If we want to understand and obey God’s voice we need to master the art of listening
‘Listen’ is a word that I used many many times, daily, as a teacher. Although I was able to instruct the children with this word to keep quiet, there is no way I was able to be sure that they were actually doing what I asked. I could instruct them to hear what I was saying but not to listen, if they decided not to. In English hearing and listening are not the same thing. You can hear the words but not necessarily listen to the meaning behind them. If someone answers us with the phrase ‘I hear what you are saying’ we automatically think that person heard the words but is giving them no consideration whatsoever. Listening is to pay attention and take in what is being said and give the words some consideration, whether you agree with them or not.
In most translations of the Bible Jesus is quoted as saying, on several occasions ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear’. In the New Living Translation, however, it says, ‘Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.’ He is calling for people to pay careful attention. It’s another way of saying, ‘Listen up! This is important!’ But unless we are willing to tune out other distractions and come to the word of God determined to listen, we will never understand what he is trying to say to us. In Mark 4; 13-20 Jesus talks about different types of hearers in the parable of the sower. There are those who let the word of God pass straight through their ears. Some hear the word yet they do not allow it to take root because worldly pleasures and comforts take over. Others hear the word but end up rejecting it because of trials. Others hear the word and open their hearts to understand and act upon it so that it transforms them and they bear fruit.
We are used to so much ‘noise’ in the world today. We hear electronic bleeps all over the place, music playing in shops, there is often terrible repetitive music when you are put on hold on the telephone (our doctor’s surgery has the most awful music when you are waiting to make an appointment. It hardly puts you in a good mood if you are having a long wait until it is your turn in the queue). My point is that it's very often a problem in everyday life to be quiet. We can be so easily distracted. But we can’t always blame worldly noises for our lack of focus. Sometimes it's the noise in our own minds that is the problem. How often, when listening to a bible teaching or a piece of scripture being read, do I find myself thinking of the chores I haven’t done, the e-mail I forgot to send, what we are going to eat that evening. Even when I am singing a beautiful song and I believe I am truly worshiping, I am sometimes surprised to find that my mind is elsewhere and I am just singing words and not listening to their meaning.
But the Bible tells us to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. If we want to understand and obey God’s voice we need to master the art of listening. This is a huge challenge to me and I am guessing I am not the only one. It means that we have to quiet our hearts and minds. God may communicate with us in many different ways, some people have had messages from God in dramatic ways. But often it is through ordinary circumstances, reading the bible, praying quietly, words from other people that resonate. God wants us to walk closely with him, stay connected to him and pay attention to what he has to say.
She said if it is yourself – ‘your own thoughts are probably going to sound logical or analytical. It’ll sound like the kind of things you often think.’
If it’s Satan – ‘Satan always condemns. His purpose is to steal, to kill, and to destroy. So, if the thoughts you’re hearing are negative, destructive, vicious or accusing, it’s the enemy.’
God – ‘When God speaks, it always lines up with the Bible - His character and His actions. He is kind, loving, inspirational, wise, healing, and convicting without being condemning.’
In John 10:27 it says: ‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me’
If we are listening to Jesus’s voice and recognising it, we will follow him—this kind of listening results in faith. Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ”
Those sheep in Jesus’s flock know, listen to, follow and obey the Good Shepherd’s voice. So, lets read the rest of the passage and see what happens if we truly listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice.
In John 10:27-30 it says ‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’
Wow! Let’s persevere in listening to our Saviour’s voice. It’s surely worth it!!!
Author: Thelma Cameron
May God bless and enrich your life
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