Listening to God

Listening implies obedience, but is a step before it. In the Scripture, God calls for Israel to “Hear” him. He calls them to listen and then commands them. I think that much of what passes for Christ-following is the result of doing good works and moral deeds that are void of God’s mission. We often focus on obedience, but perhaps we get out of step with God not because our intentions are bad but because our ears are closed. Listening to God makes our good deeds God’s deeds. The Pharisees are an example of doing without listening. Here’s how we can listen to God together and accomplish the mission of Christ.

1. Listen to Text-Driven Preaching…

Preachers preach sure enough. They should, however, issue the prophetic Word’s of God as they re-present them from the Scripture. What else could be more important to the believer than hearing God’s Word? What could be more important to say than what God says? Yet, our confidence in preaching is low and our practice of it is often poor. Preachers must repent of their silly and witty sermons and begin to re-present what God has said. Christ-followers need to spend less time in the self-help section of the book store and more time prioritizing what God says. Text-driven preaching is transformational because it forces us to listen to God.

2. Listen for the Mission, not Just the Morality…

God’s moral command is in lock-step with His mission. When we listen to God, we are seeking both His moral standard and His mission in that standard. For instance, God commands sexual morality – boiled down this means sex is isolated and pure within marriage alone – because God desires families that are Christ-followers. Morality void of mission makes us pious, but petty. Listening to God is a sure way to avoid religious pettiness – we call it legalism. Listening to God puts morality in perspective of the mission God desires to accomplish in this world. When you listen to God, confess your sins, and seek his will, you are seeking restoration of both your moral failure and your mission failure. Confessing moral failure alone allows us to keep our feeling of righteousness while avoiding what righteousness and service to God is really all about. When you listen to God, hear his mission and then order your life to accomplish it. Your morality will make a lot more sense when you listen for the mission.

3. Listen for the Small Voice…

Elijah hid in his cave as he waited for the Lord to pass by (1 Kings 19). The windstorm he saw was not God. The earthquake he felt was not God. The fire that burned was not God. The whisper, however, the whisper was God. Peace and quiet, not power and show. God’s voice is gentle. His correction is patient. His voice often emerges only when we make space and time to hear it. The Small Voice is often what urges us to repent, to forgive, to sacrifice our will. Without a determined effort to hear God’s small voice through prayer, fasting, and time, we lose track of what God is doing. When we fail in our small devotional practice, our daily spiritual connect to God, we will fail to listen to God. Read the Scripture yourself. Pray for God’s work in your life. Spend a moment listening for the small voice.

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