When I was almost 15, I had a full-time job in the summer months. I was a tour guide on horseback at a dude ranch. Looking back, the amount of responsibility I had was amazing for such a young person, navigating some extreme terrain via horseback, guiding people who had paid money to work their way down a mountain to experience the Natomas Lake Dam and countryside.
To be honest, I was a vigilant and enthusiastic guide, always watching my charges and animals, making sure the saddles were on safely and that everyone had their feet in the stirrups, tie-downs all in place and reassuring everyone that what we were doing was safe and that the animals knew the way. It was my job to make sure that danger was mitigated and people enjoyed themselves. At the time, I did not realize I was making memories that would help me in what would be the most important relationship of my life.
It was just a few years later I was introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ by way of a special class that explained how black marks on white paper, written thousands of years ago, were true today and able to make a radical change in my life for the better. Filled with excitement and enthusiasm, I agreed with a man, living someplace I could not currently go to, who insisted that I seek him with my whole heart and that in return, he would be my Guide.
I did not understand that this would cost me something. I knew in my heart that eternal life was free because he paid the price I could not pay for myself, I could understand that. I just had no idea that what would be required of me to receive this better-than-GPS-Guide type of relationship would be the hardest work I had ever done, and that I would lose almost my entire family and not a few of my friends. I did not at the time realize I had a spiritual enemy who though he had been beaten would continue to do all he could to cause me to stumble so I could not hear my Lord, my Guide. I had no idea about true commitment and really about true passion and dedication. It was as though my focus on the FREE GIFT blinded me to what was required for me to be in constant communication with the love of my life, who had said he would guide me if I would hear his voice. I learned over time that what it would take to be in constant communication took TIME itself—and not a one-time spending of it, but a constant dedication in order to cultivate a hearing heart tuned to the voice of the Lord.
I believe that Christianity is not a set of rules for good moral conduct but a relationship. It is all about what and who we are in union with. It is also about redemption and the gift of a new nature to a fallen humanity in desperate need. It is mostly about the love of the Father for His created human family and what was accomplished by the work of His dear Son, Jesus. This writing is only about one aspect of our relationship and that is the Lord himself as our righteous guide through this often-trying life.
It is about cultivating an atmosphere of worship, reverence, and love in our hearts for our God and the Lord Jesus Christ in order that we may hear their voices and obey their words to our own joy and salvation; it is also about knowing that the choice to develop a hearing heart and be led continuously by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is up to us—it is absolutely the will of God that we are able to hear from Him and be led by Him, but we have to decide.
Throughout recorded history, there has been one requirement from God if we desire to walk with Him, and that is hearing His voice. That startled me at first, because I would have thought the Bible taught the one requirement was to read it…but it’s not! Now, I believe it to be crucial that we read the Bible; however, the scriptures teach that the one requirement to walk with God is to HEAR AND OBEY HIS VOICE. Isn’t that amazing? Before there were ever written scriptures, there was God’s voice. A simple study of the word VOICE in relation to God and our Lord will bring some amazing enlightenment. Below are just a very few usages of the word “voice” where God commands that we hear and obey Him for our own good.
In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.Genesis 22:18 (REV)
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you will be my own possession from among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;Exodus 19:5 (REV)
And all these blessings will come on you and overtake you if you will listen to the voice of Yahweh your God.Deuteronomy 28:2 (REV)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow meJohn 10:27 (REV)
To be led is to have a guide, and a guide must communicate in such a way that the recipient can understand and be led if they desire. God’s children are to be led, moment by moment, by the Spirit of God. I am not speaking about salvation, I am speaking about a moment-by-moment fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus Christ…to be led in a continuous way and to attain maturity in our walk.
A Few Usages of the Word “Guide”
and Yahweh will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in dry places, and strengthen your bones; and you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.Isaiah 58:11 (REV)
You in your loving kindness have led the people that you have redeemed; you have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation.Exodus 15:13 (REV)
He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.Psalm 23:3 (REV)
And do not call anyone on earth your ‘father,’ for one is your Father, the heavenly Father. Neither be called ‘guides,’ for you have one guide—the Christ.Matthew 23:9-10 (REV)
Now may the Lord guide your hearts into the love of God and into the endurance of Christ.2 Thessalonians 3:5 (REV)
for the Lamb in the middle of the throne-area will shepherd them and will guide them to springs of living waters, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyesRevelation 7:17 (REV)
Certainly, there must be a practical application to hearing God’s voice, to being led, to being Guided by the Lord and the Keeper of the universe. Our answers of course are found in the scriptures.
Cultivating a Heart Environment to Hear God’s Voice.
For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are sons of God.Romans 8:14 (REV)
Being born again is not a guarantee that one will hear God’s voice in the intimate sense of a close relationship or of being guided in life. Remember earlier I said when I was first born again, I did not realize there was a cost if I wanted to walk with the Father and the Son” I did not know it would cost me something, but it did, and it does. It is the same for all of us. We are free to go and just live if we want to, but there is something so much greater than just the new birth. There is the relationship which must grow and be fed continuously if we are to realize a full, rich, joy-filled fellowship.
I heard the Reverend John Schoenheit say in a teaching once that his wife spelled love the same way God does—T-I-M-E. God wants TIME with us, so does the Lord. Furthermore, it is obvious to me that God wants open-ended time with us—that takes a heart sensitive to His voice. There are moments that we are alone and have time to pray and read and speak in tongues, yes, but at some point, we have to work and do chores and fill the car with gas and interact with others. That is what I mean by open-ended—God wants that time too! That takes work, that takes practicing the presence of God so that He can speak to us, give information that helps, give wisdom that delivers and can encourage others. This is fellowship. This can be cultivated! How wonderful for us! We can cultivate a heart ready for intimacy with God.
There is a prophetic word spoken about the Lord in Isaiah 50 that gives us insight as to how this sensitivity is developed and also some of the benefits it brings:
The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words the one who is weary; he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 5The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away backward. 6I gave my back to those who strike me, and my cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide my face from shame and spitting. 7For the Lord Yahweh will help me, therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I will not be put to shame.Isaiah 50:4-7 (REV)
WOW! This is amazing; Jesus actually had his ear woken by God the Father. Verse 5 says “The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear.” Look at that. We can ask God to open our ears too. Furthermore, look what that produced for our Lord. Verse 6 states he was not rebellious—the opening of the ear can actually produce obedience.
I will show you shortly from the Lord’s teaching that we hear God’s voice from our heart, not from physical ears, but right now I want to look more closely at the verses from Isaiah because they continue to show what hearing and obeying the voice of God did for Jesus.
The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words the one who is weary.Isaiah 50:4
Jesus was able to give words that sustained the weary. He was an encourager, having the right words at the right place at the right time. That is a product of hearing from the Father. Continuing in the passage, Jesus was given strength and determination to go through what he had to for our redemption. Because His ear was opened by Yahweh, he received help and was not confounded. He was determined to carry out God’s will; that is what is meant by the words “set my face like a flint” in verse 7. Hearing and obeying the voice of God will do the same for us. What a tremendous thing!
In 1 Kings 3, in a dream, God said to Solomon, “Ask what I should give you,” and part of Solomon’s response was “Give your servant therefore an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this great people of yours?”
An understanding heart is also translated as a HEARING HEART. This request from Solomon pleased God. We can also ask God for this type of heart; in fact, we need His help if we are going to develop that type of sensitivity to His voice, which will enable us to be led, guided by Him, and to minister to others.
Many times, Jesus taught about having ears to hear, such as in Mark 4:23: “If anyone has ears to hear…” This is not about outward physical ears, but having a hearing heart for the things of God. It is with our heart that we hear Him, that we are led or guided in life. What is thrilling is that this is something we can cultivate and see great results, because we have already seen it is God’s will to lead, to guide, and to have us hear from Him. So then, we must cultivate that heart, we must meet the conditions as born-again believers to be led in a continuous way by the spirit of the Living God. This means time spent with the Lord and our Father, and a certain attitude must be present also.
In my own personal walk with God, there is nothing more important to me than to learn to hear from Him and the Lord correctly, and to be sensitive to their voices. There is no other way to true Christian success, moment by moment. We have seen that Solomon asked for a hearing heart. We can ask also and then begin to cultivate that environment knowing our request will be honored because it is God’s will that we would have a hearing heart that obeys His voice.
Two conditions I believe are required to hear from God are an inclined ear, a bowed ear or an ear that has reverence for God—respect. A bowed ear is a humble ear, one that is leaning over to hear in reverence and respect to God—humility. This can be seen in many of the Proverbs and in the Book of Psalms…the bowing of the ear, the inclination of the ear. Please look some of those verses up, I know you will be blessed in doing so! On the other hand, if we do not have the right attitude of humility and reverence for God, we will not hear well. This we can control—wonderful! We must also attend to God and apply our heart. That means to pay attention to Him, to practice His presence—this is needed to cultivate the right atmosphere of the heart to hear God’s voice.
Other requirements are time and quietness. These things have been removed from our present culture. “Be still and know that I am God”—stillness. Something else we can do. This requires time. Waiting in silence for God and being in an attitude of reverence will help in developing a hearing heart. We are to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His Courts with praise (Ps. 100:4). This we can control, it is a condition that must be met in order to cultivate an intimate, hearing relationship with the Sustainer of the universe. How incredible that this is something we can do, and God will respond accordingly.
Importantly, priority to God before our own interests and activities is yet another condition for being continuously led by the Spirit—to reach a walk of spiritual maturity. It is not that we cannot have other interests or do anything we like for fun, not at all. It is that God takes Priority; He is number one.
I started this writing with a youthful experience I had as a guide on horseback. When I first began my walk with the Lord, when I first confessed with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believed God had raised Him from the dead, I did not know that all born-again ones were given the same thing.
You see, I thought only certain people would have supernatural experiences with the Father. I thought all of the wonderful things I had hoped a relationship with God would bring were His choice alone. I did not understand at all that Christ had opened the gates to God so that if I wanted an intimate relationship in which I would hear from the Father and the Lord and be led by them, it was up to me. It is God’s will to guide us and it was the Lord who brought to my mind the remembrance of me wanting to lead people I never knew safely down the mountain and take care of them. My heart with all of its imperfections still had a desire to protect and take care of people and animals.
It was the Lord who brought to my heart that God’s desire to guide me was greater than any desire I had to guide others. Also, when I guided people down the mountain, I paid great attention to my responsibility. I was not distracted. This works both ways; God and the Lord are not distracted from wanting and being able to guide us in this life. They stand at constant attention in a way we cannot fully know now. I spent much effort guiding people on that mountain and now that same type of attention is spent on developing a sensitive heart to hearing and knowing the voice of my Lord. The more I spend faithful, consistent time with the Father and His Son in reverence, worship, respect, and humility, the richer and more exciting my life becomes.
I ask God for a heart that hears daily—I never stop asking for my heart to be made purer and to continue to grow and be made into the type of woman He would have me to be. I never stop because I have tasted of His goodness and the thrill that is produced at knowing He speaks with me. I take the time I need every day with an attitude of reverence and humility, praising God and being thankful to cultivate an atmosphere within my own mind to hear from both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I practice being still and I practice waiting on the Lord. And finally, I practice obedience—I sure do!
I have been saved from disaster so many times I cannot count them, all because I heard and obeyed His voice. The most amazing thing to me is that through cultivating a heart that hears God comes the most awestruck experience of being in the right place at the right time to bring beautiful words to a lost one who is longing to know if there is really a God to be known.
I owe everything I am and hope to be to my Lord and God the Creator, who moment by moment continue to change me into their likeness; because they will to do so, they are able to do so, and I have made the decision to meet the conditions required for the growth needed to hear their voices and be guided by them.
There is nothing more precious to be had in this life.