Friday, July 10, 2020

Day 4: A 14-Day Journey to Hearing from God

At this point on the journey, we understand that if the Holy Spirit is living on the inside of us, hearing from God is one of the many benefits of that "hook up" (John 10:27). And what a blessing it is to have that access! But the truth is, just because it's available to us doesn't mean we take advantage of it, and that's why we're on this journey. We're on this journey so we can learn to hear (or hear more clearly) the voice that's always speaking. We want to know how to hear Him whenever He wants to speak DIRECTLY to us. So, today, and over the next few days, we're going to look at ways to "strengthen our ear" so we'll know His voice.

How Do We Hear from God?
  1. the teaching of God's word from preachers, ministers, teachers / church
  2. reading and studying God's Word
  3. talking to God and quieting ourselves to let Him talk to us (prayer)
  4. convictions (the tugging at our hearts, the push and pull in our spirits)
  5. fellowship with other believers
  6. warning and foresight, spoken directly to our spirits 

Today's focus will be the teaching of God's word from preachers, ministers, teachers / church.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm grateful when someone can show me how they did what they did or how they do what they do. When someone can show me how they got from point A to point B and ended up at point C, that sticks with me. I wanna know how you got to where you are if that's somewhere I'm trying to go. I hope you appreciate that too, because in these installments over the next few days, I'm going to be sharing as much as I can about how I went from not even knowing that I could hear from God like I do, to hearing from Him even when I'm not talking to Him. LOL! 

But for real though, all laughs aside, that's what relationship is. 

You initiate conversation sometimes, and the other person initiates sometimes. That's what our communication should look like in any relationship, but especially in our relationship with the Lord.

So, Iantha, if I can have this regular communication with God in our personal relationship where I talk to Him and He talks to me, why do I need to hear from God through others? Why do I have to go to church to hear Him? 

And to answer that plainly, know this: You don't have to hear from God through preachers and teachers and you don't have to go to church, you get to hear from God through preachers and teachers and at church.

God is SO GOOD that He has raised up others who have committed their lives to the study of His word and who He has called for the specific purpose of hearing from Him to speak to His people. God could have left us out here to dig through and try to understand all of His word for ourselves, but He loves us too much for that. He wants us to understand His word without the unnecessary confusion that can come because of the time the Bible was written in. He wants us to understand the customs of that time so words, symbols, practices and even people make sense for today. 

When we understand His word completely, we're better able to apply it to our lives. 

Unfortunately, many have written the Bible off as an ancient book that has nothing to do with today, but because they haven't been taught, and because they don't understand that God's word was written for the sole purpose of guiding us today, they miss out.

I don't want that to be us. 

Know This
When a man or woman of God has been appointed by God to teach His Word...
  1. it is a call. We were all created with purpose (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:13-16). We all have a "heart call" that pulls us and won't let us go. We know, in the depths of us, that THIS is what we're supposed to be doing. There are some who know they are supposed to be nurses. There are some who know they're supposed to be businessmen. Some have a call to help those who have suffered extreme loss. Whatever it is, there's a drawing that we can't shake, and this is what we call purpose. Teachers and preachers of the Word know that they are called. There's a drawing to the study of God's word that they just can't shake. This just happens to be me. 
  2. they have an uncanny understanding of God's word. And this is because God called them and created them with the capacity to understand His word in a way that most never will, which is why they need the teacher and/or the preacher to help them understand. For those who are called, it's like the words just jump off of the pages of the Bible and instantly form pictures, illustrations and stories for them to use to teach God's people. Again, I'm a living witness. 
  3. they labor before the Lord to hear from Him for people. Preachers and teachers of the Word spend crazy time in God's face and in His word. They can't help it. They talk to Him to know what He wants to say. They study to know how to teach what He wants to say, and it's like their job, except it doesn't feel like it because it's "heart work". It's their call. They don't mind waking early. They don't mind staying up late (it's 11:56 PM right now *yawn*). None of that matters because they know it's their call to be before the Lord before they get before the people. 
  4. lives are transformed by their teaching. Now, let's be clear. When they are teaching, the Holy Spirit is teaching through them. God is speaking through them, but because they are the vessel that God uses, their delivery--style, charisma, clarity--has a lasting impact. This is what makes it possible for hundreds of people to hear the same message from a preacher/teacher and every one of them get an individual, applicable takeaway that's specifically for just them. 

Why Church?
Church has gotten a bad rap over time, and it breaks my heart. Yes, there are people who have abused their call, and there are people who have been hurt by those who have abused the call. There have been people, like me, who have been hurt by others in the church, and unfortunately, some never recover from that hurt, but what God did to reset my focus after I was hurt was remind me what the church was for. He reminded me why the church even exists, and that took my focus off of them, it took my focus off of me, and it caused me to look at Him, and Him alone. 

God showed me, in the book of Acts, that the church (a gathering of people, not a building) was first formed to...
  1. bring people together so they can be taught the Word of God for their lives.
  2. edify (encourage, build up) the people. 
  3. foster fellowship/community so believers could learn from, and grow with one another.
  4. teach the "gatherers" to go out and teach unbelievers the Word of God.
That's it! That's what church is for. Going to church is a time for us to "fill up" so we can go and "pour out" on others.

If we're going to church just to "hear a word," we've missed it.

If we're going to church because "I have to usher/sing/cook/serve that Sunday", we've missed it.

If we're going to church to hear the praise team and "hear Pastor preach," we've missed it, and we've been at church for the wrong reasons.

Assignment #1 (Do this now, and then continue the rest of the lesson when you're done.)
  1. Grab your bible and date today's journal.
  2. Read Acts 2:42-47
  3. In your journal, make note of (1) how the believers gathered together to learn, (2) how the believers encouraged one another, (3) how the believers fostered fellowship/community and (4) how the believers went out AND the result of them sharing what they learned.

How Do I Hear from God at Church?
I've learned over time, and my pastor says it often, that when the Word is going forth from a teacher or preacher, you hear the overall message, and that's great, but you should be listening behind what's being preached and asking the Holy Spirit how that message applies directly to you. Ask the Holy Spirit what He wants you to get out of what was taught and how you are supposed to apply it to your life and share it with others. AND EXPECT HIM TO SHOW YOU!

I got saved my freshman year in college and I still have every one of my sermon notes journals from that year and beyond. EVERY ONE. I would take the messages from Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings and study them out. I would revisit the scriptures from the messages and do cross references in my Bible to get scriptures that related to the ones the pastor/teacher used. 

I would talk to the Lord about it and ask Him to help me understand, and I still do that today. I don't leave church and never look at my notebook again. I don't leave church having just heard a "good word" and do nothing with it. I take what I learned and I take it to God so I'll know what to do with it in my life and for others.

So, one way you can hear from God through speakers and teachers and at church is first, ask the Lord to help you hear what's being said to just you behind the message. Ask Him to speak to your heart, and ask Him this before you listen to a message and/or before you go to church. Go into the message or into the church EXPECTING to hear from God for yourself. 

Then, take detailed notes while you're listening. Make note of scripture references. You can, then, take the message from your pastor/teacher and break it down into a six day study for yourself. You will talk to God about that message and those scriptures every day and it will be an ongoing conversation until you get a new message. (I never thought about it like that until just now. As I'm writing, the Lord is speaking to me to help you see how practical it is to be with Him.)

Your desire to be with Him is what matters most to Him. He will meet you there, even if it seems quiet at first. No time with the Lord is ever wasted. Every moment you give to Him is building on the foundation for the type of communication you'll have in your relationship.

Example #1

I remember in college when I first began studying my Sunday and Wednesday messages out. It was quiet. I didn't hear anything when I would be in the actual time of study, but I began noticing how things I prayed about would be answered outside of that study time. I remember one time I was asking God questions about some of the friends I had, and those questions stemmed from one of the lessons I was taught at a Wednesday night Bible study. Maybe a week or so later, we had a speaker come to our gospel choir rehearsal, and every question I had was answered through that speaker! I was in tears that night. I knew God had heard me, and I knew He'd spoken directly to me through that speaker.

Example #2

Another time, I was in my dorm room cleaning up, and I didn't even know that there was a pastor on the television. It was just background noise, so I wasn't even paying attention. There were some things on my heart (I don't remember exactly), and all I know is the Lord had me to tune in right when that pastor was speaking to the very thing that was on my heart. All of a sudden, I was glued to the television. I remember dropping the broom that was in my hand, sitting down on my bed, and just crying. I began to pray and thank the Lord for hearing me and answering me. I learned to just wait on Him. If I didn't hear anything immediately, I learned through those two experiences that no time was wasted and that He definitely heard me.

So, when you go to church, you get the Word of the Lord, you apply it to your life and then you take what you learned and you share it so people's lives will be changed, and so they, too, will know Jesus. When you get the Word, you take it and review it. You talk to the Lord about it. You study it. God had the teacher to prepare that word for YOU! You pray over it and you ask the Lord to speak to your heart.

Assignment #2
The first part of Sunday's assignment is to attend an online service or physically attend your church if the doors have been re-opened. (I'm telling you Sunday's assignment now so you can prepare yourself.) Go with expectancy. Go with a heart to have God speak to you. Listen to what the pastor/teacher says, and take good notes, but go in with prayer, asking the Lord to speak through the message directly to your heart.

Some of us take notes already and may have a notebook that we use, but this week, please make an exception and take notes in your 14-Day Journal. You will need your notes from church for your assignment on Sunday.

If you have a church home already and you really enjoy your church, GREAT! If you don't have a church that you call home, but you have a church you attend sometimes, maybe "go" there. If you haven't been to church in a while, this is a great time to go back (start viewing online). God wants to speak to you there. 

Finally, please complete this quick church questionnaire: The Church

***Take some time today to talk to the Lord about that concern from Day 3. Pray those scriptures back to God.***

I'm praying for you.


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