Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hearing God's Voice

Dear Pastor Michael:

How do you know it is from God and not your own voice? - Miss LAMMM

A very good question.

There are three principles that one must always use in hearing God's voice and knowing that it is him and not you.

1] The Eternal,
2] The Plan, and
3] The Word

1] The Eternal. God (Christ) is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and he is not a man that lies or the son of a man that needs to be sorry for what he has said, he speaks and he makes it happen just like he said (Numbers 23:1) What does that mean? If you hear God's voice in your head you must review it and study it. Faith is not blind and God is not after blind faith. He gives evidence. Hebrews Chapter 11 is all about knowing how God works by reviewing past performance. Use what you know about God to judge what you are hearing him say to you. He will not contradict himself. He will not ask you to do something that is contrary to his own ways and methods and will. Now, the next two are closely related to this first one.

2] The Plan. God has one plan... one will... That all things that breath and think come to know him and be known by him (Philippians 2:10; Romans 14:11; Isaiah 45:23). People are always worried about "What is God's will?" but that is simple... he told us... his will is that all people come to know him. Anything at all that God asks you to do, or any voice you hear that says it is God will ask only one thing of you... Do THIS (whatever this is) because it will bring more people to know Jesus. That is all. Period. God will not speak to you about what color of car to buy or what length of hair to wear. He will ask you to do things that are clearly for the growth of his kingdom.

3] The Word. Since God is the same every time, his Word is the same every time (Psalm 119:89 and 2 Timothy 3:16). If a voice tells you it is God speaking to you: Listen to what it says and study it, know it inside and outside: "Don't believe every spirit! but test them!" (1 John 4:1) What is the standard to test them by? The word of God. No voice of God or his angles will EVER contradict the Bible. That means you have to KNOW the bible... not the traditions of the Church. You have to hear what God is saying in the Bible first, not the opinions of others, and then see if the voice speaking to you is the same voice. When all the sheep are mixed together, the owners will call them and all the sheep will go to the right owner. When we know Jesus, we will hear HIS voice as different than all the others out there (John 10:27) but if we only SAY we know Jesus and we don't really spend time with him and his words, then any voice can come along and we will follow it.

That's my plan for understanding if a voice I hear is God's voice.
MOST of the time - the voices are NOT God's voice!
But oh - great day when it is!

Then.. sometimes... I test the voice even further... like Gidion (Judges 6) who asked God to show some signs that this voice really was from Him. This is not doubt saying "I don't believe you," this is faith saying, "I would like to believe you but I want to make sure it is you." When I came to Taiwan, I asked God if he was asking me to come, then he should show me three signs. I even told him what the three should be! I said, first cure my allergy to fish, second make Sandy want to come, and third find us jobs here BEFORE we come AND find people to take over our jobs in America BEFORE we leave.

God cured my allergy to fish immediately. I still get a sore throat and sometimes my eyes swell, but a month before I asked this, I would stop breathing if I ate fish.
Then Sandy, who hated the idea of moving anywhere at all, much less to an Asian country, fell in love with Taiwan and heard God too.
Then she had the right man apply to her job and get it, and I had the right guy apply for my job and get it.

Now some may say this is all coincidence. Sure. It may be. But people are convicted of crimes by "a preponderance of the evidence." All that means is that when there are too many coincidences then you have to assume that it is NOT a coincidence.

When you hear God speak... there will be too many coincidences for it to be a mistake... there will be too much evidence in his WORD for it to be uncertain. It will still be weird and hard for other people to understand... but you will understand it and there will be little doubt.

He will never tell you WHY he is asking you to do this until you obey him and do it. DON'T make that the reason that you obey him. Use the principles above for the reason you obey... just realize that he reason he is asking is not given to you until you obey. That's okay. What's more important is that the things he is asking you to do WILL be in agreement with his Word and with his past performance. It may be dangerous... it may be no fun... but it will always agree with the three principles - if you know them, you don't NEED the reason why he is asking. He does this to get perfect obedience rather than assisted obedience. If we know the reason he is asking, we may try to do things "a better way" than he has asked us to do it. We think we know better how to get to the goal than he does. But if we don't know the reason, we can only do what he asks. Just like a starship captain or a doctor in the Emergency Room... he knows, the people who obey just need to follow him, later they will see why.

Hope this helps with whatever it is you are hearing Him say.



Scott said...

Very glad you posted this today Michael. Hearing God's voice is one of the things I keep coming back to. I've been listening for his voice lately to specifically help me understand how to convey just how important listening to his voice really is. It seems that so many Christians (everywhere, but I'm thinking of here in Taiwan) expect that they can't hear God's voice themselves... they expect the "pastor" to hear it and tell them. But even if the pastor hears God's voice (for someone else) it throws the aspect of OBEDIENCE out the window because it blurs whether we are to obey the pastor or God and it is easy to find the man fallible and, of course, he/she may often be mistaken about hearing God's voice for someone else. We must create a sense of responsibility among the Christians here that they not only CAN hear God's voice, but they MUST! Your post helps put some specific things with the vision and direction God has given me about this. Thanks for taking time to type it up. We should work together more often :-)

The Haggard said...

Hey Scott!
Well... when you move to the south (since there is no way I will be moving to the North without one of these God's Voice things), we could work together much more often. However, feel free to drop me a line anytime. I am really good at pontificating and bellowing out words.

Thanks for the kudos!

The Haggard said...

Indeed, the thing about personal responsibility is right on target, Scott. I spend so much time in that here: everything from answer a question in Bible study without waiting for others to agree or a teacher to give the answer, all the way to personal evangelism and Bible study, and way on up to doing the right thing in personal obedience in such things as forgiveness, mercy, and rebuke/teaching from the Word. We have got to get out of the Clergy/Laity dichotomy that is worse here than in the west before some congregations will move past just meeting every sunday and having pot lucks and parties. So many churches down here have only parties and english camps as their "vision" for outreach. So many have "hire a pastor" as their only method of spiritual growth. And then once they have the pastor, feel that growth is no longer needed. Oh! Who will save them from this death?

Oh... wait... I should know that answer.