Let me ask you something: as a Christian, where are you in your relationship with God? Is your relationship close and growing or distant and unsatisfying? Is God in the forefront of your life or merely in the backdrop of your existence?
Come on now. Let’s be honest!
The Bible is clear that a close, growing relational connection with God (Prov. 8:17; Jer. 9:23-24; 29:13; 2 Pet. 3:18) requires an ongoing personal desire to be near Him (Ps. 73:28; 119:10; James 4:8). Furthermore, it involves knowing God (Prov. 3:6; Dan. 11:32; Hos. 6:3; John 10:14; 17:3; Gal. 4:9; Phil. 3:10; 1 John 2:13; 4:6; 5:20), knowing about God (Prov. 2:5; Rom. 1:18-20; 2 Pet. 3:18), knowing God’s will (Ps. 143:10; John 7:17; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 5:17; Col. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:18), and becoming more and more like Him (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Pet. 1:15). How are you doing with these requirements? Do you have a desire to be near Him, know Him, know all about Him, know His will for your life, and become more like Him? If not, . . why not?
To have a relationship with anyone involves regularly spending time with the person and doing so mutually with open communication, honestly speaking with, and conscientiously listening to one another. As Christians, to know God relationally and to grow in that relationship, we must routinely listen to Him as He speaks to us and just as routinely speak back to Him in return as an ongoing pattern of conversation. So, how do we do that?
God no longer speaks to us through dreams or visions or audibly. He speaks to us through the Bible. Everything God wants to say to you, is already in His Word. Stop looking for a sign and start looking at Scripture. Stop looking for a vision; start looking for a verse. God’s will is in God’s Word. You won’t find God’s voice in Facebook. So, spend more time with your face in His Book and you will hear from Him. To listen to God, we must hear, read, study, memorize, meditate upon the Bible, God’s Word, and apply the same to our lives.
First, you must hear God’s Word. You do this by reading Scripture aloud or by listening to it read to you (by another person, CD, audio Bible, etc.). Also, you hear God’s Word taught in worship services, Bible studies, on radio/TV/internet by gifted Bible teachers and preachers. But to hear God, you must be ready and eager to listen, dealing with any attitudes that might hinder your reception, such as a closed mind (e.g., fear, pride, bitterness), a superficial mind (not serious about listening), or a preoccupied mind (focused more on problems and other life issues). To hear God, you must also confess any known sin preventing you from concentrating on God’s voice. Furthermore, you should take notes on what you hear (we forget 95% of what we hear in 72 hours) and be dedicated to act on what God reveals to you.
Second, you must read the Bible. Do this daily. I recommend following a Bible reading plan and sticking with it (reading plans can be found on the internet at BibleGateway.com). I also encourage you to read the Bible in different translations to help you understand it from varying perspectives.
Third, you must study the Bible. To help you do this, purchase one or more study Bibles (e.g., NIV Study Bible, ESV Study Bible). These Bibles have study notes that help you comprehend the Scriptures. Furthermore, there are other study tools available to help you, such as Bible handbooks, dictionaries, commentaries, atlases, and encyclopedias.
Fourth, you must memorize the Bible. You need to do this to prepare for times of temptation, to help make wise decisions as you deal with the challenges and stresses of life, and to help you as you share your faith with unbelievers. To help you in your Bible memorization, I encourage you to read Bible verses aloud and over and over, break them into natural phrases as you mentally focus on them, write them on flash cards, and display them in prominent places where you will consistently see them.
Fifth, you must meditate on and apply Scripture. To meditate on the Bible means to speak to yourself over and over about it. You mull Scripture over and over in your mind in the same way you do with life worries and concerns as you seek solutions to the same. I speak to myself about the Bible through asking myself specific questions in aiming to apply God’s Word to my life. I recommend you use the acronym SPACEPETS that I learned from the well-known pastor, Rick Warren. As you read the Bible, ask yourself: Is there a(an):
- Sin to confess
- Promise to hold onto
- Attitude to change
- Commandment to keep
- Example to follow
- Prayer to pray
- Error to avoid
- Truth to believe
- Something to thank God for
The answers you receive from this meditation exercise are the action steps God wants you to apply to your life.
This is how God speaks to you. But we must not merely hear God, we must also speak to Him. Next month we will pursue how we do that daily and practically.