Jesus Himself refused Satan's suggestion to put a fleece before God by casting Himself off the highest point of the temple. Instead, Jesus said, "'Do not put the Lord your God to the test'" (Matt. 4:7).
When we go back to God for confirmation, we need to allow Him to choose how He will correct or confirm what we heard. It is not our place to dictate how He does this. Instead, we must trust that He will do it in a way that we can clearly recognize as being from Him.
4. Avoid making assumptions. When hearing God's voice, we need to be very careful about making assumptions. God can speak to us very clearly, and we can hear Him accurately.
But we can still go wrong by making an assumption about what God means by what He says, only to discover later that we heard God but didn't understand Him. We have to be very careful not to put words in God's mouth.
Let me give you an example of how this can happen. A close friend of mine had been praying for some time about a deep and painful rift in her relationship with her sister. Then she received a prophetic word from a lady who seemed to really hear from God.
The word had to do with the restoration of a broken relationship in my friend's life. However, the lady proceeded to assume that the relationship in question was between my friend and her husband, and she began to minister to my friend about her marriage (which was, in reality, rock solid).
The prophet had received a very keen word from God about my friend's situation, but the power of that word was almost lost when she assumed the relationship involved was with a spouse. This is an example of how we can accurately hear from God and then make assumptions that mislead others and us. We want to be careful to avoid doing that!
5. Recognize areas of "hearing loss." We need to remember that there are certain areas of our lives in which our hearing is likely to be less accurate. It is more difficult to hear God clearly in areas where we have "big stakes" in the answer, where our hearts are tremendously engaged or where we know we have a history of hearing wrong. We must double-check these areas and ask God to confirm what we've heard.
Here's an example. A friend of mine who hears God pretty well in most areas of her life recently went through a divorce. After a "recovery period" of a few months, she met a single man who seemed to be everything she wanted in a husband. She thought she began to hear God speaking to her about this man, telling her that indeed he was the man He had for her.
I strongly suspected that this was her own heart speaking, not God, and I tried to find a gentle way to tell her this. But she thought God was saying more and more detailed things to her. She thought she heard Him tell her that her Christmas present from this man would be an engagement ring, with the wedding following shortly after that.
She was so sure she was hearing God's voice! But December came and went, and she didn't receive any Christmas present from this man--much less an engagement ring. Later he told her that he considered her no more than a casual friend.
She was devastated not only because the man was not interested in her but also because she had been so wrong in hearing God. She had failed to recognize her own heart imitating God's voice to her. She didn't double-check her hearing with God, because she so desperately wanted to hear what she thought she heard.
6. Be ready to obey. Once we hear God, it's important that we obey what we hear. There are two kinds of obedience: cheap obedience, which is obeying when the stakes are not very high or when it doesn't cost us much to obey; and expensive obedience, which is obeying when significant consequences are involved. The job decision mentioned earlier is an example of expensive obedience because it involved a choice between a low-paying job and a higher-paying one.
But money doesn't have to be the issue. For example, if you believe God is telling you to terminate a relationship because it's unhealthy, that is expensive obedience; if you've heard wrong, you put a relationship that is important to you at risk. You want to be sure you have heard from God before you do something that could require expensive obedience.
On the other hand, if the obedience required is low cost or low risk, then you should always and instantly obey. It may very well be God speaking to you, and you want to be in the habit of obeying God instantly rather than spending a great deal of time double-checking with Him first.
God understands that it can be frightening for us as we begin venturing out in hearing and obeying Him. He knows we need confirmation from Him to be sure we have really heard Him correctly. But God is not only willing--He is also eager to meet us and teach us to hear His voice. All we have to do is ask.
Teresa Seputis is an ordained minister and founder and head of GodSpeak International, a nonprofit missions and equipping agency dedicated to making disciples. She is the author of How to Hear the Voice of God in a Noisy World (Charisma House), from which this article was adapted.
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