I love God’s Word. I love that the depth of its wisdom and insights is unfathomable. I’ve been memorizing and meditating on chapters 4-10 in Deuteronomy for the past year and a half and just the other day another “match” was revealed to me.
I had not noticed it before, but the phrase LISTENING just popped off the page to me. As I read it in chapter nine, I realized that I had seen that word before. So, again with my mindset that if something in the Bible is repeated, it bears significance, I went back to these seven chapters in Deuteronomy and found another treasure of insights regarding this issue of LISTENING (AND HEARING).
It is interesting that in a majority of these seven chapters, the call to listen is stated right up front:
4:4 – “Now O Israel, listen…”
5:1 – “…Hear, O Israel…”
6:3 – ” O Israel, you should listen…”
6:4 – “Hear, O Israel…”
9:1- “Hear, Israel…”
Why is that? My best guess is the importance God is stressing paying attention to what He is about to say. Its similar to a boss or coach, or parent who is with their team (or family) and there is a lot of noise going on, and the boss, or coach, or parent raises their voice to say, “enough, listen to me! Pay attention! You need to really hear what I’m about to tell you.”
But besides these opening verses that called the Israelites to pay attention and listen (and us, too), digging deeper into these seven chapters, I soon found other gems about listening and hearing.
4:10– The Israelites were to assemble before Mt. Horeb that they “may hear My words so that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth and that they may teach their children”
4:30 – after God brings judgement on the Israelites in the future as they turn away from Him, they will come to their senses and repent –“when you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and LISTEN to his voice”
4:33 – “has any people HEARD the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have HEARD it, and survived?”
4:36 – “out of the heavens He let you HEAR his voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you HEARD His words from the midst of the fire.”
7:12- “then it shall come about, because you LISTEN to these judgements and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers”
8:20- “like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you , so you shall perish; because you would not LISTEN to the voice of the Lord your God”
As I read these passages mentioning “listening” and “hearing”, I have jotted down a few thoughts that come to my mind. However, I believe that as you, the reader read and meditate on these verses, you will come up with even more insights.
* Never lose sight that only in Christianity is there an opportunity to listen to God. Why? Because only He is God. Whereas every other religion is based alone on some kind of system of beliefs, only Christianity provides, not only a “code” (doctrine) of beliefs, but a Living God behind those beliefs. He is alive. Yes, He is holy, but He is also a loving God. He desires a relationship with us and all good relationships need to be a two-way thing. That thought alone make me evaluate my walk. I fear too often it is characterized as a one-way kind of thing; me, offering up my wish list of requests to satisfy my needs. But, God has such a greater vision for what it could be. It needs to two-way.
* To listen to God, we need to make ourselves available to hear Him. The Israelites were called to Mt. Horeb (Sinai) to hear His voice and it was frightening to them (Deut. 4:33,36, 5:22-27,Heb. 12:18-24), however for us today, God desires to speak to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit who lives in every person who has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior).
When I speak of listening to God, I do not assume the “lotus” position and wait for God to say something. Mostly, what I do is start the process by reading or listening to the Bible. As I do, God will often speak to me some kind of application in my life. I have found that reading “spiritual growth” kinds of books or studies, even like this one 🙂 can be used by His Spirit to indicate to me (though there is nothing like the Word of God directly).
Like a horse that has blinders on so that they can focus on running the race, so we can too can have our blinders on as we live our lives, so that all we focus on is our self. We rely on our self, we think to our self, and we aim to please our self.
To listen to God means being intentional about making the time to spend with Him. I’m not suggesting a two hour per day time slot every day–it won’t happen. I would like to suggest spending just fifteen minutes, reading the Bible. Because God speaks to us in His Word, reading it is the most common way He communicates His thoughts to us through His Spirit speaking to our spirit and mind.
The other way of seeking to listen to Him is by understanding that God desires to use us to impact this world for His glory. In other words, through out our day, i believe He provides opportunities if we are just sensitive to His Spirit’s whispers of what is going on.
For example, the other day, I was driving in to work and after listening to the Bible on my I-Phone, I was praying and asking God to use me this day to be a blessing to others. About an hour from when I was praying, my boss came in and was mentioning to me how slammed he was with work and that he needed me to help him do something. To me, it wasn’t even something I had to give thought to. I had asked God to use me to be a blessing and this was an opportunity. Done!
Later that day, I felt like God was whispering to me to go to my boss and ask if II could pray for him, right there. This was just another way I could be used to be a blessing. Again, I was on it.
I remember reading a book about animals and in that book, the deer was being mentioned. I read that when a deer senses some danger, its ears get stimulated and it becomes attentive to all that is going on around it. Like that deer, we need to seek to be attentive to all that is going on around us, and attentive to those moments when God prompts us with His thoughts to take action.
* With the idea of really listening comes obedience. Just like it says in the Letter to James:
James 1:22English Standard Version (ESV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Think of a boss, coach, or parent telling someone something. How does that boss,coach, or parent know that they are really being heard? It is by the obedience of the employee, player, or child in carrying out their instructions that they will know.
So, too with God. He is looking for maximum impact when He speaks to us and that takes effort on our part. We need to put the undistracted time in to receive from Him His word to us. Then, as we hear Him, we need to remember who it is that is speaking to us, GOD ALMIGHTY and recognize His holiness, but also His love for us and be responsive to His guidance to us.
* Another aspect we need to keep in mind is the issue of the quality of our listening. Too many times in my life, I have heard the words of someone talking to me, but because of a lack of respect and attention on my part, I was not really listening to what they were saying and meaning to convey to me. Even more so with God, He needs and deserve our full attention.
* It is also worth pointing out specifically, that listening to God requires our submissiveness to Him. “The fool says in His heart there is no God” (ps. 14:1) so he gives no thought to Him. However, each of us because of our sinful natures struggle with pride. In that self-centeredness, we are drawn to reason to ourself how best to live life. We think we know best.
But God wants us to assume a position of submission like Mary in Luke 10:39 and out of dependency and honor, listen to what He has to say.
Lastly, I will only just reference it here, but will go more in depth later in some devotions on prayer, but God listens to us, too (how awesome is that):
The Lord also listens to us:
4:7 – “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God whenever we call on Him”
5:28-29 -“The Lord heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me,”I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have done well in all that they have spoken. Oh, that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons fforever!”
9:19 – “I feared the anger and wrath of the Lord, for He was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the Lord LISTENED to me.”
10:10-“now I had stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights, as I did the first time, and the Lord LISTENED to me at this time also. It was not His will to destroy you.”
I hope you have enjoyed this fresh devotion/study as much as I have discovered it.
Besides continuing to dwell on God’s Word and digging in even deeper throughout the Scriptures on this important topic of “listening”, I would also highly recommend Bill Hybel’s book, “The Power of a Whisper