Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hearing God's Voice - Part 1

There’s a saying I once read that states, “Nothing is going to happen to me today that You and I together can’t handle.” The purpose of these next two blogs is to explain how to hear God's voice.

Reading God’s Word is the foundation of our Christian lives. Spending time reading God’s Word is often referred to as having a “quiet time.” This doesn’t mean that we all have to wake up at four or five in the morning before everyone else is awake or that it even needs to be all that quiet.

I’ve discovered that a personal relationship with Jesus is just that: it’s personal. Even the name “quiet time” can be a misnomer. How quiet it’s going to be really depends on you.

A successful quiet time is not measured by how rigid the program is. Instead, it’s measured by how well you connect with God. Too many people feel they have to copy someone else’s style, and when they discover they can’t keep it up, they give up.

If we live by man-made rules, then we place ourselves under a law that we can’t keep. We end up with the same feeling of guilt that comes from yo-yo dieting or owning an unused gym contract.

God is more interested in a relationship than in religiosity. This is why it’s important to find out what works for you. Some people do well at following a set routine, but others prefer spontaneity. It’s also important to note that as we go through different seasons in our lives, our quiet times may change.

Maybe you’re not sure how to know what God is telling you. I’ve already mentioned that reading the Bible is the best place to begin. It carefully answers life’s questions, it gives instructions on how to live morally, and it’s the living Word of God. It’s living, because you can always learn something new no matter how many times you read it.

The Bible as a whole looks formidable to read, but if you think of it as one big Book containing 66 smaller books, then it will be easier to manage. It all begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

The Bible’s main intention is to reveal God’s plan of salvation for mankind. The Old Testament is about God’s laws, which were written on stone, and man’s need of a Savior. The New Testament is about this Savior who has made it possible for God’s laws to be written on our hearts instead. Through Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, we have forgiveness of sins, and through His blood we are made righteous.

God’s Love Letter to us is the Bible. Through His Spirit we can understand and correctly apply what we have read. When we are studying and building ourselves up in the faith, it’s important that we focus first on the clearly stated foundational truths. They are there to protect us from losing our way as we consider other parts of God’s Word that are harder to understand.

Even though it may seem like a very long love letter, in some ways it’s not long enough, because there are still so many loose ends. These loose ends cause lots of problems when we disagree on the interpretation of them, but I believe God knew this and has a reason for them. Mainly, He wants us to learn to rely on His Spirit for the correct interpretation before drawing our own conclusions.

The safest way to Bible interpretation is by reading it in context. Of course, if it was as black and white as the print on this paper then we wouldn’t need to learn how to tune in to the Spirit, our Counselor, who leads us into all truth.

We must keep in mind that it’s always easier to argue over our convictions than it is to love one another. Arguing and pride only bring division in the body of Christ. Love and humility bring us together.

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