Are You Listening?

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Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
~ King Solomon

“Too many people say, ‘Hear, Lord, for thy servant speaketh.’
Samuel said. ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.'”
~ Pettingill

As you may already know, most of my lighthouse devotions have been inspired by either historical facts, true stories, or legends surrounding these amazing sentinels of the sea. However, every once in a while I come across an awe-inspiring image that arouses my writer’s muse. This week, I stumbled upon these two images (below) that took me back to the very first, and so far only, time I had the privilege to wake up and pray next to a lighthouse. They are the source of inspiration for this devotion.

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Back in 2013, our church family blessed my wife, Mari, and me with a gift certificate for a weekend getaway at the Braddock Point Lighthouse B&B in Hilton, New York. And yes, our bedroom was located adjacent to the lighthouse!

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On the first morning of our two-day stay, while Mari enjoyed her extended sleep, I had the opportunity to go outside just before sunrise and pray next to this beautiful beacon that sits on the shore overlooking Lake Ontario. It was a pleasant 76 degrees. The fresh morning breeze along with the tranquility of the lake and its surroundings created the perfect atmosphere to pray and meditate. As I looked up to the lighthouse, I just stood there in silence, peacefully, and still. I worshipped, gave thanks, and listened. God’s presence was real. And once again, after a very long time, I was able to hear His voice. His words brought healing to my soul. They renewed my joy, hope, and strength, and brought back into focus the path He had set before me.

Recounting this experience today makes me long for another moment like this. Then I quickly realize that all I need to do is practice being still and listening more often.

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Have there been times when you tried to pray but couldn’t seem to stay focused because of racing thoughts? Has a difficult situation caused you to cry out to God asking Him why, but got no answer? Have you poured out your heart to heaven and wondered if God even heard you at all? Or, have you ever found yourself in need of direction but after praying and asking others to pray with you, you still had no clue what to do?

why

No matter what your denominational affiliation may be, if you believe there is a God, I am sure you can answer yes to any or all of the above questions. That’s because we live in a fallen (imperfect, unfair, sinful) world that seldom gives us any satisfying answers as to why bad things happen to rather good people. Also, because we sometimes get so overwhelmed by our challenges that we tend to get lost in our grief. Thus, forgetting that Jesus himself warned us against the imminent trials we must endure while in this world. But mostly because what suppose to be a two-way conversation between us and God, usually turns out to be a one-way monologue.

When we pray, we usually believe God is listening. However, most of the time we either don’t expect Him to literally answer at that very moment or we are just too absorbed in our supplication that we give Him no time to respond. And if He does respond, his answer is likely muffled by our incessant self-centered plea. He may very well be trying to alleviate our burden but we focus more on making sure that He, the Omniscient God, knows about it instead of us just handing it over to Him. That’s why we usually fail to hear and experience the promise He made when He said…

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It is true that not all our prayers are the result of us being in a grievous situation. But even those that are part of our daily spiritual discipline are usually filled with complaints, needs, and wants. They may have a few thank yous, praises, and intercessory requests, but let’s be honest, they seldom include a quiet time that allows us to experience God’s presence. We rarely give Him enough time (if any) to speak into our very soul. Many of us, especially those with a charismatic background, erroneously think that in order to sense a touch of God and/or hear from Him directly we need to be in the midst of exuberant and boisterous worship. Or, that we need to use proper theological terms and lengthy supplications. What the Bible refers to as babbling (Matthew 6:7). We forget that God can also be found and heard in the murmur of a gentle breeze and on the shores of a peaceful stream.

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How long has it been since you spent some quality time with your heavenly Father just meditating and waiting upon Him? When was the last time you allowed Him to encourage you through His word or with a gentle Shepherd’s voice in your heart? Have you ever felt his embrace as you quietly contemplate and marvel at His creation? Would you agree that the main reason we share our pain and struggles with family members and close friends is because we know that they will not only listen but also respond with comforting words and perhaps an empathetic hug? We should have the same expectation when we cry out to our only TRUE everlasting friend, the One who sticks closer than a brother, the One who promised to be with us at all times!

The God who knows us better than we know ourselves wants us to know Him as well. He also wants to reveal His perfect will for our lives. But in order for us to know Him and what He has planned for us, we need to learn to settle down physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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The God who knows our thoughts and all our needs even before we utter them wants us to truly trust Him. He also wants us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He cares and wants the best for us. But in order for us to develop such unmovable faith, we must learn to be quiet and listen physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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Since creation, prayer has been the greatest privilege humanity has ever been granted. The opportunity to talk to the Creator, the Almighty God and heavenly Father, is beyond human comprehension. But equally unfathomable is the fact that He can also speak to us.

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Sadly, there are those who vehemently doubt that God directly speaks to people and that anyone can actually hear Him. This is especially true of unbelievers who point out the unorthodox, and sometimes evil, things that have been committed by people who supposedly heard from God. Unfortunately. the many charlatans, false prophets, and religious fanatics that have manipulated people’s feelings by declaring, “God told me to tell you” further validate their skepticism. But Christians too can be doubtful when it comes to prayer. However, it’s mainly due to the fact that many have experienced failure after doing something they thought God had directed them to.

The best way to know whether it’s truly God speaking and not just the inner voice of wishful thinking or a “prophetic” scam capitalizing on emotional weakness is to understand that God will NEVER say anything that contradicts His written word; This, of course, requires us to be familiar with Scriptures! And since the foundation of true faith, namely Jesus, has already been laid, we can be confident that no new revelation concerning salvation and eternity will ever come from the one true God.

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We were created for God’s glory. That is why He is always available to commune with us. He desires to hear from us, but He also wants us to hear Him. God does fellowship with His children. He speaks to us through His word, other believers, nature, and Spirit-inspired publications like this one. And remember, the Lord is our Shepherd, so if He chooses to speak to us audibly, we who are His sheep will surely recognize his voice.

Be still. Be quiet. He is talking to you right now through this devotion. Are you listening?

Prayer: *** I usually provide you with a prayer you can internalize. Today, why not say a quick prayer of your own and then give God some time to respond? Go on talk to Him, and then listen. ***

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” -1 Peter 3:12

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him, he also hears their cry and saves them.” -Psalm 145:18-19

“But truly God has listened, he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” -Psalm 66:19

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” -John 10:27-28 ESV

-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.
Featured image and Bible verse lighthouse silhouette images photoshopped by JR

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