Learning to Discern God’s Voice in Your Life – Part One

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

When my sons were teenagers and their friends would call, I would often try hard to sound like my son and see if I could fool them. I seldom got away with it. They knew my son’s voice, but it made for some good laughs.

Although you probably don’t think about this, there are many voices that you know instinctively. If you heard them speaking, you’d recognize them before you actually put your eyes on them. This is what’s supposed to happen with the voice of the Lord in our life. And, as a Christian, it is critical that it does happen. There will be one difference. It won’t be the sound of an audible voice that becomes instinctive. It will be the discerning of the thoughts of the voice you hear.  Just like you hear multiple voices of many people throughout your day, there are different voices we hear from within. You hear the voice of your own thoughts, or you can hear the voice of the Lord, or you can hear the voice of Satan who is a deceiver and whom Jesus called, the father of all lies! People have said to me many times. Pastor Tim, I get confused. I can’t tell if it’s the devil or the Lord speaking to me.

Let me help you understand why it can get confusing and why, when it comes to the inner voices, it’s about discerning what you are listening to. The problem is this: voices you hear in your head and heart, all have audible sound of your voice. They all sound like you! Ninety-nine percent of the time, God speaks to you through your spirit. That will sound like your own voice. Your thoughts happen in your soul which is your mind and emotions, and in your imagination which is part of your mind. And that’ s where Satan also speaks. And this is why people get confused. They think, Is this just my own imagination, or is it God, or is it the devil? And they all sound like your inner voice! So, it’s not the voice you have to pay attention to but the words you hear. They’re to be discerned.  In doing so,  it will help you know who it is that is speaking. This can initially be confusing and that is why it is so critical to learn and become familiar with God’s voice (or words) and how He talks to you. Can this be true? Absolutely yes! Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…”  (John 10:27 KJV) The word hear means to recognize, hearken to, and give audience to meaning to discern and pay attention to. 

Do you know How God talks to you? Are you familiar with His voice and the manner with which He communicates with you? If you aren’t, you are depriving yourself of one of the greatest benefits He gives to us as believers, and are really wasting one of the primary reasons that He places His Holy Spirit within us.

The way God most often speaks to us is through the scriptures. In John chapter 1, Jesus said that He and the Word of God were one. In other words, He is His Word. We may be reading His Word when suddenly a particular scripture seems to speak directly to  our heart. If it is God speaking to you, He will be trying to teach or encourage or direct your thoughts and life. If you pause and pray, He’ll help bring you more insight to to those words that seem to speaking to you. This is the most common way God speaks to us. A perfect visual example of that comes from a story after Jesus’ resurrection from the book of Luke Chapter 24. Two of Jesus’ followers were walking along a seven mile journey talking about everything that had happened to Jesus leading up to His death and then reports of His resurrection. They were sad about the event and having great discussion trying to figure out what was going on. We are often like that and Jesus cares. He wants us to know the truth. He suddenly appeared and walked with them. We pick up the story there.

Luke 24:25-32 (NLT) Then Jesus said to them, “You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His time of glory?” Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about Himself. By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged Him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So He went home with them. As they sat down to eat, He took a small loaf of bread, asked God’s blessing on it, broke it, then gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

This is a story worth reading over and over. Jesus did for them what the Holy Spirit does for us today. He brings scriptures to mind and sheds light on them at different times and in different situations in our lives. He does this as an answer to our requests to help us understand more, just like the two men begged Jesus to stay with them and teach them more. When that is our heart every day, God will speak to us through His Word and show us more—sometimes while we are reading them and sometimes later in a middle of a situation. We may even feel what they felt, “Didn’t our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

Since there are three voices, yours, the Lord’s, and the devil, and they all sound like your voice, then  learning to discern what is said is what helps you know the Lord’s voice from the others.

Discerning when the Lord is speaking to you through His word is a precious gift. But, you have to enter the conversation with Him and that begins with spending time reading and meditating on His Word, and praying (asking) that the Lord give you discernment. It is precious as it happens and the benefits of discerning God’s voice are greater than you can imagine. That is to be a part of our day-to-day life! More next time on those other voices…

Luke 24:32 (NLT) “Didn’t our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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