Joh 6:63 It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life.
In another place I conversed with a believer that had trouble knowing the voice of the Lord. I shared with him John 6:63. Jesus told us that his words are “spirit” and “life”. These two words help us recognize the words of Jesus. “Spirit” is both the will of God – thus the content will be confirmed in Scriptures – and the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit moves to bring his words to pass. “Life” means movement and action. When the Lord speaks to you, there is a motivation to act upon his words.
I shared with this person a recent experience I had on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. One of the translators spoke to 2 men and she and the other translator became aware of demonic presence. The translator not speaking called me over and told me they felt demons coming from a woman who was sitting in the background. So I stood at the fence in front of the woman and spoke to the demons in the woman, who spoke no English only Creole. But the demons understood me and caused the woman to get up and walk away. Later, at our base camp, the Lord spoke to me and told me to go to the tree. I instantly got up and went to the tree where the translator was telling the story to the team leader. The Lord wanted me to share my part in the story. When the Lord told me to go, I did not realize that the Lord was talking to me, I only knew I had to go. In hindsight and reviewing my memory I realized I went because Jesus told me to go.
After this discussion I started noticing this in the Bible. Here are some examples.
Luk 5:10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive.”
Luk 5:11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.
Notice they left their fishing boats as soon as Jesus said they would catch people instead of fish. Spirit and life comes from the Lord’s words and they acted upon it immediately. To fair, in this instance they saw the miracle of catching fish, when they caught nothing all day, which the Lord told them to do as payment for using their boats to stand in while he taught on the Kingdom of God to the crowds.
Luk 5:27 After these things he went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, “Follow me!”
Luk 5:28 He left everything, and rose up and followed him.
In this story of Matthew, Jesus walks by Matthew and tells him to follow him and Matthew with no miracle to see obeys immediately leaving it all behind. Spirit and life. It seems that Jesus was prompted by the Spirit to tell Matthew to follow him, and the Spirit brought life to the Lord’s words to motivate Matthew to get up and go.
There are many things in learning to recognize the Lord’s voice, but it is not any different than knowing your wife or husband’s voice. There are characteristics to his voice that are knowable. Jesus did say,
Joh_10:4 Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice**.**
One last word of encouragement. My father was a scientist. He told me when I was a child that part of the scientific method is to examine an object by yourself and become familiar with it before hearing the opinions of others. If you hear opinions first, then examine the object, you will not see the object clearly because the opinions of others will create a bias causing you to look for what you had heard instead of seeing what is there.
When I came to Christ, I took his advice to heart. I wanted to hear and see the Lord and the Scriptures for myself before hearing the opinion of others. When I thought the Lord spoke, I obeyed. When I was wrong, I also saw his help in correcting me. I read the Bible 3 chapters a day from Genesis to Revelation 5 years in a row.
This is my encouragement. Put out of your mind all that you have been told and listen and look for your self. Yes, God speaks through the Bible. But He also speaks directly to our hearts in a number of ways. It could be as a realization. It could be as a drop into our spirits. It could be an unexpected thought in our minds. It could be from a preacher’s message. It could be from a song on the radio.
Regardless of how the Lord is speaking, you will learn the characteristics of his voice just as you know the voice of a family member even when unseen.