Standing on God's Promises Part 3
Over the past two months, I've written on the confidence we can possess in standing on the thousands of promises from God as outlined in His Word. Today,I'd like to continue this theme and look specifically at the assurance that can be ours when our desire is to follow the Lord's will for our lives and delve into the subject of hearing His voice.
To begin, Christians hear God's voice mainly through His written Word- the Bible. He can speak through circumstances and people too, but those ways only confirm what He's saying through the scriptures first. He never contradicts Himself and He's not the God of confusion but of order. He also does not speak outside of the scriptures. Whenever I say I've heard the Lord, the voice is not an audible one but rather where scripture, circumstances and the timing therein, coupled with godly counsel 'speak'. When people tell me they haven't or don't hear the Lord, it's because they do not open their Bibles- it's as simple as that.
For a number of weeks now, I have been second guessing myself as to whether or not I can confidently say that I have heard the Lord's voice and sense His leading in every area of my life but particularly in the areas of my vocation/ work and ministry/church life. Doubts as to whether you are in the Lord's will for your life come when things don't appear to be working the way you envisioned them, when there seem to be roadblocks, difficulties in varied forms and unfulfilled dreams and expectations. Doubts also emerge when something (or a number of things) come at you when you were least expecting it and urges you to commit to serious prayer,thought and counsel.
While the scriptures are clear that in this life you are guaranteed trouble and that it 'rains on the just and the unjust,' it doesn't necessarily mean you are out of God's favour or His will when you are experiencing difficulties and doubts. Yet I feel to clarify at this point that ongoing and persistent sinning will have their consequences and must be confessed for forgiveness to come and that He rewards the upright, righteous person with His blessings. Such blessings are not always of the tangible variety and we also must not fall into the dangerous trap of assuming when all seems to be going well we are in the Lord's will or are experiencing His favour either. (Read Psalm 73)
Next year, I will celebrate 40 years walking with the Lord. So, my reasoning is that I should surely hear and know His voice by now. John 10:27 says I do..
"My sheep hear my voice...and they follow Me.."
John 10 also talks about how His sheep know to NOT follow the voice of strangers and they recognise the difference.
"Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from them, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (v5)
Jesus re-iterates the point in verse 14:
"I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep and am known by my own."
There is much to be gained from John 10. Yet one point I need to emphasize is that Jesus calls Himself the GOOD shepherd. This fact alone should give me enough confidence to know His goodness will lead me well; in fact in the best way- for my good and for His glory. I have no reason to doubt that I have heard and will continue to hear His voice and leading. By doubting, I am actually doubting that I am His and He is mine.
"My Beloved is mine and I am His.." (Song of Solomon 2:16, italics mine)
(I have stopped for lunch at this point of my writing and felt the need to read a chapter of 'Hinds Feet on High Places' by Hannah Hurnard. Honestly..God's timing is amazing and this is some of what I've just read..)
Said the Chief Shepherd to Much Afraid, who is journeying to the High Places (eternity)..
"...even though you seem to be farther away than ever from the High Places and from me,there is really no distance at all separating us... Believe it and practice it with joy.My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. Whenever you are willing to obey Me, Much Afraid and to follow the path of My choice,you will always be able to hear and recognise my voice and when you hear it you must always obey. Remember also that it is safe to obey My voice,even if it seems to call you to paths which look impossible or even crazy."
How's the timing? Honestly, the Lord speaks to me through the writing of these blogs as much as He speaks to you who read them! Love!
If our heart is set on a life of obedience to God's ways and will, we can be guaranteed we are hearing His voice and so should respond to His calling,regardless of any outward circumstances and the twists and turns along the way.
I mentioned at the start whether I can CONFIDENTLY say I am hearing the Lord. But He has been saying through His Word, that my confidence should never be in myself but rather in Him. My confidence shouldn't come from any positive circumstances either.
My confidence needs to rest on Who. He. Is! He IS faithful. He WILL guide me. He WILL NOT leave me or forsake me. He WILL provide all my needs. He KNOWS the end from the beginning. He KNOWS the path I will take. He is all knowing, all wise, all powerful, all loving. The more that I learn about God, the more confident I become in Him, the more willing I am to go where He leads. As a result, inner rest and peace ensue.
Below are more scriptures on the confidence of knowing God's guidance.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"
"The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
"In their hearts human plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will counsel you with my loving eye on you."
"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way."
(italics mine)... for a reason. Whenever you read the word 'will' in scripture, it's a promise!