James W. Goll

B. Childress
Jul 02 2010 08:00 AM

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed
into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This
is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
”   Isaiah 30:20-21

Do you remember playing the Hot or Cold game as a child? You would be blindfolded and some object in the room would
be selected by the others for you to try to find, blindly groping around the room. Your playmates would shout, “You’re
getting warmer. Naw, you’re
cold. Warm, warmer, HOT!” Of course, “hot” meant you were getting closer to the desired
object, and “cold” meant you were going in the wrong direction.

The Geiger counter works a little bit like that game. It’s an interesting instrument, named for Hans Geiger, the German
physicist who invented it is 1928. The Geiger counter can detect the presence and intensity of radiation (the
spontaneous emission of energy from radioactive elements, most notably uranium) by using a gas-filled tube that briefly
conducts electricity when radiation makes the gas conductive. The Geiger counter amplifies this signal into a series of
clicks. The closer it gets to the radioactive substance and the greater the intensity of the substance’s radiation, the
louder and faster the clicking noise becomes.

I have often thought this is a lot like our approach to hearing God’s voice. Our spirit is like the Geiger counter that tells
us whether we are closer or farther away. It helps us put all the pieces together. We learn to pay attention to an inner
witness. We check in with the Holy Spirit, we listen to our “knower,” and our spirit either bears witness, or it doesn’t.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we have a divine guidance system that comes as part of the package.

Are you getting warmer – closer to what God wants to say? Or are you getting colder – father away from it? Do pay
attention to the signals.

Ten Principles of Divine Guidance

Determining God’s will is more an art form than a science. Yet there are basic principles of which we each need to be
aware. They are some of the signals that will help us zero in on God’s word. Some of the principles in this chapter will be
a bit of a review and some of them fresh and new. Let these 10 principles of divine guidance help you hear God’s voice,
determine His guidance and, most of all, grow closer to God Himself.

1. The Will of God is Made Known in the Word of God

Some people start trying to listen to the subjective without being grounded first in the objective. They don’t have a
gauge to judge what they’re sensing, hearing, feeling, thinking, or what I call knowings. Here’s a very basic example:
One day we read in Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.” That registers in our spirit and stays there. Not long
afterward, we are walking in the mall and we see a very attractive person of the opposite sex. Some inner voice suggests
something like
Look over there at that good-looking person. Wow! But because the Scripture is hidden in our heart, it is
easy to turn away from that thought. We don’t even have to evaluate whether that tempting voice is God’s; we know it
isn't. The Word (the objective logos) is hidden in our heart, and it informs us that this stray thought should be ignored,
that it is in fact the beginning of a temptation. In all guidance, God’s Word is the final judge.

2. The Will of God is Confirmed Through Circumstances

During my senior year of college, I was quite zealous for the Lord. I read a tract on expelling demons and went and did it
that day. It worked! Although earlier I had given myself much more to my studies, I had become a full-blown Jesus nut,
and I cared little about the pursuit of academic credentials. I was ready to quit college at the end of my first trimester of
my senior year, although I needed only 20 more hours to complete my degree.

My grades were still good, but they weren’t as high as they once had been. I thought I was ready for full-time ministry. I
prayed something like this:

    O God, I just want to forget this stuff and get on with my real calling!...but if You want me to finish out this year, I
    ask You to do something. Show me Your will!

Then a surprising thing happened. Even though I was ready to quit in November, with only six months to go until
graduation, somehow I received a scholarship for which I hadn’t even applied. It was a religious leadership scholarship to
help me financially so that I could complete the rest of my year at a secular university. So I decided,
That’s a pretty good
circumstantial sign. God has answered. I’d better go ahead and complete what I have started

I’m glad I completed that degree. I might not have met my wife if I hadn’t!

Circumstances alone don’t constitute divine guidance, but they can often confirm God’s will.

3. The Holy Spirit Speaks from Where He dwells

Where does God dwell? Not only does He dwell in heaven, but He also dwells within us if we are children of God and
we've been filled with the Holy Spirit. According to I Corinthians 6:19, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in
you.” Colossians 1:27 confirms, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He speaks to us from where He dwells.

Have you listened to your heart lately? What is beating in your heart? John 16:13 states, “But when He, the Spirit of
truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will
speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The Holy Spirit is heaven’s representative in all true guidance.

4. Divine Guidance Comes from Meeting God’s Conditions

What are the divine conditions that must be met for guidance to be unlocked? Has he heard our cry? If we meet His
conditions, He will surely guide us.

Read Isaiah 58, where we find some of God’s requirements described. The chapter speaks about honoring God and
caring for the downtrodden, observing the Sabbath and not pointing the finger in accusation of others.   Above all, we
see that having a humble heart is of the utmost importance.

If our attitude toward God and our fellow human beings is not arrogant, then God’s corresponding promise is “And the
LORD will continually guide” (Isaiah 58:11). The conditions are listed first.

5. Peace of God Accompanies True Guidance

Peace does not mean there is no storm. Peace does not mean there’s no warfare either. God’s peace creates a center
of quiet in the midst of turbulence. True guidance from God does not push us; it brings peace and satisfaction. James
remarks, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits,
unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

Notice that James states that the wisdom of God is “unwavering.” That’s an interesting interjection. It means God doesn’t
say one thing one day and something totally different the next. The Holy Spirit’s guidance is constant and unwavering. It
can be tested by time and tested by content. God’s guidance is not nervous or tentative. God is not the author of
confusion but of steadfastness and peace.

6. Much guidance from God Comes Unnoticed

Much of our guidance comes undetected. We’re often unaware that we are being guided. This is because we’ve asked
Him to continually guide us. We want to do His will. It’s also because of the sovereignty of God. God wants us to do His
will more than we want to do it. He is quietly releasing His thoughts into our sanctified minds so that we can make wise

Humility is the key that unlocks God’s provision: “He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way”
(Psalm 25:9).

    The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

7. Divine Guidance Does Not Mean We Know All the Details

Of course, that may not be what we want to hear. We prefer to be able to know everything, don’t we?

Each of us is like a child who wants to see a great parade that is coming down the street, only there’s a tall fence
separating the child from the parade. The child isn’t tall enough to see over the fence. He or she can hear the sound of
something coming. It sounds exciting and the child wants to see it. The child gets excited, then frustrated, but suddenly
he or she finds there’s a little knothole in the fence. Now as the child is looking through the knothole, the parade is
passing by and he or she spots a funny clown. The child is so excited, “Oh, I just love this parade; this is just wonderful.”

Only the next time the child takes a peek, he or she doesn’t see anything. Why? Well, it’s only a gap between the
parade events. The child says, “I think it’s all over.” But it isn’t over at all; it’s just a pause.

The child can still hear the music, so he or she takes another look. But this time there’s a new problem. Somebody’s
standing in the way. The child may stomp his or her feet and throw a fit, or the child may decide to poke a stick through
the hole and say, “Hey, you. Move!” We could say the child has issues of character development and that he or she is
learning patience.

Now the child turns and something else catches his or her attention – a ladder going up the side of the house. The child
scrambles up the ladder to the top of the roof. From the rooftop view, the child can see the beginning, the middle and all
the way to the end of the parade.

It’s the same with God’s guidance. We want the rooftop view. The Lord wants us, in a sense, to have the rooftop view we
so much desire. But most of the time, we only get to look through the knotholes in the fence. There may be a special
time when we see A, B, C and even a portion of X, Y and Z. Those awesome experiences can ruin us for life (in a good

But most of the time, we will only see what is in front of us. That’s just the way it is.  It keeps us reliant on God and
humble. Just the same, we can enjoy the parade.

8. The Process of Guidance Is Not Always Pleasant

In Isaiah 55:8-9, God declares:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The New Testament teaches us that we can have the “mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16). But there is a noticeable gap
between our own thoughts, opinions, reasoning and traditions, and His. We are unaccustomed to His ways. We think He
should do things in a certain order, and He seems to like to mess that up. God’s guidance might not seem to be very
pleasant, because we experience heartbreak and disappointment.

If we choose His way over our way, it might seem painful for the moment, but the end result will be good.

9. Hearing God Speak Should Prompt Us to Action

God’s Word is compelling. If we act on it, we’ll hear more. In Daniel 11:32 we read, “But the people who know their God
will display strength and take action.”

I’ve noted this principle earlier. Many times people are looking for the next word from God. The word for them today is
“Have you done the last thing? What was the last thing God said to you to do? Have you completed it?”

Don’t be overcome by a sense of failure. Ask God for another chance. I’ve been learning our God is the God of the
fiftieth chance, not only the second chance. His mercies are new every morning. Do learn from the past, but forget what
lies behind and press forward into the upward call of Christ Jesus.

10. Guidance Is a Skill to Be Learned over a Lifetime

If we have heard God speak once, we cannot assume we’ve learned how to hear Him once and for all. We are on a
lifetime walk with Him.

I learned early on that I can hear the Holy Spirit’s voice for other people. It is a great privilege and responsibility to be
gifted in such a manner. But when it comes to getting guidance for myself, I can’t seem to hear Him as clearly. I hear Him
the same way others hear Him for themselves, through my relationship with Him.

I should cultivate the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that God can use me to release blessings to others. But to really grow in
the very subjective art of hearing God for myself, I need to be like John the beloved and lean my head upon the chest of
my Messiah and Master, listening for the very heartbeat of God. You and I need to cultivate a friendship with Jesus.
Then we will be able to hear God in all His multifaceted modes of expression. We will find that true guidance is not just a
one-time thing. Hearing the voice of God depends on having a lifetime relationship, and that can never be taken away. It
is walking with the Guide Himself.

As we review God’s principles and grow in loving Him, our internal Geiger counter will become more and more reliable. It
will guide us to the source of power, even when the light seems dim and it’s hard to find the way. Yes, we are each given
a Geiger counter of guidance. We just need to learn to turn it on and use it.


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