The culmination of all the wisdom of every human being does not even come close to the wisdom of God. And yet, some will seek advice from people before asking Him for wisdom. Taking counsel from others can be a very good thing; unless, it excludes God. It is one thing to go to God first, and He leads you to seek insight from another. It’s quite another to seek someone apart from Him, regardless of how spiritually mature someone might be. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). What happens if you take advice from another or even a group of people, and their counsel does not line up with God’s opinion on the matter? No matter who they may be or how many counselors you may have, if their opinions differ from God’s, they’re still wrong.
The question arises about the disposition of the one seeking counsel. Does he want true wisdom, or does he strictly want opinions that match his own, even if they are wrong? Biblically speaking, being like-minded means that the aim is to align with God’s way of thinking. True agreement agrees with Him. Proverbs 11:14Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. Obviously, it is wise to have counsellors who are willing to speak the truth, whether we like what they say or not. It really boils down to integrity and trust. Some want what they want, irrespective of it being good in the eyes of the Lord. That is called lust. Others don’t trust God to give them the best things. That is called fear. Yet, some think they know better than God. That is arrogance. If a person continuously prays, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” yet he really means “My kingdom come, my will be done,” he is praying vain repetitions. We cannot afford to attempt to impose our will over God’s. If you want a peaceable life, embrace His wisdom and His will.
James 3:17-18But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
When you think about it, how much do you limit God and your relationship with Him? Although He is limitless, He does place limits on Himself in relation to us, which gives us the ability to make decisions for ourselves. All that was said to open your heart to allow God to do more in you than you currently think possible. Some believe the mysteries of God are beyond searching out; but in truth, they are meant to be searched out as hidden treasure. To say God never intended for us to know His mysteries is like saying He gave us the Bible to be used as a center piece on our coffee tables. All that’s required is we dust it off from time to time. Of course, that’s absurd. He gave us His Word, so we may know Him. One of the reasons Holy Spirit came is so we can know Him, His Word and His mysteries. 1 Corinthians 2:7-10But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. Why then shouldn’t we be able to search out the mystery of the Trinity? Let’s start with the birth of Jesus.
Matthew 1:20-25But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
We find Immanuel means God with us. Now compare this with another passage: For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Even though Jesus was born in a manger as a human being, we find Him called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father (Everlasting Father –KJV) and Prince of Peace. Incidentally, the word, “Prince” does not refer to a son of a king; rather, it means a captain, ruler or head person (of any rank or class). It has also been rendered as “captain,” “general,” “governor,” “lord” and “master.” As the Child in the manger, He came to represent man to God (Son of man). Before going further, remember two things: God can do and be as He pleases –He is God! Number two, don’t lean on your own understanding; lean on His. As the Son of man, He is fully human; otherwise, He could not have represented us on the Cross. Jesus made Himself vulnerable for our sakes. While on earth, He did not live as God, even though He was still God. Philippians 2:5-8Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. He made Himself dependent on Father and Holy Spirit, which shows us how we are to live our lives as well. While being subject to natural laws, natural laws were subject to Him because of His submission to Father. Jesus did what He saw Him do and said what He heard Him speak (see John 5:19-23). Through the power of Holy Spirit, He operated in the spiritual realm, causing nature to obey His commands. In that same power, He healed people and did miracles. When John (the Baptist) baptized Jesus, Holy Spirit came upon Him as He came up out of the water (see Matthew 3:13-17). Of course at that time Father said, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This too, shows the Trinity.
When the Magi (wise men) came from the east to see Jesus, what did they do? They worshipped Him and offered gifts (see Matthew 2:1-8). They did so by choice. Had Jesus stood as God the Son, they would have had no choice, but to bow. Examine Scripture and you will find when people faced Him in His glorified state, they fell on their faces without making a conscious decision. They had to be told to stand up. And that was while having visions. As already stated, God has limited Himself. Jesus limited Himself when He was born in the manger, even though Isaiah told us the government would rest on His shoulders, which reveals He has all authority. This helps define meekness: power under restraint for the sake of love. Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18). If you really want to reveal the love of God, live a life of surrender to Him.
For some, one key to hearing God’s voice is stop trying to abuse His grace. They’ve been compromising, believing grace makes it okay. It’s like a child of Light trying to tiptoe in darkness, and that’s a dangerous place to be. 1 John 1:5-7This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. Fellowship implies relationship, which means our relationship is based on Light; not darkness. Moreover, grace never sanctions or sanctifies sin. It is unmerited favor that enables us to do the things of God that we cannot do on our own, and that includes living a life of holiness onto Him. In the Greek, the word is CHARIS, from which we get the word CHARISMA which refers to the endowments or “gifts” of God (see Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 12:4,9, 28, 31, et.al.). Carrying an attitude that essentially says, “I’m under grace, I can do what I want, God’s got me covered” is way out of bounds. Sure, He is merciful and He has made provision for sin, but taking it beyond His intent is arrogant. In this case humility is a major key to hearing His voice. James 4:6-10But He gives a greater grace. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you (be sure to read verses 1-5 for fuller context).
The things written in Scripture were written for our examples from which we can learn much (see 1 Corinthians 10:6-11). With that in mind, consider what God said concerning the false prophets of Israel. Micah 3:6-7Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. Did you notice the connection between darkness and inability to see a vision or receive an answer from God? When a person lives in darkness, he cannot enjoy the things of Light. Some of the most miserable people on the planet are the ones trying to live in the Kingdom of God and in the world simultaneously. It doesn’t work very well. This is not intended to condemn anyone; rather, it is intended to encourage us all to walk in the Light, not considering the things of darkness or disobedience. If the Lord has been convicting you of something, and you ignore Him, don’t be surprised if you find yourself spiritually deaf. On the other hand, if you heed the conviction and repent, you will find it much easier to hear.
Perhaps, you’re the one who tried playing both sides of the fence, and you repented; yet, you’re still having difficulty discerning His voice. It may be that you’ve allow guilt to cloud your conscience. Guilt is an unholy counterfeit of conviction. Conviction will cause us to run to God, while guilt takes us the opposite direction. If you’ve been avoiding Him because of what you’ve done, you’re allowing guilt to rule in your heart, instead of His peace. Jesus is worthy for you to live guilt free. If you truly repented, let it go. The only reason guilt can hold you in its grip is if you haven’t fully repented. One might say he’s sorry, and perhaps even mean it in the moment; however, he may still be planning to do whatever it is he did again. Being sorry and repentance are not the same. A person can be sorry for being busted, but it doesn’t mean he changed the way he looks at his offence (whatever that might be). 2 Corinthians 7:8-10For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Did you confess? Then take Him at His word!
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice,” which means there’s a voice to be heard (see John 10:1-18). Scripture tells us that He speaks to us through Holy Spirit (see John 16:12-13; Acts 1:2; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; et.al.). Nonetheless, a number of believers struggle to hear His voice, or at least, with confidence. What are some keys to hearing His voice?
One is obvious: as Jesus said, “My sheep hear, and that means you need to be His. “I prayed the prayer!” That’s wonderful, but are you truly His disciple? You know, completely committed to Him, lock, stock and barrel? John 8:31-32So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” When you’re His, you’re also committed to His Word. Do you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Some simply bought fire insurance as it were, but their hearts are not completely converted. Matthew 16:24-25Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. In short, does your life evolve around God, or is He merely in the mix, and you try to summon Him when you need something?
A second key is to believe Jesus and take Him at His word. We either believe what He says or we don’t. Being double minded doesn’t cut it. Some might say, “I know He can speak to us, but will He speak to me?” True, it can be easier to believe He’ll speak to others than it is to believe He’ll speak to us personally. One stronghold that has crept into the Church is that God only speaks to “special people.” The idea is everyone else or just a few are special. Where do you find that in the Bible? One passage of Scripture immediately comes to mind: “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). We were all created to have a unique relationship with Him. Wait a minute: maybe you’re missing something. You don’t realize you are a child of God, and He is a wonderful Father who speaks to His children. Romans 8:15-17For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Think about this: if you want to hear His voice, it is because He wants you hear to Him even more; otherwise, Jesus would have never come in the first place. He absolutely loves you, and wants relationship with you. It’s in the Bible! Trust Him!
A third key is being willing to hear what He has to say. This may require some renewing of your mind. More on that in a moment. Try coming to Him with no agenda. At times, there are things that weigh on our hearts, but part of trusting is letting them go long enough for Him to share what’s on His heart. Moreover, what He shares with you may actually bring resolution to what’s been weighing you down. He’s very good at multitasking. We simply have to get out of the control room, so we can quit limiting the options which the Lord may want to present. To be sure, it’s quite appropriate to ask for answers and petition Him in prayer. Elsewise, the Word wouldn’t tell us to ask for wisdom, or to pray and make supplications. Think relational in the listening. Again, He doesn’t want a business connection; Father wants relationship! Since He loves you, you have no need to fear what He has to say, or even ask of you.
Back to the renewing of the mind thing. For some, what is at issue is the way they see themselves. Because they don’t believe they’re worthy of love and the good things God has for them, they have a hard time believing any good thing He might say to them. They don’t even handle, “I love you” very well. Thus, they have a tendency to shut down or ignore anything positive. Jesus is worthy for you to be loved, He paid the price for you to receive His love. 1 John 4:16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. There’s much more that could be said about His love, but for now, just accept it. There are some on the other side of the spectrum. They don’t want to hear words of correction. That’s pride! Humility is a major key to hearing. By the way, rejecting His love and anything good He may want to say is arrogant. That implies God is a liar and your hypothesis about yourself is greater than His actual thoughts toward you. Psalm 139:17-18How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. Any opinion that differs from His is wrong. Just try saying, “Yes and Amen, Lord! So be it according to Your Word!” Be willing to hear!
Here’s a simple way to train your ears. Sit quietly alone with God and listen. Write down what you sense He’s saying to you. Put a date on it, and maybe even the time you heard it. Come back and visit it periodically, and see what you find in relation to what you wrote down (Did something come to pass? Do you have more clarity now than before? Etc.). One final thought: you may find your prayers become more effective if you listen first.
A friend noticed in Scripture that when Jesus prayed, He looked up; He didn’t bow His head. He then asked: “Why do we bow our heads when we pray, if Jesus looked up?” Before examining what the Word says about this subject, consider this question: what is more important, our posture or the position of our heart? The one who physically bows his knees, but hasn’t submitted his heart to God, merely did a religious act. The heart has not bowed before the Lord. This is called hypocrisy. On the other hand, someone who has surrendered could be standing on his feet, yet spiritually, he is bowing before the King. A life of worship includes bowing the knee, but it is not limited to it. As it is written, “As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:6-7).
One more thing to consider: faith pleases God (see Hebrews 11:6). Faith is relational and works by love (see Galatians 5:6). When surrendered to the Lord, Holy Spirit may lead you to bow one time and then stand up at another. Whatever He leads you to do, do!
As you study Scripture you will find that people took various positions in how they approached God. For example, in 1 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 29:30 and Nehemiah 8:6, people bowed their heads as an act of worship. When Jesus fed the 5,000, He looked up to heaven to bless and give thanks. In Mark 7:31-35, we find He also looked up in relation to healing a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. In John 17, while praying to the Father, He looked up. Yet, while at Gethsemane, Matthew 26:39 says of Jesus: And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39; [see also Mark 14:35]). Falling on the face is both an act of worship and surrender (see also 1 Corinthians 14:25). Consider this: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” Prayer goes beyond posture; rather, it’s our position in the Spirit in which we maintain a place of communion with God. Jesus said He spoke what He heard the Father say, and we likewise are to do the same. 1 Peter 4:11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Prayer comes from a place of fellowship, which means we can pray while kneeling, standing, bowing our heads, looking up, walking or laying down. Ephesians 6:18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Prayer is an exercise of faith; not a religious act of false piety. It’s easy to look for the formulas (i.e., “what position should I be in when I’m offering thanks, and what posture should I be in when I’m interceding on someone’s behalf?”). We know that much of our prayer is to be done in secret (see Matthew 6:5-7). When the Lord calls us to pray, we can’t always run home to the closet. We have to pray then and there. We may not be in place where we can fall to our knees; but our heart can always be in position. We can stand praying without making a show of it. If you’re in place where you can take a particular posture, great! Do what the Lord leads in the moment. Just don’t get stuck on what position you take. Simply stay surrendered.