Q. How do we tell the difference between God’s confirmation and coincidence? Or wishful thinking? I know that He uses other people a lot of the time, but is that the only way? Any insight you have would be much appreciated.
A. Sometimes a message from God is so obvious it doesn’t require any confirmation. Other times it’s hard to be sure. In those times, you can determine if it’s really God telling you something by what I call independent confirmation.
It works like this. If someone tells you he has a message for you from God, or if you believe God has spoken to you in a dream, or in some other way, ask Him for independent confirmation. If someone else, who has no way of knowing what you’ve been told, tells you the same thing, then you’ve received confirmation and can be certain it’s from God. This is an application of Deut. 19:15, “A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
I’ve also used something called “Gideon’s fleece” as described in Judges 6:36-40. The Lord had told Gideon to save Israel by defeating the Midianites. Gideon said he didn’t believe he could do it so he placed the fleece of a lamb on the ground and said, “If there is only dew on the fleece in the morning and all the ground around it is dry, I will believe I can do it.” The next morning ground was dry and there was only dew on the fleece. But Gideon still wasn’t convinced so he reversed it, saying, “Tomorrow morning if the fleece is dry and the ground around it is wet with dew, then I will be sure.” It was and Gideon was convinced. Shortly afterward, in the strength of the Lord, Gideon defeated the Midianites (Judges 7).
With a “fleece” we’re asking the Lord to provide confirmation, so I only use that method when it’s really important to know I’m following His will and not just doing something I want to do.
Doing things like this help us learn to walk by faith and with practice we can get so we intuitively know if it’s the Lord or not. But I still rely on independent confirmation whenever I’m not absolutely certain I’ve really heard from Him.