How to Listen to God
If you want a life filled with peace, happiness, joy and prosperity, you must have regular contact with the source of all good things: your Creator God.
In the August 2014 Trumpet issue, we learned how to pray—how to talk to God. Now let’s learn how God talks to us. This Bible IQ will show you how to “listen to God” by studying His inspired Word.
Many people become frustrated when they try to study the Bible because they find it difficult to understand. But there are simple lessons in how to study that can dramatically improve your appreciation and understanding of this wonderful resource.
Grab your Bible so you can begin putting this powerful tool into practice right now. It is a good idea to also have a pen and a notebook handy so you can write out the following verses, along with your notes and thoughts to help you remember what you learn.
1. Does man really need daily guidance from God? Can’t he reason out for himself how to properly lead his own life? Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12.
Man has proven throughout history that he doesn’t know how to live. He has been unable to discover for himself the way to true happiness, abundance and peace.
2. What is the main problem with man? Jeremiah 17:9. The “heart” this verse speaks of is the human mind without God—a state the Bible refers to as “carnal.” What is wrong with allowing yourself to be governed by your carnal mind? Romans 8:6-8.
3. So for what purpose did God give His Word to us? 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Notice the words reproof and correction. Most people are very resistant to receiving reproof (rebuke) or correction. What about you? Will you let God, through His Word, show you where and how to change? After you read a scripture or a passage, ask yourself, How does this apply to me? How do I need to change my life in order to follow what God is telling me here?
4. What attitude is God looking for in us as we seek Him through Bible study? Isaiah 66:2; 1 Peter 5:5.
It is a mistake to try to seek God with a “take me as I am” attitude. God looks for sincere humility—our knowing that we don’t have the answers of ourselves. Then we will “tremble at his word,” meaning we will respect what He tells us enough to act upon it and turn away from our mistakes. See also Isaiah 57:15. God will actually dwell with the humble!
5. To whom did the psalmist turn when he needed help, understanding and guidance? What was his source of counsel? Psalm 119:9-11, 17-18.
To truly understand your studies of the Bible, you must act on the lesson in the August 2014 issue and pray first for understanding the way this psalmist did. Most of the Psalms are written by King David, and they vividly show the wonderful relationship he had with God. In your future studies, the Psalms can show you how to develop that same deep relationship with your Creator.
6. In seeking God, was the psalmist half-hearted? Psalm 119:10.
7. What are the rewards of seeking God’s understanding through His Word? Proverbs 3:13-18.
This is the bottom line: You will never receive these blessings without seeking after God’s wisdom. Bible study is the chief way to do that. That is the way to achieve success, peace,happiness and abundance. If you lack the motivation to study, ask God to help you find it! (Luke 11:9-10).
How to Understand It?
1. Though we understand that the Bible is God’s Word, it seems that there are as many different interpretations of the Bible as there are religions and churches. Should we rely on any man’s interpretation of the Bible, including our own? Proverbs 3:5; 2 Peter 1:20.
Let the Bible interpret itself! As Herbert W. Armstrong often stated, God’s Word is coded, formed like a jigsaw puzzle, “Here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Avoid taking scriptures out of context or using only one scripture to prove a point. Read numerous scriptures on a given subject in order to gain a clear picture of what a specific verse or passage means.
2. Amid all the confusion, how can we get God’s interpretation, and not that of the many men who claim to understand the Bible? 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Study to prove God’s Word. Look into world history and check whether God has brought His prophecies to pass. Look into world events today and see whether God’s forecasts have come true.
God speaks to us through His Bible, nurturing us, helping us to grow. We should never approach Bible study with an attitude of disproving Him. Test and prove God’s Word by obeying what it says and measuring whether the results are good! That is the path to truly understanding it. As Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
God promises blessings for heeding His commands and taking correction. Obey and put those promises to the test. See if God lives up to His promises. Read Malachi 3:10 as an example.
Then, once you prove something to be good, hold fast to it! Never let it go! Build your life around the foundational truths you learn in your Bible study.
Here are a few helpful hints to make sure you get the most out of Bible study.
1. Study consistently and frequently.
As with any education, consistent study is essential for you to advance. This takes self-discipline. So the first thing to do is build a regular study schedule into your everyday routine. Study at a time when you are alert, when it can be something you truly anticipate.
2. Study by subject.
Start off simple. Pick one subject or one book of the Bible and study it thoroughly. Some Bible handbooks will give you historical background on books of the Bible. This can provide you with valuable information so you can understand what was going on in history as the events of whatever book you are reading unfolded. A great resource is Strong’s Concordance. It will give you deeper understanding into the meaning of words that are translated from their original Greek or Hebrew into English.
Be careful which translation you read. Some translations are less accurate than the King James Version. For instance, the New International Version has mistranslations in many cases and even omits a few scriptures completely.
3. Develop a system to mark your Bible.
Colored pencils work well for this purpose. For example, you might mark promises in green, personal correction in yellow, and doctrine in orange. In addition, you can find good indelible fine-point ink pens that will allow you to write notes in your margin to remind you of details and instruction that apply to the noted verses.
4. Meditate and review.
After learning lessons, it does not take long to forget. How can you make God’s Word come alive and really penetrate your heart and consciousness? You must meditate on what you learn (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; 77:12). You have to think about what you study for it to really sink in.
Consider: The world’s best-selling book is the very inspired Word of God. That is truly astounding. Far too many allow it to sit on the shelf and collect dust.
Don’t miss out on being educated by your Creator! Nothing is more exciting than fulfilling His purpose in your life—to be a member of His Family—by seeking Him, talking to Him, and then letting Him reply. Take the time; ask for the discipline from God and begin your regimen of life-changing Bible study today.