You have heard that the Lord sees you as mighty men of valor before you even accomplish anything―just because He lives in you.
But as the oil lamp needs oil in order to function, so a real man needs the Holy Spirit in order to function as God intended. Your first priority in order to function as men of valor is to have fellowship with God. All other duties and responsibilities flow from that relationship.
Since everything was created by God (Colossians 1:15-18), and since He is the Head of the church, Jesus deserves first place and for you to listen to Him. If you are going to bless your families and affect your communities, then you need to hear from the Lord about what to do, who to speak to, when to speak to them, and what Scriptures to use.
Paul heard the voice of the Lord on the Damascus Road. And Acts 13 tells us the disciples in Antioch gathered, and while praying and fasting, heard what work Barnabas and Saul should do. We could add a long list of others throughout history. Men of valor get their instructions from their commander-in-chief―their leader, Jesus Christ. He did not save us and then leave us alone to figure out how to respond to all that happens in life. He sent us the Holy Spirit as his resident comforter and teacher. So, one very important aspect of keeping Christ first is to stay in communication with Him.
We must be careful not to think that only time reading the Bible or praying is time with God, but that time working, traveling, talking to our wives, or playing with our children is not time with God. Jesus Christ has joined himself to our lives by His Holy Spirit, so He is always with us whether we feel it or not. Yes it is important to spend quiet times with God alone, but He is still with us when we are not alone with Him. This is very important in our understanding of how to recognize His voice.
Direct and Personal
When the Holy Spirit speaks, His overtures and propositions are direct and personal. Remember, in the parable of the shepherd and sheep in John 10, Jesus said the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. We are in a Father-and-son relationship. Romans 8:16 says His Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are the sons of God. So his approach is to speak to our spirit and mind.
The flesh and the devil like to speak to us about the past and our failures and our imagined future. But the Holy Spirit says to face today. Matthew 6:31-34 says, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NASB).
When God speaks to us, He speaks about the present time.
We often want to change our circumstances: Lord, remove this thorn. Take away my burdens. Move my neighbor. Replace my boss. But, what does the Lord say? “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) It is okay to ask the Lord to alter our unpleasant circumstances, but the Lord often speaks in the midst of our circumstances with reassurance, and He imparts faith to see the opportunities. Scripture says these things: Do not be weary in doing well, for eventually you will reap if you don’t faint (Galatians 6:9); I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5); Endure hardship as discipline because I’m treating you as sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:7).
God does not speak in our imaginations about vague worries, fears, anxieties, failures, and bitterness. The Spirit urges us to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. When speaking to us about some sin or violation of Christ’s commands, the Spirit will be specific and definite. The sin will be recognizable and resolvable. Other voices will be vague and condemning, entangle you in false guilt, and suggest there is no solution. The world, the flesh, and the devil will call us worthless or tell us our sin is no big deal. They’ll say, “Everybody does it. Don’t worry about it. It won’t affect anybody.” Those are lies and not from God. God does not contradict His word.
The subject matter you are hearing and thinking about must be based in truth.
The content we hear will result in peace, even if the instructions are difficult. Psalm 85:8 says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people.” (KJV)
James 3:14-18 says, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (ESV).
Finally, Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (NASB).
Do not misunderstand. What Jesus tells you to do by His Holy Spirit may not be easy or comfortable. It could very well be outside your desires and dreams. It may stretch you. Your first reaction might be like mine: no, thank you; I’m not interested. Nevertheless, although the task is difficult, your heart will end up peaceful as you consider what He said.
In fact, many times while you are obeying what the Spirit of Christ has asked you to do, you will encounter trouble, trials, hassles, persecution, resistance, or walls. This seems to be the opposite of what I have been saying, but this trouble comes from the outside. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV)
Able to Withstand the Test
After considering the relevance and the content of what you hear from the Holy Spirit, you still may not be certain. In many cases, we must confirm what we think we have heard. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test everything; hold fast what is good.” (ESV) Compare what you hear with Scripture, because God does not contradict His word. Also prove it out in practical realities. One example is to recognize that it is important to be in unity with your wife about almost all decisions. If there is not harmony, then if at all possible wait, continue to pray, and listen.
So “keep your ears tuned” to listen to God at all times, staying in communication with Him. Remember that His word will be direct and personal; it will be timely; it will come with grace, truth, and peace; and it will be able to stand the test. If you don’t know what to do, wait, pray, and continue to listen. The answer will come.