I recently spoke on the idea that Jesus still speaks to us, by His Spirit, in our hearts. I described what happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). The spiritual ‘heart burn’ was how I described the Spirit of Jesus speaking to their hearts. This is something that I personally experience when I read the bible. Let me explain how Jesus speaks to me when I read the bible.
First, let me clarify that it is not audible words that I hear from Jesus. Instead I sense something inside of me, an inner thought, or feeling, or motivation to do something. I see this as the spiritual language of the Lord, from His heart to mine. Some people have heard audible words, and Jesus can certainly speak that way. But even then, what is heard with the ears needs to land in the heart, and that is where spiritual listening comes in.
When I read a passage of scripture, I am looking for something that will grab my attention. It might be a thought, either an idea or a question. For example, Psalm 23:1, “the Lord is my Shepherd”, will stick out to me. I may think, ‘the Lord really cares for me, just like a shepherd for their sheep!’ Or I may sense the question, ‘do you think of the Lord in this way, as your always-caring shepherd?
If I take the time to reflect on it, that thought will often produce a feeling. I may be feel comforted, or I may feel saddened for having ignored His care in my life. Together these thoughts and feelings will lead to a motivation to either start or stop doing something. My will is prompted to express out loud through the day, ‘Lord, You are my shepherd, thank You!’ Or maybe my will is provoked to stop doubting God’s love, or to stop resisting His role in my life.
Sometimes it may be a single line or verse, but it can also be a whole story. Like Jesus’ story of the good samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). That story presents to my mind the challenging thought, ‘who is my neighbour?’ It stirs my emotions when I see the religious people being bad neighbours. And I am provoked to consider the people I passed by today, without noticing or helping them.
In me experience, every passage of scripture I read usually has something that catches my attention. I see those thoughts, feelings and motivations as examples of the Spirit stirring in my heart. I also notice that the Lord personalizes these messages to own life. A thought that speaks to a decision I must make, or a conviction about a sin I am struggling with. Or a strong motivation to start doing something to address a situation at work.
I’ve been reading scripture this way for years now, so it is becoming natural and easy for me. Please don’t give up if it seems hard or unhelpful in the beginning. Stay with the Lord; like Jacob, refuse to let go until you find the blessing (Genesis 32:22-32). Jesus promises that those who ask, seek and knock will eventually find what they are looking for. To those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, He will satisfy their souls.
Tell me what you think. Does this make sense? Is something confusing or unclear? Or do you have your own experiences of hearing the Lord? Please share something, we can learn and grow together!