Tilling the Soil of the Heart: God's Voice - First15 - February 4, 2018

Tilling the Soil of the Heart: God's Voice

Weekly Overview:

This week we'll look at a vital spiritual practice to all those seeking to grow in God:tilling the soil of the heart. Jesus spoke in Matthew 13 of two different types of soil—hard and soft. God longs for us to till the soil of our hearts that we might be receptive to the seed of his word and bear fruit. May your heart become more responsive to the presence, will, and love of God this week as you cultivate good soil with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture:“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13

Devotional:

Spiritual father Brother Lawrence once wrote, "There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God." We are meant to commune with our heavenly Father, to be in conversation with him throughout the day concerning all that’s going on around us. For a long time, I held the belief that God doesn’t like to talk. I thought you found out how to live the Christian life solely through reading the Bible, going to church, listening to sermons, etc. I thought prayer was just asking God for things and waiting to see if he said yes or no through circumstances. God does speak through circumstances and his word, to be sure, but he also loves to speak directly to his children. He longs to be in conversation with us.

The Bible clearly teaches that God speaks to his people. Jesus teaches us in John 16:13 that “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” In John 10:27 God tells us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” God promises to speak to you as his child. He longs to tell you his love for you even more than you long to hear it. He longs to tell you his plans even more than you want to know them.

There hasn’t been a single thing more impactful in my life than hearing the voice of God. His voice is so tender when I need tenderness, corrective when sin constricts my life, and powerful when only he can make the changes in my life that need to be made. He speaks perfectly, never a word out of place and always at the perfect time. You might hear God more than you think. I’ve never heard him speak audibly to me, but every day he whispers to my heart what I need to know. There are days I don’t stop to listen. There are times I allow the weight of the world to crowd out his voice. But as I turn my heart back towards him, I find out that he was there—speaking all along. He whispers of his love for me when I feel crushed by the opinion of man. He tells me he’s proud of me when I feel like everything I’m doing doesn’t measure up. He whispers of his plans for me when I turn and go my own way. It’s not because I’m gifted in some certain way that I hear his voice, but rather because God in his grace loves to speak.                       

God has never made a spiritually deaf person. You can hear God because his voice is immeasurably more about his love than your abilities. You are his child; his love for you is vast, unchanging and unceasing. All it takes to hear him is simply inclining an ear to him and allowing his words to take root in you. As he speaks of his love, you will feel the chains of the world fall off. As he tells you of his purpose, you will discover that a plan has been in the works for you since before you were born. Choose to listen to his voice today; let it drown out the cares of the world and create a soil in you receptive to his seed, fertile and filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Guided Prayer:

1.Meditate on the truth of what the Bible says about hearing God.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” - Isaiah 30:21

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” - John 16:13

2.Now take time to listen to God. Ask him how he feels about you. Talk to him about anything that’s bringing you stress. Listen for a whisper of his voice or an inclination that seems to be of God.

3.Let the truth of what he’s speaking settle into your heart. Pay attention to inclinations, to longings or urgings of the Spirit. Ask him for greater understanding of what he’s speaking to you. Choose to trust that he will speak and guide you into the fullness of life if you will simply follow him.

There is a practice to hearing God’s voice, but it’s more a practice of casting off the things of the world than anything else. Sometimes, it takes time to quiet your soul and focus on God. Don’t be frustrated if you feel like you aren’t hearing anything. The weight of all of this is on God. God speaks in any and every way he can. He loves to speak through the Bible and through circumstances so listen for his voice and continually seek him. There’s no pressure from God. He desires to take weight and burden from us instead of putting it on. He just wants you to live in relationship with him. Let his voice settle in your heart today and become a refreshing source for you in every circumstance.

Extended Reading: John 16

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