my dad sent me an article that has helped me to discern what is Gods voice and what isnt. hope its a blessing to you as well...
(This was taken from Listening to the Voice of God, Copyright © 1998, Roger Barrier.)
Over the years I have developed a checklist of what I think God’s voice sounds like. The following list paints in broad strokes and is certainly not complete or foolproof. No one point is sufficient to prove the voice of God.
1. God speaks in my innermost spirit. Satan and I speak in my soul or human mind. As I mature spiritually, my increasing spiritual experience and discernment allow me to distinguish better between my soul and my spirit. My understanding is that God himself takes up residence deep in my inner spirit during conversion. There he lives and speaks. Self and Satan have access to my mind, but God alone has access to my innermost human spirit. Following the guidelines of Hebrews 4:12, I quiet my mind and allow the Word of God to divide between soul and spirit. As I listen for God to speak deep within, I try to discern whether what I hear emanates from my soul (my mind) or from my inner human spirit.
What originates from my mind, I take to be from either self or Satan. What comes from deep in my inner spirit can only be from God. I do not take this first guideline lightly or flippantly. Discerning between soul and spirit requires patience, practice, and careful cultivation.
2. God tends to speak with gentle leadings. Remember how God spoke to Elijah? He was not in the swirling wind, the violent earthquake, or the raging fire. When all was still, God spoke with a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11–13).
I remember being pressured by a pushy used-car salesman to buy a car I really wanted. He told me, “I have another couple who want this car, too. They are trying to arrange financing right now. They could return at any minute. If you want this car, you need to make an offer quickly.”
Not liking that kind of pressure, I turned my back and calmly walked away.
My experience is that God seldom pushes and drives and demands like an aggressive, assertive used-car salesman. The Word of God is open to reason. God seldom urges sudden action without giving us time to think through the issues. I try to differentiate between the promptings of God and my drive to fulfill my hurried agenda.
3. God’s voice produces freedom. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I was sitting high up on Skyline Drive overlooking the city of Tucson one evening, when I felt an overwhelming burden to reach the city for Christ. I used to pray for big burdens like that—but not anymore. Our city needs to be reached for Christ, but God has called many pastors to share in the work. If I am not careful, I can feel frustrated by biting off more ministry than God intends for me to chew.
I have known pastors whose burdened attitudes for some community or group are more hindrance than help. They live so full of guilt that no one wants to be around them. Satan loves to put people into bondage; God loves to set them free.
4. God tends to speak when I am seeking him. Jeremiah reported God as saying: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:12–13).
After the first three months, the church I was newly pastoring filled to capacity. We had space problems and no clear options. I was getting ready to preach one Sunday when the answer came. I walked to the pulpit, and on the spur of the moment I announced that God had just told me the answer to our overcrowded worship problems. He wanted us to remodel our fellowship hall into worship space. At the close of the service, the deacon who oversaw construction of both our worship chapel and fellowship hall handed me a tape measure from the back of his truck.
“Here, I’ll loan you this for a week,” he said. “Why don’t you measure and see if God is really the one behind your proposal.” He winked as he left.
So I measured the fellowship hall and discovered that it was only two feet wider and four feet longer than the chapel—hardly enough room to make remodeling worthwhile. The next Sunday I walked to the pulpit and informed the people that God had changed his mind. Everybody had a good laugh, and I learned a lesson. Both self and Satan may inject thoughts and impressions into my mind when I’m not consciously seeking God. Both tend to speak with sudden intrusions of thoughts into the mind. But God’s voice is heard when I diligently listen for it.
5. When God is speaking, there is a sense that everything is under control. God wants us in control of our faculties and decisions. God related that “the spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). Paul warns that Satan wants to ensnare and control people when he speaks in 2 Timothy 2:24–26 of the hope that “they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” When self and Satan speak, there is an inner sense that something is out of control.
6. God gives specific directions. In my pastoral role, people often approach me for help in discerning God’s will. Many times I sense God has already told them his intentions. I do not hesitate to ask, “God’s already told you exactly what to do, hasn’t he?”. Many times they smile and nod sheepishly. I clarify some of the specifics and do my best to ascertain that there are no hidden issues or agendas. Then I encourage them to proceed with what they have heard.
On other occasions, people feel confused when they share what they think God said. “Then don’t do anything at all,” I say. “If you are not certain, either God has not spoken or you have not heard clearly. God is not the author of confusion.” Satan and self, however, often communicate in confused, uncertain wonderings. But when God speaks, there is no doubt about what to do.
7. God convicts of specific sins. John 16:8 teaches that the Holy Spirit “will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” My experience is that when God convicts of sin, his voice is quite specific: Yesterday at two p.m. you did this. I know exactly what I did and when I did it.
Satan and self, on the other hand, often accuse in broad generalities, leaving me with an unfocused sense of haunting guilt centered around poor choices, questioned priorities, unfinished responsibilities, or unmet expectations. It took years in the ministry before I figured this out. Now when I feel accused or have a nagging sense of unspecified guilt, I pause and consider why I feel so guilty. If there is not a definite sense of conviction about a specific sin, I know the feelings are not from God’s Spirit. They emanate from the “accuser of our brothers” (Revelation 12:10)—or from other internal, personal issues that need attention.
8. God speaks with 100 percent truth that can be tested by the Word of God. Once a young woman related to me how God had led her to plan marriage with a man who was not a Christian. When I pointed out in the Bible that God said Christians were not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers, she responded, “But I know God spoke to me and told me to marry him.” She was unimpressed when I reasoned with her that God would not say one thing in the Bible and another to her. The voice we hear inside is always open for testing and comparison with the truths of the Bible. Satan and self often traffic in lies, deceit, and half-truths.
Filtering my thoughts for truth and error is a constant exercise for me. I find it easy to lie to myself. I can preach what I consider to be a poor sermon and berate myself with thoughts like I am the worst preacher who ever preached.
Is that true? No. The truth is, maybe last Sunday was not my best, but, thankfully, I have another chance next week.
I can come home after a demoralizing elders meeting and feel isolated and alone. Nobody loves me, I think. Is this true? No. This is not God speaking. I am speaking lies to myself. Julie loves me. My mother loves me. God loves me. There are a lot of people who love me. I can forget an important surgery and know I lost points with an influential family. Soon I am telling myself, I can’t do anything right. Is this true? No. I do lots of things right.
I want no lies or half-truths in my mind. Life is hard enough to handle with the truth; it is impossible to navigate successfully when the mind is filled with lies and deceit.
9. God’s voice always leads to a deep, abiding sense of peace. I believe that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). When God speaks I have a deep sense of peace.
When I played basketball, the referee’s whistle stopped everything. I consider the peace of God to be like a referee with his whistle. When I am not hearing God clearly, the Holy Spirit blows his whistle to stop the game with a lack of peace and stirring unrest in my inner being. On the other hand, when I am playing well, the game proceeds smoothly and I have a deep sense of peace.