Learning To Listen...

One of the truths that I’ve discovered over the past several years is that we can each hear Jesus talking to us personally.   What a wonderful truth this is!   The King of the universe wants to take the time to speak to us individually and to reveal His personal love for us!  If we have surrendered to Him as our Shepherd, that makes us His sheep.  The Lord Jesus tells us in John 10:27 that "my sheep hear my voice."  It's as simple as that!  If the Lord is your shepherd and you are his sheep then you do hear his voice!   

You might say, "no, Bill I really don't think I've ever heard the voice of Jesus."   Really?  Let me ask you some questions....Have you ever been going about your daily routine when someone will come to mind and you have a sense to pray for them?   Have you ever been minding your own business not thinking about God and suddenly a praise song starts playing in your mind?   Have you ever been pondering a decision between two different options and just had a "feeling" that one was the right way to go and the other was not?  And when you followed that "right way" things worked out well?    Have you ever turned on the radio and a song came on that really "spoke" to what you were going through at the time?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions than the Lord has already been speaking to you! The Lord doesn't often speak in an audible voice.  He speaks most often in our own minds, through what may appear to be our own thoughts.  He may also speak through a line or situation in a movie that we watch.  He may speak through a book we are reading.  He may speak through the words on a billboard that we drive by on the highway.   He may speak to us through the words of a friend, through a passage in the Bible, through a dream that we have, or through a thought or feeling or picture that comes into our mind. He may speak to us through nature, through a glorious sunset, through the beautiful blue sky, etc.   There are infinite ways that He will choose to speak to us. 

Learning to recognize his voice is a vital process for each one of us who are followers of Jesus.  We can ask him to help us hear his voice.  Then we need to practice.  Something I like to do is just close my eyes and get quiet.  Then I picture Jesus and I walking together in the woods.  I ask Him, "Lord what do you want to say to me today?"   It's amazing how a flow of thoughts will often then come into my mind.   Usually He tells me how much he loves me and how he loves to be with me.  He tells me other things too.  After a few minutes of listening I write down what I am hearing in a notebook.  Then I close my eyes again and ask him, "Lord is there anything else?"  Then as I wait quietly sometimes a song will come, sometimes a picture, sometimes a Bible verse and sometimes another flow of thoughts.  I again write it down.   Later on I go back over what I have written and throw away anything that does not agree with God's word, but I keep everything that is in harmony with His Word.   So this is just one way of "practicing" hearing the voice of Jesus.

As we grow in our ability to hear his voice and as we believe and obey what we are hearing we grow in Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote that "they that are led by the Spirit are the mature sons (greek:  huios) of God."   So listening to the Lord's voice and following that sense of his voice is a mark of mature believers.  Remember that His voice will *always* be consistent with the truth revealed in His Word the Bible.  Remember also that following the Lord's voice is a group exercise.  What I mean by this is that we need to bounce what we are "hearing" off other believers whom we are in relationship with.  We need to be open to receive counsel and correction from fellow believers in Jesus.  As you consider what the Lord may be speaking to you, go to others who you know have a solid relationship with the Lord and share with them what you are hearing.  Get their feedback on it.

The Lord can give us very specific guidance in our life as we learn to quiet ourselves before Him and listen to His voice.  If we follow this guidance we will find ourselves moving forward in the Lord's plan and purpose for our life.   All guidance needs to be evaluated before taking action on it, and especially if it involves a major life decision like a job change, moving to another city, someone we are considering marrying, etc.

I learned many years ago that when these three "green lights" line up, then we should move forward on the guidance we are sensing:

1.  the directions we are hearing in our heart from the Lord
2.  the principles and revealed truth in Scripture (the Bible does not disagree with what we are hearing)
3.  those believers we respect and trust are in agreement with what we are hearing

When we make sure those three line up before moving out in major decisions we have safety and security.  May the Lord teach all of us to hear His voice more clearly and may we all enjoy the process of learning!
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