QUESTION: HOW CAN I HEAR GOD SPEAK TO ME?
STUDY REFERENCE: 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim 3:16-17, Proverbs 4:7
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves asking these questions. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? Where should I go to school? Should I take this job, or is there something better on the horizon? Who should I marry?
Life is a never-ending series of choices. Can we know whether we are making the right decisions? Should we consult our horoscope? Do we go with what the experts are saying or rely on our feelings?
The good news is, God wants to speak to us, and yes, you can 'know' that you hear His voice. God wants to fellowship and communicate with us. That's two-way communication. Why? Because you can't really have a relationship unless there is true dialogue. How do we get to know a person? By communicating with them. By talking and listening. It's the same with our relationship with God. He talks, we listen. We talk, He listens.
God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to take our place and to die for us. He did this so that we could once again have fellowship with Him. In the book of Hebrews we see that we can have access to God's very presence, "...having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way." (Hebrews 10:19-20a).
In Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord makes clear His intentions for you and me, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." He wants to talk to us. And He wants us to listen and talk to Him, too. Jesus tells us in John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
It is true that there are different voices that speak to us. In fact, there are three voices that we can hear, the voice of God, the voice of our own fleshly desires, and the voice of the Devil. But Jesus tells us in John 10:4b and 5, "...and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Hebrews tells us that we can train our ear to recognize the voice of God above all the noise. "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). It is by practicing, by reason of use, that we are able to discern whether what we hear is of God, our flesh, or the Devil.
So how can we know whether we're hearing the voice of God? The Bible gives us seven basic keys or filters through which every possible leading should be judged. We are to carefully examine the thoughts and intentions of our hearts and the words of godly people who may have influence on us by their words and actions through the use of these seven keys:
Scripture: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Holy Spirit speaking to our heart: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, 'know the Lord,' for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them" (Hebrews 8:10-11).
The Prophetic (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, personal prophecy): "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:19-21).
Godly counsel: "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14).
Confirmation: "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed" (Matthew 18:16).
The peace of God: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).
Circumstances/Timing: "After these things he (Paul) left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working; for by trade they were tent-makers" (Acts 18:1-3, this relationship between Paul, Aquila and Priscilla, which happened as a result of circumstances became one of the most important strategic partnerships in the book of Acts).