Jesus invites us onto a journey to walk with him and to learn what it means to live in the presence of God. In order to do that, we have to listen to him.
How do we discern and faithfully listen to the God who gave us life in Jesus Christ?
To fully answer this question we need to break it down into smaller questions, namely,
- How can we listen to God?
- How does God speak?
- What does listening to God require?
- How do I know that I’m hearing God’s voice?
How can we listen to God?
Listening to God Starts with Your Heart
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
We are all born in this condition, as people who are hard toward God, who are unable to understand God and who reject his word.
1 Corinthians 2:14
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Romans 10:13-15, 17
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Once we come to know Christ one of the most distinctive marks of the life we live is the voice of God.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Jesus wants us to see that hearing and receiving his commands is linked to loving him.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
So first, we need to acknowledge that we must have a heart from God in order to listen to God.
How does God speak?
Listening to God Means Listening to His Word
The truth is that God determines the ways in which he will speak to us, and the primary way God speaks to his people is through his written word—The Bible.
What does listening to God require?
Two very important things set up your heart for hearing God.
Pray for the Spirit’s help
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
Read the Scriptures in Community
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
The life of Jesus serves as a great example of how we should position ourselves for listening.
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
Be patient. (40 days in the wilderness as example, praying all night)
“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”
Read God’s Word.
“But he answered, It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Be committed to do what pleases God.
“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’ ”
How do I know that I’m hearing God’s voice?
We need to measure the counsel, advice, thought, with a few questions:
Is it consistent with God’s Word?
Are we believing or embracing it as God’s will because it aligns with worldly wisdom?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
Is it contrary to the desires of the flesh?
Does it have confirmation by my church and godly counsel?
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
Does it challenge my faith?
Does it call me to be courageous?