Your Bible may or may not be open, but it is always “on.” It's always plugged in and ready to go. Through your Bible, you can hear from God any time and every time.
God is always speaking to you through His Word. The challenge for you, me, or anybody else is to listen for His voice. He is always speaking, but are we always listening?
If you have not done so, I'm asking you to go back and study the previous three articles in this series. To hear from God, it is critical to position yourself properly in relation to Him. If your head is not in the right place, you'll just be going through the motions.
Maybe you've studied your Bible for years. If so, I may be close to offending you—if I haven't already. Will you consider that each of us can improve our game when it comes to hearing from God? Will you give me that much grace?
1. Hearing from God through His written Word should be the rule, not the exception.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” To better understand what Jesus means we need to take a look at what He is quoting from the Old Testament:
Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:1‐3 NLT)
Our intake of food might allow us to exixt, but we cannot enjoy real life unless we are hearing from God. Hearing from God should not be unusual. Hearing from God should not be the exception. We've got it backwards. It should be normal for “every” Christian to hear from God “all” the time.
Does “everyone” eat bread “all” the time? I eat food every day. Yet, I would sound pretty silly if I walked into our neighborhood grocery store, and started jumping up and down, shouting, “I ate today! I ate today!” as if to eat was some supernatural event. In the same way, it should sound pretty silly to hear someone saying, “I heard from the Lord today! I heard from the Lord today!” Hearing from the Lord should be as commonplace as eating.
2. Study the meaning of words.
If I was going to a place with no internet and could have only one print copy of the Bible, I would take a Thompson Chain‐Reference edition of the King James Bible. If I could also have two other print resources, I would take a Strong's Concordance and an 1828 edition of Webster's dictionary. But the days when fifty pounds of books were needed for Bible study are gone in most parts of the English‐speaking world. Internet access has given us more digital translations, dictionaries, and other resource than anyone could possibly ever use.
Let's not fuss about translations. But I want to encourage you to study the meaning of words in their original languages. Use dictionaries such as the Strong's Concordance to help you understand the words of the Bible in their original context. Western culture continually tries to redefine words to suit its purposes, and what you think something means may not be what it means. With all of the wonderful online resources and all the apps for mobile devices, there's simply no reason to limit your study aids. Go to our “useful links” page for some recommended resources (if you visit us on your smart phone, you'll need to move to a larger screen to have access to the full site).
3. Read to listen
It's not normal to associate listening with reading. In studying for an exam, we read to remember, so we can pass the exam. In reading an instruction manual, we read to understand the process. In reading a novel, we read to escape the present moment. We read all kinds of material for all kinds of reasons, but we don't usually listen to the words as if they had life in them.
Great poetry and other great writings can be read several times with a sort of newness and freshness at each reading. But a human mind is always behind the great works of literature, and eventually the nuances dry up. Does anyone read some Shakespeare every day, unless it's for professional reasons?
The Bible, however, is unique in literature. Yes, it was written by man. But it was not written within the limitations of a man's mind. Man may have been doing the writing, but the Holy Spirit was doing the thinking. The God of the universe lives in the words on those pages, and His mind is limitless.
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV)
The words of the Bible are alive. I can't explain how they are alive, but I can illustrate. I can take God's Word (so can anyone else who believes) and speak it over a situation. And that situation will materially change right before my eyes. As just one example: If someone is struggling emotionally and desperately wants relief, Isaiah 53:5 can be spoken over him or her and God's peace will give instant relief in almost every instance.
Listen when you read, because those words have the breath of life in them.
Before we continue tomorrow, please think about your attitude toward the Bible. Do you have good intentions that never materialize? Do you read because of a sense of obligation? Do you look forward to Bible reading as much as you look forward to a good novel?
Have a good day,