Christianity 201

June 3, 2015

Recognizing God’s Voice (3)

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
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Today we conclude a 3-part series from Rick Warren’s devotional blog: (click the section headers to read at source). To catch up on the whole series at his site, use this link.

The Fifth Test

“We will all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards, or even our own, but by the judgment of God … it is to God alone that we shall have to answer for our actions.” Romans 14:10, 13 (PH)

If something is not your responsibility, why should God talk to you about it? Wouldn’t he just talk directly to the person it concerns? This is the fifth test to consider when you wonder if an idea or impression you have comes from God – “Does it concern your responsibility?”

In John 21, Jesus told Peter that he would die a martyr’s death. Peter’s response was to glance at John, who was standing nearby, and ask Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21 NIV). Peter wasn’t satisfied with God telling him what was going to happen in his life. He wanted to know about John’s future as well.

Jesus responded by saying, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22 NIV).

“What is that to you?” My wife, Kay, calls that the WITTY principle. We get ourselves in so much trouble when we start comparing ourselves to others. But when we do this, God says, “What is that to you?” He wants our focus to be following him, not worrying about other people.

Have you ever heard someone say, “God told me to tell you”? My response to that is, “Are you sure about that?” All believers have a direct line to God. And God doesn’t have to tell someone else to tell you. He can talk to you directly.

Now, does God ever speak to others through another person? Of course he does. But there are three guidelines you need to follow if feel God is using you to speak to someone else.

  1. Be patient and pray. Give God a chance to speak to that person directly.
  2. God will typically use you to confirm in someone else’s life what he’s already told them. So when you share your words with someone it won’t be a big surprise if it’s really from God.
  3. God will usually use you without you being conscious of it. If God is going to speak through you to others, he will often do it in a way that you don’t even realize it was God speaking through you. But the person on the receiving end will recognize its truth.

The Sixth Test

“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NLT)

When you get an idea and you are wondering if it is from God, the sixth question to ask yourself is, “Is it convicting or is it condemning?” If it convicts, then it is from God, but if it condemns then it is from Satan.

A lot of Christians live under condemnation, or constant guilt, and they think it is from God. It isn’t. Condemnation comes from Satan. But conviction comes from God.

Here’s the difference between the two: The purpose of conviction is to correct you on a specific issue in order to bring a change in your life, and it is motivated by God’s love. Because God loves you, when he sees an area in your life that needs change – a relationship, a habit, an attitude – he will nudge you and say, “You need to work on this thing that’s out of whack in your life.”

The purpose of condemnation is to criticize and make you feel guilty, usually in a vague way. If you’ve ever felt guilty but you couldn’t point to anything specific, or if you’ve ever had a feeling of worthlessness, that is condemnation from Satan.

But Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). God will never attack you; he will never say you’re worthless or unlovable. In fact, in Revelation 3:19 God says, “Those whom I dearly and tenderly love, I tell their faults and convict and discipline. So be earnest and repent (changing your mind and attitude)” (AMP).

As soon as you start to confess and change, you will no longer feel any conviction. It’s short-term.

But condemnation is Satan’s way of making you feel worse and worse. It doesn’t go away even after confession. It’s like the American court system. First there is the conviction of a crime in the court; then comes the condemnation, or sentencing which can last for years.

But God doesn’t work that way. In God’s justice system the Holy Spirit convicts us of what’s wrong in our life and we admit it. Jesus pays the condemnation. He serves the punishment for our sin through his death on the cross. And we are free to live the way God created us to live, to live the way Jesus enables us to live. That’s the grace of God.

The Seventh Test

“[God’s] peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

The final test in recognizing God’s voice is to ask yourself, “Do I sense God’s peace about it?” If you think you’ve heard from God, it measures up to God’s Word, you’ve gotten advice from other people and passed the other tests, but you still feel confused or anxious, then it doesn’t pass the seventh test.

Why? “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV). So you wait and remain patient until you sense God’s peace.

God is a perfect father. Parents don’t want their kids to feel worried or pressured when they ask them to do something. No, they want their children to feel encouraged. That’s the same way God wants to relate to you. He doesn’t want you to feel anxiety in anything he asks you to do.

The only time a sense of pressure is legitimate is when you keep saying no to God. That is a relational pressure that comes from holding God at arm’s length.

Satan wants to drive us compulsively in the things we do, but God doesn’t work that way. God wants to draw us compassionately. He’s the shepherd who wants to lead the sheep. He doesn’t drive us; he guides us. And, as sheep, we need to listen for his voice.

Philippians 4:6-7 describes the attitude you should have when you listen to God’s voice. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

It’s not just a matter of hearing God’s voice; it’s also a matter or responding. Hearing is not enough. You have to act as well.

The Bible says that God speaks to people who do three things. “Listen to this wise advice; follow it closely, for it will do you good, and you can pass it on to others” (Proverbs 22:17 LB).

God speaks to those who listen to what he says, follow it closely, and then pass it on to others.


We appreciate being able to use these thoughts over the past three days. You can learn more and support Saddleback, Rick’s church, with these resources:

  • Foundations is a comprehensive tool for teaching the essential truths of Christian faith in a simple, systematic, and life-changing way. The 24 sessions, taught by Kay Warren and Tom Holladay, will take you on a thought provoking, life-changing exploration of 11 core doctrines: The Bible, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, Creation, Salvation, Sanctification, Good and Evil, The Afterlife, The Church, and The Second Coming.

 

 

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