The first time I heard God speak I was about 4 minutes old as a Christian. I had just got saved, in a shearing shed, and had gone back to my seat. I was all of a sudden filled with a warmth and a peace that i had never felt before. I felt God speak to me. It was amazing. and i was 4 minutes old, brand new.
But it’s also a learning process. We practice hearing His voice and recognising what He is saying and what He is leading us to do. Sometimes its not as easy and clear cut as it sounds like it should be, sometimes we can be distracted by our emotions and circumstances.
Each of us needs to learn from personal experience what it means to hear God given our unique background, personality, and life situation. They way that you hear God is likely to be somewhat different from how I hear God. But the beautiful amazing thing is that God speaks to us.
The God that created the universe, breathed the stars out, is eternal and unshakable, all powerful and glorious – that He speaks to us, that He is near and personal, interested in our lives and doing life with us.
How did Hosea know he was to marry a prostitute?
How did Isaiah know he was to be a naked prophet – for three whole naked cold years?
How did Paul face the storm and shipwreck without fear?
How did Joshua know the walls would fall down?
How did Elijah know to go to zarapeth?
These are all out there examples of people who did radical out there things when they heard from God.
Tonight I’d like to explore further how “God Speaks” and confirms what He is saying.
Let’s begin with an English lesson because the word confirm can be a bit of a christianese word – when talking about God confirming His words or getting confirmation in how God is leading us, what do we actually mean?
The word CONFIRM is a verb (used with object) that has these meanings
- To establish the truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of; corroborate; verify: This report confirms my suspicions.
- To acknowledge with definite assurance: Did the hotel confirm our room reservation?
- To make valid or binding by some formal or legal act; sanction; ratify: To confirm a treaty; to confirm her appointment to the Supreme Court.
- To make firm or more firm; add strength to; settle or establish firmly: Their support confirmed my determination to run for mayor.
- To strengthen (a person) in habit, resolution, opinion, etc.: The accident confirmed him in his fear of driving.
I think in some way all of those definitions wrap language around what we mean when we talk about God confirming His word. It is establishing the truth and validity of what He is saying. It is about having a definite assurance in what He is leading us to do. It is to make us firm and resolved and settled in our directions and actions.
My son Caleb, when I asked him what confirming meant in context of hearing God speaks says it’s like the final yes. Boom that is good. Confirmation is the final yes. It’s the final yes that says that this is the way you should go, this is the thing you should do, this is how you should be.
We live in a world with a multitude of voices – our own, the enemies, society, our peers and of course God’s. How do we determine whose voice we are listening to and how to tune into God’s voice? How do we develop a surety and trust in what we are hearing? How do get that final yes?
How do we know if it’s God? Or just a good idea? Our own enthusiasm? Our own dream? Or a bad idea? The enemies idea? Or the extra meatlovers pizza with extra cheese and extra bbq sauce we had for dinner?
Why is it so important to spend time with Jesus every day? Because He will give us the exact instruction and comfort we need to handle all He sees coming our way—how to act and, even more challenging, how to react in every situation. It is the perfect measure of His peace, packaged up just for us. With great expectation, we can stick it in our pocket and carry it with us. Lysa TerKeurst
Before we get into how God confirms what He is saying lets just recap about how important it is that we make it a regular habit to read the Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.
Joshua 1:6-8 So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land.
Joshua was given an explicit promise. If you read this and do this, you will be equipped and empowered to do everything you are called to do. Now that is the kind of blessing and promise I want in my life!
But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. John 14:26
The Holy Spirit teaches us. Every word in this book is God breathed, God inspired. That for me is reason enough! Man I want to hear the words of God! Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Smith Wigglesworth puts it like this:
“There are four principles we need to maintain:
First, read the Word of God.
Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you.
Third believe the Word of God.
Fourth, act on the Word.” Smith Wigglesworth
I want you to be inspired to read the word of God. We don’t read it to get a gold star or check a tick box in youversion for our daily reading plan. We read it because its God’s amazing words to us. What an incredible gift! He speaks through this! Don’t underestimate the Bible.
But let’s get back to how do we know if it is God? Our ourselves? Or the pizza?
Confirmation in the Word
Psalm 119:105 says “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”
Psalm 19:7 “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple”
To live by faith you’re going to need to become very familiar with your bible. You’re going to need to saturate your mind with the Word of God. Prioritize the presence of God in your daily life. – Steven Furtick
One of the most distinct times God has spoken and confirmed His will to me was when I was planning to move to Auckland from Dunedin. I had been praying about how to get here. At that time my options were bus (eeek no!) or fly. I was ready to book my tickets when this jumped out at me in my regular reading, my devotional time.
But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12
Okay. So not flight. Okay. So I was not to fly. But how was I to get to Auckland. It’s a really long way from Dunedin to Auckland… anyway, I didn’t buy tickets to fly. I trusted that God had a plan and a purpose. He had gone before me. That week someone gave me a car!
God will often confirm what He is saying through His Word. It’s like a proof, or another witness, a tick that says YES this is God speaking.
The good thing about God is that He doesn’t say one thing and then say the complete opposite. Everything He says is consistent and lines up. Which means that we need to align our life and our thoughts to what He says in black and white in here. There will be certain “words” we can eliminate immediately as “not from God” when we line them up against what God has already said in the Bible.
God will not lead you toward an opportunity that contradicts what he clearly says in his Word. Nor will he open a door that would require personal compromise or disobedience in order for you to enter. As humans prone to sin, we have an excellent way of turning a clear mandate of God’s completely around and justifying it by our circumstances, but that is not how God works. If there is a compromise in any way, or we have to bend Scripture to justify our “open door” then it is likely not a door that God is opening for us. I would call anything that contradicts his Word a temptation, rather than an open door from God.
This is why knowing the word of God is so vitally important to the way we live out our life. The only way we’re going to be strong and unswerving in following God is if we have His Word strong within us as the loudest voice and the only way that can happen is if we are familiar with it.
Psalm 119:11 says I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
A person must know the Bible well enough, through study, to fight temptation and protect themself against the ideas and philosophies of the world. [We] are confronted daily with thousands of messages and ideas. A biblical defence system must sort out the ideas, take what is obedient to Christ, and reject what is not. — Bill Hull
At the same time, there are many areas that the Bible does not address explicitly. Still, God is often willing to give us a scriptural precedent for what He says to us. For instance, imagine that you are trying to decide which of two job offers God wants you to accept. You believe He is telling you to take job offer No. 2, one that will put you in contact with hurting people to whom you can minister. But job offer No. 2 is a much lower-paying job than job offer No. 1, so you want to be sure you are hearing God.
You ask Him for a confirmation, and as you’re considering your decision, God directs your attention to Matthew 9:12-13: “‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Those words come alive to you, and you realize that you have just received the confirmation, the final yes, you need to take the second job.
Confirmation from people
A few years ago emma and myself and some other peeps went to a worship conference in Te Aorha which is a tiny little town near paeora. Anyway as we were driving to the hall on the first night we were making use of our trusted GPS to find our way in the dark. The little voice told us to turn left, to turn right and go straight , go straight, go straight…. However to our surprise the GPS directed us to a dead end street. We u turned much to the shock of the GPS. You are going the wrong way. I don’t think so baby.
Our lives can sometimes be like that GPS. We think we’re going the right way and following sound directions. But sometimes a different perspective, like the big fence saying dead end can be the real truth on the matter.
Sometimes we can think we’ve got it right but we can be off course.
There are certain areas of our lives in which our hearing is likely to be less accurate. It can be more difficult to hear God clearly in areas where we have “big stakes” in the answer, where our hearts are tremendously engaged or where we know we have a history of hearing wrong. Sometimes we fall in love with the idea of what we think God might be saying… instead of what He is actually saying.
One prime example of this is in the area of relationships. How often do we meet someone and “hello!” Infatuation possesses our mind and we lose the ability to think rationally. We pray and of course we hear yes because all we can do is think about this person and they’re so lovely and blah blah blah. Wise counsel peoples! Confirmation. The final yes. We must double-check these areas and ask God to confirm what we’ve heard otherwise our heart can lead us astray and we can start running in a direction that God doesn’t intend for us to go down.
When hearing God’s voice, we need to be very careful about making assumptions. God can speak to us very clearly, and we can hear Him accurately.
But we can still go wrong by making an assumption about what God means by what He says, only to discover later that we heard God but didn’t understand Him. We have to be very careful not to put words in God’s mouth. We may have some revelation, but our interpretation and then application are off kilter and need some learning and fine tuning.
This is where the beauty of having wise people, big people in your life comes in.
Believe that the Lord will speak through those in relational authority in your life. There is safety in the multitude of counsel. Develop those relationships. Get a big person in your life and learn to open up to them and be real and find security and trust in your relationship so that you are open to what they say.
If all the big people in your life are going WOW and are encouraging you to go for it then its more likely what you’re hearing is from God. If the big people are going um… that’s interesting, then perhaps what you’ve heard is interesting but not fully the purpose of God.
Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not hearing from God – it may be a not now thing, or a keep dreaming and preparing thing, or a keep praying thing. Sometimes in the rush of the emotion and connection we have with what we’ve heard we can rush ahead without continuing to seek God about the timing and out working of it.
The big people you have in your life are positioned by God for your blessing. They have your best interest at heart. Be wise and be open to them helping you hear that final yes.
If it really is God, He will speak the same or similar thing more than once. Be listening. Be open to what God is saying. Be making intentional opportunities to hear God.
In saying all that if any of you come and chat to me about being a naked prophet I’m gonna be advocating a no way! Just saying.
Matthew 7:15-20 says: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
You can know if God is speaking by what fruit it is forming.
Does it make you closer to God? Or does it make you proud and rebellious? Does it make you closer to God’s people? Or isolated and arrogant? Are you willing to submit to those in authority or do you want to have your say regardless? Are you willing to follow the process or will you rush ahead singing “I did it my way”?
“Here’s the dangerous thing about Jesus: He’s not after your behaviour; he’s after your heart. Make no mistake about it. Jesus is going to relentlessly and passionately pursue your heart. Even when your behaviour tricks everybody else, it just doesn’t trick Jesus. He’s coming after the heart.” ~ Perry Noble
For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow, and is
a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
— Heb 4:12
Motivations matter. Thoughts and intent matters. Fruit matters. God is not solely interested in your promotion or your dream – He is interested in you becoming transformed to become like Jesus and give Him ALL the glory.
If your attitude is my way not His way, and if your fruit is a bit funky, pause and examine what you are thinking and feeling and doing.
So ways that can help us hear that final yes on what God is saying is
1. through the Word of God
- through the people in our life
- through the fruit and attitudes of our life
Sustaining a fresh walk with God through DECADES is the definition of living radically before God. The way to sustain your heart and keep it on fire is to fuel it with the Word and knowing God, hearing His voice.
There is something you get in the secret place that you can get no where else. Do everything you can to establish a secret history with Jesus. ~ Banning Liebscher
Let’s be a people who are carving out room in our lives for God to speak, who are open to His final yes, and His final no and who humbly seek to be wise and to learn more and more about His heart and His ways.