Conditioning Your Heart to Hear God’s Voice

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Bible, Discipleship, Pastoral Ministry

I mentioned in my message last Sunday that Travis has several turtles that our whole family enjoy as pets. One of them, a box turtle named Rosie, lives in a large berm filled with azaleas. Rosie thrives on insects, snails, and slugs, along with occasional treats of blackberries or strawberries. I also mentioned that when Gayla has one of those special treats, she can call Rosie and she will respond—albeit ever so slowly!

Domesticated animals and pets recognize the voice of their master and learn to do so quickly. Charlie Frank raised the elephant Neeta from birth and trained her as a circus performer. On retirement he gave her to the San Diego Zoo. After they had not seen each other for fifteen years, a television crew filmed their reunion. Frank called Neeta from about a hundred yards away. She came to him immediately and performed her old routines on command. Her past experience gave her the power to recognize his voice.

Humans don’t always do as well as animals in voice recognition. However, people can learn to recognize God’s voice. How? We can hear God when we get into His Word. The more time we spend listening to God’s voice through the Bible, the more able we will recognize His guidance and direction in our living.

Many people say that they cannot understand the Bible. Others offer that they don’t have time to read the Scriptures or that they don’t know where to begin. Some suggest that they get all they need by listening to sermons or going to Bible studies. Still others say that they get all they need for direction in life through family members, friends, or more spiritual people. If any of these describe you, then let me offer this warning: you greatly diminish your ability to hear and recognize God’s voice when you do not avail yourself personally to His Word.

God’s Word contains everything we need for salvation, knowing God’s will, being conformed into Christ’s image, and trusting in God perfectly. In other words, the Scriptures makes us “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). So, in order to help us all hear from the Lord more readily, allow me to offer the following:

  • Set aside a time each day to read a portion of God’s Word for yourself. Make this a priority.
  • Use a translation of the Bible that you can understand. If you unsure which one, ask me or someone who can advise regarding Bible translations. I enjoy using the English Standard Version, though we have access to several good translations.
  • Use a systematic approach to Bible reading. Use your church’s devotional material. We can also suggest a reading plan for you. Did you know that by reading the Bible systematically you can read the Bible in a year by reading just 15-20 minutes a day?
  • Don’t be afraid to mark in your Bible. Underlining, highlighting, or writing notes in your Bible can help you to remember key truths God has revealed to you.

Why do I believe that reading the Bible will make such a difference in your life? My belief roots in my understanding and conviction about the divine nature of the Scriptures. Though secularists believe that the Bible is one good book among many other religious texts, I hold that the Bible stands alone as the true source of God’s revelation to man. I want to offer several reasons for my convictions about the Bible.

First, God inspired the record we call the Bible. He acted through the Holy Spirit through the biblical writers to pen His Word entirely and exactly as He intended. This means that the Bible is God’s inspired Word. Paul stated this truth in 2 Timothy 3:16. The Scriptures have their origin in God’s revelation. We can trust the Scriptures as trustworthy and inspired for three reasons: (1) the Bible’s own claims for itself, (2) Jesus’ affirmations of the inspiration of the Scriptures, and (3) the change that God has brought in your own life through the Bible. While some may offer challenges to the first two, no one can argue effectively against how God has spoken to you and how He has changed you.

Second, God speaks authoritatively through the Scriptures. And if He does so, then we should obey what He says. When we read a direct command from the Word, we don’t have to pray about obeying it. No, we should obey it immediately. Biblical authority means that we can use the Bible to develop our doctrines, evaluate our ministries, evaluate our personal lives, and teach others God’s truth. Really, apart from the Scriptures, we have no authority by which to preach and teach.

Third, God reveals Himself to us through the Bible. He wants us to know Him, and the more read His Word, the better we will know Him. While might contend that they can know God through creation, that knowledge about God remains limited to general revelation. However, by availing ourselves to God through the Bible, we gain specific or a more explicit revelation of God.

Finally, God’s supplies all we need to understand about salvation, knowing God’s will, being conformed to Christ’s image, and trusting in God perfectly through the Scriptures. In other words, God’s Word can meet our deepest needs.

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