...Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
I remember like yesterday; I was a very young girl about the age of seven or eight, when I began recalling vivid dreams I would have about God's protection on my life. Similar dreams began to come on a regular basis, and when I would tell my mother about them, she would always tell me it was God speaking to me through these dreams. I began to receive short, vivid dreams and visions of events I did not understand in my juvenile mind, that was until I realized these dreams would almost always come true; once or twice, the dreams became reality as early as the following day.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spake like a child, I understood like a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
As I grew older, I noticed the dreams changed. They became less frequent and I noticed instead a tugging at my heart, or a revelation in Scripture when I was reading God's Word. This is how God spoke to me when I began to mature in my walk with Him...You see, God has a way of never doing the same thing twice. And while God speaks to each of His children in many different forms, how He speaks to us may change as we grow spiritually.
While we are unable to place limits on God's ability to speak into our lives however He chooses, we are able to share our experiences with others who might be new believers; some unable to fully understand if and when they are truly hearing the voice of the Lord. In these situations, it is especially encouraging to know that God does indeed reveal Himself to all of His children, even in the most unexpected ways. You may even hear confirmation from someone who does not even know the Lord; a coworker bringing up a topic you are certain you never mentioned to anyone but God. Maybe you open up your Bible to begin reading with a Scripture suddenly giving you an answer to a prayer you have laid before God for quite some time. In whatever way God chooses to speak to us, we must be accountable for two actions if we want to be sure we are obeying His word: we must be certain to listen at all times; after we are confident we have heard God, we must determine to respond according to all He has shown us.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
I recall a time in my ministry when I was sharing encouraging words with a woman roughly about twenty years my senior. While demonstrating the appropriate words and behavior to ensure respect on my behalf, I sensed in my spirit this woman had become truly frustrated in her walk with the Lord. She proceeded to ask me a question which was truly difficult to answer, because the answer will change according to the individual. "...But how do you truly surrender to the Lord?" she asked apparently after I had made this look like an easy task. I responded simply, "You just begin telling God how much you love Him."
Worshipping and paying homage to the Lord is the surest way to learn how to listen to Him. When we begin to talk to God, we begin to develop the intimacy with Him necessary to learn His voice. It is then God's job to determine how we are best able to listen to Him talk back, and it is up to us to decide whether or not we are going to listen.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
When we are expectantly waiting to hear from the Lord, we are more susceptible to receiving Him in ways which may seem different or peculiar if they are new, but it is up to us to discern whether what we hear or think we hear is from God. This can be simple if we are aware of what God's Word promises us, even if you are a new believer, there are several things you can remember if you want to be certain you are hearing from the Lord:
1. God will never go against His Word; God will never chastise you for cautioning yourself by backing up what you hear with the Word of God. If what you feel like God is telling you goes against His Word in any way, you can be sure what you have heard is not from Him.
2. God will never tell you to do something which will ultimately lead to self-destruction or the destruction of a friend or family member. This goes without saying; you can be absolutely certain that God will never tell you something that will harm you or anyone else whether short term or long term. Remember this: correction and discipline comes for the purpose of drawing someone to God, not pushing away from God. Whether it is meant for edification or correction, the purpose behind the word should be to ultimately draw you or someone else to a deeper relationship with Christ.
3. God never contradicts Himself. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have heard conflicting messages, do not panic! Instead, ask God to give you confirmation; if you heard one word leading you in one direction, then later hear a word leading the opposite, just wait; it may be you have allowed your own decision to mislead you, while God is trying to place you back on a straight path.
4. God's Word will never cause confusion. Finally, remember God is not the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33-For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.) God will never tell you anything to confuse you or anyone else. If you feel you have heard something from the Lord, remember the former steps which will help you determine if you are hearing correctly. If you are confused simply because you feel you do not immediately understand what God has told you, ask Him for clarification and confirmation. God will never turn you away when you are persistent understanding something which will leads to obedience to Him!
I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
Remember a final thought: God loves talking to His children! He loves when we worship at all times, and pour out our lamentations before Him. The more time we spend getting to know His voice, the better we become at discerning His word, making us able to surrender to His perfect will for our lives. It may take some time learning how to listen, but through knowledge of His Word, we can be completely confident knowing when we call, He answers.