“To the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” – 2 Corinthians 2:16-17
Some years ago, I was asked to consider taking a staff position at a new church while serving in a rewarding role at a church I helped start. After the first interview, I sensed that the move would not be a good fit and told the pastor I was not interested and that I didn’t believe he was pursuing the right candidate. For the next few months, I went about life as usual and didn’t think about that experience again before being contacted by the same pastor who asked me to revisit the invitation to accept the role. We did visit again and, for the second time, I walked away, sensing it wasn’t for me. Well, this back-and-forth played out for an entire year. Ultimately, I did accept the invitation, and Mary and I moved to this new church.
After a brief time, I came home one night and said, “What have I done? I feel like I have made a terrible decision. I ignored what God was saying and allowed circumstances to wear me down. I missed God’s direction. Now, we are going to suffer the consequences.” And, frankly, it happened. My failure to listen to God caused Mary and me to walk through some very tough times.
In Genesis 2:16-17, the Lord commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Eve began to listen to another voice and did not hold firmly to her Creator’s words. All that Satan had to do was plant a single doubt about God’s integrity and offer Eve one appealing advantage of doing things her way—and she fell for it. He mentioned wisdom, but using her reasoning, Eve added two more benefits to the temptation: the fruit was good for food and a delight to the eyes.
The schemes of the enemy have not changed. He still whispers lies and twists truth to convince us that God’s ways are not the best. In every temptation, there is a deception about the character and motive of God, plus an attractive promise of a better way. The world is filled with voices that compete for our attention and influence our thoughts and actions. Throughout the day, consider the messages sent your way through the media and people. Consciously compare them to what Scripture says about God and His ways.
We often think about the voice of God sounding like a loud audible booming voice, or we expect to see angels or have some dramatic spiritual experience associated with hearing God speak. We have all heard some fantastic stories about God’s supernatural voice. We get impressed by those stories and think that every time God speaks, it has to be that spectacular. I have found that these false expectations often lead people to miss when God is talking to them.
Too many of us miss the voice of God because we’re simply not paying attention. People tune out the voice of God by constantly chasing stimulation, focusing on their issues, and refusing to set their minds on the things of heaven for more than a minute. If you find yourself striving to hear the voice of God, I want to encourage you to rest. Relax and listen to God’s voice. God designed us to hear His voice. It’s part of the new nature you received when you received Christ. Rest, be in His presence, and then listen to those “God’s thoughts.”
In the Old Testament, we read about the hard-heartedness of Israel. They would be disciplined for their sin, repent, be forgiven, and then repeat the cycle. We read about them being stubborn and rebellious. Several times the Scriptures reprimanded the Israelites for having eyes and ears but refusing to see or hear what God was saying.
Too many people have a god who, very conveniently, always seems to agree with them. A promising sign you’re hearing the voice of God and not just a figment of your imagination is that He is telling you things you don’t like or agree with. If you submit to His authority in those moments, you will retain a tender heart and continue to hear the voice of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 2 tells us the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God and reveals them to us. Paul calls this process of revelation “the mind of Christ.” This process isn’t simply referring to the Scriptures because Paul tells us that all who have the Holy Spirit have access to this precious gift.
If you have found that you cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in your daily life for theological reasons or a lack of understanding of the gospel, I have good news for you—you’re wrong! If you belong to Christ, you are a candidate for hearing His voice. You have been given His Spirit and have the mind of Christ. It’s time to believe, soften your heart, pay attention to Him, and start to follow His leading in your life.
Questions for Thought
1. How long has it been since you stopped, sat down in a quiet place, removed any distractions, and listened to God’s voice?
2. If you are currently struggling to hear God’s voice about a particular issue, relax and listen as the Holy Spirit reveals the thoughts of God to you. Are you willing to obey even if it isn’t what you want to hear?
Associate Executive Pastor
Guy Shafer is an integrator for our ministries and operations, helping the church accomplish its mission strategically and effectively. He is also the champion and leader of the Stewardship Ministry at First Dallas. Guy has served in full-time ministry for more than 40 years. Married in 1985, he and Mary have two children and seven grandchildren, all living in the DFW area.