::Articles:: - Listening to God - ZAC POONEN

Listening To God
-- Zac Poonen

A spiritual man will take time to listen to God, every day. A phrase that occurs frequently in the very first chapter of the Bible is this: "Then God said". God said something on every one of those first six days, when He remade the chaotic earth. And each time God spoke, the earth became a better place. So, right there on the very first page of the Bible we learn one very important truth - that we must hear what God has to say every day. And if we submit to what God tells us every day, we will be transformed into better and more useful Christians. There's a lot of difference between hearing what God has to say to us and just reading the Bible. Remember, it was people who studied their Bibles daily who crucified the Lord. They studied their Bibles but they never heard God speaking to their hearts (See Acts 13:27). That's the danger we face too. And then, we can be as blind as they were. Genesis 1 also teaches us that God wants to speak to us every day.

Jesus once rebuked Martha for being busy with so much work instead of being like Mary who sat and listened to Him speak. Our Lord went on to say that what Mary did was the ONLY necessary thing in life (Lk.10:42). We must all have the attitude that Samuel had, who said, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening". What did we see in the very first page of the Bible? Whenever God spoke, something was immediately accomplished: Light was produced, the earth came up out of the waters, trees, fish and animals were created, etc., Isaiah 55:10,11 tells us that the Word which goes forth from God's mouth will never return empty without accomplishing what God desires and without succeeding in the matter for which it was spoken.

I want to listen to a man who listens to God - because such a man can teach me more in five minutes than theologians (with long 'tails' of degrees), can teach me in hours. John the Baptist could teach people more about God than Professor Gamaliel or any member of the Jewish Sanhedrin! When you listen to God, you won't preach what you've read in Christian books and magazines or heard from Christian tapes. The man who hears God speaks from revelation, not from academic knowledge or study. Such a man first experiences what he reads - and then speaks forth from his life.

God speaks to us through many ways.

He speaks to us primarily through His Word. If something is clearly written in God's Word, then we don't need to pray to find God's will, because it has already been revealed.

God also speaks to us through our circumstances. Our Lord has the key to every door (Rev.1:18) and when He opens a door no-one can shut it and when He shuts a door, no-one can open it (Rev.3:8). So our circumstances are very often an indication of whether God wants us to go along a particular way or not. We don't have to bang away at a door that God has not opened. We must of course pray, when we see a door shut. But if after repeated prayer, a door still remains shut, it may mean that God does not want us to go through that door. We must ask God to show us if this is so, or whether He wants us to continue in persistent prayer to open that door (Lk.11:5-9).

God also speaks to us through the advice of mature, godly brothers. Such men have gone through many experiences and they can warn us of pitfalls that we are unaware of, ourselves. We don't have to blindly obey them, but their godly counsel can help us.

God often speaks to us, while we are fellowshipping with other believers. Thus He teaches us our dependence on other members of the Body of Christ, even for revelation on His Word.

God always has something important to say to us, whenever we go through a trial or when we are sick.

God also warns us through the failures of others. If, for example, we hear of some servant of God who has fallen into sin, it is good to ask God what lessons we can learn from that man's failure (for we are all weak) and how we can preserve ourselves.

God can also speak to us when we hear news of evils being done somewhere or of accidents that have taken place. Jesus told the people of His time to repent, when they heard of Pilate butchering some Jews and when they heard of the accident in Siloam where a tower fell and killed some people - because such things could happen to anyone (Lk.13:1-4).

Develop the habit of listening to God. This is the single most important habit that you can ever develop.

Source: CFC -- Copyright by Zac Poonen