Listening to God
I know that this is not a normal blog post. It is more about a man trying to put into words what God is trying to teach him. This is what God is showing me at end of 2016 to prepare me for 2017. Over the past several weeks while listening to different sermons and through my own personal reading, devotion and study time, I have been under deep conviction and really challenged in taking time to listen to God.
A couple of weeks ago, while listening to a sermon by Francis Chan, I was challenged to personally take time to listen to what God wants to say to me. In the sermon, he told of a phone call he received from a pastor in India who came to America several times to speak at different churches and conferences. They talked about many things and at one point, the pastor started to cry about something that was troubling him with what he saw in many Christians in the United States. He said that many of the Christians who he had met were satisfied with listening only to Moses instead of going up the mountain themselves to listen to God firsthand. As I began to think about what he said, it really hit home. Moses went up the mountain and God revealed himself in a greater way to him. He spoke to Moses. Then Moses came down from the mountain and shared what he saw and what God said to him. Many times, I have been satisfied to hear just from a Moses; someone who has taken the time to listen to God. The people of that day could not go up the mountain and be in the presence of God, they had to listen to Moses. But today, we have access. We can go up the mountain and listen directly to God. I don’t think it is wrong to listen to others who have listened to God. I think that it is a great way to learn. I believe that God speaks through others. Remember what the pastor from India said, people he met were satisfied with only listening to Moses. I think we need to personally take time to go up the mountain and let God speak to us directly. Let Him reveal Himself to us, teach us His will for our lives, show us the truth that will set us free, and not always listen second hand. I believe that if every disciple of Jesus would be more intentional about listening to God and then sharing with others what we see, feel, and hear, our impact would be greater on the world in which we live.
In my own reading and studying I have been challenged to make listening to God a priority. I was reading in the book of Mark that after a long night ministering to others, Jesus got up early and went off alone to spend time with the Father. That same thing is repeated several times in the first four books of the New Testament. When I began to read and study those passages of scripture, some interesting things were revealed. One time, the disciples came to Him and questioned what He was doing – they thought He should be doing something else. Another time, they came to Him and said He was missing opportunities to minister to others. And yet, another time, the disciples said there were people with needs who needed Him. Despite what others thought, opportunities to minister, and people with needs, Jesus sometimes left all that behind and spent time alone with the Father. Jesus made spending time with the Father a priority. There have been times when I have let ministry opportunities, needy people, or other things keep me from taking time to listen to God. There have been a lot of times when I have prayed and spoken to God, then got up and went about my day without hearing what He wanted to say to me.
What I need to do is find a time. We all know that there are times that are better than others to listen. I need to find that time. I also need a place that will be quiet and free of distractions so that I can focus. In 2017 my goal is to be more intentional to listening to God.