To Build Faith, Become a Good Listener
February 19, 2017
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Are you a good listener when it comes to hearing God? Would you like to be?
(Martha) Well, John, we are sitting outside in a beautiful January day, and we’ve just done a series of podcasts on “The just shall live by faith.”
(Martha) So, the next thing is what is faith, and how do you get it?
(Martha) And I just want to read some definitions from the Bible. This is Hebrews 11:1. The New American says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The Holman says, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” The International Standard Version, which I don’t know, says, “Now faith is the assurance that what we’ve hoped for will come about, the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.”
(John) Wow. What does NLT say?
(Martha) Here it is. The New Living Translation: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
(John) That’s awesome.
(Martha) So, what it means is faith is knowing what you have before you have it. And we can’t have it and then have faith. We have to have the faith in the promise before we have it. So, how do you get the faith that knows in advance what you have, so that what you hope for will actually appear? How do you get that faith? The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” And so, faith is not what… And then Jesus said, “This is the work that you believe in the Son of God, whom God has sent.” So, Jesus said that’s the one work. The work is not to be or achieve or to perform or to accomplish or to build or to tear down. The work is to get faith. So then, to get faith you have to be a good listener, because… And you listen for the Word, the spoken Word of the Lord, not the letter, not the words in the Bible, but the Lord’s Word in the Bible.
(John) Because He has to apply that which He says, you know? The Word has to be applied. I can’t just say, “Oh, this scripture sounds good,” and then apply it to my circumstance. I have to listen to what He says about my circumstance and use the Word. But I could say, you know, by looking at something, I could say, “Oh, well, God says this,” and that could be the complete opposite of the rhema, Word of God, for me.
(Martha) And that’s what a lot of people do. They take it, take the Word and without hearing it. You can’t have faith unless you hear it. You can’t have faith by reading, unless by reading you hear it.
(John) So, the Spirit has to be the interpreter of the Word for you. He has to… Literally you can’t just say,
(Martha) Oh, it’s so exciting…
(John) You just can’t say, you know, “Oh, I’m gonna do this,” I got a brain and a book kind of thing. You have to do it with Him.
(Martha) It has to be living. So, when He speaks, it’s living, and when you hear, it’s a seed that goes into you as living. What you hear you have the faith for in the hearing of the Word.
(Martha) So, the whole thing is being a listener, not a thinker, not knowledge of what He says that the promises are all yes and amen. Yeah, they are, but you have to hear the “Yes,” for it to be faith. And once you hear it, and the seed goes in, and you believe what you’ve heard, then it comes about. Ok. The example that comes to mind is months ago when I was feeling so sick most of the time, and so weak, and I wondered if I was really ill. I wondered if there was something wrong with me, and the Lord said loudly in my left ear, “You are well.”
(Martha) And many times I had to say, “I’m well.” “The Lord says I’m well.” He also gave me a promise in scripture that my Bible would open to. I wrote about it, I think in the year end letter. It’s in Jeremiah. “I will restore you to health, and I will heal you, thus declares the Lord.” And I would look at that, and I would see it. When God speaks to you, sometimes you can’t believe what He said. If you don’t receive it and believe it, and you’re not a good listener… You have to take that Word and go back to it and keep looking at it and absorbing and repeating it. And that is exactly what meditation is in the New Testament and the Old Testament too. It’s repeating it softly over and over and over again. It’s going over it. I always heard somebody say that meditation was like chewing the cud. You chew it over and over and over again. But I don’t find that in the definition. It’s like that, the definition is like that, because it’s the repeating of it, and the repeating of it softly and dwelling in it until… And it even says until you have the ecstasy of God.
(John) Shewww! Well then, it’s relational. The entire thing has to be relational. That’s where I always go, and it’s— You’re hearing… He just isn’t going to give us something that lets us go do it on our own. He’s always going to tie us to…
(Martha) I love it, love it. And you always refer to that, John. So, He requires a relationship. And Jesus said… The temptation that He had in the wilderness, one of the three major… There were three major ones, and one of them was to listen to Satan instead of God. And He said, “Thus it is written, a man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Not every word that’s written down, but every word that’s from the mouth of God.
(Martha) So it means you have to hear Him speak. Even if you hear Him speak in a billboard or a child’s book or a scripture, you have to hear His voice. So, the real work is to become a listener. What kind of work is that, to learn to listen? First you have to know that you have to listen to get anything from God. You have to listen to the Person of God and meet the Person of God. And He speaks it to everybody. He speaks to everybody. So, the work of God that we are assigned is not to be. He will be our being. Not to do, He will do our doing. The work of God is to believe, and you believe by hearing because, “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.” It’s very simple. If you eliminate all our ideas and just go to what the scripture says, it’s all about just hearing. So, how do you hear? Well, first of all you have to believe God will speak to you. Oh, He may speak to Billy Graham, but does He speak to me? Yes! Especially the little sheep. So, we have to learn to listen. The work is to listen. Ok, here’s what happens when you listen. You cannot listen without submitting.
(Martha) If you’re really going to listen, you have to submit.
(Martha) You have to submit to God and do the work of eliminating everything else in your head and the work of concentrating and the commitment to go back to that Word and to go back to your need of a Word. I learned it, thank God, by His grace I learned it early that everything that happens and everything you’re going through and every person that’s in your life evokes a question. “What is this, Lord? What am I to do, Lord?” And the question to God for an answer about it requires that you wait and listen. And He always, always answers. Some things I’ve listened and waited for six months and longer for an answer. I asked for some, I have a question about someone I’m trying to pray for, and I wanted to know what was the problem that I needed to pray for. And that was two weeks ago. And the answer came this morning through a person. But I was waiting for His answer, not my deduction. The greatest enemy to listening is logic and reason.
(John) It’s the Tree of Knowledge. And that’s the tree of thinking you know.
(Martha) Thinking you should know and could know. You almost have to believe that you can’t know unless you hear before you can become a good listener. But His mind, His thoughts are so far above our thoughts. His ideas are fascinating.
(John) Well, you also have to believe that if you seek Him and you look for Him that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
(Martha) That He exists.
(John) That He exists.
(Martha) And He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. So, it is a work, but the work is to subdue myself and to quiet my thoughts and to say, “You don’t know,” and sometimes I used to say, “Shut up, Martha.” But it’s learning to quiet your own reason and logic. “Is it this, is it this, is it this??” You go down that road and it’s a rabbit trail, and you will come up with an answer that you’ve created, and it won’t help. What we need is the living Word that creates the faith. It says in Matthew 13, “The word of God is a seed,” and a seed is full of life. It is full, every seed is full of dynamic life exponentially beyond its size. I don’t know how to say it. But a seed is a miraculous thing, and even the Word of God is a seed. Everything is a seed. And I read something by Andrew Murray in this marvelous book. I think it’s How to Increase Your Faith. (How to Strengthen Your Faith is the correct title.) One of the things he said, and it has just fascinated me, “Everything has its beginnings in darkness. Everything living has its beginnings in darkness,” and that is so true. A seed does. So, sometimes God speaks to you and the seed goes in, but it goes into darkness in you in which you cannot see it or think about it. And that faith has to grow by the work of the Spirit within. And the only thing you can contribute to it is to be quiet and wait for it.
To Build Faith, Become a Good Listener – Episode #533 – Shulamite Podcast
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” In order to strengthen our faith, we must be good at hearing the word of God for our lives, moment by moment. Are you a good listener when it comes to hearing God? Would you like to be?