Has some one been trying to contact you?
Have you ever thought that life seems like a puzzle; often it does not make sense how to put its pieces together? Or we feel that some of the pieces needed to complete our puzzle are missing and we do not know how to find them. It seems that our sight is limited. From our vantage point, we can not observe what lies ahead, how to determine what is the best path to follow or what are the best choices for the decisions we must make. This idea reminds me of a contest I once saw on television, where two teams were competing against each other complete a puzzle. Each team had to locate pieces of a large wooden puzzle and correctly assemble them before crossing the finish line. One member of each team sat in a small tower overlooking the playing area where he could direct his team members to where they could find the pieces of their puzzle. However, all the other team members were blindfolded. They would have to depend on the verbal directions from the one sitting in their tower to direct them to the items they needed to retrieve and continue following his instructions in order to get back to the starting position. For a team to win, they would have to focus on listening and obeying the directions given them by the one who could see the complete picture.
Today, we find ourselves in the same position as these contestants. For as we study God’s word we discover that God has a destiny and a destination for each of us:
God spoke to his people through the prophet Jeremiah saying:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. Jeremiah 29:11
The Apostle Paul while writing to believers in Corinth said:
But as it is written, “Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear, Which didn’t enter into the heart of man, These God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
And to the believers in Ephesus Paul wrote:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
For each of us there is a destiny and a destination, but how will we ever find it? Even now, some of you are wondering about choices you need to make:
- Whether to stay where you are now or move to another neighborhood, city or job
- What to do about a loved one who is suffering
- How to provide for yourself or your family
- How to deal with individuals who are troubling you
- How to accomplish your plans and dreams for the future
You may be asking, “is the Lord interested in my circumstances?” Does the Lord have anything guidance for me today? As we look into God’s word we discover that it is not God’s desire to keep his will a mystery to us. Listen to what Paul prayed for the believers in Colosse:
For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don’t cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9
Would you like to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will for your life? Would your like to be able to hear from the Lord whenever you encounter an obstacle or a setback? Would you like to be able to commune with the Lord in the same way that you converse with a friend? You can if you are willing to listen for his voice. Is that difficult? No, not at all Jesus said in John 10:
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him [the shepherd of his sheep], and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3-5
Yes, the Lord Jesus desires to communicate and fellowship with each of us, yet many believers do not recognize his voice. He is willing to guide us if we are willing to spend time listening to him.
Steps to hearing God’s voice
So then, are there principles that we can follow to hear the voice of the Lord? Yes, there are several principles. Some of these principles come from Mark Virkler at Communion with God Ministries. I recommend that you make these steps a part of your daily routine.
Confession of Sin
Step 1, we must deal with sin in our lives. Unconfessed sin keeps us out of fellowship with God. Look at the example of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6. It was in the year that Uzziah the king of Judah died when Isaiah had a vision of God on his throne while he was in the Jewish temple. At the sight of God Isaiah becomes overwhelmed with the awesomeness and holiness of God and he confesses, “Then I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts!’,” Isaiah 6:5. But an angel touched Isaiah lips with a burning coal and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin forgiven,” Isaiah 6:7. But then look what happens after Isaiah’s sin is removed: “I heard the Lord’s voice, saying…” Isaiah 6:8. Wow! According to this scripture, if we want to be in a position to hear God’s voice, we must first purify our hearts. The Apostle John tells us that we can not maintain our fellowship with God, who is light, while we are walking in darkness of sin. We need to purify ourselves first as the Apostle James tells us:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Thus, when we want to hear from God, it is always good to check the condition of our hearts first, as it says in 1 John 3:21,
Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God…
We should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that may be blocking our fellowship with the Lord, then apply the remedy of 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Enthrone Jesus as the Lord of your life
Step 2: Make Jesus the Lord of your life. No human is sovereign in himself. Each of us is governed by higher authorities. That is true not only in the political or natural world but also in the spiritual. God’s kingdom or rulership, Jesus said, is with in us. Just like there was an election held here in Argentina a few months ago where a leader was chosen and placed into a position of authority, there is also an election that goes on in side of each of us every day. Each day we have to choose who will be our governing authority? Will it be Jesus or his adversary? You get to decide. Peter tells us:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts… 1 Peter 3:15
And Paul says:
Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Romans 12:1
If we are to hear the voice of the Lord, we do not just have to be on friendly terms with him; we have to put him in charge and continue to obey him in every area of our lives.
Put to death the desires of the flesh by yielding yourself to God’s Spirit
Step 3: For us to hear the Lord we have to be living according to his Spirit rather than according to our own flesh. When John the Apostle was in exile on the island of Patmos had a vision and heard the Lord speaking to him. He said in Revelation 1, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet…” Revelation 1:10. He was in the Spirit. He had tuned out the influence of the flesh and had attuned his spirit to what the Spirit of God was saying and doing. We have to do the same by learning to recognize what the desires of the flesh are and overruling them. The Apostle Paul described the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one other, that you may not do the things that you desire. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21
The flesh is our lower, sinful nature that dominated us had before we received Christ. But our fleshly nature died when we received Christ. It does not have the power it once had. We just need to remind the flesh that it has been crucified and override its impulses by our obedience to the Holy Spirit and the word of God as Paul writes in Galatians 5:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
And in Romans 8:
For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. Romans 8:13, 14
Jesus said that his words are spirit and life (John 6:63). We are walking in the Spirit when we are walking according to God’s word. But in order to walk according to God’s word, we will need to take time to mediate in it each day.
Meditate daily on the word of God
Step 4: Because the Lord speaks to us through his word and always in line with his word, we should make meditation in his word a daily practice. The writer of Psalms 119 explained the advantages of meditation:
How love I your law! It is my meditation all day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For your commandments are always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, Because I have kept your precepts. Psalms 119:97-100
When we meditate on a passage of scripture, we ponder it meaning, repeat it to ourselves while emphasizing, weighing and considering different portions of it. Through meditation the word speaks to us and makes its impression with in our hearts which leads to the transformation that Paul urged believers in Roman to put into practice:
Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
As our minds are continually renewed we are able to focus our attention on the Lord Jesus and his receive his word for us.
Focus on the Lord Jesus, worship and be still in his presence; listen for his voice
Step 5: Thus, if we have examined our hearts and dealt with any sin that the Holy Spirit has revealed to us, made Jesus our Lord, are walking accord to the God’s Spirit and have spend time meditating on God’s word then we are ready to hear what the Lord has to say to us and seek his response to our concerns. What we want to do now is go to a quiet place away from the distractions of the world and become still and tranquil especially within our hearts before the Lord through worship and song as the writer of Psalm 100 tells us:
Serve the LORD with gladness. Come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:2
The writer of Hebrews tells us:
…looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… Hebrews 12:2
Thus as we worship we can focus the eyes of our hearts on the Lord Jesus. In my mind I often picture the Lord sitting next to me. Our focus must not be on others or things for these desires will lead us astray. David said in Psalms 25:
My eyes are ever on the LORD, For he will pluck my feet out of the net. Psalms 25:15
The writer of Psalms 46 told us to:
Be still, and know that I am God… Psalms 46:10
We want to be still and listen for what thoughts come into our minds, just like the prophet Habakkuk said in Habakkuk 2:
I will stand at my watch, and set myself on the ramparts, and will look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1
And we should not be surprised if the Lord speaks to us through visions or in dreams as Peter reminds us when we quoted from the book of Joel in Acts 2:
It will be in the last days, says God, That I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17
Be ready to record what the Lord says to you
Step 6: It good practice to write down the things that we hear from the Lord. Later we can go back and review and evaluate what the Lord has said and determine if we are hearing him correctly. This is in line with what the Lord commanded Habakkuk:
The LORD answered me, “Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it hurries toward the end, and won’t prove false. Though it takes time, wait for it; because it will surely come. It won’t delay. Habakkuk 2:2, 3
Review and test what you have received
Step 7: Yet when God speaks to us, we need to evaluate what we have received. It is important to determine if we have heard from the Lord and not from some other source because there are other voices that will try to speak to us:
- The voice of our conscience
- The voice of our reason
- The voice of our flesh
- And the voice of the devil
The Lord has told us: “I will not break my covenant, Nor alter what my lips have uttered,” Psalms 89:34. God will never violate his word. Thus we must always evaluate what we have received according to scripture. Paul reminds us to, “Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Along with the scripture there are other ways in which we can test and confirm God’s leading:
- Through conformation in the conversations, teaching or preaching of others; that is why it is important for Christians to fellowship together – Matthew 18:16
- Through the Holy Spirit who has put God’s laws into our heart – Hebrews 8:10-11
- Through the counsel of other Christians, godly people who you respect and trust – Proverbs 11:14
- Through experiencing the peace of God in our hearts – Colossians 3:15
- Through circumstances and timing
An example of circumstance and timing can be found in Acts 10 when Peter had a vision about not calling what God had cleaned as unclean and then immediately three men came looking for Peter to take him to Joppa to share the gospel with a non-Jew, Cornelius.
Obey or apply the Lord’s instructions so that he will give you more
Step 8: Do whatever he tells you: once the Lord has spoken to us and we have confirmed his words to us, we need to follow through by being obedient to his instructions. In John 2 we read the story where Jesus and the disciple are attending a wedding in Cana. It was when they ran out of wine, Jesus’ mother calls on him for assistance and she told the attendants, “…Whatever he says to you, do it,” John 2:5. We also must follow through with our obedience and do what the Lord tells us to do in order to accomplish the goal that he intends for our lives.
Often when I am listening to the Lord or praying, he will give me ideas and insights for messages or an instruction to follow. I always write these down when I receive them and then try to act upon them once I have completed my time with the Lord. If I have been struggling with a writing a sermon or with some problem, the instruction that the Lord provides will often resolve those difficulties. Thus, it always pays to obey.
And our obedience insures that we receive more communication from the Lord. Jesus told his disciples:
“Take heed what you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear. For whoever has, to him will more be given, and he who doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has.” Mark 4:24-25
When we use or obey what we hear; more will be given to us. But when we do not use or obey what we hear, whatever insight or knowledge that we do have will be taken from us.
Stay open to the voice of the Lord throughout your day
Step 9: Stay open to the voice of the Lord. He will continue to speak to you throughout your day. In the book of Proverbs the Lord says:
Hear instruction, and be wise. Don’t refuse it. Blessed is the man who hears me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my door posts. Proverbs 8:33, 34
Thus, we can develop a listening attitude where we keep our spirits open to the voice of the Lord and are ready to receive instruction or insight at any time.
Now that we understand these steps and can put them into practice, the challenges of life can no longer overwhelm us. From now on, we will not have to grope around in darkness looking for answers. We can have peace even in troubled times because we are able to hear directly from our God who has all the answers. He has given his Spirit to provide those who desire to do his will all the insights and guidance necessary to reach their destiny. What about you? Do you long to discover and pursue that purpose for which you were created? Do you desire close fellowship with your creator?
The Lord Jesus has been standing at the door calling out to us,
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.
Now that we understand how to respond to him let us commit ourselves to making listening to his voice our daily practice.
Copyright © 2010-2011 by Alan Pasho, www.disciplepedia.org. All rights reserved.
Scriptures taken from the Word English Bible (WEB)