God Spoke To You?
God spoke to you? Really? And which God would that be? Because based on what I’m hearing come out of your mouth, I’m begin to wonder if what you think is God might just be your own overly active imagination…
Admit it. You’ve thought it, too. Over the years (particularly the ones I spent as a pastor) I have heard countless people use some variation of the following phrase, “God told me to do it.” Now, I’m not discounting the fact that God speaks to His children. He can. And He does. If anything, we have managed to turn hearing from God into some overtly mystical discipline requiring spiritual gymnastics that no one apart from Jesus Himself could perform. In other words, we have gone to the far extreme and made hearing from God an exclusive “right” that is reserved solely for a select few who alone have managed to meet some arbitrary standards of righteousness that the Bible itself doesn’t even teach.
Having said that… I want to point out a few things that we should remember when it comes to discerning the voice of God. Notice I said “discerning.” There are a lot of voices out there. Not everything we think we hear is really divine in nature. Far from it in fact. Over the years I have watched countless individuals end up shipwrecked in their faith because they mistakenly granted divine authority to a thought that was nothing more than the lingering indigestion from last night’s pepperoni pizza. Here are some sound guidelines that we should apply when discerning what we believe to be His voice:
- His Word is the standard. If it’s a clear teaching from the Bible, then it doesn’t need a divine amendment. For example, “You shall not commit adultery.” Nothing vague or questionable there. Not your spouse? Then you don’t get to sleep with them. The “voice of God” is not going to contradict a clear command. If you hear anyone or anything that stands in opposition to the clear teaching of the Bible, you should move on. His word is unchanging. And neither time, popular opinion, nor the current cultural climate can change that reality.
- God’s voice stands the test of time. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So is His Word. We live in a point in history in which the world (and the Church) is busy rewriting the Bible. Because we are afraid to “offend” anyone we have traded in our yellow highlighters for black permanent markers. Don’t like something? Find something to be too strong? Doesn’t suit your fancy or feed your desires? Well, you can just mark through it. Cross it out. Explain it away and act like it doesn’t mean what it actually says. We are quickly becoming an obsolete voice because we have too easily compromised our regard for His Word. What was wrong 100 years ago is still wrong today. What was true for the past 2,000 years still applies today. God’s Word doesn’t change just because it’s a new generation.
- God’s voice can usually be confirmed by godly counsel. Yes, there are and will be a few exceptions. The ark. The walls of Jericho. Goliath. Extreme examples. For the most part, our uncertainties can be confirmed by trusted friends and family members who have a healthy relationship with the Lord. In the opening verse of Haggai something interesting takes place. God’s Word comes to Zerubbabel AND to Joshua. Who’s Joshua? Just the high priest. Zerubbabel was the governor. He was the natural leader. Joshua was the nation’s spiritual leader. Interesting that Zerubbabel was able to look to a trusted mentor for help and wisdom. If you’re not sure about what you are hearing, seek godly counsel. It certainly won’t hurt and it might just provide you with the clarity you need to keep from making a serious mistake.
Bottom line? God does speak to His children. The opening verse of Haggai makes that clear. A specific word for a specific group of people at a very specific point in time. The amazing thing is that our God still specializes in such specificity. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) He knows your current situation. He sees your struggles. And He has a word of hope and guidance for your current need. The Bible tells us that, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We are also told that if we lack wisdom, all we need do is ask. And God will grant it to us. If you find yourself needing a word from God today, make it a point to get alone with Him. Shut the door and shut out all the distractions. Get still. Get quiet. And listen. He will speak. But when He does just make certain that what you think you hear is really Him 🙂