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The privilege of listening to God

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Son of Tina M89 coming and going waiting at the end of the driveway for his girlfriend to arrive (Credit: Tina M89 coming and going via Flickr with permission)

Two passages in my personal Bible study encouraged and challenged me today.  The first came from Deuteronomy 18, where Moses told Israel what God had said to him: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him” (v. 18).  This promise was fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus (Acts 3:22-24; 7:37).

The second is in Acts 7, where Stephen testified to the nation shortly before becoming the first Christian martyr.  In challenging the institutional religiosity of their day, he quoted God’s statement in Isaiah: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.  Or where will my resting place be?  Has not my hand made all these things?” (vs. 49-50, quoting Isaiah 66:1-2).

Here’s the insight that caught my attention: before God’s prophet could give the people his word, the Lord must first “put my words in his mouth.”  And God can do that only if the prophet is willing to receive what the Lord wants to give.  Every parent of a one-year-old knows what it’s like to try feeding a child who doesn’t want to eat.  In considering that thought, the image came immediately to mind of the Lord of the universe, attempting to give his words to me, only to be rejected by my busyness or self-reliant pride.

How can I do a better job of listening to my Father?  By seeing everything in my world as part of his house.  As he told Isaiah, heaven is his throne, earth his footstool.  Everywhere I go, I’m in his presence.  If I run from God, I run into him (just ask Jonah).

If I listen to his voice in his creation, I’ll hear it: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2).  If I listen to his voice in his people, I’ll hear it: as the Lord said to Jeremiah, “You must go to everyone I send you and say whatever I command you” (Jeremiah 1:7), so God speaks through his messengers today.

If I listen to his voice in his word, I’ll hear it: as Moses “received living words to pass on to us” (Acts 7:38), so his word is “living and active” today (Hebrews 4:12).  And if I listen to his voice in my spirit, I’ll hear it: as “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16), so he speaks to my heart today.

When last did you make time to listen to your Father’s voice?