In a recent worship practice, our worship pastor was sharing what she felt was on God’s heart for the season. As we continued to listen in, one of the members of the team asked a very important question: “How do you know that God is speaking to you?”

God speaks to His children. It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. As is the joy of any good father, He longs to share His heart with those who will take the time to listen in {John 10:27}. The bible shows us different ways through which God caught the attention of His people: through his word {Acts 8:26-38} signs and wonders {Exodus 3:1-4}, dreams and visions {Acts 9:10-12}, a still small voice {1st Kings 19:11-12}, through His people {Acts 21:10-14}.

The style of communication may vary, but certain principles remain.

1) God will never contradict His word

The first and foremost place we should go to when we think we have heard from God, is back to the scriptures.

Many of God’s commands are explicit, some, not so much. For example, when the bible exhorts us: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” {Matthew 5:44} this is an explicit command and God’s will for His children. Conversely, others are more implicit, requiring the believer to search the scriptures for the heart of God in a matter.

Once I read a post on social media that claimed that the use of Reggae music in worship is abhorrent to God. In fact, the writer of the post stated that God had spoken to them and that His wrath was imminent for all those who used this kind of music in their worship.

On a light note, I thought to myself, “Poor Jamaicans, have no chance at getting into heaven” and then quickly remembered that every tribe and nation, people and language will stand before the lamb and worship Him {Revelation 9:9-10}. God created every tribe and culture, and even in our brokenness, He invites us to worship Him with the unique expressions that He has given to us.

2) At the heart of God is redemption

Nahum chapter three opens with these words “Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims! This vivid description was true of the city of Nineveh. Historically, it is said that the rulers of Assyria were so evil, given to many forms of wickedness: covering the walls of the cities with the skins of dissidents, decapitating rebels and building pillars from their heads, gouging out eyes, amputating limbs, burning thousands of people at a go and indulging in witchcraft {https://enduringword.com/commentary/nahum-3/}

In Jonah’s account, God sends him to give a warning message to the people there {Jonah 1:1-2}. Jonah initially resisted, finally obeyed, but became bitter at the Lord’s compassion for the people of Nineveh. God had this to say about Jonah’s reaction:

“…But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” {Jonah 4: 1-11}

Despite this city’s wickedness, God gave them 40 days to turn from their evil ways {Jonah 3: 4} or their city would be overturned. Notice that I highlight one seemingly unimportant detail {and many cattle as well}. Everything in the bible is relevant no matter how small. God was concerned about the welfare of this city, its people and animals too. When God sends a warning for repentance, He gives us a chance to repent. In Him, there is always a way out if we respond in humility and obedience.

3) God will confirm His word in the body of believers

A good place to test if what you are hearing is from God is in the company of mature believers. Paul when speaking to the church in Corinth says this, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said” {1st Corinthians 14:29} In weighing carefully, these are a few questions we can ask: Is what I am hearing consistent with the scriptures?, Is my interpretation given to bias?, Is it aligning with the revealed nature and character of God in the scriptures?, Is there a sense of peace and agreement in the hearers? Is it building up or tearing the body of Christ apart?

Humility causes us to submit to correction and new perspectives that we may have missed. It is important to note that no one Christian holds a monopoly of truth. This means that from the greatest to the least, there ought to be an attitude of learning in the church. If I assume that I have a direct line to God and that every word that comes from my mouth is pure and unadulterated then I have missed the mark completely!

 

So, the next time you hear a word from the Lord no matter the source, ask yourself these three questions: does it align to God’s word, is there a sense of redemption, and can other mature believers vouch for it?