Choices of voices in your head is today's topic. We have been talking about how you can make wise and godly choices in your life. How many of you know, when you face a choice, that you get those little voices whispering in your head? “Just do it, now with, let’s think this through. Come one, you really want to do it, right?”
Competing, conflicting, most of us have a constant flow of ideas and thoughts that feel like voices in your head rather than the mind of the Spirit…
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Every walked through the Ekka or the Nambour Show’s sideshow alley. You’re just walking through, and all around you are voices… hundreds of Choices of voices...
“Step right this way, one dollar for 2 shots , every player wins a prize!” So many voices, that you don’t know which way to turn, which game to play or, most importantly, who is telling you the truth, and who is lying.
This describes where most of us are every day, adults and kids, we all have voices running around our heads. If you don’t think kids have this, there is a great movie called “Inside Out," and it is the kid movie very adult should see! In the movie, it relates the thoughts that go through a little girl's head in various situations, and features voices in her head like joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust.
A kid movie, yes, but we all grapple with those voices every day. I’ve met adults whose lives are controlled by those same voices and emotions… anger, fear, sadness and disgust. How many of you know that, whenever you face anything in your life, there are often conflicting voices in your head.
Please note that I'm not suggesting that you are all schizophrenic! Schizophrenics hear destructive voices that control their behaviour, and they need professional help.
Mentally ill or not, all of us hear voices, and all of us face Choices of voices, all of which seem to compete for our attention. The question is, which voices are God, which are demons, and which are just you?
YOUR CHOICES OF VOICES
The voices in your head are from either of those three sources. Sorting them out, making the right Choices of voices and figuring which ones you want to listen to is no easy matter!
Choose to listen to the right ones and you will grow and prosper in God, choose the wrong ones to listen to and you will be tormented and maybe even have your entire life ruined! The stakes are high, but God is God, and His ways are higher than your stakes.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
We have a choice… life or death, blessings or cursing, then He said this… choose life. However, all of us also have voices in our heads saying “Choose death.” They don’t say that outright of course, but they do urge us to make choices that could possibly lead to death. Make no mistake, all of us have choices of voices to listen to… God, the devil or ourselves.
People often ask me what America or Europe is like, and I tell them that it’s just like here, only with funny accents. And just as countries have accents, so the voices in your head have accents that reveal where they are actually from,
1. YOUR VOICE… I DID IT MY WAY
Frank Sinatra famously sang “l did it my way,” and this is a constant creed in our modern world. It is also the accent of your own voice.
Iphone, iPod, I want what I want… this is the mantra of the modern generation. Every child is selfish, thinking that they are the centre of the universe, and every child wants what they want, when they want it. You don’t have to teach a child to be selfish, you have to teach them to be considerate, because they’re born self-centred. Every child undisciplined grows into a selfish adult!
Nothing sums up the modern generation like the recent phenomenon of the selfie. Never before in the history of mankind have so many photographs been taken of so many people doing so little.
You can often detect the voice of yourself in your head by what it is saying, because its accent is always what you want. The accent is often rebellious, using phrases like, “They can’t treat me like that,” or “What right have they got,” or “How dare they say that to me!”
The thing is, people, you and I, are basically selfish. You don’t have to teach a child to do wrong, you have to teach them to do right. Given free reign, our inner voice will always promote our interests and selfish desires first. The Bible puts it this way,
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV Strong's)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
The voice of yourself can be neutralised by humility and selflessness…
Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV Strong's)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
So if you face a choice and your inner voice is telling you to do it, and if you desperately want it, be very careful. It is likely to be your voice, not God. Your voice’s agenda is to satisfy your desires.
2. THE DEVIL’S VOICE… JUST DO IT
I said the other week, the Nike test is this… God will always say count the cost, but the devil will always say, “Just do it.” He will say, buy now, pay later, if it feels good now, just do it and we will sort out the bill later.
The accent of demonic voices in your head is often one of actions without consideration of the consequences. When you face a choice, any choice, the wisest move is to step back and weigh up the long term consequences to your actions.
Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV Strong's)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Whatever you do carries a consequence, and the voice of the devil will always pressure you to act without thinking through the consequences. Sometimes he is obvious, but often he is not!
Beware, because often the enemy will mask what he wants to say in innocent sounding phrases…
AN ANGEL OF LIGHT?
2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV Strong's)
for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Church, don’t picture the devil as red and ugly with little horns. No, picture the devil as how he often really appears, maybe a beautiful woman or an attractive man, telling you that you deserve this, and asking what harm could it do.
It’s just a little harmless flirting, a bit of fun, what harm could it do? It could blow your marriage and your life apart, it could start limitless misery and pain, and sacrifice your family, your reputation and half your assets. Weight the consequences and you will see the voice of the devil!
It’s just a little word, a juicy tit bit of gossip, but it can blow the Church apart, and cause endless pain and misery. It’s just a great deal, just a tiny deposit down, but soon it becomes a financial debt that drains you account and ruins your life.
Hosea 8:7 (ESV Strong's)
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
If you face a choice and a little voice says in your ear, “Just do it,” then beware. Before you decide anything, pray, step back and look at the potential long term consequences of that decision. If you are honest you might see things differently, and save yourself a ton of heartache!
The devil also masquerades as not only an angel of light but also as your own voice, and often in the first person. Instead of saying, “You are useless,” the devil often makes you think you’re saying, “I’m useless.”
And please be aware of pseudo spirituality, even in the church. Just because someone says, “God told me to tell you this,” does not guarantee that it is God’s voice, because the devil delights in confusing people with so called prophetic words.
This is why we only permit those whom we trust to lay hands on people and pray prophetically over them. We believe in God speaking through visions and prophetic words, but unless you are part of the leadership here, we do not accept it. If you are new here and want to move in those areas, we have prayer groups you can join to be led and guided into that position. But we will not permit anyone to just walk in off the street and start prophesying over people. It’s too dangerous, and we don’t know who you are!
And in the end, any prophetic word spoken over you by anyone should be weighed in the light of Scripture.
3. THE VOICE OF GOD… LOVING AND LEADING
If you learn what the Lord’s voice sounds like, then you can let Him lead you. Often the voice of God is drowned out by all the other voices in your head shouting for your attention. That’s why God says,
Psalms 46:10 (ESV Strong's)
“Be still, and know that I am God.
So let me tell you 7 characteristics of God’s voice to help you discern what He sounds like…
1. ACCORDING TO HIS WORD
God will never contradict His Word. Never! But if you never read His Word, how are you going to recognise His voice? If you don’t know His Word you won’t know His will!
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Before I make any big decision, I ask the Lord for guidance from His Word. All of the big decisions in our lives, and in the life of this church, have been made with Scriptural confirmation, because God’s voice always aligns with God’s Word.
2. STILL, SMALL VOICE
1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV Strong's)
and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
God doesn’t shout, He doesn’t demand attention and He will not compete with other voices. If you seek Him and listen, you will soon understand His quiet, still but profoundly powerful voice. His voice is gentle, even if He is bringing conviction or correction to your life.
Frankly, we do not get alone and get silent before God very effectively. There’s so much noise, so many competing voices in this world. We must prioritise and make time to be alone with God, silent and listening. It is a skill you need to develop, and when you do recognising His voice is easier!
3. COUNT THE COST
Luke 14:28 (ESV Strong's)
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
God has long term vision, so before you make any decision, He will ask you to step back and count the cost. He will not pressure you to make a snap decision, but will have you look at the entire picture. Your Choices of voices carries with it consequences, so when you hear God you generally do so with eyes wide open, even if you cannot see the end game. God’s voice leads to well thought out decisions.
4. BUILDS YOU UP
God’s voice always builds you up, it always encourages you and blesses you, even if He is correcting you. His voice is voice of conviction, not condemnation.
Isaiah 40:31 (ESV Strong's)
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
So when facing a decision, the Choices of voices, don’t rush in, step back, take your time and wait for the voice of God, because that’s what will build you up and bless you and others around you.
5. PURE AND LOVELY
Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
The voice of God, even if it is difficult and not what you want to hear, will always be beautiful, pure, true and noble. It will never be dirty, crass, sleazy or anything other than pure.
6. REQUIRES OBEDIENCE
Make no mistake, God will not speak if you will not obey. He won’t waste His time. You probably want to make right decisions, you probably want to move towards the wonderful destiny God has for you, but He will not show you the next step if you are disobedient about this one!
John 14:15 (ESV Strong's)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
How can you say you love Jesus if you do not show your love by being obedient? And don’t think being religious, going to church or saying grace before eating is showing love. The Bible says,
1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV Strong's)
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
Obedience to the voice of God is a sure fire way to grow into your destiny, because love = obedience.
7. BEARS GOOD FRUIT
Matthew 7:16-20 (ESV Strong's)
You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Over time, as you learn to listen to the voice of God over those of the devil and yourself, you will see the fruit, and good fruit will confirm that you heard God’s voice and obeyed. Look at the good Choices of voices you’ve made… Asking Jesus into your life? Check. Coming to church? Check. Reading your Bible? Check!
I’ve had people say to me, “God told me to leave church.” Well, if God told you, who am I to question that? So they left, and some months down the track they do not attend any church, they are lonely, displaced and struggling with depression. They left a spiritual home, where people loved and supported them, and they reap what they have sown. Is that fruitful? Was that God? Were they the right Choices of voices
THE WAY AHEAD
So we have talked about the 3 different sources of voices in your head. Now you can discern the difference, what can you do from here?
1. BE OBEDIENT
When you make Choices of voices, once you know God what God is asking, make sure you are obedient. Even when we know God’s will, some of us have a great tendency to usurp His will with our human logic. I know God said this, but it doesn’t seem the logical way to go to me…
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV Strong's)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
If you want a straight path in life, full of blessing and God’s goodness, listen to His voice, be obedient and stop leaning on your own understanding. Someone here needs to hear that today!
2. BE ALERT
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV-WS)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
If you decide to listen to the voice of God and make the Choices of voices He wants, the devil is mad about it, and will do everything in your power to thwart your efforts
When facing choices and listening to those voices, be on guard against the devil and your own desires. The enemy is out to fool you, out to lead you the wrong way. Test everything, so you can confidently be sure you are hearing and obeying the right voice.
3. BE AWARE
By this I mean, be aware of the Choices of voices in those small decisions…
Song of Songs 2:15 (ESV Strong's)
Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
Be obedient to the little decisions and you will find that discerning God’s voice in the big decisions becomes a lot easier. So watch those little foxes. What TV show or movies you watch, what words you say to someone who has hurt you, what you think when you see someone has something your would like to have. Watch those little foxes, those Choices of voices, because they will spoil the fruit.
4. BE PROACTIVE
When you discern that a voice is not God, don’t excuse it, tolerate it, put up with it or ignore it. Don’t put your hands over your ears and sing loudly. You need to do this…
2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV Strong's)
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Capture those voices ruthlessly, and say, “No, I reject you in Jesus name, and cast you away.” While ever you tolerate the wrong voice, you give it power. Don’t flirt with it, don’t overlook it, and don’t tolerate it. Take it captive and banish it from your mind!
YOU CAN HEAR GOD’S VOICE
You face Choices of voices your head, all of them trying to influence you, but you can hear and know and be certain you are hearing the voice of God. Jesus said,
John 10:27 (ESV Strong's)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Making the right Choices of voices is easy when you clearly hear God’s voice. When you recognise His voice it builds your faith when you follow it. In order to recognise His voice, you need to read the Bible, come to church and get familiar with His still, small voice. Later in the year we want to run workshops on hearing and discerning the voice of God.
Today I want to pray with those who find conflicting words in their heads. If you want to make the right decisions, you need to hear the voice of Jesus clearly, so I want to pray for you if you struggle to sort out God’s voice from all the others.
But if you don’t know Him, you have no chance of hearing Him.