James 1:22 And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself.
Do you realize that as a believer, Jesus is there to help you learn how to think through and handle ever situation in life. It’s the truth. If you will spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer, He will guide you. His Holy Spirit will guide you. Many believers struggle with this because they think they aren’t hearing from God. If they aren’t spending time in God’s word and prayer, then they will struggle to hear from God. They’ll have what can seem like an impossible task of sorting out what God is speaking to their heart from the myriad of thoughts and imaginations floating or racing through their minds.
God has given every believer the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us – to bring insight, understanding, and revelation of what God’s word means and is speaking to us as it applies in real life situations. Jesus told us He’d send us His Holy Spirit and then He said, When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth… John 16:13
We don’t just want to know God theologically. We want to know God personally as our Heavenly Father. We want to learn to hear His voice – the voice that speaks to our hearts about personal things and situations in our life as we read His Word – the Bible. We want to hear His loving, encouraging, instructive voice that helps us and that shows us how to live life His way. It’s where help and blessing are found. He’d love nothing more than for us to learn to hear His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
And so, as I said, many believers struggle with hearing God’s voice but the trouble is not with God. It’s with themselves. Praying – having a reverential heart conversation with God is something God responds to. Sometimes He initiates the conversation. Sometimes you do – just like in everyday life. But, if you spend little to no time in His Word and in prayer having these kinds of conversations with God, then you will struggle to hear from Him. When you do think you hear from Him, you’ll struggle in sorting out your thoughts and imaginations from what you might think is Him. That’s why you spend time in His Word. He speaks through His Word. It is when you are reading His Word or have it in your heart that He speaks through it. He takes what is written and makes it part of a conversation or time of instruction with you.
But, here is what makes someone a real listener and hearer of God’s voice. They don’t only learn to listen – they respond! Responding is taking action to what God says and as you do, watching God work through your obedience. James 1:22-23 gives us more insight saying, And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself.. if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
You can’t obey what you don’t hear. So learning to listen is first. That should lead to obeying. This explains why people have trouble hearing the voice of God. They don’t esteem what God says to them. They don’t value it. If they did, they’d obey it! It’s when we listen but don’t obey that the voice of God becomes just another voice in our head. Pretty soon it all becomes confusing and jumbled with every other thought we have. Then one is left feeling like they never or seldom hear from God.
You want to hear from God! You really do! It’s critical to living out the life God wants you to live. You will hear God through your Pastors and through men or women of God that teach God’s word in such a way that it speaks to you. That is a good thing. But, you need to learn to hear from Him yourself also. The first part of how to do that I’ve already told you. You need to create some quiet times in your life. I would plead with you to do so daily – to sit down and read from the Bible. Before you begin, have a prayer with God. Pray and ask God to teach you through His Holy Spirit living in you, to help you understand what you read. Stay in the New Testament for a while. It’s easier to learn. When you don’t understand what you are reading, ask God to help you understand but for the moment, put it on a shelf. You’ll be amazed when God brings it back to you and helps you understand it. He’ll speak through a Pastor or Bible teacher or someone and you’ll gain insight. Just be patient. Stick with what you can grasp and focus on that. Ask God to help you make changes in your life according to what you read. When you take that approach, you’ll find that God will speak to you and if you are serious about listening to Him and doing what He says, you’ll hear often from Him.
At the same time, don’t stop reading things like Fresh Manna that help teach you about God. They are also critical to your spiritual growth and development.
There is also something that is absolutely critical to helping you hear God’s voice. I’ll share that with you tomorrow. For today, meditate on our Fresh Manna verse – And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. James 1:22
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2009 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.