If there is any one thing that can help you solve a thousand problems in your life, and give meaning and purpose to your existence, it is the capacity to discern the voice of God. Discerning, one must observe, is much more than hearing. It implies the ability to distinguish, perceive, filter, and identify what God is saying. It therefore follows that one does not hear God’s voice casually or negligently. You have got to be intentional and deliberate about hearing Him. See what Hab 2:1 (NCV) says:
“I will stand like a guard to watch and place myself at the tower. I will wait and see what He will say to me; I will wait to learn how God will answer my complaints.”
If you observe carefully, you’ll notice this man knew that he wasn’t going to hear God in a shout. Essentially, he decided he was going to withdraw from other things, go to the tower, like a guard; watch, listen and carefully filter whatever God was going to say to him. Unless we learn to withdraw, concentrate on God, and learn to filter out the noise around us, it will be very hard for us to hear what God has to say.
God’s Word is powerful, world– and life–changing; it raises the dead; it created the universe. Hell cannot withstand it. It softens the hardest of men like Nebuchadnezzar, and bows the stubbornness of men like Pharaoh. God’s Word can calm your life’s storms; it is the key to your raging fires of life. It will guide you through the wilderness of life and the intrigues of men, and much more. It is the master key that opens any door and locks out every unwanted intrusion. A beautiful niece of mine gave me a precious art piece that I keep hanging above my bed rest. It contains a quote from Psa 46:10 (NCV):
“God says, “Be quiet and know that I am God.”
For emphasis, you need to slam on the brakes from busyness, and be quiet. You need to withdraw from all the noise of TV, electronics, people, and other distractions, and just be alone with Him. The voice of God is loudest in intimate relationship, not in empty barrels that make the most noise. Be still.
As a young boy, I used to go to the farm with my grandfather. As we were approaching his farm one day, he suddenly stopped, pulled his sharp knife, made firm signs to the rest of us to stop, and he began tip-toeing, following a track. The rest of us kids saw nothing, but the other older men around took their positions. Suddenly a man screamed from nearby, “Please! It is me.” The man had seen and was trailing an animal, following the trail it left. My grandpa sensed an intrusion and was ready to fight. Those that will discern the voice of God cannot be nonchalant about it. They must watch and be sensitive, alert and discerning.
Having said that, you have to see the scriptures as God’s letter to you. You cannot hear God apart from his Word. A man is as good as his word, and so every word in scripture is God’s express word to you, be it sweet or not so sweet. I know many of us are fond of the sweet word, which is okay. However, there is something that is referred to as tough love. Good parents give out both sweet chocolate and some discipline as needed in raising a total child. No Word of God should ever be despised, because they are all given by Him. See 2Tim 3:16 (NCV):
“All scripture is given by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right.”
God and His Word are one inseparable whole. Get in the Word for yourself. Read through the entire Bible again and again, get the big picture from each passage. But most importantly, read each passage meditatively, that is, as though you were chewing a delicious piece of meat in your mouth, so it’s juice can come out. If all you do is read through, you are like a juice-less person, deriving little or no value from God’s Word. You need both to read and to get value. That means you need time—quantity and quality time. Show me a polluted life, and I will show you a life devoid of the juice of the Word. One may have it in the head, but it is not what you have in the head that matters. It’s what is in your heart. Meditation is the process of moving the word from your head to your heart. The word in your head is those mere letters that kill (2Cor 3:6); it is the Spirit that gives life. Take time to meditate (Jos 1:8) so that the juice can come out.
To discern the voice of God, you need intimacy, alone time with Him, plenty of time in His Word and to meditate. Most significantly though, you have got to know that when you are born again, your spirit and God’s Spirit become one inseparable unit, such that when God speaks to you, it’ll seem as though you are the one talking to yourself. See 1Cor 6:17:
“But the one who joins with the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.”
“So there are not two, but one. God has joined the two together, so no one should separate them.” Mat 19:6 (NCV)
A powerful way you can discern the voice of God is to understand that He made you for Himself, and so He has uniquely wired you for His own agenda. Thus, you just find that you have certain desires, abilities, passions that are innate to you. Samson always seemed to desire to go to the Philistines, because he was created to destroy them (Jud 14:1-4). Always remember, you didn’t make yourself, and one day, your Maker will ask you to give an account of your life (Rom 14:12; 2Cor 5:10). Unless you’re doing your life’s purpose, your life is worthless, no matter how many human accolades, toys, or money you may accumulate. See Eph 2:10 (NCV):
“God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”
Of course, there are some dreams imprinted into your heart (Act 2:17), doors that God opens to you (Rom 3:7) and that He shuts, the circumstances of your life, troubles, and so on.
We could go on and on, but hear this: God is not a chatterbox, talking without restraint. You need to develop a love relationship with Him, love His Word, do what He instructs you to do, and live for Him. Where there is a will, there is always a way and if you pay the price, you will reach your goal. Is hearing God worth it for you? Let’s see it by what you do to hear Him. But never forget this: those that will not hear God will hear the world. Those that hear Him will always reign. Do you want to be like Daniel, Paul, Peter, Elijah, Elisha, Esther, Deborah, like Jesus? God-hearers rule their world and make impacts that last long after they are departed, because they speak for an eternal God. Join the elites. Make hearing Him your highest priority.