On Hearing From God (and He Has Already Spoken)
Many people, and not just Christians, will often exclaim, “If only God would speak to me! Why can’t I hear from God?” It is as if God is silent, and has never communicated with us. But the Judeo-Christian God is altogether the opposite.
He is not silent, he has spoken, and he communicates graciously and freely with us. And of course the primary means of communicating to us have been through the living Word, Jesus, and the written Word, the Bible. The Bible testifies to Jesus, and Jesus testifies to the Scriptures.
Yet incredibly, the Bible is the most ignored book in the world – and I am also referring to Christians. This great gift of God’s communication to us is largely overlooked, disregarded and glossed over by far too many people claiming to be Christians.
Here we have 66 books; 1189 chapters; 31,173 verses; 807,361 words; and 3,566,480 letters – or thereabouts (depending on various factors). But we do have an Old Testament with 39 books, a New Testament with 27 books, offering us all we need to live life the way God intends us to live it.
Sure, if you are looking for a clear word from Scripture as to whether you buy a Ford or a Toyota, you may not get it. But there are enough specifics about the important things in life, along with plenty of general principles to pretty much cover all our main questions and concerns.
But tragically and inconceivably, there are countless people in the West who claim to be Christian who seldom if ever actually read the Bible. Some might pick it up sporadically, or during times of crisis, but otherwise it is just another book collecting dust on the shelves.
And then these same folks wonder why they are getting nowhere in their Christian life. They wonder why they seem powerless and ineffective and constantly living in defeat and despair. Well, when you refuse to do the very thing necessary for a strong and mature Christian walk, guess what? Of course you will flounder.
There are a few certain spiritual disciplines which we must embrace or we are just playing games. The daily reading and study of God’s Word, along with prayer, fellowship and worship, are the basics of the Christian life. They are non-negotiables.
If you refuse to do these things, then you reveal that you are not a true disciple of Christ but just someone going through the motions, with no real intent to make Christ Lord and to honor him in everything you do. If this is the case, then you must repent immediately, and set about making things right.
As to getting back into the Word, there are many ways to develop a regular reading program. One I often tout is simply to read enough to get through the Bible in a year. There are plenty of variations on this theme as well. See here for a number of options.
If you read three chapters a day (3.25 to be exact), you will make it through the whole Bible in one year. I prefer just beginning on January 1 and ending up on December 31. Thus you start with Genesis 1-3 and make your way through, concluding on the last day of the year with Revelation 22.
If you are currently doing this, then you will know that three quarters of the year will have you in the Old Testament, since the OT comprises three quarters of our Bible. So today you should be reading the book of Malachi, and tomorrow you are off to the New Testament.
Some people prefer having a mix from both Testaments each day. The link above allows you that option as well. But the main thing is to read from the Word of God every day. What I offer is of course just a minimum. Ten minutes a day should cover your three chapters.
But you can and should read more, and spend time with serious Bible study and meditation on Scripture as well. But you have to start somewhere, so three chapters a day is the least you can do. So as I say, if you want to get into the swing of things, tomorrow you can start with the first three chapters of Matthew.
That the regular reading and study of God’s word is essential goes without saying. But since so many believers are just not doing this, let me remind them – and all of us – as to why this is so vital. A few quotes will suffice here.
“If you do not love the Bible, you certainly do not love the God who gave it to us.” Charles Spurgeon
”There is no royal road to a knowledge of the Bible. There must be patient, daily, systematic reading of the Book, or the Book will not be known.” J.C. Ryle
”There is not enough Bible-reading among us. It is not sufficient to have the Book. We must actually READ it, and PRAY over it ourselves. It will do us no good, if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds. Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading.” J.C. Ryle
“Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it.” A.W. Tozer
And even more important is what the inspired writers found in Scripture have said about the Bible. Just one will do, the psalmist in Psalm 119:97-104:
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
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