If we expect to get a response from God then it’s of critical importance that we listen for that response. Listening is the next step in communicating with God. I must admit that I’m not very good at listening. Often, when I get into a conversation with somebody, I am thinking about the next thing I want to say and I don’t always completely hear what the person that I’m talking with has to say. I also have other things that are going on around me that cause distractions. It is critical that we learn to listen to God. Listening closely will vastly improve our day-to-day life and our prayer life.
The way that we hear from God the most is through His word. If you are not reading the word of God on a regular basis – I recommend daily – you are not training yourself to hear His voice. Yes, we can train our ear to His voice. The truth is that God speaks to us every time we read His word! We need to make sure our hearts are prepared to hear. We have talked about this in previous lessons.
Romans 10: 17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Not only will He reveal His will to us through His word, but it will also increase our faith. How many times have you been reading a familiar portion of scripture and you became aware of something new in that portion of scripture that you hadn’t seen before. It’s always been there you just hadn’t noticed it or hadn’t thought about it in the way you are right now. That is God talking to you through the Holy Spirit. Start to recognize this as His voice and you will realize that you’re hearing from God a lot more than you think you are.
When we want to hear from God, what are we listening for? Are we listening for an audible voice or a stirring in our heart or just a faint small voice speaking to us? 1st Kings 19:11-12 tell us about Elijah:
11 And he (God) said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORDwas not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORDwas not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Elijah just came from a glorious victory over 400 prophets of Baal. Now he was afraid of Jezebel the Queen and was on the run. God told Him to get to the mountains, and when he got there, God asked Elijah “What are you doing here?” Elijah answered that he was all alone serving God in the nation, and now they were out to get him. God told him to go stand on the mountain before the Lord and we see the events listed above. A strong wind, an earthquake and a fire passed by Elijah, but God was not in any one of them.
We often look for God in the hustle and bustle of this world, or when our worship services are really going well and the praises are being lifted high in the church.
Being from a Pentecostal church, I love it when we shout and sing praises to the Lord. I love the high praise, which is what I call it – when the drums and the guitars and the keyboard and the singers are turned up on high volume and the church and all the grounds are filled with the praises of the Lord. But as much as I love that, it is rare to hear God speak during those times. It is when things quiet down that God speaks with a word of prophecy or tongues with an interpretation is brought forth.
I will never forget the prophecy that came forth upon me in August of 2010. We were in one of those tent revivals and had just finished a rousing worship service and heart thumping hour of preaching. The room was quiet and the man of God came up to me and said “Because you have been waiting patiently and crying out to God to use you once again, God is going to do a new thing in you. Something you haven’t done before and do not expect. And that new thing will be for God’s glory, and it will produce praise and glory to His name. It is not something you will do, but something He will do. It will spring out of your heart so that all will see that it is God that is doing this thing, and not you.” I was in tears when this was spoken. I had been out of ministry for over 3 years because of sin in my life, and I as so hungry for God to move. Two months after this, God started to give me worship choruses, songs and poems, and that has not stopped. Over 2,000 poems, songs and worship choruses have flowed through the Holy Spirit into my heart and onto paper. They are still coming today. When God speaks to us it will come to pass!
Psalm 29:3-9 King James Version (KJV)
3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
Psalm 29:3-9 is one of the best portions of scripture to see a description of the voice of the Lord, Look at the attributes David gives to the voice of the Lord: It thunders upon the waters, it is powerful and full of majesty, it breaks the cedars (these are the strongest of trees), it fills with joy like a young calf, it divides fire, it shakes the wilderness, makes the animals bear their young, and it discovers the forest.
With these attributes, why does He remain so quiet with us? It is because He wants to be close to us and have that personal one-on-one with us. If He spoke to each of us in full volume, it would be heard for dozens of miles away, like thunder is, and it would be seen from hundreds of miles away, like the lightening is. It would break our houses and shake the land. His voice is so powerful that the Israelites decided they wanted God to speak to Moses and then Moses would speak to the people, because they heard the thundering of His voice and were afraid (Ex 20:18-21)
John 10:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are His sheep and you will know His voice. Do you know the voice of the Lord when it comes to you? Can you recognize it from the voice of the enemy? They are both speaking to us, but only one speaks with things that line up with the Word of God. This is another reason you have to know the scriptures and rely on the Holy Spirit to bring them to your remembrance when you need them.
Do you remember the portion of scripture in Matthew 4 when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days? Satan tempted Jesus and he even used a portion of scripture to do it! He said “He (meaning God) will give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee.” These verses can be found in Psalm 91. But Jesus knew His scripture and He knew the enemy had left out just 4 little words that drastically change the meaning of these words. “In all they ways” – that means in the everyday life you live. It does not mean He will prot4ect us if we decide to jump off a cliff, or in front of a train. Jesus told the enemy that he shall not tempt the Lord His God. We should never do that! If the enemy came to you quoting scripture, would you know if he was accurate? Jesus used scripture from Deuteronomy all three times the devil approached Him.
I have long been an advocate of reading the bible through in a year at least once in your young Christian life. I have done it at last 6 times through my 40 years of being a Christian. Not when you first get saved, but sometime after that would be better. The reason I believe that is important is two-fold. First, it gives you the whole story, and you are better able to connect the New and Old Testament. Second, Jesus told us the Holy Spirit would bring things to our remembrance (John 14:26). How can He bring it to your remembrance if it is not already in there? Now I do believe that the Holy Spirit can give you scripture from anywhere in the bible, but it is better for you if it is already there ready to utilize when you need it.
I got a little sidetracked there, but my point is that you need to know scripture so that when you hear that quiet voice, you will be able to discern if it is God or the enemy. Remember, Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). We need to know our bible!
In Matthew 13 Jesus gives the parable of the sower and the seed and explains what it means to the disciples.
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Jesus lets us know here how important listening is. We will also refer to this portion of scripture in our next lesson – Accepting the Response. The first person is the one who receives the seed – the word – by the way side. The way side is hard, trampled down dirt, and the seed cannot take root at all. It is gobbled up by birds the moment it is cast down. These are those who think they already have all the answers and are not even willing to listen to exhortation or another differing view. There is a lot of pride in this person, and I have been there in the past. When God tries to speak to them, if it’s not what they want to hear, they don’t let it in at all. They are almost in a place where they refuse to hear the voice of the Lord, even though they have prayed and asked for a response. If it’s not what they want, they won’t hear it.
The second one is the one represented by the stony ground. The word comes in and takes root, but then tough times come, it is forgotten and cast off. The voice of the Lord makes a first impression, but if it does not take care of the trial or test completely, that person forgets the mercy that has already been extended and backs off from what God has said. Boy, would I be in trouble if I did not recognize the little mercies (and big ones) He has granted me and spoken to me while going though this cancer business. His voice is always speaking, guiding and directing. I keep asking for healing, complete healing, and slowly but surely it is coming. It would be very easy for me to say “Well, God has not completely healed me, so I guess He is not answering my prayers,” or “God has not made my songs big hits yet, so I guess He is not hearing my prayer”. God IS healing me – one step at a time. God is still sending me songs – His purpose is known unto Him – who am I to question it. I will not allow my circumstances to outweigh His mercy!
The third person is the one who accepts the voice of God and what it has to say., and the word takes root and blooms in them only to eventually be choked out by the world and the mockers. Have you ever had someone who says to you – “God did not do that, the doctors did”. Or maybe it was more like “God would not tell you something like that – you must be dreaming”. We hear those words, and we stay quiet after that about what God has done, or what He has said. Why? Because the world chokes God’s word right out of us. The voice of the Lord becomes silenced in that particular case because we were intimidated by the voices of this world.
And the last of course are those that hear the word and take it in. They study it out and know that it was God that was talking to them. They stick with it and grow and are fruitful because of it. We need to be like the last the ones that take in the word and act upon it. Don’t let the world, or your problems, or anything else rob you of what God has said. No one else knows what God has said to you, unless you have told them, or unless God has revealed it to them. It is important to seek Godly counsel in the form of a pastor or mentor on critical decisions, as long as you know those people you are asking are filled with the wisdom of God. But remember – if you are going to do that, be ready for God to speak through those people!
Always keep in mind that His still, small voice is the one that created the universe. It is the voice that hung the stars in place. It is the voice that started the earth, sun and stars rotating in their own ways. His voice is the most powerful force in the universe, and He is speaking to you on a regular basis. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.” It is in the stillness of life that He comes to us and speaks to us. Make sure that, in your prayer time, you allow time for God to speak to you!
The last thing I want to mention is out of Exodus 29:20 where we read that the ears of the priests were anointed. Are your ears anointed to hear the word of God? Faith has to be applied to hearing just as much as it does to anything else, because without faith it is impossible to please God. Are your ears ready to hear with faith, nothing wavering, or is your faith double-minded? Will you accept the voice of the Lord when it comes, or will you toss His words up in the air and say I’m not sure whether that’s God or not? Are you ready to accept His response even if it goes completely against what you would like? That will be our next lesson!