Are you struggling in hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd? I can certainly understand that struggle and it’s not an overnight process. If you ever went to a Christian bookstore then you’ll notice a variety of books on this topic. Not surprisingly, it is a popular search term. It’s right there with “How to study the Bible”.
I am in the process of reading and listening to a new book by Peter Greig and it’s on that very topic. It is called “How to hear God: A Simple Guide for NORMAL people.” It’s a new book that came out this year. I am not going to review this book. I would like to invite you to continue reading this blog post, using this book as a backdrop, I’d like to share some key points that will help you in listening to the voice of Jesus.
In the first part of this book, Peter begins with an essential truth. To hear God’s voice, we need to cultivate a relationship with the 2nd member of the Godhead, Jesus. It is not enough to merely read the pages of Scriptures.
Do you recall the Pharisees? They were the theologians of their day and they were strict adherent to the Law of Moses. Though they studied the Scriptures, the Pharisees were the main enemies of Jesus and his followers. Though they studied, they did not really know God or the One whom He sent. Here’s what Jesus says:
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.John 5:39-40 NASB
Let’s not become such a student of the Word of God that we forget to build a relationship with Jesus. Let’s not be so consumed by our many doings that we forget our first love; as per Revelation 2:4-5. Keep in mind, the church in Ephesus is commended for their good work; however, they were losing sight of the loving relationship they enjoyed with Jesus.
As I am listening through the first part of Peter’s book, an interesting point is made and I’ve not honestly thought of it, before. It would be easy to say “Sit down and read your Bible and pray.” Sounds good. Right? Wrong! Here’s the problem that Peter brings up.
The author points to two roadblocks: psychological and theological and he is so right. Psychology deals with how the mind process information. Our emotions and internal wirings are a definite part of this processing of data. Theology is how you and I understand God. Of course, it doesn’t help that each person is wired a little differently than another person.
What do I mean by this? In the 90s, I was attending what may be called a Bible study and we were talking about Moses not entering into the Promised Land. Here’s the key Scripture:
Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan,Deut 34:1
I read the passage about Moses through the eyes of one seeing God’s mercy and compassion. Yes, Moses is kept from entering the Promise Land but it didn’t stop Moses from seeing it. However, person drew a very different picture. For her, Moses is being punished and there didn’t seem to be any room for mercy. I got the impression that she believed that God wouldn’t be forgiving her, for any mistakes.
Do you think I’m stretching things, a bit? Have you read the last part of the parable of the talents? Two servants took the money and invested it and they were rewarded for their efforts. Out of fear and a harsh view of his master, the last servant dug a hole and hid the one talent. Just so you know, one talent is roughly $4,000.
With $4,000, I could put together a very nice YouTube recording studio. You may have some other idea for how such money could be invested. Either way, you get the idea. Sadly, the last servant did not have a good view of his master and acted in accordance to what he believed. The same principle applies to how we envision Jesus?
How does one correct such a slanted view? How does this relate to hearing God’s voice? It begins with building a relationship with Jesus. It begins with reading the Scriptures and talking with God about what we’re reading. There is a good reason for my more learned friends to point to the four Gospels. Personally, I’d start with Matthew. Others will say you should begin in the Gospel of John.
As we come to learn more about Jesus, we will discover more of the heart of God, the Father. Here’s what Paul says in Colossians 1:15-17:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.Colossians 1:15-17 NASB
Here is what the author of Hebrews has to say:
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,Hebrews 1:3 NASB
Ask Jesus to give you a revelation about his character, as you read about all the things that Jesus did on Earth. Did you notice how Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery? Jesus was more interested in her repenting then condemning her. For all we know, she could have had a bad marriage. We do not know and should refrain from reading into it.
God, the Father is not all that different. Yes, God is a holy and just. Yes, God hates sins because of what does to all of humanity. Yet, here is a verse from Ezekiel 33:11 that is worth recalling:
11 Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’Ezekiel 33:11 NASB
I did a search on the above Scripture and it’s not an isolated verse. If anything, it is a common thread throughout all of Scriptures. Jonah is an excellent example that illustrates God’s heart and prefers that we’d repent and turn to God. It’s also at the heart of why Jesus came in the first place.
As you develop a healthy relationship with Jesus, it will become increasingly easier to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and obey out of a heart of love. Yes, I do prefer to focus on the love and merciful aspect of God’s character as expressed through Jesus. Yet, I am fully aware that God is holy and just.
For this reason, it is important to present a balanced view of God, the Father. I focus on love because I’ve seen the opposite side of the spectrum. Though I came to Christ, I had the idea that God was angry at me and the idea of a merciful Father was foreign to me. In time, I came to the opposite view. In other words, I do know the harm such extremes can have on a person.
It is time to wrap this blog post and make a final point. I’ll repeat it for the ones that missed it. Do you want to learn to hear God’s voice in a right way? It begins by building a right relationship with Jesus. It’s done through prayer or talking with Jesus, spending time in worship and reading the Word of God. Don’t be afraid to ask Jesus for help and correction.
For some people, I’d recommend a painting of a smiling Jesus. Only because some people really need it. Let’s develop a relationship with the one we are supposed to be in love with.