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Listening to God

“Read the Old Testament and shut your mouth.” -Pastor Josh

When Pastor said this in a recent sermon, I laughed because it’s true! If you've never met Josh in person, he’s as lovable as he is outspoken, and this truism epitomizes both his love for us and his willingness to tell us what we don’t want to hear. Not long after, I read a supporting passage in Ezekiel 3 where God did the same:

Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go…

It’s not natural for us to encounter trials and ask, "God please shut my mouth so I can listen." Instead, we busy our “lips” by way of the busyness of our minds. We make plans and build programs to get what we think we need.

Sometimes God tells us to sit and listen. Our hearts need it more than we realize, especially when we’re enduring trials and suffering.

In these series of devotions, I’ll share how God’s Word is blessing me in mine. Lately, that’s a degenerative spine that has been decades in its regression, but has given me a doozy of a time the last three years.

Yet, as I listen to God daily, I’ve received countless deep blessings in my soul. They nourish my heart like nothing and no one else can. He gives my heart these words so I can know His presence by faith. When what I see is pain, He blesses my ears to hear what to do next.

Sometimes that is a pushing off of responsibilities, such as 5am on Saturday and thoughts of how many surgeries I might have before I die. (Ha!) His word blesses me not to be anxious for tomorrow.

As Ezekiel was called to speak to a rebellious and dwindling nation, so too are we called as rebels to listen. My stubborn heart wants God to call me to rest and supernatural knowledge of future events as though that could be what my heart needs. My heart needs to listen, believe, and submit to the suffering as from the hand of my loving Father.

I’m loving the poignant truths 1 Peter is mixing in with my Ezekiel reading. In one, he writes, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good” (1 Petert 4:19).

As I coordinate my painful but good morning stretch with this devotion, my son interrupts to inform me, “I’ve calculated that we only have to play four nine-inning games with Bob Feller to earn the new milestone card.”

Sometimes that suffering isn’t so bad. It looks like the trusting of my soul to God while doing good will mean showing off some video game skills with my son.

Life isn’t always so easy. If you read the rest of Ezekiel 3, you’ll see God sometimes shows greater glory in our greatest trials. Sometimes He puts God-reflecting people into dark places so He can be seen more clearly. This is what He did with Ezekiel, a prophet born during one of the most tragic periods of God’s history. Yet read his story and see how blessed he must have been to experience God’s presence and truth in such a way.

Our lives may not be as spectacular on the outside, but the faithful Creator remains the same! To listen and expect His glory in our lives like we saw for Ezekiel, we must first listen. How else can we expect to reflect God to those around us? (2 Cor. 3:18 #lifeverse).

Israel stopped listening and in their rebellion started to reflect the world that they worshiped.

God warned them already through the prophet Jeremiah that they would be cursed who “make flesh their strength” (17:5). Trusting God starts with listening. Like plants by His stream of life, we “send out [our] roots” and live (v8).

In the final verse of this chapter, God calls Ezekiel to speak and everyone else to listen, including us:

“…you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.” (V27)

This suffering may be my calling for today, but it’ll be much worse if I also refuse to listen to God’s truth along the way. I love His peace in my heart when I do, and the joy of showing others, He is worthy of my praise, even now!

I can’t flip the page to see what happens on my next chapter. That’s not what God calls us to do. He calls us to listen today and do what is set for today and His glory. Enjoy His presence and pleasure as you walk in His Word today.

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