Stop. Listen.

Culture has a hard time listening. Every day we have messages bombarding us from all over the place. We are glued to our phones, checking notifications and refreshing apps to see what everyone is doing. The TV is typically just on, endlessly playing Netflix. It just gets tough. With all the noise in our lives, we rarely have quiet moments. Even now, as I write this, I find myself looking at my phone. It’s so frustrating, it’s time to stop and learn to listen. I laugh at myself sometimes. Okay, a lot of times, because I tend to do silly things. I’ll get sucked into a TV show that isn’t even that good and then know waaay too much about it (Shouts out to Vampire Diaries and its’ nonsense). I also do things that are a bit more ridiculous. I’m in a season of some unknowns and having to trust God, and many times I find myself saying, “I just can’t hear God.” The truth is, and this truth is the same for you as well, I’m not allowing myself time to listen.

I like to journal during my time with God because it helps me process my thoughts and write out the prayers I have. Many times, I’ll just stop there. I’m like that annoying person you occasionally keep in contact with that seems to only talk about themselves when you do meet up (and then are reminded why you don’t make them a priority). I do that with God, I ask him questions, but keep on talking, not letting him speak to me. The moments when I stop and listen are the best with my time with God, because it gives him a chance to speak to me and work on my soul. Before I continue, I’m not having burning bush moments with Jesus, no voices from heaven speaking audibly to me, simply quiet moments that the word speaks to me and the spirit prompts me. There is a difference between hearing and listening. If you have studied communication, this idea will probably be familiar. Hearing is the biological process of noise coming into your ear, listening is the decoding of information that you hear. It’s the difference of being in a crowd or in a conversation. The crowd has many voices and we really only hear the random snippets of conversations. The conversation is a more intimate time where a smaller group is connecting and sharing with each other. We have all got to stop. Stop talking, stop distracting ourselves, stop saying we can’t hear God. The truth is, we can all hear God, we just might not be listening.

So, how can we listen?

Stay connected to the word.

All the podcasts, YouTube clips, and blogs are great; but they are not the bible. I know, even as a blogger who talks about God and what he is teaching me, if you were to only read my stuff, you’re going to get lost. We need to start reading our bibles. It’s the word of God, which is living. Meaning that when you read it, it is going to speak to you. We could all read the same verse and have it speak to us in different ways that we specifically need to hear. It is convicting, empowering, and intentional to each of us. We may not have a burning bush, but we have a book just waiting to tell you your purpose. If your quiet times only consist of you journaling and listening to preachers, you’re going to miss out on what God’s word is trying to speak to you today. I am saying this not to be mean or make you feel bad, I’m saying it because I get caught up in that method too. I like to listen to podcasts and read blogs, but I have to dive into God’s word to be able to have him directly speak to my soul.

Don’t ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit isn’t a weird person, nor is it for the uber spiritual (did I just say nor?), he is simply the guide that is with us as we enter a relationship with Jesus. He seems to always be left out and forgotten. We are faced with choices in life where we have to make decisions, and often the Holy Spirit will tell us right away, but we don’t always listen. “Even though he makes fun of me, doesn’t like that I believe in God, and everyone around me says I shouldn’t date him; I think I can really change him.” Sister you can’t, and you also aren’t listening to the Spirit. The spirit helps us discern character, warn us of pitfalls, and puts wise people in our lives that we should listen to. I’ve seen it a lot, people ignoring the Spirit because it isn’t exactly what they want. The spirit also helps us reach out to others, prompting us to send a text or grab coffee to encourage someone. This past week for me this happened, I felt like the Holy Spirit wanted me to get coffee with someone and encourage them. No agenda behind it, it was simply something I chose to do because the Spirit was telling me to do it. Super practical and not mega spiritual to do that. We just can’t ignore when we get prompted, because we are actively choosing to not listen when we should.

stop.

Hopefully you listened to some of this today. I wrote it for you as much for me. Often, we can read Christian blogs like this and it’s filled with a lot of fluff and not very convicting. I hope this is convicting you, I hope this causes you to evaluate if you are listening in to God or if you are getting distracted by the noise around you. For me, I have to put my phone away when having quiet time, and I have to make sure I am allowing time to read scripture and actually leave a quiet space for God to talk. Take time to stop during your day so that you can listen to what God is speaking over your life.

-Joshua Thomas

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