A number of you have contacted me and told me how helpful the last Nugget on Hearing God’s Voice was and asking for more related to the pragmatics of that. So hang on to your hat. Here we go. One question that bothers people about hearing God’s voice is how to distinguish between your own thoughts and desires and God’s voice. This is especially so when it comes to the flow of thoughts in our mind. Those moments when a word or a sentence pops into our mind and we wonder if that is God or us. Well let’s talk about that issue.
It is wise to be wary of those thoughts that pop into our mind. The human heart is desperately wicked and who can know it. I might end up leading me astray. No I didn't make a mistake with that sentence. I meant to write the sentence above and not "It might end up leading me astray." Not if you involve God in the process. Do you think He will allow you to go astray when you are deeply seeking to know His will, your way ahead or the issues you are dealing with? If something has popped into your mind on an issue you are grappling with and have asked Him for guidance, then check out any answers you receive with Father. Simply ask Him, “Is this You or is it me thinking dumb thoughts?” Wait to see if it keeps coming back to mind. Although that is not necessarily the proof that it is from God. You own desires can keep popping up, as you well know.
If you are in doubt ask Him for confirmation that this is indeed His will. Be specific in your request or your expectation. Lord, I need to know if this is Your will by the end of the week (if indeed you really do face a deadline and need to know in order to make a decision.) Don't try to con God; He is omniscient so you won’t fool Him if you just want to know and you have no deadline. Deadlines are also dangerous. You may think your time frame is the end of week, but God knows better the timing. God never acts precipitously whereas the satan will always seek to push you into something.
If you don't know your Bible well enough and you don't know the principles of the Word of God. nor the ways of God (Exodus 33:13) then ask Him to confirm your thoughts from His Word. It is surprising the number of people who ask God for confirmation from His Word and then a verse pops into their mind that they didn't think they even knew. Either it’s a Bible verse they know well and the words come to mind or it’s the reference to a verse or a passage that adds light on what it is you want to know. Yes it happens. God can give you the reference to the Bible principle you are wanting confirmation on. Trust Him to lead you and He will.
I know a young woman in JPCC who when faced with the issue of choosing her life partner, told the guy in question that she had a life verse. In order for her to know if he was God’s man for her he had to tell her what her life verse was. When he told me his side of the story, he said, “Ian, do you know how many verses there are in the Bible? (Yes, there are 31,273 +/-). Then he told me, “Ian, I asked her how many chances she would give me? How many guesses did I have?”
She told me, “Just one! Just tell me my life verse and either you get it or you don’t.”
His response, “That’s impossible!”
He struggled with the challenge laid down to him. Then after a period of time he woke in the night with a song going over and over in his mind. He couldn't get it out of his mind. He asked God to help him get back to sleep and stop thinking of the stupid song. Then he felt God put the thought into his mind, “That song is actually a verse in My Word. That is the verse you are looking for. That’s her life verse!” Nothing is impossible for Him. With God you can beat the odds of 1:31,273. Oh, are you waiting for me to confirm that last part of the story? Really?
Yes that was her life verse!
Here are some principles and guidelines on seeking God and asking Him for confirmation on the issues of life.
Don't go looking for guidance in the Bible by opening to a random page and stabbing your finger on a verse with your eyes closed in order to find God’s will. God’s Word reveals its secrets based on principles and context. It is not a collection of random thoughts from which we can just pluck out something out of context.
If you have no peace about a decision you are making, don't proceed. Always seek that sense within you that this indeed is God will for you. If you don't have that peace then don’t pursue the matter. Remember Philippians 4:6-7. “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Pray and ask God for the confirmation that this really is His will. Be as specific as you can be so that when the answer comes it is clear. It can’t be a coincidence. If you pray vague general prayers you will get vague general answers and be left wondering if that was an answer or a coincidence.
Always check out the thoughts that come into your mind against Bible principles. God will never contravene His basic character or His principles / His ways. So if you find yourself thinking something that is contrary to the principles of God’s Word, reject it.
Learn to trust God to show you His ways and you will begin walking in the assurance of His promises. It is remarkable that Moses asked God for three things. 1. Lord show me your ways. 2. Lord show me your face. 3. Lord show me your Glory. (All in Exodus 33). Isn’t it glorious that Moses is remembered through the centuries for all three of those things. With some adjustment to his request to see God’s face and what God actually allowed him to see. More on that one later. As to the first request he asked of God, the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 103:7 “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. Many people see the things God does in their lives (HIs acts) but they don't understand why He does certain things and why He doesn't respond to other requests. The principles on which God acts; His ways.
Next week I will share with you an Ian story of “when God breaks the Rules” – still focused on hearing God’s voice.