Listening Lesson 4: There are ways to check your hearing.
We believe that God still speaks today. We are also listening for that voice. How will we know if the voice we are hearing belongs to God? Unfortunately, it almost seems that God does not speak as clearly as God did in the Bible. My first observation is that God’s voice may not have been as clear in the Bible as we think it was. Think of Samuel who needed four tries and help from Eli to recognize God’s voice. Or think of the people with Jesus in John 12:29 who heard God’s voice but mistook it for thunder. My more hopeful observation is that there are good ways to test and determine if the communication that we are receiving is from God. The first test involves three resources. The first resource is the Bible. When you hear a communication ask: does this make sense biblically? God’s voice can always be found in the Bible and God is not likely to give us a message which contradicts either the words or spirit of the Bible. A second resource is to consider circumstances. The story is told of a nun who complained to Mother Teresa that God had not answered her prayers about the wisdom of a future direction she had in mind for herself. But as she described for Mother Teresa all the doors that had already been closed to that future, Teresa told her that indeed God had answered her already! Does God’s communication to you make sense in light of recent circumstances (of course, God can call us out of circumstances as well)? A final resource is other people. You might want to test out what you are hearing with trusted seasoned Christians. Be careful of only testing that communication with friends as often their judgement may be clouded because they want for us what we want; which is not always what God wants. A second key test for your communication from God is this: does it sound like the voice of Jesus? Does it reflect his Spirit? If you are hearing a voice telling you that you are a disgrace and unlovable, that voice would not be from God. A voice calling you to gossip or injure someone’s reputation would not be from God, either. Also does the voice you are perceiving reflect the authority of Jesus who holds the future and is NOT motivated by fear, anger, or greed? So these are some ways to test what we believe that we are hearing from God, but how exactly do we go about receiving that communication in the first place? Stay tuned. ~David