God is Still Communicating
From the very beginning of the Bible, we see how much power there is when God speaks. In the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2, the world as we know it-the whole universe-is described as being formed out of God speaking. All through the Old Testament, God continued to communicate to the Israelite people through the Patriarchs’ lives, through the Law, through the judges that would come and save God’s people, and through the prophets who were consistently inviting the Israelite people back into covenant relationship with Him. We see this continued in the New Testament when Jesus came and “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us...” in John 1:14. Jesus became the communication from God- and was followed by the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2.
God communicated to people all throughout scripture; through dreams, visions, prophets, His audible voice, sending angels, and even through bushes and donkeys! And God is still reaching and communicating to us today. There are so many different ways we might hear from Him. God can communicate to us through the Bible, in the place of attentive prayer, through other people, nature, dreams, prophetic words, music, words of knowledge, inner peace...He really is limitless in how He will reach out to us.
In all of it, God is inviting us into a relationship with Him. He wants to cultivate intimacy with us. In the place of our speaking to and listening to God, He wants us to be real and raw with Him, He wants us to be honest. He wants to be the place that we are the most ourselves- the most at home.
Gaining Confidence in Hearing Him
So how can we have a sense of confidence that it is the “voice” of God that we are hearing? There are constantly so many thoughts running through our minds...how can we be sure that it’s Him? An encouraging place to start is knowing that we have been designed by God to be able to communicate with Him. Like how a watch is designed to tell time, humans are designed to hear their Creator’s voice! From that place, we can confidently anticipate that God will be communicating to us, and that, just like we learn the sound of other people’s voices in our lives, we can learn what His sounds like too. This doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes sometimes, but it does mean we can be expectant for two-way communication between us and God to be something that happens regularly.
Knowing we are designed to hear from Him, and knowing that we can learn the sound of His voice, we can then learn how to discern what parts of what we are “hearing,” are actually from Him. A helpful thing to keep in mind, is that in our inner world, there are basically three sources we could be “hearing.” It could be God, it could be ourselves, or it could the voice of the enemy.
We can be sure that our personal sense of hearing from God will never contradict what He says in His Word. So we can hold up what we think we are hearing from Him next to His written Word, the Bible. If we sense we are hearing from God, but it is not consistent with Biblical truth, we can know that that thought isn’t from Him. This is why spending time every day, thoughtfully reading scripture with Holy Spirit is so important! Without the anchor of Biblical truth deep in our core, it becomes very difficult to know which thoughts are lined up with His truth and which ones are not.
Along with that, as followers of Jesus, we also believe that there is a very real enemy of God and of people. In Revelation 12:10 Satan is referred to as “the accuser of the brethren”- and this is the nature of the voice of the enemy we are confronted with- an accusing voice. He’s an accuser against God, against us, and against the people around us. The conviction of God is clear, specific, and there is a way to move forward. Outside of this conviction, it is very possible we are experiencing the accusation of the enemy.
Strengthened in Community
Learning to distinguish between our own inner voice, God’s communication, and the confusion of the enemy can be challenging at times. The good news is God has not designed us to operate in a “vacuum” in our relationship with Him. His desire is that we would walk with Him in relationship and communication with godly community around us as well. Through a process of practicing hearing His voice, and sharing it with trusted, godly mentors, pastors or friends, Holy Spirit can bring a lot of balanced, and perspective-filled guidance into our lives. The Bible has a lot to say about getting wise input and counsel from mature believers around us, especially when it’s related to decision making and how we live our lives. Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.”
Other helpful questions to ask when we are practicing hearing His voice, are “does it sound like something I would normally think of? Does it bring life? What fruit does it produce?” When God speaks, it brings life. That doesn’t mean it always feels good when we initially hear it (conviction can hurt!) but it does mean that what it will produce long-term in our lives will be His Kingdom.
The more we get to know Him, the greater understanding we receive from Holy Spirit through Scripture, the more we learn what HIS voice sounds like, and hearing from Him will become easier. Distinguishing between God’s voice, our own voice, and the voice of the enemy will become more and more clear because we know the voice of our Creator. As Jesus says in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.”
By Leah Boland