Devotional

Ultimately, submission centers us directly in the will of God and gives us the opportunity to experience the best we could ever imagine.

Surrender. That’s the key. Orient yourself toward a posture of obedience—up front!—that’s how the door flings open for His voice to be heard and His will to be accomplished. The Lord says to those of His children who freely submit their wills to His: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Ps. 32:8).

So hold it in your hands today. The key, I mean. Right now, in your mind’s eye, picture God’s guidance and directives to you as a large, ornate, silver key. It runs the full length of your palm, extending beyond your fingertips on one end and beyond your wrist on the other. It’s unlike any other key you’ve ever seen or used before—that’s how you know it must be able to unlock something you’ve never experienced before. It’s worth it. This key. It’s as unique as your own fingerprints. And it’s yours. It is God’s specific assignment and calling for you.

Now, right here, right now, make the commitment to use this key. I promise He will give you opportunity for it throughout this study and in the days beyond. Choose right now, before you do anything else, to receive this key and take seriously the privilege of using it.

I know it’ll require courage and tenacity. Yet even without full clarity as to what He may ask you to do or where He may instruct you to use it, either now or in the future, make the choice in advance to say “Yes, Lord,” sure that this key of obedience will unlock every good and perfect gift your Father intends for you.

Think back to the things that are keeping you from surrendering to God in every aspect of your life. Offer each of them to Him.

Then, be brave enough to let God search you further. Ask Him to reveal any calloused places that may be blocking you from clearly hearing His voice. Yield to Him any area where you sense resistance and doubt.

You’re making a “key” decision here, crucial to being able to experience what walking confidently in His will is all about.

Devotional

I want you to know, I’m well aware of how difficult surrender can often be. Take it from me—a girl with a heart that, apart from the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, can be so steely and apathetic. So when I reached out to my Twitter family, asking them to name the usual suspects that often keep them from surrendering to the Lord, I recognized many of their responses. Things such as fear, pride, laziness, impatience with God’s timing, busyness with personal ambitions, or concern that we might be hearing God wrong.

As we dive headfirst into this study and plunge fully into the freedom of hearing the voice of God again (or maybe for the first time), we’re leaving these robbers behind. They’ve distracted and disoriented us long enough. We want to hear God clearly now.

Look at Jesus’ sentiments in John 5:30; note what He did not seek and what He did seek.

Clearly Jesus was not ignoring the fact that He possessed a will of His own. Yet He was committed to honoring His Father’s will above it. He heard the voice of the Father more clearly than anyone to ever walk the earth. The defining characteristic of His life was that He was always postured to obey. He was steeped in humility and available to do His Father’s bidding over His own sentiments and ambitions as a man.

You and I have our own will too. And that’s fine. We don’t need to pretend otherwise. Our problem comes from not surrendering that will to the Father’s superior will. His perfect will. His all-wise will. His all-good will. His “if you only knew what I could do in you, you’d never doubt Me for a moment” will.

Most of us fear the loss of our hopes, dreams, and ambitions should we ever submit ourselves entirely to the Father’s will. We imagine them being crushed and discarded, never to be fulfilled. Honoring God’s directives will indeed require adjustments on our part, but it will never leave us lacking. The will that is submitted to Him is not extinguished; it is simply surrendered. It becomes like clay in the Potter’s hand—pliant and moldable—the raw material for His most stunning masterpieces.

We don’t lose. We win.

In what ways, if any, have you been concerned about “losing yourself” if you surrender completely to God?

Fron You Version

Devotional

Today my oldest two sons tower over me, both of them nearly six feet tall. Every time I hug them and notice how my head plants firmly against their chests (instead of theirs against mine), I’m reminded how growth is an inevitable indicator of life and health.

The same is true for our spiritual lives. If we’re walking with Christ and our spiritual lives are healthy, we should expect to see growth and changes in perspective simply as a natural progression. Now, I see clearly that the best way to begin a study on hearing God is where I originally ended it.

Hearing Him starts with our commitment to humble obedience. We won’t do it perfectly—we can’t always obey flawlessly—but we must do it purposefully, with ears primed to hear and discern God’s voice.

We’re not likely to hear anything from God until we’ve abandoned our tug of war with Him, between our wills and His. We may struggle to detect one syllable of divine dialogue, much less receive any clarity in discerning what He means, until we’ve first opened the floodgates of surrender so He can start piping the volume through.

Drawing a clear connection between obedience and hearing God is a critical piece of discerning God’s will and His ways.

We’ll quell the resounding voice and conviction of God’s Spirit within us the more we ignore or disregard it. He will not long waste His words on those who aren’t postured to obey. The tender, submissive heart is the one sensitive enough to continually detect God’s leading and to pinpoint the strange, alternative voices of the enemy, fear, and ego that seek to lead us astray.

So I’ve gotta ask you a tough question: Do you intend to obey God, to obey His Word? Do you really want to do His will? Or have you already decided to follow your own way despite what God’s Spirit will say? Be honest. (He already knows your answer.) I’m challenging you to allow the Lord to soften your heart and to become vigilant in laying down your own ambitions, elevating His will above your own. It would be such a waste to engage in all this study together, if in the end, we keep allowing our stubborn old hearts to stand in the way of hearing from Him.

Please tell me you’re not going to do that.

Me either.

Devotional

My family has enjoyed a long history with the Dallas Cowboys. I was a very young child when their legendary coach, Tom Landry, asked my father—then a young, 30-year-old preacher—to be the team’s first-ever chaplain.

So every now and then as I was growing up, Dad would take me along to some of their football games. I remember walking out onto that vast field at Texas Stadium. From ground level, the turf stretched out in all directions like an enormous green carpet, and the bleachers seemed to extend to the heavens. Mostly, though, I remember Coach Landry. He seemed a giant to me—his trademark fedora perched above kind, thoughtful, smiling eyes, exuding a quiet strength. Everyone honored him.

If anyone else personified Cowboys football, it was Roger Staubach, the quarterback who led the Boys to two Super Bowl championships in the 1970s. That was a little before my time, of course, but I still remember him and his friendship with Coach Landry. They were both Christians, and they appeared to be almost like father and son. But things weren’t always so close between them. Staubach admitted, as a player, he often bristled against submission to his coach’s leadership.

Despite his respect for Landry’s genius in football strategy, Staubach wanted the freedom to call his own plays on the field, to lead the team with his own approach. He thought he knew how best to run the Cowboys offense. His way.

Staubach finally came to the point where he realized he needed to decide. Would he rebel against his coach’s authority? Or would he get on board with the direction his coach wanted him to go? “I faced up to the issue of obedience,” Staubach later said. “Once I learned to obey, there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory.” Yes, lots of victories.

So there it is. The one word upon which freedom, fulfillment, and victory hinges for all of us.

Will we . . . Obey?

If it seems we’re starting this journey at the wrong end of the action plan, putting the obedience cart before the “hearing God” horse, let me just say what I’ve learned to be true. Facing up to this issue of obedience is the alpha and omega of how we hear from God. Obedience isn’t just one of the keys. It is the key that unlocks all of the blessings God intends for us.

To read more of Discerning the Voice of God, visit LifeWay.com/DiscerningTheVoiceofGod. There you’ll also find teaching videos and other resources from Priscilla Shirer.