Living the Christian Life – Chapter 9: God’s Plan vs. Our Plan

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries7 Minutes

What am I going to do with the rest of my life? Where should I go to school? Should I take this job, or is there something better on the horizon? Whom should I marry? Life is a never-ending series of choices. How can we know whether we are making the right decisions?

God is our Heavenly Father, and He wants us to be fulfilled, blessed, and successful in the plan that He has established for our lives. This is because He loves us, and so we can be a reflection of His love and blessings to other people in the earth. It is God’s desire to have a relationship with us—to walk with and to communicate with His children. He wants to talk to us. He wants to guide our steps. And He wants us to listen and talk to Him, too.

Here is the good news—we can hear His voice! It might sound crazy to you, but it is true. The Bible, God’s love letter to mankind, makes it clear that we were created to have two-way communication with Him. Jesus tells us in John 10:27 (ESV), “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

As a child of God, we don’t have to walk blind. We can have confidence that we will hear His voice. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:14 (NKJV), “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Conversely, this Scripture implies that if we are God’s children, if we are born-again, His Spirit will lead us.

We have further assurance of this promise in the Psalms:

“The steps of a good [righteous] person are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand” (37:23-24 NKJV).

God will order our steps, and even when we blow it, if we are truly trying to do His will, He will lift us up and give us another chance.

Learning to Discern

The most difficult part of hearing God is the fact that it takes time to learn to discern His voice—and it takes a humble heart. We see this expressed clearly in the story of the boy Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 3 NKJV).

Samuel was given by his mother to serve in the Jewish temple under the high priest Eli. One night as he slept, God began speaking to Samuel. Having never heard God’s voice before, Samuel thought Eli was calling to him. The boy ran to Eli and woke him saying, “Here I am, for you called me.” Eli replied, “I did not call, go lie down.” This happened three times and finally Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’”

The Lord called out to the boy one more time, and Samuel responded as he was directed, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Just as Samuel heard the voice of God, but could not yet discern it from Eli’s, so we, too, learn to hear and discern God’s voice by trial and error.

We hear four internal voices—our own inner voice, the voice of God, the voice of the devil, and the voice of the world—which would include memories of influential people, members of the media, or other important messages we have heard over time. Without training, we might think the things we hear are merely our own inner voice. But once we are aware of these different influences, we can more easily discern among the various voices.

After some trial and error, like the boy Samuel, we can eventually recognize the voice of God and learn how to confirm His leading in our lives.

The prophet Jeremiah declared:

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to
you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me
with all your heart
” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NKJV).

The writer of Proverbs describes the way our thoughts and intentions line up with God’s will when we submit ourselves fully to the Lord:

“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to
Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and]
so shall your plans be established and succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 AMPC).

The Lord manifests Himself to us and through us as we humbly seek Him. The familiar passage in Proverbs 3 makes it clear.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).

The prophet Isaiah speaks about our ability to hear God’s voice:

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the
way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).

God will speak, and you can hear His voice, but you must be careful that you objectively confirm that you are following the Holy Spirit and not another voice. Our own flesh can scream loudly (especially when we are under pressure, or we want something very badly). The world can be very seductive. And the devil is the father of lies—he is the great deceiver.