Monday, July 21, 2014

God, Is That You?

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                How do we know it’s the Lord talking to us and not our ownselves? This is a question that has been asked of me recently by some people. Many of us I think at times have asked the question, “Is this God or is this me?” it is a good question to ask ourselves when we are unsure. But how do we know? How do we truly know the Lord is speaking to us directly and we aren’t just making it up as we go along?
                As I thought about this question a scripture passage came to mind. In John 10 Jesus talks about the shepherd and the sheep. The sheep know his voice because they know their shepherd. Not only am I a writer, but I also am a small business owner. I own and run a pet care company. We mostly take care of dogs and cats. One thing that amazes me with dogs and cats is how they come to know your voice. We are not their owners, but over time, as we get to know them and they get to know us, they begin to respond to our commands and they begin to know our voice. Because we spend so much time with them, they learn to trust us and love us as they do their owners. This same principle applies to our relationship with God. Over time, through our relationship with Him, we come to know His voice.
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep will follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger; but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-6 NKJV
                Jesus tells us that He is the Shepherd and we are His sheep. He comes into us and leads us by His voice. When the Lord speaks to us we should know it is Him, because we have gotten to know Him. If we know our Shepherd, then we will know His voice. Just like the dogs and cats we take care of know our voice when we walk into their homes, we too should know the voice of our Lord when He speaks to our lives.
                So how do we come to know His voice? It starts with time; the amount of time you give to get to know Him will determine how well you will know His voice when He speaks to you. Those who are young in the faith, who may have only been walking a few weeks or even a few years may have trouble distinguishing His voice because they are just getting to know Him. But for those of us who have been walking with Him for some time, and have given ourselves to His Word will know His voice as soon as we hear it. How much time you spend with God each day will determine how well you can discern His voice over your own.
   I have learned that to know the voice of God over my own also comes down to how well I know His word. God will never speak to us apart from His word. Those who speak to you and tell you they are speaking for the Lord, if their words do not line up with scripture, then they are false and not of God. We must know the word of God if we are to know the voice of God. God will never speak outside of His written word. He never has, and He never will.
                Jesus also tells us that as we come to know Him as our Shepherd, He will call us by name and lead us out. Knowing the voice of God over our own requires us to listen. How many times have you spoken to someone and just been completely ignored? I think of my children when they were teenagers when I think of being ignored. How many times did I ask them to do something and they just ignored me? Usually what happened was that I just stopped asking, or I just stopped talking to them about it. They were either going to listen or not. No matter what I said or did they were choosing to ignore me. This same principle can apply to our walks with God. How many times has He told us to do something, tried to get our attention and we have chosen to ignore Him? We know in the deepest recesses of our beings that the Lord is telling us to do something, but we choose to ignore His voice.
                Eventually, like I did with my teenage children, God will just stop talking. Our God is a gentleman and will not stay where He is not wanted. If we truly want to know the voice of God, if we truly want to understand and walk under His commands, then we will know the word of God for ourselves, and we will listen to Him when He speaks. Just like the pups who hear us call their names as we walk into their homes, run to greet us, and are happy to listen to whatever we ask of them. So we too must be the same with the Lord as we listen and respond to Him walking through the door of our hearts.
                Jesus tells us that if we know His voice then we will not be fooled by the ones who claim they are Him but are not. There are many false teachers and preachers in our world today. As I watch them on TV, read their blogs, read their books, and watch their YouTube videos, I am heartbroken that so many are being led astray by their teachings. Listen, please- if you do not get anything out of my blog today, I pray you get this- if they do not open their Bibles, if they do not teach scripture then run! Run as fast as you can from them! A preacher, no matter how popular his books are, if he does not quote God’s Word- as it is written- then he is not of God.
                If we truly want to know God’s voice, if we truly want to know that it is God speaking to us and not ourselves, then we must know the word of God. We must know His word so much that when someone preaches or teaches and is not of God, we will know immediately. Jesus tells us that if we know Him as our Shepherd, then we will not listen to the voices of strangers. We will flee from them. If it doesn’t line up with God’s word then it is not God.
                Everything we need is found in His Word. Every question, every answer to every problem, every
need for direction, wisdom, healing, hope, faith, and love is found in His Word. If you want to know God’s voice, then know His word. The more time you spend in His word the easier it will be to know His voice and to listen when He calls. Don’t ignore the Lord. Listen to His Word and He will speak to you by name. He will always, always back up His voice by His word. If it isn’t in His word then it isn’t of Him.
                The final step in knowing God’s voice is faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. The Lord may sometimes call you out and you have no idea where you are going. All you know is that His voice has called your name and He is leading you out of the sheepfold into the valleys and mountains ahead. The bible tells us that” faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. (Romans 10:17)  If we know God’s word then we will know His voice, we will listen to His voice and we will have the faith to walk when He says walk.  
                So, how then do we know God’s voice over our own? We begin by getting to know His word, listening to His voice when He speaks to us through His word and having the faith to walk it when He says go. We are the sheep of His pasture. Those who know their Shepherd will also know His voice. If you find yourself questioning whether or not what you are hearing is of God or is of yourself, than I want to encourage you to go before the Lord and His word and humbly ask Him to call you by your name. If it is His voice, you will hear Him and you will know Him, and He will give you faith to walk it.

                May the Holy Spirit give us ears to hear what He has to say to us today. I pray that we would become sheep with listening ears and feet of faith. I pray that we would begin to know the Word of God for ourselves, so that when strangers come we will not listen to them, because they do not have the voice of our Shepherd. In Jesus Name, to Him be glory, and honor and praise, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.