Most of you are too young to remember the old radios with vacuum tubes and old-fashioned tuners and dials. Sometimes it was very difficult to put just the right touch on the dial to tune in a station. It seemed that there was simply too much static. The airwaves seemed to be filled with meaningless noise and static.
Sometimes we can experience the same frustration when it comes to tuning in to hear God.
So let me first ask: How much is your life counting for God? What is He accomplishing through you?
If you are a Christian, the Bible clearly teaches that when the Holy Spirit took up residence in you, that He supernaturally gifted you in certain ways.
As you walk through life, God wants to use you–and your spiritual gift(s)–to make a difference in the world and bring Him glory. Is that happening in your life?
Unfortunately, many Christians are not listening very well. So let me offer some thoughts that may help.
Realize that God wants to direct your life and use you for His glory.
Many Christians seem to be very confused about the meaning of humility. They try very hard to act very humble. And they seem to think it an act of humility to think that God would not possibly use them or speak to them. That’s really not humility. It’s rebellion and unbelief. It’s ugly sin–posing as humility! It’s as if we were disempowering (is that a word?) the Holy Spirit. Simple faith will expect God to honor His word and give us direction.
Practice tuning out some of the world’s noise.
Our brains can be so involved in the distractions all around us that we are simply too preoccupied to hear God very clearly. One great distraction is television. There are many other ways that our attention can be consumed by trivial stuff–often by interacting with people who are only interested in the trivialities of life. Sometimes we just need to get away for a bit of alone time with God–or for some time alone with Christian brothers and sisters who have kindred spirits!
Watch out for your personal wants and wishes.
George Mueller emphasized that in order to hear God most clearly, he had to get his personal preferences out of the way. When he made up his mind that he was willing for God to glorify Himself in whatever way He pleased, miracles happened. We can become so set and determined on how we want things to turn out, that we can shut out God’s prompting in another direction. When we do that we often look back amazed at how we could ignore God when He was speaking so loudly! We were just too determined to make things happen our own way.
Don’t be too concerned with how others react to you.
Some people care more about what others will think or how others will react or what others will say than they do about what God wants to do through them. Fear of criticism or of losing friends can be like spiritual earwax, stopping up our spiritual ears from hearing God! Fear of people’s reactions will cause big time static. When we make up our minds that, above all else, we desire to listen to God and to obey God, we will hear Him much more clearly. Remember the song? “I have decided to follow Jesus!” and “Though none go with me, I still will follow!”
We hear God more clearly after some time of getting to know Him better.
We get to know God better and better by spending time in His Word listening to Him. He speaks through His Word. And as we get to know His character more fully over a period of time, His voice becomes clearer to our inner ears. Continual praise and worship will help focus our minds on the character of God. Praise and worship reminds us of Who He is, what He is like, and what He has done in the past. Praise and worship prepares us beautifully to hear God’s promptings.
Don’t dismiss promptings too quickly.
Sometimes God gives us direction and our logic replies, “Oh, surely not!” And we dismiss the idea too quickly. Give God some time. Ask Him if He is giving you direction that just seems strange to you. Talk with spiritually minded brothers and sisters or a spiritual mentor to get feedback and counsel.
Don’t act too quickly either!
Precipitous action is often regretted. Again, give God some time. Ask Him to confirm the idea in your own heart and seek confirmation from others who walk closely with God. Ask Him to help you flesh out the details. Let Him know you are willing to do what He says and wait patiently for Him to give further direction.
Expect God’s direction to follow the channel of your spiritual gift.
Do you understand spiritual gifts? It is critically important if you are serious about listening to God! Very commonly God prompts us to do things that require the use of the specific gift He has given us. If you have never studied the subject of spiritual gifts closely, email me and I will send you a set of CDs to help you! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Think in terms of “projects.”
God may prompt you to do something that actually requires very little time and effort, yet that bears fruit for Him. Or He may prompt you to start a project that will require many years–or even a lifetime–of effort. Projects may be simple or complex activities and involve few or many people. They can be considered to be part of a larger personal ministry or mission. (For help in thinking about projects, see my post entitled What Is Your Project?)
Expect following God’s promptings to bring you great joy.
One of the keys to discovering your spiritual gift is determining the kind of ministry to God that brings you great joy. For some it is teaching, for others prophetic warnings, for others exhortation, for others showing mercy, or serving others, or giving, or organizing and administering. Usually God’s promptings provide a specific way to use the gift God has given you. And, even if difficult, it brings us great joy.
Day by day, moment by moment, God wants to direct our lives. If we let Him, we will discover how, incredibly, He can fill our lives with joy and peace and contentment–even when we are going through times of trial, testing, pain, and difficulty.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27)
Stay in the Battle!
(related post: Meditation? or Meditation?)