Through the years, I have definitely struggled to know the heart of God and understand when He is truly speaking to me about something. I wonder, “Is that really God or is that just bad Taco Bell that I ate last night?” I have even asked, “Why does God sound sarcastic?” I have also thought, “That must be God because I would never think something like that.”
I recently spoke at the Mix youth group retreat on hearing the voice of God. And as the Lord frequently likes to do, He gave me an opportunity to practice what I preach the morning that I was supposed to speak. I woke up and spent some time listening and praying. The idea kept coming up that I was supposed to sing “Jesus Loves Me” over the middle school and high school students at the retreat as I started my talk. But I wondered why that would be a good idea. After all, these are teens. They will think Jesus loves me is for little children. Plus, I thought, “What does that have to do with my topic?”
Sure enough, the Lord used another Christian to confirm what He had spoken to my heart. A good friend and brother in the Lord walked up to me and said that he felt impressed to remind me that many of these teens struggle to hear God’s voice because they have the wrong notion of who God is. They believe that God is angry with them or is a harsh, demanding Father. This friend said that they need to know that Jesus loves them before they can listen to the voice of God.
This was the confirmation that I needed to hear. I explained my struggles that morning and set up song. I told the crowd that this was a demonstration of hearing the voice of God and taking a small risk. As I sang, I believe that something broke over the hearts of many in the room that morming. One student came up and said what I did was liberating. Others said they just felt God’s love all over what I was saying.
Here are some of the key points that I shared that morning. May these little insights help you discern whether the voice in your head is really from God or some other source.
Things to consider when testing a voice….
1.) Does this sound like something Jesus would say? Does it line up with the Bible?
2.) God speaks to us through someone us. Many times this is to confirm or put perspective on what God has already been laying on our hearts.
3.) God isn’t usually urgent or in a rush. Jesus even took His time when it came to healing Lazarus.
4.) God’s voice may surprise us. It might unsettle us. Just ask little Samuel, the first time that he heard from God, the Lord spoke a harsh word about Samuel’s spiritual mentor.
5.) God may not work in us or speak to us in the same way that He does with other people.
6.) God’s voice will prepare us for the future although He doesn’t usually give us all the details.
7.) Does this voice agree that Jesus came in the flesh? (1 John 4:1-6) The voice of God will lift up Jesus as the source of live and God’s revival power. Jesus came down as a man and can relate to your experiences.
8.) The voice of God never calls us to do something that only God can do. For example, God will not push you to change your heart. Instead, He will ask you to yield to His power and then maybe go act in a way that aligns with this heart change.
9.) God knows where we are and won’t test us beyond what we can bear in Him.
10.) God’s voice will always be calling us to Himself never driving us away. God’s voice may sound harsh at times, but it is always inviting us to greater relationship and truth.
11.) God may convict us of sin, but He won’t condemn us for it.
12.) God’s voice frequently will call us to action or rest. God may call us to take a leap of faith. Or quite the opposite, He may tell us to rest from our labors and trust in Him. Both of these require faith because we have to let go and trust God with the situation.