If, like me, you struggle quite a lot with wanting to know what God's plan is for you. Not only that, but when you hear God speaking to you, you aren't entirely sure who it is; whether it's God, the devil, or just your wishful/pessimistic mind wandering after things.
It's important to remember 2 core things when it comes to discerning God's voice, when I have relevant scripture references, I will include them.
The first of them is: 'who is being glorified through the message?'
If it is God, he will be seeking HIS glory throughout the process he is describing - even if it seems ludicrous or painful to you. Remember;
'"For I know the plans I have you for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."' -- Jeremiah 29v11 --
God knows what he's up to, because it's part of his perfect plan for you; a plan which will prosper you in your life, and glorify his name at the same time. The enemy, on the other hand, will only ever seek to honour himself, build up your pride and dependance on other things as your rock. We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by this, we must recognise God's promise (of eternal life) as having infite worth over anything the enemy suggest.
The second of them is: 'Is what I'm hearing said in love?'
Do not mistake nice-sounding phrases and words as speaking in love. The enemy will use any means possible to turn you from Christ, but he cannot ever speak in love as our Father can. He will speak in enticing ways, encouraging us gently along the way towards sin (or continuing in sin). He will entice us towards sin, with promises that 'this is good' or 'this will make you happy'
'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds' -- James 1v2 --
If God can make us joyful in our sufferings, then how much more will he make us joyful in the times of prosperity?!!
Thirdly and finally, 'Is what I'm being asked to do consistent with the God I know?'
In a way, this combines the previous questions, but this question moves us to come to the bible and compare what we've been asked to (and often with a reason - so question the speaker!) to the loving Heavenly Father that sent his son to die on a cross for us, only to conquer death to give us a sure hope of future glory!! God will lead you by the hand through the hard times, to a future that will glorify his name and prosper you in all areas of your life.
The enemy will do no such thing. He may suggest things will the premise that they're honouring to God, or more than likely, will twist a word that God's given you previousely (think back to the garden of Eden).
We can be sure though, that the more time we spend listening to the shepherd's voice, the better we shall know his voice. The greater the time we spend immersed in hiw word, the better we shall know his character. In short, every verse we read, every minute we listen our creator, we have a better picture of our Lord God to compare messages against.
A final note. If you are getting mixed ideas from left, right and centre, remember:
'Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.' -- James 4v7 --
Our Father God is our only safe place against the enemy. If we call on the Lord faithfully, he will answer us. Only he has the power to nullify the enemy, to silence the serpent's tongue and open our ears to hear his voice clearly. It might be we need to come before God in situations like this, and ask him to unstop our ears - we need to receive what God tells us into our hearts, not just hear it and nod appreciatively. If we submit to Christ, he will nullify the enemy, and make his message clear; we just need to have the patience to wait on him for it.