You Can Hear God's Voice
How to Recognize the Leading of the Holy Spirit:
As Believers, we all desire to hear God's voice, we are His sheep, and we long to know which way our Sheppard is leading us. To follow where His Holy Spirit is leading us and to begin to hear God's voice. Many times in life we feel all alone as if God has distanced Himself from us and He does not hear our prayers or our call for help.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)
From time to time we are like sheep wandering aimlessly without a Sheppard, without any direction at all. The enemy satan would like us to believe that lie, thankfully it is just not true!
God has given us the Holy Spirit, our special helper and guide:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7).
The Helper; Comforter; Advocate, (Gr. ‘parakletos’), one called to the side of another for help or counsel. The Holy Spirit is our ‘paraclete’ our Helper on earth and Christ is the
‘paraclete’ and helper in heaven.
God wants you to be able to hear His voice today:
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John16:13).
The Holy Spirit would remind us of what Jesus has taught, He has given us the four Gospels. The promise of the Holy Spirit to “guide” us into all truth “He will show you things to come” referring to the prophetic revelation of Scriptures.
God speaks to us in different ways:
There is a way of regulating our intellectual life on more than one level at any one time. On one level we be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, and meeting the demands of our external affairs. But on another deeper level within our hearts at an insightful, perceiving way, we could also be in prayer, praise, adoration, song, worship and open to a gentle receptivity to divine leading by the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to speak or pray to God but again there needs to be an eagerness to listen. When we listen to God we can receive guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Many times we miss out on hearing God's voice because we don't know how He speaks. Here are just a few ways that God can speak: “For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.” (Job 33: 14-16)
God speaks to man in many ways. He speaks in dreams and visions by which he instructs men and seeks to turn them away from doing evil. If man gives no heed to the warning, God speaks again to him in the same manner. In dream revelations God “opens the ears of men,”
communicates clearly to them. He “seals their instruction” i.e. he confirms it, probably
through the impressive circumstances and manner of the dream or vision. The recipient would have no doubt that God had spoken to him.
God speaks through His Word the Bible:
“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge; For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, So that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you.” (Proverbs 22:17-19)
As His disciples we continue in these teachings “within him,” (lit. in your belly), i.e. “deep in the heart.” These teachings should be “established” on our lips, i.e. “openly professed.” These words of knowledge and wisdom should instruct our ways and teach wisdom and discretion.
God’s Word, given to us will make us wise even unto salvation. Many Christians want God to speak to them, but they have not taken the time to find out what He has already said! What God has already spoken to them in the past, and what His Words of truth are, that have already being written down in the Bible for our instruction.
When we have our daily devotions and begin reading the Bible, God prepares our heart to receive the words on the pages, they become alive with meaning and revelation. God can speak to us about unique situations that we are facing each day, through scripture written thousands of years ago.
The Bible says – God’s Word is living:
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
Many are hearing God already? God may be the one giving you the longing to hear Him.
The Bible itself declares Jesus is the Word:
"In the beginning was the Word, (Logos) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1).
In the Bible, the Word of God has two main descriptions for the ‘Word,’ they are “rhema” and “logos.” The Bible makes an important difference; rhema has to do with hearing the voice and sensing the spirit by which the words are spoken.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (Rhema) of God.” (Romans 10:17).
- God imparts faith to people through the hearing of His words.
- Faith comes from God through the Holy Spirit.
- ‘Rhema’ is the word of God that is associated with faith.
- Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word (rhema) of God.
Unless a person hears God’s voice and perceives His Spirit when receiving words from God, there is no “rhema”, there is no faith, there is no life, and no good fruit produced.
Unless a person hears God’s voice and perceives His Spirit when receiving words from God, there is no “rhema”, there is no faith, there is no life, and no good fruit produced.
The Bible is Logos: the written and recorded words, which have been spoken.
“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 Tim 3:16-17)
The Words that the Father spoke through Jesus created the universe and all life.
“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16).
- The Holy Bible is not just another book written by men.
- The Holy Bible is the infallible words of God recorded from Genesis to Revelation.
- The evidence of history, archaeology, fulfilled prophecy and personal testimony over thousands of years is overwhelming evidence that the Bible is, indeed, God's extraordinarily Word.
God can speak through other Christians:
God can speak to us through other believers, moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit or through dreams or visions. That does not mean that everything another Christian says to you is a word from God. Often God confirms His word by repetition, by confirmation and by revelation.
But, generally if you are receiving the same message over and over from various sources, then that could be the voice of God speaking to you through one of His chosen vessels.
If you have not heard this message before, ask God to confirm the word to you, there will always be a first time a special word to you from the Lord. If you are still cautious you can always pray and ask God to confirm the message to ensure you are on the right path.
Take advice from others:
We need to trust God to give others wisdom as well as ourselves! In Acts 13:2 we read of an instance where God guided a group: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)
A useful synopsis: Talk to other wise people; but do not regard their decision as ultimate in concluding the matter. As we learn to discern God’s voice in small matters we grow in the bigger decisions, our responsibility is: pray, ask, seek, knock and think.
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Luke 11:9) Recognise the potential bias of your own desires and remember if we ask God for bread or fish, He will not give us a stone or serpent.
"If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? “(Luke 11:11) Recognise when it is time to make decisions and when action is needed to move ahead. Most often we only find out a long time afterwards that we have been led by the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament has a number of examples of leading by the Holy Spirit:
In Paul’s letter we read about guidance this passage is more like a command to the church.
In Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The word "therefore" in this passage applies to all that has gone before in the above passage. Paul has been referring to total forgiveness, acceptance in Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, our privilege as sons of God. And he says men are now to bring themselves to God instead of sacrifices to the altar as of old. They are now to be wholly the Lord’s as were the former sacrifices. At times our stubbornness or un-surrendered will can be the most serious obstacle to understand and discovering God’s will for our lives. God does not reveal the truth to those who are not willing surrender to His Lordship in their lives.
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13)
Be Transformed by the Spirit:
Paul’s emphasises that we uncover our faces and be transformed (change into the image of the Son of God) by our thinking, so we see things from God's perspective, and not from a worldly understanding.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit
of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
God speaks through His small still voice:
We read about Elijah hearing the gentle whisper of God’s voice:
“Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19, 11, 12)
- I heard silence and a voice.
- A voice of silence.
- A gentle whispering voice.
- There was silence and I heard a voice.(sound, noise light-heartedness)
In this revelation about God’s voice scripture tells us 3 great things God was not in:
- A great wind. (v11)
- A great earthquake.
- A great fire (v12)
This is often what we expect when we are waiting to hear from God. However those loud sounds were not where God's voice was heard. Then came the “still small voice” (a sound of gentle whispering silence). Elijah then knew that he was standing in the presence of God.
God does not yell when He speaks with us. And you usually will not hear it in your natural ear. At times when you really hear God's voice, it will be like a whisper deep within yourself. It will not force you to obey, and is often all too easy to ignore. God’s Holy Spirit
is a gentleman. A voice of silence; gentle and still; I heard silence and a voice, a gentle whispering voice.
Job 4:16 “There was silence and I heard a voice.”
God taught Elijah an important principle:
The spectacular and dramatic have their place in God’s order of things. Most often, however, the divine purposes are carried forward through the still small voice which speaks to the hearts of people. While Yahweh is a God of judgment, He is also our Father, our God of love, mercy and grace.
Elijah needed to be reminded that God speaks in different ways:
Elijah was reminded that the time of sword, fire, and carnage had passed and a new season had come to proclaim the word of God to the nation of Israel. The still small (gentle, whisper) voice of God was given to Elijah, to anoint kings and prophets for the future generations.
God told Elijah to appoint his successor to carry on the work: “So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13)
God's voice can be a gentle tug:
Sometimes you actually hear God's voice, but other times we may just sense a gentle tug. A perceiving something inside of us, we recognize that a particular choice is the right way to go.
It is not always logical, or what we would normally decide. But, for some reason, we perceive a certain peace about it. This peace comes from the Holy Spirit. When you follow His peace, we seldom go wrong!
But, you must be sure that it is really the peace of God, and not your emotions. Just because we are happy about something does not mean it is God's will for your life. Pray and ask God to confirm what we are perceiving is really His will for us, and not just our own selfish motive.
The top 3 reasons Christian's can't hear God's voice:
A mature and wise Christian friend said, God is always broadcasting. It is just that, sometimes, we aren't tuned into the God channel.
- We think that prayer is a one sided conversation: Many Christians talk to God, but they never stop to hear God's voice after they have prayed. They simply say or pray what is on their mind, and then go on with the rest of their day without ever stopping to listen for a reply.
Endeavour to do this: Whenever you pray, stop and wait, close your eyes if it helps, be silent for a few moments. Allow God to participate in your conversation.
- Our lives are too noisy: Often the reason that we cannot hear God's voice is because we have allowed our lives to become too loud and hectic. We have picked up too many responsibilities that God has not called us to pick up, and we have crowded Him out.
We need to remember Martha and Mary. Martha was busy in the kitchen trying to prepare a
pleasant meal for the Lord, doing what she thought was the right thing to do and serve the Lord. But, Mary had determined to sit at the Lord's feet, and have time with Him.
Jesus encouraged Martha, you are worried, Mary has chosen the better part:
“But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)
Endeavour to do this: ‘Chose time out that good part’ be like Mary. Assign a particular time each day as your time with the Lord Jesus. It does not have to be long. Even – 12/15 minutes of your day spent praying, will hush your life, an adequate amount of time to hear God's voice.
Pray over all of your tasks and responsibilities. Get God’s perspective on what He wants for you to do, and begin changing your busy lifestyle for a productive lifestyle. Give yourself time and allow more time for the Lord. Our private life will reflect our public life. Jesus said your private devotion with Him is the only thing worth being concerned about anyway.
- We doubt what we are hearing is really from the Lord, so we ignore it: This is something most Christians are guilty of and we don't realize it! Stepping out and following the still small voice of God can be challenging. No one wants to get is wrong, especially when there is a lot to risk. But, exercising faith is always risky; faith can be spelt ‘risk.’
It takes courage and faith to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit on a daily bases: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
4 secrets of answered prayer:
- Pleases God. (1 John 3:21-22);
- Come to God in the right attitude and with the right motives. (Phil 4:5-6);
- Believe that He is. (John 16:23);
- Believe that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
As we comprehend God and His Word and become more obedient to Him, His guidance and leading will be understood more precisely.
“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
God is looking at your heart motive and attitude:
Know that God looks at the heart not the outward appearance. Do not judge based upon what you see.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).
How to recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit:
God often leads from our own personal desires and emotions. “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) David calls us to take delight in the Lord and to commit everything we have and do to Him. But how do we do this?
To ‘delight’ in someone means to experience great enjoyment in their presence. This happens only when we know that person well. Therefore, to delight in the Lord, we must know Him well. Our knowledge of God’s and His great love for us will indeed give us amazing delight.
Our Internal Guide:
The dear Holy Spirit is our helper, (Gr. ‘parakletos’ from para, “beside,” and kaleo, “to call,” hence, called to one’s side) our friend, our counsellor, our internal guide. The Holy Spirit leads believers to a greater apprehension of gospel truths. He gives the strength to endure the hostility of the world system. If we allow the Holy Spirit, He will lead us into all truth and guide us into God’s perfect will for our lives.
In Romans 8:14 “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God; they are the sons of God.”
The Greek word for ‘led’ is defined as: attaching one’s self as an attendant, guide, direct, conduct, and influence. The Holy Spirit within us is our helper sent by God, He lives within us.
The Holy Spirit will teach us all things, necessary to know as we respond:
1. Ask for wisdom; 2. Be spiritually intuitive; 3. Wait quietly for His inner voice. 4. Have a distinct consciousness of His presence; 5. Be aware of His presence, evidently near;
6. Perceive His face; 7. Seek Him, for power, grace, and direction; 8. Seek His peace; 9.
Heed the direction of His leading; 10. Be obedient to His voice.
The Holy Spirit communicates two-ways:
One of the keys of the Holy Spirit is to communicate the Father’s will to us.
- Because He was there when the Father chose you long before the foundation of this world, He hovered over us when we were formed and knitted together in our mother’s womb.
- Since He is part of the Triune Godhead, He is acutely aware of the Fathers perfect plan for your life; we need to invite Him to be part of the out working of that plan.
- He will unfold this wondrous plan for our lives and our destiny.
- His voice is not audible, but more like an impression and tug deep within.
In Mark 2:8 Jesus describes the operation of perception:
“But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?”
The word meaning: “Perceived”- Strong’s # 1921: ‘epiginosko’ “knowledge” “to know”
‘epiginoskois’ “know fully;” “to know with a degree of thoroughness and competence;” “to be fully acquainted in a discerning, recognizing manner.”
Paul talks about the communication of the Holy Spirit:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.” (Acts 17:16)
While Paul waited for the disciples at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. He had no design, as it seems, to preach at Athens, but his zeal for God showed him the needs and he became aware of the idolatry within the city.
Philip was directed to go to the desert:
“Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." (Acts 8:29)
- Sometimes God opens a door of opportunity to minister in unlikely places.
- We need to be ready to do good to those that come into our company.
- Don’t be shy of strangers they often don’t know anything else, they are souls previously prepared by the Holy Spirit.
- Ask for the wisdom of God to redeem business people – a time of opportunity.
- Through Philip’s ministry the Ethiopian was convinced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the exact fulfilment of the Scriptures and the truth was revealed. He understood the nature of the Messiah's kingdom and his salvation.
Peter did not doubt the Spirit:
The Gentiles were ready to receive the word of the Lord as the Holy Spirit had prepared their hearts, they were very teachable. The call from the Holy Spirit was to minister the word of God. Peter preached the salvation message even though the Jewish men were zealous for their own traditions. The will of God was fulfilled regardless of the plans of man.
“Then the Spirit told me (Peter) to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.” (Acts 11:12)
The Holy Spirit speaks through His prophets:
The Holy Spirit spoke in a prophecy uttered by one of the prophets, “separate me Barnabas and Saul,” they laid hands on them (Acts 13:3) an act of spiritual impartation and commissioning, and they were given divine direction to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said; now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work, which I have called them.” (Acts 13:1, 2)
And scripture reveals the way God’s communicates:
“God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.” (Hebrews 1:1)
God has spoken to us by the prophets in various ways:
- In dreams. (Daniel 2:3)
- In visions. (Ezekiel 8:4; 11:24)
- Angels. (Zechariah 1:9)
- A burning bush. (Exodus 3:4)
- Direct speech. (Genesis 12:1)
The prophets foretell through the Holy Spirit future dangers:
In Acts 21, in this passage the Holy Spirit gives several warnings that Paul would encounter trouble during his visit to Jerusalem. But the apostle persisted, later arrested and sent to Rome under guard. Arguments to whether or not Paul was in the perfect will of God are pointless.
What is useful is to note:
- Prophecies do not have to dictate the decisions or manipulate the will of a godly person;
- Even though they may be true, God’s purpose may yet be realized, as was the case in God’s will ultimately bringing Paul to Rome.
Acts 21: 4 “And finding disciples, we tarried (stayed) there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit, not to go up to Jerusalem. v10, and as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. v11, When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21: 4, 10, 11)
Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit:
We need to learn to recognize certain movements of the heart and mind as being the voice of God – as we would recognize the voice of a close friend. We are in relationship with God that is in a sense very personal. We must be open to the possibility that God does speak directly to us. Many of us have developed an intuitive discernment as to when God is communicating with us.
There are leadings or promptings from the Holy Spirit:
An inner voice, a certain authentication; awareness; a truth; a revelation; gifts given directly to us by God to move us closer to Him. These promptings may come as conviction of sin, an assurance of God’s love, a call to action. We must learn to listen for His still small voice.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we read, “We are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Could it be said that ‘in this day’ heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a spirit-led, spirit-intoxicated, spirit-empowered people. “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”(Romans 8:14). “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” (Romans 8:19)
All creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined life of the spirit, the life of power, of the Kingdom of God. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10)
The Holy Spirit can and will give direction to us if we desire it:
Being open and receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit is a non-optional part of transformation. The prompting of the Holy Spirit are not reserved for the privileged few or important people or just leaders.
We fail to listen at times because we are not attentive:
This is one reasons we fail to hear God speak is that we are not attentive. At times we go with the flow, we are not fully present, a lack of attendance to the current moment (not fully engaged). We go into autopilot – a system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being, we are like that at times, moving around on autopilot, not fully engaged with those things around us. We read a passage in a book and have no idea what we have just read. At times we have a problem, we don’t even think to pray, instead we worry, and we are just going through the motions of everyday life. We are not consecrating on the fact that God is speaking to us, at that very moment we can and should be ready to hear. Be attentive, be focused.
Sow to the Spirit:
“For he that sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:8) As there are two types of sowing, one to the flesh and the other to the spirit.
- Those who live a carnal, sensual life must understand the types of fruit that will be produced are of a worldly nature of misery and ruin. “Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies.”(Proverbs 1:31)
- But those who, under the guidance and influences of the Holy Spirit, live a life of faith in Christ, will abound in Godly graces, you will reap life of the Spirit and everlasting life. “That you may walk worthy of the Lord fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)
We need to develop our senses to discern that which is good and that which is evil.
“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)
To discern between good and evil: to distinguish between sound and unsound doctrine. To discriminate, or discern what spirit is operating in a person, church or the world.
As we walk the path of life with Jesus, let’s be tuned towards the spontaneous supernatural lifestyle available to us as believers, to the gentle voice of the Spirit, impressions that tug at our hearts and bubble up from within, let God’s voice led us.
Jesus said: "I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)
Let us give away our gifts and be a blessing.
Written by Leonard A Buttner, 15th December, 2010
Eagle Ascend Ministry 2/38 Westview Court Somerville, 2014 Auckland