How do you know if you are hearing from God or relying on “feeling a peace?”

This is a very good question as I have a hunch that we are looking for a feeling more often than we know.  Mark wrote an excellent series on Hearing the Voice of God.  Here are some of his points:

  1. MAKING A CHOICE TO OBEY – The question we usually ask is; “What is God’s will for my life?”  This is the wrong question. The right question is; “What is God’s will?”  Our focus is usually on “my life”. His focus is on His Kingdom and His will. We will never know his will for our lives until we first know his will, that is to say, his purposes and his agenda and his goals and his means to accomplish those goals for humanity.
  2. KNOW THE BIBLE – There are only two ways that God reveals his guidance and will to us, naturally and supernaturally. The natural means are those ways by which we can apply the natural gifts that God has given us to discover His will and guidance. He has given us minds that reason and he expects us to use them. In physiological terms we are talking about the left side of the human brain, the part of the brain that uses logic and reason to navigate the terrain of this physical world we live in. By the use of our left brain we can study God’s written word and find out all we need to know about his general will, agenda, plans, priorities, goals and means for human life. Studying the Bible and beginning to obey the general commands of God are what gets the Rocket off the launch pad. The other great gain in studying God’s word is that we begin to see him as he truly is we see His great love for us.
  3. SOUND JUDGEMENT, COMMON SENSE & CLEAR THINKING – Once we know the General will of God from knowing His word we are in a position to use the left side of our brains to apply His truth to the circumstances of our lives. Each of us is wonderfully unique. We are a unique package of personality type, temperament, natural talents, skills, training, life experiences, spiritual gifts, faith experiences and spiritual maturity. We have the ability to look at ourselves with sober judgment and look at the circumstances we are in and the opportunities available to us and make a logical decision.
  4. QUALITY COUNSEL – One of the biggest problems in determining the will of God for our own lives is that we cannot be objective about our own situations.  When we are not enjoying our present job an offer to go work at a Mission looks like God’s answer to our unhappiness, but it rarely is. I have said that God has given us brains so that we can apply reason to help determine His will. The problem is that our brains do not just reason they also “feel”. The sad thing is that in the lives of many Christians I know their feelings win out over their reason most of the time. This usually leads not only to not knowing God’s will but also to stupid disastrous decisions. How many times have you made a correct decision to do something that you knew was God’s will and then later failed to follow through and do it because you, “just didn’t feel like it”  Prov. 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a nation falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Prov.12:15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.
  5. SUPERNATURAL REVELATION – Everything that I have said about guidance so far has to do with using the reasoning power of our brains, specifically the left side of our brains. What I am going to talk about now is what happens on the other side of our brains, the right side. This side of the brain is the part of us that is active when we listen to music, look at art appreciate beauty and feel emotions. It is also the part of our brains that receives supernatural revelation. Brain scientists have measured the brain activity of Christians while they speak in tongues. Things like prophecy, words of knowledge, times of travailing prayer, experiences of God’s love, dreams and visions involve the right side of the brain. Why am I telling you this?
  • I want you to see that God created both sides of the brain and that he expects both of them to be active in our relationship with him. There is no question that prophetic words, dreams and visions, and “inner witness” are ways that God uses to lead us. The Bible is full of them. The trouble is that those of us who desire most to be guided this way are often those of us who are most lazy about knowing God’s word. Such people are not safe to receive supernatural guidance because they lack the Bible knowledge to properly interpret the dream or vision. Even things as clear as prophetic words must be judged by those who receive them.
  • On the other hand those of us who are highly left brained do not like to give up the security of logic and human reason to trust something that “came to us out of the blue”. We feel more secure coming up with some questionable theology to say that dreams and visions and prophecy are not for today. Such people tend to live very reasonable religious lives without power or real effect. They also tend to be emotionally stunted Christians. Both positions are wrong because both are incomplete.
  • Supernatural guidance is Biblical and it is for today. We should expect to receive these experiences from time to time and we should take them seriously but they are safe only when they are an addition to or an occasional over-riding of our normal means of determining God’s will, which is to know His word. The problem with revelatory guidance is that the experiences are subjective, they happen within us.
  • Also they are of the same type of experiences as our feelings, wishes, imaginations, etc. They are also similar to counterfeit spiritual experiences caused by demonic forces. All this means that unless we have some way of judging the experience, dream, vision, inner prompting, etc. we are dealing with something that could be God, could be our own subconscious needs or fears or could be misinformation from the enemy. The only way to sort this out is to judge these experiences against something that does not have its source in us. Something that does not change with our feelings and moods, something that is completely true – God’s word!
  • The reason that supernatural guidance comes after all of the forgoing ways of knowing God’s will is because all of the above should be used to judge our supernatural spiritual experiences. The wise counsel of others is very valuable when dealing with how to apply a dream to our lives. Knowing our own strengths and weaknesses, spiritual gifts, temperament, and maturity help us to assess not only the accuracy of a dream, vision or prophecy but it’s timing as well.  When we are seeking guidance for a group decision it is essential to submit whatever supernatural guidance we receive to the leadership of the group for discernment. Often we will see all of the above means of guidance operating within the leadership group. One will have a dream, another a word of scripture, another a logical piece of wise reasoning, another a sense of timing, another a second dream that seems to confirm the first, another a prophecy that gives more light to the group. In fact I would say that no decision should be make until several of the foregoing means of guidance have been operating in the decision making process. God is more than capable of confirming His will through several means and we should look for that sense of confirmation.

To read the complete document – go to http://mark.cowpersmith.org/audio-series/ and select Hearing the Voice of God pdf.

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