How do you make decisions? The Lord wants to guide your life in paths of righteousness. As sheep, we need to cultivate an ability to hear the Shepherd’s voice.
– What’s your reaction to all of the occurrences of “rhema” (spoken word) in the New Testament?
– Read Psalm 37:23. How do you order your steps? We have to obey the clear commands in black and white matters (i.e. to forgive or to harbor bitterness). No need to pray about such matters. But how do you make decisions in the gray matters?
– John 10 – the sheep hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and they follow. How can you follow the Shepherd if you are not hearing His voice? To the disciples, Jesus said, follow me. This did not stop when Jesus died. Be encouraged–if you heard Him once for your salvation, you can hear Him again. Thank the Lord that He is One who speaks to His sheep.
– A second voice. Satan speaks. John 10 – he seeks to steal, kill and destroy you. Consider people who hear voices (i.e. those suffering from mental illness or drug addiction) and the fact that these voices are evil 100% of the time. In addition, we know that Satan speaks by the fact that his voice invades our thoughts even while we are in the midst of prayer or worship. How has Satan been tempting or deceiving you recently?
– Third voice. The voice of the world or man. Read Isaiah 31. The people of God went down to Egypt to learn their ways. Why? Because Egypt possessed many horses and chariots. Instead of consulting God, they consulted Egypt. Likewise, in Job, for 37 chapters, Job heard many voices and received counsel from many friends. God’s assessment of the counsel of these friends is found in Job 38–they speak words without knowledge. Who has your ear and whose counsel are you seeking?
– Read James 3. The wisdom or voice of the world/man represents the counsel that you receive from others. It is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. There is a range. Earthly means it is earthbound, the source is the earth, it is limited. Unspiritual means lacking the Spirit, lacking anything of God. Letting pragmatics and logic dictate our decisions. Natural thinking. Most tragic–in the process of following the conventional wisdom of the world, we are failing to discern God’s voice. What do you think about this description about man’s wisdom? Can you think of some examples of worldly wisdom that are good but still are earthly/limited and even unspiritual/pragmatic?
– The wisdom of the world has a range. It can be good. It can also be quite demonic. A manipulative wife. An abusive husband. Drinking a few beers and crossing the line in a moment of indiscretion. The most demonic activity occurs in the church through abusive spiritual leaders. God doesn’t want anything or anyone controlling you except Himself. Think about some examples of things or people who may exert some control over you.
– Fourthly, our own voice. Read Psalm 81. The Israelites were so stubborn that they wanted to do life their way and they followed their own counsel. Read Isaiah 55. God’s thoughts and His ways are higher than our thoughts and ways. Are there situations right now in your life where you are following your own voice?
– Practically, to discern God’s voice, look for peace. Psalm 23:2. We want to rush off and do things. We want to see results. Our shepherd “makes us” rest. He forces us down to our knees in order to rest. Green pastures and still waters–these are portraits of peace.
– Psalm 23:3 – God leads us in paths of righteousness. Right standing before God. Way of peace. James 3 shows the interdependence between righteousness and peace. The wisdom of God is peaceable. Full of peace. It doesn’t lead to conflict or division. And it yields a harvest of righteousness. Why? Because it is sown in peace by those who make peace. God’s voice leads you in the way of peace.
– God speaks in the big moments but also in the mundane moments. We might think, God is busy trying to save the world so why would He care about this seemingly small decision? God cares about the small decisions because He cares about you. He wants to be consulted, even in the small decisions. What decision, big or small, can you consult the Lord about?
– What if we are waiting on God to speak and we are being lazy? Calm down and consider–who is more passionate about doing God’s will–us or God? God is more passionate about His will than we are. If this is the case, don’t you think He will make it clear to us that we should be doing something instead of waiting or being lazy? Think about God’s calling upon Moses to go to Pharaoh. Is there an area of your life that you are worried about missing out on doing the will of God? If so, prayerfully put the burden back on God to communicate to you so that you know for certain that He wants you to do something.
– Application: be patient. It takes time to to learn the Lord’s ways and His thoughts and to familiarize yourself with His voice. It goes against every fiber of our being because everyone in the world is telling us that we need to be productive. Monitor your level of peace before, during and after you make a decision. Are you still at peace? This is one way to discern that we are hearing the Lord correctly.