2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness . . .
If you’ve read parts 1-3, you have a pretty good overview of how I go about hearing God’s voice. If you haven’t read them, please do go back and check them out. This post will make more sense if you do.
So, you’ve got journal in hand, and you’ve written down a bunch of stuff you think God said to you. Maybe you were meditating on a scripture passage, or maybe you asked Him a question. Maybe you just sat there and looked at Him until He said something to you. Whatever the case, how do you know this is from God, and not just from your own imaginings?
First requirement–very important. In order to hear from God, you have to be fully submitted to Him. If you’re going to ask Him things like, “Should I have sex with my boyfriend,” when you really want to do it, you’re not going to get an objective answer from God. Your own desires are going to intervene and give you the answer you want. Of course, if you know the scriptures at all and are at least a little bit interested in doing God’s will rather than just getting your way, you won’t need to even ask this sort of question. It would be like asking your natural father (assuming he’s the right sort of father), “May I take the car, drive it into a tree, and hurt myself?”
At the very root of this sort of question is a lack of trust in God. If we really know God, and really trust Him to know what’s best, and honestly believe in His love for us, we will be absolutely submitted to His will, because we know He’s smarter and better informed than we are, and that He’s got our best interests at heart, and that He knows better than we how to serve those interests. So ground zero . . . you must be willing to accept what God says, even if it’s not what you want to hear. So if He’s saying that no, you shouldn’t join the volleyball team this season, you’ve got to be willing to say, “Okay. I trust you Lord. I really, really want this, but I know You’ll never steer me wrong.”
A youth pastor of a church I attended long ago once told this story. He and his wife were preparing to move to a new church (ours) where they had accepted an appointment as youth pastor. All their things were packed with the exception of a few appliances, and this was their last night in Kansas City. He planned to take her out for a dinner on the town at the brand new KC Hyatt Regency. He had dreamed this up and was really invested in the idea. They were a young couple, in love, and he wanted to show his beautiful wife a wonderful time on their last night in the city. As he was walking through the aisles of the grocery store, picking up some things they would eat on their drive, he felt that God was telling him to buy a frozen pizza. A frozen pizza??! God tells youth pastors to buy a frozen pizza? He argued with God that he really wanted to go out to eat a fancy meal, but he couldn’t get the impression out of his head. They didn’t even have an oven to cook the pizza, and they had to heat it up in the microwave. So that evening, they sat on moving boxes scraping melted cheese off the cardboard packaging of a pizza never intended to be baked in a microwave, watching the television they had kept out for the last minute, as the local news media covered the tragic collapse of a concrete walkway in the KC Hyatt Regency hotel, in which 114 people died and another 200 were injured. God really does have our best interests at heart, even when He seems to be making no sense at all.
So, first requirement: Be willing to accept what God says, especially if what He’s saying is not what you want to hear.
Second, it would really help if you were well acquainted with the scriptures. People get into all kinds of error trying to hear from God when they don’t know and/or don’t understand scripture. If your “revelation from God” contradicts scripture, or His nature as described in scripture, it is merely a revelation of your own mind, or worse, a doctrine of demons. If you’ve never read at least the entire New Testament, please put down this blog and go read your bible. You should also read the Old Testament, but read the New first, starting with the gospels. If you’re living in North Korea and have only a small passage of Mark at your disposal, and this is hidden in your wall, you might have some excuse, and some call on God to protect you from your own ignorance, but most of us have so many copies of the bible, we’d have to go and count if we wanted to tell someone how many we own. So, if you haven’t read the bible, read it.
Third, if you haven’t read the bible, or if you’re not fairly confident in your understanding of it (none of us understands perfectly), try to find a mentor or two–people mature in the faith, in whom you feel confident that you can place your trust–to look over your journal entries for you. Even if you are yourself a mature Christian, this can be a great help. Brothers and sisters in whom the Holy Spirit dwells can provide you with a second opinion as to whether you’ve truly heard from God, or whether your journaling is only from your own imagination. Even doctrinally correct entries can be dead–merely harvested from your own intellect.
I pray that this mini-series has been helpful to you. Now go and seek Him!
Grace and peace,