Hearing God’s Voice

By Julian Wells

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:1-6 NIV)

My one-word resolution for 2018 is mindful. Previous posts have explored my intent to be more mindful of my time and more mindful of others this year. The third area I intend to be more mindful this year is in hearing God’s voice, especially when it comes to daily Bible reading.

I have always been a fast eater – a tendency which studies suggest leads to higher caloric intake but less satisfaction. Similar problems can ensue in a spiritual sense when we follow aggressive Bible reading plans as I have for a number of years.

As I covered in a post titled Bible Reading Plans last year, such plans can lead to reading hurriedly and mindlessly in order to cover the required material for that day without sufficiently digesting, meditating upon, and applying its content. While we may increase our intake of God’s Word, the spiritual nourishment we so greatly need from it often suffers.

Take another look at the passage from Proverbs above. To apply our ear to understanding, to call out for insight, and to search for the hidden treasure contained within the pages of God’s Word requires a slower-paced reading than most Bible reading plans allow.

That is why I have scrapped my annual Bible reading plan this year for a daily reading focus. I will continue to be systematic in my approach to insure that no portion of Scripture gets neglected over time. But rather than maintaining the pace necessary to cover a certain amount of material in a year, I have slowed down my reading to insure that I hear God’s voice and truly grasp his message for me each day.

I am quickly finding this approach more beneficial in so many ways. My awareness of God’s presence and my sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit throughout the day has been enhanced. Bible study has become more like God designed it to be – God speaking and me listening and responding.

“As the rain and snow comes down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV)

My prayer for you is not that you read more Bible in 2018, but that you make better use of your time in God’s Word, reading it more prayerfully and responding obediently. Until the day he returns or calls us home, it will remain our best way of hearing his voice.

“To understand the Scripture is not simply to get information about God. If attended to with trust and faith, the Bible is the way to actually hear God speaking and also to meet God himself.” – Tim Keller, Prayer

 

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Can You Hear Me Now?

By: Julian Wells

“God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’” (Hebrews 4:7)

Very few people are familiar with the name of Paul Marcarelli. But for years he was one of the most recognizable faces on television, appearing in countless Verizon commercials, cellphone to his ear, and repeating the phrase “Can you hear me now?” over and over, purportedly to demonstrate the far-reaching coverage of Verizon’s wireless network. Those words, “Can you hear me now?”, became an iconic catchphrase people often used when they suspected people were not paying attention to the words they were speaking.

imageI often think of those commercials when I read the Book of Hebrews. Three times in the span of two chapters, the author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 95:7-8, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (3:7,15, 4:7) Perhaps the most vital skill that a follower of Christ needs to develop and hone is learning to discern the voice of God from all the other voices that clamor for our attention.

Our lives today are packed with background noises that can easily distract us from vitally important things needing our focus. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask. We eat while watching television; we listen to music while jogging; I watch Netflix while on the treadmill; my wife is even able to read a book and watch television at the same time.

However, studies have shown that when we multitask, we are never as efficient as we think we are at those activities. That is why automobile accidents have increased with the widespread use of cellphones. It is also why we should not multitask when it comes to reading God’s Word, which is the primary means through which we hear the voice of God.

I have made it a practice for many years to start the day by reading my Bible before anything else has a chance to distract my attention. But in order for it to impact our lives, we must do more than just read it – we must listen to God’s voice as he speaks to us through the Scriptures.

All too often, I have been guilty of reading just to maintain a Bible reading plan without truly digesting what God is saying to me, often prejudging the content to align with my own interpretations and inclinations, leaving little room for the Spirit to guide me in a different direction. We should never be so nonchalant about hearing the voice of God.

Years ago, after hearing a message by Dr. Charles Stanley on this topic, I recorded in the cover of my Bible these ten ways we should listen to God as we read his Word:

  • Eagerly
  • Attentively
  • Trustingly
  • Expectantly
  • Prayerfully
  • Patiently
  • Humbly
  • Purposefully
  • Joyfully
  • Repentantly

Remembering to adopt these postures as I read God’s Word has served me well through the years. When I do so, I rarely fail to hear God’s voice. He shows me things I’ve never noticed before. He feeds me, strengthens me, challenges me, humbles me, and gives me ideas for blog posts to share with you.

If your life is too busy to read the Bible this way, then your life is simply too busy and I strongly encourage you to evaluate your time and make adjustments. When Christ walked among us, it was clear to all who encountered him that his teaching was unlike any before him, and yet so many missed his glory and majesty. We must not make that same mistake by allowing trivial pursuits to keep us from the awesome privilege of hearing God’s voice through the pages of his Word.

“Christian believers make a great mistake when they refer only to the Bible as the Word of God. True, the inspired Bible is the Word of God speaking to our hearts and to our souls. But in referring to the Word of God, we do not mean just the book—printed pages sewed together with nylon thread. Rather, we mean the eternal expression of the mind of God. We mean the world-filling breath of God!” – A.W. Tozer

Note: All Scripture from the New International Version (NIV)