Speaking, Listening

Proverb 10: 19 – 21

When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, but one who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is like choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.

This is an intriguing, if a bit frightening, bit of scripture. There is definitely good news here, but there is a warning as well.

This passage makes me want to not speak because with many words we find the snare. Clearly the advice is to restrain from saying all that we might. However, there is another part of this. The lips of the righteous feed. So, speaking in wisdom, speaking the words of the Father is like manna from heaven, in fact it is manna and feeds the multitudes.

Sometimes we don’t listen to the words of wisdom offered us. We die for lack of understanding. Even today, we may be dying spiritually, emotionally, or even physically because we have failed to recognize the words of wisdom. Worse yet, sometimes we ignore wisdom and that is what I find most frightening personally and frustrating professionally.

All the pastors who receive this will relate to the latter part of that last statement. A pastor’s heart grieves seeing the beloved sheep wander aimlessly, not heeding the master’s voice. I have lived that so many times, watching someone hurt knowing I have an answer. It grieves the heart. Knowing this, living this truth causes me to wonder how often I fail to hear or fail to follow the words of my Lord and Father. How horrible is their grief watching me wander from the path cleared and ordained for me?

There is so much packed in this passage. Are you the person who speaks when they should hold? Are you the one who shows wisdom in your restraint? Perhaps you are like choice silver in your words. At the end of the day, we may also ask ourselves if we are foolish in our failure to follow wisdom. Do we fail to recognize wisdom when our blessed Father sends His words to us in the mouth of a person?

This passage offers many opportunities for fear: fear that we talk too much, fear that we are not hearing Him speak to us, fear that we fail to recognize His voice in the words of another person. However, there is no fear under the sun (or son) that has power over you because Jesus is Lord of it all and hallelujah for that. Take a deep breath and exhale and as you do, say, “Abba” because your Father is listening to your breath, your heart, and your words right now. He is waiting to quell all your fears and to lead you upon the right path that being called, the path of rightness or as we know it, the path of righteousness. They are all the same. It is the path which He has already prepared for you. He will guide your words and anoint your ears. Listen, beloved, for the Lord is speaking to you right now.

Speaking Wisdom

Proverb 2: 6 -7

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.

I asked the Lord for a bit of good news to send today, and He showed me this. I know this will be a word of great comfort to many who receive it today. God is right there in your situation with you, and He has wisdom, knowledge and understanding for you. Isn’t that great? What an encouragement. God does not intend for you to plod through this earth and through your life uniformed. He does not expect you to blunder about until you stumble over the answers you need. His idea is that He give you the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that you need. He has it stored up for you, for just this day.

Now, how are you to receive this wisdom from God? Well, you are probably not going to get your Word of wisdom from the TV. One thing you can do is what I did today. I asked God for what I wanted and then I opened my Bible and there it was. Now that is the number one way God is going to communicate with you. If you never open that book you are going to have a hard time.

God also speaks to us in our own internal ear. You have a thought; you hear a thought go through your head and realize that it was not your thought. That was God talking with you. That is how He does it. You have got to shut down the noise in your environment and your mind, though, to allow that communication. God will also speak to you through other people. Maybe the “Word of the Day” reaches you and it was just what you needed to hear. Perhaps your preacher teaches like he or she has been reading your mail. God uses people, especially those dedicated to Him, to give you exactly what you need.

First, realize that God has stored up wisdom for you. Know that it is His intent that you draw from His storehouse. Then talk with Him. Tell Him what you need and want. You are why He built and filled the storehouse in the first place. Lastly, listen. Listen to your pastors, teachers and preachers. Listen to what God may be saying to your own ear. And open your Bible. Be attentive to listening because God is going to supply your need.

Hearing Check-up

Isaiah 30: 21

Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”

Some people wonder if they are really supposed to hear God speaking to them. In light of this verse, what do you think? Of course, you know I believe in a close communion with God at all times. Not having it is what drove me to Anaheim. I went there determined to “get God.” I was already saved, had been for many years so it wasn’t a matter of salvation. I knew we were supposed to hear Him speak with us. I had read the Bible, and believed it. That meant I was missing something that had been promised.

God wants to speak to you. Better still, He wants to speak with you. He wants conversation, two-way exchange. He wants to live the “Intertwined” life which is the theme of Ivey Ministries. It was His idea. Daily guidance is achieved through hearing His voice in your ear as well as feeling the nudge in your spirit. If He is going to show us the path in which to walk, we need to be able to receive His guidance and that comes by God speaking to you and directing your steps.

If you don’t think you are hearing all of God that you should, let’s talk. Contact me and I can assist you. Here are some tips though. First of all, you might need to practice hearing His voice. Get into a quiet spot. Calm down your physiology and then quiet your internal dialogue. Some people like perfect quiet. I do better with nature sounds in the background. Breathe! That is my number one tip. You will be surprised what a couple of deep breaths do for you. Focus on your breathing. Perhaps you would like to inhale for a count of four, hold that breath for a four count and then exhale counting to four again. Do it for five seconds if you like. Counting helps bring your focus to your breath. Then, as you feel a calm descend upon you, begin to talk with the Father. Don’t “pray”. Don’t let formality enter in. Just say, “Hi Father. I thought I would come hang out with you for a while.” Then let conversation ensue just as if you were sitting across from a friend. You can ask Him a question. Don’t begin by asking the really hard questions, though. You will find it harder to hear because of your stress. Just talk with Him about bike riding or the weather. One of the funniest things that ever happened to me was a conversation with Him while I was riding my bike one day. It came so naturally that there was no doubt it was him speaking.

Also, I find the discipline of writing down what I hear going through my head helps me focus. I learned two-way journaling from my friends at CWG Ministries. Check out two-way journaling here.  You can also read some of what God has said to me while journaling here.  I took the 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice course. You can too.

The biggest part of hearing God’s voice, though, is deciding to. If you want to hear Him, if you are determined to, then you will. If it is not a priority with you, then it is going to be a bigger challenge. For those of you who understand that speaking with God is part of your inheritance, I wish to encourage you to seek this great relationship piece with all your might. Hopefully, you won’t have to fly 2500 miles away to get it but do what you need to do.


Numbers 2: 1 – 2

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “The sons of Israel shall camp, each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ households; they shall camp around the tent of meeting at a distance.

One of the grandest precepts for us to accept and subsequently incorporate is that we can hear the voice of God speaking to each of us. Especially on this side of the Protestant Reformation, we should be people who are zealous to talk with God and hear His responses. Yet, we have fallen into a pattern of “praying” to him and then walking away. It is vital that we each hear the voice of God so that we may be led according to all His good intentions.

In the Old Testament, people heard God speak. Obviously, God was able to be heard by these two. Yahweh laid out a complete picture of where each tribe should pitch its tent in the camp and the order by which they should proceed when they traveled. If you were to read chapter 2 of Numbers, you would find that there is great detail in the instructions given by God.

Consider the building of the Tent of Meeting. It was completely designed by God and communicated to people. They heard the voice of the Lord right down to the color of the fabric and precise measurements. How is it that they could receive such detailed instructions from God, and we struggle to hear His voice at all?

I hope you will engage that question. Why are we not hearing God speak? Why don’t we all have a strong dialogue with God? It is not His intention that we live separated from Him. His desire is that we live in Him and with Him. He even said that he wants to make his abode with us (John 14: 23). That means He wants to live with us. Wouldn’t it be odd for someone to live with us but never speak with us, for us never to exchange thoughts and ideas? That seems very odd and yet that seems to be many people’s experience. So, either, we haven’t allowed God to make His abode with us, He isn’t speaking or we aren’t listening. What do you think?

Maybe you should ask Father about this. Maybe you should ask Him if your joint communication is where He wants it. Of course, then you will need to listen for an answer. Be still, turn off the TV and the telephone and listen to the voice within you. Take a few minutes to create quiet in your environment, both on the outside of you and the inside. Then listen. If you have trouble hearing, ask Him to help you but as you ask, believe that He will answer. Then be still and listen. And be persistent. If you are not hearing God or not hearing Him as well or as frequently as you would like, then persist. I promise that if you will allow Him, He will teach you.

Ears On

John 10: 27

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Get ready for a year of lots of good news. That is what the gospel is afterall, right? So let us begin here. God has opened your ear (Isaiah 50: 5). So, now you can hear Jesus’ voice. Our challenge for this year is believing what Jesus said. Could he tell a lie? Do you think he did even if he could? So what did it mean when he said his sheep hear his voice? It seems pretty plain, doesn’t it? The next question is, “Are you his sheep?” I like to think you are and if you do answer this question in the affirmative, then I have some good news for you. You can hear Jesus’ voice! I take that back – it’s not good news, it’s great news!

Let me ask you a question. Do you ever tune out your spouse or a co-worker? That ability to tune out background sounds can be very beneficial. However, your spouse probably isn’t all that excited about your gift. That ability may well operate to tune out Jesus’ voice as well. Everyone who is part of Jesus’ flock has the ability to hear him speak. However, some people hear him and others don’t. Why? Some people have cultivated the ability to tune out much of their sensory data. In order to hear Jesus’ voice many of us have to learn to listen. I will confess it took me some time to hear him speaking to me regularly. Even now, my ability to hear him is dependent on my surroundings. If I do not slow down and pay attention, I will miss his communications.

The good news, though, is that we all have the ability to hear Jesus speaking to us. We just have to develop our listening capacity. We have to turn on and tune in our ears. Journaling is one way to help focus your attention and your tuner. It makes it easier to block out the noise so that you hear Jesus more clearly and even easier.

Let’s put this on our goal list for the New Year, to plainly and clearly hear the voice of God!

Having Heard

Isaiah 30: 21

Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

God means that you should hear his voice. He wants to talk with you. He also guides you with his voice. It seems that hearing from God has been relegated to a few people but that is not God’s intention. It is our tradition that has developed that idea. 

The big secret about hearing the voice of God, if you are not already, is that it takes practice. You begin to recognize the voice of God and it becomes easier and easier to hear him. One time I went on a trip and took a suit with me for the occasion. Then I had this idea occur to me to take an additional suit. I thought about it and said to myself, “But I don’t need two suits.” The thought persisted though so I packed the second one. As it turned out, I did end up needing two different suits. That was when I realized that it had been God telling me to grab the second suit. I learned a lot from that. First of all, I began to learn how God’s voice sounds in my ear. Sometimes it is just a thought that occurs to me from out of nowhere. I may be thinking of something totally different and a thought comes to me. Recently I left my house to go to an appointment. I got to the end of the street and the thought came to me that I had left the garage door open. I thought about that for a minute and in my own thinking I did not think that I had left the door open. The thought persisted though so I turned around and drove back to the house. Guess what? Sure enough the door was open. 

That is the way God communicates with us. In the example about the suit, it would not have been the end of the world if I had not listened to Him and packed only the one suit. Even with the garage door, I am sure that He would have protected my house in my absence but it sure is nice that He does tell me these things because my life is much better for all of the things He tells me. 

And that brings up the second lesson I learned about hearing from God. He often starts out teaching you to hear his voice by talking with you about small things. It did not take much faith for me to turn my car around and go check the garage door. He has built my faith in Him and in my hearing Him in these small things. Now when He says something big to me, I am better able to recognize that it is His voice speaking to me and I have more faith in hearing Him so that I do what I hear without arguing it away.

The thing you really have to do to start hearing God’s voice is to turn off some of the noise around you. If you are like I was you always have some noise machine on. In my case I had the TV or stereo on every minute of my life. There was no quiet time in my life for Him to speak in. The other thing that I had to do was to quiet my mind. My mind was so busy and so loud that there was little chance of me hearing Him. Quiet your mind. And lastly, I absolutely prayed about hearing the voice of God. I knew that other people heard God’s voice and I absolutely insisted on hearing also. If anyone is receiving a blessing from God, you are entitled to that same blessing because it is one and the same Jesus that has bought that blessing for each of us. Don’t let any of God’s blessings evade you.

I Can Hear

Isaiah 50: 5

The Lord God has opened my ear.

God has not determined that only a few may hear His voice. He has opened the ear of us all that we might be led by Him. Life becomes substantially easier when you can hear His voice. You are able to then receive His wisdom and walk in the path He determines is best for you. You may say that you have never heard His voice before though. Ok, first you must accept that you can hear the voice of the Lord. Then come to expect it. Next, listen. You should start to actively listen. The leading of the Lord can be subtle but with time you might also find that He can be loud and clear. I have noticed that some of us have a difficult time hearing a person that is standing three feet away speaking audibly. Our minds have so much chatter going on in them that we really don’t listen to people all of the time. If you have discovered this in yourself, don’t worry. You are not alone. It is an epidemic. We are busy people juggling a lot of data in a short period of time. Learn how to quiet your mind so that you can hear from Him. Sometimes it is just a thought that comes to you out of nowhere. As you listen for His voice and begin to hear Him, you will grow accustomed to His communication. You will begin to recognize His voice at the first whisper. You are meant to hear from Him. You are the special person that He wants to talk with.