There is a great story in the Bible that you’ve probably heard preached many times where Jesus comes to the disciples and He asks them, “Who do you say that I am?” Eventually Peter speaks up and declares, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” That’s powerful, right? But what interests me the most, is that Jesus then turns it around on Peter and tells him who he is, and the destiny laid out for him:
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19 ESV)
What if that were you? What if Jesus stood in front of you right now and told you who you are in His eyes and the plans He has for your life? That’d be awesome, right?
Well, while I don’t think God will lay everything out for you, just as He didn’t lay all the fine details out before Peter, I do believe that God will speak to us about such things.
We’ll come back to this thought in a minute, but let me first start with a quote I posted on Twitter the other day and haven’t been able to stop thinking about:
“I cannot afford to have a thought in my head about me that is not in God’s head about me.” -Bill Johnson
First off, for me, this quote sends an important reminder to be cautious because it is too easy for most of us to get stuck in our own heads with thoughts built on our own pride and egos. For some of us these thoughts are negative, such as “I can’t measure up,” “I am unlovable,” or “I’ll never be good enough.” For others, these thoughts are conceited and puffed up like, “I’m so much better than that person,” “my boss in an idiot, I’m the only one qualified to run this place,” and “she’s lucky I let her be my friend.”
The Bible, however, warns us against both of these things. We are not to think too highly of ourselves that it puts us above loving others (Romans 12:3), nor are we to be so downcast that it infects our spiritual lives (Psalm 43:5). In fact, in both of those verses cited, we are told to instead put our hope in the God who created us and saves us, and to walk according to the level of faith He has given us.
This leads to the second thing I get from the quote. I would contend that the level of faith we have concerning who we are comes directly from the Holy Spirit, who tells us the mind of God (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 1 John 2:27). As such, it makes sense that He loves to speak the thoughts of God about us, to us. This is why He is called the Comforter and our Helper. He wants to lift us up and encourage us toward our Heavenly Father.
Therefore, to put it all simply, we have to put our own thoughts of self aside because they aren’t based in faith, and instead let the Spirit tell us the thoughts of God toward us. His are the thoughts we need to fill our head with. So the question becomes, then, when was the last time you sat still long enough to quiet your own mind and let God speak His truth and His love over you?
If the answer to that question is “it’s been a while,” or even, “never,” then a good starting place for you may be an exercise we once did with some of the leadership in my church in Texas. We directed each of them to a listening form of prayer for a while, having them ask God to reveal what He calls them. While none of these people (to my knowledge) were very accustomed to “hearing God’s voice,” they were all extremely open to it and took the task quite seriously.
For some of these people, God’s answer came quickly, and for others it came over the course of a few weeks of seeking Him, but when God spoke to them, it hit every one right in the place they needed to hear from Him most. He was calling them things like, “My son,” “Beloved,” and “Forgiven.” Now, while all of those things are tied to simple theological truths that we can read about in the Bible, every one of the people involved would agree that they have a greater, soul-punching impact when God speaks them to you directly, through His Spirit.
To make things even more interesting, we even had spouses hearing what God called their opposite before they even heard it themselves. These things only confirmed that it was the Spirit of God speaking, and not simply the human mind.
However, an exercise like this should only be a starting point. Hearing from God should not be a one-time thing. In fact, it is my belief that for us to get through our day-to-day lives being the people God wants us to be, we should continually be asking God what He thinks about us and the dreams He has for us. I believe that just like Jesus speaking to Peter, God wants to speak to His children and He wants to lead us into the life He has for us. If we are listening, the Holy Spirit will speak.
I encourage you, then, to take the next few minutes to pray and ask Him to speak over you. Let Him love you and lift you up. It will get you out of your own head and help you focus on being who He has made you to be. I promise, you are loved by God, and you don’t even have to take my word for it. Ask Him yourself.
— One word of caution for those new to the concept of hearing from God. Remember, our enemy poses himself as an angel of light and may try to slip in and speak things over you that are not true. Why it is important to practice hearing God speak, it is just as important to do so with discernment. Always remember that God will never speak condemnation over His children (see Romans 8:1). It was dealt with on the cross of Christ. Nor will He speak “new truths” not already outlined in scripture. The promise is that God will always speak encouragement and love over you, the same as any good parent does over their child. He will lead you into the path that will draw you closest to Himself, and even if discipline comes your way, it will be in such a way to remind you that you are loved and cherished by your Father. That being said, let the listening begin.—