Has God every nudged you? Did the nudge surprise you? Did you dismiss it as a ‘random thought’?
A natural fruit of spending time in the presence of the Lord is to hear from Him. Sometimes it’s a revelation from His Word and sometimes it is a nudge to action of one sort or another.
Does that mean that every time I have an impression or inclination to do or say something it’s always God? No.
Inner nudges can come from three distinct sources: the Holy Spirit, the enemy or our own flesh. We are all quite capable of conjuring up all kinds of ideas and the enemy is certainly adept at projecting his own deceitful suggestions into our minds.
So how do we answer for ourselves the question: Is this from the Lord and not? Ask yourself the following:
1) Is the action I’m considering in keeping with the Scriptures? What does the Bible say? There may not be a specific verse you can recall that addresses the action before you but is it consistent with principles in the Word?
2) Is there an open door for me to do this or am I trying to knock the door down? If you have to force your way into it, stop. The Lord opens doors for what He tells us to do. If what we are sensing is from Him, He will open the door in HIS time. Wait for Him.
3) Is there a sense of confidence in the Lord’s grace to accomplish through you what you believe He is telling you to do? Or are you nervous, anxious or in fear of the face of man?
4) How do you honestly feel within yourself? Integrity demands that we be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Is there a sense of godly peace as you consider the proposed action?
One of the best petitions we can include in our prayers on a regular basis is this one: Lord, grant me the ability to recognize quickly what is of the flesh, of the devil and of Your Spirit that I may only accept and act upon what your Spirit says.
It goes without saying that knowing the Word is foundational to walking in the Spirit. Our commitment to spend time in God’s Word on a daily basis must be paramount. It is through the Word that we learn to let go of our own self-righteousness which is despicable in God’s eyes though it’s usually the last thing we see about ourselves.
What does that have to do with discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
It is incredibly easy to be infatuated with our own opinions and ideas. Remember when Elijah declared, ‘I alone remain as a prophet of the Lord.’ (I Kings 18:22) Wrong! Just a day or two earlier he had learned that Obadiah had hidden one hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves! Elijah’s self-righteousness told him that he alone was hearing from God. He dismissed what God might be speaking to one hundred other prophets!
When Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to rely on our own understanding, it is reminding us that our knowledge and insight is limited. In the book of Acts, Paul and his companions wanted to go into Bythinia, ‘but the spirit of Jesus did not allow them.’ (Acts 16:7) How easy would it have been for Paul and the others to reason within themselves: ‘Our mission is to preach the Gospel to all the nations so of course we should go!’ Yet the Spirit of the Lord was saying ‘No!’
We do not need to know the WHY of God but it is imperative to know His Voice and to obey.
Spending time in the presence of the LORD should yield the precious fruit of increasing our ability to hear His voice more clearly and accurately. However, it is incumbent upon us to guard against a pride that the devil would love to stir up in us that we – and we alone – are hearing correctly from God. Religious pride is the worst kind of pride there is.
Let us seek His presence to know Him and to love Him and when He chooses to nudge us or speak to us, let us obey. May we do exactly as He instructs us – not adding to what He said nor diminishing what He said but obeying as Jesus obeyed the Father: ‘I do only those things which I see My Father do.’ John 5:30, 14:10