I keep hearing a reminder to listen. I have written about listening before, but I know God is reminding me to listen more.
If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Mark 4:23 NIV
This verse is a reminder that we have been given ears for a purpose: to hear. This verse is repeated several times throughout Matthew, Mark and Revelations. Hearing God is found as a command or theme many times throughout the Bible. We can look back into the Old Testament at many stories when ordinary men and women were given direction and guidance because they listened to the voice of God. Moses is one example. Moses amazes me. He started out rough. He was raised as an Egyptian prince, murdered someone, and ran away from responsibility. God appeared to him in a burning bush and explained his plans for Moses, for the redeeming of Israel, condemning of Egypt, and the exodus. Moses followed God's direction and became so close to God that he was described as one whom God spoke to plainly and face to face. He spent so much time with God that his skin glowed. He was so close to God, that God listened to him complain, or to Moses plead for the lives of those who had deserved death. Moses was a friend of God.
Daniel is another man who listened to God. God sent angels to meet with Daniel. God showed Daniel many great and wondrous things that led to the return of Israel to Jerusalem. Daniel was also given many revelations about the end of time to come.
I think of my own desires to have my children listen to my directions. I urge them to listen. I try to guide them and advise hem to do the right thing, get work done, and just be obedient to what I ask. It is frustrating when they do not listen. Last week, when I asked one to study for a test, he chose not to study. The next morning, when I quizzed him, he was not able to give the answers. I asked if he had followed my directions to study and he had to admit he had not. I reminded him that it was important to study to pass the test and when I tell him to study, it is because I am trying to help him do well. I told him he still needed to study before school and now he would be in trouble. His morning now had the added pressure of rushed studying and if he did not do well, it was because he had made a choice not to put in the effort I had asked of him.
Is this the same frustration God has with His children who chose not to listen?
Jeremiah 5:12 describes those who do not hear as foolish and senseless.
The Bible has several examples of those who did not heed or listen. God had given Israel some commands and even warned them what would happen if they turned from the law. They did not listen and most of the Old Testament is describing the hardships that turning from God and not listening brought upon them. They had attacks from enemies, lost their cities, their homes, and we're taken into slavery. Consequences of not listening were harsh. All of it was warned and all of it could have been avoided by listening to God.
We have consequences when we do not listen to God. He has warned us that we take great risk of falling into the traps set by the enemy of our soul. We may not hear God warning us. We may miss out on blessings or a chance to be a blessing to someone else. We may miss out on God's call to purpose and His true plans for us. We may make wrong decisions and face those consequences.
Jesus talked about those who hear are blessed and those who do not hear are missing out on blessings.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Matthew 13:16-17 NIV
He gave the parable of the sower who planted seeds and the types of ground where the seeds fell. Some seeds fell along the path, on rocky places, in shallow ground, among thorns, and on good ground. Only those seeds that fell on the good ground survived and grew strong and produced. Jesus explained this as those who actually heard the Word and allowed it to produce in their hearts and lives. He was teaching and admonishing his followers to be good hearers of the Word. Another place Jesus describes His children as sheep who know the voice of the Shepherd.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 NIV
God desires to have children who listen to him and know His voice. Not too long ago, I was involved in a short discussion about hearing the voice of God. We were discussing the ways God speaks to us. Some talked about finding His voice in the Word of God. Some described hearing the still, small voice or hearing through others who spoke words of wisdom or truth. Others described how God revealed himself in the midst of circumstances when they least expected it. These are all true. God will speak to us in different ways. He uses what He needs to get our attention or uses what we understand. He can use our circumstances to reveal Himself, He can speak directly to us through a still, small voice or through His written Word. I find the more time I spend reading the Word of God, the more I hear Him speaking to me. He reveals himself through the words written in the Bible, through the narratives that tell of other ordinary people that God used through the ages. As I listen to His voice in the words of the Bble, it becomes easier to hear that still, small voice speaking to me throughout my day. When I spend more time listening during prayer, I hear Him speaking more often; speaking directly to my heart reminding me that He knows my prayers and He is working to provide the answers. I can hear him call me and tell me that He loves me. I can recognize more often that he is speaking and directing my steps and actions when I really stop and just listen for His voice.
I knew an evangelist many years ago whose life testified of his relationship with God. One pastor described hearing him pray and how it was truly intimate. He called out to God intimately, "Speak to me, my love." God was his first love. He was intimate with God and his ministry and life revealed the intimacy he enjoyed with his Savior. When he ministered, he could speak directly to a person and reveal deep things only God could have given him. God would speak, he would listen. Oh, to be that deeply intimate with God.
I have been hearing God speak one word to me lately. I hear him say "Listen." He is calling His people to pray more, to spend more time with Him, and to listen. Listen to Him. Hear His voice. Listen to the words He is speaking through the ministry, through His Word, and directly to your heart. He is trying to prepare His Bride. He is calling His Church to fulfill its purpose and destiny. Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you hear His voice? Listen. He is speaking.
Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.
Isaiah 28:23 NIV