Listening to God

We know we’re supposed to listen to the Lord and let Him guide our steps, but in the grind and hustle of daily life, it can be difficult. The voices around us and our own thoughts seem to easily drown out any connection we feel with the Lord. Our daily walk with him must be founded on habits of opening our ears and opening our hearts.

Listening begins with stillness. Pausing our day and our mind to find a quiet place where the Lord can speak to us is imperative to finding our connection with Him. The Lord never leaves us, even we are in a whirlwind of busyness. In that busyness, however, we can quickly find ourselves caught up in it and lose touch with the pulse of the Spirit. We don’t have to be still all day to hear Him, but we do have to consciously practice times of stillness to refresh our connection with Him.

Listening to God requires trust in Him. If we dismiss what He says out of fear or confusion, we will quickly get out of sync with His will. Believing that we can be in tune with Him and hear His will in our hearts is vital to being able and willing to connect with Him.

Willingness to change or do what He says is the final piece of listening. Just hearing Him isn’t enough, if we aren’t putting action to His words. He is in the habit of growing people and isn’t interested in empty words. It doesn’t always mean that we are doing a physical action, but if the Spirit prompts us to stop and breathe, we need to be willing to do that as much as we are willing to do any other act or service.

Listening is the final piece of hearing because it takes the passive act of understanding what He’s saying and makes it a part of  daily life. Listening isn’t something you do once in awhile, or even once a month. It’s an active part of being with Him and walking with Him. It’s the part of seeking Him in every moment.

If you don’t feel that you know how to listen to the Lord in all your moments, start by listening for one moment. Find one time per day that you can be still and talk to Him. Practice hearing Him and responding to what He puts on your heart. From there, you can grow with Him and grow in Him until He pervades every moment.

Opening My Heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Trust is listening, accepting and doing the work of God. Before we can trust Him, we have to be willing to be open with Him.

Trust is a frightening prospect in any relationship, including with the Lord. It is a vulnerable place to be. Trust is letting someone else influence you. When you trust the Lord, you are willing to risk the opinions of the world to serve Him.

Before we can trust, we have to be willing to open our heart to the Lord. If we don’t fully open up to Him, we will always be held back in our trust. Asking the Lord to prove Himself before we are willing to walk with Him is a conditional relationship. He wants unconditional access to our hearts and our lives.

Opening our hearts means practicing coming before Him in our daily life and being willing to trust Him. If we hold back our willingness, we are holding back our connection with Him.

When you come before Him, ask yourself and Him if there’s any part of you that is being held back. Maybe there’s fear about what He’ll ask you do, or maybe you are afraid of Him not answering a prayer. Maybe you are struggling to submit your family to Him or your work.

The Bible talks about the Lord testing your heart. Ask Him to test it and find what’s in it that you are holding back. Where are your feelings closed off? Where are you shutting a door in your mind, asking Him not to go there?

As your willingness to open your heart before Him grows, your ability to trust Him will grow. You will experience His faithfulness and His gentleness in leading you through your day.

Trust opens doors to a deeper and more life-altering relationship with the Lord. We can’t force trust or demand it. Instead, we grow into it by being willing to be vulnerable with Him in our mind and hearts.

Am I Good Ground?

In the Bible, Jesus tells a story about a farmer who scatters seeds on the ground; some seeds take root and grow while others, for various reasons, don’t. The seeds represent people and how they react when they hear the truth of God. In the story, only one place that the seeds land  allows them to take root, grow strong and produce fruit. That place is the fertile ground that represents a willing and listening heart.

Most of us assume that we are the fertile soil. We think that when we hear the truth of God, that we are ready and able to lap it up and grow. Assumptions can blind us to areas that need work, though. Not everyone is good ground, but all can be if we open our heart and mind to the Lord.

Willingness to receive anything means that you are open to be given something. Openness invites in; it doesn’t shut out. It means letting the experience of God be worth the risk of being wrong. It defies the fear of being made fun of. It allows the new thing to be explored and learned about.

With each new idea that we encounter, we have to choose if we are going to let it in and then choose whether or not we will allow it to help change us. When we hear the truth of God, whether it is the first time we hear the gospel of Jesus or a new insight from His Word, we must make the choice to let it in. We have to mull it over and think about the truth of it and the practicality of it.  If we look into new ideas and seek to find the joy of God in them, we will be changed.

Good soil listens and hopes and celebrates as new ideas about God are brought to them. Applying God’s truth to our lives is the growth part of being good ground. We try on the new idea for size. We see if it fits us and what it means for our lives. Good soil is a willingness to change if the Lord desires that change within us.

God says, ”I create good soil and I nurture it and fill it full of good nutrients. When my Work falls on the prepared ground, I am there to help it grow and find life in my truth. Listen to me and be ready for all that I have planned.”

Following Christ

Following Christ is a very personal and internal decision. It is something that only you can determine to do. By listening to the Lord, you are able to live in His power and might. Each day we walk with Him is a day filled with joy and comfort. There are days, however, when we may not feel as confident that we’re walking in step with Him.

Each day in God’s presence is a confidence-building day. Walking next to Him builds our understanding of Him and helps us to grow in the knowledge of Him. Each day outside of His presence brings confusion. Walking apart from Him causes us to lose hold of our connection with Him and who He made us to be.

No one can tell if you have committed your heart to the Lord. However, others can see the fruit in your life and how it is helping you to grow. When you are filling your heart with the teachings of God, you grow in the good fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Growing with the Lord means seeing more results like these in your life.

Following after your own ways leads to sin growing in you. Old habits can come back or new sins can creep in. The good fruit in your life is inconsistent or non-existent. Judgment toward others clouds your relationships. You demand your own way and put yourself above others.

Growing in the Lord means that you are reaching for His Spirit and His truth. Finding your way in Him isn’t a path to perfection for the sake of self-improvement; instead, it’s a journey of joy to find freedom in Him.

Talk to the Lord about your walk. Ask Him if He sees you as a growing Christian. In addition, take a look at your fruit. There should always be change toward a deeper relationship with Him, no matter how long you’ve been walking along side Him. Find a fresh truth and awareness of Him and see more of an ability in your life to be free in His name.