We Must Listen Carefully to the Lord

“Listen carefully to the Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2b

I have learned in my life that it is important to focus my attention on certain important things and not take them for granted.  There were times when I was well aware that something was important, but I didn’t focus enough of my attention on this thing and eventually it caused me problems.  There were many times that I deeply regretted that I didn’t pay more attention to an important issue.

Properly focusing our attention on the right things is especially critical in our Christian walk.  We must be sure that we are focused on the proper areas and principles.  We must be sure that we are paying attention to these critical things that could limit our spiritual growth and have a deep impact on our lives for eternity. One of the tactics of the enemy is to shift our focus from critical items to things that are non-critical so that we waste our time.

I want to talk about one such area of our relationship with the Lord that is extremely important and critical to our spiritual growth and maturity as Christians.   I want to talk about our ability to hear God’s voice and to listen to what He is communicating to us personally.

I want to pause here and place extra emphasis on the importance of this topic regarding our ability to hear from the Lord.  I will even say that it is the Holy Spirit who is prompting me to express how very critical this is.

“Every one who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37

Think about when the Lord first began to work in your life, when you first came to Him (or He came to you).  God was able to communicate directly and personally with you, correct? For some of you this was recent and easy to remember, for others this may have been decades ago. For me, I remember that it was a very personal thing.  God was speaking and dealing with me personally.  I can be fairly certain that you had the same experience – that the Lord was able to communicate with you intimately, and you were hearing His voice.

Think also about this: As time went on, did this communication (hearing from the Lord) stay the same, or increase?  Or did it decrease or even stop?  For most Christians, unfortunately, the ability to really hear from the Lord in a personal way has likely decreased over the years or even stopped completely.

If this is not the case for you and your ability to hear the Lord’s voice has increased and is strong and vibrant, that’s great, and you should continue to focus on this communication, and this discussion should reinforce what you are doing.  But for everyone else, now is the time to focus once again on this area.  It is my prayer now that what we discuss here will help you to increase, enhance, or perhaps even restore this vital, personal communication with the Lord.

Recently the Holy Spirit had led me to read chapter 55 of the book of Isaiah and to meditate on this.  This chapter has many beautiful truths revealed in it, but when I first began to read it, they seemed disassociated.

Chapter 55 starts with a call from God to anyone who is thirsty to come to Him and drink and eat for free:

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy?”  Isaiah 55: 1-2a

Almost 1 year ago, back in February of 2015, I wrote a blog about Jesus as the bread of life and the importance of finding our satisfaction in spiritual things as opposed to worldly things that can never satisfy us. I remembered writing this as I read through Isaiah 55 and went back and re-read it. (Here is the link if you wish to re-read it also: Bread of LIfe ) It was good to be refreshed on this but I felt that the Holy Spirit wanted to show me something deeper from this chapter.  I prayerfully read through it a few more times, and meditated on various truths.

In this chapter, Isaiah mentions many powerful and wonderful truths, like the fact that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that God’s word doesn’t return to Him void, but it accomplishes what He intends for it.  The end of the chapter paints a beautiful picture of how God blesses His children with joy and peace, having even the surrounding mountains and trees show favor to His children.

Reading these truths again was a blessing, but in my spirit I felt there was something more that the Lord wanted to show me.  I felt there was some unifying thread that I just couldn’t get clear in my mind.

Then the other day, two words jumped out at me: “Listen carefully” or in the RSV, “Hearken diligently”.   It became clear to me that the Holy Spirit was saying that to find true satisfaction, we must listen to what the Lord is saying to us!  We must hear what the Spirit is speaking to us personally!  This was the thread that tied everything in the chapter together.

“Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me.  Hear, and your soul shall live.”  Isaiah 55: 2-3

Wow!  Do you hear what’s being said here?  This is a powerful truth that we need to pay close attention to.  Let me say this very clearly and directly:  When God communicates to you directly about His plans for you, and His love for you, and His understanding of your situation, and His ability to take care of you, and whatever else He wants to tell you directly and personally, this is a powerful and amazing thing.  It’s will bring life to your soul.  It will bring satisfaction to feed your hunger and thirst!

Here is a very practical way for you to get spiritual satisfaction: seek the Lord to hear from Him and listen carefully and diligently to what He is saying to you.  His personal message to you is powerful and life-changing.  I can’t over emphasize the importance and the value of this communication.

As Christians we like to talk about the importance of prayer and the power of prayer.  We must recognize that prayer is communication, and communication is two sided; not only should we be talking to and petitioning the Lord, but we should be listening to Him also.

When we read the Bible we should not just be reading it to learn the principles and truths that are there, but we should be also reading it with the idea that God can speak to us personally through His Word.  Our reading  should not be the same as when we read a text book or history book or a novel, but we should see God’s word as a means for God to communicate to us directly and personally.

Let me give you an example: one time while I was reading through Isaiah chapter 43, I came to verse 18:

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Is. 43: 18-19

When I read this the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said “ this is for you now!  I am doing something new with you now!”

I wrote this in my journal:  “’Don’t remember the former things’ is a directive!  Don’t even think about them! Push them far from your mind! If you catch yourself thinking about them, stop immediately!”  At the time, it was very important that I listened to this.

You may be worried that you will hear the wrong voice, and it will confuse or misguide you.  This is a legitimate concern, but all I can say is that God can protect you from this.  Make the Lord your shepherd and you will learn to hear His voice.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:1-5

And later in the same chapter:

“I (Jesus speaking) am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me…”

Sometimes you may not be sure if the voice you are hearing is just yourself, or your flesh, or if it’s truly from the Lord, but that’s okay.  As time goes on you will learn the difference.  Don’t let this uncertainty stop you from seeking the Lord and listening carefully.

Looking back at Isaiah 55, we see how this all fits together now and relates to this one truth about listening for God’s word to you.  Let’s go through some of this:

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David.”  Vs 3b

Remember that we have entered into a covenant with Him through the blood of Jesus.  This gives us the ability to boldly communicate directly and freely with God the Father and the Holy Spirit as His children.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near.”  Vs 6

In order to hear Him, we must spend the time to seek Him and call upon Him.  We must take advantage of this opportunity now, and use it to enter into a close relationship with Him as His child.

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts.  Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.  ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Vs. 7-9

As God communicates His messages to us, we must recognize that a large part of His purpose in doing this is to change the way that we think.  We are accustomed to thinking and behaving as the world has taught us, but now we must take on His way of thinking and walk in the ways of the Lord.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2

The next part of Isaiah 55 is probably the most important and the most beautiful, so pay close attention to what is being said here:

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Is. 55: 10-11

God’s personal message to you has a purpose!  It has a specific and practical purpose relating to the content of the words itself, for example, He may tell you that He will be changing something in your life, removing, adding, whatever, and He will accomplish this.  But, more importantly, His word also has an underlying purpose in that it will bring about a change in you, an inner change, in your spirit, causing you to be satisfied and fulfilled!  Yes, God knows what you need to hear.  He knows the words that will minister to your deep spiritual needs and that will satisfy the deep hunger or thirst of your spirit.  Halleluiah!

Doesn’t it make sense that hearing from our Creator in a close and personal way will fulfill a deep need in our spirit?  Please don’t take this for granted; don’t take this lightly.  I can attest to you that this is true; it has happened to me.  Please take the time to seek the Lord and listen carefully to Him.  His words for you are the most valuable entities on this planet.

I have a strong word of caution here though.  The Holy Spirit’s communication with you will never contradict or differ from the Scriptures, and it should never be a substitute for reading the Bible.  More likely, the communication should work in unison with and be confirmed by the Scriptures.

I must also caution about communication with “spiritual entities” as is practiced by eastern mysticism or occult practitioners. Hearing the “still small inner voice” of the Holy Spirit is very different than “suspending your consciousness” to allow for an encounter with some “spirit” who may even claim to be “from God”.  Christians should not be attempting to “see inner lights” or use you imagination for spiritual encounters.  Nor should Christians contact spirits through medians or Ouija boards, etc., this is strictly forbidden by the Lord.

I leave you with the last few verses of chapter 55 that I believe are a hyperbole or an analogy of what will happen as you begin to hear God’s personal word for you.

“For you shall go out with joy and be led out with peace.  The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Is. 55:12-13

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