James W. Goll

B. Childress
Jun 11 2010

    "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built
    his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that
    house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock"   Matthew 7:24-25

Thus far in this book we have been laying a firm foundation for our house of God to be built upon.  It is time now to learn
from Jesus, our Master Carpenter, how to use a few tools (principles) that can assist us in the art of hearing and
following God's voice.

1.  Don't Make it Complicated

It is not hard to hear God.  We tend to overcomplicate the whole matter.  The following three simple steps will help us
hear God's gracious voice:

Step One:  Submit to His lordship.

Let's ask Him to help silence our own thoughts, desires and opinions.  We want to hear only the thoughts of the Lord.  
Take the advice that is given in Proverbs 3:6-7: "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths
straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil."

George Müller was an Englishman, one of the great evangelical champions of the faith.  He lived this first principle.  By
faith alone, he supported vast orphanages  He would pray daily for the provisions to feed these hundreds of children
who were under his care.  One of the secrets in George Müller's walk with God was so simple, yet it is rarely taught
today: He told his followers that if they wanted to hear from God and pray in faith, then they first would have to cleanse
themselves of their own opinions.  Another word for this is "submission."

We can't hear God if we have a preformed opinion on an issue.  We must submit to His lordship.  We need to
consciously submit our thoughts, our opinions, our preconceived attitudes and notions, and even our traditions, to the

Step Two:  Resist the enemy.

We can use the authority Jesus Christ has given us as His disciples to silence the voice of the enemy.  We can stand
firm in our position as God's own children.  We need to learn what it means to apply the blood of Jesus over our lives.  
We can resist the enemy, who comes to our mind with all sorts of fears and plausible doubts.  God's Spirit in us will make
us able to do what we can never do solo, and Jesus' powerful name will convince Satan to leave.

The apostle James wrote, "Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7).  
first; then resist

Step Three:  Ask a question and expect God's answer.

We should ask the very questions that is in our heart, bringing it before the throne of Almighty God.  Then we need to
wait for Him to answer.  We should not expect to get an answer to pop right up ("You've got mail!"); rather, we should
wait expectantly, believing that as we have submitted to God and resisted the enemy, we will be "filled with the
knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9).  At times, an immediate reply may
come.  The vital third step after submitting and resisting is to
expect God to act.

2.  Allow God to Speak However He Chooses

We should not try to dictate to God the guidance methods we prefer; rather, we must listen with a yielded heart.  There
is a direct link between yielding and hearing.  He may choose to speak to us in a method that we are not accustomed to.  
He can speak through His written Word, through a person, through dreams or visions, or through a quiet inner voice.  
Having submitted to Him, resisted the enemy and asked for an answer, we should not dictate the way we want Him to
respond to our request.  Let's receive grace from His storehouse, the grace of expectant yielding.  We need to always
allow God to speak in the way He chooses.

3.  Confess Any Known Sins

A clean heart is a prerequisite to hearing God. We read in Psalm 66:18: "If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will
not hear."  If the Lord doesn't even hear us, then we're not going to receive the answer that we're hoping for - because
He hasn't even heard the question yet.  The third tool for hearing God's voice is foundation to the ABCs of Christianity -
the confession of sins.  We need to confess our sins to our Father in Jesus' great name.  He is waiting to forgive us.

4.  Obey the Last Thing God Said

Why would God give us new orders if we haven't obeyed His last ones?  He's waiting for us to do what He's already told
us to do.  This alone could be a primary roadblock.  If He has already spoken, and we already know what is required of
us, then we should go do it - for Jesus' sake!  It's an issue of obedience.

These principles are laid out in the story about Elisha the prophet and the servant who was rigorously chopping down
some trees with which to expand the place where they were living.

    "So he went with them.  And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.  But as one was felling a beam, the
    ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.  And the man of God said,
    Where fell it?  And he shewed him the place.  And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim
    [float].  Therefore said he, Take it up to thee.  And he put out his hand, and took it."    II Kings 6:4-7

    Here is the Goll paraphrase:

    The servant has been working away cutting down trees with his axe.  It seems that all of a sudden he flies off the
    handle - oops, I mean the axe head does!  He loses his head and flies off the handle.  The servant lost
    relationship with the head.

Now here's the reality: An axe head does not become loosened up all at once.  This occurs over time due to neglect.  
The cutting edge grows dull.  When the cutting edge is not resharpened, after the axe is used for a job, eventually the
woodcutter needs to put more of his strength into every swing.  He still gets productivity, but each time there ends up
being a little more of his strength and a little duller edge.  Over time, the axe head becomes terribly dull.  It loses its tight
fit with the handle.  When it eventually falls off the handle, it seems to happen all of a sudden, but really we know better.  
If it can happen that way in the natural, it also can happen that way in the spiritual.

We need to tend to our axe head, keeping it  sharp.  We should make sure that our relationship is right with the Head of
the Body of Christ and confess our sins daily.  We should not wait six months before asking the Holy Spirit to turn on His
lights inside for an inspection; rather, we need to do that every day!  In my own relationship with the Holy Spirit, I often
sanctify three days of fasting just for the purpose of cleansing my heart.  I'm not asking God for stuff; I'm asking God to
tenderize my heart.  Knowing that I still sin and realizing that sin makes me lose my edge and that it loosens my
connection with the Lord, I need to take a maintenance break.  Like anyone else, I can end up putting too much of my
own strength into situations, and as a result, my head can get lost in the field of my labors.  I may even fly off the
handle.  Then (good news!), the Son of God comes along and says to me, "Ah, I see you lost your head.  You flew off
the handle, eh?  Where did it fall?"  And when I show Him the exact place, my cutting edge will be summoned.  It's as
much of a miracle as an iron axe head that floats - I am restored, complete and useful.

What is the key for receiving back the cutting edge?  We must point out the place where we lost it.  We must go back to
the place where we heard and haven't yet obeyed.  "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble"
(James 4:6; I Peter 5:5).  The condition for grace has just been met.

When in humility we point out our place of falling, He takes a stick (a symbol of the cross) and He throws the wood of the
cross of Jesus into the place of our failure, and a miracle happens!  We don't have to conjure up some religious
performance; the voice of God is back.  We have been restored.  He is within us,.  The axe head surfaces, and it comes
back to the shore on the waves, to be restored to its proper place of usefulness.

5.  Get Your Own Leading

God will use others to confirm our guidance, but we must learn to hear the voice of the Lord for ourselves.  God is a
jealous God.  That means He wants to talk with us personally.  We need to become secure in our own identity in Christ.  
We must realize that we are sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe and that He wants to relate to us in our
own right.  We should not be wrongly codependent on others.  At the same time, we should not jump the tracks by
cultivating an independent and rebellious spirit.  
We need to hear God for ourselves.

6.  Don't Talk About Your Word Too Soon

This is a really helpful tool.  I wish I had known this one a bit earlier in my life!  I think the dreamer Joseph might have
wished he had heard this one too!  Waiting helps us avoid not-so-obvious pitfalls.  When God tells us something, it's as
if He is sharing a secret with a trusted friend.  We should consider asking permission before opening wide our mouth
and repeating everything we supposedly know.  Here are four traps I have discovered.

The Trap of Pride

Just because we've heard the Lord doesn't mean that we have developed the character to carry out the action.  We
might think,
Man, am I a hotshot!  I heard God today.  We center more around ourselves and our gifts instead of the
Master and His ways, becoming prideful.

The Trap of Presumption

Presumption makes us act as if we know it all.  After all, we've heard God!  Could it be that we heard only part of what
God wanted to say?  One portion could be coming through some life experiences and another part through other
people.  We need to pray for the word we hear to be informed by a living understanding of how and when to act.  We
should stay humble, remembering that even though we are special to God, we aren't the only spokespeople He has.

The Trap of Missed Timing

There is a kairos moment (perfect timing) for all things.  If we talk about our word too soon, we might miss the Savior's
timing and end up attempting to fulfill our word with second-rate results.  We should remember what happened to
Abraham and not birth an Ishmael because we just
couldn't wait for an Isaac.

The Trap of Confusion

"God is not the author of confusion" (I Corinthians 14:33, NKJV).  Premature public chatting about all we have heard in
private can result in confusion for ourselves as well as for others.  To avoid the trap of confusion, we can set a guard
over our heart and mouth and speak only those things that build up our hearers.

Oftentimes, God does tell us something ahead of time, before it comes into being.  His word comes to prepare us and to
change us to be the vessel qualified to do what has been spoken.  We all seem to need to learn the hard way not to talk
out of turn.

7.  Know That God Will Confirm What He's Telling You

God will give us our own stuff - there is plenty to go around, but we can depend on the fact that God does use others to
confirm His word.  It's a part of His safety net of protection (II Corinthians 13:1: "Every fact is to be confirmed by the
testimony of two or three witnesses").  If it really is God speaking, He will speak the same or similar thing more than
once.  I sigh with relief over that one. It helps to take the pressure off.  In other words, you and I don't have to try to
figure out what to do with a one-time word!  If it really is from God, it will be confirmed.  We can rest in that fact.  

We can trust that the Lord will speak through those in authority over us.  If we are children living with our parents, we
should pray for them.  We can pray for our elders and pastors and those who are over them.  A married woman should
pray for her husband to have wisdom.  Everyone should pray for those with whom they are going to take counsel.  We
need to bathe each situation in prayer.  We can ask the Lord for trusted channels of authority in our life by which we can
receive correction, encouragement, admonition and confirmation of what we believe God is saying.  God will confirm His
word to us through others.  There is safety in many counselors (see Proverbs 15:22).

8.  Beware of Counterfeits

Satan loves to counterfeit.  He is not the Creator, so he has no originality; he's just a copycat!  Think about what a
counterfeit means.  It implies that there's something authentic and real out there, something worth copying.  There is
counterfeit money because there's real money, and it has power.

The enemy counterfeits God's voice and he counterfeits experiences, even rare supernatural experiences.  Why are the
psychic hotlines so popular?  Why does the New Age movement seem to have so much influence?  People turn to
psychics and New Age thinking because they so hungrily want to encounter the supernatural.  People want guidance.  
People are born with a void that only the voice of God can fill.  You want to hear His voice, or you wouldn't be reading
this book.

But beware of counterfeits from the dark side.  Our vigilance is an important part of our equipment.  While we remain
vigilant, we can find reassurance in the fact that the very existence of counterfeit guidance proves that the Lord of hosts,
who has the real power, also has the real thing: the real voice, the real dreams, myriad real angels and the true
guidance system.

9.  Practice Hearing God's Voice

Yes, practice hearing the voice of God, and it will become easier.  It's like picking up the phone and recognizing the
voice of a friend, whose voice you know because you've heard it so many times. Years ago, I learned a lesson about this
the hard way.

I am the youngest of three children.  My oldest sister is six years older than I, and by the time I was in high school, she
was long gone out of the home.  Naturally, I did not know her very well.  Later, when I was at college, the phone rang one
night and I went out into the dorm hallway to answer it.  There was an unfamiliar woman's voice on the other end of the
phone: "Well hello, James.  How are you?"  "I'm fine.  Uh, who is this?"

It was the voice of my older sister, Sandra, but I did not recognize it.  I think it might have hurt her a bit that I did not
recognize the voice of a member of my own family.  I determined that I needed to get to know her voice before she called

If I want to know the voice of the Holy Spirit, I've got to spend some time with Him.  When I said, "Uh, who is this?" I felt a
tiny bit of what the Holy Dove of God so often feels when He is overlooked and unrecognized.  I want the voice of the
Holy Spirit to become lovely to me.  I never want to grieve Him.  (By the way, I have a wonderful relationship with my older
sister now because I know her dear voice and the heart with which she speaks.)

Get to know the voice of your Master by spending time "on the phone" with Him.  Practice makes perfect.

10.  Cultivate an Intimate Relationship

From God's perspective, the most important reason for hearing the voice of God is not so that we will know the right
things to do but so that we will know Him, the source of the guidance.

True guidance involves getting closer to the Guide.  We grow to know the Lord better as He speaks to us.  As we listen
to Him and obey His Word, our relationship with Him goes far beyond information, guidance, dreams, visions, angels and
all the other wonderful supernatural stuff.  The gifts of the Spirit are appetizers to whet our desire for more of God
Himself.  The voice of God creates a deeper hunger within us so that we might come into closer communion with Him.  
The primary reason we need to hear His voice is really simple: to cultivate the intimate relationship with our Abba Father
that He wants us to have.  Our Daddy wants to commune with us even more than we want to commune with Him.  Draw
near, for He draws near to us.


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