“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”
–Isaiah 59:2 (NLT)
Today I thought I’d talk about listening to God, what it means to hear His voice, and one of the many things that might prevent us from hearing Him. I wanted to make my point by comparing two different types of headsets.
I’d like to start out with some interesting trivia that I learned while researching this topic. First, the Bluetooth system was named after the Danish king known as Harald Bluetooth. He ate so many blueberries that his teeth were stained blue. They say that the Bluetooth system is named after him because of his ability to unite warring Scandinavian factions, just as our present communication network unites wireless devices. You might be scratching your head about now, wondering where I am going with this, but please read on.
Everyone enjoys the convenience of a Bluetooth headset. For one thing, the absence of wires is great. We have virrtually anything we want to listen to at our fingertips, and we have freedom from tangled cords too. Go figure.
With a Bluetooth headset I feel like a country boy, seeing the big city for the first time. I can take my headphones everywhere I go, with no strings or cords attached! But after a few hours, my bubble of self-sufficiency bursts. “Oh, no!” I say. “My battery needs to be recharged.” Begrudgingly, I admit that it’s time to break out the traditional headset.
I can hear you groaning, “Back to those pesky wires again!” But you have to admit that with all their tangles, they’re better than nothing. So before getting into the meat of our discussion, let’s look at some fun facts about those good old-fashioned headphones.
The various wired headsets we take for granted today were first made from leather, ceramics, copper and rubber. They were used largely by telephone opperators who wanted a hands-free device. Quite a change from lightweight plastic, wouldn’t you say?
In our modern society, we are constantly on the go. It seems like all of us are obsessed with the idea of hearing something that we enjoy while we’re running around. The problem comes when this obsession causes us to tune others out. This raises serious questions in my mind, for it doesn’t seem like we are listening to one another anymore. We live in a very impersonal society which isolates us from one another.
That brings up a thought-provoking question: If we are not listening to our neighbors, are we really listening to the creator of the universe? If it seems like loving our neighbor and loving God are two different subjects, let’s allow Jesus to make the connection.
He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love God with all of our hearts. If Jesus’ words aren’t enough, John says it in another way, which I will paraphrase. “How can you say you love God who is invisible, when you don’t love your brother or sister?”
It is for that reason that I want to make a shift here. I’ll transition from the idea of listening to something on headphones, to listening to God’s voice. “God’s voice?” you may say. “What do you mean? If I heard God’s voice, wouldn’t it come in the form of a thunderous roar?” Not necessarily. God speaks in many different ways.
Having said that, I would like to tell you how He spoke to the prophet Elijah today. God had just used Elijah to fight the battle of the century against the false prophets of His day. But in the next scene of his story, we see Him go from fighting to running. In spite of this, though, God spoke to the prophet where he was.
Like Elijah, a lot of us are running, but God wants to speak to us anyway. He does not usually choose thunderous tones. Instead, He primarily speaks through His written Word. You may pray about something, and you may think you have received an answer, but if that response doesn’t agree with God’s Word, discard it immediately. It is the same when you’re getting advice from your brothers and sisters in Christ, or when you hear something at church.
The Bible tells us to test the spirits, and the basic way to do this is by searching the scriptures. God wants to protect us from harm by teaching us to filter everything through His Word. Sometimes we are like children who want to eat our cake and ice cream before dinner, and sometimes God has to say, “No, that would not be the best thing for you.”
Many times in the gospels, you’ll read the phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It is the same today if you know Christ. His Spirit tells us to pay attention, for He has our best interest in mind.
Compare this with the words of Jesus in another place: “My sheep know My voice.” While several things might keep us from knowing that voice, being out of range is one of the main issues.
In order to understand what I mean, we need to go back to the example of the Bluetooth headset. Let’s say you have charged yours up, and you’re listening to some music while performing a household task. You don’t have to worry about wires getting in the way as you work, which prompts you to breathe a sigh of relief. Your movements are more fluid than they’d be with conventional headphones, and you think, “I’ve got this covered.” That is, until you move too far from your music source, and you hear those famous words, “out of range.”
Now think about this with me for a minute. Like that Bluetooth headset, we can be too far out of range from God. But He is faithful, and He is never out of range from us. He says in His Word that when we move away from Him, our sins separate us from a holy God. So just as with the Bluetooth, we have to move back toward God to pick up His signal.
We move closer to God through confession, which simply means agreeing with Him. In other words, When we fail to do or not do something that God spoke about in His Word, we need to acknowledge that. Be still before Him, and if He points out a shortcoming, ask Him for forgiveness. If you struggle with something, don’t feel condemned, for that is exactly what Satan wants. Instead, ask for God’s help, and if you stumble again, just confess and move on.
When we move away from God, our signals become staticky, like the Bluetooth in our example. That is one reason we often have a hard time hearing from Him. If you have ever heard a weak signal, you know exactly what I mean. It is the same way with God. If you are out of range from Him, you cannot listen to the best He has to offer.
I challenge you to get back in range with Him today. If you don’t know Him, why not move into His range for the first time? If you would like someone to pray with you about anything, please feel free to call me and my wife at 507-369-6861. Thank you!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.