Jesus, our Good Shepherd, loves us and wants us to hear what He is saying so that we can follow His leading and direction to walk in the victory He has won for us (Psalm 23; Colossians 1:13; 2:13-15). But hearing His voice can often be difficult for several reasons. Some may not hear His voice because of the distractions and the busyness of their lives, or others may not recognize His voice. Some feel far away from God and aren’t listening to Him.
How do we come to know God’s voice today since Jesus is not here physically walking among us? God is always speaking, but communication is two-way. It isn’t about whether God is speaking but if we are listening! Are we in tune with His voice? God gives each of us a unique method of God-given capabilities. As we present ourselves and our senses to the Lord, we can notice messages from Him that we couldn’t perceive before.
Because the Holy Spirit lives inside us as believers, we can be in constant communion and communication with Him! We are united in spirit with Him through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17); therefore, we can hear His voice as He instructs and guides us throughout our lives.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Psalm 32:8
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21
We hear His voice and receive revelation in different ways at different times. Revelation is the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world; the making known of a previously unknown fact or secret. God speaks through the Bible, which is His written Word, our senses, by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit, through angels, in creation, dreams, visions, or gifts of the Spirit, i.e., prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, various tongues, and their interpretation.
We discern or perceive through our senses. We have both natural and accompanying spiritual senses. The first step to discerning what God is communicating to us is to offer our senses to Him (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell). When we surrender our senses to Him, He enhances them to receive divine input from a divine dimension better. We must do this intentionally on an ongoing basis so we can grow into the maturity of Jesus Christ.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
We can hear the Lord speak to us through all of our spiritual senses, but there will be a more dominant way. So let’s look at our spiritual senses and how they operate.
1) Seeing: We see with the eyes of our heart or the eyes of our understanding; our inner self or spirit, our spirit eyes (Ephesians 1:18 – 19). God wants us all to see through the seer anointing. The seer anointing allows us to see the Lord, see into the spirit realm and see what the enemy is doing. Dreams and visions are part of the seer realm where God can speak to us (Job 33:14-16).
2) Hearing: A significant ministry of the Holy Spirit is listening to the Father and Son (John 16:13-15), and we need to do the same. We all can hear God’s voice because we are His sheep and follow Him (John 10:27). We may hear God’s voice in words, possibly audibly but often inaudibly (1 Samuel 3:1-10). Our ability to follow Jesus corresponds to our ability to hear and recognize His voice. He may speak through the written Word, by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit, or prophecy, etc.
One of the best ways to learn to hear His voice is by spending time meditating on His Word. When the Holy Spirit breaths on the Word, it becomes Rhema or a spoken word for you. God’s written Word and the inward witness are two different things; however, they never contradict each other. Romans 8:16 says; the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit, and our spirit translates it into a thought. A thought might come to your mind, and you may even wonder: was that me, Lord, or was that you?
The inward witness is that quiet knowing, urging, or prompting and leading arising within you as the Spirit of God influences your born-again spirit. When we spend time with Him through God’s Word, in prayer, and worship every day, we learn to hear His voice (Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 30:21; Romans 10:17).
Prophecy is an inspired utterance in a known language of the expressed thoughts of God accessing His heart, mind, and voice.
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to man. 1 Corinthians 14:3
3) Feeling: Feeling is related to the physical sense of touch, our feelings, and our emotional response to the environment around us. Our emotions help us pick up spiritual information. It is important to surrender our feelings to the Holy Spirit to be used in the way He made them to be and to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is doing, i.e., His working, nudges, backing off, etc., so that we can collaborate with Him in ministering to other people. Because the Holy Spirit lives inside us, we can expect to interact with Him throughout the day. We must walk by Holy Spirit-guided feelings by faith, yielding or presenting ourselves to God (Romans 12:1).
4) Taste: Taste is another way that we can discern God’s goodness or the presence of evil.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8
The fruit of the Spirit will leave a good taste in our mouths. We may taste sweet honey as Ezekiel and John did (Ezekiel 3:3; Revelation 10:9). Or if something seems to leave a bad taste in our mouths or is rotten, we may be discerning something is off through the gift of discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
6) Smell: We must also ask the Holy Spirit to bring revelation on the sense and odors that we may smell. That is why we need to pay attention to our spiritual surroundings. For example, we may smell the fragrance of the Lord Jesus as He enters the room. Sometimes we may smell the effects of someone’s need, a work of the enemy, or rottenness in the life of a church. We need to ask the Holy Spirit what the particular smell means, so we don’t jump to conclusions and ask for wisdom on how to proceed.
We are to use our senses to discern what the Lord is saying and doing and ask the Holy Spirit what to do with the revelation we receive. We also need to walk in humility and wisdom. God is good and wants us to grow in receiving and discerning revelation. It is essential to discern that the message we are receiving is from God and aligns with the Word and His character. We must be grounded in the Word! We all can discern God and what is not God because we have the Holy Spirit living inside us (1 Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:11; 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:1-4).
As we close our teaching this month on Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I want to remind you that He desires us to get to know Him on a deep, intimate level. He already knows everything about the deepest parts of our hearts, minds, and souls (Psalm 139:13-18). He gave His life for us so that we might live a victorious and abundant life (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14; John 10:10). Our Shepherd leads, protects, and knows us intimately as He calls us by name. When we are in a relationship with Jesus, we can hear and know our Shepherd’s voice!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.