God Speaks, Part II
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."1
Years ago I had a strong conviction that my own vision for the Lord's work was too small. This was when I was still doing ACTS ministry in my homeland of Australia. But I had no idea what more God was leading me to do. Shortly afterward, circumstances out of my control brought me to California (which at the time I thought would only be for a year or two). When I realized I was "stuck" here for longer than I expected, and not having any further leading, I told God that I would open an office here in California and put my conviction to the test!
Well here we are some two-plus decades later and God has indeed greatly expanded the ministry of ACTS far beyond anything I could have ever dreamed or hoped for! Without the circumstances that brought me here in the first place, I never would have had the courage (nor the desire) to leave my homeland and, of all places, open an office in California where there are numerous Christian organizations.
Yesterday we pointed out how God "speaks" to or leads us through His Word, the Bible, and never contrary to it, through a sense of inner conviction and peace, and through our circumstances.
Fourth, I hear some people saying that God told them such and such, but the next week, according to them, “He” is telling them something different. You can be sure that this word is not from God.
When a word is from God, there is always 100% accuracy. There was a severe penalty (death) in Old Testament times for false prophets—that is, those who claimed their message was from God and it wasn't. The test for a true prophet or spokes–person for God was 100% accuracy all the time.
Fifth, for me personally, whenever I feel God is "speaking" to me or leading me, I pray and ask Him to reveal to me the truth of the matter, and...
Finally, all the preceding steps need to line up (like the markers in a harbor leading ships on a safe course both in and out of the harbor), and when they do, we can be confident that the leading or word is from God. Then we need to step out in faith to test the leading to make doubly sure it is from God. I prefer to do this and even be wrong, rather than through fear of failure, not put what I believe is God's leading to the test.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please teach me how to test the spirits, to be certain when the word I hear is from You, and not from myself or any other source. And when I am certain You are speaking to me, please give me the courage to step out in faith, and put to the test what I believe is from You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. 1 John 4:1 (NKJV).