To Hear You Have to Actively Listen

I love the way the Lord continues to open the scriptures to me and how I see something new almost every day. Recent ones have included the fact that the devil does not have a kingdom as this would make him a king. There is only one King – Jesus! The Bible says in Colossians 1:13 that his territory is called a “domain”. Insignificant? Not at all – as I had the Devil misplaced in my head and thus saw him as though he were powerful and a ruler in his own right.

The one before that was about the phrase “My house shall be called a house of Prayer” and how I realized it was a house of prayer “for all nations”. Then linking this verse back to where it was first found in the Old Testament and fast forwarding to the days when Jesus cleansed the temple – and where it was (the physical place in the temple structure) He was expressing His anger and what area of the temple he was clearing of the money changers and those who sold sacrifical animals … and how all that tied together and relates to evangelism. Wow!

These revelations are wonderful and both encourage me to continue reading the Word of God as well as helping me to realize that the Holy Spirit continues to lead me into all truth. Exciting.

Well, there is a current ‘revelation’ that probably everyone else knows – but it just hit me like a ton of bricks and thrills meas I realize what this means and how gracious God was to reveal this to me.

There is a verse in John 10 that states: “My sheep hear My voice…” Neat verse. Truth well spoken. The NASV states it this way (John 10:27) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…”

That’s how I know the verse reads. The sheep hear the Great Shepherd’s voice and then follow Him.

But the NIV states it this way: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Ah! See the subtle difference. “My sheep HEAR…” and “My sheep LISTEN to My voice”. Obvious, of course. But it really means a whole lot more than “My sheep hear…”

To “hear” you can be half-listening and half daydreaming. To “hear” you may be multi-tasking as you wait. To “hear” Him He is the one who is needing to make the move and you can have little to nothing of an investment in His speaking and your hearing.

But to “listen”“My sheep listen to My voice…” means a concerted effort to actually turn off other voices and all noise so that you can actually hear Him as you listen. To listen means you are not passive but actually just the opposite – you are proactive and very involved in the process of ‘hearing’ as you are “LISTENING” for Him and then, eventually, to Him.

Elijah realized this when he did not hear God in the earthquake, the fire or the wind. Then he heard His God speak in a still quiet voice – a whisper – because He was LISTENING. He was actively seeking to hear God. He was involved in the process. He was working at hearing God by listening.

Brother Yun states (page 134 of “Living Waters”) that: “…God does not often shout. If the world is making a lot of noise, God does not make Himself heard by speaking even louder than it. Rather, He speaks in a whisper and only those who are willing to get away from the roar of the world will be able to hear Him speak.”

Actively listening for God is a discipline we need to cultivate and this will take an investment of time and some serious work. There is much we will need to introduce into the lives of believers. To start with – stillness, silence, and solitude and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. These ancient disciplines of the Christian faith will help us to place ourselves in position to be actively listening for the voice of God, without distractions, and then receiving what is said into our hearts and not just our heads.

Then, there is the whole area of obedience – acting upon what we have heard. I discovered many years ago that God expects you to obey and if we don’t apply and use what He has spoken it can become fairly quiet fairly quickly.

As we learn to actively listen for the voice of God and to the voice of God we will find our ability to discern right from wrong, truth from falsehood, and things of the Spirit from things of “another spirit” growing and becoming much more sensitive and accurate.

The passage in John 10 goes on to say: “…The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

They know His voice and they will never follow a stranger and will run away because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. We really need this ‘discernment’ in the Church today.

4 replies
  1. Sharon Kuhn
    Sharon Kuhn says:

    The perverbial fly on the wall. I realized at 3:00 am this morning that unless god wakes me and gets my attention, I am a hard person to get to listen to what He is sometimes trying to tell me. I spoke briefly last sunday about discipline. Using the analogy of the cruise on the car. We set it but does it teach us anything. When we shut it off, we soon find ourselves back at over the speed limit, because by having an easy way out we do not become disciplined. the trials and tribulations come so we can listen, and learn from them. Most of what He wants to teach us is discipline. In the learning and the listening we develope patience. Discipline is all about self-control and choices. Ours!
    Sharon

    Reply
  2. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Sharon,

    The spiritual disciplines are almost lost in our type of Spirit-filled churches. Not sure if that is because we, as leaders, don’t practice them and so don’t teach them or if it is because the attitude of the society in which we live and work and minister has infiltrated the hearts and minds of the believers.

    There is a terrific book on the spiritual disciples for today. “The Transforming Habits of a Growing Christian” by William D. Watkins. It covers areas such as simplicity, submission, prayer, study, meditation, solitude, confession, service and more… And, of course, there are always the many books by Dr. Richard Foster who has been writing and teaching about spiritual disciplines now for over a quarter of a century.

    It is time we began to learn from our own past and reintroduce these powerful disciples – or, as William Watkins calls them, habits.

    Reply
  3. Bev Wensel
    Bev Wensel says:

    YES, DISCIPLINE, LIKE THE WORD EXERCISE, IS A BIG NO-NO WORD!!
    HOW CAN THEY HEAR, NEVER MIND “ACTIVELY” LISTEN
    IN SUCH A LOUD “ME/INTROVERTED” SOCIETY.
    FOR ANY TRUE RELATIONSHIP, YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY INTERESTED IN THE OTHER PARTY, IE-LISTENING TO THEM & THEIR LIKES/DISLIKES/IDEAS ETC.
    SO…HOW MANY REALLY GOOD LISTENERS DO YOU KNOW?? YOU KNOW, THE ONES THAT CAN ACTUALLY SAY, “OH YES, I REMEMBER YOU TELLING ME …ETC”
    IT’S A LOST ART, FOR THE MOST PART… & SO i’M NOT TOO SURPRISED THAT IT SHOWS UP IN THE SPIRITUAL ARENA AS WELL…??? TO A SOLUTION…

    BUT THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE HOLY SP. INSIGHT RALPH…THERE IS A HUDGE DIFF. BETWEEN THE TWO!
    bw

    Reply
  4. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    You are more than welcome Bev. Glad it was helpful. I have had to learn this lesson a number of times over the years in my walk with the Lord.

    It is seriously important that individuals learn to listen, hear and obey every word that the Lord is speaking to them through others, the Bible, sermons, and prophecy.

    With regard to the prophetic – I find it amazing how many people receive a Word of the Lord and then simply ignore it or forget it – doing nothing with the Word that they received. But will rush to the next event with a prophet hoping to hear another Word from the Lord.

    We have some growing up and maturing to do as believers….

    Reply

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