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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Sixth Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – 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...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fifth Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – 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. Be patient and pray. Give God a chance to speak to that person directly. 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...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fourth Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fourth Test

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)   The fourth test for confirming a word from God is to ask yourself, “Is it consistent with how God shaped me?” At  Church, we use the acronym SHAPE to describe the collection of a person’s Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. These five things make you unique from everyone else in the world. They also reveal your purpose in life. A lot of people ignore their SHAPE and end up wasting millions of dollars going after pipe dreams, starting businesses and making plans they weren’t shaped to do. God will never lead you a way that is inconsistent with your SHAPE. If you have a musical ability, you should use it. But if you’re tone deaf and can’t carry a tune, you shouldn’t try out for American Idol. Romans 12:6 says, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” (LB). So ask yourself, “What do I love to do that I’m good at doing?” Note that I didn’t just say, “What do you love to do?” Before I became a pastor, I was a worship leader. I played guitar and loved to sing, but nobody liked hearing me. So I learned pretty quickly that while I had a passion for music, I didn’t have the talent for it. I loved it, but I wasn’t good at it. You discover a lot of God’s will simply by looking at what you are good at. And if you get an impression that makes you wonder if it’s from God, but it leads you completely contrary to your SHAPE, then it’s not from God. You can know that for a fact. God is not going to ask you to do something he hasn’t given you the ability to...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Third Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Third Test

“God’s intent is that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.” Ephesians 3:10 (NIV) God has not meant for anyone to go through life alone. He made us to live in relationship with other people. So when it comes to hearing God’s voice, you need to listen to the people around you. You need a church family and a small group to confirm whether what you sense God directing you to do is true or not. This is the third test question: Are there other people who can confirm what I believe God is saying to me? If God has genuinely spoken to you, he will confirm it through other mature believers. This idea that we have to do everything on our own is an American idea, not God’s. He wants you to share your idea with others for confirmation and listen to their feedback. And if you feel resistance to the thought of even asking somebody else about your idea, that should be a huge red flag that the idea did not come from God. The reason God tells us to get advice is because he wants to save us from a lot of things. As it says in Proverbs 11:9, “The wisdom of the righteous can save you” (GNT). Advice from other mature believers can save you time wasted doing the wrong thing. It can save you from wasting money. It can save your reputation. It can save you from making mistakes. One of the main reasons people mess up their lives is that they have no godly friends to give them feedback. That is why it is so important to be in a small group with fellow believers who can hold you accountable and give you advice. The Bible says, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14b KJV). If you are not in a small group, you are skating on thin ice and you don’t know when you might fall...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Second Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Second Test

“In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (NCV) God’s number one purpose in your life is to make you like Jesus. He is the standard for your life in how you think, act, feel and speak. That’s why the second test to determining whether an impression is from God or not is to ask this question: “Does it make me more like Christ?” God is never going to tell you something in your mind that would cause you to do something that’s un-Christlike. If it is not like Jesus, believe me, you didn’t get the idea from God. What is Jesus like? James 3:14-17 gives us some specifics that are a good measure for testing an idea: “If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition … such ‘wisdom’ is of the devil. The wisdom that comes from God is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial and sincere” (NIV). First of all, this passage tells us two things God’s wisdom is not. It will not be motivated by bitter envy or selfish ambition. These verses instead give seven things to test if an idea that comes into your mind is from God: Is it pure? If any thought is impure, God didn’t give it to you. Is it peace-loving? If the idea is from God, it will promote harmony and reconciliation, not conflict. Is it considerate? Any idea that would hurt or harm someone, even though it may benefit you, is not from God because he cares about the effect it might have on others. Is it submissive? If you get an idea from God, you must be open to having it tested by other people, asking them what they think about it. If you are hesitant and don’t feel like letting other people test the idea, then it didn’t come from God because it isn’t leading you to submit to others’ feedback. Is it full of mercy? An impression from God will make you more gracious and forgiving. It won’t make you judgmental or critical. Is it impartial and sincere? When you get an idea that’s from God, you don’t use it to manipulate people to get your own way. Any idea that encourages these seven qualities in your life is an idea that will make you more like Christ....

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