How To Hear God, part two

If you have a relationship with someone, that usually means you’ve spoken with them long enough to get to know them. When I call close friends and family members on the phone, I don’t always have to say who I am. They can recognize my voice because they know me. They know how I act. They know what to expect from me.

Someone who seeks God by reading the Bible will get to know God and the way He does things. If you learn enough about God to know what to expect from Him, you’ll recognize His voice when He speaks.

A close relationship is one that has moved beyond small talk. You’re ready to discuss things that really matter. You can communicate and entire messages in one small sentence.

When a husband and wife accept a dinner invitation in the afternoon, the wife gets off the cell phone and says to her husband, “The kids.” He responds, “I’ve already called the neighbors. They’re getting them out of the pool right now. We can get them cleaned up in time for dinner.” She said only two words, but their relationship was close enough that he knew what she was thinking.

In Hosea 2:16, we read, “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’.”

One of the main differences between a spouse and a servant is the degree of intimacy. The relationship that allows intimacy is a safe place to share the deep secrets of the heart. Intimacy in your relationship lets you share things that you don’t share with a stranger.

Getting to know God gives you opportunities to hear from Him as a master, or as a friend, or as an intimate lover. God lets you get as close to Him as you want to be. If you only seek God as a servant seeks his Master, then expect the messages you hear to be directed to a faithful servant. If you seek God as a child seeks his father, you’re only looking for messages that would be directed to a son or daughter. If you want to get deeper with God, then share the deep things of your heart with Him and pay attention when He speaks.

Step two of hearing from God is knowing Him well enough to recognize Him when He speaks.

How To Hear God, part one

James 1:22-25


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who
looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.


Some people don’t want to hear God and obey. They are happy being their own boss. Well, not happy, but satisfied that they get to do what they want. Unless they choose to do something that will get them in trouble.

Some want to hear, but don’t want to obey. They’re like people who hear the about a forecasted thunderstorm, but wish so hard for it to be a sunny day that they refuse to carry an umbrella. They’re going to get soaked.

But the man who humbles himself before God, listening for his guidance and acting on what he knows God wants him to do, is the man who will receive a true treasure. His reward for obedience to the scripture is a better relationship with God and a clearer line of communication. Those who seek God diligently in his word and act on what they read are the ones who will find that God is closer than they realized. And with the comfort of his peaceful presence comes love, joy, and helpful warnings to keep us out of trouble.

If you are seeking God with your whole heart and want to hear his guidance, receive his words in the scriptures. Believe that his words of love are for you. Act on what you know God wants you to do. Live in the freedom of the scriptures.

The first step toward hearing from God is having the desire to hear and obey.

Discipline

Proverbs 10:17
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Are you among the thousands of people who are trying to lose weight this month? How much weight? Twenty pounds? Thirty? Forty?

A goal like that cannot be reached in a day. Some people attack a long term goal like that with a short term frame of mind. They get frustrated with their slow progress and quit before they’ve accomplished what they set out to do.

A long term goal requires discipline. Seeking God requires discipline.

Discipline means correction, training, and restraint (among other things). This is how we affect change. Going on a diet means you're going to show some restraint at meal time, train yourself to be wise between meals, and correct bad habits by replacing them with good habits.

If you “heed discipline” then you’ll pay attention to the correction and let the new good habits stick with you.

There are those who ignore the scriptures by saying that they’re spiritual and they’re meant for church. But God gave us wisdom in the Bible to use in every area of our lives. The same scriptures that help us seek God also help us correct physical problems and social problems.

In this age of indulgence and immediate gratification, discipline is a rare tool. It’s the key to many things. It helps a piano student prepare for a performance. It helps a marathon runner finish the race. And it helps us maintain our relationship with God.

As with any tool, if discipline is used regularly, you get better at it.

Plan For Success

Proverbs 11:25
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

January is a time of planning, making resolutions, and setting goals. Many are thinking of how they can prosper in their finances this year.

God’s recipe for success is: Give.

We tend to spend all we have unless we have a plan to save it or invest it. Everyone can save money. Some can save more than others, but everyone can save. If you have a plan to save, you can have a plan to donate. Even if you have to save your pennies to pay your bills, you can still find something to donate. But do it cheerfully, or it doesn’t count.

Generosity is a heart attitude that affects your environment. The recipient’s blessing is the gift, but the giver’s blessing is the joy that overflows in his heart and encourages more giving.

A generous man will prosper in his heart before he prospers anywhere else. But if he’s generously sowing good seed into the lives of others, the sower’s bag of seed won’t usually run out. Why? Because God sees you acting on his command to love and help those around you.

Remember that generosity doesn’t mean giving money. A man who is generous with complaints will himself be complained to. And a man who is generous with the wisdom he’s received will receive more wisdom. People sometimes copy the good things they see others doing. It’s true that what goes around, comes around.

During this month of planning out how you will spend this new year, plan to give in abundance those things you’d like to receive: love, friendship, respect, and unexpected blessings.

Start Right Where You Are

Proverbs 14:30
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

This is the time of year when we all look around to see what part of our lives we want to improve next. Many women are looking in the mirror at the body they want to improve. Some men are looking at their accumulation of toys to see whether they want to buy sports equipment or computer games next.

I hope there are those who are taking inventory and realize their need to improve spiritually.

Early in my marriage, I would buy a few books on how to grow up spiritually in one way or another. My husband and I went to Bible studies and prayed together to improve our life together and our life with God. Around the time we started raising kids, I stopped buying the spiritually themed self-improvement books.

It’s not that I don’t think I need to improve anymore. The growth in those early years taught me to focus not on books, but on God himself.

The books were an important part of my growth, and I’m thankful for them. But spending time with books cannot be a substitute for time with God.

And time with God is what we all need to be spending, instead of money.

My husband and I still buy those books occasionally, but we get our peaceful heart from being with God.

Every January, people walk around with the build up of December’s stress added to the guilt of having spent too much and eaten too much. January isn’t usually a peaceful month for most people. They wish they’d gotten that one game or toy that they’d asked for, but they don’t feel right about buying it for themselves. So they just sit and envy those who got what they wanted.

Do we ever envy someone’s spiritual life?

Why be envious of someone else’s walk with the Lord? Develop your own relationship with God and forsake the ways of the envious.

Start right where you are. Don’t compare your spirituality with anyone else’s. Be ready to receive what God has for you right where you are.

When you look in the mirror and see that you need to improve your body, remember that a heart at peace is how we give life to our body. And a heart at peace comes from time spent with God.