Book: Ears To Hear God’s Voice

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Ears To Hear
Hearing God’s Voice By Way Of The Cross
by Timothy Williams

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Ears To Hear

Ears To Hear
Hearing God’s Voice by Way of the Cross
By Timothy Williams

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Examining today’s madness, folly and wisdom.
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The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let
him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)

Chapter 1

The Voice of God

What do we mean by the voice of God? All that the Bible denotes as the voice of God. It can mean
the voice of God declared through the universe that we see around us. It can be an audible voice
spoken to our human ears, or the voice spoken to one’s heart or soul by the Holy Spirit. God’s voice
can be His presence in circumstance or in the use of spiritual gifts. He may speak to us through an
individual or messengers, such as angels or prophets. God’s voice goes forth in many ways and He
is no respecter of manner or way of speaking. He speaks on His terms and in any way He chooses
and those who listen to God will know in their “spirit” that He has spoken.

  • Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts,… (Mark
    2:8)

In the Bible, God spoke in many ways, sometimes in fire or water, or whispers or thunder, or
visions or thoughts, or through the spirit or soul of man. He spoke through prophets and miracles,
once through a donkey and another time with writing on a wall. Indeed, Jesus spoke in a boat, on
mountainsides, and even drew in the dirt. God continues to speak today in many ways and fashions,
so we should listen for His voice in any way He chooses to speak. Let us simply, with a full heart of
faith, set our minds on things above so we might be privileged to hear angels singing in the far
distance.

The most important thing for us to realize is that we need to face the truth about every situation.
The odds are stacked way against us that we will hear God correctly, that we will too easily declare,
“The word of the Lord” when we have not heard God at all. Our hearts are deceptive above all
things, sin deafens us to the voice of God, and Satan always stands ready to twist God’s Word as
soon as it is spoken.

The church as a whole does not teach the offensive message of the cross that crucifies opinion.
Therefore each group considers their dogma the voice of the Lord. Then there are those in church
fellowship, some with good intentions, who offer advice that does not spring from enlightenment by
the Holy Spirit and death to self, but from mockery the flesh can perform in the name of the Lord.
Our fleshly desires and the opinions of others cloud and mislead us in directions opposite of God’s
will. Add to this the multitude of books, commentaries, and devotionals that speak of hearing God
or entering His presence but without a resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified,
that only muddle the voice of God.

Many think that if we read the Bible, understanding the Greek and Hebrew, we already have the
voice of God. Ink on paper is not the voice of God. Besides the ink on paper, the Holy Scriptures,
tells us to listen for more than a printed book. As the Bible d eclares, Greeks look for wisdom and

  • Psalms 19:1–4 For the director of music. A psalm of David. 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. There is no
    speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of
    the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun.
  • Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
  • Jeremiah 23:36 But you must not mention ‘the oracle of the Lord’ again, because every man’s own word becomes his
    oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.
  • Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
  • 1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Jews for miracles but we preach Jesus crucified and that is how we obtain ears that can hear. It is
not with the mind of man that we understand God. Nor can we hear God by seeing miracles. Rather
those who come to God with no dependance on themselves to he ar Him, will hear His voice.

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified:

  • a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:22–23)

We cannot just let life come at us, ask the Lord’s blessing, and assume He is with us. Counting
our blessings will not work either because God blesses the wicked along with the righteous. I know
many in false and empty churches that still think they are right with the Lord because of all the
blessings in their lives. Goodness, Jesus healed many, but in reality on a few were His sheep.

The Gibeonite deception is a perfect example of looking at the externals of everyday life without
really seeking the Lord. Joshua had defeated many of the enemies of God while marching into the
promised land. As a result the Gibeonites feared Israel and schemed a plan to protect themselves
against Joshua’s army.

  • And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go
    and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.’” This bread of ours
    was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and
    moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our
    clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.” The men of Israel sampled their
    provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. (Joshua 9:11–14)

On the surface, everything looked correct, but Joshua failed to inquire of the Lord. Likewise we
may think something is of God but we prayerfully discern if it truly comes from God. For example,
circumstances may point to God leading us to buy a house, join a church, travel or do something we
want. Everything may point to yes, yet it be just a trap laid done by the Evil One. Our flesh wants
something and we deceive ourselves into seeing God work, when God is really not in it. We may
read our Bibles but God not be in the Bible reading. We may go to church and everything look and
feel like God is present, but we must test, examine, and inquire to see if the Lord is really in it. We
must learn to always ask, “Where is the voice of the Lord?” The bread may be dry and moldy, the
wineskins empty and cracked. The clothing may be worn and show signs of the truth, but not be of
God or come from His Holy Spirit. We must make sure that our life is holy or God may allow a
lying spirit to lead us to our destruction, as he did to King Ahab. For without hearing God’s voice,
we will always come up short and sinful in our obedience to Scripture and to God. We simply
cannot be our own god speaking to ourselves the Bible and bestowing the blessings of God. We
need to learn from King Saul, that we need to hear and obey the voice of the Lord above all our
sacrifices, prayers, and talk.

  • But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying
    the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (
    Samuel 15:22)

Such things, and more, conspire against us to keep us from hearing God correctly. Indeed, our
flesh does not want to do God’s will even if we understand what He says. In fact, this book cannot
touch on how to do God’s will , but we will see how we can obtain ears that hear, to “consider
carefully how”
we listen.

Hating For Jesus, The Power To Love by Timothy Williams

  • Therefore consider carefully how you listen… (Luke 8:18a)

Chapter 1 The Voice of God

  • How do you feel that God may have spoken to you in the past? In what ways could you have
    been wrong about His voice? Are you willing to face the truth that you could have heard
    wrong?
  • What feelings arise in your heart when you hear the phrase “the offensive message of the
    Cross?”
  • List some things you feel may keep you from hearing the voice of God.

Chapter 2

The Burning Bush

  • Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the
    flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the
    Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on
    fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush
    does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within
    the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:1–4)

Moses noticed the burning bush and thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—and
why that bush does not burn up.” Stopping his work to notice the bush set up the opportunity for
Moses to hear the voice of God. God took notice that Moses paid attention.

Moses was busy tending the flock, just as we bustle around in our daily lives today. The vast
majority of mankind remain too busy to notice the “burning bush” that God places before them and
therefore fail to ever hear Him speak.

The oddness of a burning bush unconsumed by the fire, drew Moses closer. He had no idea the
holiness of God awaited him or that the angel of the Lord was in the flame. Unlike Moses, most of
us remain too self-absorbed to notice God’s signs and perish in our sins, simply because we never
bother to listen for God to speak.

  • When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware
    of it.” (Genesis 28:16)

So it is with us. God seeks to get our attention through the things of life. As Job declares, God
sends the snow and rain to stop men from his labors in hopes they will stop and listen for His
voice.

Just like Jacob, we sleep, totally unaware that God seeks to speak. If we take the time to come
out of our selves, we will discover the holiness of God and hear Him talking to us in all aspects of
life.

“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called” Moses by name. Indeed, God
would call Moses’ name twice in the account of the burning bush showing how eagerly He wanted
to talk to this man. If we would but take one step in faith to inquire wh en God calls, we would hear
our name said twice. Most are too weighed down, as Jesus said, by dissipation to even take the
time to hear God’s voice. And if God called our name a hundred times, we still would not stop
because we have not taken the time to notice the burning bush. Our hearts stay too busy with
ourselves.

  • Luke 19:44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone
    on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
  • Job 37:6–7 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that all men
    he has made may know his work, he stops every man from his labor.
  • Genesis 28:16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of
    it.”
  • Luke 21:34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life,
    and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

To prepare ourselves to hear from God we must go to the “far side of the desert” as Moses did.
Away from the world and away from our busy thoughts and plans. This is why God put John the
Baptist out in the desert preaching. We must go to the desert where refreshment from the world is
sparse. Most of us cannot literally herd flocks to the mountain of God in the desert, but we can enter
our prayer closets and shut out the world. As Jesus said, we must close the door when we pray. We
can, while in the prayer closet, silence our religious voice that uses Scripture and the name of the
Lord to mock the voice of God and try and get what we want. We can take notice of the burning
bushes God places before us in our daily lives and stop, listen, and wait for Him to call us to come
closer. The flaming bush burns in our hearts, souls, or physical situations that God places in our
lives. For within the burning bush of our life situations God calls us, if we would but take notice.
Like David we can go into our prayer close ts and just sit before the Lord.

God seeks to start the fire of holiness in your life, and you must first take notice and go over and
look. You must ask yourself, “How does one hear God’s voice?” and “What would it mean for my
life to hear His voice?”

Faith must be present if we want to hear God’s voice. Many who claim to be Christians do not
even believe that God talks to His children today, and all we need is the Bible and our minds to
know the will of the Lord. As we will see, the Bible tells us we m ust get beyond ink on paper and
hear the voice of the Lord. Moses had this faith when he heard the voice come from the bush and
did not waver in unbelief. He did not run away thinking he heard something strange, or that such a
thing could not happen in his day. Immediately Moses said, “Here I am.” If you doubt that God
communicates on a first name bases with His children, you will never hear His voice. In fact, Jesus
could not do any miracles in His hometown because of their unbelief. Moses had ready faith to
meet the burning bush and most importantly the second requirement—a willing heart to obey.

Though Moses was by no means perfect, the pure seeds of faith and obedience were present.
God only gives the Holy Spirit to those ready to “obey Him.” Do not think for a moment that God
will talk to you if you are not ready to obey.

  • We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey
    him.” (Acts 5:32)

So many do not hear God’s voice, or hear it wrong because they do not have an honest heart
ready to obey. They have bought into the current gospel messages that strip obedience from faith.
Let us not forget that although God called Moses, He also met him on the road to kill him because
something was amiss.

When we ask God to talk to us, we ask a very holy thing, for He is holy and His voice is holy.
Moses didn’t realize he stood on holy ground. Likewise we do not know how unworthy we are to
hear His voice and so in our ignorance we don’t know to “take off” o ur “sandals.” Holy means to be
set apart and our ears must be set apart from all other voices. Nothing man has made should be
between us and the Lord. For all that man makes, thinks, and does is tainted with sinfulness. The
sandals of our church doctrine, religious thoughts, desires, or plans must not come between God and
man. The sandals that take us where we want to go and the designs our own minds and hands have created should not keep us form hearing God. He is perfect and the world He created is sufficient
for man. God’s holiness is all a man needs. Moses learned this when he neither drank water or ate
for forty days and nights while fellowshipping with God.

  • 2 Samuel 7:18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and
    what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
    Mark 6:4 Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without
    honor.”
  • Romans 1:5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all
    the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
  • Exodus 4:24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him.
  • “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is
    holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and
    the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because h e was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:5–6)

Later when Moses would pass on the Ten Commandments and all the requirements of the Law
he would seek to speak to the hearts of the people. For God wants us to go beyond, law, rules, and
principles. God wants us to be in love with Him, to treasure His fellowship, to desire above all—to
hear His voice. Just as no groom would want a bride to marry him just because the law said she had
too, does God want us to believe in Him that way. God’s desire is that two lovers are oblivious to
rules and just simply in lo ve with each other. To “love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and
hold fast to him”
because He is our very life.

  • And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is
    your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham,
    Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:20)

Are you willing to attempt the impossible? Are you willing to listen for God’s voice and obey
that voice in all things? Then don’t come any closer until you have taken off your sandals. Before
you answer, be sober, look around and consider how many claim to hear God’s voice, but you know
they really do not hear Him correctly. They have ears, but they cannot hear.

  • Exodus 34:28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And
    he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

Chapter 2: The Burning Bush

  • What has been your past belief about the voice of God?
    What “sandals” do you need to remove in your life in order to stand on holy ground?
  • Can you think of any burning bushes that God may have brought into your life?
  • Are you ready and willing to do anything to hear God clearly?

Chapter 3

The Sin of Unbelief

  • The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would
    return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. (Exodus 33:11)

Moses spoke to God face and face and today we have a greater covenant than his. Therefore we
should be able to say, “I speak to, and listen to God better than Moses.” But alas, how little true
faith we find in the church today.

Unbelief is the inspiration of Satan and the ultimate sin of man. Men’s hearts are so darkened
that they can look at the stars and the planets and declare there is no God. Man cannot even hear the
voice of the stars declare there is a God. Man either ignores the voice or worships the stars. How
blackened is the heart of man who can go to church to worship the living God but doubt that He
speaks to him whom His Son died for. Men in this sickened state read the Bible and conclude it
declares God is silent today.

How often Jesus was moved by holy frustration to exclaim, “How long shall I put up with you?”
Unbelief caused our Savior to desire to hurry to heaven asking those who doubted, “How long must
I stay with you?”

  • “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up
    with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:41)

Only a perverted heart, darkened by sin’s blackness would dare test God by asking, “Does God
speak to His children today?” But alas, many standing in pulpits preach that all we need is ink on
paper, the Bible. And vastly more people know God speaks to His children, but have not really
heard His voice. All because we are a unbelieving and perverse generation that would rather hear
our own voices than the voice of our Creator.

Let us confess with the deepest of mourning and tears, that to doubt that God speaks today as the
vilest of sins. Jesus flatly tells us, “My sheep listen to my voice.” In many things Jesus spoke in
parables, but not so when it came to hearing God’s voice. Jesus clearly declared that His sheep
listen for His voice and follow that voice.

  • My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

In truth, all men listen to a voice. A man either listens to the voice of God or the voice of
Satan. There is no middle ground. Those who do not listen for the voice of God listen to the voice
of Satan.

Today the old Serpent asks, “Does God really talk to men?” just as he did in the Garden of Eden
when he asked Eve, “Did God really say?” Satan caused Eve to doubt her Creator’s instructions.

  • Psalm 19:1–3 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. There is no speech or language where their voice is not
    heard.
  • John 8:43–44 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your
    father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to
    the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

And now today as sin increases Satan continues to ask, “Does God really say.” Many in church
believe that God does not talk to His sheep. Unbelief is taught as if it were faith to believe God is
silent. It is darkness called light and bitter labeled sweet.

Only a darkened heart and a bad conscience causes one to believe God does not talk to His
children. What would you think of someone who went around telling children that their earthly
father no longer would talk to them? What would you think of a parent wh o told a small child that
his dad did not talk to him anymore? That all that dad wanted the son or daughter to do was read
some letters about him and obey those letters? They would never hear their father’s words of
comfort or rebuke, nor feel the arms of an embrace. We would become indigent with this preacher,
yet we tolerate, even embrace, Bible colleges, pastors, teachers and denominations that live lives of
unbelief and teach that to listen for God’s voice remains a thing of the past. That somehow now that
we have the Bible, ink on paper, that God will not talk to His children. Well, let us look at what the
ink on paper declares and repent of all unbelief.

  • You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with
    the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

We cannot claim salvation in Jesus Christ if we do not believe that God talks to His children. To
claim the salvation of Jesus without hearing the voice of God makes someone a dead Pharisee
without hope of heaven. Such people resemble a bride who is more in love with the letters her
groom sent rather than the embrace of his arms. Again, Jesus spoke clear and to the point, no one
becomes a true Christian without hearing the voice of God. No one remains saved unless they are
individually “taught by God.”

  • “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last
    day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father
    and learns from him comes to me. (John 6:44–45)

God’s voice was not just for old prophets or just for the New Testament church, but the blessing
of His fellowship is for all God’s sheep. “They too will listen to my voice,” Jesus declared. They
too, though not of the sheep pen of the Old Testament or of the first church, but of the church today,
will listen for the voice of Jesus and follow the one Shepherd.

  • I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my
    voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

Jesus told us empathetically that He did not leave us as orphans who must fend for themselves.
We are not to be orphans in this world begging for some meager understanding of what God’s will
is for us each day.

  • I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore,
    but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my
    Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:18–20)

“On that day you will realize,” Jesus said this to show the unity of the Son and the Father. They
were one and their very existence, fellowship, and power were completely one. In other words, we
can be just as close to God as Jesus was. We have been called to walk as Jesus walked and this fact

  • Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.
  • Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put
    bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

should forever close the argument of whether God speaks to His sheep. We realize that Jesus is in
the Father and we in Him, we too can gain a small taste of the fellowship Jesus had with the Father.
When we will say with John 14, because Jesus lives we “also will live.”

People in the world, or the worldly in the church cannot accept this fact. They have never heard
His voice so they cannot verify that God speaks today to His children. Even if the Bible were the
voice of God, do we foolishly think we could take it all in and apply it? Clearly we need someone to
teach us day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second. If we don’t see this,
we might as well give a first grader all the books they need and tell them to go figure it out without
a teacher. But look at the what the Bible declares, they had been “taught by God to love one
another.”
He spoke to each person’s heart and guided them as to how to love one another. God was
their teacher, not some man, not a manual called the Bible, but the living God came and spoke to
each person, empowering them and directing them in how to love each other. This is why the first
church could have all things in common and stand perfectly united in thought and mind.

  • Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by
    God to love each other. (1 Thessalonians 4:9)

If unbelief causes us to not listen for the voice of God we must first begin by repenting of this
sin. Otherwise we will be lost in a sea of questions, what ifs, and speculations that only increase our
fears rather than a faith that allows us to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus to listen. If we want to have
ears to hear, then we must open them wide by the power of faith.

  • 1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
  • John 5:38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.

Eau de Cult, by Timothy Williams

Chapter 3: The Sin of Unbelief

  • Name some things or doctrines that cause doubts about hearing God’s voice. How do these
    things breed disbelief?
  • What does it mean to you to be a sheep that belongs to God?
  • Why is it important that we hear God personally and directly?

Chapter 4

The Promised Land

It takes three things to hear God’s voice correctly, and have ears that hear. We will examine the
third aspect toward the end of this chapter, but first we need faith and secondly an obedience that
comes from that faith. If obedience is absent then the faith is folly expressed in religious words
and deeds. If we desire the riches of the promised land then we must rid ourselves of unbelief and
cultivate a faith that obeys. To obey the Bible without belief in the voice of the Holy Spirit is to
become a legalist. To claim to believe in the voice of the Lord without an obedience that comes by
way of the cross is to become a rebel. But first, let us see why the Israelites could not enter the
promised land.

  • So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19)

Like the Israelites of old who were not permitted to enter the promised land, we too cannot
claim the promises of God until we come before the mercy seat full of faith that He does talk to His
children. We might, in presumptions religious pride claim a promise as our own, but God will
reject such rebels because their faith must come from heaven’s faith. A faith that is full of and
overflowing with “obedience” inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  • It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them
    did not go in, because of their disobedience. (Hebrews 4:6)

We need to note well that Hebrews 3:19 declares they could not enter because of “unbelief,”
while Hebrews 4:6 declares they could not enter because of “disobedience.” Both are true. The man
who does not believe God will not obey Him. The man who does not b elieve God speaks, will not
listen. And the man who does not listen for God, idolizes his Bible study. With this in mind, it is
easy to understand why Jesus said that we must obey a God that is “in heaven” if we desire
salvation. A man cannot just obey the Bible and expect to go to heaven. That is like using our own
tools to build an altar to God, and to become like Saul who went where God sent him but refused
to listen for His voice. Saul did his religious duty, he obeyed the Bible but didn’t listen for God
Himself to speak.

  • But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying
    the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (
    Samuel 15:22)

We must hear from God what His will is for us each day, obeying the Father who is in heaven.

  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
  • Romans 1:5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all
    the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
  • Numbers 14:44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses
    nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp.
  • Exodus 20:25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you
    use a tool on it.
  • Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Consider Jesus and the fact we are to walk like Him in this world. Jesus heard the Voice of
God and we are commanded to listen for this voice and follow the one who speaks to us from
heaven. Jesus spent the night in prayer and then chose twelve apostles. The Holy Spirit that God
gives us, is our counselor and a very personal Spirit of Truth that will be with us throughout all of
eternity. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity of God and the living God in us. If we expect God
to give us more of His Holy Spirit, then we must come before Him with obedience in mind.

There is a power in God’s voice. It can create a universe, it can sustain heaven and breaks trees
of cedar. If we seek to obey His voice, grace and mercy will be given us in abundance. Therefore,
we are without excuse for not living a perfect life in Jesus. As 1 Peter 1:3 tells us, “His divine
power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who
called us by his own glory and goodness.” Only our stubbornness, sinfulness and hard heartedness
keep us from walking just as Jesus did in this world.

You can easily spot a mocker who declares they have the Holy Spirit, because they obviously do
not practice what Jesus taught. Though they claim to have the Holy Spirit they do not obey the
living God. In fact, I have known many a preacher and ministry org anization that in terms of
doctrine, teach correctly the message of the cross, but do not obey the Holy Spirit. They obey their
own set of guidelines and understanding of Scripture, but they do not hear the voice of God that
instructs them in how, when, an d what to obey. As Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures
because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about
me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

In the book of 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 4 we are told that the precious promises of God empower
us to overcome sin. But like Joshua in the Old Testament, the taking of the Promise Land, or
promises of God for us, requires that we do so at the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must, like
Joshua meet the army of God and follow where the army is commanded to go. It is not for us to
pick our battles or how to fight them, it is the Spirit’s sword, the living Word of God, that does the
fighting.

Obedience does not mean that we go the Bible, pick a passage and seek to obey that ink on
paper. This causes us to become a foolish Galatians spell-bound by our own bewitchment. Like a
witch that believes she has the words to the incantations correct, those in Christ who do not obey by
way of the cross foolishly believe they have correct doctrine. Because they do not hear God
concerning doctrine they believe their doctrine is correct. For, “all a man’s ways seem innocent to
him.”
Only the voice of God can give us sound doctrine.

  • 1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
  • John 14:16–17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever —the Spirit of
    truth…
  • Psalms 29:5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
  • John 5:39–40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are
    the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
  • Joshua 5:13–14 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a
    drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he
    replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in
    reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
  • Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
  • Proverbs 16:2
  • 1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach
    you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has
    taught you, remain in him.
  • You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly
    portrayed as crucified. (Galatians 3:1)

Only by seeing Jesus Christ clearly crucified and understanding what that means can we gain the
promised land. In short, there is no resurrected life without the crucifixion. Jesus told all who come
after Him to be saved, that they must pick up a daily cro ss. This is the third element that
determines whether a man or woman has ears to hear correctly or not. So many people go wrong
because they have not allowed the cross to kill them. They have rushed ahead believing that their
own voices are the voice of God. Jeremiah spoke boldly against the corruption of his day and his
words are more needed now than ever. For the church has rejected the offensive, painful cross of
Christ and embraced their opinions about God. As each man claims that his own words are the
voice of God, we see more corruption in the church. Each person doing what they want, pleasing
their flesh, and doing their will in the name of the Lord. They may quote Scripture, but the “words
of the living God” have been distorted.

  • But you must not mention ‘the oracle of the Lord’ again, because every man’s own word becomes his
    oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God. (Jeremiah 23:36)

If we want ears to hear then we must allow the cross to crucify us so that we can hear clearly.
For after crucifixion is the resurrected life with all of its blessings. We must feel terrified of
delighting in our religious opinions and wait upon the cross to crucify the fleshly desires that would
distort what God wants. After all, only a fool delights in airing his own opinion. And our greatest
danger as Christians in to hearing God is trying to enter the promised land by our religious, Biblical
opinions.

  • 2 Corinthians 3:3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with
    the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
  • Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross
    daily and follow me.
    Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

Chapter 4: The Promised Land

  • Why do we need faith, obedience, and crucifixion of self in order to hear God?
  • What happens if we obey Scripture or doctrines without faith and belief that we can hear the
    voice of God?
  • Take a moment and ask yourself, “Am I willing to die to self so that I can hear God?”

Chapter 5

Growing Up

Peter, when first hearing the voice of Jesus to come follow Him, fell down and cried, “Go away
from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” But Peter had a lot of growing up to do. In fact, it wasn’t until
Peter had been with Jesus for over three years that he went out and wept bitterly as a man of faith.
The brokenness at the start was child’s play compared to what he experienced next to the cross.
How foolishly we think we have received all the brokenness there is for us in Jesus. Peter
understood all too well that we must grow up if we want to understand what the voice of the Lord
tells us.

  • Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, (1
    Peter 2:2)

How sad to see many who have just come to Christ, think they can hear and understand the
voice of the Lord. Sadder still, so many churches let this assumption be accepted among new
converts. Leaders feels so afraid of offending new members, driving them from the church, that
they remove the offense that could mature them. Throughout the New Testament, being born again
is compared to childbirth. The Bible clearly portrays that, like babies, we must grow up in Jesus
Christ.

No newborn can understand what his parents say. Even those who have had their parents speak
to them in the womb cannot understand words once they are born. It takes years to speak,
understand, and gain wisdom from what a parent says to a child. Indeed, man y a parent can testify
that their children did not really gain wisdom until much later in life. So it is with us in Christ. It is
a long hard narrow road to maturity and you must give God time to teach you. We must allow the
cross to do its painful work daily if we desire to gain ears that can hear. Paul communicated this to
the Corinthians.

  • When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I
    became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Until we allow the cross to crucify us to our childish ways in the Lord we will not have mature
ears that can hear. Let us then in humility let the Lord teach us as little children. Jesus said we must
come to Him as little children, and we only hinder our maturity when we think of ourselves too
highly. We must think of ourselves with sober judgment, according the measure of faith God gives
us at the time. Even after twenty years of following the voice of the Lord, I still have certain areas
that I need the help of others, areas where I know my flesh remains too strong to hear God.

At first, like a baby, everything had to be tested with great effort. I was a baby crawling on the
floor, later I toddled across the room and then walked. It took years before I could run and there
were a lot of bumps along the way. This is why the Bible tells us to be slow to speak and quick to
listen. If a man interrupts me constantly I know he interrupts the Lord when the Holy Spirit tries to talk to him. If a man always listens to me and never says “Amen,” then I know he too never acts
on what God wants to tell him. If a man continues to say, “I know that,” then I know God cannot
teach that man anything new. If someone always jumps in with their opinions of why something
cannot be done, I know they are defiant in faith and will always tell God something can’t be done
that he asks of them. How we listen, or don’t listen to others, shows us how well we can hear God.
In fact, many individuals n ever grow unto maturity because they remain too stubborn to humble
themselves. Let me repeat it, we must come to Jesus as little children.

  • Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
  • Galatians 4:19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.
  • Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you
    ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
  • James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become
  • And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never
    enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the
    kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3–4)

When someone is born again they must humble themselves and admit that when it comes to the
voice of the Lord they are infants, babies that can’t feed, cloth or even burp themselves. They are
helpless, needing constant protection and guidance. As time goes on the child must pass through the
toddler state, the teenage stage and finally, years later, adulthood.

Jesus said we must “change” but few are willing to be changed into a child. We want to keep
our dignity as sinful adults while we try to be children of God. Such a combination can never
mature you into a man or woman of God. In fact, this is a salvation issue. Jesus said that unless we
become like little children we can’t go to heaven.

A child must be taught everything. So too, we must allow God to teach us everything. What
words mean, how to use those words, and which words are bad words. We must let God tell us what
He means just as a parent must explain to a child what they are saying. Any parent can tell you they
often have to say to a child, “That is not what I meant.”

Ears to hear means that instead of us telling God what the Bible means, we let God explain it to
us. Instead of us telling God what we will do for Him today, we must let God tell us what He wants
us to do. We must let those who have suffered on the cross, putting their flesh to death, teach us
how to hear God’s voice. Unfortunately, too much pride fills the church today for men to allow a
godly man to teach them how to hear God’s voice. The vast majority in the church w ould cringe at
being addressed as mere children in the Lord.

  • I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)

How easily we become indigent when God either personally, or through those more spiritually
mature than us reveal the fact that we are mere babes, children in Christ. If we want to gain ears that
can hear, then all pride must be confessed in the Light so that we can be healed. When we make
mistakes in what we think we heard, we must admit our sin and look to the reason we failed.

Think of the twelve apostles. For over three years what did Jesus reveal to them about
themselves? Every child learns by being corrected and corrected a lot. Jesus constantly rebuked,
admonished, and put them in situations that revealed their pride and sin ful nature. Jesus even went
so far as to refer to Peter as Satan. God desperately wanted to break their self-assuredness and pride.
Jesus applied the first pains of the cross that would execute their self-righteous dignity. Even with
natural children we sp eak of the pains of growing up, how much more when we as Christians know
we must carry our cross as we head toward heaven? We can only gain ears to hear by humiliation
on the cross.

We must admit we need breast milk and baby food. Understand that solid food is for the mature
angry.
who have constantly heard the voice of God training them to know right from wrong.

Chapter 5: Growing Up

  • Why is it important to come to Jesus as a child if we hope to mature?
  • What areas in your life do you find it difficult to receive instruction from someone else?
  • List some things you know that God has been trying to instruct you in. Stop and pray for
    God to crucify these things so that you can have ears to hear.

Chapter 6

The Need for Self Crucified

  • The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not
    know what he was talking about. (Luke 18:34)

What kept the disciples from understanding what Jesus told them? Jesus spoke to them about
being resurrected from the dead but the meaning of what He said was completely hidden from them.
Why could they not understand and why was God not able to give them wisdom? I do not use the
term “able” in the sense that God is not powerful enough, but to illustrate clearly that we ourselves
stop the power of God from working in our lives. Just as Jesus could not do any miracles in His
hometown because of unbelief, so too we cannot comprehend what God tells us because self blocks
the way.

Take a loaf of bread for example. The disciples could not understand a miracle that involved
loaves of bread because their hearts were hard. Jesus did not asked what school they went to but
told them why they were deaf and why they could not remember. They had hard hearts. They could
only hear their own voice and remained so self-absorbed all they felt concerned with was
themselves.

  • Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you
    still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but
    fail to hear? And don’t you remember? (Mark 8:17–18)

Let us not sin by thinking we are any better than the apostles. Self, with all of its pride, will,
desires, and wisdom, keeps us from hearing what Jesus says, let alone to talk about obeying what
He commands us to do. Remember the passage we looked at in G alatians? The one that spoke of
Jesus being clearly portrayed as crucified? We must see the flesh crucified on the cross. We must
understand, by illumination from the Holy Spirit, the total inability of ourselves to understand and
obey what God speaks to u s. Our hearts, minds, and flesh are mixed with so many evil motives that
the only solution is to kill it. It must die on the cross as we pick up our daily cross if we want to
gain ears that can hear.

Everything that we think we hear God tell us to do must be tested by the cross of Christ. For in
this world, from beginning to end, the matter of hearing God’s voice flows from and to the cross.
For this reason, Paul wrote in:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:2 “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

It takes resolve not to give way to our wisdom about godly
matters! It takes resolve to say no to fleshly desires. It takes resolve to not make a golden calf in the
name of the Lo rd so that we can fool ourselves into thinking we do God’s will while we really
please our flesh.

  • When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Paulorrow there will be a
    festival to the Lord.” (Exodus 32:5)

The vast majority in the church today who declare they hear the voice of God tell them to do
something, and claim that God gives them wisdom about Scripture, in reality worship a golden calf in the name of the Lord. To them their doctrine, actions, and goals are as shiny as gold, but it is the
golden calf that allows them to please themselves in the name of the Lord.

  • Mark 6:5–6 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was
    amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

The solution is a cross that causes us to hate our own lives. To hate our time, comfort, wisdom,
knowledge, desires, wants, and wills. Until a man hates his life, he is in no position to claim that he
has ears to hear. Jesus did not command us to deny only aspects of ourselves.

  • The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for
    eternal life. (John 12:25)

Jesus said we must deny self. All of self. All of who we are. To be born again means that
yourself, who you are is killed and a totally different person is born. Crucifixion is a slow process
and God wants to crucify a little bit more of you daily. If you want ears to hear, then your ears must
be killed by way of the cross.

A lack of Bible knowledge does not keep us from understanding God. It is not that we don’t
have the proper steps down that enable us to hear and understand God speaking to us. We cannot
hear because our hearts remain hard. God repeats in the book of Mark that the disciples could not
understand what Jesus said because they had hard hearts. Many go to Bible college, yet do not
understand anything about the power of the cross. Why? Not from lack of Bible study and prayer,
but because their hearts remain hardened.

  • … for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:52)

The disciples’ fleshly ears had heard Jesus speak words of wisdom and their ears had heard the
once deaf shout for joy when healed. Yet their ears could not understand anything about Jesus or
what He was about. Their notions of Him were vague ideas about H im being the Messiah. Just as it
is with most people in the church, the apostles had a simple understanding that Jesus was the
Messiah but that was about it. How often we too think we understand the will of God yet are as deaf
as the disciples. Only the cross can crucify us so that we gain heavenly ears that can hear and
understand what God does and wills.

Many churches and denominations do not have ears to hear, yet think they hear God. This
delusion is most severe among those who think they teach the message of the cross. How easy it is
for us to think our godless chatter is godly prayer. How easily we call false knowledge the wisdom
that comes from the Holy Spirit.

  • Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the
    opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have
    wandered from the faith. Grace be with you. (1 Timothy 6:20–21)

Many have wandered from the faith. Not necessarily in giant leaps of forsaking the Lord, but in
small missteps from the faith. They take one small opinion or desire and call it the voice of the
Lord. The best example of this was when Jesus talked to a woma n at the well about eternal life,
while his disciples tried to find something to eat. Although they traveled with Jesus, following Him
everywhere, their bellies came first. The twelve called Him Rabbi, or Teacher, but they had not
learned anything.

  • John 12:25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for
    eternal life.

    Even The Demons Believe, by Timothy Williams, ISBN 1 -57921 -355 -3

  • Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” (John 4:31)

Only God’s grace can crucify us and rescue us from a hard heart. If we want ears to hear then
we must let God break the hard ground of our hearts. Opinions must die, our wills must be opposed
and our most sacred of doctrines surrendered to the cross the Ho ly Spirit gives us to carry if we
want ears that can hear.

Chapter 6: The Need for Self Crucified

  • The apostles spent three years listening to every word Jesus spoke, yet never understood His
    meaning. Why did the Cross open their ears to understand?
  • What golden caves do you see in the church today?
  • What other voices do you hear in your life? Do you find it hard to crucify these other voices?
  • What things keep your heart hard? List some ways you could soften your heart and open
    your ears.

Chapter 7

The Shame of the Cross

We come to hear God clearly by way of the cross. Seeing Jesus clearly crucified allows us to
understand that the flesh is worthless and keeps us from hearing God. The cross is also a thing of
shame, and if we want to gain ears that hear, we must fully embrace the shame of the cross in our
lives. No Christian correctly hears God unless they follow Jesus to the cross. As Hebrews tells us,
we must fix our eyes on Jesus and ignored the shame of the cross.

  • Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him
    endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews
    12:2)

When someone was crucified, they were crucified naked. Every flaw, weakness, and
embarrassment was revealed for all to see. How does this apply to having ears to hear? The answer
is found in another question. How much of God’s correction are you willing to take? The more we
accept the shame of the cross, the keener our ears become. Remember, the disciples were rebuked
and corrected by Jesus for over three years. Before they could experience the power of Pentecost
and the guiding of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way, they first had to follow Jesus closer and closer
to the cross.

So it is with us, wisdom is found by being shamed. What is one of the first words a child learns?
Right after the words “dada” or “ma -ma” a child says the word “no.” Learning to talk and to listen
begins with word “no.” Even when you ask young childen if they want ice cream they will often say
no when they really mean yes. Parents must give a lot of correction before the child can form
sentences and understand the correct thing to say and do. In short, they must learn to listen for the
word “no” and obey that word if they are to stay safe in life. For this reason, God tells us that grace
equals the word no. In Titus 2:12 we read, grace “teaches us to say ‘No’.. .” If we want ears than
can hear God then we must first learn to hear and accept the word “No” by the grace of God. Let’s
nail this down by looking to the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs that tells us how to get
wisdom and what wisdom sounds like.

Do you want to hear the thoughts of God? Would you like to have ears that can listen to Him so
that you can obtain the heart of God? God promises that He will pour out His heart into you and
make you to know His thoughts… if… you will respond to His rebukes. So again, we ask, how
much correction can you take? How deeply are you willing to let the cross weaken, shame, and
rebuke you? As with the twelve apostles, so it must be with us if we want to hear Jesus. We must
allow Jesus to give us a cross that corrects, convicts, and humble us in many various ways.
Sometime do a study on when the Holy Spirit led men and women in the Bible. Also mark all the
times Proverbs mentions corrections, rebukes, and acceptance of advice.

  • If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts
    known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out
    my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, (Proverbs 1:23–25)

We start to gain ears to hear when we allow God to make us afraid. Few are willing to take
advice but everyone in pride loves to give advice. Few people sit and listen to advice. Most of the
time we want to tell God and others that we already know and understand what they tell us. When
we have that attitude we cannot hear what God says and spurn His rebukes.

  • Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my
    advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their
    schemes. (Proverbs 1:29–31)

Shutting our ears to the advice and rebukes that God seeks to overwhelm us with, only leaves us
with our schemes. All such schemes, though Biblically based, are wicked to the core and will end
with bitter fruit. Like Saul before he became Paul, who was perfect in Biblical terms and kept the
Law, but caused others to blaspheme God. Undoubtedly Paul said his prayers and felt God blessed
his efforts. Yet, he was a violent man that hunted down the disciples of Jesus. It wasn’t until Jesus
appeared and opposed him on the Damascus road that his ears opened to hear the voice of God.
Like Saul, many kick against the goads and refuse to listen to the rebukes, advice, and correction
the Lord speaks to us. In fact, many preachers oppose Jesus Christ because they have not let the
painful cross rebuke and scold them unto a resurrected life.

In the church today we seem to believe that a person can come to God and begin to hear,
understand, and obey the Lord all at once. This is like a parent believing that their new born can
carry on a conversation moments after birth. It takes years for any C hristian to say they can hear
God correctly. The Lord charges all preachers and teachers to teach His children to have ears to
hear. But only teachers who have suffered against sin, allowing the Holy Spirit to repeatedly
rebuke, humble, and correct until death to self occurs, can teach God’s sheep. After all, the blind
cannot lead the blind and the deaf cannot teach others how to hear with their ears. Teachers,
preachers, and children of God who cannot tell you of how they suffered on the cross with their sins
cannot teach you how to have ears to hear.

  • Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he
    who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life
    for evil human desires, but rather for the will o f God. (1 Peter 4:1–2)

Jesus suffered on the cross and if you want to have ears to hear you too will feel, in a very real
physical way, the cross killing your flesh. You will be rebuked by God to the point it hurts and you
will feel tempted to scream, “Enough!” Few willingly acc ept and endure the work of the cross that
comes against them. Wave upon wave of advice and rebukes awaits anyone who desires ears that
can hear. Want ears that can hear? Desire the thoughts of God? Then answer this question, how
much rebuke will you endure and how much of the shame of the cross are you willing to accept?

  • Philippians 3:6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
  • 1 Timothy 1:13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy
    because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
  • Acts 26:14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute
    me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ [Goads are God’s small comments where He is trying to get us to
    move in a certain direction.]
  • Ephesians 4:8–15 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
    (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the
    very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to
    be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s
    people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the
    knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we
    will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and
    by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all
    things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
  • Psalms 42:7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

Chapter 7: The Shame of the Cross

  • 1 Corinthians 1:28 tells us that “He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised
    things — and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are — so that no one may boast
    before him.
  • Why do you think God uses shameful things to teach us wisdom?
  • How has God specifically taught you lessons through embarrassing means?
  • Why does it take time to learn how to hear God?
  • What aspects of the Cross do you find shameful?
    In what areas of your life do you feel you need more of the shame of the Cross? Ask
    yourself, “Am I willing to endure the Cross?”

Chapter 8

Teenage Years

  • If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3)

An eye -catching bumper sticker says, “Hire a teenager while they still know it all.” This really
describes this stage in life. Teenagers think they are something and that they know everything. In
the same way, Christian “teenagers,” believers who have been at it for a little while, gain a little
experience, a little Bible knowledge and deceive themselves. Many never outgrow this stage and
many preachers and Bible college professor are nothing more than overgrown teenagers in the name
of Jesus.

Teenagers are still nothing in terms of the world, but they think they are ready to take on the
world. The teenage years are the most dangerous time for us as we grow up. In most cases those
years set the stage for the rest of our lives. Unless God can win us with His grace our sins are set
into our personalities and our course for eternity is laid. At age thirteen the natural rebellion in
mankind begins to seek independence. Young children that at one time listened to their parents
refuse to do so any long er. What marks a teenager? They think they are wiser and smarter than they
really are. This happened to the twelve apostles.

They followed Jesus for quite some time. They preached, worked, and listened to Jesus. They
started out falling at his feet in humility, but soon began to give Jesus advice and suggested ways
He should do things. For example, they did not have the faith to cast out demons yet suggested they
call fire down from heaven. Did they ask Jesus to call down the fire? No, they asked if “they” could
call down fire. Like any teenager, the apostles thought they had power and wisdom.

  • When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down
    from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, (Luke 9:54–55)

Like any wounded teenager when someone upsets them, they vent their full wrath. Many in the
church never outgrow this self-assuredness and pride and refuse to let the cross do its maturing
work. They remain smart, wise, and full of Biblical wisdom so when Jesus seeks to rebuke and
correct, they become indigent and shut their ears to the voice of God. Or when God seeks to
communicate what His will is for the hour or day, their wisdom and advice silence Him. We know
from experience that when a teenager become s overbearing there is only one of two reactions
parents can take, either rebuke and lay down the law or to just turn silent. In the same way, God
often resorts to the Law and more often just becomes silent until we are ready to listen. It is a
dreadful ma tter when God stops talking to us because of our stubbornness. For all we are left with is
our spiritual voice that mocks the things of God. If teenagers are well known for anything, it is
refusing advice and not listening. How many in the church are also known for this?

  • “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears.
    (Zechariah 7:11)

If you want to grow past this stage then you must once again learn from your mistakes. Again,
the more correction you are willing to take, the quicker you will gain ears that can hear. The more
you let the humility of Christ live in you, the quicker you will gain ears to hear.

It is one of the hardest things to admit our mistakes and sins, because pride blinds us to who we
really are. Impurity marks this time. Like a teenager, we have some life skills, some logic, and some
knowledge, but there is still much of self that must be put to death. Unfortunately when God points
out the impurity in our lives, we can only see the nob le reasons and excuses. Of course this is an
impossible situation. Impurity can never last with purity and purity can never tolerate impurity. One
will overcome the other. Therefore God will often press in harder with the cross during this teenage
time and the temptation to rebel and leave will be great. At this stage the Christian seeks to do
God’s will but also attempts at the same to do it their way or to get something out of the situation.
Since no “impure” person will go to heaven we must fully confess our wisdom and desires as sin
when attempting to obey the voice of God.

During this time in our walk we tend to learn to hear God from the times we misinterpret His
voice. Early in our marriage we were houseparents for a group home of mentally disabled men. We
saw many of them give their hearts to God and tremendous changes occurred in their lives. Soon,
however Church and State issues arose. This led us to believe that God wanted us to open up our
own Christian based group home. After many blunders and even losing money on downpayments
on facilities, we realized that we didn’t know what was God’s will after all. Our pure and noble
reasons had to be exposed for what they were—frustration over the situation in the group home
circuits. We wanted those people to know Christ, but in our own way and timing, not God’s.

  • For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person —such a man is an idolater —has
    any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for
    because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disob edient. Therefore do not be
    partners with them. (Ephesians 5:5–7)

As stated before, impurity cannot co -exists with purity. This is why Paul stated we are not to be
“partners with” the impure.

When it comes to having ears to hear God, testing correctly messages we have is paramount to
purity. Paul laid down the rule in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “test everything.” Yes, it takes a lot of
work to test everything all day long. Indeed, it requires a lo t of effort to work out our salvation with
fear and trembling , but it’s worth it to hear the voice of God. How do we test everything? By
way of the cross.

With guidance and power from the Holy Spirit begin to ask yourself, “Where is my flesh in all
of this?” Or put another way, “Where is the cross of Christ in this?” Just as Jesus always carried His
cross and headed toward the cross, so we too, when it comes to hearing and obeying God, know that
He always heads us toward Calvary. Any voice that takes us away from the cross is either our voice
or the voice of the world and Satan. The Spirit will always want the opposite of what you want.
God will never give you what you want until you have been crucified and no longer live. Yes, He
will fulfill the “desires of your heart,” but only after your desires match His holiness. There will
always be groaning and a battle while you walk this earth. The voice of God will always direct you in ways you do not want to go. If you attend a church or employ a pastor where this conflict is
not present you follow a lie.

  • Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed —not only in my presence, but now much
    more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
  • Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed —not only in my presence, but now much
    more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
  • Galatians 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
  • Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the
    body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  • Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • Romans 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly
    for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Many times we may have heard God clearly but still have a lot of self to deny and crucify. I
might, for example, hear from God to go do something today, but my flesh sneaks into the situation
and I want to do it my way or for some personal enjoyment. Like Judas, whom Jesus put in charge
of the money bag but from time to time helped himself to the money, we take from the Lord. In
order to mature past the teenage years, we must prepare ourselves for a baptism of fire that will
purify us of stubbornness and selfishness. Unless you are willing to rejoice in this you will never
gain ears to hear.

  • “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I,
    whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew
    3:11)
  • John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the
    one who serves me.

Chapter 8 Teenage Years

  • List some behaviors common to teens. Compare these traits to your spiritual walk with God.
  • What impure motives lie in your heart? Take them before God and ask Him to purify them.
  • In what ways can you test everything, especially your motives?

Chapter 9

God’s Paths, Commands, Precepts, Ways and Laws

  • Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33)

If God’s paths are unsearchable, why do we foolishly think we can understand and apply the
Bible? The ways of God are just not simple. One time the Spirit of the Lord may have you offend
someone, then the next time commend the same person. He may have you hide, then go out in the
open, rebuke, or be gentle. Simply put, we cannot predict the mind of the Lord. A Spirit -Filled
Christian is called to follow the wind — an impossible thing to do. Indeed, those that are led of the
Spirit, born of the Spirit, are like the wind, Jesus said.

Only a fool thinks he can hear the voice of the Lord after reading the Bible or simply asking
Jesus into their heart. Only a fool thinks He can understand the voice of the Lord after graduating
from Bible college. The ways of God are unsearchable and we mu st learn to listen for God’s voice
before we take each new step. In Proverbs 6:9 it declares, “In his heart a man plans his course, but
the Lord determines his steps.” Walking with God means we plan a course of righteousness, but we
listen for His voice to direct our steps.

Those who do not listen for God’s voice, allowing the cross to direct their steps become classic
Pharisees. Religious zealots, but having no relationship with God. They are dead in their sins.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and purify our motives. We must allow the
cross to crucify and deny self with great fear and trembling if we want to leave our simple ways
behind and truly hear the voice of the Lord. Many rejoice in mocking the Word of God, but few
actually hear the voice of the living God. Most are happy to mock the voice of God and go about
their merry little Christian life.

  • “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge? (Proverbs 1:22)

Someone entering first grade is not prepared to go to work the next day. Anyone seeking to
become a doctor cannot, after a week of medical school, open an office to heal the sick. In fact, it
takes years before a medical student ever seeks real patients. In the same way, if we want to have
ears to hear we must first enter the school of the Lord and be taught by God.

  • It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and
    learns from him comes to me. (John 6:45)

Sadly, churches and ministries seldom teach new believers that they must enter the school of the
Lord. Oh, we cart them off to Bible college and put them through a Bible study programs. But the
way of the cross, where God teaches each man or woman, is seld om understood and even less lived.
School is not for action, but for learning. It is a time of quietness, tests, and listening to the teacher.
The more noisy the classroom the less the class can hear the teacher and learn the material presented. Few people like school because it’s a laborious process where slowly, but surely one
gains knowledge. Often a student will ask, “How will this fact help me? How does this apply to the
real world?”
Later, if the students learns the lessons well, they come to understand the importance
of studying facts that didn’t seem to apply to daily life. So it is with us who want to hear God’s
voice. We must store the Word in our hearts. We must store things about God’s Word we do not
understand at the time, b ut will greatly matter to our salvation later down the road. We hid and God
teaches us from what we have hidden in our hearts.

Matthew 15:12, Matthew 17:27, John 7:1, Luke 13:31–32, Matthew 23, John 8:11

  • John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it
    is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
  • I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach
    me your decrees. (Psalms 119:11–12)

We have much to learn. There is not just the law of God, but also the ways, paths, truths, and
wisdom of God. All with distinct characteristics and power of their own. We must hide in our hearts
this word in all of its varied forms. A young Christian should sit alone quietly putting the Word in
his heart like seeds planted in the soil. Not reading and storing the Word with commentary, opinion,
and ideas, but letting the seed fall into soft soil. Being content to let God be God. Letting God
provide the definitions and applications to His Word. The Word will produce the plant it desires and
there is no need for you to apply your thoughts and efforts to try and make it grow. Not only will it
damage the plant, but there is the very real danger you will kill the plant. God will send the rain and
the snow upon the seed of His Word. He will ensure that it accomplish what He wills and wants, if
the soil of our heart is soft.

  • As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth
    and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my
    word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10–11)

In short, let God teach you what His Word, truths, paths, and commands mean for you
personally. Let God apply the Word in your life and let Him crucify your church’s doctrine and way
of doing things so that you can gain ears that hear.

The first place to start learning to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit is through the Bible. I do not
mean that you read the Bible and listen to your own voice, but that as you read the Scripture you let
the Holy Spirit teach you what the Word says and mea ns. Let me remind the reader that this can
only be done in truth if the offensive and painful cross of Christ is alive and working its death to
self.

  • As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to
    teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not
    counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:27 )

Let the anointing of God teach you what the Bible means and how it should be applied in your
life. And when God does not give illumination on a Scripture, remain content and wait for the Lord to reveal the truth to you at the proper time. There are many Scriptures I do not understand even
after over twenty years of being a disciple of Jesus. There are certain things that for me the Holy
Spirit will not let me explore. So I rest, like a weaned child at a mother’s breast, unconcerned about
feeding my flesh or having to understand everything.2 I store them in my heart so that at the proper
time God may teach me what it means and show me how His Word should be lived. This is
worshipping in spirit and truth. The difference between a Pharisee and a true child of God is that
the child of God has been taught directly by the voice of the Lord.

  • Lamentations 3:25–28 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait
    quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in
    silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.
  • Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.
  • Hebrews 6:7–8 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is
    farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being
    cursed. In the en d it will be burned.
  • I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. Psalms (119:102)

The Psalmist did not disobey the Bible because he was willing to be taught directly and
personally by God. Until a man can say that the Lord, Himself has taught him he cannot say he is a
disciple of Jesus. But to be taught by God means that a man is often rebuked and corrected by God
Himself. While that correction may come through a man, the true disciple will sense the voice of
the Lord in it. The Word of God made alive by the Holy Spirit becomes a lamp that shines on our
faults, sins, and failures. And wh en we hear that voice we have a choice to either ignore those sins
or to heed the correction that leads to life. How sad, but most people love the whitewash that
churches offer and few allow the cross to expose and crucify their sins.

  • For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way
    to life, (Proverbs 6:23)

If you desire ears that can hear then you must let God show you His paths, His truth, His laws,
and His commands by way of the cross and His Holy Spirit. You must let God personally teach
you, and as a result God will be your Savior and your hope “all day long.” Without this, you will
never gain ears that can hear.

  • Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are
    God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalms 25:4–5)

God must guide us in unsearchable ways so we only have need to, as Peter writes, “prepare your
minds for action.” Set our minds on things above and ears to hear will be given us.

  • Matthew 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his
    household to give them their food at the proper time?
  • Psalms 131:1–2 A song of ascents. Of David. My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not
    concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a
    weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
  • John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and
    truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
  • Ezekiel 13:10–12 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when
    a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to
    fall. Rain will co me in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the
    wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”
  • 1 Peter 1:13
  • Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Chapter 9: God’s Paths, Commands, Precepts, Ways and Laws

  • Why is it foolish to think we understand God’s ways by simply reading the Bible?
  • What keeps a man from departing from the Scriptures?
  • Why is it important to hear from the Holy Spirit when interpreting Scripture?
  • What Scriptures would you like to understand more fully?
  • Take some time to examine your heart to see what keeps you from enlightenment. Ask the
  • Holy Spirit to crucify your own opinions in these areas.

Chapter 10

Dreams, Visions, and Spiritual Gifts

  • Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. (1
    Corinthians 14:1)

Spiritual gifts are just as much for today as they were when the Apostles started the first church.
Why else would Paul urges us to eagerly desire them? A person filled with a love and faith that
comes from heaven will eagerly desire spiritual gifts for th e sake of others. Those weighed down
with pride will not believe they exists today. We do not have time to discuss how spiritual gifts
must be used properly or to defend the fact they exist today. Rather we want to discover their place
in hearing God.

Children are fascinated by magical things and so it is with spiritual gifts, dreams, and visions.
Immature children in the Lord remain enchanted by the gifts and seldom use them for their intended
purpose. In discussing the gift of tongues for example, Pau l declares that unbelievers, and those
who do not understand, are fascinated by the gift of tongues. Those more mature could care less that
a word from the Lord was spoken in a tongue. Rather, they want to know what the tongue means
and how to apply it in obedience to the Lord.

  • Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers,
    not for unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14:22)

The prophecy, that is, the understanding of a message in tongues is for believers. The tongue, or
different language, is for the unbeliever. Where you see a group emphasizing that a sign of the Holy
Spirit is evident in speaking in tongues, you find mere b abes in Christ. God does indeed speak
through tongues, dreams, and visions, but it is the obedience that flows from such manifestations
that matters. Therefore Paul, when discussing the vision of the Lord on the Damascus road,
emphasized not the vision but the obedience that followed.

  • “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus,
    then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should
    repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. That is why the Jews seized me in
    the temple courts and tried to kill me. (Acts 26:19–21)

Paul declared clearly that he was “not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” And the Jews
didn’t seek to kill Paul because he had a vision, but because he sought to obey that vision.
Remember, God only gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. So ask yourself a very
important question. Why should God give you more dreams, visions, or speak to your heart if you
do not obey what He has already spoken? To approach miraculous matters of God we need to look
no further than Psalms 119.

  • Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. (Psalms
    119:27)

Let us not behave like immature children, ignorant and enthralled with the box the gift came in.

  • Acts 5:32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Rather, let us use the gifts, dreams, and visions God gives us with reverence and awe. Pray and
plead, first and foremost that God would teach you His precepts. And after you have gained some
understanding by way of the cross, you then will meditate on His wonders. After all, God gives us
the miraculous, not to entertain us, but to increase the righteous obedience of His beloved children.
Just as any father delights in the happy obedience of his children.

Think of how Paul was told by God, as recorded in Acts 27, that the ship he was travelling on
would have to sink and everything destroyed. In fact, in order for everyone to be saved, they would
have to let go of their lifeboat. How seldom we are willing to let our lifeboat go, to give up all, as
Paul did. No wonder God cannot speak to us and no wonder we are not really a blessing to others.
Instead like babies we remain enthralled with spiritual gifts and miss the whole point of what God is
speaking.

Without a firm understanding and obedience to the precepts of God, dreams, visions, and gifts
only support the sinful flesh of man. We often see this on religious TV and in many churches. For
one thing, dreams can often occur because we feel burdened and n ot at rest in the Lord. In short,
we sleep in sin and dream dreams that we assume are God giving us answers. More likely we dream
our sinful schemes to fix a problem or achieve something we want.

We should walk with the utmost gentleness when it comes to these aspects of God’s voice. It is
easy to misunderstand God’s intentions when He speaks clearly, how much more when God speaks
through dreams and visions. This is why Paul wrote that we should weigh everything carefully.

  • Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. (1
    Corinthians 14:29)

In fact, scripturally no one is allowed to speak in tongues in public unless someone can interpret
the tongue. It is far too easy to hear what we want to hear rather than what God actually wants to
tell us. It is also too easy to say what we want God to say, rather than let Him speak His will.

God made our ears to pickup noise more clearly in front of us, because we should always seek
the face of God and listen to Him. We need to give Him our full and undivided attention. There is
nothing worse than a child who will not pay attention to advice g iven or accept love when it’s
offered. Ours hearts should burn to seek the face of God, which means we stand face to face with
Him who speaks to us. If dreams do not lead us to seek the face of God, we miss the whole point
for the reason He sends marvelous gifts. After all, dreams, visions, and miracles are small matters
compared to what they really mean and point us to.

  • Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.
    For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:28)

Straw has its uses, but the grain the straw supported provides bread and food to man and
animals. With any miraculous working of God if we want ears to hear, we must seek the grain and
deemphasize the miracle that brought forth the grain. Let us have hearts that are never satisfied until
we talk with and listen to God as a lover loves their beloved. Let us be a people that feel burdened
by sin and long for God to fully remove the curse of it. Let us seek God not because we get things
from Him, seeing vision s or having dreams, but because we want to see His face and hear His voice. I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets. Let us be sure we are seeking holiness
about spiritual gifts or God might send a lying spirit to work poetic justice in our life.

  • Ecclesiastes 5:3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
  • Jeremiah 23:16 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they
    fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.
  • Psalms 27:8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.

But let us not demean the miraculous of God and despise prophecies because they may be His
voice encouraging us about the future for our life. Then we will have a heart that provides us with
ears to hear.

  • John 6:26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but
    because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Revelation 22:3–4 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God
    and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on
    their foreheads.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. Acts 21:10–11 After we had been there a number of
    days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands
    and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and
    will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

Chapter 10: Dreams, Visions and Spiritual Gifts

  • Why would we need spiritual gifts today?
  • Why do you think that men often overemphasize or deemphasize the gifts?
  • In what ways have you misinterpreted or ignored miraculous gifts?
  • Does your heart long for more of God? Ask God to work dreams and visions in your life, but
    plead with Him to use them for His glory.

Chapter 11

God’s Voice and Unity

  • My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
    What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow
    Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you
    baptiz ed into the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:11–13)

People who make excuses about coming to church, or who refuse to obey Scripture, often
exclaim, “But there are so many churches with other ideas.” Indeed, there are many different
churches, denominations and opinions about God. However, Paul still asks, “Is Christ divided?”

The Christian community has not only become accusPauled to, but now considers division as a
good thing. Dare we say, it seems to the church today that to hold various opinions is a holy thing.
If for example, most would consider you a foolish reader if you said, “I agree with everything in
this book.” You might be accused of being a brainwashed, zombie that can’t think for yourself. This
attitude underscores why the first church was considered a cult. For, not only were they one in
heart, but also in mind.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. (Acts 4:32a)
Such unity occurred because they could hear the Holy Spirit teach them the true meaning of
God’s Word. Think of children in first grade. Everyone must agree that one plus one equals two. No
good teacher would allow each person in the class to decide for th emselves what one plus one
equals. Each pupil must accept the fact that one plus one equals two or they will fail. If we are
disciples of Jesus, taught by the Holy Spirit, then unity will not occur on just a few basic things, but
even on the deep things of God. This is why Paul could make the following appeal.

  • I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another
    so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and
    thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Not only did he call for unity in mind, but also in thought. In other words, united in the way
their minds came to a conclusion. Think of it. Not just united in mind agreeing with doctrines, but
in thought, the manner in which someone concludes an issue in their mind.

This is the power of the cross and why David sings in the Psalms that where you find the true
unity of God, there you find life forevermore. Unity in the first church was nothing like what we
call unity today. The word unity today has the most generic meaning and implies some airy type of
agreement. It certainly does not represent and show the world the steadfast rock, Jesus Christ. And
most c ertainly the world does not see one heart beating in unity with all the hearts in the church.
How unlike the first church we are that had one heart and one mind.

We fail at this because we have rejected the cross that crucifies our hearts and thoughts. For all
our talk of the cross, we have rejected its power, proven by the bad fruit of division we see today. It is rare, if not impossible, to find two brothers in the Lord perfectly united in heart and mind in
Christ, let alone a whole church!

  • Psalm 133 A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like
    precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of
    his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life
    forevermore.

Unity in Jesus Christ is achieved only by hearing the voice of God. As we have seen, that takes
time to mature into men and women who can understand deeply the things of God. For this reason
Paul taught that if we differ on something in Jesus Christ, God, repeat God, will make it clear and
settle the difference.

  • All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think
    differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:15)

Only those mature in the way of the cross have ears that can hear unto perfect unity. Until you
mature in the cross, don’t claim the above promise. How sad, with all the effort, debate, resolutions,
and creeds bantered about by today’s church, we miss the power right before us to come into perfect
unity. If we would lay aside all of those things and let the cross crucify our minds and hearts God
would give us the heart and mind of Christ. And Christ is not divided, therefore perfect unity would
follow.

Let me give the reader an example. Let us say that a brother and I differ on when the Rapture
will take place. Whether it is pre, mid, or post tribulation. If we both go into the prayer closet,
mature in the power of the cross, and surrender all our though ts on the issue, God will give us the
thoughts of Jesus. Indeed, we would both come out of the prayer closet understanding what
Scripture has to say about the end times. Without this unity, we leave the church unprepared and
deluded about Christ’s return.

We will read the Bible just like we read any other novel or book unless we do one other thing.
We must go to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit and let God give life to the Scriptures we read. The
Pharisees, and most Christians today, make the same mistake of reading the Bible and think,
because their doctrine is correct to them, they possess eternal life. But we obtain sound doctrine and
unity only by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

  • You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are
    the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39–40)

I know many who “diligently study the Scriptures” yet hold no unity, no mind of Christ. They
will object to my call for unity by saying, “Then we all have to agree with you,” leaving in a huff.

Only God knows what His Word means and what He desires to say through it. All men must
give up their voices about the meaning of Scripture and let the Holy Spirit explain its words.
Indeed, more than that, we must come to Jesus so that He can show us how the Scriptures apply to
our lives. God makes Scripture alive and our voices only make them dead lifeless ink on paper. As
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, your eyes cannot possibly begin to understand what God has in mind.
Nor can your ears understand what is spoken in a sermon and how it applies to your life, if the Holy
Spirit doesn’t speak directly to you. As the verse below shows us, no one “knows the thoughts of
God except the Spirit of God.” No one! It doesn’t matter if a man has gone to Bible college or
passed through your church’s discipleship program, only God knows His thoughts. And God only
speaks His thoughts to those who have ears to hear. It doesn’t matter at all if you have brought
thousands to the Lord, or your church has grown in numbers, you do not have the thoughts of God
on the matter of your church growth unless you have heard His voice by way of the cross.

  • However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has
    prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all
    things, even the deep things of God. For who among men k nows the thoughts of a man except the
    man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
    We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand
    what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in
    words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit
    does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he
    cannot un derstand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:9–14)

When Paul preached he did not do so by the power of man or by applying “human wisdom” to
Scripture. Paul had been “taught by the Spirit” and so expressed “spiritual truths in spiritual words.”
Most preaching and counsel today is nothing but men stealing wo rds taught by other men. The
spirit of the world says a man must go to a university and read books to gain an education; to take
the mind God has given him and to apply it to a school of learning. How many approach Bible
study from the spirit of the world? How many Bible colleges teach with the same spirit of the world
where the reliance is not on the Holy Spirit and the cross, but what they think the Greek and
Hebrew mean? This only underscores the foolishness of man. To be impressed that someone can
tell you what the Greek or Hebrew meanings, shows you know nothing about the power of the Holy
Spirit. After all, what is the definition of the Greek and Hebrew, but just another interpretation into
a language, and every Bible translation claims to reflect the original language. After all, what did
the Greeks do? They couldn’t turn to their Bible teacher and ask, “What does the Greek say?”
Listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit may seem like foolishness to many, but this only shows
how true God is to His Word. Without hearing the vo ice of the Holy Spirit no man will accept the
Bible’s true meaning.

  • The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are
    foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1
    Corinthians 2:14)

When Paul and Peter had a disagreement it was the cross that solved the problem. Peter didn’t
become all defensive and say to Paul, “Hey, I have been in the Lord longer than you. I walked with
Jesus, you only saw him on the road to Damascus.” Pride had bee n crucified in Peter enough that he
repented immediately and unity was restored. And when Paul had a disagreement with Barnabas,
the cross revealed to all which man had the grace of God on their side. The unity of the Spirit was
maintained until Barnabas learned his lessons.

  • They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for
    Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. (Acts
    15:39–40)

If you think this perfect unity is not possible you will never receive ears that can hear. After all,
why should God talk to the doubtful and the unbelieving? If we cannot pray as Paul did for a spirit
of unity as we follow Jesus then you might as well become a Buddhist.

  • May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as
    you follow Christ Jesus. (Romans 15:5)

This kind of unity, that comes from the love of heaven into a church is difficult to obtain. No
doubt about it, our flesh does not want to give up its thoughts and ways. We each want to be
something in the church. We want to think we are correct on certain points and are unwilling to give up the way we come to our conclusions. But if we, as Ephesians tells us, “make every effort” to
listen to the Holy Spirit we will be given “unity” by the Holy Spirit.

  • Jeremiah 23:30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words
    supposedly from me.
  • Galatians 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
  • Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and
    one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called —one Lord, one faith, one
    baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3–6)

Every effort to surrender our lives, pickup a cross, and allow the Holy Spirit to rob us of our
thoughts will produce a unity where everyone with a full heart declares “one Lord, one faith, one
baptism.” Anything less than this slaps Christ in the face. Anything else called unity besides this is
a lie. And all who allow the Lord to give them ears to hear, will discover the joy of God granting
life forever more upon brothers who live in unity.

Chapter 11: God’s Voice Through Bible Reading

  • What is missing in most Bible Study today? What has been missing in your own study of the
    Scriptures?
  • How can we be united in heart and mind?
  • What things in your life keep you from having the mind of Christ?

Chapter 12

How to Hear God Through Others

  • … not to mention that you owe me your very self. (Philemon 1:19b)

In our pride, we hate to think that we owe someone for our salvation. For anyone to suggest that
he is a father to us in the Lord and we should respect and listen to him, grates against our flesh.

  • Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ
    Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Corinthians
    4:15–16)

“I don’t want to follow another man,” is the usual justification for rejecting godly advice today
in the church. “I don’t want to be taken in by another,” is the normal excuse for rejecting a fact that
someone may be more mature than us in the Lord. Our in dependent, prideful, and self-satisfied
Christianity has produced a hotbed of fertile ground for rebelling against God. While on the surface
of things these are valid concerns, but upon digging deeper we discover it is a cover up for sin. This
is easy to see because God has promised to protect us from every false Christian and church, if we
only die to ourselves. This promise is found in Proverbs, God declares He holds our victory and is a
shield that will protect and guard us from the ways of wicked man, if, repeat if, our walk is
blameless. Not in the sense that we are perfect, but blameless in keeping a good conscious that
confesses sin the moment God shows us. If we repent deeply as He shows, then we shall become
blameless in His sight by the blood of Jesus.

  • For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds
    victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the
    course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right
    and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant
    to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you
    from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to
    walk in dark ways, (Proverbs 2:6–13)

If we have ears to hear, the very mouth of God gives us knowledge and understanding and
protects us from false brothers. I do not have to walk around all paranoid about being taken in by
another man, because God has promised to deliver from every false doc trine. All I need to do is
listen for His voice and guidance. Just as God delivered Paul, so too, will He protect us if we die to
ourselves. The mere fact we know the Father’s voice means that we can run from unfamiliar
voices and God protects us long before any real danger occurs.

Whenever I have almost slipped into being taken in by someone, I don’t blame that person I
blame myself. I ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart and life to reveal what about my flesh was
taken in by a man. God is always faithful to speak and show why I w as taken in and I can then
submit it to God to be crucified unto death. If Adam had done this in the Garden of Eden, his flesh would not have desired to eat the forbidden fruit.

  • 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
    unrighteousness.
  • 2 Corinthians 11:26b… and in danger from false brothers.
    Of course many speak of getting a bad feeling about the message of the cross. That is the flesh and the Evil One
    trying to keep them from the Truth.

Proverbs 15:22 tells us that, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they
succeed.” But how do we know which counselors to listen to? How can we tell when God speaks
through a man or not? The greatest danger is that we might accept advice if we think someone is
godly. If we believe someone to be a trusted brother or sister and godly in our own sight, then we
will accept their advice; especially if it agrees with what we want to hear. Scripture reveals that we
should pay no attention to any man but to listen for the voice of God; the presence of the Lord
working through that man. Maybe even listen to a donkey, as was the case with Balaam.

The main point here is, most people are just too prideful to accept God speaking through
anyone. In our pride we have to have the voice of God come in certain ways, and by all means it has
to say what we think it should say. Like Naaman we go away angry and full of rage if God d oesn’t
come to us with who we expect or in the tone we like.

  • Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh
    will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he
    would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over
    the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than
    any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a
    rage. Naaman ’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some
    great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be
    cleansed’!” (2 Kings 5:10–13)

Know this, when God speaks He will always, repeat always, seek to humble you. But like
Naaman we want to be told “to do some great thing” before we will act. We want people to make a
fuss over us because we think we are worthy. We want men to “come out to” us and “stand and call
on the name of the Lord,” to “wave his hand over the spot” of our sin and cure us. We want the
attention we think we deserve.

Over the years we have known many who cannot accept advice from a woman or from a man,
they simply will not listen. My sermons usually have a tone about them that most individuals don’t
like. My words are not smooth and gentle, and do not allow listeners to keep their pride intact.
Therefore people become indignant and thus cannot hear the voice of the Lord speaking through my
sermons. So how can we know if God speaks through a man, without following a man? Easy, ask
yourself this question at all times. Reg ardless of who the man is or is not in our eyes, is God
speaking through him? Many times I sense God speaking through many different individuals and
situations. While great care and testing of everything occurs and a lot of things rejected, the attitude
is always one of listening.

David always listened and we know he had a heart after God’s. King David rode in from a battle
with his army and a man began to pelt him with stones. One man against a whole army, yet David
could hear the voice of God. David, who in an instant could have d efended himself, struck back or
allowed someone else to defend him, allows God to talk to him. David with his special guard on his
right and left must have felt tempted to strike at God’s voice. But David came to the conclusion that
the Lord had told the m an to throw stones and curse him. Unless you are willing to hear everything,
from anyone that God would speak to you, don’t bother trying to listen.

  • As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from
    there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the
    king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and
    left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The Lord has
    repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The
    Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a
    man of blood!” Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my
    lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” But the king said, “What do you and I have in
    common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can
    ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my
    own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him
    curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with
    good for the cursing I am receiving today.” (2 Samuel 16:5–12)

“For the Lord has told him to;” could you tolerate these types of words from such an unworthy
person? Until you can say yes, with the Holy Spirit bearing witness to that fact, you will easily be
taken in by a man, for you listen to whoever speaks to your flesh, keeps your pride in place, and
comes to you on the terms you think you desire. The secret to having ears to hear is a humility that
can hear God speak in whatever manner and through whomever He chooses. Do you really want
ears to hear?

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you
    who believed.

Chapter 12: How to Hear God Through Others

  • Why does God give us men to teach us His ways?
  • What protects us from false prophets?
  • What areas in your life do not hear from God clearly on and tend to follow men? What areas
    do you resist following men?
  • Ask God for humility to accept correction from others.

Chapter 13

When God Is Silent

  • “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither
    remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do
    not fear me? (Isaiah 57:11)

When God turns silent we should become very worried and concerned. How sad that many
people do not even fear the silence because their hearts are cold and dead. The only time that Jesus
felt cut off from the voice of the Father, was when He was crucified o n the cross. When Jesus cried,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” our sins which He had taken upon Himself caused
something to happen that Jesus had never experienced before. God became silent. The fear of God’s
silence caused David to pray the below Psalm because he knew that if God remained silent he
would “be like those who have gone down to the pit.”

  • Of David. To you I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I
    will be like those who have gone down to the pit. (Psalms 28:1)

Those who do not believe God talks to His children are already doomed because of unbelief.
For us, however, who know a living God, realize that when He turns His face from us we are being
disciplined. True lovers of God long for the voice of their beloved and when the voice becomes
silent, nothing else matters. And I do mean nothing else!

The temptation is to try and find another voice to fill the void. Most people begin to mock to
themselves the voice of God that they heard before. For this reason, we see failure and sins within
the church today. Men take the voice they heard once, refuse to repent when God becomes silent
and fill the emptiness with their own voices or the voices of other men. Many do not even realize
that God no longer talks to them, but it is the voice of the evil One masking as an angel of light.

Fellowship was broken when our father Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. God used to come
to Adam in the cool of the day to fellowship with him. Jesus Christ came and died so that we
might be filled with the righteousness of God, and once again begin to fellowship and hear his
voice. For this reason, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is the only a source of salvation
for those who obey.

  • … and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews
    5:9)

Without more holiness, by faith and grace, God cannot and will not talk to us. We must grow
into a deeper maturity of holiness. You cannot tell a child things that concern adulthood, but you
must wait until the child matures. If however, the child when thirty years old still cannot
comprehend adult concepts, something is terribly wrong. This is why Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 3:2, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not
ready.” And the writer of Hebrews knew one must wait upon God before moving into new areas of
holiness.

  • John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will
    indeed die in your sins.” [Believing who Jesus is, means that we believe that just as He was one with the Father, Jesus
    came to bring that same relationship.]
  • 2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
    Genesis 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool
    of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

God’s will is that we go from strength the strength, growing ever closer in our fellowship with
Him until we enter heaven. God only remains silent because we have sinned or because of sinful
immaturity. When we act bad and sin, God puts us in the corner to see if we will repent. When He
needs to purify us m ore, God becomes silent to see if our hearts will seek Him and Him alone. One
example is found in 2 Chronicles when God left King Hezekiah all alone to “know everything that
was in his heart.”

  • But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had
    occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. (2
    Chronicles 32:31)

Now you might think that God already knows our hearts and that is true. Just as God asked
Adam, “Where are you?” when He certainly knew where Adam hid. Sin separates us from God
and we need to ask ourselves these questions. “What is wrong with me? How have I sinned?” In
Adam’s case he ate what he should not have and in King Hezekiah’s case, pride and not piety, had
caused him to boast sinfully.

When God becomes silent in your life, it is the time to slow way down, to become very quiet
and to wait as long as it takes for God to speak again. The temptation, however, is to find comfort in
something else. It may be a movement of God, a good Christian book, or even in doing something
for Him, but if God is not in it then you labor in vain. Do as Isaiah proclaims, wait on the Lord
and when He does speak again, accept all that He has to say.

  • I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.
    (Isaiah 8:17)

Jesus had the Spirit without limit and fellowshipped continually with God. We on the other
hand, at best, stumble in many ways and must undergo painful discipline to have our
relationship restored as we mature.

Discipline is not always for punishment for something done wrong, but also for the purpose of
growth. The more we grow in righteousness, the deeper our depth of fellowship with God becomes.
As a child grows in wisdom and knowledge, the fellowship between parent and child also grows.
We see how God attempted to mature the Israelites as they came out of Egypt through the miracles He performed. The warning for us is that they never learned from their lessons. In between the
miracles God performed was moments of relative silence. During these silent times God wanted the
Israelites to think on what sins He had revealed to them and for their faith to grow. In other words,
God wanted to show them something wicked about themselves so that they could repent and gain a
closer fellowship with Him. But alas, they never did learn but whined, moaned, and grumbled to the
point it cost them the Promised Land. We too forfeit many promises of God because we do not
learn our lessons. In fact, many forfeit Jesus because they remain unwilling to be taught by God.
When the Israelites first came out of Egypt, God performed His miracles quickly and closely
together. For example, they doubted God would provide water, and without a single rebuke he gave
them water. However, when similar situations arose, their faith did not increase, therefore, God
began to bring them under judgment.

  • Hebrews 6:3 And God permitting, we will do so.
  • Psalms 84:7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
  • Genesis 3:9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
  • 2 Kings 20:12–13 At that time Merodach -Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift,
    because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness. Hezekiah received the messengers and showed them all that was in his
    storehouses—the silver, the go ld, the spices and the fine oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures.
    There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
  • Psalms 127:1–2 A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless
    the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for
    food to eat—for he gr ants sleep to those he loves.
  • John 3:34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
  • James 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep
    his whole body in check.
  • Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of
    righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

The same is true for us. Most who come to God at first hear God’s voice quickly and
powerfully. Like He did with the Israelites, God demonstrates that He can be counted on and
trusted. However, since we still have so much sin and immaturity God walks us th rough the desert
to humble us. He grows more quiet and takes longer to perform miracles and to speak to us. During
these brief silent times the testing of our hearts occurs.

  • Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you
    and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his
    commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

God, during times of silence seeks to humble us and to show us our hearts. Also during times
when God seems far away, although He is always right there, He looks for true faith that trusts in
Jesus in spite of feelings or circumstances. It reveals those wh o follow Jesus because they love Him
and those who selfishly follow Jesus because of the food, rest, peace, and salvation He offers. If
we want ears that can hear we must overcome the flesh that seeks a god who blesses our wide gate
and wide road.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom
    the fulfillment of the ages has come.
  • Exodus 15:22–26 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they
    traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was
    bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to
    drink?” Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and
    the water became sweet. There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you
    listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his
    commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am
    the Lord, who heals you.”
  • John 6:26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but
    because you ate the loaves and had your fill.

Chapter 13: When God Is Silent

  • Why does God grow silent at times?
  • Have you experienced the silence of God before? How did you feel during this time?
  • How can you make the most of God’s silence?

Chapter 14

The Facial Expressions of God

  • Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light.
    But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34)

Not all voices and words come from the mouth. Just as man was created in God’s image so we
know that God communicates beyond verbal ways. We communicate with the expressions, facial
movements, hand gestures, and even in the rising of an eyebrow. Indeed, we communicate with our
eyes just as a lamp lights a room. What is inside shines out and communicates things hidden in the
soul. So it is with God; the face of God through Jesus communicates volumes. In fact, when we
finally die and see Jesus, the Bible tells us we shall be like Him because we see Him face to face.

As a pastor and parent many times it is not what I say that is important, but what I do not say
verbally. Many times my silence communicates more words. Whether it be unspoken love or
rebuke, the voice is clear and resounds more than words. Those that I am closest to in the Lord
often sense the love of Christ that flows through me to them by what shines out through my eyes. In
the same way, those that are stubborn or rebellious if they had soft hearts would know that God is
angry and frustrated not because I rebuke or admonish them, but that my eyes communicate
something much more serious than words ever could.

By seeking the face of God we can grow to become keenly aware of His emotions. As we work
out our salvation with fear and trembling, we should become very astute to the emotions of the one
we love with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. If we do this then we can say with the Psalmist,
“Blessed are all who take refuge in him” for they know when God smiles and when He frowns. And
at the first sign of frowning they run to the mercy seat to repent, for they have learned to “Kiss the
Son.”

  • Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a
    moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalms 2:12)

Like the burning bush, the majority of God’s children are completely unaware of the moods of
the Father. How sad that many cannot even hear Jesus sigh deeply, let alone read His face and so
never sense the need to repent from the heart.

  • He sighed deeply… (Mark 8:12)

When we have soft hearts we will hear Jesus speak to us in ways that shatter the soul, or
exhilarate the heart. Peter experienced the shattering of the soul. When Peter first heard the call of
God to come follow Jesus he fell to his knees in humility.

  • When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful
    man!” (Luke 5:8)
  • 1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in
    part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
  • 1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we
    know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

After many years of following Christ, Peter protested that he would not deny Jesus. Later after
his denial, all it took was a glance by Jesus and his soul was shattered. The mark of a soft heart
before God is one that just doesn’t hear the voice of God and respond, but one that picks up on His
ever so subtle moods. As with any mature child, what once required a loud verbal command can be
communicated with a glance of the eyes. As with any newlywed couple that at first communicated
their love with flowers an d grand gestures, in old age can sit together without saying a word and
bask in the love God has worked. See how Peter responds to the look of the Lord. Jesus “looked
straight at Peter” and he went out and wept “bitterly.”

  • The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken
    to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and
    wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61–62)

In the same way, Jesus meet Paul on the Damascus road and shouted at him and blinded him.
But as their relationship grew deeper all it took for Paul to feel strengthened in faith was to know
Jesus stood at his side.

  • But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully
    proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. (2 Timothy
    4:17)

May we all be so blessed that all it takes is for the Lord to stand at our side and give us strength.
May we sense His presence and feel courageous. All we need is a glance to cause us weep over our
sins.

Paul new the emotions of God and therefore wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:10, “We always carry
around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, may also be revealed in our body.”
As a believer and disciple of Jesus I am keenly aware of God’s emo tions toward me. And God
communicates both His displeasure (“death of Jesus”) and His pleasure that I am letting the blood
of Jesus do its work, (“life of Jesus”). I hear much more than words, I feel and sense the emotions
of God. Indeed, as He works more righteousness, the working out of His Word occurs more through
a quick sense of God’s emotion and heart than a bunch of commands. Though I always strive to
uphold commands of God, the face of God communicates much. This is truly seeking the heart of
God. W hen a man seeks the heart of God, hearing not only the voice of God but sensing His facial
expressions, he will be granted a heart like David’s. A heart that’s after God’s own heart and obeys
everything He asks him to do.

  • After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David
    son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

Chapter 14: The Facial Expressions of God

  • Think of the ways facial expressions and body language effect communication.
  • Why is it important to read and understand the emotions of God?
  • List some emotions such as love, anger or disappointment. In what ways can you feel these
    emotions in God?
  • How would understanding the emotions of God help you to hear Him clearer?

Chapter 15

Adulthood – The Spirit of Pentecost

  • The Twelve Apostles followed Jesus for many years and stayed with Him all through His trials.
    You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father
    conferred one on me, (Luke 22:28–29)

Just as Jesus could give them the kingdom of heaven, if we suffer with Christ we too will have
the kingdom conferred on us. Scripture is clear, without sharing in the sufferings of Christ in the
world we have no hope of receiving the peace of heaven in the next world. This is not a well
accepted doctrine in the church today and, in many circles, it causes one to be falsely accused of
preaching salvation by works. We do not wish to enter into that debate here, but want to talk about
adulthood in Christ, those who have g ained ears that can hear.

Remember, being born again is like human birth. We must be born again and grow up. The
Twelve picked up their crosses and followed Jesus all the way to His death on the cross. This truth
caused them to die to themselves, learn from their sins, and thus grow up in God. After the
resurrection, Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit and they became ready to teach others at the
day of Pentecost. After all, they died enough to self that Jesus remained alive in them and He
could speak with authority through them. Most of their sufferings while following Jesus when He
walked the earth, matured them, but now after Pentecost they suffered for the sake of others. This
demonstrates a true life of selfless love and a sign of adulthood in God.

Think how selfish a baby behaves at birth. He learns to crawl and stand up all for self. He walks,
eats, and plays for himself. Parents have to teach children the virtue of unselfishness. Indeed, the
sufferings of an infant’s bumping into a table, falling down, and later getting into trouble as
teenagers result from their own folly. Only as an adult does selfless love seem to occur when a
parent works to provide for the family. Even then we know it is selfish love, for only the cross rids a
man of sinful love.

Again, children only focus on themselves and must be taught concern for others. The disciples
had learned this, died to self, and could love others as the Holy Spirit directed and empowered
them. Paul also let the sufferings of Christ work a death to self that allowed the love of heaven to
move through him. Therefore Paul wrote that he endured everything for the sake of others.

  • Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is
    in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10)

Such selfless love, that does not even follow Jesus for the sake of salvation, was so real that Paul wished he could be sent to hell for the sake of others. When we are dead to self we will be like
Christ who literally was cursed for our sakes. This wonderful depth of love comes when we have
ears than can hear. Indeed, it is the whole goal of faith.

  • Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in
    his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
  • John 20:21–23 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he
    breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not
    forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  • Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the
    body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. John 20:22–23 And with that he
    breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not
    forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  • … The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6b)

The book of Acts, from Pentecost on, tells the story of the acts of the Holy Spirit. We tend to
think of it as the book of acts of the first Christians, but it’s not. It is a book about the voice of God
moving and empowering those who truly believe in Jesus.

From tongues of fire, to the death of Ananias and Sapphira, we see the Holy Spirit speaking and
moving in the lives of all who had ears to hear. The Holy Spirit could easily communicate God’s
will. In the following passage, we see disciples who had ears to hear. They did not seek anything
special from the Lord. In the middle of worshipping God they heard the Holy Spirit’s voice say,
“Set apart.. .”

  • While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas
    and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

The book of Acts is not the story of church committees planning acts for God; nor the story of
man’s wisdom striving to increase church membership. Never is the book of Acts about man; it is
about the voice of the Holy Spirit. Look at the following Scriptu re and you will see the Holy Spirit
intimately directing when, how, and in what ways a man should be evangelized.

  • So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all
    the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on
    his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the boo k of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip,
    “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading
    Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. (Acts 8:27–30)

“The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’” The Holy Spirit’s voice was clear
and to the point—“that chariot,” not some other chariot. The Spirit told Philip to just “stay near it”
and wait to see what the Lord would direct next. Immed iately in obedience to that voice, Philip
went with the mind of Christ and began to share the gospel. This speaking by the Holy Spirit did
not occur to make Philip feel special, but to fulfill a very serious work in the humility of Christ. The
question is, are we willing to go onto maturity so that we are available for the Holy Spirit to move
and speak to us? Like Peter, are we so dead to our own plans that when we hear the Holy Spirit to
tell us to “go downstairs” and “not hesitate,” will we trust Jesus an d obey?

  • While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking
    for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” (Acts
    10:19–20)

Can we trust God even when the Holy Spirit warns us that we are about to suffer? Do we really
want to hear the Holy Spirit tell us such things? Remember, Jesus came to the cross knowing that it
was the Father’s will. Jesus could hear God clearly and prayed until He could submit with joy. In the same way, are you honestly willing to hear both the good and bad that God has planned for your
life? Of course we use bad in a human sense, because everything God plans and speaks to us is for
our good, even when it feels bad for us. Could we hear what Paul heard and rejoice?

  • Romans 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of
    my own race.
  • John 12:27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very
    reason I came to this hour. [Let us not pray that God deliver us from our hour of suffering, but rather, that we might
    be faithful in that hour.]
  • I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
    (Acts 20:23)

Most people in the church today are unwilling to listen to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, they cannot
even get past the sermons I preach because it offends and they don’t like the tone. Few can give up
their lives enough for God to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the spirit of maturity in
“adult” disciples’ lives. They have grown up and are willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and joyfully
obey that voice. They have learned to distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit from others. They
know which v oice to run from and which to run toward. Blessed are those who have matured unto
adulthood in Jesus Christ. Those who have ears to hear allow the Holy Spirit to work a life of true
heavenly inspired love for others.

Chapter 15: Adulthood – The Spirit of Pentecost

  • What transformation took place in the apostles after Pentecost?
  • What is the real purpose for hearing God?
  • List some things you resist in hearing from God. Take one thing on your list and ask God to
    help you to have a willing heart to obey.

Chapter 16

Judgment and Judging

One of the greatest sins and weaknesses in the church today is judging. We are far too quick to
declare, “Oh, they have a good heart in the Lord,” or more often, we pronounce a judgment like,
“They are wicked and full of sin.” To make any judgment, whether good or bad, is a sin if we have
not heard from God to declare that judgment. Jesus could judge without being judgmental because
He did not judge, but spoke judgements only as He heard God speak them. Jesus was not the judge,
only the messenger.

  • By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please
    myself but him who sent me. (John 5:30)

We too must learn to shut up and only speak a word of judgement as we “hear” from God. And
if we do not hear anything about anyone or about a situation, we should not utter or think anything
about it. We have hinted through this book that only a fool delig hts in airing his opinion, let us now
look directly at the Scripture.

  • A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)

When we feel good about stating our judgments, whether the judgment is good or bad, we play
the fool. God sees us as a fool. Indeed, the angels and the saints who have died no doubt shake their
heads in dismay. They have beheld the holiness of God and cann ot believe we so quickly voice our
opinions as judgments. Indeed, we should know that even the archangel Michael did not say more
than God commanded him to declare. But how quickly we speak without first listening God.

  • But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did
    not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9)

God is the only one pure enough to make any judgment and when we speak on our own we tell
God we are wiser than He. Often when by the Spirit we point out the sin in a situation, someone
will respond by saying, “Oh, I know they love the Lord, they have a go od heart.” Such statements
are full of pride, unless we hear God tell us that the person has a good heart. In the following
passage John could declared the truth about a fellow believer because the Holy Spirit, which is the
spirit of truth, testified that his good evaluation of another was confirmed by God. John only
repeated what he heard from the Holy Spirit.

  • Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him,
    and you know that our testimony is true. (3 John 1:12)

John was mature, full of the Holy Spirit and had enough of the cross in his life to put to death
his opinions about others. Therefore he could say, “and you know that our testimony is true.”

We must speak judgments only as the Holy Spirit directs and in order to hear those directions
we must be crucified to our thoughts. For this reason Peter could judge the heart of a couple in the first church. Yes, only God knows the heart of each person, but clearly God reveals those hearts to
those who can hear Him speak. Peter could say to Ananias, “how is it that Satan has so filled your
heart?” because God spoke to Peter and revealed the man’s heart.

  • [So dead was John to himself that he was able to test for a lie or for truth by the mere fact if someone
    listened to what he had to say.] 1 John 4:6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is
    not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
  • Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy
    Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? (Acts 5:3)

As Jesus pointed out in the following passage, we “judge by human standards” and with our
sinful eyes and ears. We measure things by outward appearance and so always make wrong
judgments. We must “stop” our judging and learn how to make a “right judgment.”

  • Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. (John 7:24)

Therefore, any judgment we make, good or bad, correct or incorrect is at best stained deeply
with sin. We judge others as good, or not so bad, if we like them or if they are similar to us in
nature. We judge others as evil if we don’t personally like their actions.

  • You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right,
    because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. (John 8:15–16)

When we judge we stand alone. Jesus, however, never stood alone because He only repeated
what the Father told Him, and therefore could say “I stand with the Father.” We should be like Jesus
that passes judgment on no one and wait for the Father to give us His insight and judgments on
every issue. Likewise, Paul taught that the spiritual man makes judgments about all things. For
the spiritual man listens to the Holy Spirit before ever making a judgment on anything or anyone.
When we are dead enough to self to say “I stand with the Father” then we can make judgments. In
reality, we do not make the judgment, rather, we hear fro m God about His judgments and merely
rely His verdict. Jesus walked with this spirit of humility, as should we.

  • “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from
    him I tell the world.” (John 8:26)

Whatever Jesus “heard from” God, He told the world. Jesus never have offered His opinion or
thoughts on any matter, but only repeated what God spoke to Him. And if we do not hear God’s
clear voice in a judgment we should walk with great humility and fear. Many things are simply not
our business and we should judge nothing before the appointed time by God.

“Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit” spoke some powerful judgmental words. Most Christian
circles today would condemn Paul as unloving, but he judged without being judgmental as Jesus
commanded. Paul could do this because he was not the one doing the judging. God judged
through Paul and he understood the judgment because he could hear the Father’s voice. Paul could
judge Elymas and call him “a child of the devil” because, like Jesus, Paul heard the voice of God.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to
    any man’s judgment.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work
    with your hands, just as we told you.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will
    bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive
    his praise from God.
  • Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
  • But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the
    proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked
    straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!
    You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the
    Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be
    unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped
    about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he
    believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13:8–12)

Our Christianity remains so powerless today and so full of unloving, self-righteous judgments
because we are not dead enough to our opinions to hear from God the truth. Again the vast majority
of the time, most things are none of our business, but when God makes them our business we dare
not open our mouths to voice a judgment unless we have heard from the Father “what” to say and
“how” to say it.

  • For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and
    how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father
    has told me to say.” (John 12:49–50, emphasis added)

This is the nature of eternal life; to only say “what the Father has told” us to say. When we
speak on our own we slander even if we are correct, for we play God and have sought to remove
Him from His throne. How sad to contemplate the many lives ruined because we don’t have ears to
hear God’s voice before declaring a judgment.

Chapter 16: Judgment and Judging

  • What causes someone to act like a fool?
  • Why is it dangerous to make judgments—good or bad?
  • List some “human standards” we tend to make judgments by.
  • How would this change if we made judgments by the Spirit?

Chapter 17

God’s Voice and Conviction of Sin

  • But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own;
    he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)

Truly there is no condemnation in Christ, but there is conviction in Christ. Being filled with the
Holy Spirit means we are filled with a “Spirit of truth.” Indeed, the Holy Spirit will speak only what
he hears and will guide us “into all truth.” Since we are, by nature, totally vile and wicked a battle
wages in our souls. The Spirit of Truth tries to speak truth to us who naturally listen to lies. Man in
his sinful nature upon first hearing the truth thinks it is a lie, because it is not his natural language.
This is why so many people look for churches where they feel comfortable and miss salvation, for
we are comfortable with lies. Most people who consider coming to the church where I pastor don’t
like it at first. Even with all the love and joy it is not always comfortable because the Holy Sp irit
with His truth speaks to them things they do not want to hear. They think the truth is a foreign
language and are often afraid at first. Paul writes of this battle in Galatians.

  • For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful
    nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)

A “conflict” takes place. The Holy Spirit speaks the truth and our sinful nature says, “No it is a
lie.” To further intensify the battle Satan whispers to us that the truth we hear from the Holy Spirit
is a lie. Those that listen to the Holy Spirit and believe what Jesus says, will choose to do what they
don’t want to do. The very heart of the message of the cross is doing what we do not want to do.
False Christianity allows you to do what you want and to obey your own voice.

It should not surprise us that we often feel convicted of sin because the sinful nature always
wants to live the lie sin offers. In order to have more of the Holy Spirit, guiding us into deeper truth,
we must often feel convicted of what is wrong. And to k eep us from going back to our lies the Holy
Spirit must convict us by reminding us of the real truth.

Often two extremes occur with conviction. There are those who will not listen to any conviction
because they call it condemnation from the Devil, and then there are those who listen to every voice
concerning sin in their lives. Both lead to and ruin. We sh ould listen to the Holy Spirit convicting us
in the smallest of details in our lives , but we should also know which voices to ignore.

Let us look at and listen to one of the greatest lies Satan tells the church today that costs millions
true salvation in Jesus. Because the Devil lost to Scripture when tempting Jesus, he tried to quote
Scripture to Jesus. In other words, the Devil tried to use Scripture to get Jesus to sin.

  • Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you
    are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels
    concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a
    stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (Matthew 4:5–7)
  • Romans 3:12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
  • Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it
    penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Devil quoted Psalm 91:11–12 and he quoted it in context. There was nothing tricky about
the Scripture Satan used, except it was Satan who quoted it, and therein lies the danger. The
Scripture was true but it did not come from the Holy Spirit so it was powerless and poisonous. For
this reason, the Bible declares that no one can really say “‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy
Spirit.” Lots of individuals can and do declare that Jesus is Lord, but there is no real truth in it
and they are not saved. Satan has lifted up the church to the “highest point of the temple” and
quotes verses about God’s love and concern for them. And in the mist of quoting Scriptures about
God’s love Satan, bids them to jump off. They are after all, children of the King and loved by Him.
How many today obey the voice of Satan as he quotes Scripture to their everlasting destruction. So
many upon their death beds are hearing Satan quoting them the Scriptures.

Men often speak against my preaching and judge my character as evil. Sometimes they are even
correct about a fault or sin in my life. Indeed, the Devil knows my sins all too well and when he
speaks to me about them I can only conclude he is correct. Of cou rse, many other times men lie
about my character and so does Satan. What is the solution to this dilemma? What we have been
saying all along. We must come to recognize the Shepherd’s voice and to submit to that voice’s
conviction of sin. Let’s look at a biblical example.

  • David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is
    great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” (2 Samuel 24:14)

God still had to discipline David and punish David for his sins. But David knew better than to
listen to and submit to the voice of wicked men. David still received conviction of sin by a man
named Gad whom God sent, but he listened for the voice of the Ho ly Spirit in everything.

Do not sin by refusing conviction when God strikes hard against your sin. On the other hand, do
not accept any judgment that does not have the Holy Spirit in it, even if the accusers quote
Scripture. Do not even listen to yourself quoting Scriptures about your life, but let the Holy Spirit
speak and guide. The Holy Spirit is your counselor, so listen to the counsel He speaks.

As a last note, let me share with you one tactic to use in spiritual warfare. Assume that every
judgment a man brings against you is true. Assume that everything the Devil speaks against you is
true. Assume all those things with a pure heart, looking for signs of sin, evil motives and actions
that prove such judgments to be true. Do that, but run immediately to the Lord with an honest desire
to repent. Satan certainly will not often speak to you about your sins because he does not want you
running to God. A nd when men point out faults and sins and you run to God for a changed life, you
will thank them for they have done you a favor. In all that you do, seek out and listen for the voice
of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Do this and “the God of peace” w ill “sanctify you through
and through” by the conviction of what is Truth.

  • May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul
    and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful
    and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3
  • John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all
    things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Chapter 17: God’s Voice and Conviction of Sin

  • Explain the difference between condemnation and conviction.
  • Why do you think that we tend to want to believe lies?
  • How have you experienced the two extremes of conviction in your life?
  • Are there areas in your life that you feel that someone has misjudged you? Take some time
    to hear from the Lord and allow Him to convict you of the Truth.

Chapter 18

The Fruit of Old Age

The good fruit of old age causes a disciple to hear God very loud and clear. John, an older man by
the time of Revelation, because of the Word of God and the sufferings in Christ, was isolated on the
Island of Patmos. Whether on an island or not, we become more isolated from the world with each
passing year, if we are true disciples of Jesus who live as strangers in this world.

  • I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours
    in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the
    Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Revelation 1:9–10)

Those who have given up all for Jesus can enjoy sweet fellowship with God. When the flesh
doesn’t have to be doing something, lusts are tamed, and appetites made obedient with self control
what rest is theirs in Christ. Like John, we become dead to the world and we will hear the “loud
voice” of the Lord. The more deafened we are to the world the more the voice of the Lord will
resound like a “trumpet” in ears that can hear.

Or, like Paul, we will know that we are ready to meet the living God on good terms. Not in
presumptuous faith like most, but because we have remained faithful as the cross worked death to
self in us. Faith inspired by grace rather than the belief of man will work a freedom where the Holy
Spirit can speak clearly that it is time to die joyfully in Jesus. Because, Paul follow ed the voice of
the Holy Spirit to pour himself out for the sake of others, that same Holy Spirit assured him it was
time to die and what awaited him.

  • For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I
    have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me
    the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the rig hteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and
    not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6–8)

Peter likewise knew from the Lord that it was almost time to die because he had been a “drink
offering”
to others. And Jesus said that God would always honor those who serve Him. How true
it is that Jesus leaves none who have true faith as orphans when He speaks His voice guides,
protects, empowers, rebukes, comforts, enlightens, and makes clear His plans for us.

  • … because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. (2
    Peter 1:14)

Not all of God’s children will live to an old age, yet may still hear the voice of God calling them home. Some may even go home raptured by visions of God’s power amidst the sufferings of Christ
as Stephen did. Others of us may pass through darker valleys when God hides His face and
silences His voice as we die. Let them count it as joyful discipline.

  • Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things
    promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and
    strangers on earth.
  • 2 Peter 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found
    spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
  • Numbers 14:44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though
    neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp.
  • John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will
    honor the one who serves me.

Still others may be taken in an instant through accidents and failure of our bodies, but let all who
honestly have taken up their cross, denied self, and followed the voice of God have rich faith. God
is merciful and knows how each of us should die. He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can
bare and however we die, it is meant to rid us of sin and self and to bring us into God’s
righteousness and holiness. Just listen for the voice that tells you it is almost time. And if God
seeks to make you afraid of Him don’t argue Scripture back at the Holy Spirit, submit and trust
even when God slays you.

God seeks to speak to many, but they quote their favorite Scripture and try to rebuke Him with
it. As a result, God will just shut up toward such people and leave them with their own voices and a
Christian belief that is a lie. I often shut up when trying to bless someone with a Scripture when
they refuse to repent and retaliate by quoting me a Scripture about God’s love.

Let us learn our lessons, soften our hearts, and open wide our souls even near death, for
“precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15). Let those who die
young in the Lord be like the good thief on the cross, asking nothin g more than for Jesus to
remember them. Let us not be like the other thief that wanted deliverance from the message of the
cross.

Children are amazed by the most basic of things about life but as we mature we can glory in the
wisdom of daily life. In the same way, as we grow up in the Lord, we at first struggle to believe that
God actually talks to us today, but as we mature we marvel at the wisdom of Him who has spoken
so often to us. “Now” has “come” the time when we who are dead in our sins hear God and are
alive because we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

  • I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son
    of God and those who hear will live. (John 5:25)

For this reason, Jesus told us not to be amazed, that is, not to even bother asking the question,
“Does God speak to us today?” For Jesus tells us that not only does God speak to those who obey,
but a time is coming when everyone will hear the voice of God.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to
be condemned. (John 5:28–29)

  • Acts 7:56–58 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
    At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the
    city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful;
    he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out
    so that you can stand up under it.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our
    Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was
    strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.
  • Acts 3:26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you
    from your wicked ways.”
  • Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

We, as God’s children, at first feel amazed that He talks to us, but when we grow old in Jesus
we will not only hear His voice but also His trumpets and more. We will see Jesus face to face, see
His emotions and hear His lips speak more clearly than we hav e ever heard a human speak.

  • Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part;
    then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Here in this world we hear but a faint whisper of God. Even when He shouts and His voice
breaks the cedars of Lebanon, it is but a whisper of what is to come. As Job records “faint” is the
“whisper we hear of him.”

  • And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can
    understand the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14)

May God give us ears to hear that faint whisper in our daily life. In our old age, even though we
might grow physically deaf, God’s whisper will become clearer and clearer. And when God speaks,
we will have ears that can hear no matter how faint His voice might be.

  • Psalms 29:5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

Chapter 18: The Fruit of Old Age

  • What can we look forward to as believers in Christ?
  • What are the benefits of maturity?
  • Do you fear death? Draw nearer to God in order to hear His voice of comfort.

Chapter 19

First Step – Laying A Foundation

  • The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not
    fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does
    not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:25–26)

Jesus said, “But everyone who hears these words” and does not lay a foundation on rock is
foolish indeed. So, how does someone get started hearing God? How does one lay a foundation on
rock? How can a foundation be laid that will not end in deceiving ourse lves about the voice we
think we heard?

First of all, a foundation of rock is hard. It is hard work to build upon the rock Jesus Christ.
Quick easy answers to hearing God are sand and end in the destruction of those who build upon it.
Everyone looks for a church they feel comfortable at and they do the same with hearing God’s
voice. We want it easy and simple, but wrestling with our flesh to hear God correctly will require
tedious work. Day in and day out a man will have to dig into rock, sweating, and working until the
foundation is thoroughly laid. It is boring work, often doing the same thing day after day until the
foundation is dug. To read only Scripture without imposing any explanation, understanding, or
church dogma is tough, tedious work, especially when our flesh would love to do something more
exciting. This is why so many churches seek excitement—they feel bored with the Lord.

Only after the foundations is laid can any thought be given to building the actual house. Being
crucified to self is not comfortable and periods of confusion and perplexity accompany anyone
trying to hear God’s voice correctly. Like Paul, you will feel tem pted to despair. God will seek to
keep you weak though the cross, a very unpleasurable thing to endure.

  • We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; (2 Corinthians 4:8)

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is, “Do I really want to hear God’s voice?” If
so, then start with Romans 12.

  • Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy
    and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern
    of this world, but be transformed by the renewing o f your mind. Then you will be able to test and
    approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1–2)

Go quietly into your prayer closet, or in the secret place of your heart and offer your body as a
living sacrifice to God. Tell Him your body is His to do with as He pleases. You will arise, sleep,
give, work, love, labor, and everything else done in the b ody only at the leading of His Holy Spirit.
Tell Him you will listen for His voice only and do all that voice calls you to do. That you will learn
the lessons He seeks to teach you and hate your life for His sake. Paul tells us this is an honest act
of spi ritual worship. Anything less, is a man worshipping an idol he has made. An idol named
“Jesus” but it still an idol. Only those who listen to God, offering their bodies, have ears to hear.

Paul said that we should no longer follow the “pattern of this world.” We cannot discuss all the
patterns of the world here, but we will touch on a few. One of the main patterns of the world is to
make excuses for our sin. Everyone has excuses why they do not obey God. Those who honestly
desire to follow God must crucify all excuses. You can’t say, “I don’t have the money,” or “The
situation just didn’t allow it.” In all that Jesus did, He rose above the excuses and the demands of
life and followed God’s will. When 5,000 needed food, Jesus fed them. He didn’t say, “Oh, it is not
in my food budget to do it.” When God called Jesus to leave all, He left. He didn’t say, “First let me
go and say good -bye to my family.” It is never convenient to do God’s will. Never! This world is
controlled by the Evil One and he will never make it easy to obey God. Christians in this world will
always be required to make bricks without straw.

Paul said “let your mind be transformed.” Our way of thinking, things we meditate on, all that
involves our mind and motives must be transformed by the Holy Spirit. From, how we read and
understand Scripture to eating dinner, must be transformed and made different. We must gain a
heavenly mind from God if we want to have ears that can hear heavenly things spoken to us. Like
children that must be taught what everything means, what words mean and even how to reason and
think, so too, it will take many years for God to transform our minds.

Only after this foundation has been laid will you be “able to test and approve what God’s will
is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This is why so many do not have ears to hear. Since they
haven’t done this, when someone speaks what Scripture really means or what God requires, God’s
will becomes anything but good, pleasing and perfect. Indeed, such people cannot take pleasure in
what the Holy Spirit speaks to them because they have not offered themselves to God 100% and
waited upon Him to transform their minds. Those who offer their bodies to God, for Him to do as
He wills, will be given ears that can hear.

  • 1 Corinthians 4:13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the
    scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13 “Food for the sPaulach and the sPaulach for food”—but God will destroy them both.
    The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

Chapter 19: First Step – Laying a Foundation

  • What is the foundation we must build on if we want to hear God?
  • Romans 12 tells us that we know the will of God by becoming living sacrifices. List some
    things in your life you know you need to sacrifice.
  • What patterns of this world do you still follow? Ask God to crucify these things in your life.

Chapter 20

Cord of Three – A Summary

  • … A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

We have by no means discovered all the different ways God speaks. We have however, laid a
foundation on which you can build upon.

We have looked at the three cords of having ears to hear. One, faith, two, the cross and three,
obedience. If anyone of these three are missing then the rope will weaken and the danger of
breaking increases. For example, one may have faith that God speaks, but without picking up the
painful cross of Christ with a heart ready to joyfully obey God, then you find immature and
disobedient children, more enthralled with spiritual gifts than true faith. In the end, they will either
go to hell or be one of the few that escape through the flames.22 On the other hand, if someone does
not have the faith to believe that God talks today, but seeks to pickup a cross and obey the Bible,
they will become Pharisees, self righteous and puffed up. Twice as fit for hell.

  • The five rules for hearing God’s voice are,
  • There are no principles
  • There are no laws.
  • There are no steps.
  • There are no guidelines.
  • There are no rules.

There is only the message of the cross that, if accepted, has the power to crucify a man to his
own voice, the voice of other men, the voice of the world, and ultimately the voice of Satan which
has taken captive the world. If you meet a man, read a book, or hear a sermon that tells you they
understand how to hear God’s voice apart from the cross, then run from them immediately. Or hear
a message that has reduced the message of the cross down to steps, stages or principles then turn a
deaf ear.
If you think you understand how to hear God’s voice, that you have the principals down, then
you do not clearly understand anything about hearing God’s voice. The “man who thinks he knows
something”
about how to hear God does not yet understand as he should.

  • The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who
    loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:2–3)

In short, man is powerless to understand how to gain ears to hear. He could study, pray, and
examine the Greek and Hebrew all day long and that would not give him ears that can hear. You
cannot commit suicide by crucifixion and gaining ears that can hear is totally a work of the Holy
Spirit. If you think you know “something” about this business of hearing God, then you do “not yet
know as” you ought to know. For knowing is only gained by being known by God.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one
    escaping through the flames.
  • Galatians 4:9a But now that you know God—or rather are known by God…

All you can do is offer yourself to God and let Him do the work of teaching you how to have
ears to hear. But the more unteachable you become, the more you refuse to move on, the less you
are willing to be corrected, the greater the danger you will live a deceived Christian life. The more
you refuse to accept the painful, offensive message of the cross, the more likely you will follow the
deceptive words of man that comes in the name of the Lord. Paul warned young Timothy about this.
Many preachers could te ach this but because they do not have a pure heart, good conscience, and a
sincere faith, they only preach meaningless talk.

  • The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. (1 Timothy 1:5–6)

If the basis of true love for God, which we have looked in this short book is not present in a
church, then their Christianity is just meaningless talk. While most rebel against ever accepting the
message of the cross, many more slowly wander from it. In o ther words, little by little, with every
correction refused, every call to deny self rejected and every demand for more faith ignored, they
slowly move off the narrow road.

Think of Jesus. As He followed the voice of the Lord, it led more and more toward the
sufferings of the cross. The same is true with us. The more God talks to us, the more He will take us
closer to the cross. You will feel and know the cross that crucifies self, exposes more sin, works
more humility and share more in the sufferings of Christ. If this is not present in the voice you hear
or in the sermons you listen to about hearing God’s voice, then you hear a lie. If any book,
magazine article, or publication does not point you to the sufferings of Christ then it is not offering
you the truth about hearing God’s voice. You will never gain ears that can hear and should turn
away from such things. In the Scripture below we see Paul talking about the suffering s and the
resurrection of Christ.

  • I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his
    sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the
    dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to
    take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:10–12)

Paul declared, “I want,” but do we really want? Do we want the suffering of Christ that will give
us fellowship with Jesus? Is it little wonder that God does not talk to most people? They do not
suffer, out of love for the sake of others, but remain selfish brats that like living in the household
but do not love the homeowner.

And did Paul shy away from this? By no means! Paul admitted he has not “obtained all” of this
or been made perfect, but he did something we seldom see in the church today. Paul pressed on to
take hold of the things of God. If we want ears that can hear, th en we must press on in the sufferings
of Christ with the cross God will give us.

This does not mean we go out today and seek to inflict painful sufferings on ourselves. It means
that we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide us in and through sufferings. It means we
never feel surprised that in order to hear God’s voice corre ctly we must suffer against sin. Peter
was clear on this. Only those who suffer in their bodies are done with sin. As a “result” they have
ears that can hear and can know and do the will of God.

  • [By this we do not mean treating the flesh harshly. Rather, one must follow Jesus and deny self only to
    the measure and by the means that God is providing at the time.] Colossians 2:23 Such regulations indeed have an
    appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but
    they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
  • Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he
    who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life
    for evil human desires, but rather for the will o f God. (1 Peter 4:1–2)

Finally, the acid test to discerning God’s voice is the burden; the groan test. If the burden and
groaning are missing, then odds are you do not hear the voice of the Lord. When we are free from
concern about our flesh when doing the Lord’s will, we have p ut down the cross and live a lie. We
always will wrestle in our flesh in order to hear His voice. As the Scripture below tells us, God
gives us His Spirit “as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” This promise and Spirit fill us with
great joy. But with this joy we groan and feel burdened. When the groaning and burden of the cross
are not present, yet I claim to be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, I am not in the Spirit; not
hearing God’s voice.

  • Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are
    clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened,
    because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is
    mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has
    given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 5:2–5)

Groaning and feeling burden, like crucifixion, is uncomfortable, and everyone wants to feel
comfortable. But if the universe itself feels burdened, we as disciples of Jesus should not for a
moment think we will escape. This makes us ready to hear God’s voice and purifies our hearts. For
example, as a pastor, individuals give money to the church. As I use that money I feel the weight of
a burden and groan under the possibility that I could be like Judas and use that money to please
myself. This testing and b attling to make sure that my heart remains pure, allows me to hear God’s
voice so that He can direct me into His will concerning the money. If this burden were not present,
if I do not realize this possibility and groan under it, then I am doomed to commit the sin. For the
Holy Spirit speaks two things at the same time. One, to use the money to preach the gospel, and
two, not to be like Judas and trade my Savior for a few coins. I rejoice in the gift given and am very
sober in its use.

If you want ears that can hear, the fruit of a resurrected life, then deny yourself, pickup your
cross and follow Jesus. To those who do so, God always gives ears that can hear His voice.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our
    comfort overflows.
  • Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come
    after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Chapter 20: Cord of Three – A Summary

  • Why are there no rules or principles to hearing God’s voice?
  • Put your life through the moan and groan test. Do you groan for more of God’s will in your
    life?
  • What areas do you need to suffer more so that you can hear God?

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