Discerning God’s Voice

Let’s keep talking about listening to God today. In case you wonder why there are food photos on my blog, it’s because God’s been talking to me in the kitchen lately – showing me things about myself that I didn’t know. Like the fact that I’ve been held back for years by my tendency to avoid chopping fresh vegetables.

See these three guys? They intimidate me.

Many recipes have never graced my kitchen because of them. But recently the cooker “wanna-be” in me decided she was “gonna be” after I posted about myRed Beans & Rice fiasco 17 years ago! The very next day I saw this recipe online:

Crockpot Red Beans and Rice

  • 1 pound Dried Red Beans
  • 7 cups Water
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 1 whole Onion, Chopped
  • 3 stalks Celery, Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
  • ½ pound Andouille or Polish Sausage, Sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning
  • Hot Cooked Rice

Preparation: Place all ingredients except rice in a 4-quart crock pot. Cover and cook on HIGH for 7 hours or until beans are tender. Serve with hot cooked rice and cornbread. Delicious, warm, and your man will love you forever.

I decided it was time for me to reclaim my confidence and my rightful position in the kitchen. I went shopping that very day, feeling so brave and inspired. But then I got home. My determination fizzled. Life got busy. And I couldn’t find a convenient time to cry over chopped onions. I never felt like I was in the mood to pull seeds out of the green pepper, cut the celery or face the dread of burning eyes and running mascara.

My fresh vegetables and my “gonna-be” sat in the refrigerator, getting old and brown.

Last week, I was going out of town and wanted to make a special meal for my family. But I still didn’t want to deal with the green pepper, onion and celery. Then that morning I ran by Target and happened to notice these frozen chopped onions.

Whoever came up with frozen chopped onions is my new hero! And whoever gave me that little veggie chopper I had not used in years, I love you!
Now isn’t that a beautiful sight?
Chopped celery never looked so good!
And I did a number on that green pepper too.
Just so you know, that whole onion is back in my fridge.If you live nearby, you can have it. I’m never chopping an onion again!
Not a tear was shed that day. Well, except happy tears when I served up my first successful batch of Red Beans and Rice!

 

And, just like the recipe said, my man was happy, too!
(Disclaimer: I found out ‘cajun’ andouille sausage is really HOT!)

**********************************

So what does this have to do with listening to God and discerning His voice? Well, first don’t you just love that in the midst of ordinary life we can stop and ask God to speak to us? To show us something simple or profound…like why our hearts are in an angst or why we’re avoiding vegetables and recipes when we have all the ingredients.

That is what I did, and that day He showed me…

  • I avoid things that require something I don’t want to give.
  • Dread and procrastination makes every obstacle bigger than it has to be.
  • There are always tools and people available to help, if I ask or look for them.
  • I need to face challenges head on with more confidence and courage.
  • This lesson applies in many areas of my life.

When the answers came, I thanked God for showing them to me. How do I know it was Him? In this case, it didn’t matter. But my heart learns to trust Him more and believe that He speaks to me each time I give Him credit for giving me wisdom (James 1:5) when I ask for it.

There are times when my questions are deeper and decisions are more complicated. In those times, I have what I’ll call my “recipe for discerning God’s voice” since we’re in the kitchen today. When I sense God leading me, whether it be through an impression on my heart, circumstances or through His spirit in me, I look for Biblical consistency as the key ingredient:

  • Is it consistent with God’s Word and God’s ways?
  • Is it consistent with wise Biblical counsel I’ve sought.
  • Is it consistent with God’s leading through doors He’s opened and closed.
  • Is it there a consistent theme I’m seeing or hearing during my personal Bible study time, through sermons, Christian songs, conversations, etc.?
*****************************

Hearing and discerning God’s voice is a challenge. But it is possible and He wants to speak to us. We just need to become familiar with God’s Word and His ways. We need to ask for help and look for evidence of His consistency. I have a new message on CD, called Rest Assured that I’m giving away today that could help you!

In it, I talk about what keeps us from hearing God – our worries that make us weary, our need for control and other obstacles – and how we can let go of them. By talking about them and listening to God’s perspective on them through His Word and prayer, we clear the clutter in our hearts and minds. And that is what He knows we need. He invites us to come to Him to receive rest mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. In His presence we can find His peace, hear His voice and learn to live in the power of His promises and plans.(Note: It’s not on the P31 site yet, but I’ll try to have someone load it today.)

To enter to win, click on the word “comments” right below this post, and let me know if this message “Rest Assured” is something you need, or how the “consistency” questions might help you discern God’s voice in something you are seeking Him for. I love sharing what God’s showing me but it’s even better when I get to hear and learn from each of you – so let’s talk!

And after you’ve entered to win, click here to download a great FREE resource from Lysa TerKeurst with more ways to hear and discern God’s voice.

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Renee-

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us. You are such a blessing and someone I have always looked up to.

    Thanks,
    Nicole
    nicole1975@comcast.net

  2. Renee,

    Thank you so much for your encouragement it has helped me tremendously and for that I am grateful. May God continue to use you to encourage others the way you have encouraged me.

    In His Love,
    Christine

    misscsierra@hotmail.com

  3. Thanks Renee,
    I need to finish taking the wallpaper off of the bathroom wall. I have been avoiding it.

  4. Thank you Renee. Your words were what I needed to hear today. I too, have been struggling with hearing God's voice in my everyday life. Thank you for sharing you experiences and your life with others.

  5. Renee-

    Thank you for posting this. I have always struggled with letting God being my hiding place and I let worry, doubt, and fear cloud my thinking. I will do all of those things and then go and talk to someone about it and then I will go to God. One top of that I am having trouble discerning what is His voice and what isn't. It makes life so much more confusing.

    Thank you,

    Natalie
    his2theend@yahoo.com

  6. Amen Sister! I find myself avoiding what looks difficult or I don't want to take the time to do. Then I spend even more time stewing about it all. Waste of time – I know it! Congratulations on your victory of Homemade Red Beans and Rice. I love the happy husband picture! mheard11@frontier.com

  7. I would love the CD Rest Assured…I'm trying to listen but I am not always sure if what I hear is Him, or me.
    Loved the posts yesterday ( I found you through P31) and today. God has me living one day at a time but I want to be sure I'm hearing Him in the little moments that come along.

  8. Thank you for your message. It is so what I needed to hear. Often times I have a hard time distinguishing between the whisper of God and the banging of Satan. Your words are what I need to hear to quite my self and listen intently for Gods whisper

  9. Hello…my name is Kimberly and I have browning vegetables in my refrigerator, too. 🙂

    You so make me smile. And you encourage my heart. You let me know that I am not alone in some certain procrastination issues that dread makes worse. And God has been encouraging my heart to "just do it" in some areas I have been avoiding. 🙂 So this post is SO timely, as are your other ones.

    I was listening to Beth Moore on Life Today, and she was saying that dread discounts the grace of God. It is basically us saying God won't give us the grace we will need for that thing we are dreading.

    I am tackling some areas where I have been a wanna-be…and God is so using you to confirm what He has been saying and to encourage me to press on.

    Love you,
    K

  10. I would love "Rest Assured". Thank you for this message today and the yummy red beans and rice recipe!!!! I can't wait to make this for my family. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Angela

  11. I check several of the P31 gals' blogs everyday-I've really been excited to see you posting more frequently! Though I completely understand why you weren't blogging as often, welcome back-you've been missed! I'm a relative newbie on my walk with God, so any help I can get is greatly appreciated. I find myself listening more and more and honestly, just smiling more as I see the Lord working in my life as well as in the lives of my husband and children (whether they believe it or not)!

  12. I would love to hear "Rest Assured". I am often very frustrated because I don't know if what I hear is from God or from me?

  13. Having to go out in social situations with the 'fancy people' in this town, especially those we used to go to church with, is my onion. I really dread those situations and even left a store the other day rather than maybe having to make small talk after a few of them entered! I'm not good in those formal situations in the best of times, but my confidence is gone with these people right now, and some help would definitely be appreciated. Thanks for the message!

    Amy
    lehrerin@charter.net

  14. Thank you for your website and what you posted and shared from your heart about hear and now,hearing God.I am a Registered Nurse for 34 yrs and feel stuck in what i am doing for work. I am thankful to have this job,but whats next? i have been at this job for 26 mos . i want to do something. thankfully with what is posted on your website i will try and have hope in hearing what God wants me to do and the willingness to hear and do it. keep the encouragements from your website and all the proverbs 31 ladies.what you shared seemed like it was written just for me,just when i needed it. thank you joan eadn

  15. This certainly was what I needed to hear today – my 50th birthday 🙂 Thank you for sharing! BTW, we have a certified organic small family farm and LOVE to cook with vegetables – fresh, frozen, whole, chopped. Can't wait to try your bean recipe!

  16. This…"I avoid things that require something I don't want to give.
    There are always tools and people available to help, if I ask or look for them.
    Dread and procrastination makes every obstacle bigger than it has to be.
    I need to face challenges head on with more confidence and courage.
    This lesson applies in many areas of my life."
    …describes me to a tee!!! OMG!!! Thank you for your insight and openness about how you approach this in your life!

  17. Renee – My daughter and I had a tough conversation yesterday. She is always asking me how she can hear God's voice and know she is really hearing Him. I would love to be able to give this to her. She is a 21 year old woman struggling with the world's view in the midst of college life and trying to make sure she still hears Him. Thanks for making this available, and I hope I can pass it along to her!

    Walking His way each day –
    mimi

    mw-mimi@hotmail.com

  18. Renee,
    Guess the Lord knew it would take twice to get my attention. Our Ladies Bible Study last night was Dr. Jeremiah on Consistency. Pray I can be more consistent in my daily walk with the Lord in these troubling times. Thanks for the red beans recipe also….think my son would really enjoy it.
    May God continue to bless you and your ministry.
    Thanks again,

  19. Keep sharing- Consistency you could write a series on. I'd love the book. I find sitting, journaling the questions that can surface in that peaceful state is God's voice to me. If I go, go feeling as a stay at home mom that I must volunteer, clean every morning the most high traffic areas, manage finances, home affairs, children activities, coach .. I squander needed times to discern His voice and make note, plan reflect on what he's directing me to focus on. What otherwise happens is dismissal and poignant moments of soft direction pass.

    Thank for the reminder that daily duties are loud and God's voice is soft requiring creative, still parts of the day!

  20. Renee – your message hit home today! I am reading your blog from my desk at work because I have a big project I need to work on and I'm sort of putting it off. "Dread and Procrastination" Hmmm. I decided I would send this comment – then say a prayer asking God to help me buckle down and focus! To help me through this work! Thanks for your encouragement today! Angela in Minnesota

  21. This is something I really needed to hear today. I have been questioning if the voice I am hearing is Gods or Satan. Just last night I was praying for him to speak to me. I feel this blog was his answer. Thank you so much for your time that you take to do this blog.

  22. I needed this today. lately I have been really anxious about college decisions and my future. I guess I really want to know what to do next and its hard not knowing the right answer. I definately have a hard time knowing the difference between my own thoughts and God's so this is helpful. Thanks.
    Ashley

  23. I loved, loved, loved your devo today… you always seem to climb inside my brain and speak my lingo.

    How did you know I use the dried onions in a jar??? I also discovered the onion/green pepper chopped in a bag thing. Isn't it grand?

    Thanks for continuing to pave the way from my heart to God's. Love you bunches!!

  24. Renee,
    I enjoyed your post today. I have never prepared red beans and rice. After seeing your results I may have to try this. I am sure that my husband and two adult sons would love this.
    On the more serious side. I liked how you suggested going to the word and looking for consistency with what we are hearing. I am try to be patient and not walk ahead of God in some areas that He is
    leading me in right now. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Sherry Buttram says:

    Thank you so much for today's posting. It really encouraged my heart as I struggle with procrastination. Thank you for applying it to our Christian life and reminding us we need to listen and pay attention! Recently a friend wanted to show her friend my pantry with the inner swinging shelves. Talk about embarrassed. It's one of those hidden messy piles I'm famous for. But this only reminds me that I must ask God to search my heart for the inner messy piles I have stored there. Thank you again! I love your writing!!

  26. Renee,
    I'm not sure if I think I need this CD or God thinks I need this CD. I find it interesting that I've been trying to "discern" lately about a new opportunity, and then find your msg today. I then saw Lisa Smith's blog and had to click because that's my name too. There I continued to read about praying for HIs purpose, along with the same verse we discussed last night in our small group Bible Study about praying and seeking Him daily. If i ignore this many "coincidences" a boot may fall from the sky and kick me right in the tush! -L

  27. Renee,

    thank you so much for your message today. It is helping me face what I am dealing with right now. I feel like I am missing so much in my life right now by putting it all on the back burner because I am scared to pursue it. I have been finding other things to keep me busing from doing the tasks the Lord wants me to do. And some of that is I am not sure if I am hearing Him or wishing for this myself.

    Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to speak to me and so many others!

    Misti

  28. I would love to receive a copy of your cd… I am growing in my walk with God, while reading your message it was nice to see that your recipe answers my question to how I can discern God's voice. It was nice to see that it matches some of what I am going through and experiencing. Thank you for your blog it is very helpful

  29. My yahoo e-mail is slow in getting devotions to my account so I just now read your Hear and Now devo. God knew when I needed to read it. I can so relate to the thoughts going through your mind as you avoided doing the closet. When I read that, I went "uh oh…" I have one of those, too and wouldn't you know it, my husband is away on a business trip and guess what I might be doing tomorrow? On my birthday? 🙂 I love God's sense of humor.

    Thank you, Renee. You P31 gals are (as Wendy Pope likes to say it) all over my business!

  30. kpruitt@charcamp.com says:

    This is exactly what I have been looking for. I struggle so much with this area.

    Thank you!
    Kelly

  31. Renee,
    Oh wow!! This post ties in so well with what God has been speaking to me. Your words in your previous posst really hit as well. You said, "also I admit, I'm not always crazy about what I sense God telling me to do. Yet I've learned over the years that when I listen to God, I discover His best for me. And I grow in my trust in Him." Right now I'm "sensing" something, something He's calling me to step away from in order to spend more time seeking rather than serving and I'm not crazy about that, but like you say I know He has my best in mind. Thanks so much for the reminder today. Perhaps next you'll have to write about what to do when you hear His voice… Oh yes we all know the answer to that now don't we!!

    As far as your CD, I'd love to listen to it! Pray all is well for you!
    Blessings,
    Jill

  32. 'rest assured' is what i need to hear today…and everyday. thanks renee for reminding me of these simple words.

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  33. Your message was very encouraging. It is an on time message for me and a great blessing indeed. Thanks Renee. May God continue to use you in a wonderful way and bring you to a higher level with him. May he increase you knowledge and revelation as you continue to serve him. WHAT AN AWESOME GOD WE SERVE!!!

    Tati

  34. It's so amazing watching God work. This is something I have been struggling with lately. Discerning what is my voice and what is God's voice telling me to do or which way to go. Yesterday's post was just as encouraging. Thanks so much.

    Chris
    cstaylor3@gmail.com

  35. I've needed this so much lately! My husband and I are seeking direction about "where to go" for our second adoption..foster, African-American domestic, or international again…NEED TO HEAR HIM CLEARLY!!!!

  36. sistasuzie@hotmail.com says:

    Renee,

    Thank you for writing in simple easy to understand words of how to "Know" when God is speaking to all who seek Him. I have been blessed with gaining wisdom from many of the instructions you have given today on "Discerning God's Voice" I have a friend who is struggling with this question. Perhaps your CD would bless her amd help her with her uncertainty and fear. As Always, thank you for being radically obedient and receptive to the Holy Spirit.For displaying a heartfelt example of a servants heart, and a "KingsKid" God Bless you and your ministry. ~Suzanne~

  37. I desperately need to let go of control and anger that is covering up my sadness. I want to hear from God and live out his will for my life. I married sept 2009 and I didn't go to God first now I am struggling with neglect. I have to protect my 5 year old daughter and teach her I am strong and get through this. I fell in love with him being head over heels for me (so I thought) and now the love isn't there.
    I am trusting more in God but have to start reading His word daily.
    I probably said too much but need a break through. Your words were helpful reminding me that God chose me and loves me for me unconditionally. Thank you.

  38. Renee,

    You keep making such great statements. I am enjoying your Listening to God and Discerning God's Voice. We need to become closer to Him and really listen for Him to speak to us. I want to use your articles in the near future. I have been working with a lady to get her to learn more about God. We have decided to start a Bible study at her house and 4 of us are going to meet there. I am feeling lead to do Priscilla Shirer's "Discerning the Voice of God". This goes along with that so much. Your CD would be a great addition.

  39. I have been praying for something to help me discern God's voice. I even asked my bible study group to pray for me. A friend in my bible study and I were just an hour ago talking about how difficult discernment is. I received this email and the timing couldn't be more perfect. This is what I've been praying for.

  40. I am at a point in my life where God is working on my heart to stop trying to manulipate the future and be satisfied in the present.
    I am finding that very hard but I have been truly helped by Proberb's 31 mininstry and all the women who contribute to it.

    Thank you for your words today
    Cathy

  41. Loving your recipes and lessons about listening to God! I am going to make your chicken soup – I couldn't for noodles nests! Where are those????

  42. I really needed this, and could use more divine wisdom about this! I am struggling with making decisions to get to where I know God wants me! Over a year ago, I claimed God's will for my life to become a high school teacher. I am pursuing all sorts of options to get there, but I don't know which one to take! I'm so afraid I'm going to take control, not hear God's voice in this, an take the wrong path…I mean frozen-scared!
    ~Amanda
    aemerson122201@gmail.com

  43. This is so applicable to me. Thank you so much. I too have trusted God with the big things, but it is the little things I don't/won't. I am still struggling with that. There is so much daily life, it just seems to go on forever, but I am finding out that it is going by faster and that I am haunted by "should haves."

    kirstenjett@yahoo.com

  44. This post is what I needed to hear about hearing God. It is really a struggle.

  45. Yes, this too is a challenge for I listen more often to the negative words Satan whispers to me. This has been a really rough year topped off with the death of my dad a few weeks ago. Earlier in the year a friend had said during her hard times that she remembers Ps 23 and hangs onto God's love and shepherding. I've kept asking God when would I ever get to lie down in green pastures. Then I realized after my father's death while I just stopped due to the pain, that indeed God had me resting while the world sped on. He has been caring for me daily, yet all I hear is Satan saying I am a failure because I am not "busy" doing something. Instead of hearing my Shepherd's loving voice caring over me through this horrible time, telling me daily how much I am loved, I listen to the negative, feeling I do not measure up. But I know I do not need to measure up for God-Christ did that. I need to listen to God and be led by him daily. For He is the one who loves me.

  46. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the connection between your veggies and God's word in our life. i'm going to have to read it again to really meditate on how this is for me. the similarites are there–just not those veggies. I'd love the opportunity for "rest assured". thanks 🙂

  47. Oh, how I need to learn to rest in God's amazing love for me. I have a 5 year old son, a husband and 2 puppies that are running me ragged. If I could only know what to let go…

  48. Oh, how I need to learn to rest in God's amazing love for me. I have a 5 year old son, a husband and 2 puppies that are running me ragged. If I could only know what to let go…

  49. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Angela T Ramsey
    angela@shelby.net

  50. Great message! My first thought was oh! This is ME!! I need to sign up for this give away. I clicked on the link and it was taking a looong time to open… I almost closed out my browser and didn't post because I need to get to bed! Then decided to follow through and post a comment! That's a good sign, right? :)) Anyway, your message really spoke to me today, thank you!!
    Mack
    immack32@gmail.com

  51. Renee,
    Thank you so much for your posts this week. I have to say that this is the area I struggle most with in my walk with God. I just never really know if he is speaking to me or if I am ignoring him. I would love to have your new CD.
    Thanks,
    Leigh
    fantprestonl@att.net

  52. Your post today really spoke to me. thank you for hte encouragement you have been providing me since I discovered your blog about a month ago. Thank you for the chance to win your giveaway. Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you and your family.

    koinonia572001@yahoo.com

  53. I love your words. But you make it sound so easy to hear God. I really don't believe I have ever heard God. When I go to Him for rest, I get frustration because if I am resting then things aren't getting done and I am getting nowhere. When I go to Him for peace, I end up angry at something or someone in my life. And of course I end up hating myself all over again and reminding myself what an utter failure I am at being a "Christian" or Christ follower.
    I try to discern if my thoughts may be from God, but then I get so many conflicting answers I end up even more confused and frustrated. Satan knows exactly how to keep me down, and it is right between my ears.

  54. I made the red beans and rice this weekend. It's a keeper! My hubbie loved it. thanks, b

  55. The "Rest Assured" teaching is definately something that would bless my heart. Thanks for the ways that you and the P31 devotions bless and encourage me! I thank the Lord for this ministry.

    Kelly
    k.smiddle1@gmail.com

  56. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I have been desperately trying to understand how to hear God's voice, know His peace, and feel the Holy Spirit. I do believe "Rest Assured" will help me. Actually, anything would help me as I struggle with these questions. I've been going thru struggles for decades with abuse and have finally decided to "deal with them" and give God control of them. Thank you for all your help and encouragement!!! I love the devotions and articles.

  57. I was meditating on Genesis in my quitetime.As it's virtually impossible to spend time at home due to my 9-month-old and the chores to do, God spoke to me throuth the place where Noah's Ark was parked.It was on Ararat Mountains. The Word 'Ararat' means "…because your way is contrary to me." God made Noah's Ark rest there because He loves Noah's family and saved them from people who are contrary to Him. Ararat Mountains were very hot to stay and people had to come down to live in moderate climates and thus spread over the earth(it was God's supreme plan). God has a great plan amid the heat of life. He allows heat to safegaurd us from the harmfulness of coziness. God continued to speak to me through Ararat. I was not expcecting this much of lesson from thats days quite time. It was great to hear God. I was using e-Sword to read my Bible and through various commentries and different versions, God's quite voice just poured into my heart like never. Ararat was a place where vine can never grow. But Noah planted a vineyard there adn God brought the fruit. He can bring fruit irrespective of the situatiosn and circumstances in our life. It's His Hand that make sus fruitful.Praise Him for He can do what He wants to do but all He needs us to do is to just give na ear and fully trust His direction. Had Noah thought that it was not God who is asking Him to build the Ark, would he ever had his family saved? God spoke to me in a unexpected way. Just ensure that you are ready to hear. He speaks.

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