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17 October 2012

Listening to God - October 17

Today we discuss listening confidently, dependently, openly and attentively. We will see that the more of these attributes are in our God-time, the more two way communications will happen.

Confidently. If we don’t have confidence that God hears us, we won’t be confident that we will hear what we need to hear from God. When God answers, it may not be what we want to hear, but we need to be confident that God’s answer is the right answer for our situation and our life. We need to be confident that if God tells us to do something, He will give us the strength to do it! If God opens a path for us, even if the path looks difficult to us, He will enable us to go through the path – and if we follow His instructions, there is no way that we will ever disappoint Him!

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalms 37:5 (KJV)

We build our confidence as we build our trust. When you trust in Him, He promises to bring whatever He has asked you to do to pass!

Recently I lost all of my income. Two jobs were snatched away from me and I was prevented from actively seeking new employment due to an injury. Prospects were bleak. I asked God what to do and I felt that He wanted me to do nothing. No resumes. No calls. No asking if anyone had job leads. Nothing. I was confident that I was hearing from God, so I did what He told me to do. I had just enough cash to get me through the stress period, and God has brought me to a place where I receive exactly what I need. I am confident that I am on the right path because God has enabled me to remain calm throughout the situation, and because of my confidence, I am able to testify to His leading. Praise God that He keeps His promises.

Dependently. Not only did my situation require me to have confidence, but it required me to live dependently on God. The path God has given me requires total trust and dependence every day. Like a small child, I live completely dependent on my Father’s ability to protect and provide. As I live dependently upon Him, I discover more facets of His personality. I am able to learn more about God through the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Cor 2:11-12 (ESV)

Openly. When I approach God, I must be open to receiving His answer. Listening openly means to be willing to have God correct me, comfort me, convict me, assure me, chastise me, or praise me. Most of us only want to listen to the “good stuff”, but open listening requires listing to everything God has for me. We’ll never hear what god has to say if we only want to hear prosperity – blessing – comfort.

There’s a bad side to being willing to hear correction, unfortunately. The more we’re willing to hear God correct us about our sins, the more He will show us! This year I’ve been privileged to write two blogs. With each passing day, I am convicted more and more of my sins. It’s a very humbling spot, but it came as a blessing because I was willing to open myself to God’s leading by really listening to what He had to say. I still struggle a lot. I struggle more today than I did at this time last year, because I am now open to hearing everything He has to tell me. He tells me more because as I write the blogs (particularly readthroughthebiblechallenge.blogspot.com) I have opened myself more to Him. I have an obligation as the blog writer to be certain that what I write squares with God’s word – AND is in line with what He wants me to put into the blogosphere. As I communicate with Him, He shows me facets of Scripture I’ve never noticed, or never seen in that way! I won’t be perfect this side of heaven, but though the Scriptures I am finding more ways to become “perfect” every day.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim 3:16-17 (KJV)

Attentively. When you read God’s word, do you take notes? I am not a “write in the Bible” sorta gal, so my notes are written elsewhere. I have these note to refer to when I have questions, or when I need to remember something. Because I’m a technological junkie, I have a few translations of the Bible on my computer. The “notes” you see in a paper Bible have hyperlinks, or jumps, to the cross references. While I confess that I rarely read every single cross reference, I do read many. Sometimes my planned study is derailed by a cross reference train. When that happens, it’s usually God trying to tell me something.

Not everyone takes notes. Not everyone uses a paper Bible. Not everyone uses a computer Bible. But whatever your method of reading and listening through God’s Word, are you doing it attentively: paying attention to each word, or do you simply read to get it over with (I confess that I’m less likely to pay attention during long genealogy sections than when I’m reading a heart-pounding story, but I’m trying to slow down even through lists of names. I’ve been surprised at some of the hidden gems in those long, seemingly boring passages).

On Friday, we’ll discuss listening carefully, which of course can only happen if you’re listening attentively. We’ll also deal with listening submissively and reverently. See you then.

Once we open ourselves to listening to God, we bring benefits into our lives. We also open ourselves to attack by the enemy. He could care less if we call ourselves Christian, go to church, tithe, play in the praise band, volunteer… as long as we aren’t communing with God! When we turn our lives toward right worship, prayer, and listening to God, Satan wants to derail us. The next study will help us see his tactics as we learn about Spiritual Warfare and will start October 29.

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