The Answer: Communication – Communication – Communication.
The Question: What three things do we need to achieve greater intimacy with God (and for that matter, others)?
Hearing God is the key to growing closer to Him. Hearing is Gods first choice among the senses when it comes to spiritual growth. Our Westernized culture puts the emphasis on sight ... ''Seeing is believing''; ''Show me and I will believe!''; ''I have got to see it to believe it!''; etc. Just for a moment, reflect on the bombardment from Madison Avenue, the ads, commercials ... all visual! Why? Sight sells!
But seeing does not aid intimacy; that belongs to the sense we call hearing. As mentioned, it is Gods primary choice in relating to His beloved creation: ''He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'' This exhortation was uttered by Jesus in over 14 different places in the New Testament alone.
Scripture makes it clear what is required of us to ''please God.'' Take a look at Hebrews 11:6:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
And how can we grow in faith? Check out Romans 10:17:
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We might also take a moment to review our Jewish roots in regards to this subject. What is the great prayer that each Orthodox believing Jew will utter at dawns first light as well as being the last words on his lips before sleeping? What is rolled up and put in a mezuzah and attached to the door post of his home? Answer: It is the passage from Deuteronomy 6 and is called the Shema. In fact all mezuzahs have the He-brew letter f on it, which is a reminder of what is within. What does it mean? Shema means to HEAR!
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. - Deuteronomy 6:4-6
With that being established, the next question should be ... ''How can I hear God?'' What a great question: How do you hear God?
Do you: Meditate? Quiet your soul? Focus on a word or mantra? Take a walk? Retreat to a cave? Seek counsel from others?
Seriously, how does one hear God? It is undoubtedly the one thing that we would all love to do. Can you imagine what it would be like to hear God on a regular basis? When was the last time you know that you heard God? Wouldnt you love to have that experience on a much more regular basis?
I would like to address this issue and give you a challenge because I believe God intends for us to hear Him. What I am about to share for some of you will require a radical change, yet for others it will be no big deal. First things first - hearing God is not just hearing a voice in your head!
As we begin to build a foundation, lets begin with the importance of words. Words are the building blocks of language, and it is language that constitutes the major portion of communication. Lets focus on one of the titles of Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. - John 1:1-5
Jesus Christ is the WORD and in order for us to communicate with Him we need to immerse ourselves in His words. These words have been written and preserved for us in the New Testament - but there is more. These words are not just historical writings. One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to do the following:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. - John 14:26
It is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring His words alive for us in our day and, better yet, into our personal lives. But wait, theres more. Jesus makes the claim that the entire Bible is all about Him.
Then I said, Behold, I have come - In the volume of the book it is written of Me - To do Your will, O God. - Hebrews 10:7
If you want to hear God, if you want to know God in an intimate way, you must ''read the Book!'' The more you hide in your heart, the more deposits you make"the better your ability to ''hear'' Him. From personal experience, ninety-nine out of a hundred times, when I hear God speak to me it comes from Scripture! I believe that followers of Christ who do not deposit much of the Word in their hearts have a very difficult time ''hearing'' God, and thus they do not know much about Him - they do not know His heart!
Jesus Himself gave us an important lesson in regards to knowing the Word. For even the Son of God - the Creator of the entire Universe - following His baptism and the forty days of fasting, when being tempted by the evil one chose to combat him how? By snapping His fingers and yelling, ''Be gone''? By calling legions of angels to His rescue? No! He chose to fight with the Word of God.
The devil said to him, ''If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.'' Jesus answered, ''It is written: ' Man does not live on bread alone.' '' - Luke 4:4
Jesus goes on to quote from two different passages in Deuteronomy and the book of Psalms. This serves as an example for us to follow!
As Christians we need to be devoted to the Text! In Acts 2 the term used is ''devoted,'' and in Timothy, Paul exhorts us to be workmen! Unfortunately, the state of Christendom today is fairly bleak when it comes to disciples knowing their Bible. Our Jewish brethren memorize books, while we who have been grafted in seem to be very casual in our approach to the Word.
The time has come to raise the bar personally and to commit ourselves to being ''The People of the Book''! When we return to the Book we will hear God in ways that we would never imagine! Interested?
If you are, then I would ask you to join us here at Koinonia Institute as students who take the Bible seriously. Pray about taking an online course with us. Classes are available on a monthly basis ... all we ask is for you to give us a try and see if it works for you. Lock arms with us as we purpose in our hearts to know the Text - to develop the same reputations as the Bereans!
By the way, there are no substitutes for Gods Word! There are great Christian writers that produce inspirational material and there are great monthly publications that are top-notch! But these are not to take the place of a line-by-line, verse-by-verse study of Gods Word.
Now, for those of you who love a challenge - you ''Lions of God'': About five years ago I was reading through the book of Deuteronomy and got to the following passage:
Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel. - Deuteronomy 17:18-20
When I read the underlined portion, I felt the tap of the Holy Spirit on my shoulder and then that gentle whisper ... ''Why dont you do that?'' Later that evening, as I was preparing a message, I read a biography on Martin Luther and came across a description of his devotional life. I read how he would sit and write out his own personal copy of the Word of God and again came the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, challenging me to write out my own copy of Gods Word!
Well, I heeded the call and at this time I am about two-thirds of the way through - it is my most prized possession! I realize that it will still take me years to finish, but thats okay. Im not sure if there is a better use of the time I spend writing out the Word of God. It has been a life-changing experience for me and if you are up for the challenge, then get a journal, pick up a pen, pick a book and start writing!
For more information on Koinonia Institute, go to our website at www.studycenter.com