Learning to Listen

0BC67453-B34D-472B-B55F-7B002FD1911B In our daily lives, God desires obedient living, which something that I find to be a struggle at different points of the day. Have you ever had a thought go through your mind, or a strong feeling hit your heart that you should or shouldn’t do something? But you didn’t listen to it and then something happened that could have been prevented had you only listened to it? These have proven time and time again to be the Holy Spirit trying to lead me along God’s desired path. We have to be careful not to brush these promptings and feelings off because doing so can lead to other issues, misfortunes and missed opportunities.

Thinking about this, the story of Noah and the flood comes to mind. His decision of faithful obedience to the voice of God made all the difference in the preservation of life in the earth. God spoke to Noah and told him, a prompting if you will, of what was on the horizon and what needed to be done.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch… For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.” Genesis 6:11-14; 17 ESV

What would have happened if Noah did not take the promptings of God serious? It’s not like God physically manifested in front of him and had a heart to heart talk with him. Noah walked with God in life, heard His voice and believed what He heard was straight from the mouth of God. This is faith in real time. Evangelistic Leader and founder of Prison Fellowship, Charles Colson said this, “Obedience is the key to real faith”.

It took Noah to have real faith to be obedient to what God had said to him, and it’s a good thing he did it. The flood was coming to demolish the earth whether Noah was obedient or not. There are things coming our way whether we know it our not.

A few days back, I encountered this in real time. I had a thought to sit still and work on some writing. But instead of doing this, I brushed it aside and sluggishly moved about my afternoon. Once I finally sat down and pulled my laptop out, within 30 minutes I was being called away to handle things that needed my attention. Because of this, frustration arose in me, but then God reminder me of  that prompting I felt earlier to begin writing. God saw the interference coming my way, and wanted to help me avoid it; had I listened, I would have finished up right before life around me picked up.

Our obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit are just as vital to our livelihood and the livelihood of others as Noah’s were to the preservation of life. Our obedience reveals our ability to hear the voice of God, and it reveals the level of our faith.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

God shouldn’t have to manifest Himself in front of us for us to listen and obey His commands, but by faith we believe and move when He speaks or prompts us. The promptings of God may be as simple as, “Don’t go there” or “Don’t say what you’re about to say” or we may get a bad feeling in our stomach or feel uneasy about something. We have to be willing to slow down, humble ourselves and say okay. Issues arises when we don’t want to be humble and submit to what God is saying to us or impressing upon our hearts. I once heard a pastor say, “If God tells you no to something then ask Him what else you can do. There is always an alternative. His answer may be no to what you want, but yes to something else. It may even be, “not right now”, and if that’s the case ask, “Then God, what do I do right now?””

God is not a fun-sucker. He does not desire for us to have boring, uneventful lives. It’s quite the opposite, and it’s all about perspective. What we want isn’t always the same as what God wants. What we see as a good time, may be the exact thing that pulls us away from Him. I can think of many things that I used to consider as fun, but they drew me away from relationship with God and they even made me not desire a relationship with Him.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV

Jesus knows how we feel, He was a human too. There were things He couldn’t do, places He couldn’t go, and situations He couldn’t entertain. There were times when He had to separate Himself from the world and go pray and spend time with the Father. He had His own journey with the greatest purpose anyone will ever have on earth. He was in tune with God’s voice, and submitted at all times. He didn’t have to do it, He chose to do it. He had His own will just like you and I, but He still chose to walk in obedience daily. Had He not, mankind would have had no chance for salvation or to be reconciled back to God.

Whether we know it or not, our obedience to God is a powerful catalyst in the earth. Our obedience sows seeds of light and righteousness in the earth. Our yes to God, is a no to something or someone that will chip away at our destiny and the destiny of others. Our obedience saves lives. Our obedience matters to God and it has to matter to us. We won’t get it right all the time, and that’s why Jesus had to come. But we do have to get to a place where our yes’ in obedience far outweighs the no’s shown through our disobedience.

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6 NKJV

Being a follower of Jesus Christ, has opened the door to us to be the children of God. We are now a part of His special, chosen people. Obedience matters to God in ways we cannot fathom. We have no idea how our yes’ and no’s either advance, or hinder His plans in the earth. I am grateful for His mercy and grace because I know we won’t always get it right. But my heart’s desire is that our obedience to Him will far outweigh our disobedience.

 

Prayer: Dear God, it is so easy to be out of tune with You because of all the other things that are fighting for our attention. Help us to know how You speak to us individually, and help us to respond in the obedience You desire. Humble our hearts, open our ears, and help us with our yes to You. It may not be easy alone, but with Christ, we can do anything. In Jesus Name. Amen

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