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4 L's of Text-Driven Bible Study: Listen To God

This article is part two of a four-part series covering the 4 L's of Text-Driven Bible Study.

In the first article, we learned Step 1 of the "4 L’s of Text-Driven Bible Study." We saw how important it is to look up to God before ever beginning daily Bible study. This article introduces you to the second “L” in our Text-Driven Bible Study – Listen to God.

There are two types of listening. One type is natural listening. Natural listening is the function of using our ears to hear what is around us. Babies do not have to learn how to engage their ears to listen naturally. None of us had to learn how to program our ears. In some sense, God created us with the natural ability to hear. A second type of listening is intentional listening. Intentional listening is a skill that needs to be learned. For we do not do “intentional listening” well.

For instance, how many times did your parents ask you growing up, “Did you hear what I just said?” If you are like me, you heard that scolding question more times than you want to remember. When your parents asked you that question, “Did you hear what I just said?” they were not asking if your ears worked. Instead, they were asking if you were paying attention to their instructions in such a manner that you would then act upon what they said.

When it comes to studying your Bible, we will quickly read the Scriptures so that we can jump ahead to the application portion of our study. When we rush through our reading we are not listening as well as we ought. Therefore, in this article, I want to teach you how to listen to God. There will be several sections to this article: 1) The Bible is God’s Speech, 2) God Expects Us to Listen to Him, and 3) Practical Ways You Can Improve Your Listening.

The Bible is God’s Speech

All of the Bible is the speech of God. The Apostle Paul makes such a claim when he describes Scripture as being the breath of God in 2 Timothy 3:16. He says, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” This means when you read your Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you are encountering the very words of Almighty God.

The speech of God is quite powerful. Scripture describes the power of God’s speech as being creative. In Genesis 1, we read the historical narrative of how the world was created, and the commonly repeated phrase throughout chapter one is “God said” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29). After each time that God spoke, something that was not in existence came into existence. God’s speech is powerful.

The speech of God is also authoritative. Scripture describes the authority of God’s speech through the manner in which God names aspects of His Creation in Genesis 1. For instance, in Genesis 1:5 God named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” The act of God naming His creation is a demonstration of the authority of His speech.

Finally, the speech of God is personal. Continuing in Genesis, we see that God spoke personally to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1:28, we find that mankind is blessed through God’s personal speech. Therefore, in light of the power, authority, and personal nature of God’s speech, I think it is vitally important that we know how to listen to God properly.

God Expects Us To Listen To Him

Continuing our last assertion that God’s speech is personal, we notice throughout Scripture that God will, at times, call upon His people to listen to Him. God expects us to listen to Him. Let’s look at several of these passages.

  • Deuteronomy 6:3a, 4 - “Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you…Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

  • Proverbs 22:17 - “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge.”

  • Psalm 81:8, 11, 13 - “Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me…But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me…Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways.”

As you can discern through the plain reading of these passages, God has an expectation that His people would listen to Him.

Practical Ways To Listen To God

Now that we have established that God speaks to us through His Word and that He expects us to listen to Him, it is important that we cultivate the skill of “intentional listening.” Following your time of looking up to God in prayer, you are now ready to open your Bible and listen to what God has to say to you.

First, you need to plan to read through the passage more than once. Often, we will miss important words that God has said when we only read something once. Therefore, let me encourage you to read through your passage at least five times. Normally, when I am preparing to preach a sermon, I will have read through the passage a minimum of ten to twenty times.

The monotony of reading through the same words over and over can bring about boredom. To help you avoid being bored with reading the passage, here are some ways you can add variety to your reading:

  • Read the passage out loud.

  • Read the passage silently.

  • Write out the passage in your journal.

  • Hear the passage read to you.

  • Read the passage using multiple translations (ESV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, CSB, NLT, The Message).

By using these five various reading methods, you will find yourself captivated afresh by the Word of God.

In conclusion, I know you are ready to begin studying. However, I promise that if you begin by looking up to God in prayer asking for His help and listening to God intentionally through reading the passage, you will be more ready to study than you ever have before. In our next article we will begin diving into the techniques of Bible Study so that you can properly interpret God’s Word.

For more information regarding the second L of Text-Driven Bible Study, Listen to God, you can listen to the Text-Driven Podcast episode from September 11, 2023.


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