Can you hear Him now? Part 4 – How can we know it is the Lord???

Hi. We’re so glad to have you along on this 6-week posting journey about hearing from the Lord!  On week one, we talked about the uniqueness and joy of an relationship with Jesus where He speaks, and His children listen. Week two held information on how God speaks to those who belong to Him. Week three’s topic was about what keeps us from hearing God’s voice. I’ve thought a lot about that bird this week!

Today, I want to pick back up on week two’s subject and share some thoughts on how we can know it is the Lord’s voice, and not our own or that of our enemy who is trying to sidetrack us. {This is a big subject, and one of which I claim to be no expert. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to lead me this very moment as I research and type!}

In Scripture, we consistently see two ways to  grow in discerning the voice of the Lord  – as opposed to listening to our own personal thoughts/wishes or those sly suggestions of our enemy.  It  is through familiarity with the Lord’s Word and obedience to what He has revealed through His Word that His voice can be discerned.

We must Know God’s Word.

We can not know His voice if we do not know His Word. God’s Word is God’s voice. We must spend time each day soaking in the Word of God. When Jesus was praying for us in John 17, one of the things He asked of our Father is that God would purify and separate us for Himself and make us Holy by the Truth (which is Jesus, Himself. John 14:6). Then Jesus proclaims, “Your Word is Truth.” (John 17:17)

God’s Word is everything! It is the foundation upon which we build every single detail of our lives. If we don’t invest time in knowing His Word, we surely won’t be able to distinguish the sounds of His voice over our own loud and often selfish thoughts.

(Need a way to dig into God’s Word? This post sets out a simple plan for opening God’s Word and listening for Him to speak.)

We must Know God’s Word.

We must also Obey God’s Word.

When we read God’s Word and choose to obey it, a beautiful intimacy is formed between God and His seeking child. A budding friendship forms and grows. In John 15:14-15 Jesus said, “You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. …I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father…”

Jesus tells us in John 15:10, “If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on His love.”

As we keep His commandments {obeying what we have learned in the Scriptures}, we will have the pleasure of living in and on His love. As we live in and on the love of Jesus, we will grow to know Him and the Father more intimately. As we become more intimate, we are drawn to the Word. As we obey what we learned in the Word, the circle of intimate friendship draws tighter and we become more familiar with the voice of the Lord. It is a beautiful cycle that will keep growing us closer to the Lord until we meet Him face to face in glory!

How can we tell if it is God, ourselves, or the enemy speaking?

In my own personal experience, when I “hear” the Lord speaking to me, what He is saying or the direction in which He is leading often fits into one or more of these three categories:

1. It doesn’t often make human sense. When that happens, I KNOW it is not my own idea. I like comfort and ease. God prefers growth, trust, and obedience. When I tend to “argue” back with God over some of these instructions because they go against my fleshly nature, OR when I start to wonder what others watching my life are going to think about this “odd” idea…I begin to assume it is God.

2. It doesn’t go against God’s Written Word. God will never contradict Himself and His written Word. So when our “feelings” make us want to lash out at someone, we can’t blame it on the Lord. That would be like saying, “I felt the Lord lead me to be mean to you…” That is not God’s nature.

And, my friends, this is one I feel the Lord leading me to type this very moment: God will NEVER lead you to have an affair, no matter how horrible your marriage or your spouse is. It goes against His Word. The human flesh and the enemy who “seeks to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), they are the ones who would tell you that God is leading you to go on and have that affair. God will NEVER tell you to do something that His Word promises will lead to destruction. He loves you way too much for that!

3. It brings with it God’s Peace (“that passes all understanding” – Phil.4:7).
To me, there are two kinds of peace:
a) That deep-deep-down-abiding kind that is from the Lord,and
b) The kind of peace I try to construct as I try to fool myself in thinking it will all turn out O.K.

I have noticed that if God really speaking to me about something, and though it doesn’t make any human sense to me or to anyone watching my life, AND if I have a God-given-deep-down peace, AND if it doesn’t contradict His Word, … Then I pretty much assume it is of the Lord.

Once I’m pretty sure it is the Lord and not me or the enemy speaking, I’ll go back to God and ask Him to clarify what I sense He is saying. Then as I pray, continue in my daily quiet times, and keep my eyes and ears open to the Lord’s activity in and around my life, the Lord will bring confirmation of what He said.  Accompanying that confirmation will be an abundance of peace. Sometimes it might also bring a little sadness  – if the answer is a “no” to something I think I want – but along with that sadness remains God’s abiding peace.

That’s when Faith wins the battle over sight and I feel God’s pleasure and His smile. That’s when, though the answer or direction may not be the way I want,  I fall more in love with Jesus and we grow closer.  That primes me to hear Him even more distinctly the next time He speaks to me.

For example…

As James and I were seeking the Lord’s direction for our lives, ministry, and family several years ago, we met with a team from an incredible church. A world-famous church known for it’s television ministry, it’s preaching of God’s Word, and it’s reaching multitudes with the Gospel of salvation. We were without a job and would soon be out of an income, and this church offered us everything a ministry family could dream of in a church position. But instead of coming away from that meeting excited and encouraged about what could be ahead, neither James nor I had God’s peace over the matter. We tried to feel peaceful and hopeful about the situation, but when we stopped trying, both of us knew a “sick” feeling in the pits of our stomachs. As we prayed and continued seeking God through His Word, individually we began to sense that this place {as great as it would have been to be part of its ministry} was not the best place for us. In fact, the Lord put it on both of our hearts that this place was not “God’s best for our family.” Both of us sensed that same thing from the Lord.

Because turning down this position made absolutely NO human sense… we knew that it was not just an idea cooked up from our own minds. And because saying “no” to this meant we would have to cling even more closely to the Lord in fellowship and dependence upon Him, we knew that this was not the voice of the enemy.  We continued to pray, wait, and stayed in God’s Word. When we were sure of what God was saying to us and we gave them the shocking “thank you, but this is not what God has for us,” the most amazing peace of God settled over our minds and hearts. We were without a job and income, and we just turned down a job and an income… yet we were at complete peace that we had obeyed what God had told us to do. It was exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time.

However, after that test of obedience came the hardest test of all… God’s silence. For four months, we didn’t sense God saying anything else to us except, “Obey Me for today and trust Me for tomorrow.” That’s what both of us continued to get from our quiet times, books we were reading, the sermons at our church, the songs on Christian radio… everywhere we turned.  No leads, no further promises, no further instruction… nothing but “Obey Me and Trust Me.”

That was hard.

And I have to admit that even though I knew we had obeyed the Lord, many times during that period of silence I would go back to the Lord and ask Him if we had heard Him correctly concerning that incredible church opportunity. His only answer to me was His Peace as we put one foot in front of the other in obedience and trust.

Of course, all the while and unbeknownst to us, God was preparing His BEST place for us… and He was preparing us for this present place.  It is God’s best for our lives, ministry, and family…and I can’t praise Him enough for His directions to us during the “wait!”

If you need a “check-list of sorts’ to help you tell if it is God speaking or not, this list is from Is that Really You God? By Loren Cunningham and Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere

The scriptures provide ways to discern or test things so we can know they are from God.

For Starters:

1. Submit to God’s Lordship. Ask Him to silence your thoughts, desires, and opinions (2 Corinthians 10:5; Proverbs 3: 5 – 6).

2. Resist the devil by asking Jesus to silence the enemy’s voice and distractions in your mind (James 4:7; Ephesians 6:10 – 18).

3. Expect an answer from God. Ask the Father to help you hear Him and He will (John 10:27; Psalm 69:13; Exodus 33:11).

Then ask these questions:

Does it exalt Christ? (John 14:26; 16:13 – 14)
It’s got to be all about Christ, not you! He must be at the center of the leading.

Is it Scriptural? (Proverbs 30: 5 – 6; 2 Timothy 3: 14 – 17)
It has to line up with what God reveals to us in His Word. If not, it’s not from God.

Do other Christians confirm it? (Proverbs 15:22; 1 Corinthians 14:29)
It’s about “we” not “me”. The body of Christ is important! Learn to trust other believers who are mature in their faith. Ask them to pray with you.

Does it produce good fruit? (Deuteronomy 18:21 – 22; John 15:1 – 16)
If what you’re hearing weighs you down or make you feel guilty, it’s probably not from the Lord. However, God will convict us at times. The different between guilt and conviction is that conviction comes with hope and forgiveness. Guilt comes with a dead end and mocking. Test it!

Does God bring it to pass? (Isaiah 55:10 – 11)
God means what He says and says what He means. If God tells you something or shows you something, He will make it happen.

God is faithful, my friends.  Practice getting to know the sound of His voice by studying and obeying His Words. Then trust Him to confirm His leading as you put one foot in front of the other in obedience and trust.

Arabah Joy and I will be back next week with more in this series. You can subscribe to Arabah and Smelling Coffee to make sure you get upcoming posts in this series.

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at


  1. Hey Jenn,

    What a great and practical word today! Thanks for sharing with such transparency and passion. I always appreciate the messages God gives you.

    I especially thought this was good – “It doesn’t often make human sense. When that happens, I KNOW it is not my own idea.”

    God’s ideas are often SO different from ours, aren’t they!

    Praying for your follow up GI stuff. Relieved with you that there was no tumor!

    I’m working on my first blog in awhile. I’ll text you when I post it!

    Thanks for your encouragement!