Jesus said of those who follow Him: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
What a great statement of hope and comfort this is to us! We can know the voice of the Lord. As we follow His voice and do what He says, we’ll never perish, and neither will we ever be snatched out of His hand.
“But,” you may say, “how can I be sure that the voice I’m hearing is truly the voice of God?” There are five identifying hallmarks of God’s messages to us. They’re a means of determining whether the voice we’re hearing is truly the voice of God. If you have a question about whether a message is from God, line it up against these criteria:
1. The message must be consistent with the Word of God, the Bible. God will never tell us to engage in any activity that’s inconsistent with holy Scripture.
2. The message will usually be in conflict with the mainstream of conventional wisdom. We must recognize that most of the world is moving in a direction away from what God’s Word says to be true. In most cases, God’s message stands in sharp contrast to what the world around us has to say on an issue. But when God speaks to you, He calls you to His way of thinking and seeing. In the New Testament, this mindset is called the “mind of Christ.” Ask yourself, Would Jesus do this? If not, don’t do it.
3. The message will clash with fleshly gratification and basic human lusts. We must recognize immediately that any counsel is not of God if it urges us to gratify the flesh, without any thought for the consequences. God gives us messages that please the Spirit of God within us, not our lusts and sinful desires.
4. The message will challenge one’s faith to rise to a new level. A “measure of faith” has been given to every person, and our faith is to grow. We grow in faith when we hear from God, obey what He says to do, and then acknowledge God’s faithfulness to His Word in our lives.
5. The message will call for personal courage to do what God has said or to change what He has said to change. If you’re being asked to move against the tide of conventional human wisdom and act in contradiction to your fleshly nature, you’re going to feel as though you’re taking a risk in obeying God’s message to you. Any time you take a risk for God’s purposes, you’re going to need courage. And the Lord tells us that, if we’ll have courage, He’ll strengthen our hearts (Ps. 31:24). His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness (1 Cor. 16:13-14).
Take time to make certain that you’ve truly heard from God on a matter and that you’ve heard clearly and precisely. Above all, make sure He’s finished with all He has to say to you on a point before rushing off to obey Him. Make sure you have all the directions, assurances, insights, and details He desires to give you.
And that’s the memo.
By Dr. Charles Stanley from Listening to God