Did God Tell Me That?: Discerning God’s Voice

 hearing God voice pic

How do I know if God is the One speaking to me?

Is it His voice I’m hearing?

Or others?

Or just my own?

How do I know the difference?

There are many instances I’ve struggled to know if I’m hearing from God or not.

There are times when I am confident in what the Lord is telling me and I know it is Him….

But there have been times when I’ve questioned if it’s really His voice…

And I get confused. My mind is bombarded with too many thoughts.

I know I’m not the only one.

I’ve talked to countless people who also wrestle with discerning the difference between God’s voice and their own…God’s voice and other voices…God’s voice and people’s voices.

So this is an important topic to address.

We can’t always silence the other influences in our lives: friends, family, media, readings, church, the world, etc.

But we can change the volume on these voices.

My prayer is that God’s voice would be the loudest voice you hear. 

May we give God full attention and the highest volume to speak to us.

Reading through Romans 8 we can see how the duality of the spirit and the flesh plays a part in our ability to hear from God.

For if we desire to hear from God, we can only hear Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit that lives within us, sent by Jesus after He left the earth.

We cannot hear from God through our flesh.

It’s not possible.

So I want us to look at this passage and embrace what it means to live by the Spirit and not the flesh, so that we can live in the sweet spot of discerning God’s voice.

 

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.”

Romans 8:1-9

 

Look at the contrasting terms “Spirit” and “flesh.”

Throughout this passage, Paul declares that the flesh leads to death and the spirit leads to life. Yet He also declares that through Christ, we no longer live according to our flesh. Now, we live according to the Spirit. And the Spirit gives us life and peace. It leads us. It guides us.

And if we are in Christ, we possess the Holy Spirit!

We have way more assurance than we realize when it comes to hearing God’s voice.

Why?

Because hearing God’s voice requires the Holy Spirit.

And anyone following Jesus has the Holy Spirit living within! The Holy Spirit overpowers the flesh, so that we operate according to how the Spirit of Christ leads us not the flesh.

In verse 7, Paul says that a mind set on the flesh is hostile to God. The flesh does not want to hear from God.

A mind that is hostile to God is never seeking to hear God’s voice.

That’s just not a priority of the flesh.

My flesh wants what I want not what God wants.

Recognizing this is important!

Because… if I desire to hear God’s voice, then I know I’m not operating according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Thus… if I am operating according to the Spirit in seeking to hear from God, then I can be sure that God will speak to me through His Spirit in return.

But what if I am seeking by the Spirit to hear from God but then my own thoughts get in the way and I confuse my own thoughts as God’s voice?

Throughout my years following the Lord and seeking to hear His voice, though I still struggle, what I am learning is there are CONSISTENT INDICATORS in 1) hearing God’s voice or 2) misinterpreting another voice for God’s that is not God.

→ If you’re unsure if the Lord is truly speaking to you in any way, filter it through this list of indicators to discern if it in fact lines up with indicators of God’s voice:

If it’s another voice (flesh) and not God’s voice, here are some possible indicators:

Convenient for me

It all makes sense

Doesn’t stretch my faith

Something I would normally think or do

Beneficial for me and no one else

May or may not contradict scripture

Seeks my own interest

Absence of fear

Absence of passion

Grants dissatisfaction and leaves you feeling empty

 

If it’s God’s voice (Spirit), here are some possible indicators:

Challenging for me

May be convicting

Beneficial to others besides myself

An opportunity to bless

Seeks others interests above my own

May be inconvenient for me

Grows me spiritually

Lines up with scripture

May seem odd

Requires more faith

Contradicts the way I would have done it

Evokes fear

Stirs passion

Grants peace and fulfilment at the moment of obedience

 

*And when in doubt: God’s voice always seeks to make us more like Christ.

 

GOOD NEWS: If you are following Jesus, your mind will be set on things of the Spirit! Romans 8:9 declares this!

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” –Romans 8:9

Romans 8 promises us this!

This is an indicator to you and I that we are doing better than we think we are.

You can hear God’s voice.

His voice is not trying to trick you into thinking it’s your own voice.

He wants to speak to you and help you know for sure that it’s Him.

I get so doubtful of myself and my ability to hear God but I forget that I really am trying to do so and my desire is to hear Him above all else.

Therefore, if that really is my desire, I can trust that God will set my mind on things of the Spirit and He will speak to me.

I way more have assurance than I realize.

So do you.

If you really do want to hear from God, He will speak to you and you will hear His voice.

Why would the God who gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell us not want you to hear from Him? It’s absolutely certain that He will. But you must fertilize and grow your own relationship with the Lord, because as you get to know Him better you learn how to hear from Him and His voice becomes more familiar. It’s just like any other relationship. It requires time, commitment and learning about the other.

I do believe though that when we are in the New Heaven and New Earth with Jesus that we will get to see how God was leading us and speaking to us way more than we ever realized. Looking back at our lives, we will be able to see clearly how powerful God’s voice was to guide us along the journeys of life He planned for each of us. There is so much here on earth that we cannot see and cannot comprehend.

But while we are here, I know God wants to lead us by His voice.

However, another potential struggle might arise when you have heard clearly from God but over time you start to doubt the actual content of what He told you.

Have you ever become discouraged about something God told you because it’s not happening?

Or confused because it seems crazy?

For me, it’s extremely difficult when things I’ve heard from the Lord and am confident about start to become questionable. Possibly out of lack of fruition of what God spoke, not seeming ideal for me, things not looking the way I thought they should look, not turning out how I thought it would, etc. I’ll think, Did You really tell me that Lord? I thought You did…and You really are leading me in this direction…but now with the way things are looking in my life, I’m not so sure. Maybe it wasn’t You. Maybe it was just my own thoughts. And discouragement layers on top of confusion.

When this happens…

you must STOP thinking and asking questions.

RETURN to what God FIRST told you.

FILTER what He told you through the list I mentioned above on how to tell if it’s God’s voice or not.

And if it LINES UP with the characteristics of God’s voice, then you know what you do?

You keep MOVING FORWRD in FAITH.

It’s not going to be easy. But most of the time, the things God speaks never are easy. It’s called SPIRITUALLY CHALLENGING for a reason.

ELIMINATE your EXPECTATIONS that you are going to be able to understand it all.

DECIDE if you want to OBEY the Word that you know God has spoken to you.

ONLY YOU can decide.

LOOK at JESUS, not your circumstances.

TRUST the Lord.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” –Hebrews 11:6

Still, you can hear from God, be certain that you have heard from Him and thus obey, and you still will wrestle with questions and confusion at times while navigating this whole journey of life with God.

Hearing from the Lord is a constant dialogue not a final answer.

We do not go to God to just get a yes or no.

We go to Him to talk to Him and communicate with Him, to be led by Him and walk with Him, and to grow closer to Him like we would in any real relationship with another person.

God wants to lead us step by step not leave us with an answer key to everything for our lives.

He wants to be involved.

And we grow more this way.

Going back to Romans 8, we know that there is a war between the flesh and the Spirit.

So this constant dialogue if often interrupted by other voices such as ourselves, other people, pop culture, temptation and so on.

But Jesus is stronger.

With Christ’s indwelling Spirit living within us, we always have power to live a life in the sweet spot of discerning God’s voice.

I pray for you and I that we would know how to recognize God’s voice and His leading. I pray that we would let Him lead us every single day. I pray we would be in constant communication with Him. I pray we would believe God’s voice even when it stretches our faith. A life following Christ often costs more than we bargain for. But we will discover riches far greater than anything we could ever even fathom if we just trust Him! One day we will reign forever with Jesus and every struggle on this earth will be worth it. May faith abound to you. May trust increase in your heart. May peace overflow. May fulfillment overflow. May we yield to God through His Holy Spirit in all that we do. Thank You, Jesus, for wanting to speak to us.

May God’s voice be the loudest voice you hear.

 

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13

 

 

Questions for Today:

  • What are the indicators that what I’m hearing is God’s voice?
  • What are the indicators that what I’m hearing is not God’s voice?
  • How do the Spirit and the flesh impact my ability to hear from God?
  • Why does God want to lead us step by step?
  • When I doubt what God told me, what should I do?
  • Am I in constant dialogue with God? What can I do to be in better communication with the Lord?

 

“Never Alone” by Hillsong Young and Free

The Relief of Release: Nothing Messes Up God’s Will

butterflies flying away out of jar

If there’s a burden you’re carrying.

You don’t have to carry it anymore.

It’s not up to you to carry it.

Release it.

The Lord can handle it.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken,” says Psalm 55:22.

The worry that keeps you from sleep at night…the fear that halts you from moving forward…the stress over feeling like you have to do this and that to ensure God’s plan…whatever burden you’re overwhelmed with….…let God have it…He’s competent enough to take it from you and do something with it that will actually help you out.

But it’s hard to do sometimes.

Sometimes I like carrying around my burdens and worries.

They’re like pretty butterflies in a jar, not like chains. I forget that they’re actually the things weighing me down.

But I can’t release it out of fear that what I’m worried about will be lost forever if I stop worrying. I don’t want to let go and God never give me what I want because He assumes I’m fine now and not worried. So I keep my worries, burdens, and stress to myself, hoping it will get better. But it never does.

Yet, I fear that if I let go then I will for sure miss out.

I fear that releasing my worries to the Lord will ensure my permanent loss of what I hope for.

I fear that peace will replace my angst, and that in losing my angst, the hope, of which produced the angst, will be forever lost.

I don’t want to lose hope.

And as long as I have some angst, I have some hope.

But if I feel like all my angst is gone, I have nothing to hope in. Hope produces angst because I become restless in what I’m hoping in: thus, the angst.

So, what if I hope in something but want to eliminate my angst?

Is it possible?

Can I both hope and be at peace simultaneously?

I don’t know how to.

But I want to. This is my great predicament right now.

How do I be at peace while hoping in something? Hope makes me excited, on edge, restless, eager….not peaceful…

Because I’m anxiously awaiting that which I hope for…

But having no hope at all makes me discouraged, depressed, purposeless, weary…not peaceful.

So eliminating hope itself is not the answer to eliminating my angst. Eliminating hope is not the answer to peace.

But if hope causes me stress then what do I do?

What is the answer?

I couldn’t finish this part of the blog. Not until today.I haven’t been able to figure out the answer until God spoke to me through an Uber driver.

Yes, I said Uber.

On my way to the airport, I was talking to the Uber driver and she told me something.

She said, “If God wills for something to be in your life, ain’t nobody can stop it.”

I heard it, but I didn’t really hear it.

I didn’t really believe her. I just nodded my head. I’ve heard it before. And usually I’ve believed that too. But right then, I just didn’t believe it. Too many things in the way for me to believe that God could still accomplish His will.

But she kept going on about it.

“…ain’t nobody who can open a door that God shuts… ain’t nobody who can shut a door that God opens. Nothing gets in God’s way. He’s God.”

I started to think about what she said.

And questions wrestled in my mind…

Then why did that happen? If nothing can get in Your way, God, then why did this get messed up like this? Why do I feel like it’s up to me? Why do I feel like if I don’t do enough I won’t receive what You’ve willed? Why do I feel so much pressure to do everything myself? Why does everything get messed up even when I try to do the right thing?

Life, sin, my disobedience, others’ disobedience, the fallen world, unfavorable circumstances… all these things get in the way don’t they?

At least that’s what I’ve been believing.

I’ve been believing that there’s so many factors that hinder God’s will in my life and I’m terrified of doing anything that will mess up God’s will. I feel like I’ve already failed.

God’s will seems impossible to me.

Deep down, no matter how powerful I believe God to be, I also believe that I or someone else has the potential to mess up His plan. Thus, I feel like it’s up to me to make sure I don’t do that. And thus, the angst over what I’m hoping for.

This is the problem.

My burdens and worries are rooted in fear that God’s will is only possible if I do enough to make it happen. But I can never do enough. And it stresses me out more and more. 

But maybe, it’s not up to me. Maybe God really is more powerful than all of this. Maybe He can still accomplish His will even without me.

The Uber driver was right.

Nothing and nobody can get in the way of God.

Nothing and nobody can stop God from doing what He wants to do in my and your life.

Nothing and nobody will shut the door on His will.

Not even me.

Not even you.

Job knew this was true when he saw the faithfulness of God and the blessings that came after his time of being assaulted by the devil.

Job says this in Job 42:2,

“I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.”

Talk about confidence!

Yet Job questioned God a lot though his season of hardship.

And Job constantly went to other people asking then about why all the bad things were happening to him in His life. Nobody could give him an answer. It only made him more confused and more stressed out. Yet at the end of his life and in the last chapter recorded in the book of Job, we see that Job has shifted from angst to peace. He finally believes what the Uber driver believes and so told me: that nothing can stop God’s plan.

In Job 42:3b, Job goes on to say this when talking to God: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

Job finally knew who He was talking to.

God.

Not somebody up in the sky distant from his life and pain.

Job finally understood that his angst, stress and burdens surrounding his hardship was fueled by his misunderstanding of God.

The same reason I was hesitant to believe my Uber driver when she told me nothing can get in the way of God’s plan is the same reason Job was questioning God. I was speaking and thinking of things I did not understand…I was seeing everything in my life as dependent on my ability, not God’s ability. I did not understand God. I did not fully understand His power.

The problem is that I thought God’s power was contingent on my activity.

But this is incorrect.

God’s power is contingent on my heart posture, not my activity.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace not by activities or works. So if we are saved by grace, aren’t we sustained by grace too? 1 Corinthians 1:8 says Jesus Christ will sustain us until the end. And if we are sustained to the end by God Himself and not by our own selves, then why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve God’s will by works?

It’s not about works or activity.

It’s about seeking Jesus with our hearts.

“You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart,”

Jeremiah 29:13

We have to ask ourselves individually: How is my heart postured towards God?

→Does my heart seek Jesus Christ and long to follow His leading no matter what?

→Or is my heart cold and indifferent to Jesus, not caring to follow His leading?

This is the only thing that matters when it comes to God’s will.

Does your heart want God? Or not?

If you do, then God will lead you into His will.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

A heart postured towards God, seeking Him and following Him, will never be able to thwart God’s will.

So… I am finding my solution: hope + peace simultaneously.

What a relief.

When I believe 100% that God’s plan for my life cannot be stopped, I can have peace in the midst of what I hope for.

I can release my angst, and trust that God will take care of what I hope for without my help.

Before, I thought it was up to me to “do enough” to help God’s plan happen in my life. I thought I needed to help Him out.

You see, I’m a very get-things-done, proactive, work-for-what-you-want kind of person and this has been hemorrhaging into my relationship with the Lord. I assume that if God wants something for me or I want something for me, I partner with Him to get it done. I feel like I have a responsibility as a human being to put my hands to the plow and be actively involved in what God is doing in my life. I can’t just sit back and do nothing. But I have gotten to the extreme of thinking that it’s all up to me. And that if I don’t do a certain thing – that I believe God could have used and multiplied in His way of orchestrating things – then I think I have messed up everything and delayed or even ruined what God wanted to do in my life. Thus, I feel incredibly stressed out, overwhelmed, burdened and anxious trying to make sure I do enough for God to have something to work with and that I don’t do anything stupid to mess up what He is doing. This has been causing me so much stress if you can imagine.

But now, I’m releasing this.

I’m releasing my belief that it all is up to me to achieve God’s will.

I cannot achieve God’s will.

Neither can you.

God’ will is a gift.

I call it a gift.

I call it a gift because whatever is wrapped up in “God’s will” for your life is the best thing you would have never even known to ask for. And if I would have never known to ask for it, then I also would have never known to work for it or help God achieve that which I didn’t even know existed. Thus, I can take the pressure off of myself. It’s not up to me anymore. It’s up to God.

Wow how this is so freaking freeing!!!!

I feel so light right now I cannot even describe.

Coming to this realization was like climbing Mount Everest for me.

I want you to see it and believe it too…

You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to achieve God’s will. If you are truly seeking the Lord, He will naturally guide you into it.

“I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel,” says the Lord in Psalm 32:8.

God gets more glory anyways when it’s only Him doing it.

And God likes getting all the glory.

He alone deserves it.

“Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to Your Name give glory because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth.” – Psalm 115:1

And also know… if God wants you to do something, He will tell you. If you are seeking the Lord, you know that there is a BIG difference between doing something because you think it is right and doing something because the Holy Spirit nudged you (Prov 3:5-6; John 14:26, 16:13; James 1:5-6; 1 John 4:1; Isaiah 58:11). This is helpful for me and anyone else who likes to be able to do something, while recognizing that it’s important to yield that autonomy to the Lord and let Him be the lead in our decisions and activities.

Relief rests in release.

Don’t feel like it’s a failure to release everything to Jesus.

It’s not.

But if you’re like me, you may feel that way. I don’t like to release something and let someone else be in charge. Then I don’t feel like I have any power.

However, we need to understand that it’s not healthy for us to have all the power.

It’s only healthy if God has all the power first. And then we let Him assign power, influence and authority that He wants us to have for specific reasons and giftings for His glory not ours.

Whatever you’re hoping to receive from the Lord, thank Him for that gift of hope.

Whatever you’re anxious about hoping for, release that to Jesus and know for certain that God can accomplish it in His own.

Whenever you feel like you’re out of control, release that to the Lord and find comfort in God knowing exactly what to do.

Whatever you feel like you’ve messed up His will, release that to Jesus and know that God is actually powerful enough to use it to your advantage as You seek Him.

Whatever you’re confused about, release that to Jesus and let Him guide you to the answer in due time.

Release…

Relief.

Release…

Relief.

Release…

Relief.

That burden you’re carrying… that hope that’s becoming too heavy… that striving after what you want the Lord to do………let Jesus have it.

Release it.

Give it to Him.

And let the peace of the Lord give you relief.

I pray for you that you would believe God is powerful enough to accomplish His will in your life. Even without your help. For if you are seeking Him, He will guide you there. God is not waiting on you to “do enough” so that you can be the one to achieve His will. God’s will is not something you achieve. It’s a gift. I pray you would believe it and receive peace. I pray blessings upon you and the Spirit of the Lord to be strong in you so that you will know His voice above all others. Thank you, Jesus for your patience and faithful love.

 

“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the One who helps you.”

–Isaiah 41:13 –

 

Questions for Today:

  • What is burdening me right now?
  • Why can’t I release it to the Lord?
  • Do I fear I will lose something?
  • Do I want control?
  • Can anything mess up God’s will?
  • How can I have peace amidst what I hope for?

 

“Call Upon the Lord” by Elevation Worship