Every wonder what the voice of God sounds like?
You know, you read these crazy blogs, maybe even talk to some people you know who say things like, “Well I felt like God was telling me. . .”
And you’re standing there feeling like an idiot wondering, “Uh, so what do I say to something like that.” You kinda think it’s cool that God maybe talks to people like that.
You know, those people.
(In a whisper) the special ones.
The ones that try really hard at this God stuff.
Sometimes I think that way too. Like maybe if I just try harder I’ll hear God’s voice a little clearer. You know read my Bible more, listen to more MP3’s of pastors who know more than I do, do a technology fast, you know, just do more.
And those things are all great for clearing out the extra noise that tries to clutter up the space between our ears. And that defintely makes it easier to hear God.
But what if you’ve been hearing him your whole life and didn’t recognize it was him?
I think I’d know the voice of God if I heard it.
The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli’s direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.
Then God called out, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Yes? I’m here.” Then he ran to Eli saying, “I heard you call. Here I am.”
Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” And so he did.
God called again, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel got up and went to Eli, “I heard you call. Here I am.”
Again Eli said, “Son, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” (This all happened before Samuel knew God for himself. It was before the revelation of God had been given to him personally.)
God called again, “Samuel!”—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.”
That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed.
Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.”
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (The Message)
This is a pretty big deal.
Because Samuel went on to be a key part for the nation of Israel and the anointing of David as king.
Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice at first and just assumed it was Eli, his mentor.
We can do that alot. . . rationalize away that God is speaking – here and now – to us.
But how can we be sure it’s God?
I knew it, you want to be one of those special ones too, don’t you? Yeah, me too.
There’s 3 tests it’s gotta pass to make sure it’s the voice of God because there are lots of voices that try to imitate God’s. So he tells us to test the spirit behind what we hear.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1 (HCSB)
1. The Book Test.
Does it agree with the Bible? If God is speaking, it should echo what God is saying in the Bible, especially about Jesus.
2. The Gut Test.
How does it feel? This one is tough because we can be such cerebral people sometimes, But this is what people call “bearing witness with your spirit”. If you’ve submitted your life to God, your spirit is one with his and it will let you know “in your gut” if this is God’s voice.
3. The Fruit Test.
This one is a big one for me. Because i struggle with being a rule follower. Sometimes something can sound spiritual, godly even, and be the furthest thing from what God is saying. Check out the Pharisees in the NT. So here it is, the fruit test. “The voice of God will be compatible with the fruit of the spirit.” ( quote taken from Graham Cooke)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-13 (HCSB)
And it kinda makes me giggle, because after all dudes in fruit suits are funny.
But it reminds me that it’s a good test.
Because if God is telling me in a harsh voice that I need to confess my sins, then I know it’s probably not God. Because one of the fruits of the Spirit is gentleness. It’s a part of God’s character.
So even though it sounds really good.
Confessing sins is always a good thing right?
It might not be what God is saying to you in this moment. So let’s test it.
It passes the Book Test, repentance is in the Bible. It snuck by the Gut Test, because I was too caught up in my head trying to figure it out. But then I get stopped at the fruit test.
I remember that this voice was harsh.
One of the fruits is gentleness.
Hmmm, I don’t think this was God.
Or if i hear the voice of God say, “Trust me, everything is going to be okay,” then I test it.
1.The Book Test – yep, God continually tells us to trust him in the Bible.
2. The Gut Test – uh huh, feels right
3. The Fruit Test – Trust sounds like I should have faith in God.
Faith. Yep. It passes the fruit test.
So hearing the voice of God becomes a mix of science and art. And as we get to know him better, we learn to recognize his voice more and more.
No one is perfect at this.
Promise. We are all learning.
And God gives us grace as we practice the science and art of listening and discerning his voice.
There are a lot of competing voices out there.
But isn’t it worth it to find out if what you’re hearing has been God all along?