Don’t Just Hear, Listen

If you’re following our church-wide Bible reading plan this year, you should be somewhere in the middle of the minor prophets. Maybe you’re a few days ahead which is great, or maybe you’re a few or more than a few days behind. Wherever you are in the plan, it’s OK! The real goal of the plan is not to finish all of the Scripture in exactly one year but rather to help you create a rhythm where you interact with God’s word on a regular basis.

Every time you open up the Bible, I want you to remember a key truth: Hearing God’s voice is not the same as listening to it. When the prophet Isaiah volunteered to be God’s mouthpiece, God gave him this commission; “And He replied, ‘Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'” (Isaiah 6:9) The people of Israel and Judah, especially during the times of the prophets, had ‘heard’ God speak to them many times. Yet, they continued to turn away from the real God and choose what they thought was the better way. This lack of listening to God would lead to their removal from the promised land by foreign powers.

Being satisfied with hearing from God through his word or others makes you merely religious. You could listen to sermons from multiple churches, have podcasts going non-stop, or listen to K-Love for 8 hours a day but at best, you’re only taking the first step. Jesus laid out what his true followers do. In Luke 6:46-47, Jesus says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.” He continues making his point through the parable of the wise and foolish builders.

When God speaks, he expects us to listen. Listening means that we take the word to heart and allow it to change our actions or thoughts. This doesn’t happen naturally but as you practice listening, it will become a habit. Here are some examples of what listening might look like:  

  • As I read the Scriptures in the morning, I am asking God to speak to me. I pray Psalm 86:11 over my life and then try to see what sticks out to me. Many times, the Spirit allows one word or verse to come alive. I spend a few minutes meditating on it and ask God to show me how he wants me to respond. Every day is a little different but there are times when God brings up the same theme because I haven’t gotten it yet.
  • Outside of a daily time in the morning, I sometimes hear from God in other ways. It might be through a sermon, conversation, or something I read. If I can’t figure out what I need to do to put it into practice, I will usually process it with another person and look for insight. I don’t always feel like listening but when I do, I am grateful for God’s grace that leads me to what’s best.
Don’t just hear, listen.
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