Learn to hear God speak

Audio version available on Soundcloud.

When I call out instructions to my kids before I’ve said their names or properly gotten their attention, there is about a 75% chance what I’m saying won’t be received by them. Instead, if I call their name, grab their attention, then speak, I’ve engaged them, and they are ready to receive my words.

Now they still might not follow the instructions well, but I know they’ve heard me.

In 1 Samuel 3:1-21 we read the familiar story of God calling Samuel. 3 times God calls Samuel’s name. Samuel ran to Eli believing Eli was calling him. When Eli realized it was God calling, he instructed Samuel to go back and respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

When God called Samuel, He called and waited for His call to be received by Samuel.

Am I ready to listen when God speaks?

Do I live my life listening for God’s call? Am I postured ready to receive a word from Him?

Or am I like my children, busy running after my pursuits and failing to hear the calls for my attention?

Lord, may my heart always be listening for You calling my name.

Verse 7: “Now Samuel had not yet experienced the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”

To recognize the voice of the Lord, we have to be acquainted with it through His Word. His voice speaks through His Word. Then once we learn what He sounds like, and who He is, we are ready to recognize Him when He calls out to us as we move about our lives.

Do you struggle to hear God speaking?

I’ve had people write to me that they desperately want to hear God, but they don’t know how.

It starts by quietly sitting with Him in His Word. It’s one tiny step. It’s making one change in your life. Just one. It’s small.

In this fast-paced world, sitting with an open Bible takes discipline and patience. If we don’t take the time to sit with God and read His Word, we don’t truly know Him. We know “about” Him, but we don’t actually know His character and heart. We will be tempted to form our opinions about who God is through Sunday School lessons, sermons, podcasts, and blog posts. While these are all wonderful supplements, they don’t put us one-to-one with God.

One of my love languages is quality time. I have to spend time with people to feel loved by them. When I sit with one of my children, we begin to talk about nothing at first. This nothing leads to a funny story, which leads to a random thought, which sometimes leads to this revelation, but sometimes just leaves us laughing. Regardless of what we do together in that time, we walk away feeling reconnected to each other.

It is the same in our time with God. He actually wants to be our friend. He genuinely wants to spend time with us. He is always calling out to us, but like Samuel we might miss His voice because it’s unfamiliar to us. Or like my kids, I’m not actively engaged with His voice and will miss His call.

[Tweet “When we are familiar with God’s Word, we know His Voice.”]

When we encounter His Presence in life we recognize Him immediately.

Some of us are looking for an experience or touch from God while skipping the foundational step – sitting at His feet.

What if God speaks what you don’t want to hear?

It’s going to happen. God will speak at times a word you don’t want to hear. Sometimes the time with Him is sweet and soothing. Sometimes it’s calming. Sometimes it’s convicting.

His Word is total truth. Our lives are not. This means we will encounter a truth that will make us feel uncomfortable at times.

When we encounter truth, we have a choice to make in how we handle His Word.

God spoke to Samuel a message to share with Eli. Judgement was coming because Eli had been disobedient. Eli allowed His family to live in sin. Eli had tried to stop his sons, but he’d let their sinful lives continue far too long. He’d lost his opportunity to properly train his children to follow the Lord.

When Samuel heard from God, he was scared to share the message. At the same time, Samuel learned that God takes obedience seriously. Eli wasn’t obedient in leading His family to follow God. Therefore, Samuel knew he needed to obediently speak the truth to Eli.

Samuel had a prophetic gift from God. He’d been entrusted to speak the truth of God’s Word no matter what.

Samuel proved himself obedient. He passed the test. Samuel was willing to receive God’s Word to him. Therefore, the Lord continued revealing to Him.

Are we willing to receive the Word of God? Or do we hold up a hand to God telling Him we don’t want to hear that?

Is there something God has been speaking to you that you find yourself half plugging your ears to Him?

God speaks. If we are willing to listen and receive, He begins to entrust more to us. We grow in our friendship and relationship with Him one tiny step at a time.

God is so often misunderstood. Many believers struggle to properly understand who God is. They’ve formed thoughts and opinions that aren’t based on God’s very own Word. This leads us toward a shaky faith. When life becomes bumpy, we reach for who we “think” God is rather than claiming victoriously the truth of who He is to hold us firm.

One question to ask yourself today.

Are you willing to receive God’s words when He speaks to you?

If you don’t answer yes, ask yourself why that is.

Sometimes the reason we don’t allow ourselves to hear Him is that lies about Him are hidden in our hearts.

God calls us to live a life of remembrance. This culture is pushing us forward. It’s progressive. It’s tolerant. It’s far from godly. In order to withstand what lies ahead, we have to firmly plant ourselves in God’s truth.

I believe we’ve reached a major turning point and we are heading in a direction that will require more than Sunday School knowledge of God.

God is good. He’s infinite. We never know enough about Him. And if we think we don’t need to learn more, it’s a sure sign that we do. No matter how intimate we are with Him or advanced our Bible knowledge is, we’ve never arrived on this side of eternity. There is always room to grow and know Him deeper.

I’ve prayerfully created a resource for you to guide you as you journey more intimately with God.

Our souls long for us to tenderly care for them. Take a 14 day journey with me through Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve created it in such a way that you will receive 14 emails, one per day. Each day will include an audio and a print link. You can simply hit play and allow yourself to relax and listen. Or you can read if you aren’t an audio lover.

I’ve heard from many Illuminate listeners that it’s become their favorite part of the day. It’s a break from the race and a redirect to the One who desires to walk with us intimately.

Purchase your copy today. And then buy a copy for a friend.

If you have been blessed by Illuminate, would you kindly share this post with your friends and family?

audio devotional

One of my favorite things is to hear from you. I deeply love my readers. We have a loyal community here that I absolutely treasure. Some of you have been here for years. Some are brand new. The Lord is growing this community and my heart is filled with joy. When you take the time to send me your messages about how God has spoken to you, it encourages me more than you know. I love you and thank you.


When I Want To Have My Own Way For Once


[box] John 13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.[/box]

“I don’t understand.  Why can’t I just do what I want sometimes?”

The car was running, kids were loading up, coffee was filling to-go cups, and Steve and I exchanged glances as if to say, “Who takes this one?”  The statement wasn’t a theologically deep one.  It was just one that we didn’t want to brush right over.  It’s the heart of human nature to desire what we want.  We are selfish little creatures.  At the root of most of our conflicts is the desire to get our own way.

The issue revolved around chasing down foul balls at the local college baseball games.  You see, this is a huge deal to kids.  With each foul ball turned in, you receive $1 for the concession stand.  A few foul balls gets you all the junk food your parents refuse you.  When the ball goes foul, the Me First Monster emerges from within each child, and the monsters race.  And sometimes fight.  And sometimes call names.  At least behind the backs of the other kids accused of cheating, when really the only thing they could be accused of is trying their hardest to earn some candy.

As Steve poured coffee, he relayed a story to me about how one of my sweet children had the power to share a foul ball with a little boy who desperately wanted a foul ball.  However, the Me First Monster spoke for my sweet child and never gave that little boy his wish.  Steve could have forced him to share his ball. He could’ve demanded my son do the right thing, and he would’ve because he’s obedient.  But the heart.  The heart would lie seething under the weight of the obedience.  As parents we can’t change the heart of our children.  We can demand obedience, but what if they obey and the heart inside rebels?  I find that a far scarier response.

Lying on the counter was an extra $1 coupon that never even went used.  My son had the power to share, but he saved it for himself and never even used it.  He looked down at it and said, “I just want to do it my way sometimes.”  He placed his desires above another’s.  I can relate.  You too?

I said it anyway.  I knew he would roll his eyes and dismiss my comment.  I knew his mind was thinking, here she goes again taking it all spiritual and all.  But I did it because I only have a few years to get these little nuggets in.

“Before you make any decision, you should ask yourself if that is the choice Jesus would want you to make.”

Yep, the eyes rolled.  “Mo-oom.  Do I really always have to do it the way Jesus wants?”

Again, Steve and I did the little exchange that says, “Who’s turn?”  We both went in.  “Yes, everything we do, we should do it Jesus’ way.  Jesus died for our sins because He loves us more than we can possibly ever imagine.  And when he was here, he served.  He didn’t look to his own interests first.  He served.  Jesus was not selfish.  Jesus was a servant.  He modeled to us servanthood – putting the needs of others before our own desires.”

Tomorrow is the day of the Last Supper.  The night Jesus was betrayed by one of his very own into the hands that would kill him the next day.  Jesus knew it was going to happen.  He even knew who the betrayer was.  He was fully God and fully man.  With all his knowledge, he willingly died for me. But like so much of the Bible, I read something and say, “What?!”  Because Christ is more than we can fathom.

The night of the Passover Feast, Jesus stood up from the table and began washing the feet of his disciples.  I believe I would respond like Peter.  No way, you can’t wash my feet, I should wash yours.  But Jesus carried on washing the feet of his disciples.

John 13: 12-17 “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Lord, thank you that you modeled for us servanthood.  Give me a heart that desires to do things your way.  Give me a heart that desires to serve not only out of obedience but out of a deep love for you and for others.  Amen.

PS – The pictures I use rarely match up with the children used in the story.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.  🙂