Last Sunday, Dan preached on hearing the Lord and some of the same basic principles came up in Bible study last night so I thought I'd share a little.
There are so many voices in our lives at any given moment that it is hard to pick out the right ones without some serious listening. Over & over in the Bible, God's servants stopped to be still & listen to God's voice before taking action. Moses refused to move forward until He was assured that God had heard him and was going to go with him. David asked again and again for God's direction before fighting various battles or even deciding where to settle down. Gideon used fleeces. The disciples cast lots. The methods varied but the bottom line was that they all wanted reassurance of God's will, His voice, before making decisions.
We need to do the same. In our rushed world, stopping to hear God's voice above the noise of this world is a necessity. The shouting of society, of unbelievers, & the media can tend to deafen us to God's whisper. How do we hear Him? How do we know it is His voice & not our own ingrained attitudes or invented ideas? How do we choose God's best over just that which looks good?
There are a few Biblically sound answers:
1. Pray, and keep praying until you get an answer. Sounds easy but so many of us lose heart & stop praying before the answer comes. Or we are praying, get an idea, & rush ahead of God before He confirms His Word to our hearts. Pray...& if you don't get an answer before the decision needs to be made, consider it to be NO. Matthew 7:7,8,& 11 all tell us to Keep On Asking!! Once is just not enough!
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the Word. God has given us both of those incredible blessings, the Spirit & the Word, to guide our lives. If they don't agree, or if you're having to crowbar an answer then it's not God's best or it's not the right timing. The Spirit of God always lines up with the Word. If we think we are being led totally by the Spirit, we tend to be emotionally charged. If we never listen to the Spirit, we tend to be legalistic. We need both the Spirit & the Word, in agreement, to lead us!
3. Wait to respond until you get the answer! Timing isn't everything but it is critically important. Delay is not always denial. A period of preparation might be needed in order to accomplish God's best for the situation. It may be that there are others who are not ready, or circumstances are not aligned. If God's answer is not clear, WAIT. It's not a popular concept, but necessary.
4. Ask others, mentors and those who you trust to have Godly wisdom, to pray with you. Proverbs 11:14 says there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Many times I have asked my spiritual partners to pray. Their guidance & insights have saved me much grief through the years. When I don't get confirmation but choose to do it my way anyway, I am setting myself up for unnecessary problems.
5. Ask for open & closed doors. Sounds silly, as does laying out fleeces, but I have avoided many pitfalls by asking God to lead me through those ways. God doesn't mind our questions, just our demands. Boldly coming to the throne is encouraged, if we come in a spirit of humility of wanting His best rather than His approval of our decisions. He will open & close doors that lead to His best for us if we just ask. His Word, in James 1:5 & numerous other places, encourages us to seek His counsel & wisdom. He wants to give it, so why are we so hesitant to ask?
While I'm sure there are other ways to validate God's voice to your life, these are the time-tested methods that I have used throughout my Christian walk. That's not to say I always listened, but when I do listen, God leads & I have inner peace, regardless of what I may be walking through. Try it for yourself. You will see that listening for God's voice can be a challenge, but it is well worth the effort.