Listening To God Through His Word

Until we take time to be quiet, we’ll not hear God. He will speak to us if we will give Him a chance, if we will listen, if we will be quiet. “Be still,” the psalmist wrote, “and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10). “ Listen carefully to Me, “ God pleads, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isa. 55:2-3) Listen to Him. There’s no other way to take Him in. “Your words were found, and I ate them” said Jeremiah (Jer. 15:16). Sit at His feet and let Him feed you. That’s the “better” place to be (Luke 10:38-42).

The problem with many of us is that, though we read God’s Word, we’re not feeding on God. We’re more intent on mastering the text – finding out its precise meaning, gathering theories and theologies – so we can talk more intelligently about God. The main purpose of reading the “come to Him,” to encounter Him as our living God.

Jesus said to the best-read Bible students of His day, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). We want to move beyond information to seeing God and being informed and shaped by His truth. There’s a passing exhilaration – the joy of discovery – in acquiring knowledge about the Bible, but there’s no life in it. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a stimulus to our interaction with God.

Start with a conscious desire to engage Him in a personal way. Select a portion of Scripture – a verse, a paragraph,  a chapter – and read it over and over. Think of Him as present and speaking to you, disclosing His mind and emotions and will. God is articulate: He speaks to us through His Word. Meditate on His words until His thoughts begin to take shape in your mind. Thoughts is exactly the right word because that’s precisely what the Bible is – “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) When we read His word, we are reading His mind – what He knows, feels, wants, enjoys, desires, loves, hates.

Take time to reflect on what He is saying. Think about each word. Give yourself time for prayerful contemplation until God’s heart is revealed and your heart is exposed.

Read quietly, slowly , word for word to enter into the subject more with the heart than with the mind. From time to time make short pauses to allow these truths time to flow through all the recesses of the soul.”

Listen carefully to the words that touch your emotions and meditate on His goodness. “Feed on His faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3). Think about His kindness and those glimpses of His unfailing love that motivate you to love Him more (Ps. 48:9). Savor His words. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).

Mother Teressa said, “ Spend one hour a day in adoration of the Lord and you’ll be all right. “ It’s not important how much time we spend at first. The important thing is to make a beginning. God’s Spirit will let us know where to go from there.

Our reading should be toward relishing God and delighting in Him – “to behold the beauty of the Lord,’ as David said (Ps. 27:4). When we approach God in that way, If inclines us to want more of Him. “I have tasted thee, and now I hunger for Thee.” It’s the pure in heart who shall see God, “ Jesus said (Matt. 5:8). The more of God’s truth we know and want to obey, the more we know.

We shouldn’t worry about our doubts either. How could God possibly reveal Himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? Those who believe they believe in God… without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, not in God himself.

Uncertainty is the name of the game. The best thing is to take our questionings and doubts directly to God, as David often did. His psalms are filled with discomfort and disagreement with God’s ways. He fills page after page with confusion and disbelief. God can handle our hesitancy.

Sometimes we’re mentally dull or emotionally flat, weary, and tired. On such occasions it’s worthless to try to make ourselves think more deeply or respond more intensely. We should never worry about how we feel. Even when our minds are confused or our hearts are cold, we can learn from our solitude. Don’t try to make your heart love God. Just give it to Him. If we don’t yet trust His heart, we should read the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There we hear what Jesus said and did and what was said about Him. There we see Him making visible the invisible God. The main use of the Gospels is to help us see the character of God made real, personal, and understandable in Jesus. What we see Jesus doing – caring, suffering, weeping, calling, seeking – is what God is doing and has been doing all along. If you can’t love God, try to see Him in Jesus. There He’s revealed as One who has no limits to His love; One to whom we can come with all our doubts, disappointments, and misjudgments; One “whom we can approach without fear and to whom we can submit ourselves without despair.” In the Gospels we see that God is the only God worth having.

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