One of the most popular questions I get asked is, “How do you hear the voice of God?” And the second one is, “And how do you know it’s really God?” Those are honest questions and they deserve an honest answer, so let’s look into them today.

There is an account in 1 Kings 19 about the prophet Elijah hearing the voice of God, and I’ll use the first 16 verses. The story leading up to the incident is not as important as what Elijah experienced with God, but it’s necessary to give some back story to bring you up to speed.

1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

Where I really want to focus is on verses 11 and 12, go back and read them again, please. Now the way we expect to hear from God is for Him to thunder from the heavens in an unbelievably loud voice, but that usually doesn’t happen. In fact, this passage in 1 Kings shows how He usually speaks to us.

I’d like to share something from my childhood that might help you understand how hearing God’s voice works. I used to listen to radio shows at night on AM radio. The station I listened to was quite a ways away, and the show would fade in and out in what they called “cross talk”. Other stations close in frequency would sometimes bleed over and override the station I listened to. But if you listened VERY CAREFULLY, staying focused on that one voice, you could still pick it out, as it faded in and out. Very often the other stations bleeding over would be way louder, putting my station way into the background and sometimes blotting it out altogether.

The closer and more intently I listened, the clearer the weak voice of the station I listened to would be. It took ignoring the louder voices, and that sounds hard to do, but if you focus, you can do it. And it’s like that hearing God’s voice. Some of you can hear God’s voice at church, but how about when you’re in your car in heavy traffic on a hot day and your air conditioning stops working, people are honking all around you, you’re hot and upset because you’re late, how well are you hearing God right then? Probably not so well.

It’s not because God isn’t talking to you, it’s just that the distractions around you are tuning you out to hearing God’s voice, and soon you are hearing everything EXCEPT God. The devil never whispers, folks. He shouts; through other voices, through distractions, through people, through circumstances, and I’d bet my last donut that he will succeed at getting your minds off of God, at least temporarily. And anytime you’re not able to hear God’s still small voice, you’re easy pickin’ for disaster. In fact, in some circumstances, it could possibly cost you your life.

Some of you know this, and some of you don’t, but my natural hearing is not good anymore. I’ve had to learn to LISTEN, to literally strain to hear every word. People with normal hearing don’t put any effort whatsoever to hearing a conversation. But to me, it’s a major effort to pick up what someone is saying, because my ears cannot discern between “noise” and “conversation”, and so what I want to hear is buried in the surrounding noise, and it takes real effort for me to tell what someone is saying to me. But learning to focus on what I need to hear was instilled in me from a child listening to my favorite radio shows.

I’ve learned that God never shouts to me, He whispers. And if I want to hear what He’s saying, I have to tune out the rest of the world and focus upon Him. Hearing His voice has become second nature to me, because I recognize His voice, and it ALWAYS agrees with His written Word. If I “hear” something that doesn’t seem to line up with His Word, I do what the Bible says to do in 1 John 4:1-3, and test the spirits.
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Yes, I actually DO. And a few times when I’ve asked, “Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?”, I’ve heard, “NOOOOOOOOO!” Well, that’s a no-brainer, that spirit was not of God, and therefore was not God’s voice. Maybe that sounds a little extreme to your way of doing things, but I place utmost importance is knowing that the voice I’m listening to and obeying is that of God, and not a devil. If you have trouble discerning if something you’re hearing is God or not, give it that test, you might be surprised to learn what you THOUGHT was God’s voice, really wasn’t. Remember, God’s voice ALWAYS agrees with the written Word. Whatever is said to you will glorify God, not your flesh. In fact, if it makes your flesh feel good, beware!

Maybe some lady out there is about to leave her husband because the “voice” told her she needs to be married to a man of God, and that man of God is already married, but that voice tells her he will make a way. Test that spirit, ladies, before you end up being sorry for it. And the same goes for you men as well. The devil will tell you all kinds of crap that appeals to your flesh, with just enough Word of God in it to get you ensnared in sin. Try the spirits, or you will wish you had later. Hearing God’s voice is not all that hard IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HEAR HIS VOICE. He is always speaking, but if you’re not “tuned in”, you’ll miss a lot of blessings and important information. I guess what I’m saying is “Don’t be at the airport when your ship comes in.” You have to listen.

As we get nearer to the second coming of Christ Jesus, listening to His voice is more important than ever before. You may be listening to something that “seems” to be of God, but it’s snot. What is “snot”? Something very disgusting and slippery. Kind of describes the devil, doesn’t it? He’s disgusting and slippery, and he’s slick, and he’s working to keep you distracted from truly hearing God’s voice, trying to keep you listening to a counterfeit of God. Don’t fall for it. Try the spirits. You have to really listen to hear God, but it’s worth it!