Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NKJV)
John 10:27-28, Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV)
When I finish a series of lessons, I spend quite a bit of time listening and waiting for God to direct me to what’s next. One of the biggest advantages of retirement is that I CAN do what I’ve always wanted to do, which is pray, listen, and speak/write what God shows me. Since the last twenty years of my career were focused on accomplishing tasks that were chosen and outlined by a large corporation, I KNOW what a blessing this freedom holds for me.
Every time I pray and listen I thank God that I have the time to pray and listen.
In true fashion, I had a well crafted list of themes for the next series, but when I spent significant time listening none of those subjects seemed quite right at this time. God kept telling me to LISTEN. so, I continued to pray and listen. Finally I asked God to be specific. What did He mean by LISTEN. What are you trying to tell me, God?
Then it hit me. God isn’t saying he wants me to continue listening...He is telling me to WRITE about listening.
Then the words poured out like they’d been held back behind a dam: Teach about listening.
I know from experience the best place to learn how to listen to God begins with scripture.
As I study scripture daily and write, I also listen through scripture. There are different ways of getting to know God through scripture.
We can study a verse or several verses by dissecting the theme and parts. That is a great way to determine what the writer is telling us about God.
We can read scripture and express what we read through words, drawing or painting, sculpture, scrapbooking, etc. scripture acts as a backdrop for artistic expression.
View scripture as a play or a television show. As you read, look at what you read in the form of pictures and write down thoughts about what that scripture means. Ask yourself how it applies to life today.
Choose a word or a theme to study about and look for several scriptures that are part of that theme.
If you are a systematic learner you may like studying scripture a chapter at a time in order. As you read one chapter, think about how it builds on the previous chapter and helps you understand what was happening when it was written.
In Seminary one of the first classes I took is Hermeneutics. We learned to view scripture from different viewpoints. We considered God, writer of the text, and the reader of the text. There are other ways to study scripture (exegesis) but learning the different viewpoints was helpful as I started my learning journey.
I find it interesting that overall not a lot was said about studying scripture from a viewpoint of listening to God. It’s possible that was a ‘given’, but until I started focusing on reading and listening, reading and listening, I wasn’t sitting in silence with God with the intent of ‘hearing’.
Years ago I attended a series of classes where we viewed scripture as a way to listen to God. This particular listening prayer class utilized scripture as a way to listen to God. Through the years following that class I have continued to take time to listen as I pray and let God direct me to listen as I read scripture. Listening as I read scripture includes listening as God leads where I read. Listening as I read scripture and learn was especially helpful to me because since I was 12 years old, I’ve had dreams and visions. God speaks to me through those, but I’m not always immediately sure what a dream/vision means.
For example, I recently had a dream about a man crying. He wasn’t just shedding a tear or two...he was in pain and he was weeping. I do not know what the dream meant but I do believe God has a message for me. As I have been praying about what God is telling me, I believe it is a future event that has not yet occurred.
As I prayed about the man crying in the dream I asked God to direct me. I was led to Jeremiah 33:2-3, “Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’”
I knew God was confirming there was a message for me in my dream, and I also knew God had a purpose and an answer for this path. How did I know that? First, I had a gut feeling about the dream. That gut feeling has come to me for years now when I have a dream and I know God is telling me something. I have dreams frequently, but I know they are not “message dreams”. When I have a message dream from God I know it.
Secondly, I ask God to confirm that I am on the right path. I’ve continued to pray and listen in order to determine the meaning of the dream so I can know what God is telling me. I’ve also continued to study dreams and visions in scripture so I am reminded how God speaks and interprets. In the past, God has told me what a dream means but that hasn’t happened with this dream yet, so I continue to pray and wait. I also have trusted people who surround me who have the spiritual gift of dream interpretation and sometimes their input is helpful.
I’ve been at this for a long time now (55 years) and I know in time God will speak to reveal the meaning of the dream.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Listen
Choose one verse from scripture and read it three times. After the third time, ask God to tell you what He has for you from that passage.
In God, Deborah