|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
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The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional
365 Days of Intimate Communication with God
By CHRIS TIEGREEN
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Chris Tiegreen
All rights reserved.
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
From the first pages of Scripture, God speaks. Every time He utters a word, things happen. He says, "Let there be light," and light comes into being—and He keeps talking until our entire universe is filled with order and life. He calls out a people from among the nations and reveals His purposes through them. He chooses prophets to deliver His messages when those people are in danger and need to return to Him. And when He sends His own Son to live among us, the Son is called "the Word." Clearly, we do not serve a silent God.
Many people can't say with any certainty that God still speaks today, much less to them personally. They can accept His written Word as His voice—generalized for all who read it, of course—but for personal conversations and direction, they strive and strain to hear. Our theology tells us that God is quite vocal, even if our experience tells us He isn't. The result of this paradox is a lot of theory, little practice, and a considerable amount of frustration.
Step one in hearing God is acknowledging that He still speaks. We have to be convinced of that in order to press through the frustrations on the way to hearing Him. Low expectations will undermine our efforts. If we know He's the Word who always has something to say, we won't give up easily in our attempts to hear Him. Most of all, we'll believe—a prerequisite to receiving anything from God. Faith opens our ears.
Believe not only that God still speaks, but that He's speaking to you. He calls you into a relationship, and relationships are based on communication. Conversations with God are normal—you were designed for them. Believe and listen—and know that you will hear.
* * *
Living Word, I invite You to speak to me. I know You have been; please open my ears to hear. I want to learn the sound of Your voice and know Your thoughts. In faith, I'm listening.
[Jesus said,] "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
There are lots of voices in the world. Some are easily recognizable; others blend into the background noise. Some come from a distance; others from within our own heads. Some are tender and sympathetic; others strident and critical. And all compete for our attention.
Jesus knows how confused we can be. That's one of the reasons He gave His followers an illustration about shepherds and sheep. Sheep learn to recognize the voice of their shepherd so that when he calls to them, even in the midst of a multitude of other voices, they follow his distinctive sound. The other voices are just noise to the sheep of the Good Shepherd; they are uniquely tuned to His voice alone. When they hear it, they follow.
Our goal is to be tuned in to one voice only—to be so sensitive to the one true voice that we can hear it above the din of a multitude of rivals. To be so accustomed to the signature sound that called us into existence that it becomes our constant homing signal for every decision. In the depths of our spirit, we can learn to recognize that voice and distinguish it from all others. According to the desire and promise of Jesus Himself, we can hear His voice.
Don't make assumptions about what Christ's voice should sound like. Be willing to step into a learning process. But know that it's not only possible to hear His voice, it's assured. Somewhere within your soul, you will hear His heart-to-heart words and know they are His.
* * *
Jesus, my Shepherd, tune my heart to hear Your words. Let them sink into my soul and become a part of who I am. Help me ignore false voices and listen to Yours alone.
Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:1
It is one of the most neglected instructions in the New Testament. Paul tells the Corinthians—not apostles, not church leaders, but regular people who haven't done a great job of handling spiritual gifts—to seek the gift of prophecy. And not only are they to seek it, they are told to seek it zealously—literally to covet it, be jealous for it, and eagerly pursue it. In other words, Paul wants us to listen to him and heed his teachings, but also to be able to hear God's voice on our own and express it to one another.
Clearly, this isn't an Old Testament–style warning: "If you say you speak God's words and get it wrong, the penalty is death by stoning." It's an open invitation, not a narrowing of the boundaries to limit impostors. It's an encouragement for all believers to listen, to tune in to the divine heartbeat and become vessels of revelation for others, to try to pursue and cultivate the gift of prophecy. And considering Paul's audience, the implications are surprising: Anyone can do this. It isn't just for Isaiahs and Jeremiahs and Ezekiels, with staggering words of warning and enormous burdens of responsibility. It's for average folks, anyone with a heart to hear. And, as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 14:3, it is for strengthening, encouraging, and comforting others.
God is a communicator looking for people who will learn the keys to hearing Him; who will listen for His insight and direction for specific situations and then express it to others. Too many people disqualify themselves from God's invitation, either by false perceptions of their own gifts or false perceptions of God. Still, He calls us to come deeper into His presence with listening ears—and with the rock-solid conviction that He will make His voice known.
* * *
Holy Spirit, teach me to prophesy. I choose to eagerly pursue all of your gifts, but especially the gift of hearing You and declaring Your words to others—to encourage them, comfort them, and build them up.
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7, NIV
Ask the average person what a prophet does, and most will boil it down to predicting the future. A prophet is often perceived as the Judeo-Christian version of a clairvoyant, a seer who peers into the plan of God and perfectly describes how it will unfold. Somehow we got the impression that prophecy—hearing God's voice and declaring it—is entirely future oriented.
Prophecy can be about the future, of course, but the point of hearing God's voice is not simply to figure out what's going to happen down the road. It's to get God's perspective—whether on the past, the present, or the future. He reveals His thoughts about us, His interpretation of events and circumstances, the purposes He is working out, and His greatest desires for our lives. He portrays life in its true light—a vital point of view when we get stuck in dark places. When He speaks to His servants the prophets, He reveals not only His plans but also His heart. And His prophets, according to the New Testament, are any believers who will listen to Him.
In any situation we go through, we can know that God's perspective is available to us. He may not unveil every detail—we still have to walk by faith, not by sight—but He lets us know how He sees things. He imparts His truth and His wisdom whenever we need it and are patient enough to seek it.
Hearing God's voice begins with absolute trust in Him as a communicator—understanding that He doesn't arbitrarily carry out His will for humanity without making us participants in His plans. He reveals what He's doing, invites us into it, and involves us every step of the way.
* * *
Lord, involve me in what You're doing. Reveal Your purposes to me. Help me to see from Your perspective, think Your thoughts, and walk in Your ways.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
Isaiah 30:21, NIV
We long to hear God's voice. We come to a fork in the road, a moment of crisis, a point of decision that requires us to take a step in one direction or another because standing still is no longer an option. We tell God that if He just lets us know one way or another—this way or that way, heads or tails—we'll do it. Yet we're still not sure. right or left? We just don't know.
What's the problem? Maybe the Spirit within us has already let us know, but our heads keep rationalizing the possibilities. Maybe we only think we're willing to do what God says, but really we're approaching His voice as good advice to consider, rather than a command to follow. Or—and this is often the case&mdah;we're merely seeking information, while God is calling us into deeper relationship. The promise of His voice isn't simply for the purpose of communication; it's for communion.
That's the mistake many of us make in our approach to hearing God. We want information, and He wants a relationship. Our approach reduces our hearing to in-and-out transactions—we come, we hear, and we leave with more knowledge than we had before. But God's desire—and the reason for His delays and silences—is to draw us closer and deeper. He withholds Himself enough to keep us seeking Him, as opposed to seeking His words alone. It takes more effort that way, but that's the nature of relationships. In order to grow close, we must invest time, energy, and interest. And God will withhold a right-or-left answer if it provokes us to make that investment. Seek Him above all else—and His voice will eventually become clearer.
* * *
Lord, forgive me for seeking You as a giver of information rather than seeking You as a person. Draw me close, not just so I can hear Your words, but so I can hear Your heart.
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
He heard it in his spirit during his morning quiet time: "The evil one cannot touch you." That fit with some of the verses he had been reading, and the phrase stuck with him most of the day. But it was only after the attack on his ministry—a legal threat from a religious extremist that would probably be backed by the country's hostile government—that the phrase made sense. He realized that God had known ahead of time the challenges he would face that day and had given him the assurance he needed to remain calm and trust God. This attack was not a surprise to God, and He would keep it from being effective.
When we commune with God regularly, reading His Word and listening for His voice, we often find that He prepares us for what we'll face. The messages we receive from Him don't make sense at first because we have no context for them. But in retrospect, they are very reassuring. If we had heard Him afterward, we would wonder if we heard only what we wanted to hear. But when He tells us ahead of time, we know it isn't a figment of our imagination. That may not change the situation, but it can certainly change our response to it. Only God can give us assurance before we need it because only He knows what's going to happen.
Make it a habit to listen in the morning for whatever verses God gives you and whatever impressions He whispers into your spirit. Write them down. They may seem random at the time, but if you review them at the end of the day, you may find a correlation between what He said and what you experienced. Not only will this encourage you in times of need, but it will also confirm that you are hearing God's voice—and that He goes before you to bless you.
* * *
Holy Spirit, speak to me in the morning about the journey ahead. Prepare me for each day. Let me experience the comfort of knowing that You are already watching over my future.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength."
FROM THE HEART OF GOD
"This is the normal, natural posture for My children. I want you to rest in Me. When I first spoke these words to Israel, they were desperately trying to arrange their own rescue. They looked around at the threats to their security and didn't believe I would come through for them. Their restlessness became their downfall. But this is My desire for you: to place your full confidence in Me to lead you, speak to you, deliver you, protect you, provide for you, and come through for you—even when for a moment it doesn't look like I will.
"If you will let this be your posture when you listen for My voice, you will hear Me. I want you to listen carefully, but I do not want you to strive and to strain. A restless spirit has a hard time hearing the pure, clear sound of My voice. A trusting, calm spirit will hear the echoes deep within. I rarely shout. you must be quiet to hear Me.
"Do you really want to hear Me? then quiet yourself and be still. Be confident. Lay your doubts and skepticism aside. Rebuke your restlessness and your fears. Set aside your own agenda so you'll be able to recognize Mine. But bring your enthusiasm. I love your deep desire to know Me better. I long to connect with you and build our relationship. Long for Me without striving for Me. Seek Me without straining. Rest and trust, and be very patient. I will train your spirit to hear."
* * *
Sovereign Lord, Holy One of Israel, who am I that You would want to talk to me? But You do, and I have set my heart to listen. Sensitize my spirit to Your voice. I set aside my fears, plans, manipulations, anxieties, impatience—everything—to hear You. In my quietness and confidence, be my strength.
[Jesus said,] "There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now."
We know this is not simply a promise to future writers of the New Testament. Jesus is speaking to the entire inner circle of His disciples (minus Judas). Only three of these men would later pen portions of Scripture, and at least six other followers of Christ who did not hear these words would write more than half of the New Testament. Nor is this a prediction that Jesus would spend some time with them between His resurrection and ascension. The statement implies much more than a few days of conversation. No, this is a promise to speak to all believers, after the resurrection, on an ongoing basis. We know that early believers expected to hear Christ's voice—people such as Agabus, Philip's daughters, members of the Corinthian church, and many more are said to have exercised prophetic gifts. They heard Jesus speak and confidently shared His message with others.
Jesus continues to speak to His people today. He draws us into a relationship with Him; He leads us in ways we need to go; He calls people into ministry; He teaches us the deeper ways of His Spirit; and He speaks through us to others. Long ago, God promised that we would hear a voice telling us which way to go (Isaiah 30:21), and Jesus was very clear that His sheep would know His voice (John 10:3-4, 16, 27). This is normal for our relationship with God.
But in order to hear God's voice, we must be absolutely convinced that Jesus has plenty to say to us—that "there is so much more" He will share as we grow closer to Him. Without knowing this, we question everything we hear, grow weaker in faith, and consequently hear less. But faith in His desire to communicate will open our ears to all He has to say.
* * *
Jesus, strengthen my faith to believe. As I search for the sound of Your voice, help me not to question whether You want to speak. You do—You have made that clear. Help me to hear all that You have to say.
Excerpted from The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional by CHRIS TIEGREEN. Copyright © 2014 Chris Tiegreen. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THE ONE YEAR HEARING HIS VOICE DEVOTIONAL 365 Days Of Intimate Communication With God By Chris Tiegreen Looking for a devotional to use throughout the year, one that is easy to read and follow, this is the one for you. You can use it each day and receive a very important lesson from God and His word each day of the year. You will have a verse from the Bible to read and you get a description and an important message from that verse. The author writes some of the descriptions as if God Himself were talking to you in person. I found the devotions very helpful and very informative not just words written to go with the verse but very helpful and easy to understand. Each day can begin with a heart inspiring word and help you face the day. The author gives you a meaningful description of the verse that helps you understand the verse and put it to use in your life. This is not just another devotional with inspirational stories to go with the verse but gives worthwhile meaning and can help you hear God speaking to you and what He wants you to know. You will see that listening to God is a process, a journey and an adventure that you will enjoy and look forward to each day of the year. I received this book free from the Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255