Learning to Hear God's Voice

Judd Drake
April 11, 2010

1 JOHN 4:1-6

We're returning to our series on Learning to Hear God's Voice. The last sermon was on three ways you can hear God speak.  One of the ways we talked about is that God gives us impressions in our mind.  So today, I want to talk about: “How to recognize God’s voice.”

If God gives me impressions, how do I know when they're really from God.  How do I know I'm not just talking to myself.  Do you ever do that?  I like to talk to myself.  I like to have somebody intelligent to talk to.  So I talk to myself all the time!  I've found it very easy to confuse my desires with God's will.  The Bible says Satan can talk to us.  We can read things and they get put in our mind and we think that it's God, but it's just Time magazine. 

I John 4:1 "Don't always believe everything you heart just because somebody says it's a message from God.  Test it first to see if it really is."  Circle "test it."  The Bible says we must learn to distinguish God's voice.  We've got to figure out if it's really God or not. 

I want to give you three ways to test an impression.  Three ways to know if it's really God talking to you or not.  They form a filter and they're all inter related.  You can't pick and choose.  If an impression does not pass all three of these tests you know it's not from God.  You can disqualify it. 

On the other hand if you apply these three tests to an idea or impression that you've got and it passes all three, you can know with absolute certainty you've heard from God. 

The first way to test an impression is to ask the question:


God never contradicts His written word.  Luke 21:33 "heaven and earth will pass away but My words will never pass away."  God will never tell you to violate anything in this book.  Never. God will never tell you to ignore or disobey anything in this book.  He doesn't say one thing one time, and another thing another time.  God is consistent.  If He said it in the past, He's going to say it in the future.  He is always consistent.  He is never inconsistent.  The Bible tells us very clearly, "Pay your taxes" so God is not going to give you the impression... "the government wastes your money anyway so just cheat,  lie about it because they're not going to use it the right way anyway."  God would never tell you that.  We always get into trouble when we doubt God's word, when we don't listen to what it says. 

God will never tell you to do something inconsistent with what He's already said.  Most of God's will for your life is already right here in this book.  You don't even have to pray about it. Just do what it says.  Some asks me "Do you pray about getting up in the morning and going to church?"  No, I don't.  I just get up.  I don't pray about tithing, I just do it.  I don't pray about telling other people the good news, I just do it.  Because it's right here in God's word.  When you build your life on this book, you're going to ask the right questions.  If you don't build your life on this book, you're going to miss God's will much of the time.

So the first step is to check it out in the Bible.  The second step is to ask the question:


Philippians 2:5 "In your lives you must think and act like Jesus Christ."  Jesus is the standard by which we measure everything we do.  God says very clearly in the Bible that His goal for your life is to make you like Jesus.  Not to be a god but to be godly. To have character, to have love, joy, peace, patience, all the qualities that Jesus had -- in your life.  He would never tell you to do anything that contradicts or would hinder you from reaching that goal. 

A practical application of what Christ likeness is in James 3 "If you harbor envy and selfish ambition, such wisdom doesn't come from heaven In other words, you know that impression doesn't come from God if it causes bitterness, envy or selfish ambition. The wisdom that comes from God is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial and sincere."  These are filters that you can test the idea.  God's wisdom is not selfish ambition.  If you get an idea of how to promote yourself in a better way or how to achieve instant fame, instant wealth, instant comfort it's not from God.  God doesn't give you ideas for self promotion, self serving, selfish ambition. 

On the other hand, if the thought is pure then it's from God.  If you get an impure thought that one obviously isn't from God.            

His wisdom is peace loving.  Ideas from God promote harmony rather than conflict.  If you get an idea that's going to promote conflict it's probably not from God.  It's considerate.  You have to think what would this idea do to other people?  Would it hurt them or harm them?  Would it build them up or tear them down? Encourage them or discourage them? 

If an idea is genuinely from God, the Bible says it's considerate.  It's considerate of how other people think.  A lot of people say, "God told me to do this" and they just bowl over everybody and don't care how it hurts anybody.  Because "God told them to do it."  God didn't tell them to do something like that. The Bible says God's wisdom is considerate.  So you don't be dogmatic.

It's submissive.  If you've really heard from God you're not going to be arrogant and bragging about it.  Some people think they've heard from God but their behavior shows they really haven't because they're self righteous, egotistical and always putting everybody else down.  "God told me this and therefore you're nothing!"

God's wisdom is full of mercy.  If you've really heard an idea from God it's going to cause you to be more gracious towards people rather than judgmental.  If after I've heard from God, it makes me more judgmental, and put you down, and tell you what you're doing wrong and always criticizing you, you didn't hear from God.  That's not the way Jesus lived.  Jesus is our model. 

Ask this question:  Would Jesus do this?  First, does it square up with the Bible?  Second, Does it make me more like Christ? Would Jesus do this?

That's the second way to test an impression.

The final way to test an impression is to ask:


1 Corinthians 14:33 "God is not the author of confusion."  So if you're feeling confused that confusion is not coming from God. It may be coming from yourself or other people, but it's not coming from God.  If you feel pressured and overwhelmed and driven to make a hasty decision, a major decision in life, and you're very pressured to make it, question it.  That's not the way God works.  There's not one single example in the Bible where God says, "Rush!" to a major decision.  Not one.  So question it. The Bible says God is patient.  God would rather have you make the right decision than have you make the quick decision.  We even say that when you're considering coming to Christ.  Take the time to make the right decision.  I believe if you listen to what God has to say, you will inevitably come to the right conclusion that you need to give your life to Christ and live your life the way God made you to live, fulfilling your purpose. 

If you're pressured, if you're stressed out, that pressure and stress are not coming from God.  Not at all!  It's coming from inside you, or from the devil, or from some other source.  Do you want your kids to feel stressed out, pressured?  No.  Neither does your heavenly Father.  The only time you're going to feel stressed out and pressured is when He's told you something to do and you don't do it.  That's going to create stress in your life. That's going to create pressure -- when you know the right thing to do and you keep procrastinating.  Satan drives us compulsively while God's spirit draws us compassionately, gently. 

Colossians 3;1 "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts."  If God is genuinely speaking to you and you think this idea is from God, it's going to bring peace to your heart IF you follow it. God's Spirit produces a calm spirit.  Worry and anxiety are never from God.  Never.  In the Bible it says, "Don't worry!"  We are commanded not to worry!  If you get an idea that is a worry, it's not from God!  God would never give you an idea that He's commanded you not to have.  You need to look for His peace.

There is nothing more vital in your life than you hear from God. Nothing.  Because you were wired and made to have a relationship with God and if you miss that you miss the purpose you were made for. 

The secret to hearing God clearly is get to know Him better and better every day.  The more you understand Him, the better you know Him, the easier it is to hear His voice in a split second when He wants to talk to you.  Get to know God better and better every day. 

You may think you've never heard God speak to you.  That's a good indication that you don't have a relationship to Him.  John 8:47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says."  The reason you don't hear is that you don't belong to God.  If you've never heard God it means you need to establish a relationship to Him. And that's real easy to do and I can lead you in a prayer this morning that will help you take that step. 

Others of you are believers and in the past God's voice was very clear to you at different times but right now it's been a little fuzzy, a little distant.

There is something that is wrong in your life that has come between you and God and until you deal with that, the channel is blocked.

Your heart has grown hard and you're not as sensitive to God as you used to be.  Come home to Jesus Christ.  Come home and say Jesus, "I want that relationship that I had before.  I want to be able to talk to You and hear You and I want You to lead me and guide me and help me avoid all these mistakes in life.  Direct me in the right way."




Irwinton Toomsboro Salem United Methodist Charge
104 Brookwood Dr. . PO. Box 364 Irwinton, GA 30142
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