Feb 20, 2013

Two Ears, One Mouth... you do the math

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my word for the year, "Abide".  I created an acrostic of my name and promised that I would unpack it each week on Sunday.

I never did.

So, like I promised, I will spend the rest of Lent to look at each word.
 A is for Abide, I will do that by...  L - Listening more.

Listening is a hard thing for me.  I'm a talker.  I have a lot to say.

With all relationships, intimacy grows by listening as well as talking.  Intuitively we know this with our friendships and our relationship with our spouse. With God, we get a little confused.  Many times we forget that a huge part of prayer is listening.

So, what does that look like?

1. Be Quiet before Him
You can't hear him if you don't stop talking. 

Proverbs 10:8 says "The wise of heart will receive commandments,
    but a babbling fool will come to ruin."

I know that it's hard to keep your mind focused on listening when you have a million other things running through your head... but try meditating on one small passage of scripture to "center" yourself.

Matthew 6:7-8 says " And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Get alone, turn off the radio, leave your Bible closed.  If you wish to meditate on a passage, get out a journal and write it down on a page.  If you open your Bible, try to focus ONLY on the passage you are meditating on, don't allow yourself to get "distracted" by reading through 14 chapters of the Bible.  It's a good thing to do, but not if you are trying to practice listening.

Sit with your mind open, your heart humble, start the conversation and wait on Him. 

You may still be thinking, "AJ, get real, I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and 2 dogs... there is NEVER quiet in my house." 

Fair enough.   I also know that there is a time each day that you could find quiet.  Maybe when they go down for a nap.  Maybe for your 12 minute shower.  Maybe in your car.  Whatever. 

Find the QUIET.  That is where you will hear from Him. 

2. Recognizing His voice
If you don't know what you are listening for, how do you know if you are hearing Him?

This is what the Bible says about God's voice:
Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever. {Psalm 29:1-10}

Does this sound quiet to you?  This sounds LOUD and a little SCARY!

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”   1 Kings 19:9b-13

The King James Version says in verse 12 "and after the fire a still small voice."
THAT is how I experience God most of the time... though sometimes He is LOUD. 
The voice of the Lord is recognizable.
It rings with authority.
It FEELS different than a normal thought that rushes through your mind.
It SOUNDS different than a normal thought that meanders through your mind. 

When I hear His voice, it's not necessarily an audible voice, but rather a nudge {in a loud way}... it is a call to action. 

3.  Responding when you hear.

If you think you hear His voice, it can be really disconcerting.  Confusing.  You might stop for a moment and think... was that me?  What was that?!  Let me tell you, I am a Methodist, you might call my people "the Frozen Chosen" or "Catholic Light".  There is no "being slain in the Spirit" that happens in my church on a Sunday morning.  It just doesn't happen.  Understand that I did not grow up, nor am I currently involved in a church that is "charismatic"...  but I BELIEVE in the power of the Holy Spirit.  I have heard His voice.

Let's learn from the Heros of the Bible.  Abraham in Genesis 22:1; Jacob in Genesis 31:11 and Genesis 46:2;  Moses in Exodus 3:4... they stopped what they were doing and said:

"Here I am".

And in 1 Samuel 3:9 Eli gives Samuel this advice "So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”"

I will admit that at times I think I hear the voice of God and I stop and verbally say "Is that You, God?  Go ahead, I'm listening."

I will also admit that at times I hear something or feel a "nudge" and brush it off because I either don't have time to pay attention or I don't much like what I'm hearing or feeling.

You might be reading this and thinking "Wow, this girl is nuts... Doesn't she know that God stopped talking to people back in the Old Testament?  I wonder if she has ever gotten checked out for schizophrenia?"  The answer is no, to both things.

Let me tell you, I believe that God is NOT silent.  His Spirit is ALIVE. Though you hear of God speaking to prophets in the Old Testament and those prophets passing God's word along...

This is what Jesus said in his last days "15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

That passage is TALKING ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT.  Jesus gave us a gift, the ability to experience the power of God. 

The scriptures specifically mention the "Holy Spirit" 96 times in the New International version of the Bible; 127 times in the New Living Translation; 100 times in the New King James Version...  and in all three translations, the "Holy Spirit" was only mentioned 3 times in the Old Testament.  What does that mean?!

2 Peter 1:20-21 says this: 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

It's scary when you think God is talking to you because you feel like you are making something up, or talking to yourself.  So how do you know??

1. Whatever God tells you will be confirmed by other believers.

2.  He will NEVER tell you to do something immoral or illegal

3.  He will NEVER tell you to do something that goes against the Scriptures.

That was enough from me.  The worlds longest post on Listening... ironic... no? 

Now, Go forth and LISTEN!  But first... tell me... have you ever heard God's voice?  
What did it sound like?  Did you recognize it right away?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 "Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil."

1 comment:

  1. I used to try to find the quiet in the bathroom. Isn't that weird? I would shut the door and lock it and hope for a bit of a breather before the little fingers under the door appeared, "Mommy, mommy, are you in there? Open the door?"

    Now that my kids have grown up, it is much easier to find the quiet and listen.


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