Bible Verses about Listening

  • 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV
    The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
  • Psalm 5:3 NIV
    In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
      in the morning I lay my requests before you
     and wait expectantly.
  • Psalm 18:6 NIVIn my distress I called to the Lord;
        I cried to my God for help.
    From his temple he heard my voice;
        my cry came before him, into his ears.
  • Psalm 34:11 NIV
    Come, my children, listen to me;
        I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
  • Psalm 81:8 NIV
    Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
        if you would only listen to me, Israel!
  • Psalm 116:1-2 NIV
    I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
        he heard my cry for mercy.
    Because he turned his ear to me,
        I will call on him as long as I live.
  • Proverbs 8:32-34 NIV
    “Now then, my children, listen to me;
        blessed are those who keep my ways.
    33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
        do not disregard it.
    34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
        watching daily at my doors,
        waiting at my doorway.
  • Proverbs 12:15 NIV
    The way of fools seems right to them,
        but the wise listen to advice.
  • Proverbs 13:1 ESV
    A wise son hears his father’s instruction,
        but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
  • Proverbs 15:31 ESV
    The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
        will dwell among the wise.
  • Proverbs 19:20 NIV
    Listen to advice and accept discipline,
        and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
  • Jeremiah 26:3-6 NIV
    Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways. Then I will relent and not inflict on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse[a] among all the nations of the earth.’”
  • Micah 1:2 NIV
    Hear, you peoples, all of you,
        listen, earth and all who live in it,
    that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you,
        the Lord from his holy temple.
  • Malachi 2:2 NIV
    If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.
  • Jeremiah 7:13 ESV
    And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, andwhen I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,
  • Jeremiah 29:12 NIV
    Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
  • Matthew 7:24 NIV
    Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
  • Matthew 17:5 NIV
    While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.Listen to him!”
  • Mark 4:24 ESV
    And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
  • Mark 7:14 NIV
    Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.
  • Luke 11:28 NIV
    He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
  • John 10:27 NIV
    My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
  • James 1:19 NIV
    My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
  • James 1:22 NIV
     Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
  • 1 John 5:15 NIV
    And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

His Nearness Changes Everything

Psalm 116-2

Some things just go together.

Peanut butter and jelly. (Even better, peanut butter and chocolate.)

Milk and Oreos.

Strawberries and cream.

Oh, and this: Popcorn and movies.

That’s what my two-year-old thinks anyway.

This week, we trekked down the aisle at the theatre, searched for an empty row, and plopped down into our seats.  They were the cushioned kind that pop up as soon as you stand. Then we waited for the movie to begin as other strangers filed in around us.

That’s when my son announced, “Popcorn!!”

I hastily leaned over and in a whispered voice tried to explain.  This wasn’t THAT kind of movie theatre.  We weren’t there for the latest Disney flick.

We were tourists preparing to watch the free 20-minute movie for visitors to Jamestown.

No popcorn, buddy.

But this, of course, didn’t make one bit of sense to my little guy.  We’ve taken him along to a few movies and this is what he knows:  Theatre seating, big screen in the front of the room, people all around = popcorn and a cartoon.

And popcorn is pretty much his favorite food on this entire planet.

So, he asked again.  And again.  And again.

“Pease….have popcorn?”

No, babe, I’m sorry.  No popcorn for this movie.

“PEASE….have popcorn?!!”

The movie hadn’t even started yet and I was failing to keep the two-year-old quiet.  I could hear the family behind me snickering.

But that’s just about when the movie started up (thankfully) and he was (temporarily) distracted by some film clips of animals and ships.

I understood his confusion.  Sometimes, the equations in life and in faith don’t seem to work out the way we expect.  Or maybe the way they’ve worked before.  Or the way everyone tells you it’s supposed to all work.

Pray persistently.

Pray with faith.

Pray the promises of Scripture.

Pray with honesty.

Pray with fasting.

Pray with confession and repentance…with worship…with others.

Pray first thing in the morning.  Pray on your knees.  Pray the Lord’s Prayer.  Pray for mercy.

This should be like movies and popcorn.  You go to the movies; you get popcorn.  They just go together.

In the same way, you pray correctly and you get answered prayers.

Right?

We know the truth of this.  Sometimes the wait is long. Sometimes the road is treacherous and uncertain.

And sometimes you go to the movies, you sit in the theatre seats, you stare at the big screen…but you don’t get popcorn.

What then?

What do we do when we have prayed faith-filled, persevering, worshipful, honest prayer and God remains silent or even tells us “no”?

What happens when we’ve done exactly what we’re supposed to do and the miracle delays or doesn’t come?

 

Adam S. Hogue in his book, The Listening Life, writes:

.Although we are tempted in times of agonizing silence to think of God with an icy stare on his face, refusing to make eye contact, I have found it comforting to think of God simply sitting with us in our pain, quietly listening. Maybe what feels like awkward and anxious silences to us are actually full and gentle silences… When God is listening to us, even if we do not experience the results we hope for, he is actively disposed toward us.

This image of God sitting with me in my sorrow doesn’t solve every problem.  Pain is still pain.  Need is still need.  Disappointment is still disappointment.

But God doesn’t stand far off, oblivious to my hurt, hard-hearted and unmoving, or deaf to my pleas.

Perhaps He is closer than ever.

The Psalmist says:

Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live (Psalm 116:2 ESV).

We pray and we keep on praying, we open our hearts to Him, because He listens and because He loves us.

David knows the anguish of unanswered prayers.  He wrote in Psalm 22:

 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest (verse 2 ESV).

And then He prayed for the same grace we need:

Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help (Psalm 22:11 ESV).

Even in the silent seasons, we have His presence and we rely on His nearness, and that makes a difference for us.

It changes everything.

I’m not arguing my case in a courtroom before a stern and unmovable judge.

I’m with the God who loves me.  He wipes my tears.  He holds me close.  He hears my cries.  He knows my need.  And even when I don’t understand, He still cares for me with compassion and mercy.

As Max Lucado says,

‘God is God. He knows what he is doing. When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.’ (Grace for the Moment)

When you don’t know what to say

Psalm 147

He told me about his wife, about her kidneys not behaving, her liver calling it quits and her heart not being strong.

They had dared to throw out the word ‘hospice’ in one of those foggy discussions with doctors where you’re hearing them and you’re nodding your head, but really the words don’t make sense.

On the phone, I heard how ‘hospice’ made him stumble.  He sucked in his breath and cleared his throat. Then he said how his brother is already there, in hospice–(there he said it again; that word never seems to come out easy).

I had this conversation with my grandfather years ago, and as I listened I thought of my grandmother, spunky and life-filled, always in tennis shoes so she could speed-walk everywhere, always talking about trips to Haw-a-ii and cruises to Alaska and other adventures.

Then I thought of her in the hospital, under 100 pounds, so fragile.

Two irreconcilable images, surely not the same person.  Yet, there it was, unreal but real.

My grandfather said, “I’m fixin’ to be an orphan here soon” and laughed a kind of nervous giggle when you make a joke that isn’t truly funny.

What to say to that?

After years of women’s ministry, I’ll tell you what never gets easy—knowing what to say when it’s all spilling out of someone and you just want to rescue them, but you’re powerless to do little more than hug and slip on a few Band-aids, then pray with desperate cries that God will heal in the deep-down ways we can’t.

Lost jobs, unfaithful husbands, abusive spouses, alcoholism and pornography, runaway kids, bankruptcy, rape, homelessness, pregnancy unplanned and unwanted, pregnancy wanted so bad it hurts every month with that negative test, abortion, custody battles gone wrong, parents not talking to kids and kids not talking to parents, divorce, fatigue, dying moms and dads, babies in caskets, surgeries failing and car accidents turned tragic…

This…. never…. gets …..easy.

How can there be the right words for so much that is wrong?

Maybe that’s exactly the point.

Maybe even a lover-of-words like me has to fess up that sometimes words don’t just fall short, they actually get in the way.

Like for Job, sitting among ashes, wearing torn rags, scraping at the burning blisters on his flesh with broken pottery, mourning his servants, grieving his children.

Scripture tells us:

When Job’s three friends… heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was (Job 2:11-13).

They spent a week in silence with Job.  For guys who turned out to be so chatty (okay, verbose), this was actually a promising start!

They seemed to get this right, this friendship without words.  Just mourning with those who mourn and leaving it at that.

Unfortunately, Eliphaz eventually asked the question: “But who can keep from speaking?” (Job 4:2) and that’s when it all went awry.

He erupted with spiritual cliches, the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” speeches, theological debates and judgmental accusation…and the other friends joined in.

Ezekiel the prophet, on the other hand, “came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River.  And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days–deeply distressed” (Ezekiel 3:15).

For a week, the prophet crouched in the dust with the exiles from Jerusalem, those who had been carried off after years of starvation and the siege by the Babylonian empire.

And he stayed there until God told him to get up and move on (Ezekiel 3).

Sometimes we back away in fear from those in pain, not really knowing what to do.  After all, we can easily say the wrong thing.

But you really can’t mess up listening.

God brings hurting people to us not so we can fix life for them or speak some magical words that make it all better.

He wants us to get down in the dirt where they’ve fallen, love them, pray with them, serve them, and practice the power of presence (maybe even presence without words).

*************************************

May I recommend this book if you are grieving the loss of someone or ministering to another who is mourning?  It is lovely and full of practical advice and spiritual encouragement. Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing by Margaret Brownley

Choosing to love by choosing to listen

Psalm 116-2

My daughter didn’t talk for a long time.

Oh, she understood everything I said and communicated in lots of other ways, but she just refused to really, truly talk as a toddler.

Then one day she opened up with a tidal wave of language.  She didn’t learn how to talk one tentative, uncertain word at a time.

She just talked.  It was as if she’d been storing up years of language until she could express anything and everything she felt.

And now….

Now, she’s a talker.

She wakes up in the morning talking.  She leaves for school talking.  She climbs into the minivan after school still talking.

We live with a steady stream of conversation from the first “good morning” to the final “goodnight.”

I love to watch her face and her hands.  She throws every part of her body into what she’s saying.

Her head bobs and her hands fly to her hips as she says, “Really!  I did that.”

She arches her eyebrows.  She scrunches up her nose.  She’s a non-stop flow of enthusiastic communication.

My introvert self sometimes recoils from conversation.  Sometimes I’m bound to slink away where it’s quiet, even if it means hiding in the corners of my own mind and ignoring the noise around me.

I have an insatiable need for nonverbal time.

Besides that, I’m a task person more than a people-person.  I think tasks.  I do tasks.  I complete tasks.  And sometimes I let those tasks take priority over people because I’m mixed-up that way and this is the pit of sin I fall in over and over.

So a few weeks ago when this little girl would sidle up to me ready to chat, chat, chat, I started turning my whole body toward her so she could see my face.

I put down the book.

I closed the computer.

I  left the dinner on the stove to simmer so I could listen to her.

Sometimes, life is a whirlwind of crazy in my house.  There are moments when it’s not possible for me to flip off the activity so I can flip on my listening ears.

So, I tell her that.  I say, “Give me five minutes.  Let me finish this and then I can listen.”

Then I keep my promise.

I don’t know if she can feel the difference between the distracted me and the attentive me, but someone once told me, “Listening is an act of love.”

And I choose to love her in the way that her soul needs to be loved.

I learn this, but I never seem to master it. Could any of us?

Could we ever get to the place where we’re experts at loving through patient and compassionate listening?

Yet, God does this for us.  He bends low to hear our cries, leaning into us so He hears our every word and our every heart’s cry.

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! (Psalm 116:2)

More than that, He quiets the noise of heaven at the sound of our prayers.

In his book, The Great House of God, Max Lucado highlights the volume of heaven based on the first eight chapters of Revelation:

The angels speak. The thunder booms.  The living creatures chant, ‘Holy, holy, holy” (4:8) and the elders worship…The souls of the martyrs cry out (6:10)…The earth quakes and the stars fall…One hundred forty-four thousand people…shout in a  loud voice (7:10).

Heaven is louder than my house in that mad rush through our after school routine of homework and piano and change your clothes quickly for dance lessons and make dinner and pack lunches and sign agendas and rush out the door (hurry, so we won’t be late!).

Heaven is louder than my minivan.

But,

When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour (Revelation 8:1 HCSB).

Half an hour of total heavenly silence ticks by.  In the quiet, an angel steps up with:

…a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand (Revelation 8:3-4).

The prayers of the saints enter God’s presence in the hush of heaven.

The way I listen to my kids, my husband, my friends should be how I want to be listened to….should be how God listens to us.

He bends down to us.

He quiets the noise.

He gives us access to His presence.

How can we be better listeners for those around us today?

When words get in the way

He told me about his wife, about her kidneys not behaving, her liver calling it quits and her heart not being strong. Mostly, though, he told positive news and trends for the better.

Yet, they had dared to throw out the word ‘hospice’ in one of those foggy discussions with doctors where you’re hearing them and you’re nodding your head, but really the words don’t make sense.

On the phone, I heard how ‘hospice’ made him stumble.  He sucked in his breath, cleared his throat and told me the rest.  His brother is already there, in hospice–(there he said it again; that word never seems to come out easy)– 5-1/2 hours away.

As my grandfather talked, I though of my grandmother, spunky and life-filled, always in tennis shoes so she could speed-walk to everywhere, always talking about trips to Haw-a-ii and cruises to Alaska and more adventures.

Then I thought of her in the hospital, under 100 pounds, fragile and so easily broken.

Two irreconcilable images, surely not the same person.  And yet there it was, unreal but real.

My grandfather said, “I’m fixin’ to be an orphan here soon” and laughed a kind of nervous giggle when you make a joke that isn’t truly funny.

What to say to that?

After years of women’s ministry, I’ll tell you what never gets easy—knowing what to say when it’s all spilling out of someone and you just want to rescue and protect and bandage it all up.  But you’re powerless to do little more than hug and slip on a few Band-aids, then pray with desperate cries that God will heal in the deep-down ways we can’t.

Lost jobs, unfaithful husbands, abusive spouses, alcoholism and pornography, runaway kids, bankruptcy, rape, homelessness, pregnancy unplanned and unwanted, pregnancy wanted so bad it hurts every month with that negative test, abortion, custody battles gone wrong, parents not talking to kids and kids not talking to parents, divorce, fatigue, dying moms and dads, babies in caskets, surgeries failing and car accidents turned tragic…

This…. never…. gets …..easy.

How can there be the right words for so much that is wrong?

Maybe that’s exactly the point.  Maybe even a lover-of-words like me has to fess up that sometimes words don’t just fall short, they actually get in the way.

Like for Job, sitting heaped in ashes and wearing torn rags, scraping at the burning blisters on his flesh with broken pottery, mourning his servants, grieving his children.

Scripture tells us:

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was (Job 2:11-13).

They spent a week in silence with Job, just sitting next to him without speaking or offering hollow words of fake comfort.  For guys who turned out to be so chatty (okay, verbose), this was a big deal!

They seemed to get this right, this friendship without words.  Just mourning with those who mourn and leaving it at that.

Unfortunately, Eliphaz finally asked the question: “But who can keep from speaking?” (Job 4:2) and that’s when it all went awry.

The moment he erupted with spiritual cliches, the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” speeches, theological debates and judgmental accusation…that’s when he felt more impressed with his oratory skills than concerned about loving a friend.

Ezekiel, on the other hand, “came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River.  And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days–deeply distressed” (Ezekiel 3:15).

For a week, the prophet crouched in the dust with the exiles from Jerusalem, those who had been carried off after years of starvation and the siege by the Babylonian empire.

And he stayed there until God told him to get up and move on (Ezekiel 3).

Sometimes we back away in fear from those in pain, not really knowing what to do.  After all, we can easily say the wrong thing.

But you really can’t mess up listening.

God brings hurting people to us not so we can fix life for them or speak some magical words that make it all better.

He wants us to get down in the dirt where they’ve fallen, love them, pray with them, serve them, and practice the power of presence, and so often presence without words.

*************************************

May I recommend this book if you are grieving the loss of someone or ministering to another who is mourning?  It is lovely and full of practical advice and spiritual encouragement. Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing by Margaret Brownley

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Welcome to the Bible Study: Part One

For those of you signing on for the first day of our online Bible study, welcome!  For those who are regular blog subscribes but who are not doing the study with us, I hope there will still be some blessing for you in these weekly posts.  Be assured that I’ll still be doing the regular devotionals during the rest of the week.

Let me give you, in a way, a grand tour of this Bible Study of ours.

If you haven’t yet introduced yourself to the group, I hope you’ll take a moment to do so.  It will help us know who is in the group.  You can click here to visit the introduction page: Before Our Online Bible Study Begins.

I’ll begin each week with a brief thought/comment on the reading.  I’ll take you through a simple outline or walk-through of the chapters for that week.  Then I’ll pose some questions for you.

You can either read the book in advance and then read through my entire post in one sitting and answer all at the same time.

Or, you can start here in this space.  Read my intro.  Read some from the book.  Read some of my outline.  Read some more from the book, etc.  Then answer the questions, all at your own pace.

How you do it is up to you and your time and preferences.  This post today will be the longest I write because of these extra introductory instructions.

Every time I post for the Bible study, I will link the new post up on the Online Bible Study space on this web site.  You can easily access every old post from that page.  I hope that makes it easy for you to come back multiple times and do this study in pieces throughout each week or catch up if you get behind.

You can also find the schedule I plan to follow on the Online Bible Study page.

The only thing I ask is that as many of you share as possible your thoughts, comments, questions, and responses.  We want to hear from you.  I know some of you will be reading this book alongside us and you prefer not to chat in this space.  I understand and, again, there is no pressure here.  The more people who share, though, the more benefit we will get from this study.  It is your experiences, knowledge and testimony that we don’t want to miss.

Ready to get started?  I sure am!  Let’s go!

Discerning the Voice of God, Part I
(Intro and Chapters 1 and 2)

My Thoughts

If you called my family home during my teenage years and I answered the phone, you would have heard me say, “Hello, Mason residence.  This is Heather speaking.  May I help you?”

And you’d probably hang up the phone the first time you called for fear that you had mis-dialed an attorney’s office.

That’s how I answered the home phone for years.  It’s because we had a problem in my house—I sounded like my mom. There were a few accidents before my fancy phone answering ways.  People called and launched into a full conversation with my mom after my brief “hello,” while I scrambled to announce that they had the wrong person.

God doesn’t usually speak to us by first identifying Himself.  “Hello, this is heaven.  God speaking.  How may I help you?”

It just isn’t that simple, nor should it be because that would require very little intimacy or personal relationship.  Hearing, identifying and obeying the voice of God takes discernment, which Webster’s dictionary tells us is:  “Keenness of insight and judgment.”

As you read or have read the first part of this book, some of you may have books filled with underlines and highlights and you’re excited to learn more.  Others may be shrugging your shoulders thinking, “That’s all?  This is basic.”  And in some ways it is.  Discerning the voice of God is a basic foundational skill in our journey of faith.

But, do we ever get to the place where we stop growing in this area?  Isn’t there always more to learn?  Discernment is “keenness,” which says to me it is a sharpened skill developed over time.

That’s why I hope that you veterans of the faith will freely and honestly share about how you’ve grown to know God’s voice, so that we can learn from you.

We learn discernment through practice.  We talk with God so much, we listen so much, that His voice eventually becomes distinct from everything else we hear in our lives.  It is experience and sometimes mistakes that turn the basics written down in a book into a living, breathing reality of our faith.

Walking Through the Book:

The Intro:
I personally know a Bible-teaching, home-group leading Christian who does not believe that God speaks to us today.  He believes everything God has said and ever will say is written in the Bible.  More than that, he teaches it is pretentious and prideful of us to assume that God cares enough about our individual lives to have anything to say about them.

I loved that Priscilla Shirer answered this right from the beginning of her book.

On page 14, she reminds us that God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  So, His pattern of speaking to prophets in the past continues with us today.

She also says that it is God’s voice—the fact that He was an active, involved, listening and responding kind of God—that set Him apart from the myriad of fake gods surrounding Israel.

I think Tozer’s quote on p. 17 (before chapter one begins) sums it up:

Those who do not believe God speaks specifically will simply ignore or explain away all the times when God does communicate with them.  However, those who spend each day in a profound awareness that God does speak are in a wonderful position to receive His word.

Amen!

Chapter One:

Here are the basics of preparing to hear God’s voice:

Come Expecting:  That’s what Habakkuk did.  He dared to ask God such difficult, pain-filled questions and then he waited for God’s response, fully expecting to hear.

Come As You Are:  I love the quote beginning on page 23: “God is gracious, and when we want to speak to Him, He invites us to come as we are – questioning, complaining, and confused.”  He then takes those questions and uses them as a way to reveal more of Himself to us.

Come Determined to Wait: Habakkuk made his complaint to God and then said, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give for this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).  He waited there patiently for God to answer and didn’t move until he heard God’s clear voice.

Come Believing: God didn’t foretell a fairy tale future for the prophet.  But, when Habakkuk heard God speak, he moved forward in belief—even in the difficult times.  He concluded with my favorite set of verses from the whole book:

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

It was the sacrifice of praise.

Chapter Two:

Her emphasis in this chapter is on taking time to listen.  Praying in such a way that we don’t just talk to God, but we take time to hear from Him.  She outlines the disciplines of praying Spirit-guided prayers, meditating on God’s Word, and worship as the foundation that allows us to hear God’s voice.

Your Thoughts:

You can share anything you like in this space on the topic of listening and hearing from God.  Here are some specific questions I’d like to ask you:

  • Can you tell us about a time that you  clearly heard God speak?  How did you know it was Him ?
  • Do you have a favorite quote, verse or passage from the book that you want to share with us?
  • What discipline of the faith do you most struggle with?  Do you have any tips you’ve found that help you in this area?
  • What do you most want to learn about discerning the voice of God from this study?

You can post multiple times throughout the week as you read more and read what others have to say.  Please reply to one another and encourage those who have shared with your responses and answers.

You should see a little tiny check box at the very bottom of this page that says: Notify me of follow-up comments via email.  If you click that box, you should receive a notice when someone replies to this post and you won’t miss what others have to say.

I’m praying for you this morning as we begin this study, that God will make His voice clear to you and that you will be able to hear Him and then radically and passionately obey what He’s calling you to do.

~heather~

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

VBS Lessons, Day Two: God Listens To You

This week I’m going through the lessons of Group’s PandaMania VBS and considering how they apply to more than just kids!

God Listens To You
“You know what I am going to say even before I say it”
Psalm 139:4

Last week, I quietly explained to my oldest daughter that even though people are friendly and strangers ask her questions, doesn’t mean they always have time for her entire life story.  Perhaps not everyone can listen to everything she has to say.

She replied, “But I just like to talk and I have a whole lot to talk about.”

Thus, when a friendly cashier asks how old my kids are, they give an unabridged biography as an answer.

And when the lady cutting their hair asks where they go to school, the girls launch into a weekly schedule that lists off all their normal activities and then give an infomercial about their preschool and kindergarten.

My PandaMania VBS leader materials for Day Two say:

Kids can tell you exactly what it’s like to be ignored or unheard.  They know what it feels like to talk to a busy parent or teacher, who responds with a distracted “mm-hmm.” They’ve been that hand, waving in the air, that didn’t get called on to share an answer.  And even when someone is tuned in, kids may not have the words to express what they’re feeling.   . . . God not only hears our voice . . .God hears our heart!

There’s a powerful promise buried in this simple lesson—God Listens to You.  Just like my kids may sometimes feel like I’m not listening closely enough, there are times when I feel as if God has gone deaf or, even worse, is choosing to ignore me.

Last week, a prayer request came through my email and I prayed: “Please don’t turn away from this request; please don’t hide your face from us.  Please hear what we are asking of You and deliver them.  Don’t be deaf to our pleas, not this time.”

I’m not alone in this prayer.

David asked, “Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2) and “To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 28:1).  Asaph prayed the same:  “God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God” (Psalm 83:1).

Have you prayed this before?  The request of attention, the desire for God’s ear, that He would really hear the petitions you bring so passionately before the throne?  With particular fervency sometimes we say, “I know I pray things all the time, God, but I need you to really pay attention to what I’m asking right now.  This one matters more than normal!”

The promise we are teaching the VBS kids this week is that God always hears us, not just what we say, but even when we don’t know how to pray within the confines of words.  Even when the desires of our heart are too bulky to be smashed into syllables and sounds and long “before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4)

God doesn’t tune us out as we pray or ignore the outpourings of our heart.  Psalm 10:17 says, “Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts.  You will listen carefully.”

He hears what we pray.  He hears our heart’s cry even when words escape us.  During the tough times, heaven may seem silent and our prayers may seem to bounce against a ceiling rather than land at God’s feet.

Regardless of how you feel, though, you can trust in an attentive God who hears the prayers we offer on our knees, the whispers as we lie in bed at night, the tears as we fall in despair in His presence.  God listens to you.

We know this because God doesn’t change.  From beginning to end, from person to person, our God is consistent in His character.  So, just as He threw down fire from heaven in response to Elijah’s prayer, so He hears and responds to our cries for help.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah not just to a test of their gods’ power, but also of their gods’ ability to hear them.  He declared, “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God” (1 Kings 18:24).

God’s character–the things that sets Him apart–isn’t just that He is able to deliver us; it’s that He truly hears our cries for deliverance.

And so the prophets of Baal danced and shouted. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.  Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention (1 Kings 18:27-29).

Their god was silent.  Their god was deaf.  Their god was unimpressed by their passion and unresponsive to their cries.

Not our God.

Elijah sloshed water all over the altar so it was running down over the soaking wet sacrifice and spilling onto the ground below.  He prayed, “‘Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’  Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:37-39).

Answer me, God, for the display of Your glory!  So that everyone watching my life and these circumstances can see and declare, “The Lord—He is God!  The Lord–He is God!”

The song we will sing tonight at VBS says, “God knows every word before you even say it; He hears every prayer before you even pray it.  So let Him hear you now.  So let Him hear you shout!  He knows you.  He loves you.  God is listening.”

Be assured of that today and rest in that promise.  Remember that what defines God is that He is alive and active, powerfully able, and mercifully responsive to us.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King