I’ve heard it said somewhere that obedience to God can be described as a true sign of your love for Him. Perhaps that has truth to it, but I think it is better described as the following. Obedience is listening to God’s voice while keeping His commandments, holding fast to His beautiful grace and mercy, and remembering His faithfulness and goodness with every step, all while giving thanks to sweet Jesus who came and conquered sin and death; all so that we might have life and have it abundantly!
I know about being tied up in legalism (a kind of dependency of moral law alone) and religion over having a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. I thought what I was doing was obeying His laws and that was enough. It was difficult. I loved Jesus but there was a barrier between me and Jesus, between me and my Heavenly Father. It wasn’t until the Lord brought that legalism to light and I was able to reflect with humility (oh, it’s hard and convicting!) and honesty that I could truly confess my sins of that legalism and subsequently accept the Lord’s healing and mercy in my life. After that, the chains were broken. Freedom came, and with that, I found complete healing. I was finally able to fully know and understand God’s grace. I am so thankful for new beginnings!
The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!” Lam 3:22-23 (NABRE)
And with that comes a deeper longing to align God’s will to our own. Just as the prophet Jeremiah preached the Lord’s words in the temple to God’s people in Jeremiah 7:23 (NIV):
Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”
HEARING GOD’S VOICE
If you prayerfully look at the Hebrew word for obedience, it is Shama, which means “to hear,” “listen to,” or “obey.” Strong’s Concordance lists the Greek word for obedience as Hypokoḗ, which means “submission to what is heard.” Both words show the importance of being able to hear the voice of the Lord.
In order to walk in obedience to Christ, we must be able to first hear His voice.
So, how do we do this practically?
I’ve listed 3 ways to come to hear God’s voice. First, let me say that I am not God or a theologian. It is important that anything you take in lines up with Scripture. You should always pray about what you read and hear from others. You should compare it to the light of God’s Word in the Bible, meaning study and know your Scripture. Finally, you should discuss it with Godly counsel and wise Christian friends. And then, pray some more!
Ok, here are my 3 favorite ways to help you hear God’s voice.
1. DEVOTIONAL READING
Read and meditate on the words and the Scripture listed. Listen for the Lord and ask God to show you a verse that applies to you directly. I’ve found that when I have the courage to pray BOLDLY and ask God to show up, He ALWAYS does!
2. SCRIPTURE READING
I love to have an active Scripture reading plan that I follow. Whether it be a part of a Bible Study, reading through the Bible in a year (or 2… or 3!), or a reading method (SOAP, GROW, etc.), having something specific to follow and give me direction and clarity really helps. I think it is important to not only read and hear God’s word but to really dive in and study deeply. And that looks different for all of us. So, find a method you love, one that helps you understand and one that makes God’s words come alive. The Bible will never disappoint!
3. QUIET PRAYER
Take time to be still before God. Ask Him to open your heart and mind to what He wants you to hear. Then wait for God. Wait for Him to lead you. I find that when I am quiet and listening, He always shows me something important. Sometimes He will point me to a particular Scripture verse to study. Other times He will gently put another person on my heart. Often, I can feel His loving presence and know that He is there. The Holy Spirit works in miraculous ways. Occasionally, I can hear the Lord speak audibly. However God speaks to you, know that He is there, and He is guiding your path. All these ways that the Lord speaks to us are blessings.
WALKING IN OBEDIENCE
After you have developed some great ways to hear God speaking in your life, the next important step in walking in obedience to the Lord is following His commands. Whether that be making a strong resolution to follow His commands in Scripture or ways that He has revealed to you through your prayer time.
One of my very favorite books in the Bible is Joshua. This past Spring, I led a women’s Bible study in which I was incredibly blessed to study with a wonderful group of women from my church. We had an in-depth study I had written called “Brave Women of the Bible.” I was super inspired to teach on the transforming and remarkable faith of Rahab, the prostitute who helped save the Israelite spies in Jericho.
Rahab was a woman who others saw as the lowest of the low. Lost. Unredeemable, really. But as her story unfolded, we learned that she heard God’s voice in her heart and was open to not only that voice but to His calling in her life.
Her openness led to us being able to see God’s transforming love in her life; transformation from sin and darkness to abundant life and freedom. Her obedience after hearing God’s tug on her heart and her bravery ultimately changed history and Rahab is known in the lineage of Christ. WOW! How cool is that?
Jesus reminds us how important it is to listen for His voice. We hear it throughout Scripture, but one great example is John 10:27 (HCSB):
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Take time today to be still and listen for God’s voice. Spend time reading your favorite devotional, let His word come fully alive in your heart and pray, asking for God’s voice to be active in your daily life. Then follow obediently wherever He leads you. You won’t go astray with Him at the wheel.
Thank you, Lord, for silence and time to be still before you. Help us to learn to tune out all distractions and thoughts from the enemy so that we may hear all that you have to say. Let your thoughts become our thoughts and your heart become our heart. Show us how to walk closely and intimately in obedience to you. Only when we surrender and fully give you the reigns to our lives will we find complete freedom. Thank you for what you have done and continue to do in our lives each day! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.