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Without a doubt, the best way to make decisions is to ask God what we should do. He assured us He would guide us.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a Voice behind you, saying,
“This is The Way; walk in it.”
I will instruct you and teach you
in the Way you should go;
I will counsel you
with My Loving Eye on you.
If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God,
Who gives generously to all
without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
That sounds great! But If all the Christians are praying and they all get different answers, then who is right? Surely God would not just amuse Himself by seeing all of His People fighting over who had the closest inside track! Absolutely not! God wants His People to be in Loving Unity with Him and with each other.
Satan’s Tactics Never Change!
How was satan able to lure Eve into his web of deceit? Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden and listen to what he said to Eve.
Did God really say,
“You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”
Satan’s intent was clear. In order for Eve to want what satan had to offer, she must first feel God had withheld something from her. Satan wanted Eve to feel deprived.
Notice how satan approached her. He planted doubt by saying, “Did God really say …” If we are not sure of whether we really heard God right, all too often we look around at our circumstances first. If things appear to be going well, we conclude we must have heard God right.
If things appear to be going to pot, we might conclude something is wrong. If we believe God loves us and will therefore, always give us only good things, then it can’t be God Who is at fault. That just leaves us. Maybe we didn’t hear Him correctly. As we try to figure it all out, we jump back and forth across that fence in our minds. We become “double minded.”
Go back to that reassuring verse quoted above in James 1:5. God promised us wisdom. But right behind verse 5 comes verses 6 and 7, in which James cautions us:
But when you ask,
you must believe and not doubt,
because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea,
blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from The Lord!
Eve waffled! She was temporarily distracted by considering whether she really knew what God had said. When she answered with hesitation, satan moved in and flat out lied to her. She caved.
Contrast this to Jesus’ Temptation in the desert. Satan tried the same tactics, coming at Jesus again, questioning the Truth of Who He was. But Jesus answered without hesitation, “It is written!” He quoted the Word of God with Power and Authority, and satan fled.
Step One of knowing whether you have heard from God comes, not from your circumstances, but from God’s Word. Know God’s Word ahead of time. When you are questioned, you will not have time to run for your Bible and look up a verse or two. Learn the Word and keep it in your heart, ready to bring it out at any second.
Know God’s Nature!
Closely akin to knowing God’s Word is simply knowing God. When you know someone well, you know what they would do. If someone accuses them, you can quickly defend them by saying, “He would never do that. It’s not in his nature to do that.”
However, we often don’t give God the same defense. If someone is claiming to have a Word from God, but it does not line up with God’s Word about Himself or it does not line up with His Track Record of how He does things, then it is not a legitimate Word from The Lord.
God does not contradict Himself. And what He has said, He will always say. Example: If someone tells you it’s God’s Will to hate your enemies, think again. This is what Jesus said about our enemies.
But I say to you,
Love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you
and persecute you.
He Is God! We Are Not!
When someone delivers a Word that puts humans in the Judgement Seat of God, that is not a legitimate Word. Unfortunately, there are many Christians, who are quick to judge and attach God’s Name to their biases.
But look at what Jesus said about judgement:
He that is without sin among you,
let him cast the first stone.
Do not judge and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
No Name Calling!
Another red flag to whether something is a legitimate Word from the Lord is the manner in which the Word is delivered. Names are very important to God. God felt so strongly about names He often changed a person’s name to match His Calling on their life.
God thankfully sees us all as He has created us to be, not as the world has defined us or labeled us. When a supposed Word from The Lord is delivered in a mean or malicious way, it is not The Lord Who is speaking.
This is what Jesus said about name calling.
But I tell you that
anyone who is angry with a brother or sister
will be subject to judgement.
Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister,
“Raca,” is answerable to the court.
And anyone who says,
“You fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell.
How many of us must admit we are guilty as charged on that one. But what if you really do see someone as an idiot? Can you not note what you consider to just be a fact?
Nope! God does not do business that way. How does He handle someone who has not grown up into all He created them to be? Romans 4:17 gives us a clue.
God, who gives life to the dead
nd calls into being things that were not.
God calls us as He sees us. He calls the best of what He has created in us to come into being and be revealed to the world!
Hearing from God is a very personal communication. When Jesus was crucified and the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, it was an open invitation to all to come inside. No more talking through a third party. God wanted us to know He was just a heartbeat away and He wanted to talk to us directly.
God speaks in a multiplicity of ways. If you went through the Bible and made a list of every way God communicated, you would probably be amazed. Burning bushes, clouds, pillars of fire, doves, and humans. He sent His Voice through law givers and prophets. He lived out life as Jesus! Truly signs and wonders gave magnificent testimony to God’s Presence.
But we must not get caught up, looking for the signs and wonders instead of God. What does the Bible say about signs and wonders?
Paul rejoiced in knowing that he had been able to preach the gospel with signs and wonders accompanying the delivery of The Word only because of the Spirit of God. As recorded in Romans 15:17-19, Paul is recorded to have said,
Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
I will not venture to speak of anything,
except what Christ has accomplished through me
in leading the Gentiles to obey God
by what I have said and done —
by The Power of signs and wonders,
through the Power of The Spirit of God!
However, Jesus had been annoyed by the people’s looking for a sign of the coming Messiah when He was right in front of them.
A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign,
but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.
God will speak in many different ways. Look for Him, not the signs and wonders. He may speak to you in a completely different way than He speaks to other people around you. Many times we don’t hear God because we are trying to see Him or hear Him by the same method others are using. You are you! Since God made you, He knows the best way to reach you. Let Him!
Can We Be Led Astray By Another Christian?
Yes! Satan delights in doing that. Who would we be most likely to listen to? Someone we trust. Family, friends, leaders who have led us correctly in the past.
Remember satan has done his homework. He has probably memorized more scripture verses than you have. He is not above quoting a scripture verse correctly down to the last letter, but he will use it in the wrong context.
Before we speak a Word for someone else, we must ask God to give us the right Word for the specific person, time and place. Sometimes He will surprise us by bringing to mind something we would have never thought of!
However, when we just pop off impulsively, satan dances for glee! Poor Peter seemed to always have a problem with being impulsive. No one would doubt his passion, but probably many came to question what came out of his mouth sometimes.
Matthew 16:13-23 is fascinating to read. Verses 13-20 record how right Peter was in recognizing Jesus as The Messiah, The Son of The Living God.
Jesus confirmed Peter’s Statement of Faith and called him “blessed.” And He gave Peter a special Promise.
And I tell you, you are Peter,
and on this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven;
whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.
Of course, satan was listening and he was not happy. Peter became his instant target. And how better to discredit him than making use of Peter’s impulsive nature.
Peter, having just been promised the Keys to the Kingdom was undoubtedly reveling a little in his new found power. So when Jesus began to talk publicly about His coming suffering, Peter was horrified. How could Jesus accomplish anything if He was running around telling people He was going to suffer at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law. Peter thought Jesus was already waving the white flag!
So Peter did what any good chief of staff would do. He took Jesus aside and “began to rebuke Him,” telling Jesus this would never happen. How many well intentioned people have declared at the bedside of one who is sick that they would not die, but would live! That sounds like a positive faith declaration, but in fact, we do not make such decisions. It is possible God’s Will is for that person to leave their earthly bodies at that time. And when God’s Will is done, many wonder why the praying Christians’ Faith was not strong enough to save the person to earth.
How did Jesus handle Peter’s rebuke? Matthew 16:20 records,
Jesus turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind Me, satan!
You are a stumbling block to Me;
you do not have in mind the concerns of God,
but merely human concerns.”
Many thought Jesus was calling Peter satan, but I think not. Jesus had spoken the truth of Peter’s Calling earlier. Now Jesus was speaking directly to the one (satan) who was trying to take Peter down.
Love your family, friends and leaders. But go back to all the above points. Don’t assume they are right because they are close to you or even have a proven track record of getting things right. Check every Word against the basics. What did God say in His Word? Does this Word line up with God’s Nature? Is the Word being delivered in the Way God would deliver it?
If you find that your loved ones are not on the same page, then pray that God will bring each of you into alignment with Him. It is possible that one of you is completely wrong. But it is also possible that God has given each of you a piece of a puzzle that only He can put together. He is a God of Unity and He loves to bring pieces into completion in Him!
In His Presence!
When do we hear God clearly? When we are close to Him! Like radio stations, the closer the receiver is to the transmitter, the clearer the message will be. When you stay tuned to the station and don’t vacillate between two or more stations, the message will be clear and consistent. You can’t listen to the world one minute and then tune back into God and expect to hear anything with clarity.
Jesus Himself modeled the need to hear His Father’s Voice clearly. He went away from the crowds frequently and just listened to His Father.
The two people who recognized Jesus as an infant were Simeon, who was described as devout, and Anna, who “never left the temple, but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying.”
The Apostles in Acts spent their time praying and being together in unity with God and with each other. It was in this environment that the Power of The Holy Spirit came full force.
How can you know God and instantly recognize Him? Know He is with you always! Listen to Him! Enter into His Presence with Thanksgiving and with Praise!
Jesus did not give a parting Promise. He gave an imparting Promise! Believe Him!
And be sure of this!
I AM with you always!
Points To Ponder
Do a quick self assessment. How often in the past week would you say you have heard God clearly and accurately? On what do you base your answer?
How ofen do you talk to God?
How often does God talk to you?
When you have conversations with God, who does the most talking?
Imagine yourself in a room with 100 people with Bibles in hand. Some are close family, friends or people you admire. 99 of them agree on an approach to a problem. You are certain this approach is in direct conflict with God’s Word. What would you do?