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The Prompting of the Spirit

The Prompting of the Spirit

How to Be Sure It's His Voice

Give her the four hundred dollars.

Jared and I were standing at the rental car counter in Colorado Springs, and the Holy Spirit was clear about what He wanted us to do next. We had flown to Colorado to meet with my publisher about an upcoming project, and while we had the rest of our trip planned, we had yet to secure a vehicle for the few days we’d be in town.

As I heard the Holy Spirit’s words, I thought of the envelope of cash in Jared’s backpack. He had earned it working overtime — long, hard hours away from home. We had brought it just in case of an emergency, but when the attendant of the rental car com­pany told us her story, I knew instantly why we had felt led to bring the cash with us.

“I haven’t been home in nearly ten years, and my niece is getting married,” she had shared. “I just can’t afford the ticket.” The minute the words left her lips, I sensed the Holy Spirit tell­ ing me to give her the cash. I was sure of what I needed to do next. My only question was, how was I going to convince Jared that the Holy Spirit wanted us to give her the full price of the ticket? It was money he had worked hard for and was likely look­ ing forward to spending on something he wanted back home.

She continued to type, working to finalize the details of our rental. “Guess what?” she said. “You guys won’t believe it, but I have a vehicle here I don’t usually have. It’s just sitting out there in the lot and doesn’t have any other reservations on it. I can give it to you for the same price as the sedan.” I looked at Jared, who shot me a quick smile and waited to hear what we’d be driving around town. “It’s a brand­ new Cadillac Escalade. Would you prefer that instead?”

We quickly said yes. It was a fun surprise and definitely an upgrade from what we’d planned to rent, but all I could think about was the money God had asked me to give her.

She printed the receipt and stepped away to grab the keys. Jared pulled his backpack onto the counter, paid with his debit card, and put away his wallet. If I was going to tell him that I thought we needed to give her the money, this was the moment I needed to do it. “Jared,” I whispered, but before I could finish, he was already pulling the white envelope of cash out of his bag. He opened the flap, discreetly showed me the money inside, and gave me a knowing look that ten years of marriage could easily interpret.

Of course the Holy Spirit hadn’t just spoken to me. He had spoken to Jared as well.

When the attendant came back to the counter with the keys, Jared held out the cash. “We want to help you get back to your family. Jesus wants you to have this money so you can go home.”

She stood there stunned for a moment, saying nothing. And then it hit her all at once. The unexpected offering, the realization that she was going to get to see her family, the reality that God loved her enough to give her this gift... it was more than her heart could contain. “Can I give you a hug?” she cried, and we easily agreed.

A few months later, she emailed us a photo. She had used the money and made it home in time for her niece’s wedding. The picture showed her standing with her family, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a happier woman.

I’ll be honest. It’s not every day that God invites us to be a part of meeting someone else’s needs in this sort of way. I don’t share this story because I want to focus on the monetary gift this woman received. I share this with you as an example of trusting the Lord even when His promptings seem unusual. Because sometimes God invites us into situations that don’t make much sense, and we have to be sure that He is the one leading us.

We must pause and ask ourselves, “Is God really asking me to do that? Am I sure I heard Him correctly? Is this the voice of the Lord or not?” I have a feeling you’ve asked yourself similar questions. So, how can we be certain it’s the Holy Spirit who is speaking to us?

Sometimes God invites us into situations that don’t make much sense, and we have to be sure that He is the one leading us.

From the previous chapters, we know that God not only desires to speak to us but actively communicates with us using many different methods. To hear His voice clearly, we must learn how to distinguish it from all the other noise we hear within us and around us. We must learn how to discern the voice of truth.

Discerning the Voice of Truth

Jesus said,

When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. — John 16:13

While this is a short statement, Jesus’ words provide a summary for much of what the Holy Spirit says to us and how we can determine if it’s His voice we hear.

Notice that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth.” He is not the spirit of partial truth or the spirit of mostly truth. He is the Spirit of truth. Period. This means that what He says to us never contradicts the truth of what we read in Scripture. Remember, even Satan spoke to Jesus using partial truths.

In Matthew 4, Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness for forty days when the Enemy came to Him and said,

If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. — Matthew 4:3 NKJV

The truth the Enemy spoke was that Jesus was the Son of God. However, the temptation came in the twisting of these words. If You are who You say You are, then do something God would not have You do.

Jesus answered,

It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ — Matthew 4:4 NKJV

The Enemy tried to tempt Jesus again, saying,

If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down [from a high place]. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’ — Matthew 4:5-6 NKJV

Jesus said to him,

It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’. — Matthew 4:7 NKJV

Y’all, even the Enemy knows Scripture and quoted it to Jesus. But Jesus knew more than simply what the Scriptures said. He knew the heart of His Father and what He had meant. Listen, if the Enemy knows the truth and will attempt to distort it to lead us away from the Lord, then we need to know the Word even better than he does. (But that’s another book for another day.)

Does the Bible Confirm What I Am Hearing?

So, my friend, to discern whether we are hearing the voice of truth, we must ask ourselves a few questions. The first one is: Does the Bible confirm what I am hearing? The Holy Spirit won’t lead you away from what God has already stated in Scripture or tell you to do something that the Bible doesn’t confirm. Jesus said He spoke only what He heard His Father say and that the Holy Spirit also would speak only what He heard. Within God, there is no contradiction and no conflicting message. So when discerning what you perceive God to be saying, begin with the Word. What does the Bible say about what you are hearing?

Now, here’s the thing: Yes, God’s Word is the ultimate authority. However, there are moments when the words we hear the Spirit saying aren’t plainly addressed in Scripture. Perhaps God is giving you wisdom about how to handle a particular situation with your spouse or coworker. Perhaps He is guiding you in how you need to proceed with a specific life decision. It’s in these moments that

you and I need to know not only the Word of God but the character of God as well.

This is how Jesus overcame the deceptive temptation of the Enemy. He knew both the Word and the Father in Heaven who had spoken. We, too, must know both. If the voice you hear does not affirm who God says He is or who He says you are in His Word, then what you are hearing isn’t His voice.

Does What I’m Hearing Sound Like Jesus?

This brings me to the second question we must ask our­ selves when discerning His voice: Does what I’m hearing sound like Jesus? We have this incredible gift of having access to the actual recorded words of our living God, words He spoke as He walked the earth. He spoke about faith and healing and confusion and boldness. He spoke about following Him and trusting Him. He might not have spoken about what to do specifically when it comes to parenting an unruly child or defiant teen, how to make sure the bills are paid, or how to ensure your marriage is healthy, but He did speak about the importance of family and provision and humility and wisdom.

We know from Scripture how Jesus responds to many sit­uations we face today. So this is a really simple yet powerful question to ask yourself: “If Jesus were to walk into the room, would He prompt me to take that action? Would He lead me to this decision? Is there peace in the voice I hear?”

The Holy Spirit is the same Spirit who filled Jesus, was actively involved in His ministry, and brought Him back to life after He had been crucified. So when we hear from the Holy Spirit, He sounds like Jesus. After all, there is only one Spirit of truth.

Here’s a great test to help you decide if what you’re hearing is from the Lord: when in doubt, say it out loud. Seriously. Try saying out loud what you believe God is telling you. Does it bear witness with your spirit? Whether it’s a thought, a feeling, a dream, or a vision, simply speaking the message we hear can help us determine if it sounds like something Jesus would say. If Jesus wouldn’t say it to your face, then the Holy Spirit wouldn’t whisper it to your heart.

Excerpted with permission from God So Close by Becky Thompson, copyright Becky Thompson.

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Your Turn

Are you wondering if Jesus is speaking to you? We need to be listening to the Holy Spirit's gentle whisper all the time! If there's any question, ask yourself if what you're hearing aligns with Jesus' life and the Scripture. Ask if it's edifying, hopeful, helpful, kind, and the fruit of the Spirit of God. If it does and is, then follow! Come share your thoughts with us! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full