Category: Hearing God

How To Enjoy Reading the Bible

How To Enjoy Reading the BibleI’ve mentioned and recommended The Way of a Worshiper by Buddy Owens in other posts on this blog before.  It’s a small little book packed with great information on living for the Glory of the father and making worship a lifestyle.  It’s great and if you haven’t read it, get it.

So after I read that book, when I found this sermon by Buddy on learning how to read the bible with your ears, naturally I was in.  Since putting this method of reading the bible daily into practice, it has been transformational.  Here’s what Buddy says about the sermon:

How to Read the Bible with Your Ears

Prayer and Bible reading aren’t two separate activities, they are two parts of a conversation with God. If you feel guilty or frustrated about your devotional life, this message is for you. Pastor Buddy Owens shows you how to enter the conversation by learning to hear the Lord speak to you in his Word. With help from the simple Bible reading method Buddy describes, you can learn to recognize the voice, the heart, and the hand of God in Scripture. Come join the conversation.

Presenter:  Buddy Owens
Date:  1/3/2007

How To Hear From God – Hearing the Voice Of God

How To Hear From God - Hearing the Voice Of GodGod recently gave me an epiphany recently through a parenting analogy that I wanted to share here.

Have you ever told your kids to do something?

If you’re not a parent, try to remember a time when your parents told you to do something while you were engaged in something else…or your wife/husband for that matter.

Well if you’re a parent of a child old enough to be given an instruction, you certainly have.  Picture this:

Dad: “Hey Suzie, I need you to help me with a few things. First, can you pick up your toys in the family room and then I need you to go up to your room and put them away. Last, make your bed and straighten up your room.”

[Dad looks over and Suzie isn’t even looking at him]

Now dad may not realize it, but he’s not even gotten her attention at this point. Let alone communicated effectively for her to be able to take action. Even if she had been listening, she would have forgotten step 1 by the time he was halfway through step 2. So dad takes a new approach.

Dad: “Suzie, look at me”

[Suzie complies]

Dad: “I need you to pick up your toys.”

Suzie: “Ok dad”

Now what just happened here may not seem significant until you want guidance from your heavenly father. Did you see what the father in our example above did?  He got the girls attention, gave her one simple command and waited for her to comply before giving her the next step.  Let me explain.

Focus On the Next Step

I’ve become convinced that we often ask God to lay out the entire plan of something and He in His infinite wisdom knows we either can’t comprehend or take it all in and so I believe He revealed to me in my life a simple strategy for difficult times when we are crying out for the full answer or full plan and He doesn’t seem to be complying.  I believe sometimes He just wants us to focus on the next step.  Here’s what He told me to do recently:

  1. Look at me.
    So the first step for us to follow God is to pay attention to Him; to look at Him in our analogy above.  He wants our undivided attention and won’t clamor above the noise of our life to get it.  So how do you do this?  Read the word.  Write it on the tablet of your heart and meditate on it.  Internalize it, memorize it and in essence, make it a part of your core.  This is one of the most beautiful things about our Father; He wont force you into seeking after Him, but oh boy, when you do, He starts to work in your life, to refine you in the refiners fire and burn off those impurities and then that sets you up perfectly for step 2…
  2. Listen.
    Paying attention to God does you no good if you don’t listen to what He’s telling you.  To listen here I mean to hear whatever He has to say to you.  There are several ways you can do this such as meditating on His word, prayer and then times of silence to wait on Him to respond and sometimes even reading the word of God itself can be listening.  But the key is to not be making your own noise but to be waiting on God…listening for whatever method He may choose to communicate with you.  Oh, and one more thing on this one…listen with an open mind and heart.  Ask God to specifically show you the next step for you to take in any given situation…believe me He will.
  3. Obey.
    So you’d think the third part would be the easiest…but not so much.  I’ve often thought that I would have a hard time NOT obeying God if I knew clearly He had spoke and understood what I was to do.  To see God’s will brought to fruition in our lives we have to comply with His every request.  We have to be obedient and take the next step whenever and however He asks us to do so.  See here’s the problem.  We have to die to this thing called flesh every single day.  And if that weren’t enough, its our job to cue into Him by looking and listening.  Trust me, God hasn’t gone silent even when you may think He has.  He’s there waiting for us to seek harder, press in more, and show up.  So knowing His will and understanding His instructions seems to fall on our shoulders.  Then the hard part…at least sometimes; obeying Him…no matter the cost.

Let me illustrate this way.

“Dance with all your might as you worship me like David did”

But…but…me God?  Really?  You want me to…do what…dance for you?

“Yes dance” He says.

It’s in that moment you must decide; obey and possibly look foolish or disobey and miss out on His best (the good part as He told Martha and Mary) for you.  And not just for you…what we may think someone else will look at and view as foolish, may be looked at as inspiring and courageous and cause someone to be moved themselves.

Be Foolish & Get It Over With!

Oh and on the topic of being “foolish”, let me just say this.  If you’re afraid of looking foolish, then you ought to just look foolish and get it over with.  While reading a WONDERFUL book entitled Worship, by Joseph Garlington recently, he said we should consider this:

  • Noah must have looked pretty foolish building a massive arc to float on a worldwide flood and save humanity
  • Abraham had to look pretty foolish standing over his son Isac, knife in hand
  • Moses probably looked foolish sitting on a hilltop flanked by 2 guys holding up his arms while thousands fought to their death below
  • Hannah apparently looked foolish and drunk to Eli as she prayed fervently in the House of God
  • David looked very foolish standing in front of Goliath armed with a sling and 5 smooth stones
  • Mary definitely looked foolish when she became pregnant out of wedlock and
  • Joseph looked even more foolish when he agreed to marry her anyway
  • Jesus, when as a carpenters son, stood in the synagogue read a familiar passage from the scroll of Isaiah and said “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” looked foolish
  • Satan thought Jesus looked even more foolish the day he was stretched out on a roman cross between 2 crucified  thieves after claiming to be the Son of God…but he wasn’t foolish…He was doing the will of His Father!

In fact, all of them “appeared” foolish, but weren’t.  They were doing the will of their Father…and in doing so confounding the wise.

So I hope as you face whatever God has you facing right now, that the lesson He gave me might help you in your walk.  And even more than that, I hope that if faced with the choice of looking foolish for God or wise for the world, you’d choose foolishness every time and praise God that He gave you the opportunity to stand for Him!  Focus in on God, ask for and listen for that next step in your life or situation and then be obedient and comply with His request.

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How God Speaks To Us…Are We Listening?

How God Speaks...Hearing From God

Hearing From God

Have you ever missed an appointment with a friend or colleague?

I mean, a time when you really blew it; scheduled the lunch with a buddy at 1pm on Wednesday, confirmed on Tuesday and then simply lost track of time and was a no show/no call?

I have.  In fact, I remember such a time when I found out later that I left someone waiting on me alone in a restaurant for over 45 minutes until they finally ate lunch alone and left.  I remember that feeling when I remembered and then again the feeling when I found out how bad it was for them to wait so long, feel stupid, then get mad and finally leave.

In my case I really like the person that I accidentally did this too and it really hurt (and was REALLY embarrasing) to appear that irresponsible and flippant.

Or what about a situation where someone is talking to you but you don’t realize it and you appear like you’re ignoring them until finally somehow they get your attention (usually in an unpleasant manner I might add) and you realize what’s happened.

So have you?  Remember the situation, circumstances and feelings for either or both of those types of situations.  Remember if you can how you felt, and how the other person felt.

Got it?  OK.

Now realize this.  The Almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth, everything that ever was, is and ever will be, maker of the universe and everything in it communicates with and speaks to you all the time – or trys to.  There has never been a time or point in history when God stopped speaking to His children.  From scripture we learn:

1 Corinthians 2:10-12 (NIV)
10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Now don’t just read over that quickly or skim it…seriously you DON’T want to miss this so read it again, slowly and let the words sink in!  Do you see it?  God has FREELY revealed His mind, His thoughts, “even the deep things of God” through the Holy Spirit (God) living inside us – or put another way…He wants you to know what He’s thinking.  He wants to reveal His innermost mysteries…His deepest thoughts.

Even the definition of the word reveal is helpful to contemplate here.  Here is the definition of reveal, thanks to the good ole Webster’s dictionary:

To make known through divine inspiration

To make known (to tell you), through divine (of God or Godly) inspiration (influence).

Also, just to be clear, all who are born again have the Holy Spirit in them working as an “advocate” or “one that pleads the case of another” according to Jesus in John 14:

John 14:16-17 (NLT)
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Jesus then defines the role of the Holy Spirit living within us as leading us into the knowledge of God:

John 16:13 (NIV)
13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

So let me get back to the question we posed in the title of this post which is this…

Are We Listening To God?

We have clearly seen that the question isn’t does God speak, but rather are we paying attention and listening.  Are we fellow-shipping with the Holy Spirit.  I know I haven’t been nearly enough.  As bad as it felt to stand up my friend, it feels INFINITELY worse to know that God’s been trying to talk to me and I’ve been ignoring Him.

I said in my first blog post that I was going to try to “show up” for God cause He’s always there and that this blog would be a detailed record of my journey as I go through the process of seeking Him like I’ve never sought after God before.

As you can probably tell by the dates of this “day 2” post I’m not doing so hot in my attempt to stay faithful to daily posts, insights and, being totally transparent, even my daily devotional time with God.

But what I cannot do and what none of you can do is to give up.

As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14:

Philippians 3:13-14
…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

First he says “Forgetting what is behind”…don’t let your past, failure, or sin become the biggest obstacle for your future.

Second he says “straining toward what is ahead”.   AKA, this road isn’t gonna be easy, but Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, just that I wouldn’t go it alone.

So that is what I intend to do…forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead which is Day 3 and more time spent with the Lord learning and sharing.