“Did you hear what I just said?” Now there’s a common phrase all of us have likely heard from our mothers or spouses at least once in our life. And if you’re a husband………………likely at least once a week! As Christians, we want to know what God’s plans are for us, what His directions for us are. We long to know what He wants us to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc. But what if God is speaking to us right now? What if He’s been speaking to us for days, weeks, months or even years,,,,,,,,,,,,and we just haven’t listened. How do you know when God is speaking to you?
Hearing and Listening………..They’re Different
Women and men alike, here is a question for you. Have you ever been sitting in front of the television watching a really good show, game, etc., and heard someone right there across the room say something, but then had to catch yourself and ask them, “I’m sorry, what was that again”? Or maybe they caught your attention for you to re clarify.
Most of us have been in that very situation multiple times. We hear them, but until we clarify what was said we actually have no idea what they said. It’s the difference between hearing them, and listening to them. Do a quick search on “listening skills” and you will soon find that the internet is full of information on improving the skill of simply listening. It is actually quite amazing the mass of information out there on something as simple as listening. But in the context of God and our lives as Christians, it is critical that we both hear AND listen to what God is saying. How do you know when God is speaking to you? Keep reading.
God Speaks – Are you Listening?
In the Bible in Revelation 3:20, God says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me“. God speaks to us, all of us. Think of a time when you were about to make a decision; something that made you feel uncomfortable and you weren’t quite sure if it was right or not. What swayed your final decision one way or the other? Did you listen to that little voice that you knew was the right thing to do, or did you take the easy way out and go the other way? That little voice quite possibly was God standing at the door and knocking.
James 1:22 in the Bible states, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves“. Hearing those little voices or even instincts that give us direction that we just know is right, or wrong, and not doing what we know is right from them, is simply deceiving ourselves. Don’t just hear. Hear, listen and DO…………..what is right by God.
My late father used to have a saying, a phrase of advice that he would tell me when I was a teenager and even later into life: “It takes a bigger man to say no than it does to say yes“. As I continue to mature as a Christian, I’ve come to realize that while that simple phrase came from the mouth of my father, the ultimate words came from God. I heard my father, but was I listening to him,,,,,,,,,,,,and God?
Faith and Listening to God
All too often we as Christians forget that He is in control, not us. Listening takes work. Trusting and taking our own chosen path, our own decision-making skills, is the same as hearing God, but not listening to God. You see, hearing is just the act of receiving sound into the ear. We do not necessarily respond to hearing, it simply happens, unless of course you are hearing impaired. To listen, we must concentrate on the sound entering our ears. Concentrating on the sound allows our brain to translate the noise into meaningful words which we can then take action on if needed.
But what if there are no words? What if it’s just a feeling, an instinct? How do you know God is speaking to you? Or IF God is speaking to you? Faith. Hebrews 11:1 explains, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Not only is faith the conviction of things unseen, but also of things unheard. God does not need to verbally tell us when something is wrong or right. As Christians, God is within us and therefore he “speaks” to us not only through words, but through many different ways. Maybe you notice a photo that reminds you of something or catches your attention on a topic you are debating. God could speak to us from the mouths of others through a simple conversation, through a sermon at church, a feeling, a dream or even through this article. We have to focus our attention on God at all times and listen for him, he’s there.
In Romans 10:17, God said, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”.
Seek God to Hear God
In James chapter 4, verse 8, it says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you…”. How is your relationship with God? Do you leave God in the church you attend and then go about your daily lives hoping to hear from that same God you left behind? God is with us always, but we must seek Him out. If we seek him out every step we take of every day and listen attentively, He will make His presence known.
1st Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing“. That is to keep God near us at all times. Build a relationship and keep Him near us seeking His direction constantly. With God, ALL things are possible but without God, nothing is possible. Seek Him and you will find Him, and when you find Him, you will hear him.