As we walked through Nazareth Village, the had a shepherd there feeding his small flock. The sheep were just about ready to be trimmed so the village could make yarn. I walked around the side and took this photo of the sheep eating. While I was doing that, our guide said something I had never thought of. He said, “Did you know that goats have ears?” I thought, “Of course they do!” Then he said, “Both sheep and goats can hear, but only sheep listen for their master’s voice and obey it. The goats hear his voice and do their own thing.” That’s why sheep have shepherds and goats have herders.
I believe we all can hear God’s voice, but are we listening for it? Hearing is a passive thing that happens just by having ears. Listening is something that is done intentionally. We’ve all be in conversations where we are barely listening to the other person, then we realize we missed the important part. We have to either pretend that we listened to what they said or we have to ask them to repeat it. When the King of King speaks to us, we should be giving Him our undivided attention. If we are merely passively hearing His voice, it calls to question whether He is shepherding us or is herding us.
In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (NLT). The only way to know Jesus and to follow Him is to listen to His voice. He is constantly speaking to us, so we need to be constantly listening to Him. Ive found that the best way to listen is to be quiet. It sounds so simple, yet many of us are afraid of the silence of sitting in His presence. Today practice being still in His presence and listening for His voice. Be obedient to whatever He tells you to do. Don’t just be someone who hears His voice, be a listener of it.
Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.
The way to avoid or minimize injury in sports is to do all the right things. The same applies spiritually. One of the things you can do to prevent injury is stretching. When is the last time you stretched yourself spiritually? I’m not talking about a faith pledge financially. I’m talking about stepping out in faith and you really doing something positive for the Kingdom. It could be walking up to a stranger and just telling them, “God wanted me to tell you that He loves you.” It could be fasting for three days with water only to grow closer to God. It could be any number of things that you don’t think you can do for God.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” The same thing applies spiritually. If you don’t stretch yourself and think you can do more than you are right now, you’re right. You will stunt your growth and never do more than what you’re doing today. God wants us to step out of the boat like Peter did. When he saw Jesus walking on the water and asked Jesus to call him out of the boat, I’m sure his mind told him that he couldn’t do it. Thankfully his faith in God told him that he could. Have you asked jesus to call you out of your boat? Which voice are you listening to? Stretch yourself.
So before you begin your in depth training for Godliness you need to be able to do some things first. You need to be able to read God’s Word without interruption. How much you read isn’t important in the beginning. It’s not about reading a chapter a day or at a time. God can speak to you with just one verse, but you need to be where you can hear Him speak to you through it. Get away from all distractions and the noise in your life. Jesus went away from others to hear God. You should too.
You also need to be in the habit of praying and listening. Prayer is important. I think contemplative prayer is even more so. I’ll do a post on this soon because it’s more than just praying what comes to mind. It’s purposefully thinking through your prayers. That’s something you work up to though. Beyond just praying, you need to learn to quiet your mind and give God time to speak to you. We, like Elijah in I Kings 19:11-14, think that God speaks loudly all the time. We want Him to speak to us audibly. Elijah saw a windstorm that tore rocks loose from the mountains, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He saw an earthquake, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He even saw fire, but God’s voice wasn’t there either. After the fire, there was a gentle whisper of God’s voice. That’s how God speaks to us. We need to get to where we can hear His voice, then quiet our mind and listen for it.
Tomorrow I’ll wrap this series up with some final thoughts and encouragement to continue your training for Godliness.
I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.
Anyone you can think of that has a great relationship with God, has the habit of prayer in their life. Just like any other relationship, it is only successful when you communicate. Communication involves sending and receiving messages. Many Christians are great at sending them to God, but have a hard time receiving them. Either they don’t spend time listening during prayer or they don’t take time to read His Word. God is speaking to each one of us, we just have to choose to listen.
Listening to God speak is as much an act of faith as anything. If we hear it enough times, we will learn to recognize when it is God speaking and when it is our mind. Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep recognize my voice” (MSG). The only way to recognize someone’s voice is to hear it several times. God expects us to daily hear what He’s trying to say to us as individuals and then to apply it to our lives. He’s giving the answers to what we are asking in prayer. If we don’t hear those answers, we aren’t listening.
One way you can know if it’s God speaking to you is that what He says will never go against what the Bible says. He is true to His Word. He doesn’t make exceptions. It’s very important to know the Bible if you’re learning to listen to God’s voice. That is the measuring stick to know if you are hearing Him. I peter 1:25 tells us that the word of the Lord will last forever. It will not be replaced. It will not be changed.
If you truly want to grow in your relationship with God, you’re going to have to spend quality time in prayer each day. Colossians 4:2 says, “Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving” (AMP). Great Christians know that the health of their relationship with God lies in their prayer life. If you want to be a better Christian, start spending more time on your knees.