A man conducted an experiment to find out whether people really listen to one another. Whenever he got a phone call, he responded to the standard question of, “How are you?” with a simple, “Oh feeling.” Then he kept score of what people said back. The responses where “good,” “great,” or “that’s nice.” Nobody paid any attention to what he had said. Except once, the fellow at the other end perked right up “Oh!?” he exclaimed with interest. “Anybody I know?”
We've looked at Job 33:14 which says, “God does speak – now one way, now another and man may not perceive it.” It’s important to learn to listen. Clearly, if God does speak and we may not perceive it, then we’ve got to work on the perceiving end of things. So I want to look at the criterion for learning to listen.
Do we listen, or just hear?
There's absolutely no doubt that God does speak today. That’s an issue that's settled on the authority of the Word of God itself and validated by the countless testimonies of men and women throughout the centuries of Christian faith and experience.
God is light and will reveal Himself to anyone who will look to Him. God is love and will communicate to anyone who's willing to listen.
The question each one of us has to ask is, “Will I take the time to look? Will I take the time to listen?”
In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice.” Now there’s a significant distinction between KJV - My sheep hear my voice - and NIV - My sheep listen to my voice. Many times you can hear somebody without listening to them. Or sometimes you can listen to somebody without hearing them (as you watch their body language).
Listening with intelligence
The word listen means to hear intelligently with attention and obedience. The one distinction we have as the children of the Lord is that we have the ability to listen with intelligence.
We’re not listening so that we can debate what He is saying – we’re listening so we can do what He is saying. That’s the kind of listening ear the Lord will speak to.
Proverbs 8:32-34, “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.”
The Lord loves to find us in that posture before Him – always listening, always on the incline toward the Word of the Lord.
Psalm 81:13-14, “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”
Charles Spurgeon said “The enemy finds his greatest stockpile of weapons in our disobedience to God. He could not defeat us would we not first defeat ourselves.”
One way we defeat ourselves is by disobeying what the Lord says to us. If we would but listen – the solution to it all is just to listen to what God is saying!
The Holy Spirit talks
John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
The Counselor is the Holy Spirit. Now you should know something – the very fact that Jesus would call Him the counselor implies conversation.
One of the ways that the Lord speaks is by reminding you of what He already said – but again – you have to have read it in the first place. He uses our memory.
John 15:26, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – He will testify about me.”
That includes speaking. There are other ways that the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus, but one of them is communication. He speaks!
These scriptures fly in the face directly of the notion that it’s foolish to think God would talk to us. Some people will argue: after all we’ve got the Bible. Why do we need God talking to us anymore, we’ve got the Bible! Well, OK, but did you know the Bible said he’s going to talk to us? We’re not adding to the Word of God. We’re expounding in our own understanding the ways of God, as He speaks to us and makes relevant to our lives the things that He has said all along in the Bible.
Again, John 16:13, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the 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.”
The Holy Spirit talks! And He talks to us on behalf of Jesus Christ. He takes the things that are in the heart of Jesus Christ and gives them to us!
Are we ready to take what He is giving to us as we listen to His voice?
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