Keys To Hearing God's Voice
Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
- 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? Maybe we should
call the psychic hot-line? Do we go with what the experts are saying or rely on
Should we look to the stars -- or should we seek the Maker
of the stars?
I recently received an e-mail in response to my article, The
Harness of the Holy Spirit in which a CBN.com reader makes these thought-provoking
"Your article is typical of many books I have read. Everyone talks
about doing what the Holy Spirit says, but you do not state how you 'know' it
is the voice of GOD. I have yet to read any book or article that can lay that
out. It is easy to say The LORD told me to leave this or do that, and I was blessed
down the road because of it. Anyone who can present a way one can actually know
that the voice they are hearing is from GOD, not man or Satan, would change the
world. That's probably why the world hasn't changed."
Well I have good news
for my friend, and for you -- 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).
He also wants
us to be fulfilled, blessed and successful in the plan that He has established
for our lives -- so that we can be a reflection of His love and blessing in the
Earth. In Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord makes clear His intentions for you and I, "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."
We see in Genesis 3:8a,
"...they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of
the day..." This is how God wants to relate to us today as well. It is God's desire
to walk with and to communicate with His children.
He wants to talk to us.
And He wants us to listen and talk to Him, too.
There is more good news --
we can hear His voice. The Bible, God's love letter to mankind, makes it clear
that we were created to have two-way communication with Him. Jesus tells us in
John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
in college I interned in video production at a local public television station.
One day the producer and I traveled to a video shoot with a young woman who worked
in the donor relations department. Along the way she told us that, at the urging
of her father, she had recently purchased a flat with two apartments. Still uncomfortable
with the big step she had just taken she thought out loud, "How do you know if
you are making the right decisions in life?"
That's the question of the ages,
But as a child of God we don't have to walk blind. We can have confidence
that we will hear His voice. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:14, "For as many
as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Conversely, this scripture
implies that if we are God's children, if we are born-again, we will be led by
We have further assurance of this promise in Psalm 37:23 and 24,
"The steps of a good (righteous, born-again) person are ordered by the Lord, And
He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For
the Lord upholds him with His hand." God will order our steps, and even when we
blow it, if we are truly trying to do His will, He will lift us up and give us
a second chance.
The most difficult part of hearing God is the fact that it
takes time to learn to discern God's voice -- and it takes a humble heart. Jeremiah
29:12-13 says, "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen
to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your
We can't make demands on Almighty God. We can't shake our fist at the
sky and say, 'all right God, let me hear you.' But we can ask, seek, and knock,
and the Bible promises that God will open the door. God will reveal Himself to
those who humbly seek Him.
The writer of Proverbs describes the way that our
thoughts and intentions line up with God's will when we submit ourselves fully
to the Lord. "Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him;
He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your
plans be established and succeed" (Proverbs 16:3 Amplified Bible).
manifests Himself to us and through us as we humbly seek Him. The familiar passage
in Proverbs 3 makes it even more plain. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And
He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
My friend pointed out in his
e-mail to me that there are three different voices that we can hear -- and he
is absolutely correct. Now that we know we can hear God's voice, we need to be
alerted to the fact that there are other voices whispering into our ears as well.
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."
The writer of 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.
Isaiah 30:21 says, "Your ears shall hear a word behind
you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand
or whenever you turn to the left."
So God will speak, and you can hear His
voice, but you must be careful -- especially when you are a young Christian --
that you objectively confirm that you are following the Holy Spirit and not another
voice. Our own flesh can scream pretty loud (especially when we are under pressure,
or we want something very badly). And the Devil is the father of lies -- he is
the great deceiver.
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:
"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" (II 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).
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).
"By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed" (Matthew
- 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"
- 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).
Many times the Lord will confirm His direction to us through three,
four or more of these keys -- especially when we are in the process of making
an important, life-changing decision.
The bottom line, as Pat Robertson has
said for years, is that big decisions take big prayer. In other words, as we humble
ourselves before the Lord, seek His guidance in our lives, the Good Shepherd will
be faithful to lead us, "…in paths of righteousness for His name's sake"
In the coming weeks we'll look more closely at these seven keys
that God has given to help us discern whether what we are sensing is of God, our
flesh or the Devil. Because God loves us and wants us to relate to Him, He has
given us these clear principles in the Bible to guide us.
The New Testament
talks of the early disciples -- people like Paul, Aquila and Priscilla -- as people
who heard the voice of God. My friend who wrote the e-mail will be happy to know
that this was the report made of them:
"These who have turned the world upside
down have come here too" (Acts 17:6b).
Yes, my friend, you can hear and know
the voice of God. And because of this the world is changing -- more than perhaps
Share your testimony of how you have grown to know
the voice of God. Are you having trouble discerning God's voice from the other
things you hear? Did you know that you could hear God's voice? Send
me an e-mail with your comments.
Read "ChurchWatch," Craig's Blog on CBN.com
Order your copy of Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice from Shop CBN
More Discipleship Resources on Spiritual Life
More from Spiritual Life
Other articles and interviews by Craig von Buseck on CBN.com
von Buseck is Ministries Director for CBN.com.
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