Rhetoric or Substance?

©tkbeyond/word-stong.com Rhetoric. Spin. Misinformation. This is what we contend with listening to various members and spokespersons of the government. The media have its own spin, which produces a boatload of misinformation.

And we the public? We're left with the choice of being gullible and gulping down what we are fed, or the bitter taste of cynicism.

This should never be the case for followers of Jesus, but too often it is. Among the ranks of believers, cynics and critics abound, and a fair share of gullible ignorance blinds followers along the way. Why?

Who and what are we listening to?

Perhaps the problem is with who and what we listen to, along with how we listen. This alone has a big impact on the direction of our life every day.

When we listen to many voices, we'll hear many different ideas and opinions. This can be disconcerting and confusing. If we lock onto one voice, or one source of influence, we need to choose well. Otherwise, we will be led astray.

This was my dilemma as a young man. I read and listened to a variety of voices. This dizzying blend of influences produced uncertainty, not clarity. What I needed was substance, not wisps of wisdom.

Substance

One constant existed as I sought wisdom and truth. I read the Bible everyday. Not a lot, but it was a regular part of my daily life. It wasn't a religious thing, but I felt drawn to it. Yet, most of what I read I didn't understand.

I was lost, wandering, and confused while searching for the truth. Somehow, I knew Jesus needed to fit into it all. (Tweet this) **

Along the way, as I continued my search and heard various pitches from well-intended truth salesman, I kept reading the Bible.

The voice of God, especially Jesus, grew louder and more clear. It rang true. He rang true—His words, actions, and character.

Unlike many people I encountered in life, He was gracious and gentle. His voice beckoned me without coercing me. He was approachable, but firm. He won my heart and brought clarity to my mind. (Tweet this)

How did He do it?

As I read His words and how He spoke to people in the Bible, I was engaged in the stories myself. (Tweet this) I heard Him speaking to the first followers, "Come and you will see." (John 1:38-39)

I heard His invitation to whoever would hear it—

“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30 GWT)

I saw His heart towards people (Matt. 9:36) and heard His heart of compassion for them (Matt 15:32).

He called me and beckoned me to come to Him

One day I realized I needed to make a choice. I came to this place in the Bible— (Tweet this)

“Enter through the narrow gate because the gate and road that lead to destruction are wide. Many enter through the wide gate. But the narrow gate and the road that lead to life are full of trouble. Only a few people find the narrow gate." (Matt 7:13-14 GWT)

I chose the narrow gate and the difficult way because it led to life. I chose to follow Jesus. Once I chose to follow Him, I began to hear His voice in a more personal way. That day, a great assurance entered my heart and filled my daily life. I was able to hear His voice with clarity. (John 10:27-28)

My first experience with discipleship was with Jesus. He discipled me. Although other believers helped along the way, it was through His words and by His Spirit (John 15:26). (Tweet this)

I often wonder why discipleship is not more prevalent within the church. Maybe we get the concept wrong. (Tweet this) Perhaps we see it more as a task than a relationship.

The most important relationship is the one we have with Jesus. (Tweet this) If a person disciples another person to be like them, they are missing the heart of it. It isn't a program or curriculum, it's a way of life. And it's always about relationship with Jesus.

When I heard what Jesus said to His followers (Luke 9:23), how could I not respond to Him?

Hearing God's voice

Are you struggling to hear the voice of God? Or to really know Him? (Tweet this)

May I suggest something simple?

Try reading through the Gospels—all four of them. Don't just read them, allow yourself to be drawn into the story, engage with your heart, not just your mind.

If you're not a reader, or even if you are, try listening through the Gospels. Plenty of (free) audio versions are available for your smart phone, computer, or whatever listening device you've got. Just search for "audio Bible," there's plenty available.

Here's a sampling below—

https://www.bible.com/100million [You Version is also online for computers]

http://www.biblica.com/bibles/audio/niv/ [Biblica has the Bible online also]

https://bible.org/ [also has audio online]

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/ [one of the earliest online Bible resources]

http://www.biblestudytools.com/audio-bible/nlt/ [the NLT audio version and another online resource]

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