Faculty devotional at the Masterworks Festival, 11 July 2016, by Terry B. Ewell.

Today I am going to talk a little bit about how you can recognize God’s voice. I think that this can be a very confusing issue for many and I know that it was for me as a young believer and for some of my friends. So I am going to give two stories to you. The first story is about a friend of mine named Steve. Both of these stories were from when, I think, we were sophomores in High School.

Steve was a believer and had been a believer for many years. He felt a voice talk to him and say, “Put your glasses down on the floor and step on them.” “If you believe in God, He will heal you. Your eye sight will be fine. Put them on the floor and put your faith in God.” He was actually very confused about this. He did put his glasses on the floor and he told me he put his foot just above the glasses and was really thinking about stepping on them. But he decided not to do it. He was uncomfortable with that voice telling him to do that.

For Steve to have lost those glasses would have been a big burden on his family. Nevertheless there was a lot of confusion for Steve. What was going on there? One can talk about the difference between God’s voice and the voice of the adversary.
You see, God’s voice is gentle, imploring, and reassuring. The voice of the adversary is belittling and accusing; forcing the believer into things the believer shouldn’t be doing.

God’s voice rightly uses the scripture. It doesn’t distort the Bible, it rightly uses the scripture. The adversary’s voice distorts the scripture and uses it in ways that it shouldn’t be used.  Steve wasn’t an old enough Christian then to have studied the Bible enough. If he had known the Bible well enough he would have thought, “Oh, this is like one of the temptations Satan had with Christ.” Satan took him up to the top of the temple and said, “Leap from the temple, God will take care of you.” It is the same type of temptation, isn’t it? Satan was saying, “Show your faith in God, He will spare you.” Jesus’ reaction was, don’t tempt the Lord, your God. Satan has used the same tricks over and over and over again.  We can learn about those tricks and those strategies in the Bible. We can also learn about the ways of God and the ways in which He speaks and the ways in which His voice works.

One of the greatest gifts that God gave me was in the first year after I became a Christian. All of a sudden He put in my heart this burning desire—it was almost like a fire—to read the word of God. I was so consumed that I couldn’t get enough of the Bible. So that first summer after I had been a Christian one year I read the entire Bible. I started to read books about the Bible, I started to study the Bible, I started to learn. The Holy Spirit kept working and working in me. At the time I didn’t understand much of it. I finished the book of Revelation and I said, “Woo, that was something!” I didn’t know what was going on, but wow, I can tell you that that was something. You might find the same thing that you don’t understand anything. But immerse yourself in the Bible. Lord, I pray right now that you would send your fire. That the people here they will want to yearn for your word, God. That they will be consumed with a passion for you God. Let it be in your name, Lord Jesus, amen.

Let me tell you a little bit about my story. Again, I was about a sophomore in High School and I was sitting in front of the TV watching, I don’t know what. Just “chilling out” and stuff. All of a sudden I hear this voice say, “Go to your closet.” Not very profound, is it? “Go to your closet.” It wasn’t an audible voice in my ears, but it was so articulate, it was as if my whole being resonated with the voice. So, OK, sure I walked into my bedroom and went into the closet. In my closet I had book shelves. Once in my closet I said, “Lord, I feel really stupid being in here. What do you want of me here?” The instance I said that my eyes lighted upon books of palmistry that I had. Now, years before I became a Christian I was fascinated with palmistry, astrology, and even witchcraft and some other things. I even did a study module in school on that. I hadn’t thought of those books in a long, long time. Well, long for me then was two or three years. Immediately when I saw those books I took those books and absolutely destroyed them. There was going to be no connection to the enemy in my life. I absolutely got rid of those books. I am concerned that there may be some of you here that may still be allowing a connection. God is calling us not to read our palm or the palms of others, but to read His hand. He holds you in His hand. God is not calling you to read the stars in heaven or use astrology no, with your rebirth you need to be focusing on the Morning Star, Jesus Christ. You are not born under a certain sign, Capricorn or Sagittarius, no, with your rebirth you are born under a new sign, the cross. Do not be involved with Ouija boards, séances, or anything like that. Do not seek advice from the dead. You duty is to consult the living, Jesus Christ the Lord.

So I am praying that if there is anyone here who is dabbling in these things, thinking that they are innocent, thinking that they are something for amusement, God, if they are captured by this, Lord, now release them from that. They would take every effort when they go home to destroy any bit of that: anything that would have any hold over them. Instead that they would receive your truth and what you would have for them.

So you see that voice of God in my life I can now recognize. That really was the voice of God. How do I know that? Because God was leading me into a closer relationship with Him. He was removing from me things that could distract my attention, things that could have been idolatrous. We were cutting that off from my life. I am convinced that that was the voice of God in my life. As I have begun to mature as a Christian, I have been able to recognize that voice.
God’s voice draws you deeper into fellowship. The accuser’s voice tries to isolate you. Have you ever seen the National Geographic shows where you have all of these animals and the lions are creeping around? The lions never attack the herd, they are waiting for the stragglers outside of the herd, the ones that have been weakened. That is the adversary’s desire for you and for me. That we would withdraw from fellowship with other Christians: that we would withdraw from being encouraged by others; that we would be isolated, that we would be a hermit, that we would be in our own sorrows; that we would be removed from His covering of mercy. Then he can prey upon us. That is the difference between to voice of the adversary and the voice of God.

God points to sin and He is very detailed about it. He told me, “Go to your closet.” Then when my eyes saw those books I knew what I needed to do. When He points out sin He gives you a way in which to be released from that sin. You do not have to be under condemnation anymore. You can be totally released from that. You can be released from that moment. The adversary, however, --and pay attention to this—he will accuse you of your sins and he will tell you that there is no release. “You are a terrible person, you are a terrible person, you really don’t believe… you really don’t believe God.” He is the accuser, he is the one that distorts scripture. When the scripture says that you can be forgiven if you come to God and confess your sins. He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins (I John 1:9). You see the voice of God is the restorer, He will restore your relationship, He will encourage your relationship. The enemy is the destroyer. He hates the relationship and seeks to break it. He means to do terrible damage throughout the world.

“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, stand fast in faith” (I Peter 5:8-9).

“And Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Lord, I pray that every person here will know Your voice, will hear the comfort, will hear the difference, hear You calling to them.  They will see your good works coming from following Your voice. They will keep themselves in communion with others, Lord. When they are confused they will go to others, Lord. They will read your scripture, Lord, and find out that they can discern the voice of God and the voice of their adversary. That their faith will be built up, strong and vibrant, God. That you would fill them with your Spirit, with power, Lord, with assurance with the wrestling that they have, Lord, in Jesus Christ. And that they would know that You are their beloved Father and they are your beloved children. In the name in Jesus Christ. Amen.