James W. Goll

B. Childress
Jul 09 2010 08:00 AM

    Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee       
    then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”  Psalm 56:8-9

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for
which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
”   Philippians 3:12-14

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
                                                                      II Timothy 4:7

God chooses each one of us to fulfill a distinct purpose and destiny in Him. His call causes us to cast away the “fishing
nets” of the things that are familiar to us to become pilgrims on a journey. Like Jesus’ first disciples, we don’t know what
the future holds. Christ helps us to be determined, no matter the cost, to run hard to follow Him in order to fulfill His will.
We struggle at times and we get frustrated, tempted to throw in the towel, but we continue. The once-bright pathway
disappears. We thought we had heard our Master say where we were headed. Yet by sight we appear no further down
the road than when we first began.

Learning from the lessons of believers who have gone before us, we realize that all progress in the Christian life comes
by faith. We turn to our road map over and over again. We lean our ear in His direction to receive encouragement for
today. Yes, it may be an arduous path, but it is indeed an adventure. We must proceed. The requirements: hearing God’
s voice and obeying it.

Has God Said?

The enemy attempts his same old tricks one after another. How often have we heard God speak clearly, only to have it
followed by the devil’s sly comeback, “Has God really said?” – which is the same question the serpent asked Eve in the
Garden. The enemy has repeated those words in the ear of every person who has ever tried to follow the Lord God.

Undermining the Word of the Lord is one of the enemy’s main ploys. Unless we have God’s Word rooted deeply inside,
we can easily get off the track because of Satan’s insinuations. Vaguely trying to quote God’s Word, we repeat Eve’s
mistake. “Don’t eat – in fact, don’t even touch it!” (Eve added the last phrase, “don’t even touch it” [see Genesis 3:3].
God hadn’t forbidden touching the fruit.) Like Eve, we misquote God, and we are caught off balance. Proverbs 30:5-6
warns us, “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He
reprove you, and you be proved a liar.”

Many of us struggle to know whether we actually heard God. But that was not the case with Adam and Eve. There was
no doubt that God had spoken to them. So the serpent’s strategy bypassed the question of whether God had spoken;
he questioned God’s intent. The enemy knows the Word rather well, so he distorts it subtly, a little here and there,
without our even realizing it. It will happen to you: When the devil can’t stop you from hearing God’s word, He moves on
to another strategy of distorting the goodness of God Himself.

I wish Eve had stood firm: “Yes, that’s what God said! God is good, and He knows what I need. I’m not going to listen to
snakes!” Now I am not an Eve-basher, I just want us to learn all we can in order to avoid similar pitfalls. Remember,
Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6,

Line of Fire

Sometimes we feel as though we are the direct target of spiritual warfare. It’s because we are ambassadors of One who
has vanquished all the collective forces of the dark side. We may not be the direct target, but we may be the most visible

Therefore, like Jesus our Messiah in the garden of Gethsemane, we kneel before our Lord and maker, and we receive
grace and strength for the battle. Putting on the full armor of God, we arm ourselves for the fight. Challenges, doubts,
fears and questions come at us from multiple directions. Taking up the shield of faith, we extinguish the fiery darts of the
evil one. Standing confident in His spoken and confirmed word, we wage war against the spirits of wickedness and
deception. Submitted to God, we resist the devil, who must flee from us. We rise with the high praises of God in our
mouths, driving the deceiver farther away with our worship.

We hear the voice of God. The enemy tries to snatch the word away. We hang on to it. Somewhere in there, we begin to
realize that maybe God’s goal is something more than giving us another word. Have you ever felt like the Word got a
hold of you? He is the Living Word.

Tested by the Word

The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.”  (Psalm 12:6).

Often, when we receive an exciting revelation from God, He uses the revelation itself to test us and purify us so that our
character will be able to convey the word to others. I wonder how Joseph felt as he endured trials and testings, pits and
prisons, because of his two life-shaping dreams. It took many years for him to see the fulfillment of those words.

I wonder how Abram felt when the Lord told him to move from his familiar surroundings to a strange land. Would he listen
and obey, leave his country and follow Yahweh? If so, God said He would bless him with a lineage as numerous as the
stars of the sky. Years of testing transpired, as Abraham believed God. He had to be convinced that the voice that had
spoken to him was not a crazy notion in his head.

I imagine that his first step of obedience, packing up and moving to Haran, was the hardest one of all. When he took that
first step, believing he had heard God, he found that taking another step would not be so hard. Eventually his trail of
hearing and obeying brought him to the land of promise, only to find the land suffering from severe famine.

Along the way, his failures reflected his capitulation to Satan’s ploys, but they didn’t disqualify him. He attempted to
produce an heir through Hagar, trying to fulfill God’s word in his own strength and understanding. All the trials prepared
Abraham for his ultimate test of faith (see Genesis 22) – being asked to sacrifice his own miraculously conceived son,
the son of his old age. Abraham, by now a giant in faith, believed that if need be, God would raise his son Isaac up from
the dead to fulfill his promise!

All through the Bible we see the long journeys of those who heard from Him in one radical way or another. Consider
Moses. How many seemingly endless years did he faithfully follow God’s voice?

The little shepherd boy David – how many years after he received his word from God did he become king? How many
times was he tested by the questions, Did God really say that? How many times did he wonder if Samuel had been right?
How many times was he pressured by his own men to fulfill God’s word by his own strength?

Each had received a promise, but when the testing of those words came, each of those men of God responded
differently to God’s words and to the subsequent testings. All of them failed along the way. But God used their failures
as part of their character development process. Even failures can be used to help keep His word pure.

What Will Our Response Be?

Should we be exceptions to this pattern? If we can hear God’s voice and have been called to even a small task in
building His kingdom, let’s rejoice that we have been found worthy to be called God’s children and to be tested on the
very promises He gives to us.

God will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can bear (see I Corinthians 10:13). He’s a loving Father who wants to
see His children succeed. He simply allows trials in our life so that we will have the proven character needed to carry the
message. “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance,
proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:3-5).

He tests His very words on purpose so that we will reach our hand heavenward to grasp His hand of mercy and grace.
He is a good Father. He wants us to grow up and to be as much like His Son as we can be. Although we may find it
difficult to comprehend His mysterious ways, we can be sure of His character, which is good through and through. How
many times have I allowed God’s word to slip away because I thought the testings were simply evidence that I had heard
it wrong? How many times did I lose out when the little voice said,
Did God really say that?

Ministry to the Nations

Years ago, I was the pastor of a small congregation in a college town in Missouri. I was dedicated to my flock but restless
on the inside. Healing evangelist Mahesh Chavda came to minister to our congregations, and at the end of the service, I
felt an urge to go and pull on his coattails as if I were drawing forth an anointing from him. I took hold of his suit jacket. A
strong current of God’s power overwhelmed me. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the platform!

Lying there under the power of God, I began to see a vision. I could see a man’s hand with a globe rotating in it. A sort
of ticker tape with words on it came before my sight, listing the names of nation after nation. I could read the list of
nations clearly as they rushed before my mind: Guatemala, Haiti, Israel – on and on. I was stunned and wondered what
all this meant. At that point in my life, I had only been outside of the United States one time.

Then a word came to me, “You cannot perceive and receive this in your natural mind; because in your natural mind
there is self-doubt. You can only perceive and receive this in your spirit through faith.” The Holy Spirit continued to
hover over me, and a second time I saw the same vision. A globe was turning in a man’s hand with names of nations
circulating before my eyes. I began to analyze what was happening, skeptical that it could be from God. The voice came
to me a second time, clearly whispering the exact same words, convicting my heart as the words settled deep down
inside of me: “You cannot perceive and receive this in your natural mind; because in your natural mind there is self-
doubt. You can only perceive and receive this in your spirit through faith.”

I tried to get up but was unsuccessful. It was as if the Holy Spirit had set a rock on my chest to make sure that I could not
move until I got the picture. The vision occurred a third time: a globe revolving in a man’s hand with the list of the
nations. By now, the names of the nations were burning in my heart.

As the words began to settle deep within me, something more transpired. Faith was awakened inside of me. God spoke
other things to me as I lay there – promises from His throne and conditions that had to be met. Finally, His presence
began to lift from me. I sat up. I was dazed. I arose. I was changed, and I believed what God had promised. I had very
little understanding of what this meant, the cost it would entail or any other details. But I knew that I knew that I knew –
that I was born for a ministry to the nations.

I learned years ago to kneel on the promises. That means I pray such promises back into the Father’s hearing. It brings
such words to life to pray them into being!

By the grace of God, I have now ministered in every one of the nations revealed to me that day – about 30 in all. God
told me that He would give to me the blessings of John Wesley – “that the world would be my parish.” It has been so.

I can’t spell out all the second-guessing I have been through, the sleepless nights, the wrestling against the demonic
hosts, the cost of leaving family and friends to move to another state just because He said so, the loneliness of leaving
my family behind to go out and do the Master’s call.

Michal Ann and I have had to pick up our cross many times to walk out that word and others. We feel we are in good
company, following in others’ footsteps.

It’s worth the price – to hear His voice, to know His kiss, to sense His touch! Satisfaction does not come as much through
finishing a task as it does through increased intimacy with Him. He is my journey’s beginning – and its end.

This Is My Father’s World

As I penned these words, my entire being was once again overwhelmed with God’s presence. I had just come back in
from my southern-facing front porch, which overlooks the beautiful hills of Franklin, Tennessee. The sun was setting and
the sky was ignited with a display of heavenly colors. In gratitude to God, I lifted my glass and gave God a toast: “to the
promises of God and to the God who promises!”

Do you hear Him speaking now to you? He’s waiting to have a moment just with you. Lean your head a bit and you will
hear more than words. You will hear the sound of love beating in His heart. He is your journey’s end. Knowing God is
what hearing God is ultimately all about!

Do you hear what I hear?


THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HEARING GOD, by James Goll, Copyright 2008, Regal From Gospel Light.