How to Hear & Identify the Voice of God

How to Hear and Identify the Voice of God

God is continually communicating to people. He’s been doing it since the Garden of Eden. He told Noah to build an ark. He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He spoke to Daniel and Joseph through dreams. The apostle Paul writes that God reveals Himself through creation.

How does God speak to us today? And how do we recognize it when He does?

We are not cookie-cutter kids. God doesn’t speak to each of us the same. But scripture gives us direction on how God speaks and ways to recognize it.

Believe God Wants to Speak to you

This may seem a bit obvious for a Christian. And yet, I’ve found that many believe intellectually that God speaks to His people, but then get hung up on things that distract, disrupt, and prevent us from truly embracing that God is relational and does speak. The result is a disconnect that can cause us to doubt or feel God just doesn’t speak to me. The very fact that the Bible was written shows us that God wants us to know Him. He even sent His son to live amongst people and then died for the sins of people. The life and death of Jesus speak volumes. It proves to us how much God loves us and wants a personal relationship with each of us. You can’t get more “relational” than that.

Those Who Belong to God, learn to recognize His voice

Jesus tells us in John 10:1-5, that His followers will recognize His voice. But in 1 Samuel 3, Samuel hears God’s voice three times and still doesn’t recognize it until Eli, the priest instructs him. These two stories give us valuable information. First, it is possible to be a follower of God and also be immature about recognizing His voice. Secondly, we can learn how to recognize God’s voice.

Learning to recognize the voice of God takes practice. We must regularly exercise our spiritual muscles in order to strengthen our ability to discern when God is speaking.

Think of it this way. Radio and television stations are constantly transmitting, but we only hear them when we “tune in” the receiver. Failure to hear the signal doesn’t mean the station isn’t transmitting. Often times we are busy tuning in to other stations, or we’re caught up in “transmission” (pleading with God) when the problem is the “receiver”.

Through the Bible

God’s main way to communicate is through the Bible.  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16

It is true that the Bible gives us warnings, encouragement, and lessons. However, we must not only look at scripture as merely instructions and rules. If that was all God wanted us to know, that’s all He would have provided. But God tells us story after story about the lives of real people with real problems and real lessons so that we can relate. We can relate to not only the people and their situations, but to the character of God that is demonstrated through the stories themselves. In fact, the Bible is HIS story—written in love to help us know Him.

The more time you spend in the Word, the more you get to know God, and the more you are able to discern when He is speaking to you.

Here’s something to keep in mind when reading the Bible: God will not tell you to do something that is not in line with His Word. As we interpret Scripture by other Scripture, we avoid the false logic and misinterpretations that can sneak into our worlds.

Here’s an example of misinterpretation (and justification to sin). A friend who is married tells you, “God said it’s okay to leave my husband for a co-worker since my husband is not a Christian and I shouldn’t be ‘unequally yoked’”. Yes, the Bible says a Christian is not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), but the Bible also says: Do not commit adultery (Luke 18:20). God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and finally 1 Corinthians 7:13 says, “And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.” Take a look at verse 16: “Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?”


God speaks to us through other people. He uses our pastors, teachers, friends, and family to convey His truth to us. After all, he used people to write down the text of the Bible. God’s words may come as messages, warnings, or truths. Whether or not we choose to listen the messages are up to us.

Two things to look for when we think God is speaking to us through another person: First, does it line up with scripture? Secondly, will God affirm or confirm the message? Here’s one example.You pastor gives a message about being courageous and refers to Joshua chapter one. A few days later you hear the same scripture on the radio. Next, a friend refers to the very same scripture.

Through the Holy Spirit

Jesus told His disciples that He would send One who would teach and guide all those who believe in Him (Acts 1:5, John 14:26; 16:7). When a person believes in Christ, the Holy Spirit immediately becomes a permanent part of his life (Romans 8:13, 1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Holy Spirit guides us through our own consciences (Romans 9:1and other quiet, subtle ways.

So, how do we discern His voice from our own?

  • What we hear will match up with scripture. Once again, this means we must have a good knowledge of the Word, or we can be confused or lead astray (1 Timothy 3:16, Ephesians 6:17, John 14:26, John 16:12-14).
  • We should be in regular prayer with the Father in order to keep our hearts and minds open to the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • Our lives will show signs of fruit if we are following the Spirit’s leading (Galatians 5:22)

If we walk in the Spirit, we will continue to see these qualities grow and mature in us, and they will become evident to others as well.


God  will never speak to us through our circumstances in a way that contradicts His written Word. Acts 17:26-27 tells us that God orchestrates His plans through the events, life decisions, and all the people and places we encounter so that mankind will call out to Him.

We can make our plans,but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Dreams and visions

I had my first “God dream” when I was a teen. In the dream, God warned me that the activities I was engaging in were harmful to my relationship with Him. The trouble was, I didn’t recognize the dream was from the Lord. All I knew was that the dream disturbed me. Years later, once I became more  familiar with God’s Word, I realized the dream was from God.

The Bible indicates that God revealed His will to selected people through dreams or visions in scriptures such as Genesis 37:5-10; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel, chapters 2 and 7; Matthew 1:20; 2:13,19; and Acts 10:9-16; 16:9.  

God has given me several dreams throughout my lifetime. He has spoken powerful words of encouragement while I slept, replayed scriptures, worship songs, warned me of enemy activity and has given me revelation for others. Please note, this is not God’s primary way of speaking to me, but only one of them. And every dream coincides with scripture. If a dream does not match up with God’s word and character, it is NOT from Him.

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 (NLT)

“For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears…” Job 33:14-16a (NLT)

God’s primary desire in communicating to His people is for eternal purposes.

When we fail to remember God is infinite, we limit Him to this finite world, which limits our discernment of hearing His voice. God can speak to us, however, and whenever He chooses.

“For God does speak—now one way, now another—  though no one perceives it.” Job 33:14

It is our responsibility to train ourselves and ‘tune in’ to His voice. We must listen intently and carefully through the crowd of noises in the world.

“Be still and know I am God.” Proverbs 46:10

God is speaking. Can you hear Him?

 Aren’t you thankful that the God of all creation desires a personal relationship with each of us? As we approach the Thanksgiving season, let’s thank Him by growing in our relationship with Him!


What Not to Wear #whatNotToWear, #Godisgood

“Mom? What is this?” My daughter asked, holding a sweater she’d found buried in the drawer.

I smirked, glancing at the multi-colored eyesore that looked like I borrowed it from The Cosby Show.

“I guess I should go through some of these old clothes.”

Her raised eyebrows conveyed, Ya think!

The thing is, there were a lot of old clothes and shoes that I really didn’t want to part with. The ridiculous sweater she was holding, I wore when her father and I were dating. It had sentimental value.

As I looked through the clothes, I realized something: I wasn’t the same person I once was. Most of the clothes didn’t even appeal to my taste any longer. And then it hit me. Just like old clothes, sometimes we hold on to old mindsets, habits, and activities that don’t match our new lives in Christ Jesus.

  • Those ancient, but comfy sneakers I never wear in public (and probably shouldn’t even at home) sort of represented the questionable TV shows I was still watching.
  • The pair of holey sweatpants suddenly represented that not so holy friendship.
  • And what about the slinky, low cut black dress? Would I (should I) wear that? This one represented the things I know I shouldn’t do, but do anyway, and then need to ask for forgiveness later.

So, why was I holding on to things that would only bring me down and further from the life Christ had for me?

It was time to get real. And the truth was, I liked some of those old things. Others were just cozy. Familiar. Sentimental.

Isn’t it interesting how we can stay attached to something or someone just because it’s familiar? We might even know deep inside that it’s not healthy for us spiritually.

How about you? Are there any old “clothes” in your wardrobe that don’t represent who you are in Christ?

I love the way God uses everyday circumstances, like clothes, to speak to us. I knew for sure God was trying to get my attention when He used another typical situation to teach me. This time, I was shopping for a new winter coat. Coats are one of those things that you can try on over the top of the clothes you’re already wearing—that is unless you’re already wearing a coat. Putting on a coat over the top of another coat is difficult. I know because I tried and found that it didn’t work well. I had to remove the old coat first.

The same is true spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Of course, I’m not referring to what we wear on the outside. I’m talking about what’s going on, on the inside. What we “wear” on the inside matters. A lot.

Even though the Bible tells us that the moment we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7 ) and have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still have the same sinful nature alive in us along with the Holy Spirit. The two are at war according to Galatians 5:17.

We must deal with this war of the old self and mindset if we want to experience real and lasting change. It must begin with what we are wearing on the inside.

I lived many years not truly understanding this. I went to church every week, read my Bible, attended Bible studies, sang worship songs, and did all those “Christiany” things. But on the inside, I felt defeated.  Every time I tried to live the way the Bible and my Pastor directed me, it seemed I failed.


I cried out to God in a desperate and frustrated, but genuine prayer. “What is keeping me from growth? What is keeping me from You, God?”

Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself very, very angry.

God revealed to me that I didn’t have room for His love and His ways. Because like trying to put on a new coat over the top of the old coat, it didn’t fit. I needed to take off the old to make room for the new.

How to Put Off the Old and Put on the New


We must choose to let go of the old to make room for the new.

How about you? Have you felt defeated? Like you’ve been trying so hard to be Christ-like, but instead, you have failed? Perhaps, like me, you need to put off something in order to make room for the new that God wants for you.

For me, it started with choosing to put off anger.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and … put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV).

I like the way the Message translation puts it:

“Everything connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” (Ephesians 4:22 MSG)


The Bible says we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

Interestingly, the Greek word for transformed used above is metamorphosis (also used in 2 Corinthians 3:18). We use the same word today to describe the amazing change a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. It is a beautiful picture of what happens to us spiritually when we allow God to direct our thoughts which in turn direct our lives.

Keep in mind that metamorphosis is a process, as is our spiritual growth. So, don’t give up!


We must exchange our old habits and ways of doing things with God’s ways.Our character is basically summed up by our habits. Habits start in the mind.

When we put off the old way, it leaves a hole that must be filled. Of course, God’s way is for us to fill it by putting on His Spirit.

I had to choose to get rid of the anger, but I also had to exchange it for God’s way, which was forgiveness. That was not something I could do on my own. I needed help with the old way of thinking.

“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” Ephesians 4:23

I think it’s best to let God’s Word speak for itself when it comes to what things we need to put off and put on. I’ve come up with a list from scripture, that is by no means exhaustive, but is helpful for this article (emphasis mine). I hope you will take the time to read and meditate on God’s word. Rather than have you look them up yourselves, I printed them below, highlighting the traits to put off and put on.

What NOT to Wear—Put OFF

From Ephesians 4:25-31. “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.  And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.[Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.  Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

From Romans 1:25-32 “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.  Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.  They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.  That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.  And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

From Galatians 5:19-21 “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

What TO Wear—Put ON

From Galatians 5:22-23 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

From Colossians 3:12-15 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

From Ephesians 6:10-18 “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

My friends, you can see from the scripture above, that we have a real enemy who wants to keep us stuck in our old ways. However, God has given us everything we need to “put on” to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). But we must first “put off” the old ways that the enemy is using to keep us ineffective and feeling defeated.

We can do this! We have the Holy Spirit living in us to help and guide us to:

Choose to put off

Change the way you think

Exchange old (put off) for New (put on)

I’m praying for you, dear friends. We are in this together. Please let me know in the comments below or through email how God has spoken to you.

In Christ’s love,

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Inviting the Devil to Dinner

Inviting the Devil to Dinner (Part one)

My husband, Scott, and I sit out on our front porch in the mornings. We like to start our day with coffee, a devotion, and prayer. Occasionally I will bring something to eat. Inevitably within seconds, several flies have begun to invade our porch. It amazes us how one moment there wasn’t a fly in sight, then as soon as I bring out my food, they appear seemingly from nowhere.

I did a little research and found that flies can smell with their antennae up to four miles away. Good grief, no wonder! So, the flies are buzzing about doing what flies do, get a whiff and suddenly, I’m under assault.

I didn’t need to invite them or ring a dinner bell. Nope. The scent was their invitation.

The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Most of us would never invite Satan over for a meal, just like we don’t invite flies. And yet Satan and flies will show up if the environment is conducive.

I’m reminded of a time when my son, Chad, was small. He was supposed to get dressed to go out to dinner. He stood on the landing of the stairs wearing his biggest smile along with his new dress shirt and pants. I squinted my eyes as I approached him because I could see the red shirt he had on earlier, underneath the new, crisp white one he had just put on. I drew even closer, noticing his dirt-streaked face, and chubby fingers with dirt caked under his nails.

“Chad, when I told you to get ready, I meant to wash up and take off your old, dirty clothes before putting on the new ones.”

When it comes to spiritual warfare, many times we are much  like my son, attempting to whitewash godliness over the top of our dirty sinful habits, not realizing we’ve just invited Satan to dinner. All that is needed: an environment that’s conducive.

You see,  even though the Bible tells us that the moment we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7 ) and have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still have the same sinful nature alive in us along with the Holy Spirit. The two are at war according to  Galatians 5:17.

“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

With two forces at work, only one will win.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Which one is controlling you—the sinful nature or the Holy Spirit?

The enemy is well aware of our sinful nature, ugly habits and hang-ups. He loves to exploit our own deficiencies in whatever ways he can. Let me explain.

Ephesians 6:10-18 directs us to put on the armor of God to fight against the enemy and his schemes. One of the pieces of armor listed is the breastplate of righteousness. If I put on an appearance of righteousness over the top of my unrighteous daily lifestyle that is dominated by sin, I’m not really protecting my heart because it’s already hard, sinful.

The only way is to do something about my hard, sinful heart before putting on the armor. But how?

“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24

The Bible teaches us to “put off” the things that hold us back, then “put on” the new nature that has the power to makes us more and more like Christ. Christians often fail to experience lasting change because they try to change solely by breaking bad habits.

However, change that lasts can only be experienced by exchanging a bad habit for a godly one (Ephesians 4:22-24 above).

We learn through His Word that God intends Christians to put on biblical alternatives to whatever they are trying to put off. Our sinful tendencies and habits are learned behaviors that must be unlearned by replacing them. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to discouragement and to the devil’s schemes. God provides for us powerful heavenly weapons for each believer to “put on.”

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:13-18

Before we can experience the victory that God intends us to have by putting on this spiritual armor, we must put off anything that may neutralize its effectiveness.

In the same way, I had inadvertently invited the flies on my porch, sin invites the enemy. We cannot merely cover up the sin the way my son put a new shirt over the dirty one.

We will go into more details on the “putting off” and “putting on” process in part two of this lesson next week. Until then, here is step one:


We must seek God fully and ask Him to open our hearts and minds to reveal anything that’s been inviting the devil to dinner.

Prayer: (Go to an uninterrupted and quiet place where you can pray aloud.)

Father God, You are holy, just, merciful, and full of love and grace. Thank you that I am able to come to you now because of what Christ did for me on the cross. I surrender myself to you now, humbly asking you to please soften my heart and open my mind, revealing what ways are not pleasing to you. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit and attitude within me. In the name of Jesus, amen.

No matter how far away from God’s righteousness your current lifestyle might be at the moment, don’t be discouraged. For if you have invited Jesus into your heart as your Lord, He will empower you with His righteousness as you put off the old ways in exchange for His.

The power of the Holy Spirit has made me free from the power of sin and death. This power is mine because I belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:2

If you prayed the prayer above, I encourage you to write down and/or tell someone what the Lord revealed to you. Please feel free to contact me through email or comment below.

Please join me next week for part two of the lesson. Until then, love and blessings!

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