One of the ways in which you can kill an inquisitive conversation is by saying, “God told me.” It’s a tactic that hardly fails. A friend of mine got into a questionable relationship that led them down a terrible path. One of my pals and I decided to confront them about it. We were their friends and we weren’t too pleased that she was perpetually getting hurt by staying in the relationship. She was willing to listen and agreed with every observation we had made. However, when we asked her on what she planned to do since clearly the relationship was hazardous she said, “I can’t break up with him. God told me he is the one.”
It was an in-case-of-guilt-emergency-break-glass situation. God told me. You can replace guilt with any other relevant feeling such as fear, doubt, anxiety or worry. At times you wish God had a Facebook page where he could literally respond to all our queries. If she told me that God told her, I could easily write on his wall and confirm if it was true. Or imagine God with an email address. Now wouldn’t that be neat! We would get literal emails on what he was really saying. You see many people use the phrase “God told me” as a failsafe for their guilt, fear, worry, doubt and anxiety.
It begs an inevitable question. How do we know when God speaks?
Emotions can be terrible things. They can make you feel things, do things and watch things helplessly fall apart when they’re gone. Emotions make guys tell girls they like them and then create an awkward atmosphere anytime they’re around. Emotions make girls say he loves them when he stole a line from that Spanish soap. You can’t depend on your emotions to make decisions and place God as the one responsible. It’s lying to yourself. To rely on your emotions is to sail with every tide that blows at sea. It not only is dangerous but foolhardy as well. God does speak, beloved. Be assured that he is not sending Morse code signals to a few people he likes. He speaks to everyone.
- God speaks through his word.
The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, unchanging, sure, certain word of God. Psalm 19:7 & 11 say, “The law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul…by them is your servant warned and in keeping them there is great reward.” Numbers 23:19 says “God is not a man that he should lie nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?” Believers who spent time in the word of God will have an easy time hearing him speak. Voddie Baucham once said, “God told me” is no substitute for “The Bible says.” God’s word is the compass for all his speaking. If it contradicts his word, it is not God. Let me share a story.
I was in love with a girl before I joined campus. I felt we had a connection. We had similar interests. We had similar tastes. However, she wasn’t a believer. My feelings told me that it was okay cause after all, I would date her to convert her. The word of God said something different. In one of my Bible readings, I had read 2 Corinthians 6:14 that expressly talked against such a relationship. In the heat of my burning love, that scripture made it through the love fires and knocked on the door of my soul. “Hello, God speaking!” I read 2nd Corinthians 6:14a “Do not be yoked with unbelievers.” It was so overt! I didn’t even complete the verse and I already knew God’s stand on my love fling. I studied the chapter and understood why God didn’t want me to date a non-believer. I fought this for a long time and ended up hurting the girl by leading her on. I generated enough excuses such as, “My relationship would be special,” or “I feel a connection,” or “We wore the same colour today.” But I knew what God was saying. He was saying that a bird and a fish may fall in love but they cannot build a home together. I felt terrible that I had hurt her. However, God let me see that I would have done even more harm if I pursued her. You see, I avoided that relationship and made many other friends of the opposite sex that year. Jesus knew that I would marry one of them four years later. She is my very lovely wife today called Waturi.
Could getting into that relationship have me where I am today? Could my feelings have led me to break not only one girl’s heart but two? I will tell you for sure that it would have changed everything. I had a lot of inexperience concerning women. I didn’t know how to treat one. I didn’t see my sexuality as a big deal then and God in his love rescued me from my ignorance with 2 Corinthians 6:14. She was a nice girl and she still is but God’s word is more than nice; it is important.
God will not speak to you through his word if you do not have his word. I’m not talking about owning a Bible. I’m talking about owning a heart. Is your heart stored with scripture? If not, your emotions will take you for a ride and you will think you heard from God. Psalm 119:9-11 says, How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. Do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.”
If you want to hear from God, stuff your heart with his teaching. Memorize scripture.
- God speaks through other people.
Have you ever been at a low and had someone speak life into you? Or you turned on the television set or tuned into a Podcast and just heard the right words for your situation? God speaks through people. Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The writer tells us that for us to act in the right way, we should meet together. We should meet frequently as long as the Day approaches. What Day is this? This is the return of our Lord, beloved. So as long as Christ hasn’t returned, we are commanded to meet as believers. What happens when we meet? We hear from each other. When we hear from each other, we hear God. How? You when people gather for God’s sake, he comes amongst them. Matthew 18:20, For where two or three are gathered in my name there I am with them. Being rooted and committed in a fellowship assures us of God’s presence. God’s presence dwells among those that meet for his sake. Fellowships are places to hear God’s voice. When we are not plugged in a fellowship, we will hear random voices from random people and falsely conclude that it is God. The enemy can easily lure away a stray sheep. A friend of a friend told my pal that God asked him to get married to a girl he had met in a month. He had no source of income. He had no place to stay and he had only known the girl for three weeks. Matters of the heart are delicate. You shouldn’t laugh or dismiss such a person. The solution is to invite them to a fellowship. At the fellowship, God’s presence dwells. In God’s presence his people dwell with his word and be sure that he will speak. The man plugged into a Bible Study and confessed to my pal in less than a month that he heard his feelings and not his Creator.
That is not to say that God can’t use random people to speak to you. He can. However, what they say must be in tandem with the word of God. People can tell you their inventions and you can easily believe them. If you don’t want to be carried away by every wind of doctrine and don’t want to be easily led captive by deceptive philosophies, make your knowledge of the word firm. Even as you meet in the fellowship, you will be like the Bereans in ACTS 17:11. They believed the message preached but they spent time in scripture so that they would confirm it was God speaking and not a man with smooth language.
If you want to hear from God, plug into a fellowship of sound doctrine.
- God speaks in a still small voice
I have made mistakes in my life because of ignoring the inner voice in me. After several instances, I came to accept that it was God speaking. He had cautioned me to take a different path but in my eyes, the plan was perfect and impossible to fail. It failed and I always remembered the voice that cautioned me otherwise. The same thing happened in scripture. When Elijah felt that he had messed up and he was going to die because of wicked Queen Jezebel, he ran away. He went to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. This was the same place that God spoke to Moses at the start of the Exodus drama. 1 Kings 19 says the Lord was to pass by the mountain. There was a great wind, an earthquake and a fire that occurred but God was not in any of them. Then there was a still small voice, a gentle whisper. And God was in that. Do not doubt the still small voice. Do not fear. One way to be assured of the still small voice is the peace that it brings when you trust it. Isaiah 26:3 says You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you! Fix your thoughts on that still small voice. If it generates peace inexplicable and it does not contradict the Word, it is of God.
Our hearts are deceptive though. We can fix our thoughts on the wrong things based on our feelings and still trust them wrongly by experiencing a false peace. It isn’t enough to just listen to the still small voice. We need to be found in the place of God.
Elijah was miles away from what caused him to have uneasiness. He was days away from Beersheba and Jezebel. He was in Horeb, the mountain of God, out in the quiet of the wilderness. Find your Horeb, beloved. For Elijah, he had to endure a hard walk in the desert from Beersheba to get to where God’s angel directed him to go and there he heard God’s voice. Are you conflicted about the relationship you are in? Get away from the relationship/matter that is causing you to fear, worry, doubt and go to Horeb. My Horeb is my early morning hours. I like to wake up at 5am before life begins and spend time praying and reading the Bible. Get to your Horeb by getting away from the phone, the Facebook, the Twitter, the emails, the surfing, the friends, the TV, the radio, the movies, the books, the school work, the family, the hobbies, the job and all the life that grabs your attention. In my 5am Horeb mountain, I become vulnerable to my creator. I express my fears to God. All my doubts, my anxieties, my worries, I cast unto Him. Elijah did the same. He cried out how in the wilderness he felt alone and how he felt like dying. He felt he had toiled for nothing. He expressed how afraid he was of Jezebel. Turn up to Horeb with an open heart. In my 5am Horeb, I wait on God and read his word. 1 Kings 19:9 says that Elijah arrived at Horeb, spent the night waiting and the word of the Lord came to him. In your Horeb, wait on the word. Elijah didn’t have a Bible then so the word of God came directly. You and I have more than what Elijah had in that desert. Be very attentive in your Horeb. You may witness wind, earthquake and fire feelings in your soul that remind you of your fear and even make you afraid but wait for the still small voice. When the still small voice was done, Elijah was filled with confidence. It told him that he had to go back the way he came, face his fear and stop running away from God’s work. His fear was gone! If you are seeking God’s voice in a matter that’s bugging you, set yourself apart to a Horeb and listen to the still small voice. Your answer will surely come! Obey it.
If you want to hear from God, cultivate a personal time spent with God that is away from your world. The more frequent the better. When he speaks, obey.
- God can speak in “weird” ways
At times we have a set way in which we expect God to speak. I always say that if God has a man’s voice then it would be Liam Neeson’s. There is a way we have packaged God to look and sound like. We imagine him as a white bearded man with a thunderous voice or a blue eyed blonde that can’t stop smiling. What happens when you expect God to talk through a prophet and he uses a donkey instead? That happened with Balaam. Shrek isn’t to far from the reality. What happens when you expect God to use a line of moral people to descend the Messiah then he uses a prostitute like Rahab, a murderer like David, a polygamous man like Solomon to reveal a carpenter like Jesus? We mustn’t be too rigid in our view of God. The Holy Spirit makes us flexible. He makes us move with the tune of God’s melody. The Holy Spirit works in us in a way that we know, that we know, that we know that it is the Spirit of God. It is how Paul was assured that all was well even when he was in prison. The spirit of God confirms the testimony. The Holy Spirit, the Counsellor teaches us and reminds us of God’s words (John14:26). And because he is in every believer who has accepted Jesus as Lord and acknowledged him as God’s son and allowed him to have his will be done, the Holy Spirit works in us to remind us of God’s principles and his power. You see, you can be flexible on strategy but you must always be firm on principle. Just because God worked “weirdly” does not mean he changes his laws and principles. He is the same God. The same God who says homosexual expression is against his design is the same God who says that heterosexual expression outside marriage is also against his design. None is a better offence that the other. God may use strange ways to talk to us. He may use the newspaper headlines. He may use a billboard. However if you’re led by his Holy Spirit, you will know for sure what is and what is not. The Spirit will remind us of the Word of God and the word of God will confirm what we are hearing.
If you want to hear from God, ask him to give you an infilling of his holy spirit. Ask him to baptise you with his spirit. Desire spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. Daily ask the Holy Spirit to guide your every step.
- God speaks in dreams and visions
God uses dreams and visions to communicate. My mum once dreamt that a neighbour’s house would burn. In a few days it did burn down. I have had God speak to me so clearly through dreams too. When you receive dreams, pray. Ask God to direct you and guide you on how you should act. When you see visions, before you see a doctor, talk to your Creator. In several instances in the Bible God appeared to his people in dreams and visions. I have received dreams of things that hadn’t happened. In a matter of months, weeks or days, I witnessed it happen. God may require you to pray or to act on it. Do not treat dreams and visions lightly.
So the next time you say God told me, you can be assured. Be blessed, beloved!