14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”
16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.
When I felt God was calling me to be a pastor, I talked with several people over a period of time: my mom, by best friend, my wife, and my pastor. They helped me understand and verify God's call and it just made me feel better to have people I trusted walking with me on that journey. Even now, after years of experience walking with God, I still practice my own advice. I talk to people about what I think God might be saying to me. It is tremendously helpful (essential really).
Tip #2 - Ask, " Does what I think God is telling me match up with the Bible? The Bible is the foundation of what we believe and the last word in everything we do. God gave us the Scriptures to guide us and He's is not going to ask you to do something contrary to His own Word in the Bible.
In South Carolina in 2012, Tammi Estep stabbed her husband. She said she did after, "Jesus and Mary told me to kill him because he is Satan's spawn!"[i] Well, how many wives have not thought there husband's were the spawn of Satan at one time or another… Seriously though, God is not going to tell you to murder someone. Nor is He going to tell you to do something that contradicts what He's already said in Scripture. If you feel He is, I would point you back to Tip #1 - Talk to a spiritual advisor.
Tip #3 - Does the sign intend to lead you or others closer to Christ? The Great Commission from Jesus to His followers is: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…" (Matthew 28:19 ). This is our mission. Remember, life is not about you. This isn’t the story of your life. This is God’s story and you are just one actor in the movie. You don’t even have that big a roll. So remember, if God is talking to you--directing you in some really important matter that will have life-long, lasting consequences--it will probably be linked in a large way to leading you or others closer to Christ. If it isn't, if it's linked more to you own self-centered interests, it's more likely not God speaking to you. Either way, I would point you back to Tip #1 - Talk to a spiritual advisor.
Tip #4 - Ask the Holy Spirit to verify it for you. It's OK to ask God to help you be sure. People did that in the Bible many times. There was even a man named Gideon in the book of Judges who made a kind of experiment. God sent an angel and told Gideon to go fight some people who kept raiding Israel. Gideon asked for a sign to verify it. He said, "I'm gonna lay out a piece of wool fleece on the ground. If there's dew on the fleece in the morning, but not the ground, I will know You were speaking to me." And in the morning, there was dew on the fleece and not the ground. But Gideon wanted to be sure, so he repeated the experiment, but this time he said, "Alright. If it's really You, this time there will be dew on the ground all around, but not on the fleece." And it happened just like that! In the morning, there was dew on the ground, but none on the fleece! So Gideon knew it was God talking to him and he went off and defeated his enemies.
It's OK to ask for a sign to be sure it's really God speaking to you. But some might point out what Jesus said in Matthew 12:39, “It is an evil and adulterous nation that looks for a sign. No sign will be given…” Jesus' frustration in that instance was with those who had already seen sign after sign after sign that proved Jesus was indeed the Son of God. He'd healed the blind and deaf, made the lame to walk, walked on water himself, and even turned water into wine. What more would it take to convince people? Enough signs had already been given. Some people didn’t want to believe and so they just kept asking for more signs. Then they would pick apart every sign given with sinful cynicism. They weren't going to believe no matter what Jesus did.
So you can ask for a sign, but once you know God is told you to do something, it's time to act. We probably all have had times we knew what we were supposed to do, but didn't want to do it. Don't keep asking God for signs as an excuse to put off obedience. Get busy. And, oh, did I mention you should see Tip #1 - talk to a spiritual advisor? You should.
- Have you been listening to God? Have you been exercising your spiritual ears? Have you been trusting Jesus? Have you been praying? Have you been reading your Bible? Is it time for you to start today?
- What has God been trying to say to you? Has He been nudging you? Has He been shouting? Have you been ignoring Him?
- Do you need to talk to a spiritual advisor—trusted Christian friend, family member, or pastor?
- Is it time to “Get up and go” do what God’s been telling you to do? What’s stopping you?