My question is, how do we discern when God talking to us? How do we know if it is our own ego and or the devil playing tricks on us?
There have been many circumstances which I thought God was telling me what to do, but later find out it obviously was not.
There are several ways to determine if we are “hearing God’s voice” or just our own flesh.
The first and most definitive is to search the Scriptures. Is there a Bible verse that commands or genuinely supports the idea or direction you think God is leading you to? If yes, then you can be confident of God’s leading.
Conversely, if a verse is found that contradicts what you are “hearing”, or specifically commands something different, then you can be sure that what you are hearing is your own flesh, or the Enemy – or perhaps you have misinterpreted something.
Lacking a clear verse that supports or contradicts what you feel God might be saying to you, there are some other considerations.
Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. (NKJV)
Find several Godly people to evaluate what you are “hearing from God”. If you are genuinely seeking the honest truth, there will be few times that a group of mature Christians will not help you come to a confident determination.
James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (NKJV)
This verse applies directly to your question. Without Godly wisdom, we make the wrong choices; we follow our flesh; we are “tossed about” chasing our own “voice” and not God’s. The verse also gives the plain and simple solution: ask God for wisdom and He will give it. That’s the easy part. The hard part is that once you GET wisdom, you will have to LIVE by that wisdom. That’s means that often we won’t get OUR way.
One last thought…
If you come to a point where you cannot truly decide, be sure that God will honor a decision that is made from a clear conscience and earnest prayer. That doesn’t mean everything will be easy or “successful”, but it does mean that God is always faithful to walk with us.
We don’t need to fear that God will abandon us if we “accidentally” make a poor choice. He may correct us, chasten us or redirect us, but God will not abandon us. It is a BONDAGE to see God as someone who says “too bad” every time we make a bad choice.
God is our FATHER, not an evil, sadistic taskmaster.