Archive for the ‘Guidance’ Category

Hearing God’s Voice in Determining His Will

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Abstract: Many individuals claim to hear God’s voice. Some appear to legitimately do so, but not all! It seems Satan sometimes uses the claim to having “heard God’s voice” for mischief. In this article I summarize what I have learned about the place of “God’s voice” in determining His will. These thoughts first appeared in my weekly newsletter.

Perhaps the most common question that is directed my way is how to know God’s will. Lately there has been an added twist to the question: “What am I to do with the “voice” that sometimes speaks to me?” Voices are a challenge when it comes to prayer—sometimes confusion comes from too many voices speaking; sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any voice.

There are people who say “God told me…” and it seems to be legitimate. I am a bit envious of them to be honest. These people love the Lord and are thoroughly committed to whatever He wants. Others speak of God giving them dreams—I hear this particularly in primitive cultures or in the early stages of their Christian walk. I think that is wonderful too. Some talk of God “speaking” to them, but I am frightened because what God seems to be saying is at variance with what God has spoken through His word or other teaching. For example, one time in the past I was informed that I was going to die during a particular week, something that made me initially sad, but obviously did not happen.

The point is, any time you rely on God’s voice alone for direction, you are potentially placing yourself in a dangerous position since Satan will seek to take advantage of such a mode of seeking direction. For example George Muller only used “lots” twice before giving up of them, for both times the lots misdirected him—he comments later that Satan can apparently turn the coin as it is falling to the ground. God uses multiple voices when He leads us and we must seek to hear from all of them, and to hear them speak unitedly to correctly know what God is saying.

Generally speaking, God rarely communicates directly. In my life I can probably count on one hand the number of times God seemed to be speaking to me, and it appears that my experience is similar to many others. That doesn’t mean that God hasn’t given strong impressions, but God speaking directly as in saying specific words in unmistakable ways has been more the exception, and certainly not something that could be planned on ahead of time—in fact came when I was desperate for wisdom on at least one occasion. When God spoke, it was short, to the point, profound and life changing. God had already been directing through his word, was providentially opening and closing doors, and the direct communication was in complete harmony with—and confirmed—that prior communication.

I am certain that God prefers to speak to us through His word and He will rarely communicate directly if it is already in the Bible—though the devil would have us believe God speaks apart from His word. When God speaks He speaks in harmony with His Word. In reading countless books written on prayer by great Christians down through the ages, I find the same thing. Many speak of having received strong lingering impressions and eventually sensed direction in the basis of those impressions, but they also confirmed those impressions in other ways—remember Gideon!

I always come back to what George Muller said regarding knowing God’s will: 1. 90% of the challenge of knowing God’s will is choosing to have no will of our own—or, to put it another way, choosing to have WHATEVER God wants. (Luke 9:23) 2. Recognize that God’s leading will always be in harmony with His word (Isaiah 8:20). 3. Realize that God’s leading will often be accompanied by the opening and closing doors of His providence. 4. Hold out for God’s peace, for God’s leading will be accompanied by His peace (Col. 3:15). If you sense that something isn’t quite right, or just don’t feel at peace about it, it either means “no” or “wait.”

Muller said that any time he rushed beyond God’s leading he invariably made mistakes.

Muller did one other thing that was brilliant when it came to knowing God’s will. When he felt satisfied that God was leading in a particular direction, he would go to his friend Craik, share what God had put on his heart, and ask Craik to expose any unworthy motives and/or scriptural objections to his intentions. In this way Muller was further protected from making poor decisions. I think this would be a good plan to adopt, but make sure you are going to a friend with a mature Christian experience.

This is taken from my newsletter that is sent out almost weekly. Write me at path2prayer@gmail.com to subscribe.

There are many more resources on knowing God’s will at the Practical Christianity page at path2prayer.com.

On Knowing God’s Will

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God….” John 7:17

I frequently receive letters regarding how one can discover God’s will.

It is an important question, for the decisions made relative to careers and marriage partner greatly impact our ability to serve God. Frankly, the wrong decision, especially regarding a marriage partner, will bring disastrous results! I mention this because a recent letter mentioned that concerns recently referred to were “trivial” compared to what others face since it had to do with the future and direction on a marriage partner.

I praise God that this person is praying about these things, and wish all would do so seriously! These are serious things to want to know about, and it is well worth taking the time to pray about, on our own, and even with others.

Considering the relative importance of knowing God’s will, it is surprising that there seems to be limited teaching on the subject, and the outcome is that many a young person struggles with knowing what they should be doing in life or how to make godly decisions.

I have accordingly assembled various articles and resources to help.

Here are several paragraphs of Andrew Murray to encourage your interest in the subject:

(The) unreserved surrender to obey is the first condition of entering Christ’s school, and is the only fitness for receiving instruction as to the will of God for us.

There is a general will of God for all His children, which we can, in some measure, learn out of the Bible. But there is a special individual application of these commands-God’s will concerning each of us personally, which only the Holy Spirit can teach. And He will not teach it, except to those who have taken the vow of obedience.

This is the reason why there are so many unanswered prayers for God to make known His will. Jesus said, ‘If any man wills to do His Will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God.’ If a man’s will is really set on doing God’s will, that is, if his heart is given up to do, and he as a consequence does it as far as he knows it, he shall know what God has further to teach him.

Murray puts his finger on the fundamental issue in our quest to know God’s will: Our willingness to obey! Of course he found this from Jesus in John 7. Many other greatly used Christians have discovered the same principle!

I wonder, are you so committed to obeying God’s directions that He can give you the information you are seeking? Am I? This requires dying to self–being willing to accept whatever God says.

For some trivial things we are more than happy to let God have the last word, but it is a bit more difficult when it comes to work, the location where we live and serve God, and of course the one we marry–we especially want to have the last word on the latter!

Could we trust God to the same extent Isaac trusted his father’s servant in finding Rebekah? Can God be trusted?

It is definitely worth studying more.

Here are some of the things I have made available on path2prayer.com in the Practical Christianity section, including “Selected Thoughts on Guidance,” which has Bible references and quotes from many authors, James McConkey’s The God Planned Life, Rosalind Goforth’s “Testimony,” Hannah Whitall Smith on “Difficulties in Guidance,” F B Meyer’s Secrets of Guidance, and more items that I have gleaned on the subject.

I also highly recommend “Quest For Love” by Elizabeth Elliot, her book on how great Christians found their mates.

Recommend other helpful books on the comment section!

The God-Planned Life

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path. Prov. 3:5,6

A well known quotation on prayer goes as follows:

He gives “to every man his work.” Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God. E. White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 326

What this means, of course has been hotly debated. Does it mean that God has a CERTAIN plan and we don’t really have any choice in the matter? Does it mean that we are to park our brains and our good sense at the door and function as robots as God leads us forward? What is the place of human choice in all of this?

In the God-Planned Life, James McConkey gives us much to think about, particularly in the thought that we have been created in a particular way, to achieve a particular end result, which no other person can accomplish in quite in the same way.

He also shares some interesting thoughts on what following God’s plan actually means. For some, to hear a call from God is to immediately abandon what has been going on before and taking up work in some new location, often not using the skills developed over years and doing it in a location, and under circumstances very foreign to the way God seemed to be leading formerly.

Here is what McConkey said on this point:

Talk God’s plan and consecration to it to Christian men and straightway many of them think you mean them to give up their business and head at once for the pulpit or the foreign missionary field. To come into God’s plan is to go into some other place, as they view it. But there never was a greater mistake. Consecration is not necessarily dis-location. Not by any means. God’s plan for a man’s life does not of necessity lift him out from his present realm of life and surroundings. It is not a new sphere God is seeking. It is a new man in the present sphere! It is not transference; it is transformation. The trouble is not usually with the place; it is with the man in the place. And when a man consecrates his life to God to find and enter into God’s perfect plan for that life, God will usually keep him right where he is, but living for God and His kingdom instead of living for self. So until God shows you differently, stay where you are and live for God.

It is interesting that another favorite author, F B Myer, felt the same way and often decried the alacrity with which people abandoned their posts to go and serve God elsewhere. He was quite convicted that usually our primary calling is where we have been planted.

Now I’m not in any way suggesting that we shouldn’t be serving God in some other location, but we need to be CERTAIN of God’s call, and make sure we FOLLOW GOD in pursuing that call. It seems to me that too many are somewhat convicted and go off to do God’s work in their OWN way. Unfortunately the results sometimes fall far short, God is blamed, and He is left on the hook for something that He may not have been intending at all.

Let me know what you think of McConkey’s thoughts on this very important subject after you read The God-Planned Life.

You can find more on guidance at path2prayer.com as well.