How to Recognize God’s Voice
Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
- 2015 Oct 28
“The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice” (John 10:4).
The problem, says a friend, is that the voice of the Lord sounds a lot like me.
Maybe for him. Not for me.
In speaking to my heart, God has a tendency to say things I never thought of, revealing insights new to me, calling me to tasks outside my comfort zone. Not once has He asked if i would “like” to do something or “find something convenient.”. He commands; I obey. It’s what servants do. His way is hardly the obvious, rarely the easiest and never the smoothest, but always the wisest and smartest. My constant prayer is “Not my will but Thine be done.”
I wrote that on Facebook last night. Then, this morning while doing my pre-dawn walk, the Lord kept it on my mind.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. The way to tell that the voice you are hearing in your spirit is the Lord and not yourself involves the following…
M – It’s MINE. Uniquely a message for me. It suits me to a T.
N – It’s NEW. Something I had not thought of. It is not produced by something I read last night or that my wife told me.
O – It’s from OUTSIDE. This is not a thought of mine, consciously or subconsciously. It came from “out there somewhere.” The message was not the logical conclusion of something I’d been considering, but more of an interruption. An insertion into my thinking.
P – It’s PERFECT. It fits the situation I’m dealing with exactly. I know it at the moment the message arrives, and increasingly as the days go by. “This was of God.”
Q – It’s QUIET. Not noisy, not by earthquakes or tornadoes or fires, as Elijah found out. It’s the still small voice of His Spirit in my heart. (See I Kings 19:12)
R – It’s RIGHT. Had it been an arrow, it would have hit the target. Had this message been something of my own doing, sometimes it would work out and sometimes it would be shown to be wrong. But God’s voice never gives bad advice. “He is upright, He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:15).
S – It’s SPIRITUAL. It’s Christ-honoring. It’s heard only by those who are spiritual. I think of our Lord’s statement in Luke 6:27. “I say to you who hear…” Not everyone “hears” spiritual things. Not everyone “gets” it as I Corinthians 2:14 says.
T – It’s TRUE to Scripture. This word is not some kind of extra-biblical revelation, but completely consistent with the Word. God never contradicts Himself.
So, there we have it. MNOPQRST.
I give you my word that I did not start out to do that. But as some of the letters began to suggest themselves, I decided to give the rest a try. (A word to “some” pastors among us: Just because I did this does not mean you must. And the fact that I did these 8 sequential letters most definitely does not mean you might want to use the other 18 in this pattern. Never overburden your audience with that kind of foolishness. Smiley-face here, please.)
We could now add a whole section on “static that interferes with our hearing the voice of the Lord.” But we’ll save that for another time.
Just let me remind you that, in the words of Henry Blackaby, if you are not hearing from the Lord on a regular basis, you are missing out on one of the basic parts of the Christian life.
“Speak Lord, thy servant heareth” (I Samuel 3:10).
What is God saying to you today? Please obey Him, my friend. Obedience is always the litmus test of believers. See 2 Corinthians 2:9 as well as Luke 6:46 and John 13:17.
Publication date: October 28, 2015