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Abide 3 – Quiet Ourselves to Hear God’s Voice

Day 1 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

If The Weeds Are Gone, The Harvest Increases Perhaps you have noticed a resurgence in the past decade, among all ages, of exploring the joy (and difficulty) of planting one’s own gardens. Fresh, vibrant vegetables have become greatly valued, as has the process of “rediscovering the land.” Of course, lessons are swiftly learned regarding what does and does not lead to a significant and tasty harvest. What is one such lesson? Get rid of the weeds!   Weeds choke out the development and steady growth of plants. Gardeners acquire this knowledge early on, likely paired with frustration. However, if you want a good harvest … start pulling! This also relates to hearing God’s voice. There are “weeds” to intentionally remove from your life so that you can hear what God is saying. This shouldn’t surprise you, as any engaging conversation requires that you get rid of distractions, deal with unforgiveness, learn to listen, etc. So, what are the weeds that you need to pull out?  

Eight Weeds 1. Unwillingness to Hear God   Did you know that Jesus told stories called “parables,” so that those who did not want to hear truth could avoid it? Matthew 13:12-13 (NIV) Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” God does not force his way into the lives of anyone who is stubborn or wants to go their “own way.” He is that committed to maintaining your free will, so that genuine love is possible (you cannot have genuine love if it is forced, can you?)  

2. Unwillingness To Surrender Until We Know the “Cost”   Some do not believe that Jesus has their best interests in mind – that he wants good things for them. Therefore, they desire to know what he wants and what it may cost them - before they seek his voice. But Paul declares, Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. You can trust this truth!  

3. Unconfessed Sin   When a husband and wife have something between them, a tension and isolation can result in their relationship. The same is true in a relationship with God. The psalmist described it well, Psalm 66:18 (NIV) If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

4. Lack of Knowledge   Sometimes people simply haven’t been taught how to hear God. Ignorance is not bliss! As it says in the Old Testament, Job 33:14 (NIV) For God does speak--now one way, now another-- though no one perceives it.  

5. Unbelief   It says that Jesus couldn’t do miracles in Nazareth because of unbelief (Matthew 13:58). If you do not believe that Jesus speaks or that you personally can hear him, the “harvest of hearing God’s voice” will be limited.  

6. Fear of Chaos in the Church   Some churches discourage people from hearing God’s voice, worried about potential chaos or people claiming to have heard bizarre things from God. Sadly, people do misuse God’s voice! Yet some also mishandle the Bible – and you don’t stop using that, do you? Instead, you need to use the gifts that God has given you, BUT with love, wisdom, boundaries, etc. Or as Paul said when he faced some chaos in the Corinthian church, 1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV) Let all things be done decently and in order.  

7. Not Desiring a Friendship with God   Some people only want to relate to God when they need him to get them out of trouble. This would be disrespectful to anyone and it is to God. You should not expect to hear God regularly and clearly if that is your attitude.  

8. Too Busy to Spend Time Listening to God   Some peoples’ lives are filled with a lot of things that do not matter for eternity. To hear God’s voice, you need to create space to listen to him. If you look in Luke 10:38-42, you see that Martha is an example of someone who was too busy (even with good things!) to listen to Jesus, while Mary was ready to hear.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading. 2. What are 8 weeds that can hinder you from hearing God’s voice?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Do any of the first 8 weeds mentioned apply to you? If so, journal which one(s).

2. Review your verses from Abide 1 and Abide 2 – John 15:5-6 and Romans 12:2.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 5:17-20.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 2 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) On the previous day, you looked at eight weeds that can make it hard for you to hear God’s voice. Today six more will be noted!   Does it seem counterproductive to work from the “negative?” As long as you remember that the ultimate goal is to draw closer to a God who really loves you, this can be very useful. Keep at it and you’ll see so much fruit in your life.  

Six More Weeds   1. Talking Instead of Listening   Does God want to hear what’s going on in your heart? The intense emotions, questions, pain, and dreams? Of course! However, when you go to prayer, you can’t just pour out all your complaints and concerns to him in a steady stream, without stopping to listen to what he has to say.  

2. Impatience and Rushing Ahead   How long are you willing to wait to hear from your good Father and King of all that exists? A minute? Five minutes? Would you ever wait in silence for 15 minutes or even more? Moses waited 6 days before God spoke!

Exodus 24:15-16 (NIV) When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud.  

3. Fear of People, Rather Than Fear of God   If you’re afraid of or controlled by what other people (even other followers of the Way) think about you, you introduce another weed into the midst of your desire to hear God’s voice.

Read what a simple verse highlights, Proverbs 29:25 (NIV) Fear of man will prove to be a snare. You’re trapped and in chains when you are a people-pleaser! This is in contrast to what you’re told in another passage,

Proverbs 14:26-27 (NIV) Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress and for their children it will be a refuge. For the fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.  

4. Satan Tries to Keep Us from Hearing   It’s fascinating that people are very good at listening to the devil’s voice, when he says things such as: “You’re not beautiful;” “You’re not smart;” “Nobody likes you.” Or when he sows seeds of doubt in one’s mind: “Yeah, but . . .” “What if?” “That wouldn’t be possible.”

In one parable Jesus explains that Satan will attempt to snatch the seed (God’s Word) out of hearts as quickly as it is sown (Mark 4:14-15). Have you experienced this? The devil is a liar and the source of many lies. Why would one choose to listen to him rather than to God?  

5. Asking The Wrong Questions   Sometimes you may frantically ask God a question, and hear no response. If you quiet yourself however, he might show you that you’re asking the wrong question! E.g. you might ask – how can my business prosper? Maybe you should instead be asking – “should I be in business at all?” What you want to be listening for is the, “God-agenda” which is not just a good agenda, but the BEST!  

6. Fear of Confusing Our Thoughts with God’s Thoughts   God promised that you’ll be able to know and recognize his voice.

John 10:4-5 (NIV) When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."   The Bible also promises that if you’re seeking the Lord, you WILL find him.

It says in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV) But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. And in the New Testament, James 1:5 (NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.   Humans learn from experience alone how to distinguish colors; musicians learn by experience to distinguish a minor from a major key simply by listening. In the same way, you learn to hear God’s voice in your spirit through the experience of intentionally listening.  

Will you make mistakes? Of course! If you can mistake a friend’s voice, you should expect to slip up on hearing God’s voice from time to time. Learning to follow God can be messy (because people are messy!), and you’ll make blunders along the way! No person on earth will be 100% accurate – not until heaven! This is why the most necessary characteristic you need for learning to hear God’s voice is humility! It will allow you to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake and admit it to others.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What 6 weeds were shared today, things that can hinder you from hearing God’s voice? Write them down.

3. Will you make mistakes in hearing God’s voice? What characteristic do you need to help you handle your mistakes?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Do any of the 6 weeds mentioned today apply to you? Journal which one(s).

2. Look at your answer from Life Application question 1 from both Day 1 and Day 2. In your journal spend some time walking through a. to c. below.   Do not rush – this is how you experience the growth you’ve always been looking for! You want to pull out some weeds! Being a disciple in the Way can feel like you’re spinning tires in one spot UNLESS you develop these beautiful habits of abiding.   a. Thanksgiving: for revealing to you the incredible gift of hearing God’s voice; for being able to have true fellowship with him through conversation; for being able to receive real instruction, direction, comfort, and encouragement from him through hearing him.   b. Confession: for whatever weeds apply to you. Ask God for his response. Record what you sense him saying to you.   c. Surrender: commit to do whatever you hear.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 5:21-37.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 3 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Can you believe it? You’ve already examined 14 possible weeds that get in the way of the, “harvest of hearing God’s voice!” Today you’ll finish up with two more. It is amazing to learn together, whether brand-new to this or an experienced follower of the Way.  

1. Listening for a Loud Voice, Rather Than a Quiet Voice   While all the weeds discussed in the previous days will not apply to every person listening for God’s voice, this one does! Many are mistaken – they think that God is GOD, so he must be loud all the time.   Consider the amazing experience of the prophet, Elijah. He was hiding in a cave on Mount Horeb when God told him to stand on the mountain because he was about to pass by. Wow! Now carefully read what happens!  

1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) … then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’   God seldom raises his voice! Though the world makes a lot of noise, God does not generally make himself heard by speaking over the chaos. Rather, he often speaks in a whisper and only those who are willing to become still can start to hear him clearly.

Reflect on these two verses from the Psalms, Psalm 131:2 (NIV) But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psalm 62:1 (ESV) For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.  

2. The Weeds of Fear and Anxiety   A big challenge you will face in life is FEAR! You can also add anxiety to a list of hinderances. Is it natural to feel fear and normal to feel anxious? Yes, at times. However, they become a huge problem when they begin to direct and steer a life.   It’s important that you live your life by FAITH as followers of the Way and not FEAR of what can happen. Faith isn’t the complete absence of fear. Instead, it is the resolve and choice to follow the leading of Jesus in your life despite any fear and lack of understanding.   The key to doing this is learning to stay connected to God’s peace. There truly is a peace that passes understanding. What exciting news! Many followers of the Way have discovered this reality. As it says in Philippians,

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) So do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  

Here you see Paul encouraging the believers (including you) to not be anxious about anything (afraid, fearful) but instead to turn to thanksgiving and prayer. Then you can let your requests be made known to God and his peace will guard your heart and mind. This is brilliant! Too many times people go into a prayer time overwhelmed or anxious and then feel like their devotions are very dry. They then leave with the same feeling they had before. This is NOT the way your walk with Jesus was supposed to be! Paul is giving very practical advice. He is saying “change your focus” and you’ll have an easier time experiencing, yes experiencing, the peace of God.  

Remember that this peace doesn’t come through the absence of conflict or the presence of great circumstances. That’s the world’s peace – dependent on circumstances. Why aim for something so temporary and that can be easily threatened? For Day 4 and 5, you’ll look at a tool that will help you quiet yourself and re-focus when confronted with fear and anxiety.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. Read the Bible verses noted in this day. Try reading them very slowly, 2 times each.

3. What emotions often overwhelm, hindering one’s ability to hear God’s voice? Write this down.  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Reflect on your life a bit – are you able to be quiet before God? Write down why or why not.

2. In your journal write a list of fears and anxieties that you have. Let them surface. God can handle them! You will use this list on future days.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 5:38-48.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 4 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Today a tool will be introduced that helps address the weeds of fear and anxiety. The tool is called, S.T.A.R. Tools such as these do not bring a person the abundant life found as followers of the Way. However, they do provide ideas on how to create space and connection – so that you can abide in Jesus.  

The “S” in S.T.A.R. STOP - Don’t Fix the Problem, Person, or Situation   Science shows that when a person is tired or overwhelmed, their ability to use their cingulate and prefrontal cortex is greatly diminished. These may be big words, but what does this look like practically? Among other things - your ability to make good choices, think creatively, connect relationally with others (God included), empathize, and make wise choices – are all severely limited. Have you ever experienced a time like this?   Of course, when you’re utterly exhausted, you may simply need to sleep! But for the rest of the time you have great instruction in the Bible regarding practices that help one overcome weaknesses and stay abiding (there is that wonderful word again!) in the peace of God.  

The first step is to STOP. Many need to learn that not everything has to be fixed right now nor can they usually fix it. When people insist on fixing problems or people, they almost certainly end up trying to control the person/situation. The same is true if they run from the problems and people that are causing the stress. There is a different option than, “fight or flight.”  

You don’t want to miss out on whatever God is trying to do in the situation. Remember, he has an abundant life planned for followers of the Way. Psalm 37:7 (ESV) Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!   Can you commit to pausing in your life? Can you commit to releasing control? The second step will help you even further.  

The “T” in S.T.A.R. TAKE – A Breather & Calm Down   In Western culture, being still and quiet is not something practiced regularly. In fact, many people feel shame when they aren’t busy ALL the time. You may think that being constantly busy is a sign of your value. Sadly, this causes many people to burn out, even leaders who are supposed to model the power of being quiet and hearing God’s voice.  

You were NOT made to go without a continuous power source! You are like rechargeable batteries and need to rest. God rested on the seventh day and commanded his people to rest.   But aren’t followers of the Way intended to work hard in building his kingdom? Yes! Isn’t this urgent? Yes! Yet you still need to rest. You just need to pick the right kind of rest. Listen to what Isaiah said, Isaiah 30:15 (ESV) For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling ….  

It says that in rest, quietness, and trust you will find your strength! Do you believe this?   In moments of anxiety, whether in a stressful situation, dealing with a conflict or feeling overwhelmed, you can practice stillness by exercising self-control over your body and breathing.  

Simply taking a few minutes to be still, relaxing your body, and breathing deeply is often enough to calm your nervous system. This isn’t weird at all, it’s how God made you!  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What is the name given to the tool that can be used to help quiet yourself?

3. What are the first 2 steps of the quieting tool? Explain them simply if you can.  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Write down 2 or 3 examples of when you’ve tried to take control of a situation or “run away.” Try to pick examples that are most recent, if you can.

2. Spend some time in confession. Confess to your good Father that you sometimes, in pride or fear (or both), try to control your life or others.

3. Take one of the examples that you wrote down and make it your goal to share it with someone at work today or a family member or someone from your church. This sharing can start you on the road of discipling someone else in the Way (something all believers are called to do).  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 6:1-18. 2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you. 3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 5 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Today you will look at the final two steps of S.T.A.R. The first two were: STOP – don’t fix the problem, person, or situation; and TAKE – a breather and calm down. It is amazing what happens in a life when people give time to such exercises. It may not seem natural at first, but like physical exercise, you learn as you go along.  

The “A” in S.T.A.R. APPRECIATE and Connect to Jesus   Once you have stopped and calmed down, and taken some deep breaths, you’re ready for the best way to enter God’s Presence and taste his peace – worship! Psalm 100:4 (ESV) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!  

How do you enter his gates? This is another way of saying, “how do you experience him?”   When you focus on Jesus and the things that he has done for you, you find that your heart begins to transform. Or as one child put it, “my heart is feeling bigger!” Of course, it’s important to recognize that quickly saying you are thankful for a couple of things is VERY different than actually feeling appreciation.  

You need to take time to appreciate. And remember, science has shown that being tired and overwhelmed can cause the cortex levels of your brain to diminish in their capacity to function. Interestingly enough, science has also found that focusing on what you are thankful for causes these same areas of the brain to begin functioning again! Basically, you will function better in ALL areas of life.  

The “R” In S.T.A.R. Respond – In Faith & Love, In Obedience   Once you’ve reconnected to the God of peace, you can receive his heart and direction for the situation(s) you’re facing. If you are to live as a follower of the Way and not be controlled by your fears, it also means you must be living the life of the obedient servant. You expand in faith, in love, and in obedience!  

In some situations, this may mean forgiving and letting go; in other circumstances you may have to confront; in your prayer times, you may have to choose to trust in the Lord, etc. Whatever direction you receive from Jesus, you now have peace and respond in faith by obeying and responding with a loving heart. This ensures that you represent Jesus in all your actions and deeds. This is actually a life full of adventure and goes far beyond a religion! This is the Way and it is a great journey.  

In responding, you show that you’re looking for Jesus to not only be Saviour, but also Lord. He becomes your leader, something everyone needs. This is so important and it is an expected response because of ALL that he has done for you – which you’ll look at in the next two lessons.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What are the 4 steps of the quietness tool, S.T.A.R.? Explain them simply if you can.

3. On the internet, go to biblegateway.com. Do a search by typing this in – thank*. How many times is this word or a variation of it used in the Bible? Read some of the verses out loud.  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Can you think of something that is making you very busy or stressed out? Where can you make a change?

2. If you live with your family, perhaps have a family discussion and ask a similar question – is there something in your lives making you all very busy or stressed out, that you can change?  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 6:19-34. 2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 6 Final Steps 1. Go back to Day 3, Life Application (James 1:22), Question 2. You wrote down a list of fears and anxieties. Pick one of these.

2. Using this fear or anxiety go through the following exercise:  

Stop – Do not fix the problem, person, or situation

• Write down the fear or anxiety that you are currently facing  

Take – A breather & calm down

Psalm 46:10a (NIV) Be still, and know that I am God...

• Take a few moments to be still, relax your shoulders, neck, hands, face, etc. Take some deep breaths and focus your heart and mind on Jesus •                

• Any anxious or distracted thoughts you have, or tasks that need to get done… prayerfully surrender them to Jesus  

Appreciate & Connect to Jesus

James 1:17 (NIV) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

• Think of something you are thankful for: ________________________________

• Briefly write down a time where you experienced what you were thankful for

• Connect to Jesus. Ask Jesus to show you where he was in the memory and what he wants you to know. Write down any thoughts that come to mind   

Respond – In faith & love & in obedience

• Ask Jesus how he sees the fear or anxiety you are facing. Write it down

• Ask Jesus how he wants you to respond in the situation. Write it down


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