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Teresa Seputis is the founder and head of Godspeak International. A large portion of her ministry is dedicated to training and equipping believers to be effective in hearing God's voice and advancing God's kingdom. Her desire is to teach people to discern what the Father is doing so they might do it with Him. She shares practical hints on how to recognize and discern God's voice in her book, "How to Hear the Voice of God in a Noisy World." The book is published by Charisma House, ISPN 0-88419-755-7, copyright 2001. Our last lesson began looking at this book, and this lesson will continue from where that lesson left off.
Discerning God's Voice From Other Voices
A big part of understanding communication with God is also recognizing two other voices that speak to us. There is also the voice of our own heart and the enemy's voice. The challenge is to tell them apart. In recognizing our own voice it is important that we understand our own thought processes as well as examine our motives. Again, the closer relationship we have with God and the better we know His Word, the better equipped we are in distinguishing between His character and ours and His voice and ours, as well as what is and is not the enemy's voice.
When we are unsure of whether God really spoke about a situation, it is always good to ask Him for clarification. It is equally good to make it a habit of checking with God before acting on a word, especially when it pertains to important issues. It is more difficult for us to hear Him in situations where our emotions are deeply involved or when we are tired or distracted. When we find ourselves in a situation like that it is always advisable to double-check our hearing and ask God for confirmations. Also, our ability to hear God clearly greatly diminishes when we are tired or exhausted. In that case, we can usually hear God more clearly after we have had a good rest.
The enemy will often use Scripture when he imitates God's voice, and he often will use those Scriptures out of context. The key is to know Scripture well so we are quick to recognize the twisting of God's truth. Some people find it helpful to take authority over the enemy, forbidding him to interfere with their communication with God and to forbid him from twisting God's Word.
Positioning Ourselves to Hear God's Voice
Positioning is preparing ourselves and being in the right place at the right time. There are two areas in the Spirit where a believer needs to position himself. One is to establish such an intimate relationship with God that His voice can be easily recognized. The other is our firm commitment to God's lordship in our lives with the full intent of obeying Him in everything He instructs us to do. As we learn to hear God more clearly, He will also hold us more accountable. Here we have to make a decision as to whether we are truly willing to obey God no matter what the price. Do we want God to truly be Lord of everything in our lives?
God may resort to a series of obedience lessons in the process of training us to obey His will. These lessons may start with low stakes that usually are easily mastered. But as our hearing improves, the stakes become higher. Teresa differentiates between "cheap obedience" and "expensive obedience." Cheap obedience will not cost us much, but expensive obedience will involve some real consequences. It is important that we obey in both situations. If the "cost" is low, we should practice obeying God instantly, since it will not hurt much if we are wrong. However, when the cost is high we need to double-check to ensure we are hearing correctly before we obey.
Often, God will choose a primary way to talk to us. But that does not mean He will not speak to us in other ways as well. It is important not to rely on Him to talk to us in only one way, or we may miss out on some of what He is saying.
Knowing It Is Really God
So how do we know it is really God? When we are not sure, we can ask Him. But we must allow Him to decide how to confirm it to us. We are not in a place to dictate to God how and when He will confirm His will to us. In fact, we are told in the Bible not to put the Lord to the test, e.g. do not fleece God. It is better to simply leave the question for clarification with the Lord and let Him decide when and how He will answer it.
Many of us have the tendency to over analyze revelations. While we spend too much time trying to make sure it is God, the opportunity passes and we miss God's perfect timing and deliver the message in the wrong season. This happens when we put our trust in our abilities and not God's. It is important to put our trust solely in the Lord and His willingness to redirect us if need be. Often we assume that a message pertains to the present time and discard it because it may not fit into a current situation. It does not mean that a word is not from God if it does not happen to "fit" your current situations. He may be dealing with something that will happen tomorrow or next month. It is always good to ask the Lord to clarify the timing of a word.
In trying to learn God's voice, it is equally important to know what is not God's voice. There are several keys to distinguishing what is and is not God's voice:
Primary Ways God Speaks to Us
God will often choose to talk to us using a primary method. The method He chooses depends on the type of receptor we are. The most common receptor types are:
Fine-tuning Our Hearing
Teresa suggests some ways to fine-tune our hearing, e.g., to get more accurate and recognize God's voice when He speaks to us. One way is to review our day with God, asking Him what His thoughts are about the day, where we may have missed it and where adjustments need to be made.
Sometimes God will engage in little exercises that provide an immediate result so you know whether you have heard correctly or not. For instance, He may tell you whether the lines are long or short just before you enter a grocery store. Then you can glance at the checkout lines to confirm whether you heard Him clearly.
You might invite God to speak to you throughout the day. He loves to take us up on that type of invitation and "break into" our day. You might ask Him what His opinion is on certain current events that you hear on the news, or in incidents you encounter in your day. Ask God to talk to you on a wide variety of subjects.
Another way to fine-tune your hearing is to develop increased intimacy with God. The better you get to know Him, the more clearly you will be able to recognize His voice. Teresa gives some exercises in Chapter 14 that will help increase the clarity and accuracy of your hearing.
Empowered to Hear
The main message of Seputis' book is that you can hear God for yourself. That is God's desire for every believer. And He is willing to work with you to teach you to recognize His voice. The last chapter shares testimonies of 17 people, everyday believers, who have learned to hear God's voice. The message is clear - you can do this too, you can learn to recognize God's voice when He speaks to you.