Today’s post is along the same lines as my previous two New Year posts–one on re-calibrating our lives to God-centered living and another on free New Year planning tools.
As I studied the Bible for the best way set goals for my life that line up with God’s will, that led me to read and study verses about hearing God’s voice.
I don’t know about you, but this idea of hearing God’s voice has been a huge struggle for me.
First off, I know that my “human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT) I know I am entirely capable of thinking and believing that I’m going God’s way, but instead head off in my own direction. This is why the worldly advice to “follow your heart” is a BAD idea!
Secondly, I believe that the enemy of our souls is just how the Bible describes him. He’s a liar, thief, murderer, and “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” His tactics haven’t changed one bit since the Garden of Eden incident!
Last of all, there are a lot of folks out there with skewed ideas of what it means to hear God’s voice. Yes, some might be on the right track, but I’m equally convinced that some are not.
Is God able to speak to His people? Absolutely! But we do need to be discerning about what we take as God’s Word for us. Just because someone says that their words come from God doesn’t necessarily make it so!
I’m so glad the Lord allows me to go through these times of struggle and questioning, because they lead me to search His Word for answers.
This post came about because of this Bible study, and I pray it will be useful to those who read it.
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How To Truly Hear God’s Voice
1. “Hearing” = Obeying
Many years ago, in studying God’s Word, I came to understand that the original Hebrew for “hearing” Gods voice literally meant, not just physical hearing, but acting on what is heard.
This was definitely a light-bulb moment for me, and it has stuck with me until this day.
Old Testament Examples
The original Hebrew word for “hear” is Sh’ma. The Hebrew language has many less words than English, so the original Hebrew scripture carries a much deeper and wider meaning than our English translations.
In the Hebrew, to “hear” has all these meanings: to hear audibly, comprehend what is heard, accept it, and then obey. Consider the following Old Testament passages:
- “Now then, if you will indeed obey (sh’ma) My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;” (Exodus 19:5)
- The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear (sh’ma) when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” (Exodus 19:9)
- “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen (sh’ma) to His voice.” (Deuteronomy 4:30)
- The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey (sh’ma) His voice.” (Joshua 24:24)
- “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen (sh’ma), that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.” (Isaiah 55:3)
New Testament Examples
It’s easy to see the definite relationship between “hearing” and “obeying” in the Old Testament. We see the same thing in the New Testament, where the original Greek word is akouo.
- Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen (akouo) to Him!” (Luke 9:35)
- “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear (akouo), nor do they understand.…But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear…” (Matthew 13:13, 16)
- “My sheep hear (akouo) My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)
- “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear (akouo) is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:24)
- So faith comes from hearing (akouo), and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
Can’t we all relate to this concept of hearing and obeying as parents? When we tell our children to do something, doesn’t them “hearing” us also carry with it obedience to what they hear?
It’s the same with our heavenly Father. It’s not enough just to physically and passively “hear” His voice; what He says requires acting in obedience on what we hear.
The scriptures above are just a sample of all the verses dealing with this topic, so if you desire further study, here’s a link to other verses about “hearing”:
2. “God’s Voice”
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, this area has been a source of struggle for me. And I don’t think I’m alone.
Once again, we find our answers in God’s Word.
Here are some considerations and scripture references on hearing God’s voice:
God’s Word is His voice!
If we feel like we’re not hearing from God, it could be that we’re not cracking open our Bibles. His Word is truly “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105)
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Those who handle money a lot are trained to recognize counterfeits by studying the real deal! God’s Word is the real deal (AKA His voice). Only by being steeped in His truth will we be able to recognize false teaching and the enemy’s deception.
VERSES FOR FURTHER STUDY: Psalm 19:7; 119:9; Joshua 1:8
Those Who Belong to Jesus Hear and Follow Him
Verses in the New Testament that mention hearing “God’s voice” are most often about accepting His free gift of salvation.
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)
As believers who have placed their faith in Jesus to save them, we are His sheep. His Word (which is fascinatingly Jesus! see John 1) is how we hear and follow.
Hear God’s Voice – Wrap Up
I hope this study has clarified some questions for you the way it did for me.
Yes, God undoubtedly speaks to people. And the primary way He does that today is through His Word, the Bible.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. God is more than able to speak to folks (and get our attention!) in any way He chooses, as demonstrated throughout history. His Holy Spirit dwells within us (John 16:13). Fellow believers can and do offer wise and godly counsel (Proverbs 12:15). He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1-3). The Lord can lead through circumstances (2 Corinthians 2:12). And we communicate with our Commander-in-Chief through prayer (Ephesians 6:18-20).
In looking back over my life, there have been times that what I experienced could only have been accomplished through God’s leading/voice.
But great caution is still advised. Because of our deceptive hearts and the enemy’s schemes, we should always hold up what we think the Lord is saying to us to the light of His Word. He will never ask us to do ANYTHING that goes against what we find there.
Then once we get clarity, as His followers, our job is follow through in complete obedience.
That’s what it means to truly “hear” His voice.
I’d love to hear your testimonies of how you are hearing and obeying God’s voice. Please share in the comments.