January 8, 2021

Hearing God's Voice (Part 1)

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry!

I hope you have your word handy. I hope you have a cup of coffee or tea. I know I do!  And, let's get going! You know Coffee and the Word is a devotional that I post a couple of times a week. And, what we're after is an opportunity to help you to apply Biblical principles with practical application.  In other words, to walk it out in your life.  And, so today I want to talk about hearing god. So, we'll have two sessions.  In this first session I want to give you an overview of what the concerns are that people tell me about hearing God and just how we can set ourselves up to hear him.

So, let's talk about that, and, the phrase i want you to hang on to this session and next is this  - “listen longer and hear more”. We need to listen longer to God so that we can hear more.  Let's start with Jeremiah 33 verse 3 and it says this:

“Ask me and i will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” - Jeremiah 33:3

I absolutely love that verse - remarkable secrets! I know i want those - especially, maybe if i'm needing some advice or some encouragement or some direction from the Lord. it's so easy for us to talk to God about what we want from him isn't it?  We can ask him and petition him. And, that's okay. We're supposed to.  He tells us to do that. But, what about listening to what he has to say? So, a lot of times we'll ask in prayer and quiet time, but we don't stop long enough to listen and really hear him.  So, are we hearing what god has to say to us?

So, a question for you today is to just kind of think back about your prayer time - your quiet time. How much of your time with god is actually spent listening to, and for his voice? So, do we rush through that part?  Do we say “Okay i'll listen later. I know he'll speak to me all day long”?  And, let me just say - interject here - yes, of course God can speak anytime. I'm talking about having some dedicated time in your prayer time that you already are doing. And, most of you I know, are really working on that - to listen - to just stop and listen. So, he is always speaking, but are we always listening?

Now it doesn't mean that you have to sit for hours every day to hear him. But, we do need to practice this. We need to practice hearing his voice by giving the time to him that he deserves.  He deserves the time and we deserve the time to hear from him. So take time to praise him, and worship him, and to seek his face, and seek his advice, his encouragement, his direction. But we have to listen.  So, we can ask a lot, but if we don't listen, what good is it going to do, right? So, there can be no intimate relationship with God without a two-way conversation. Without us listening to him, and really beginning to recognize his voice, the average Christ follower has a hard time hearing his voice because of distractions.

So, we'll talk about how to get those distractions out of the way. And, we need to learn to clearly distinguish his voice above all others.  And, instead of going through life blindly, we can have this definite conversation with him - this definite encouragement from him - teaching, advice and guidance - protection by hearing his voice and learning to recognize his voice. So there's not a single person listening or watching this that couldn't benefit from this more. So, I want to go back to Jeremiah 33: 3 and I want to read it again.

“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets. You do not know about things to come” - Jeremiah 33:3

Here's what I know.  These are remarkable secrets because only God can give us the advice, the guidance, the encouragement and sometimes the relief of a burden - whatever it might be. Only he can do that for us. You know we can try to put that off on other people. It's not going to work. No one can do these things for you except for the Lord.  So, we have to be able to hear him.  But again, I love that  - remarkable secrets!  I always think, “what are those remarkable secrets you have for me God?

I know some days I need to hear them more than others.

Jesus made some radical statements about hearing his voice in John chapter 10, verses three through five.  So, we're going to read that. He was speaking about himself as the shepherd of the sheep and the sheep as his followers.  So, let's just read that the gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And, I just want to interject here that he calls his own sheep by name. I love that he leads them out. So he calls us by name and he leads us.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them and they follow him. Because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger.  They will run from him because they don't know his voice.

So, here's what Jesus was saying here. When we know his voice we can recognize and discern those voices that are not his and we can set those aside. We cannot follow those. We can know for sure. For instance, a lot of times people say to me, “well, how do i know it's God and not me talking?  How do I know it's God and not the enemy or just my thoughts, whatever? And, so we're gonna we'll dig into that.  But that's the whole point of recognizing the voice, right? When we recognize Jesus's voice, we'll know it's him. We'll know to follow.

So it says again - it says his sheep recognizes his voice.  It didn't say his sheep “can hear” or “should hear”.  It says that they do. And so, we know that we really will know God's voice when we hear it.

A lot of times we don't have the confidence that we can.  So, we'll talk about that.  And, I want to, in this session and the next, give you some practical steps. 

So, the first thing we have to do is fix our receiver, right? We have to be able to receive. And again, a lot of times our lifestyles are so busy;  there are so many things,  so many interruptions, so many distractions, that it's very difficult for us to settle down and really have a conducive life -  conducive to hearing his voice.  

So, a lot of times people will say,  “How are you?” And, many people probably answer like “Oh, I'm busier than I can possibly be. I'm way too busy. I'm so busy. The thing is, we may be busier than ever, but that's one of the biggest reasons we need to stop and listen to his voice, right? If our schedules are crazy, and you know I understand that, we all have things going on we have a private life, we have a work life,  and there's just lots of obligations - lots of things pulling on us.  And, even through these last few months in this pandemic, you know there's been a lot of stressors and different things for us to learn.  These are things that can be distractions.  And that we can think we're too busy to actually sit and listen. But, we're not, and we really shouldn't be.

Have you ever been driving down the street, or you're cooking dinner, or you're at work doing a task, and then all of a sudden a thought comes to you out of nowhere. You think “Why did I think that”,  or “Why did i think about that person”?  It could be a solution to a problem.  It could be a great idea. It could be someone you haven't thought about for a while.  But often when that happens “out of nowhere”,  that's holy spirit.  And, we can practice what I call purposeful listening. And, that's what I want to teach you about.  We can purposely hear from God.

Psalm 46:10 says:

Be still and know that i am god. I will be honored by every nation. I'll be honored throughout the world.  

It's in the stillness - Be still and know that i'm God - not busyness. And, the stillness is when we can tune in our spiritual ears, right? And, the lord is always speaking in that still small voice. We have to listen.

So let me just give you a few practical tips in this session and then we'll talk more in the next one about that, and we'll kind of flesh that out.

Isaiah says in Isaiah 30:21 “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “this is the way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.”

Don't we all want that kind of instruction from God? Well, we have to be able to hear that. So, the first thing we have to do is remove the inner noise, you know, that's that chatter in your mind. Often thoughts of chores and tasks will create a distraction for us when we sit down to listen. So, keep a pad of paper handy - and I'm not talking about a journal, right now, but just actually a little sticky note or something. When those things come to your mind, write those down just to get them out of your head and onto the paper so that you can go back to really listening to god. So, for instance, some of us are so busy we have errands to run all the time.  We have things that we have to do to sit down and listen to god.  It’s like that's a challenge, right? - this distraction. I learned this years ago. So, if something comes into your mind like, “oh my goodness, I gotta go”.  Add that to the grocery list, then just write it down on a sticky note and set it aside.  Again, that's not your journal, that's just to get it from your head to the paper and out of the way, right? So, some people find that playing worship music softly in the background will help with the inner noise or the inside chatter that we need to calm.

The second one is to remove the outer noise and pick a quiet remote area of the house where there's less noise distraction or no noise distraction.  And, like i said in previous teachings, I know that sometimes that's a challenge. So, maybe choose a time of day when no one else is home, or before they get up, or after they go to bed - whatever works best for you. But, we want to remove the outer noise.

So, first remove the inner noise the chatter in our head as best we can and then remove the outer noise by finding a quiet place. And then,  we do need to be physically comfortable and calm.  

Listen, this is something, because remember, I used the word practice. We really have to practice at this.  So, you're probably going to try out different places in the house or a different chair, sitting on a pillow, laying on the floor, or whatever might work for you. But, get comfortable because it can be a distraction to be uncomfortable. So, we have inner noise, outer noise and something comfortable to sit on, or in and then pray. Pray and confess and repent. Praise the lord first, and then be still and listen. Keep your journal handy and a pen. Make sure that you have your phone. If you need to do it that way.  Just record real quick what God is saying, or what you're sensing now.

Before we get into the details of the next session, Ii want to say this - sometimes when we're listening to him, we kind of expect it to be in a conversation style that we would expect. But, often when we're listening to God in our prayer time and we're quiet, just a scripture might come to mind or a phrase, or the answer to a problem - something like.  That could be what you need that journal for.  Write down that scripture, even if you're not feeling like you should stop and look it up.  Just go ahead and write that down. Record whatever you're sensing - whatever you're feeling. 

We're going to talk a little bit more and flush each of these sections out in the next session. But, I want you to just get started on that.  So, my challenge to you right now is when you go to your prayer time this week, add in a little bit longer time of listening.  Get quiet before him. Practice getting rid of that inner chatter. Practice getting rid of the outer noise and the distractions. Make sure you're comfortable -  all of those things.  All right, well that's the end of this session!

Article written by Sherry Poundstone
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