He made the emphatic statement that His sheep DO hear His voice. Radio and television stations transmit twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; but we only hear them when we turn the receiver on and tune it in. Likewise, God is constantly transmitting His voice to His sheep, but few are turned on and tuned in.
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Most Christians are busy pleading with God in prayer to transmit when the problem is with their receivers. The first thing we need to do is fix our receivers — believe that God is already speaking and start listening. However, that takes time, effort, and focus. Second, and this is very important, most often we mistake the voice of the Lord for our own thoughts. I said the voice of the Lord comes to us in our own thoughts.
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This is saying that communication with God is Spirit to spirit, not brain to brain or mouth to ear, the way we communicate in the physical realm. The Lord speaks to our spirits, not in words, but in thoughts and impressions. I learned this the hard way while pastoring in Pritchet, Colorado. All the elders of the church were custom combiners. Six months of the year, they were gone following the wheat harvest. They insisted that we ordain another elder who would always be there. However, being a man, I went with logic instead of my heart. Within two weeks of the others leaving for wheat harvest, this new elder turned into the devil himself.
In his reports to the elders, he accused me of stealing money from the church, committing adultery, drinking, smoking, and everything else you can imagine. It was a terrible experience.
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As soon as this man showed his true colors, I knew in my heart that the feelings and thoughts I had were the Lord speaking to me, and I had dismissed them as my own. I made a decision right then and there that I would never ignore my heart again. This verse has often been interpreted to mean that the Lord will give you whatever you want and has been used to justify selfishness, greed, and even adultery.
You may hear the Spirit speak within your mind and heart as your communion with God deepens. The development of active listening skills and a quiet, expectant spirit are keys to hearing from the Lord. We battle busyness and distractions as well as emotional stresses, such as exhaustion, depression, fear, anger, grief, and anxiety. Satan loves to ratchet up the emotional chaos in our lives to keep us from walking in fellowship with God.
He jam-packs our days with noisy distractions in his efforts to get us to tune God out. At certain times in Scripture especially in the Old Testament , God spoke clearly and audibly to His people. We can't shake our fist at the sky and say, 'all right God, let me hear you.
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. The Lord manifests Himself to us and through us as we humbly seek Him. The familiar passage in Proverbs 3 makes it even more plain.
Hearing God's Voice
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 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
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. 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:.
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.
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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" Psalm 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: Yes, my friend, you can hear and know the voice of God. And because of this the world is changing -- more than perhaps you've heard. Share your testimony of how you have grown to know the voice of God.