3 Habits for Hearing His Voice

Ears to Hear

 

Luke 8:8 “He who has ears, let him hear.”

As disciples, it is our supreme privilege to hear the voice of our Shepherd, Jesus.

How do we know we are hearing Jesus’ voice and not the voice of an imitator or imposter?

The sheep know their shepherd’s voice.

John 10:4b  …his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

When I became a mother I had the benefit of staying home to be her mother.  Her bedroom was on the second floor of our tiny townhouse. When she would awake from her nap, I would whistle to let her know I was coming to get her.  This tiny baby was able to whistle when she was four months old!

Do you think she recognized her mother’s voice?  She certainly recognized her mother’s whistle – and imitated it well.

Think for a moment about your parents’ voices.  Are you able to recognize those voices in a crowded room?  Indeed we would recognize those voices anywhere, anytime.

Not only do we recognize the voice of our parents, but we recognize the content of their character by the content of their conversation.  We hear their voices in our thoughts; they influence our character all the days of our lives (good and bad).

It is the same with knowing our Shepherd’s voice.  Every steadfast disciple of Christ has learned to recognize His voice and follow it as well as imitate it.

His voice is in our heads and hearts.  Therefore, it comes out of our mouths via the process of transference.

Whatever our hearts are filled with spills out of our mouths unaware.

 “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b

Have you ever participated in a conversation with a bitter person?
What about an angry person?
What about a Jesus lover?

Think about all your family members and friends for a moment. They are a mixed myriad of characters that have influenced your life story and your voice.

Each person we engage in relationship with has a distinct character aspect to their conversation.  We recognize them by the content of their conversation.

All disciples need to learn to recognize Jesus’ voice by the content of His conversation with us in His Word.

As disciple makers, it is essential we teach those we disciple to hear The Shepherd’s voice.  So, how do we go about teaching the delicate skill of hearing His voice?

 

There are three critical habits that must be formed in every disciple’s life.  It is not an overnight occurrence but a repetitive, habitual, learned discipline.

#1   Reading God’s Word

“The Word of God is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12

Teach those you are discipling to acknowledge the truth that our God, Savior, and Holy Spirit are present when a saint opens their bible to read.

I have made it a habit of saying this simple prayer as I open my Bible:

 “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

 

3 Benefits of a Simple Prayer:

It places us in a position of consciously listening for His voice.
It acknowledges His presence in our midst.
It subjugates our self to His authority over us.

 

Reading God’s Word is a habit to instill in every soul you disciple.

Teach them to listen for His voice as they read.  Instill in them a fondness for His Word. As they meet Him in His Word, they will become familiar with His voice because it is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword.

It is noteworthy that we all benefit from journaling after reading.  This is where we process what we have heard.  In this electronic age we are able to journal electronically.  Teach them the discipline of journaling after they read God’s Word.  The journal provides stones of remembrance that we can go back to for encouragement.  It enables us to see the work the Lord has wrought in our lives for His glory and our highest good.

Introduce them to a Bible Reading Plan.  Any Bible Reading Plan for learning to hear His voice is one of the more successful tools for making disciples.

You may discern that a Bible Reading Plan is what will work best for you and those you disciple.  Let the Spirit lead in deciding the best approach for the one you are discipling.

 

#2   Scripture Memorization

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  Ps. 119:11

I know, I know – I’m hearing your audible sighs from cyberspace on this one.  However, I can testify to the validity and veracity of scripture memorization.

As a brand new babe in Christ, I was put under the strict discipline of a valiant disciple maker who required me to memorize scripture.  I memorized one verse per week.

Those first memory verses are still hidden in my heart to this day.  They pour forth in my mind and out of my mouth with ease.

I like to refer to scripture memorization as “God’s Tool Box.”  The verses and passages we commit to memory are always with us and are available for God’s purposes as we interact with others in our daily lives.  By memorizing scripture, we are transformed into His living, breathing representatives to a lost world.

Why Memorize Scripture

Allow me to borrow a superb list of scripture memorization benefits from John Piper. I am giving him full credit and linking to his blog post called “Why Memorize Scripture.”  I could not have constructed a better list.  (The link to this article can be activated by clicking on the title, “Why Memorize Scripture.”

  • Conformity to Christ
  • Daily Triumph Over Sin
  • Daily Triumph Over Satan
  • Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
  • Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
  • Communion with God

Scripture Memorization Chuck Swindoll

Helps for Memorizing Scripture

Topical Memory System
The Topical Memory System has been used by generations of Disciple Makers and is a proven means for memorizing scripture verses that encounter life’s various demands.  Published by The Navigators.

Scripture Typer
An excellent free app for your electronic devices called ScriptureTyper.  You type in your memory verses and this app helps you memorize it by displaying some of the words of the verse (every other word) and you fill in the missing words.  You can also type the verse from memory until you have mastered it.

 

#3 Prayer

What does prayer have to do with hearing His voice?

Prayer is our conversation with God, therefore prayer is a two-way conversation.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isa. 64:24

The prompting we receive to go to prayer is from Him.

In the midst of prayer He hears us.

Teaching those you disciple to pray is critical to their progress as a disciple.

Can you imagine going through your entire life never communicating with the people you love?

How can we say we love Jesus if we never communicate with Him?

Prayerlessness isolates us from God and His mountain-moving power.

Prayer is where we get to know Him and His voice, but He also gets to know us and our voice.  Prayer is where He transforms us into His image.  He changes our mind, He corrects us, and He transfers His character into us.

Prayer is beneficial on many levels:

Prayer humbles us.
Prayer places us in His presence.
Prayer is our lifeblood to the ruler of the universe.
Prayer puts us in touch with the one who has all the answers.
He assures us He is in our midst while we are in prayer.
He answers prayer.
He prompts our spirit to pray for matters we do not foresee.

Here is a link to The Prayer Hand.  It is a tool for teaching disciples to pray.

In conclusion, let us all discipline ourselves in such a manner as is pleasing to God.  Let us draw near to Him that He might draw near to us and speak into our heart and soul that we might have ears to hear His voice.

Please comment below and let us know if this article has been helpful for you.  We invite conversation at Disciple Makers!

The Bridge

The Bridge Illustration

The Bridge Illustration

One of the most important tools in a disciple maker’s toolbox is The Bridge Illustration.

It is one of the most effective evangelism tools on the planet!  I don’t know where it originated, but I have used this tool with great effectiveness for many years.

Whether the person you are discipling has been a church attender for many years or knows absolutely nothing about Jesus, this tool delivers the full power of the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever it is deployed.  As you engage in disciple making you will discover that most people lean on their church attendance as evidence that they are a child of God or they don’t know anything about Him at all.  There is often a complete lack of understanding why Jesus had to die on the cross.  They may think they know God, but they do not have a living and active relationship with Him.  Until their blind eyes are opened to the truth, your discipleship efforts will be in vain.

The Bridge Illustration will open the eyes of the blind.

I have borrowed this particular Bridge Illustration from The Navigators due to its simplicity.  However, you will never use this particular illustration because you will be able to draw it on a napkin in a restaurant, the back of an old piece of scrap paper, or a marker on a piece of glass – whatever you have at hand in the moment.

The Bridge Illustration

 

How to Use The Bridge Illustration

  • Memorize all the verses and write them as you draw the illustration above
  • Draw the left cliff with a stick man on top
    • Share the Bible verses as you explain man’s separation from God and the penalty of sin
    • Write the verse reference on the drawing
  • Draw the right cliff and write “GOD” on top
  • Talk about the chasm between man and God.  Draw ‘The Bridge’ = Jesus Christ, our only salvation
    • Share the verses as you explain God’s miraculous provision for man’s salvation
    • Write the verse references
  • Ask for a decision
    • Wait for an answer – don’t be afraid of the pregnant pause, just wait for a response
    • Answer any questions
  • Lead them in a prayer to receive the gift of salvation provided by God in Jesus
  • If they have accepted  Christ write the date on the drawing, give them the drawing and ask them to keep it in their Bible as a memorial.
  • If they do not make a decision to accept Christ, give them the drawing and ask that they keep it somewhere safe.  It may come back to them in the future.

The entire process of sharing The Bridge Illustration takes 10 minutes or less depending on questions.

Come back here after you share The Bridge Illustration and tell us the story.  We all need to hear testimonials for encouragement!

Being

Aroma of Christ

There is one thing that is essential for all disciple makers – BEING.

“You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.”  Howard Hendricks

In order to reproduce disciples of Christ, we need to BE disciples of Christ.

A disciple is an adherent who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct.1

I can testify that being a disciple is the chief essential for all disciple makers. If we believe we are the driving force of disciple making, we miss the mark. On our own, we will reproduce self-seeking disciples of ourselves.

The first priority of a disciple maker is to sit at the feet of Jesus, meet with Him daily, and dwell in His presence as a lifestyle.

The apostle Paul describes the results of this lifestyle with great eloquence:

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Can you imagine teaching someone how to weld when you have never touched a welding torch? You may have an intellectual understanding of welding from reading about it, but until you take the welding torch into your hands and set it to metal you do not fully comprehend being a welder.

It is the same for a disciple maker who does not sit at the feet of Jesus and absorb His life, character, essence and splendor.

It is at His feet that He transforms us into His own image. It is this transformation that attracts others to us; it is what they want for themselves. Therefore, making disciples has little to do with us and everything to do with His transforming power.

Do you invite Jesus into your existence? Does your heart yearn for His transforming presence? It is only by existing in His holy presence that we have the essential element for disciple making – the aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

We may have an education in biblical studies, but if we do not have the aroma of the Lord radiating from our being, we will not be an effectual disciple maker. We will tend to deliver head knowledge without heart knowledge.  We create an extraordinary learner, but not a disciple who makes disciples.

Being always precedes doing

Some time ago I was in a group where we were challenged to look up the “be” verses in the Bible. The “be” verses of scripture far exceed the number of “do” verses. It was a life-changing exercise for me.

We tend to want to do for Jesus. Doing is good, but being is exceptional. Doing follows being.

The only way we attain the aroma of Christ is by being His possession: sitting at His feet (learning from Him), meeting Him face to face (allowing His glory to burnish our soul), and linger in His glorious presence (in continual conversation).

Focus on being His disciple and the radiance of His essence will emanate from our being without our awareness. This radiance or aroma of Christ is only discernable to others.

Humility is the outpouring of the Spirit within us. Do not take credit or boast about being with Jesus, the effect of it is already evident to others. For those who are perishing we are the aroma of death, but to those who are being saved we are the aroma of Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

Go make disciples and teach them how to sit at Jesus’ feet where His transforming power will change the flavor and course of their lives for eternity.


Here is an exercise for practicing sitting at Jesus’ feet:

Sit at His Feet with some “Be” Verses

Look these verses up in your Bible so you can read them in context.
Highlight the word ‘be’ or ‘being’ then consider what He desires us to be and why.
Ask yourself, “Is it for His sake or mine?”

  • Matthew 5:48
  • Matthew 16:6
  • Romans 4:21
  • Romans 10:9
  • Romans 12:2
  • Romans 12:10
  • Romans 12:12
  • 1 Corinthians 16:13
  • Ephesians 3:16-19
  • Ephesians 4:2
  • Ephesians 4:22-24
  • Ephesians 5:1-2
  • Ephesians 6:10
  • Philippians 1:9-11
  • Colossians 3:9-10
  • Colossians 4:2
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16
  • Hebrews 12:14
  • James 1:2-4
  • 1 Peter 5:8
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8
  • Jude 22

What’s your story?

Whats Your Story

Don’t we all love a good story?

It is my desire that this blog include disciple maker and discipleship training stories for the benefit of the readers.

I have been a disciple maker for more than 20 years and I will confess that few of those disciples went on to make disciples.  I have met even fewer Christians who have been discipled.  From my perspective, there is a big black hole in today’s church when it comes to disciple making.

Due to the lack of disciple making in today’s church, your stories can add immense value to other’s lives by telling them how you were discipled and how you make disciples.

You can submit your disciple maker or discipleship training story by emailing it to us at stories@disciplemakers.community.

Guidelines for Stories:

  • No more than 1,500 words
  • Your story will be edited, if needed, at the discretion of disciplemaker.community
  • Keep your story to the subject of discipleship or disciple making

Here are some questions to prompt your writing process:

  1. If you were discipled, how long ago, by whom (no names necessary), how long were you in discipleship training?
  2. What material was used to disciple you?
  3. What was the setting of your discipleship training?  (restaurant, home, church, etc.)
  4. Did your disciple maker take you out to do street ministry, dormitory ministry, evangelism?
    1. In other words, was there a practical aspect to your discipleship training?
  5. What impact did discipleship training have on your life?
  6. Would you recommend discipleship training for others?
  7. Did you become a disciple maker?
  8. If yes, what are your methods of disciple making?
  9. If you are a disciple maker, what materials and methods do you employ?
  10. What is the duration of your discipleship training?

Broken Bread

broken bread

I read Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, pretty much every day.  In the past few months I repeatedly encountered the phrase, “broken bread and poured out wine.”

This phrase is stuck in my mind and will not relent.

What does it mean to be broken bread and poured out wine?

Perhaps I think too much, but when God’s truth wants to get itself into me, it will not let me go until full comprehension is obtained.

In chewing on the phrase, “broken bread and poured out wine,” an image came to mind.  There is a little Italian restaurant I absolutely love not far from my home.  They have the best crusty bread on the planet.

In our Lord’s impeccable timing we met some friends at this little restaurant and the “broken bread and poured out wine” thing became crystal clear.

Here is a photo of the delicious crusty bread at Paravicinis Restaurant:

Paravicinis Bread

We pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar on a small plate for dipping.

There is one problem.  The crust on this bread is so hard it cannot absorb the delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I tried just to make sure.

Doesn't Absorb Anything

The crusty bread must be broken to facilitate exposing the porously soft bread within.

Take a look at what occurs when the bread is broken:

Absorption

The essence of being broken bread is to break the hard crust of our heart so we can absorb everything Christ needs us to be and desires us to comprehend in order to feed His sheep.

Brokenness is the hallmark of every disciple and disciple maker.

It is what keeps us on our knees; wholly dependent upon Him, sitting at His almighty feet perpetually learning, developing and maturing.


Addendum:

In the context of being disciple makers, I located this definition of being broken bread: 

The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God.[1]

See the footnote for its source.  You may be a surprised as me.

 

 

[1]Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (February 9). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Slow Down!

A resource for learning to hear God's voice personalized for you.

A Resource for Slowing Down and Hearing His Voice

One of the duties of discipleship is reading our Bible daily in order to hear His voice.  

Sometimes I find myself reading the Bible and gaining nothing because I raced through the passage, chapter, or required reading plan for the day.  Let’s face it, sometimes we sprint through the obligatory “Time Alone with God” as if it were another thing to check off the list.  When we sprint, we gain no insight, inspiration, or direction.

Some time ago, a seasoned saint taught me this fantastic method for slowing down.  It is designed to help us really hear God’s voice.

Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

If you want to experience the truth of Hebrews 4:12, this method of slowing down is surely the answer.  It isn’t something you would use daily, but when a verse of scripture captures your attention, implement this technique and teach it to others.

Here is how it works:

  1. Write a verse of scripture vertically
  2. Make a list of synonyms for each word of the verse
  3. Use your name when personal pronouns are used
  4. Rewrite the verse using the synonyms

Click the link below to see an example of what the finished process looks like.

Slow Down and Hear God’s Voice

 

I taught this method of slowing down to many over the past several years.  One of the women I taught it to went off for her day of personal retreat and implemented it on an entire chapter of Matthew.  Within that day, her entire countenance changed. If you haven’t heard God’s voice in a while this is a transforming exercise!

3 Requirements of Dicipleship

3 Requirements of Discipleship

We know we are commanded to go and make disciples from Matthew 28:18-20, but do we know that there are requirements of discipleship?

Let us consider the requirements Jesus laid out to his disciples and the multitude in Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23.

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.[1]

There are three demands made by Christ that qualify what discipleship is and what it costs.  Yes, there is a great cost to discipleship.

Jesus prefaced the three requirements of discipleship by saying, “If anyone would come after me…”  This literally means “If anyone desires following me these are the requirements.”

#1  Deny himself

It means to reject self, disapprove of self, to make self void, null, and stand firm against self.

Discipleship costs our very life.

All the dreams, the pursuits, the striving after our own glory must die.  We must bury the old man to make room for the new.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest (January 16), “Have you had your “white funeral,” or are you piously deceiving your own soul? Has there been a point in your life which you now mark as your last day? Is there a place in your life to which you go back in memory with humility and overwhelming gratitude, so that you can honestly proclaim, “Yes, it was then, at my ‘white funeral,’ that I made an agreement with God.”

Can you say with the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

Every disciple of Christ must have a last day to self or they are not a follower of Christ at all.  They may have given intellectual ascent to Him, but they are not following Him.  Jesus demands that we deny our self – a once-for-all-time and continuing decision.  It costs a lot to give up the self, but the life that replaces it is eternal.  When we come to our last day, we will know without question when that day occurred.

If you are a disciple maker, make sure the one you disciple has experienced his or her last day.  If they haven’t, they will not mature or bear fruit.

Speaking from personal experience, I know my self was laid in the grave when I made the decision to follow Christ. I also know from experience that I have had to stuff my self back into the coffin on innumerable occasions since. This denying of the self is an ongoing act of obedience.

#2 Take up his cross

The act of taking up our cross is to daily accept that we have been crucified with Christ.  It is another form of self denial and yet it is an active acknowledgement that we will find ourselves at odds with the world we have denied. We will be misunderstood and jeered by those who are of the world.  In America we do not see beatings, imprisonment and death as Christ followers, but it does not mean that day may not be on the horizon.

Alistair Begg described cross-bearing as, “Walking in one way and not coming back. It is a one-way journey with no possibility of return. You are not your own and this is the defining mark of a true Christian.”

It is accepting that the world we left behind will not know us because they do not know Him.  The follower of Christ swears allegiance to Jesus and as a result we may suffer marks in our bodies and even death, but one thing the world cannot take from us is the eternal life we have in Jesus.

The follower (disciple) of Christ is equipped to lose his life for Jesus’ sake because he has laid his life in the gracious nail-pierced hands that purchased his eternal soul.

Are you willing to lose your life for Christ’s sake?

This is a weighty question all disciples are required to answer in the affirmative if they desire to follow Christ because Jesus says in Luke 14:27, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

All cross bearers experience a miraculous transformation either at conversion or sometime later in their walk with Christ.  It is a decisive moment of complete surrender of the self when the cross bearer picks up the cross of Christ and never looks back.

A Man of the Cross AW Tozer quote

#3 Follow Christ

Judas is the prime example of how far one can go with Jesus.  For all intentions, he looked like a disciple of Christ, he probably talked like a disciple of Christ, but his end revealed his true disposition.

Following Christ is a disposition of undivided devotion.  Your family, your friends, your work, your interests – all is nothing compared to Christ.

The High Cost of Discipleship

In The Navigators’ Design for Discipleship series, there is a question:  “Are all Christians disciples?”  In the 22 years I used the Design for Discipleship series to train disciples, this question never failed to puzzle.  The usual answer to the question was, “Who are we to judge who is a disciple and who isn’t?”

Our politically correct culture has cast a shadow over truth. However, Jesus isn’t concerned with our political correctness any more than He was concerned with political correctness in His days on earth.

Discipleship is costly.  It will cost your very life.


Has Jesus got all there is of you?

Has he got a fully surrendered life?

 

A perfect song of personal worship is “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mk 8:34-35). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

But..But..But!

mountain highway featured img

What Are Your Objections to Disciple Making?

What keeps you from entering into discipleship relationships?

Are you objecting to His command to “go make disciples” in Matthew 28:18-20?

Let me share a personal story of my greatest objection to something the Lord asked me to do.

When I was a brand new baby believer in Christ, our daughter was barely two years old. My disciple maker talked with me about homeschooling. I listened to her case for homeschooling with outward respect, but internal skepticism.

Firstly – I had never heard of homeschooling. Secondly, I was not a certified teacher. Thirdly, as a baby believer, did not assume I was capable of teaching my child – that is what public schools are for. Therefore, when my daughter came to school age, I sent her off to public school.

However, the appeal to homeschool remained in the back of my mind.

Have you ever noticed when God is calling you to do something for Him, it (or He) never leaves you alone? The thing He is asking of you never leaves your thoughts! Continue Reading

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