MONDAY, AUGUST 28
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 31
This is a rather long chapter that advances the narrative of Jacob. While we could walk through the story, there is something that happens at the beginning of the chapter that I think may be helpful to talk about. It has to do with how do we know when God is speaking?
I don’t know about you but sometimes it is difficult for me to discern between my voice in my head and God’s voice in my spirit. As a result, it is difficult to decide whether I am trying to convince myself of something or whether God is convicting me of something. So, is it possible to know when God is speaking?
For Jacob it began with God putting a desire in his heart. This took place in Genesis 30:25 when God began to talk with Jacob about going back home. Jeremiah 17:9 provides a good caution that not every longing in the human heart is from God. But the Lord often begins to reveal His will to us by speaking into our hearts.
So, how do we know if the desire in our hearts is from us or from God? God often uses circumstances to convince us of His desire for our lives. As Genesis 31 opens, Jacob is struggling with the fact that his father-in-law wasn’t as friendly toward him as he once was. In fact, it appears Laban was openly antagonistic toward Jacob. We should never trust circumstances by themselves. But God often uses circumstances to get our attention and prepare us to move forward.
So, how do we know if the change in our circumstances is something God is doing or Satan is doing or, for that matter, something we are doing to justify what we want to do? That brings us to the third and most important way speaks and that is through His Word.
This is such a simple principle but it is a critical piece. When you are trying to discern the source of that voice in your head/spirit, see how what that voice is saying lines up with God’s Word. God is never going to contradict His Word. If He is speaking into you, it will be in agreement with what He has said in His Word.
By the same token, any God-given desire will also line up with God’s Word. He is not going to give you a desire to do something that contradicts Scripture.
In this story, (see verse 3), God speaks to Jacob and clearly tells Him to go back home. Now I know most of us would love to hear God’s voice. We would love to receive instruction by His audible voice. But, more often than not, today God speaks through His written Word. The key to knowing whether it is God is speaking or not is to be immersed in His Word: to be so familiar with what He has already said and how He has said it, you will know when He says something else. And you will know when it is not Him speaking.
I have been told that is how bank tellers are taught to recognize counterfeit money. They are not given counterfeit money to study or learn from. Instead they are given real money and get so accustomed to what it looks like, how it feels, etc. they can almost immediately recognize the counterfeit. We should be so familiar with God’s word that we can immediately recognize the counterfeit.
There is one last thing that happens in this story that is important. After Jacob heard from God, he went to talk to Rachel and Leah about it. That may just be a smart husband. But it may be a pattern for us to consider. It is always important to seek counsel from others as we are trying to discern the direction of the Lord.