leaped up and rushed out to the street and ran into the arms of that old shepherd, her father. It was then that he took her back home to the highlands of Scotland and brought her back to God and to decency and modesty. (Illustration from a sermon by Philip Harrelson, The Voice of the Shepherd, 8/6/2010) www.sermoncentral.com
This is exactly what happens to those who will hear the voice of God, the great Shepherd.
There are numerous ways of reception of God communicating to man like, through His Word, visions, dreams, thoughts, audible-voice, still small voice, through counsel, impressions or symbols in mind, through circumstances and so on. It is through the still small voice that the Lord often communicates to us, about which, I wish to discuss here.
In 1 Kings 19th chapter, we read about Prophet Elijah, who had put in so much effort of walking for forty days all the way from where he was to Mount Sinai. What was that he achieved? He has heard the Lord’s voice. Note that nothing precious comes easily. One should be willing to pay the price. Verse 12 says, Prophet Elijah heard the still small voice or whisper of the Lord.
What is this ‘still small voice’ or ‘whisper’?
Still small voice: (also known as Inner Voice and Divine promptings) The voice of God or other heavenly agents offering human beings suggestions for understanding and for action. When people think of the still small voice, they imagine hearing verbal instructions -- WORDS. That's possible, but God excels at non-verbal communication: URGES, inner swellings, rising energies in the body. Those waves of feeling don't just point you in the right direction, they also provide the right kind of energy to move WITH, the extra vibrancy needed to do the work. When you hop to and deliver this energy while it's hot -- while the impulse is still burning in you -- you easily create the miracle that needs to occur. (Definition provided by soulprogress.com)
Dictionaries define whisper as ‘to address in a low voice’ (Webster dictionary) or ‘to speak softly’ (The Collaborative International Dictionary of English).
Scottish Evangelist & Author, Henry Drummond, once said, “When God speaks He speaks so loudly that all the voices of the world seem dumb. And yet when God speaks He speaks so softly that no one hears the whisper but yourself.”
Bible teacher (Back to the Bible) & Author, Woodrow Kroll, once said, “Intimacy with God comes in whispers . . .”
Obviously, whisper is a specific personal message for a particular person. I believe there are two reasons as to why the Lord speaks that way. Firstly, if one does not like to do what he hears, he can pretend as if he has not heard at all. In other words, the Lord is giving a way to escape if one is not willing to accept His Word. This is based on the principle that the Lord will not force His will on anybody, unlike the devil. Secondly, a whisper gives rise to uncertainty that need to be established, involving a process that tests our willingness and determination to get the message.
How to listen to God’s whisper?
Let me illustrate. I have a decision to make about visiting a particular friend. I want to hear from God about this. I pray like this, “Lord, is it your will that I visit this friend or not? Please speak to me and let me know your will.” Then I keep quiet in the presence of God (with no reservations in my mind, that is, no inclination for visiting or against it) anticipating to hear Him. After a while, I may hear a voice telling me to visit, that is, a strong conviction to do so. I can’t explain more clearly but I know what I heard. But, say, I am not sure if what I heard is from God or the devil (for he also speaks to misguide and ruin our lives) or my own feeling. To be sure, I pray again like this, “Lord, I feel I should be going, please Lord, make it clear to me.” Again, I wait upon God expecting to hear Him. After a while, what happens is, let us say, the intensity of the voice increases in its magnitude. But it’s still possible that I am not sure if it is from the Lord. Then, I repeat this process of ‘asking the Lord, waiting in His presence and expecting to hear.’ Every time I do this, if it is really the will of God about visiting that friend, the voice becomes louder and louder. This process can be repeated until one is very sure it is from the Lord, with no doubt left.
On the other hand, if what I heard the first time was from the devil or my own feeling, then every time I repeat this process, the intensity of the voice becomes more and more feeble and finally fades away. Please note that anything of human origin will disappear, but if it is from God, it stays (Acts 5:38-39).
Are we indulging in anything unscriptural? Can’t be, as all that we are doing is praying and praying a number of times (until we are sure) which the Scripture does not forbid. In other words, what we are doing is taking the weak signals of whisper and making them stronger (by repeated asking and waiting on Him) so as to be sure for our self.
After we are sure if something is from the Lord, we should still ask the Lord to confirm it through the Scriptures. This is a must. This can be the final confirmation to avoid being deceived by the devil or by our own selfish desires. As and when this is done, we are expected to be obedient to this voice.
It is always wise and safe to start practicing this for issues smaller in significance like whom to visit, whom to call up, how to spend our leisure time and so on, so that, even if we commit any mistakes, the consequence will be far less painful. Later, after practicing well, one can graduate to take on important issues like, which career to choose, whom to marry, what kind of ministry to do and so on.
Practice listening. This cannot be mastered overnight. Prophet Samuel learnt. Initially, he couldn’t even discern the voice of God even though it was audible (1 Samuel 3:7), but later he mastered the art of listening to God (1 Samuel 3:19-21).
Definitely, in the initial stages of practicing this, it takes some time, say about half-an-hour to hear Him about one issue. Remember, our determination to hear Him has to be tested. But consistent practice brings down this time to just a few minutes. Finally, hearing Him would become a part of our lifestyle – akin to using the speed dial system on our phone and receiving an instant answer from the Lord.
What if we do not hear anything upon waiting on Him?
The possible reason could be sin in the form of rebellion against the written Word (Bible) or against what the Lord has already spoken to us (1 Samuel 14:37-38), in which case, we should seek His forgiveness and do what we have failed to do. The other reason could be that the Lord is testing our willingness or determination to know His will, in which case, we should keep on seeking His face, until we hear Him without giving up (Psalms 28:1).
Please note that God’s voice will never contradict the Scriptures. Any voice that contradicts the Word of God should be rebuked in the name of Jesus (Matthew 4:9-10).
The right intention in desiring to hear God speak should be to be obedient to His voice as that is the ultimate purpose of asking. Come to the Lord with an expectation to hear Him. We should hold our peace and ask Him to speak to us.
A saying goes like this: “How rare it is to find a person quiet enough to hear God speak.”
4. WHAT’S NEXT?
Please read this extract:
Several years ago, while on the job, I heard one of my co-workers saying that even after we would get our paycheck on that Friday, she would not have enough money left to buy groceries for her two boys and herself. (Like me, she was a single mom at the time.)
When we got our paychecks that Friday, I counted up all my bills and had $30 left for my two children and myself, to last till the next week's paycheck. God told me to give her $20 of my $30, but a part of me worried, "What will I do for my two children?" Well, I listened to my inner voice and placed a $20 bill in an envelope, sealed it and put it in her van driver's seat, without her knowing it (to this day, she still doesn't know where it came from!).
About two years later, I needed money "very badly" and had been praying for the Lord's help and when I went out to my car one day, there was an envelope in the driver's seat of my car. It had $50!
God is faithful to those who take the time to listen to that subtle voice inside us. (www.helpothers.org)
Before we read about what to do after hearing from the Lord, it is required that we understand the essence of what the Lord normally speaks.
Scriptures throws light on the essence of what we hear from the Lord. Most of what the Lord tells us to do contradict natural reasoning (the incident mentioned above makes a good example), though not always. Take the case of the shortage of wine at the wedding at Cana. The miracle to the shortage-problem required that the servants fill the cisterns with water, something that contradicts reasoning as water was not what was lacking there–then why filling the cisterns with water? To avoid any kind of possible reluctance on the part of the servants, Mary, the mother of Jesus, told the servants: “. . . Do what he tells you to do” (John 2:5 ESV). And they did. The miracle happened. I believe nobody can ever lead a life that is pleasing to the Lord, unless John 2:5 forms the foundation of one’s spiritual life. Just do what He tells you to do.
Consider few other events recorded in the Bible that make examples for the above mentioned principle. Naaman, the Syrian commander, was told by the prophet to dip himself in the comparatively dirty river, Jordan, for the healing of his skin-disease, even though there were better rivers in Damascus (2 Kings 5:12). He obeyed and received his healing after initial reluctance due to reasoning about which river was better.
The Israelites were told by the Lord to go marching around the fortified town of Jericho, for its conquest, instead of involving in direct physical attack, something a natural-mind refuses to accept. They obeyed and were victorious (Joshua 6th Chapter).
Why could this be so? If what the Lord speaks always falls in line with the natural reasoning, no faith would be required to do what He says. Romans 14:23 (GNB) says: “And anything that is not based on faith is sin.” Only when one is told to swim against the current of reason, can one’s willingness and determination to obey comes to light. Hence, the Lord will be pleased with us or admonishes us according to our response to what He tells us to do.
Another principle that has to be considered is that, in some cases, when He speaks to us and leads us, initial obstacles will be encountered. Why could this be so? One’s perseverance is tested here to see if he or she will give up on hearing the Lord. In Scriptures, we see how upon hearing from God, Moses went to the king of Egypt to set the Israelites free. Note that not only what Moses asked for, was refused by the king–but also the material for making bricks that was provided until then, was stopped and the Israelites were told to get the material for themselves (Exodus 5:4-9). Moses faced double-trouble, both with the king and the Israelites (Exodus 5:20-21). What an obstacle Moses faced when he started doing what God told him to do! But, Moses had the last laugh as the king’s stubbornness was strongly and systematically broken-down, being subjected to God’s chastisement. Proverbs 25:15 (GNB) says: “Patient persuasion can breakdown the strongest resistance…….”
Consider other examples for the above mentioned principle. In Mark 4:35, the Lord told His disciples to get into the boat to go to the other side of the lake along with Him. They started to go. Suddenly they were caught-up in a storm and their lives were at stake. Oh, what an obstacle they faced when the Lord Himself was leading them! But the Lord rebuked the wind and the waves. Calm restored. They were then able to proceed with their mission.
In Numbers 13th & 14th chapters, the Lord promised: “….. the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” In Deuteronomy 1:20-21, Moses told the Israelites: “….Go and occupy it as He commanded. Do not hesitate or be afraid.” But the land wasn’t an empty land and so it wasn’t a cake-walk for the Israelites. As the Israelites advanced by faith, the Lord drove away the people already living there (Deuteronomy 11:23). Finally, Israelites took full possession of the land, a fulfillment of His promise. But between the promise and its possession, existed what is called, the ‘initial obstacle’ that knocked off the faith of many Israelites, including ten of the twelve spies who explored the Promised Land. What was the obstacle? The land was well-populated with people, who were stronger and taller than the Israelites, living in well-fortified cities; what with even giants living there (Deuteronomy 1:28). The existing set up made such an obstacle that not only divided the Israelites into believing and non-believing categories; but also resulted in deciding who would get into the Promised Land.
After hearing from the Lord, what is expected of us?
First of all, we should keep our mouth shut unless specifically led to expose, to avoid giving place to the devil from interfering. It could lead to missing God’s way and His timing, which are equally important. Also, there could be confusion among people due to their unprepared hearts that may lead to mocking. Matthew 7:6 (GNB) says: “. . . Do not throw your pearls in front of pigs….” Therefore, wait upon the Lord and get a detailed strategy about what to do, about what you heard. Get back to God in prayer at every step of the execution of the strategy and get fresh strategy each time.
As per Joshua 6:2, the Lord told Joshua: “I am putting into your hands Jericho……...” Obviously, that was God’s will. But the Lord didn’t stop there. He gave a detailed strategy about how and when to take over Jericho. It involved going around it for six days, with priests marching in the front of the covenant box and on the seventh day to march around it seven times followed by a great shout. It worked. God’s will must be done in God’s way, only then it works.
Getting detailed strategy is as important as knowing His will. His will can be messed - up if strategy is not followed carefully. The Lord Jesus has achieved His common will of imparting healing to different blind people using different strategies. Matthew 20:34 says, Jesus touched the eyes of the blind men and healed them. Mark 8:23 says, the Lord spat on the eyes of the blind man and healed him. John 9:6 says, Jesus spat on the ground, made clay with it, put it on the eyes of the blind man and told him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. He did that and was healed.
Therefore, hear from God about His will in any matter and also the strategy to be followed.
Evangelist Ravi Zacharias once said: “If you are determined to go in your own direction, God will step aside and second your motion.”
5. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q 1. Can we miss out on hearing God speak?
Ans: God commanded a poor widow at Zarepath to feed Prophet Elijah. The widow never acknowledged that she heard from the Lord in spite of prophet asking her for food (1 Kings 17:8-12).
Isaiah 30:21 (GNB) says: If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, "Here is the road. Follow it." How many times when we wandered off the right paths, have we heard the voice of God rebuking us?
Revelation 3:20 (MKJV) says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me.” How many people are hearing the knock on the doors of their hearts?
Intoxication with the world or worries of this world makes people insensitive to hear His voice, thus, deprive themselves of hearing His voice. Hence, it is possible to miss out on hearing God speak.
Q 2. Can what God has said change or fail to happen?
Ans: In Exodus 3:12, we read about God promising to be with Moses but later the Lord Himself has attempted to kill him (Exodus 4:24). This change was due to sin in the form of slackness on the part of Moses that made him forget to circumcise his son. Sin changes things.
Jeremiah 18:7-10 says, God will not do what He promised a nation if it involves in sin and also He will not punish as He said He would, if that nation repents. In Jonah 3:4, we read about the message that God gave to Prophet Jonah that in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed. But because the people of Nineveh repented of their sins, the Lord did not destroy Nineveh as He said He would (Jonah 3:10). Repentance changes things.
2 Kings 20:1-6 talks about King Hezekiah. The Lord said that he would not recover from his sickness and that he would die. But when he cried out to the Lord for His mercy, the Lord had compassion and extended his life by fifteen years. Also, in Numbers 14:11-12; 19-20, we read about Moses pleading for Israelites and made God change His mind about punishing them. Prayer changes things.
Therefore, what the Lord says may change due to sin or repentance or prayer.
Q 3. Will what God says happen instantly?
Ans: Not always. In Ezekiel 12:21-23, we read about the predictions of the Lord taking so much time for its fulfillment, that the Israelites formulated a proverb that went like this, “Time goes by and predictions comes to nothing.” The Lord responded, “The time has come and the predictions are coming true.”
Joseph received a revelation from the Lord through dreams that he would become a ruler (Genesis 37:9). This prediction actually happened years later (Genesis 41:46).
David was anointed as king of Israel by Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:12-13) but finally it took years for him to occupy the throne (2 Samuel 5:3).
God is never too late or too early to do anything. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (CEV) says: “God makes everything happen at the right time. . . ”
Q 4. Can we go by others leading?
Ans: In 1 Kings 13th chapter, we read about a young prophet from Judah sent by God to denounce the altar at Bethel with specific instructions that he should not eat anything during the mission and not to return by the same road. However, while returning, after completing his work, an old prophet from Bethel met him and told a lie that an angel of God told him to offer him food. The young prophet believed the old prophet, went to his house, had food that was offered to him and while on his way back home, a lion killed him because he disobeyed the Lord’s instructions. The young prophet wouldn’t have fallen into the trap of the devil, had he consulted the Lord about what the old prophet has said was true or not.
We see very clearly how important it is to get our own leading from the Lord. We should not be carried away by what others claim to have heard from the Lord for us, but we should hear from the Lord directly. At times, God may use others who may suggest us something. But, before we accept it, we need to hear from the Lord directly for confirmation.
Q 5. Will the Lord speak about or reveal everything?
Ans: This cannot be monopolized. That is, it is left for God to reveal anything to anybody as per His divine wisdom.
We read about Prophet Elisha himself expressing surprise at the fact that the Lord did not tell him about the death of the son of the rich women from Shenem, who was so much under his spiritual-care. He exclaimed: “. . . And the Lord has not told me a thing about it” (2 Kings 4:27 GNB).
Dear reader, there may be a number of questions in your mind for which answers are sought. One of the ways of getting closer to God is through increased communication in the form of ‘asking Him questions and hearing the answers’. A saying goes like this: “Asking saves a lot of guesswork.”
If the Lord has really spoken to you, believe and hold on to it against all odds. As per 1 Kings 18:1, the Lord told Prophet Elijah that He would send rain, after a gap of three-and-a-half years (James 5:17-18). Elijah told King Ahab about the promised rain. But when Elijah told his servant to go and look towards the sea for any possible sign of the promised rain, the servant returned saying: “I didn’t see anything.” This happened six times. The seventh time the servant returned and said, “I saw a little cloud……” And there was heavy rainfall. The commendable role played by the prophet is that he never gave-up along the way, even though there was no sign of rain. Real faith doesn’t give-up. Having faith in general that Jesus is Lord is what the devils also have (Mark 5:7). But real faith is to get a personal revelation from God for yourself, act on it against all odds, as did Abraham (a friend of God, James 2:23) and other men of God.
Every serious Christian should realize fully well that we have an enemy, the devil, who consistently works against the plans of God in our lives. Do you know what was the first statement made by the devil as recorded in the Scriptures? We find that in Genesis 3:1(GNB). The snake asked the woman: “Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” What was the intention of the devil in so asking? To make the women doubt what God has said. So do not be surprised if you hear the devil whispering: “Did God really tell you……?” If we believe the devil, we will find our self in his plan. Hence, watch out.
Remember, our God is a good God. He always speaks what is necessary and important. Also, whenever He speaks and uses us to fulfill His plan in the lives of others, we too will be eventually blessed. Consider the following cases.
Exodus 4:10 says, Moses was a man of ‘slow of speech’. But God told him to go and speak to the king of Egypt. In the following verse the Lord promised to be with his mouth. Moses refused to go on his own and that made God angry. Then the Lord gave Aaron, his brother, to be his spokesman. Obviously the Lord’s intention was to restore what the evil-one has stolen, the ‘eloquence of speech’. Perhaps, Moses missed out on God’s blessing of healing of his tongue by not obeying His instruction.
Gideon, a fearful man, was hiding in a winepress due to frequent and sudden attacks of the Midianites. The Lord’s angel came to him and addressed him thus: “The Lord is with you, brave and mighty man” (Judges 6:12 GNB). The Lord ordered him to rescue Israel from the Midianites and he did. Gradually that is what he became, ‘a brave and mighty man’, so much so, that he didn’t have any fearful soldiers in his army in a particular war (Judges 7:3).
In Jeremiah 1:17-19 (GNB), the Lord said: “Jeremiah, go and tell them everything I command you to say.” The Lord continued: “Everyone will be against you, but I am giving you the strength to resist them; you will be like a ‘fortified city’, an ‘iron-pillar’ and a ‘bronze wall’. And that is exactly what he became, speaking for God in various situations against all odds (Jeremiah 38:1-4; 28:15-17).
According to Revelation 3:20, you have already heard the voice of God, at least once, if you are a believer. The Scripture is clear that the consequence of neglecting to respond to this voice, that is, knock on the door of our heart, is ending-up in hell.
The Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh and to speak against it. But Jonah disobeyed. What was the consequence? He had to be a part of the vomit of the fish. A very humiliating experience indeed! Proverbs 18:3 (GNB) says: “sin and shame go together….” Jonah 3:1 (GNB) says: “Once again the Lord spoke to Jonah ….” By God’s grace, Jonah was given another chance to listen to the voice of God bringing the same message. It’s so pleasant to read that he obeyed this time and God’s plan was not hindered. It’s so hard to imagine as to what would have happened to him, if he would have rebelled the second time also. Psalms 7:12 (GNB) says: “If they do not change their ways, God will sharpen his sword….” God corrects us because He loves us (Proverbs 3:11-12). In Leviticus 26:14-27, the Lord warned the Israelites that He would punish them for rebellion four times, by increasing the punishment by seven times each time, if not responding to discipline. Also, see Amos 4:4-12.
Please note that the Lord may lead a person, at times, though rarely, not to follow the ‘positive’ commands given in the Word, for example, preaching / ministering (Acts 16:6), doing good/giving (2 Samuel 7:1-5 &12-13, where we read about King David’s offer to build the temple was refused by God), having fellowship (2 Thessalonians 3:14), etc., in a particular situation as per His wise plan that is based on love and for the good of all; but He will never lead us into not following the ‘negative’ commands like, do not tell lies, do not steal, do not commit adultery and so on.
One who has learned to listen to God’s voice knows who is behind a given ‘problem’ he or she faces. Paul, who was sailing for Rome, with many others, faced a sea-storm that threatened their lives but he faced the situation boldly and encouraged others too. All because he has already heard from the Lord that there would be a storm and the ship would be broken to pieces but all lives would be safe (Acts 27:22-26). He knew it was God’s will for him to go through the storm and he accepted it. Hence, he was able to continue with his mission unscratched. It wasn’t the kind of storm that Jesus had to rebuke or the kind of storm that Jonah faced because of rebellion. A saying goes like this: “It is better to be with Christ in the storm, than in smooth waters without Him.”
Derek Prince, a renowned Bible teacher, has written in one of his books, God is a Matchmaker:
“Often when God is ready to speak to us, we are not ready to hear what He has to say. God challenges in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know……....” To this we need to respond with the words of Psalms 85:8, “I will listen to what God the Lord has to say……...”
“It will take time and sacrifice and self-discipline to come to that place of inner stillness, in which you can hear God speak. It may mean less time in front of the T.V. set or on the phone with friends or in social engagements. It may require laying aside newspaper or magazine and spending hours alone with the Bible. But whatever it takes, there is no substitute for hearing the voice of God. The cost may seem high, but the rewards far exceed the cost.”
Please read this incident:
Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door.
In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.
One man lost a valuable watch while working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn't find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.
A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.
"I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking."
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.
In this busy generation, it has become harder to be still and spend quality time with God.
Unless you develop the habit of spending time with God daily, you'll continue to struggle. - Don & Dawn (Albert’s Sermon Illustrations: June, 2012)
Rebecca Brown, a medical doctor, has written in one of her books, Prepare for War in the chapter on Hearing God:
“The Holy spirit will speak to us if we will hear His voice. Then when we do, we must not harden our hearts, but step-out in faith and obedience in accordance with what the Holy Spirit said to us. Usually the Holy Spirit starts speaking to a believer by bringing to his or her attention something that is not pleasing to the Lord. The temptation is to ignore this communication and continue doing whatever it is the Lord is not pleased with. If you do this, you are ‘hardening your heart’ and will stop further communication from the Lord.”
Please read this extract:
My son, Aaron, was five or six when he began asking me, "What does God's voice sound like?" I didn't know how to answer.
A few years later, Aaron went off to his first junior high camp. In the middle of the week, I went up with another pastor at Mosaic to see our kids. Aaron, I learned, had started to assault another kid but had been held back by his friends. He was unrepentant, wanted to leave camp, pulled together his stuff, and shoved it into the car.
I asked him for a last talk with me before we drove away. We sat on two large rocks in the middle of the woods. "Aaron," I asked, "is there any voice inside you telling you what you should do?"
"Yes," he nodded.
"What's the voice telling you?"
"That I should stay and work it out."
"Can you identify that voice?"
"Yes," he said immediately, "It's God." It was the moment I'd waited for.
"Aaron," I said, "do you realize what just happened? You heard God's voice. He spoke to you from within your soul. Forget everything else that's happened. God spoke to you, and you were able to recognize him."
I will never forget Aaron's dug-in response: "Well, I'm still not doing what God said."
I explained to him that that was his choice, but this is what would happen. If he rejected the voice of God coming from deep within and chose to disobey His guidance, his heart would become hardened, and his ears would become dull.
If he continued on this path, there would be a day when he would never again hear the voice of God. There would come a day when he would deny that God even speaks or has ever spoken to him.
But if he treasures God's voice however it comes to him—through the Scriptures, through his conscience—and responds to Him with obedience, then his heart would be softened, and his ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into his soul.
Aaron chose to stay, I'm grateful to say. If he had chosen differently, he would have begun the path toward nominal discipleship. Perhaps he never would have rejected the faith overtly. He might have even chosen to be a faithful attendee at a church and been by everyone else's estimation a good man, but he would no longer be a close Jesus-follower. (Adapted from Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way, Thomas Nelson, 2005, pp. 87-89, for the October 30-31 entries of Men of Integrity, September/October 2008)
Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission, has written in one of his books, Is that really you, Lord? (A practical guide to hear the voice of God):
“Every believer of Jesus has a unique ministry. The more you seek to hear God’s voice in detail, the more effective you will be in your calling. Guidance is not a game–it is serious business where we can learn what God wants us to do in ministry and how he wants us to do it. The will of God is doing and saying the right thing, in the right place, with the right people, at the right time and in right sequence, under the right leadership, using the right method with the right attitude of heart.”
Please read this event:
One weekend in 1991, church attendance was greatly affected by deep snow. All but the major roads were blocked and everyone was advised to stay indoors except for emergencies. I looked forward to a pleasant and relaxing Monday. My children could not get to school; no-one would expect me to visit them; I could stay late in bed and spend the day pottering about.
It was not to be. I awoke at eight o'clock with a sense of urgency all over me. I prayed while still in bed, "Lord, why do I feel like this?" The answering thought in my mind was instant: "Get up immediately. I want you to go and visit Rose in hospital right now." This was an unwelcome idea and very impractical. My garage is built on a steep, narrow incline. My car had not been out for days. My garage door and drive were blocked with four or five feet of snow and the hospital was several miles away.
I reminded God of these facts. Silly, really, but I did my best to argue the case for staying in bed. I lost. The sense of urgency persisted so I arose, dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee and a shovel and made for the garage to the incredulous surprise of my wife, Carol.
"Hospital visit," I offered apologetically with a shrug of the shoulders. "God told me." Carol smiled and kissed me on my way. I took giant steps in my wellies, making deep holes in the snow as I went. The fierce wind had swept large drifts against the garage door and as I began to dig for God, several local teenagers gathered to jeer me on. The car was surprised to see me and reluctant to leap about but eventually, after considerable revving, we rushed backwards down the slope, sliding narrowly past the wall and nearby tree. "Maybe it was God speaking after all," I thought as the car and I made it safely to the hospital.
I was at Rose's bedside by half past nine. The curtains were drawn around her bed as she was unconscious and struggling for breath. Having arrived, I now didn't know what to do. Rose was eighty-four and had been a faithful member of our church for some time. "Pray in tongues," was the suggestion which formed in my mind. I did this for a few minutes then, as I drew to a close, the thought came, "Keep going." As I obeyed, light seemed to come into the area, and power and heat came on my body. "Now," a new thought interrupted me, "now you can lay hands on Rose." I did so gently. Distress on her face seemed to give way to peace. Power flowed through my hands. I prayed my best prayers and committed Rose into the hands of God. After this I stood back and stayed for another five minutes. There seemed to be a powerful yet peaceful spiritual presence. I didn't really want to leave. Rose, though unconscious, seemed to be all right. "You've finished now," came the thought. "You can go." Reluctantly I turned and made my way slowly back to the car. Amazingly I made it home, up the slope and into the garage totally unscathed.
Later Rose's daughter rang me. When they had arrived at ten o'clock the same morning, her mother was dead. As she told me it was difficult not to say I already knew. For some reason God wanted me to be present and pray before Rose died. Maybe in some way it eased her passing, but whatever the reason I felt sure my sense of urgency and the message I received came from God. (An excerpt from Explaining Hearing from God by Peter Lawrence. Published by Sovereign World, 2000, pp 13, 14)
Smith Wigglesworth, a man used mightily by God, has made the following observation in one of his books, Spiritual Gifts:
“To test the voice anyone is hearing . . . If the voice take-away your peace, you will know they are not from God. If the Lord speaks, He will bring harmony and joy. The Holy Spirit always brings three things, that is, comfort, exhortation and edification. The difference between those who are being led by the Holy Spirit and those who are being deceived by Satan is joy, gladness and a good countenance instead of sadness, sorrow and depression. Isaiah 26:3 says: “You will keep him in perfect peace.”
Finally, please read the following:
A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?"
After service he went out with some friends for coffee and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways. It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, "God.. If you still speak to people speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey." As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought, stop and buy a gallon (nearly 4 liters) of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, "God, is that you?" He didn't get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk. The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.
As he passed seventh street, he again felt the urge, "Turn down that street." This is crazy he thought and drove on pass the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down seventh street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will."
He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid." Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."
He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?" Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem to happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. "What is it?" The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, "Here, I brought this to you."
The man took the milk and rushed down a hall way speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk." His wife in the kitchen yelled out, "I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?"
The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers. (www.Bible.org) Author unknown. (This story is found in more than 60 websites)
Hebrews 3:15(ESV) says: As it is said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” In Jeremiah 33:3 (GNB), The Lord said, “Call to me and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.”
Listen to God’s voice. The choice is yours.