As believers, we can sound weird to worldly people when we say we hear God’s voice. More than that, this article hopes to discuss what God’s voice sounds like, and not so much by way of the physical sciences of vibrations through the air at velocity, and the anatomy and physiology of auditory functions. More in the way of the intonation of God’s character in the word, and what is meant by what God says, as it applies to our lives in the deepest of ways.
I often say in my school classroom devotions, and before church when I’m preaching, that we know God’s voice by how we feel when we hear what God has to say. This is only conditional on us being true followers of God, for we live to hear the Lord’s voice.
THE VOICE OF GOD, THROUGH THE SPIRIT
Some of the more recent times I have heard God’s voice have been in rebuke. Wow, that sounds really discouraging, I hear some say. This is because whenever we think of the word rebuke, we think of being told off, being scolded, being criticized. It never feels nice to be told off, to be scolded, to be criticized, because all those feel condemnatory.
When God rebukes, however, certainly in my own personal experience, it is not a scolding, a telling off, or a criticism — far from it! Within God’s rebuke, like within everything that God says, is revelation. God speaks forth life. For a believer, it can be no other way.
As our will joins with the will of God, in recognition of Psalm 37:4 and Matthew 6:33, when we want what God wants, we never sit confused or stand condemned.
Let’s think about that word for a moment: revelation. That is the revealed character and message of God, for us, in our time, and it is never more relevant.
My experience of the rebuke of God most recently has reminded me that from the Lord we receive the gentlest and most relevant advice. It is usually a huge turning point, and something that we’ve actually long prayed for, that we’ve discovered that is our next step, which surmounts sometimes very complex problems. It is a revelation to us because only God could’ve brought it to us, such is the power of a corrective word that turns us from one degree off to the correct bearing for a bull’s-eye. This is how we know we are God’s son or daughter; that we can be corrected, and that we delight in that being the case; because we are taken from death to life in one movement.
The voice of God is never harsh, nor critical, nor condemning, nor castigating. Just as God is perfect so is the voice of God, never missing the mark, always a word that is encouraging, notwithstanding how challenging it might be. And the word that God gives us can be the most challenging thing we have ever been called to do. Yet we flourish in an abundance of encouragement because we have found our way — and very often we have found our way back! From the wrong path…
THE VOICE OF GOD THROUGH OTHERS
This is how, when someone prophesies into our lives, we can know that it is from God or not. If we’re typically fruit bearers — according to the word of others who know us — and the word wasn’t given to encourage us, even as it calls us to a challenge, and our spirit can tell, it wasn’t from God. If it was given in a terse spirit, with criticism that condemns whatever we’ve done, and has no heart for us as bearers of God’s image, it is a disdainful word and utterly foreign — from the enemy. And yet, as followers of God, we can still nullify nasty words from the enemy simply by kindly and respectfully kicking the dust off our feet.
The pastor or prophet who delivers a word from God to us is shown as true or false prophets by the message they deliver and the way they deliver it. True prophecy always conveys a life-giving message in an encouraging way. An exception to this is, however, when a loving rebuke is given to a narcissist; it will be taken by them as a huge swipe. We must be careful to discern true prophecy from false, giving ascent to the true and ignoring (even rebuking) the false. Your power to discern well will be blessed by God in that abusive words and people will not cling. They will not stick.
There is a connection between a word from God through someone else with their delivery of that word recognizing us as fellow heirs of the promises of God. Nobody delivers God’s message without recognizing who we are, who made us, and how precious we are — as are they. In short, the word of God through another person is delivered in love and the message is underpinned by love.
We can know later that the message is from God when it unfurls a multiplicity of blessing — in that it still costs us something in terms of the sweetest of volitional surrenders — but that there are many spin-offs where we take the word and deploy it in our lives as a deposit from the Lord God. Not only are we blessed, but others are blessed as well, and indeed, according to the perfect will and purposes of God, what comes of the word is only blessing.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on epitemnein-epitomic.blogspot.com.
Featured image by Sam Rios