Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hearing God's Voice & Discerning His Will

"I'm faced with a huge life-altering decision.  How do I make sure I'm choosing the path God wants me on and not the path I selfishly want to take?"  This is a question every believer faces at one point or another.

It's scary to consider that we can believe in God, have a relationship with Him, talk to Him, and still completely miss His will in our lives.  So the question is, "How do we hear God's Voice and Discern His Will?"

The Bible is clear that The Lord speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.  He's the third person of the Trinity (co-equal with God the Father and God the Son).  Scripture also teaches that God's Spirit dwells inside of every Christ-follower.  In John 14, Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."

When Paul wrote his letters to the Christians in Rome and Galatia, he referred to the believers as being "led by the Spirit" (Rom. 8:14), and I have to believe that if someone is being led by the Spirit, then the Spirit must be able to communicate.  The same is true for us.  If the Holy Spirit is going to lead us, we can only assume that He's willing and able to communicate with us.

Sometimes we forget how powerful the Holy Spirit really is.  Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is just like Jesus; both being equally God, and He, like Christ, freely submits to the will of the Father.  Jesus explains the role of the Holy Spirit a little further in John 16:13:

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own. he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."

There are 3 important things this verse teaches us --

1.  The Holy Spirit is Reliable

The third person of the Trinity is referred to as the "Spirit of Truth," which means he leads believers into truth.   His nature is the nature of God; one that is built on a foundation of love and honesty and integrity because He is Holy.  And because He's Holy, He's trustworthy, and that makes Him reliable.  He's commissioned by the Father and was sent by Him to us as a Helper.

2.  The Holy Spirit is Our Guide

Jesus never said that this "Helper" was being sent to us in order to control us.  He said that he was coming to "guide" us.  Sometimes I wish God would kick it into puppet-mode and start controlling my steps so that I don't make the wrong choice, but the reality is, God will never do that.  We possess the ability to willfully follow the leading of the Holy Spirit or deny his guidance altogether.  Either way, it positions us to be responsible for our own actions and decisions.

It's the Spirit that helps us discern between what is true and false, wise or foolish, right and wrong.  There will be times when we will have multiple options (all good options), and it's the Holy Spirit that communicates to us which good is the greater good.

As you handle the details of everyday life, God uses His Spirit to guide you.  Through Him, the Lord provides the discernment you need to make decisions; big and small.  As you develop a greater sensitivity to His promptings, you'll worry less about pending decisions and live with a greater sense of confidence in your walk with Christ.  I believe that by recognizing the Holy Spirit is with us, and by being aware of His guiding in our life, we will be more sensitive to His directing.

3.  The Holy Spirit Speaks For God

God made the decision to communicate to us through His Spirit and because He dwells within us, the Holy Spirit has direct access to our hearts, minds and spirits.  When God chooses to speak to you, it'll be through His "mouthpiece"; the Holy Spirit.  Now that we know this, it should be a reminder that we should constantly invite the Holy Spirit to lead us and speak to us.  We can communicate back to Him and give Him the freedom to guide us the way He promises to do.

People ask me all the time, "How do you know you're hearing God's voice?"  In response to that question, I believe the longer you walk with the shepherd, the easier it is to recognize his voice.  This recognition is the result of living a day-to-day life of submission to Him and setting aside time where we're committed to being quiet and in His word.  It's the result of going to Him throughout the day; in the midst of our business and obligations, joys and worries, and expecting to hear his voice in the midst of it.  Eventually, we will come to know his voice so well that we'll be able to hear Him even in the most chaotic circumstances.

Does God speak to His children?  Absolutely.
The real question is whether we're positioning ourselves to hear Him.  Are you?


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