What do we feel God wants us to be doing in our lives? Are we free to choose or can God communicate in some way with us, to show us a particular path? What if we go down a path in life that we thought was his will, and everything goes wrong? Did we mishear God, and if so, should we even be trying to listen - if it is so hard to discern Godís will?
Hearing the Voice of God
Psalm 23 talks about being with God, and also about him leading us through life. It contains the concept of God guiding us in life for our personal benefit. Some Christians talk about what God has "said" to them, or where he is leading them. The Bible is packed full with thousands of examples of God communicating with people, for example Exodus 6:1 and Acts 8:26.
We need to weigh what we feel God may be indicating to us alongside our own personal feelings. Are we gifted to work in a particular area of ministry? Are we strong enough in personality to move to a new region in order to participate in a certain Christian outreach? We need to learn gradually over time how to discern Godís voice in our lives.
We are all called to evangelise, but not all of us are able to be missionaries, or would want to serve in this way. However, some do feel a calling to overseas mission. Such a decision has practical and financial considerations, as well as the weighing of Godís voice. For many, no specific calling will be necessary, as they are ready and willing to ďgo and preach to other nationsĒ, based entirely on the clear command in scripture to do so.
It takes time to learn to hear Godís voice, and we should never leave our common sense or experience behind. However, God can work in mysterious ways. I think of the well known missionary Jackie Pullinger, and the way God called this servant out of the blue to go to China, and created a very sucessful ministry there.
As far as prophecy is concerned, we need to be particularly careful not to place prophecy about people upon them without giving them the opportunity or space to weigh the words that we speak. If someone has spoken a prophecy over you which you feel was incorrect or unhelpful, have the courage you need to shake that word off and reject it.
The word of prophecy should be encouraging; even if it is corrective it should be constructive and given in a loving way. And in all cases the receiver is the one who should weigh the word. If the word is correct and you chose to reject it, that is your responsibility, but you should not be pressurised into accepting any word out of fear of fellowship rejection.
Some Christian leaders seem to use ďthe voice of GodĒ as an excuse to justify doing what they personally feel is right. Those in leadership should be humble enough to consult and take notice of church members as to their feelings about the direction of the church.
When we make some big decisions in our life - for example, to marry our husband or wife, or to go and live in a certain place, sometimes things go horribly wrong. A broken marriage or any major bad life experience is difficult to cope with, and can cause us to doubt our faith. Was it God we were really hearing in the first place, and if it was, why have things gone so wrong?
God would never want for us any harm. He cannot, if he really is a loving God. However, God can allow us to suffer for our own good at times, even if that good is absolutely impossible to see at the time. Because life is full of suffering, we should not be too surprised that as Christians we suffer along with everyone else.
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