This is the final part of the series I've been doing on The Power of Listening.
The Good Shepherd
Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. As a person who has committed my professional life to helping people examine their hearts, minds, and behaviors, I find merit in that statement. However, as a Christ follower, I would rather say that the life lived without the benefit of hearing God's voice and direction can be frustrating and needlessly confusing and empty.
Above all, as followers of Christ, we know He is seeking an intimate relationship with us forged by devotion to the Word, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers. Those disciplines connect us on a deeply personal level with His voice and direction. Scripture ties in hearing the voice of God with abundance and soul prosperity.
In John 10, Jesus tells the story of the Good Shepherd, a story about Jesus Himself. The Good Shepherd is the only safe way, the only door, the only path to Eternal Life. Jesus starts out by explaining that He will lay down His life for His sheep and that the sheep follow Him because they know His voice. (v.4) Jesus is making a declaration and proclamation about His sons and daughters. "My sheep do hear My Voice!" Meditate on that and ask God "What Does This Mean?"
John 10:10 is a very familiar passage that says: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (NKJV).
Jesus is saying that these same sheep, who hear His Voice, won't be deceived by the enemy. This is because they hear Him and as their Good Shepard, He protects them from eternal harm. God's promises always go way beyond anything we could think or ask. It says in verse 10 (above) that He came for far more than just protecting us. He came to give us LIFE and LIFE more ABUNDANTLY. Selah! (Selah is the Psalmist's word for pause...he says it after God says something astonishing.) I encourage you to do some serious pausing and meditating on that…I certainly do!
Abundance and Soul Prosperity
The word prosperity is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments 80 times. The word abundance and its variations are mentioned 113 times. God has an abundance and prosperity for us that is exceedingly abundantly beyond worldly wealth.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread?
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David. Isaiah 55: 2-3
In this passage hearing is connected with emotional healing, abundance, and the prosperity of soul. (Your soul is your mind, will, emotions, and personality.) God says, Listen carefully to Me, attend to me and your soul shall delight itself in abundance...Hear, and your soul shall live...!! This refers to the "abundant life" that Jesus promised us in John 10:10 which is in part a result of listening and hearing from God. A prosperous soul is a healed soul...healed from wounds and scars from trauma, abuse, hurts, and even wrong decisions. Significant healing of the soul comes from hearing His Voice...hearing the Word of the Lord.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2 NKJV)
Information and ideas change the way we think, but hearing the voice of God changes what we BELIEVE!!! As we journey closer to the heart of God we become believers of His Word...not just passive nodders giving mental assent to biblical principles without pursuing the veracity and power connected to them. As we hear from God, and our belief in His Word grows the result will be more faith not more facts. When we create the habit of hearing from God we set the stage for future connectedness (even future glory) with God. The answers to the issues we face are found through relationship and hearing God's voice. When you sit down to listen to God ask yourself: Do I want information or intimacy from God? I think we know which one delights the heart of God.
In Matthew 6:33 it says. Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness and all else will be added unto you. So as we pursue God and intimacy with Him all our other directional questions and needs get met in the process.
James warned us to "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger." (James 1:19 NKJV) We can do this in difficult moments if we have cultivated the discipline of listening. It’s wonderful fruit is the ability to press the pause button before jumping into a heated conversation. Once you know the rewards of hearing God's voice in everyday situations, you always step into God's office (also known as abiding) before stepping into an important or weighty conversation.
A Listening Heart
King Solomon is known as the wisest man who ever lived. When God offered him a choice of any gift he desired, Solomon asked for a listening heart, a heart that could discern justice, and wisdom. As we know, Solomon's answer so pleased God that He also gave him great wealth, making him the richest man alive.
May we all listen before we speak and set our hearts to be wise and hear from God! << Click to Tweet
There is no better way to invest our time or energy than in making space in our life to hear from God. While it takes practice, it can eventually become a natural part of your life, so be encouraged in this pursuit. It's about yielding to our Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in the moment. Why not take a moment right now?
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.