Welcome to this special season of Lent. I love this time of year that builds towards the Easter celebration. Our spirituality is just like any muscle, (except it’s the most important thing you can exercise). This is a great season to intentionally stretch the important spiritual muscles. Take some time each day to “Hear God’s voice” in your life in a growing way. Join me over the next 40 days on a journey towards Easter as we grow, stretch and hear God’s voice like never before!
I spent some time recently looking at the book of Esther in the Bible and how she, like so many others, hear the voice of God so clearly, it sparked me on a journey of looking for quick ways to help you think through the facets of hearing from God.
99 Thoughts On Hearing God’s Call During This Lent Season
Esther was an orphan who became a princess…that’s when the real adventure started. Even though she lived in a grand palace, Esther had her own set of very real problems. She had to figure out how to navigate her own treacherous surroundings in the king’s court while the lives of the Jewish people—her people— were being threatened. Esther won the approval of the king and through a dramatic sequence of events was put in a place by God to save a nation. While you’re not navigating the perils of palace life, the teenage years can certainly be a dangerous landscape that seems to take no prisoners! Like Esther, you have the same desire: You want to know God’s calling for your life. Esther figured out that everything in her life had happened perfectly, so she’d be in the right place at the right time and could save God’s chosen people from destruction. God used Esther in a powerful way. What an exciting life she lived for him! I’m sure she was scared and she didn’t always know what to do. Do you ever feel the same way? Ever wonder what God is calling you to do? You know the risks, and so did she. Hearing God’s call on your life is the start of the greatest adventure of all! This isn’t kid stuff. The stakes are high. A lot of people on the planet are in some way trying to hear God’s call. While there are no plans that work the same for everyone, this book will show you some steps that others have used. Maybe you picked up this book and the truth is you feel guilty because you don’t really know how to even want to hear God’s call. Perhaps you’re afraid and you know you should be listening to God in so many moments in your life, but starting to do it has seemed difficult. The good news is that like many other things, with practice, you can grow in this area. There is a huge promise you should know as you start to read this book. This promise is from God himself, and it can be found in James 4:8; it says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”
First Things First (Thoughts 1 to 11)
These first few thoughts are all about getting your feet wet. You can jump around, read ahead, or plow straight through! All of the thoughts in this book are about hearing God’s calling on your life. If the whole idea of hearing God’s voice is a new idea to you, then you are not alone. Many people don’t think God has anything to say to them, but he does, and as you will learn he speaks in some far-out ways. If you are wrestling with believing that God would want to talk to you, then honesty is a great place to start. Before you begin to read this book, tell him exactly what you’re thinking; he already knows anyway, so revealing your true feelings will clear the air so you can start fresh. God is big enough to take on all of our honesty.
Which one of the following places best describes what you currently feel about hearing God’s calling (or hearing God at all) in your life?
- ï I feel like I hear God and know my specific calling.
- ï I feel like God is trying to tell me what he wants me to do, but I still don’t understand him yet.
- ï I am afraid to hear God’s call on my life.
- ï I don’t think God has anything to say to just me.
- ï I think God only talks to some people.
- ï I think God only talks to me when I am good.
- ï God used to talk to me, but for some reason he doesn’t anymore.
- ï I’ve never thought about God talking to me, but I’m excited to learn.
Whatever describes your thoughts about hearing God, you can be sure that this book will change them. You might want to always have a Bible handy while you’re reading this book so you can see how many of these thoughts come straight from God’s Word, the Bible.
Your past doesn’t determine your future calling by God.
Where you come from has nothing to do with how, where, when, or why you are called. We are all used to being judged by others. It seems like people want to decide for us at times what we can accomplish based on what they see. God doesn’t work that way.
What’s different about God’s calling is that “people judge by out- ward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Satan wants to keep you from hearing God’s call.
Satan will tell us we don’t deserve to experience God because of things we’ve done wrong. But that’s when we need to be with God more than ever! God will not turn you away when you’re broken before him. Don’t let Satan steal moments with God from you!
EXTRA THOUGHT: Read Psalm 51 (and especially verse 17!).
It’s never too late to hear God’s call.
When we grow away from God, it usually happens so slowly that we don’t notice our moments with him slipping away. While it may take awhile to slip away, it only takes one decision on our part to re-engage in a moment spent with God. That’s great news for all of us. God runs to us when we take the first tiny step. Read the story in the Bible from Luke 15:11-32 about a father and a son. The father in the story represents God. It shows exactly how God is patiently waiting for us to take one step back toward him.
You hear more when you listen with your whole heart.
Things get in the way of hearing God when you make them more important than God. The Bible calls anything put above God idolatry. One quick way to do a checkup on this is by looking at how you spend your time, money, and energy. If there is something competing for the number one spot in your heart, you have to cut it out of your life. Jesus says that we can’t have two masters or we will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24).
Hearing (and obeying) God’s call is serious business!
Following God’s call on your life should have warning labels all over it that read: DANGEROUS!!! USE EXTREME CAUTION. It’s rarely the easiest, most comfortable choice. When you realize that there’s no other choice but to follow God, that’s when things get very exciting. You will see…keep on reading!
Warning! Warning! Don’t use God’s calling as an excuse.
Using God’s calling as an excuse can be dangerous. God’s hope for our lives is a very personal and serious matter. It should never be used by us to get us out of things we don’t want to do. I had a friend who was dumped by a girl. She told him, “God is not calling me to date you.” While this may be true in some cases, my buddy not only got dumped by the girl, but he felt like he got dumped by God! Bummer.
You’re not on your own!
It’s so important to God that you hear his calling on your life that he sent a Helper just to make sure you hear him. This Helper is called the Holy Spirit, and he comes to live inside of us when we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives.
The Holy Spirit can even talk in a language only God understands that tells God what we’re thinking and feeling. Even when we can’t put our thoughts into words, God understands us. Romans 8:26 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”
Before you ever wanted to hear God’s calling, he was pursuing you!
Are there moments from your past when you felt really close to God? Go back to those experiences, and thank him for being with you then. Think through some of your best and most difficult memories. Think of how God was working even if you didn’t see it then.
Are you afraid of hearing God’s true calling for your life?
Think about this: You should be more afraid of not following God than of anything other people can do to you. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.”
Sometimes people don’t hear God’s call because they have shut him out of areas in their lives.
Have you done this with certain things you don’t want him to have control over? Think of everywhere you go and what you do. Where do you feel the farthest from God? Go through this exercise: Speak out loud and invite God into everything you do in a normal day, even the goofy stuff.
If you want to know God’s plan for your life, just ask!
God listens when we pray. There is power in simply asking God for his plan. It’s not only the easy way out, but it’s smart!
Sometimes he wants to teach us valuable lessons through our journey. He is a God of action—he doesn’t want to see us struggle unnecessarily to find his will for our lives.
Hear What God Calls Everyone To Do (Thoughts 12 to 20)
God’s call to everyone is a great place to start because we are not left in the dark when it comes to hearing God’s voice and will for our lives. He wants us to clearly know how to serve him. Not only does God have an awesome plan made just for your life, but he also has a launching pad that every follower of Jesus starts on. Hearing God’s personal calling on your life will be an epic story with crazy twists and turns. Here are some general thoughts you can count on being true!
God has general things he calls everyone to. This is a great place to start to find out what he called just you to.
How do I know for sure that God has a calling just for me? Check out Ephesians 4:11-13: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the
fullness of Christ.” (NIV)
You are called by God to community.
God uses a picture of the human body to describe what the church is like and how we all fit into it (see Romans 12:4-8). Some people are hands and others are feet, but every part is important and serves the others in a unique way. When you are not serving the whole church, you are not functioning the way God intended, and everybody misses out.
- ï Get to know others at your church—attend a prayer meeting and join a small group or Sunday school class.
- ï Find a place to serve at church—join the greeting team, help out in the nursery, or help with lawn care.
- ï Engage in the collective journey your church is on. What is God calling your church to do in the community?
You are called by God to love God.
God gave Moses the Ten Commandments after he called the people of Israel out of Egypt. At the beginning of our great history as God’s people, the first things he called us to do could all be summed up in one simple statement: Love God
You are called to love people.
Loving people is not something that God gifts only parts of the body. We are all called to love others. This is so important to God that he made half of the Ten Commandments all about how we should love other people (Exodus 20:8-17).
Jesus summed up all of the Ten Commandments into one thought in Mark 12:30-31: “ ‘And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Can you match each one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-17) under loving God or loving people?
You are called by God to service.
Not everything in our calling is going to seem like a great adventure. There are things about every amazing calling that seem like hard work. One way to really freak people out is to do these things with joy as if working for the Lord and not for people
You are called by God to sacrifice.
Sacrifice might seem like a scary or even dreaded word, but God is calling everyone who follows him to sacrifice. This goes against what comes natural to us. In fact, we are constantly being told by messages all around us to stop sacrificing and treat ourselves.
One message can be seen in commercials to buy things that are centered only around our needs. We are slammed with cues everywhere that have the underlying message, “Be smart—do things this way because it will be easier on you.”
It’s not wrong to take care of our own needs. The problem is the starting point. When we follow the example of Jesus, our starting point is serving other people. Sacrifice starts when we see the needs of other people and make that a priority over ourselves.
When you sign up to listen to God’s call on your life, you’re in for lots of twists and turns in the road. Here’s a secret to life we learn from Jesus about sacrifice: We receive joy when we sacrifice.
Read one of the most influential sermons Jesus ever preached to a crowd. It’s found in Matthew chapter 5–7. He describes all kinds of ways to sacrifice and what the outcome will be if you do! Romans 12:1-2 talks about what it means to be a “living sacrifice” as our calling.
Not every person is going to be called to suffering; but bad things happen to good people all the time. No one expects everything to be peachy all the time, so when tough times come remember this: God seems to speak more clearly than ever during dark moments. When bad times hit, God will be there with you.
You are called by God to forgive.
Nobody ever said that hearing your calling from God would be easy. Forgiveness isn’t always easy but it is something we are all called to do, and Jesus led by example. While we were still sinners, Jesus forgave us (Romans 5:8)!
Feel like you’re hitting a roadblock as you try to hear God’s
voice in your life? Perhaps he has called you to take one step before any others. Consider whether he is being silent or if perhaps you haven’t yet been obedient since he last spoke. Forgiving others can be a wonderful experience for those you forgive but mostly for your own heart. If you want a breakthrough, consider doing a forgiveness inventory. Are there people you need to forgive?
You are called by God to worship.
Worship isn’t just for those artistic people. Everyone is called to worship. If singing or painting for God isn’t your thing, then do whatever you do best as worship for God! Imagine how your next soccer game could be your own personal worship service. It’s all about your starting point. Dedicate everyday things you are good at to God and enjoy them as worship to the Lord.
You are called by God to share who Jesus is.
Sharing Jesus isn’t only for preachers. When God starts to change who you are from the inside out, the excitement should spill out of your life like a cup that is overflowing. Our natural human response is to talk with people about whatever is most important to us or first in our hearts. See one way the Bible explains it here: Luke 6:45.
You are called to be a priest!
Really? Before Jesus came, only priests were allowed to talk to God in holy places within the tabernacle. Because Jesus was obedient to his calling, we are the holy place where God lives. All Christians are actually greater than the old priest gig! Check this out: “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
23 Practical Things God Could Be Calling You to Do Right Now! (Thoughts 21 to 43)
Don’t make the mistake of overcomplicating hearing God’s calling on your life. The best place for you to start might be going through this super easy list of things you can do right now!
Watch someone’s kids for free!
Think of a person with kids who needs help, like a single parent or a pastor. Bring a board game with you, and clean up a little before the parent comes home. If you want to serve a person, loving his or her children is one of the most significant ways to show them!
“Adopt” a single mom, widow, or widower for one year…
…and invite them to spend special days and holidays with you and your family. While something like this may seem small to you, God can use it in a big way. Of course, make sure to talk with your mom or dad before extending the invitation.
Visit a nursing home.
Take a group of friends with you, and sing, play checkers, and pray with seniors. You will be the hands and feet of Jesus as you show love to those people.
Volunteer at a local community center, after-school program, or Boys & Girls Clubs.
Start with the little things that take only time and your willingness. Your openness to hearing God will grow and so will your ability to hear when he calls. Don’t sit around waiting for the big call. Try serving in some small ways so you’ll be in good practice when God calls on you for the next level!
Sit with kids at lunch who need friends.
Don’t make this a big show. Be very private about it so you honor the person you are serving. Ask God to help you think of yourself as you ought to. As we love others we actually love Jesus. Keeping this verse in mind helps us not to think more highly of ourselves than the people we serve: “ ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
Thank a teacher, coach, parent, sibling, friend, or stranger.
A person’s whole day can be brightened by two little words everybody knows and rarely anybody says—thank-you. You know how good it makes you feel when someone recognizes your efforts. When you do say thank you, it feels more sincere when you go out of your way to make the point so here are some thank- you hints: Think about if you should show your appreciation in front of other people or not. It may make them nervous or doubt your motivations. There is a time to recognize efforts publically and a time to be private. Pray about the perfect time and way to say thank-you.
Listen to people!
When you slow down and take the time to hear what people are saying, your eyes may be opened to a world of ways to bless others. Even if you can’t help, the simple act of listening can change someone’s life. Everyone wants to be heard.
Go in one day a week for two hours and help out your youth minister or someone else working at the church.
Send one encouraging personal message to a different one of your friends each day.
Ask your friends what you could pray for them about. Start a journal of your prayers. Send notes asking those friends for updates.
Coach a little league sports team (with an adult) for the purpose of loving people like Jesus did.
Get to know the kids on your team and pray for them.
Stay away from TV for 40 days.
Spend your spare time reading books that encourage you spiritually, or find ways to serve others, help out at home, and so on.
Tutor a younger kid in a subject or activity you know well.
It may be easy for you to understand and excel at a certain subject in school. That means that this is something you can bring to God for him to use. Never discount whatever abilities you may have. While it may seem like a small thing to you God can use it in big ways.
“Adopt” an elderly couple or elderly person and offer to maintain their yard or help with housework for a year.
Start a prayer group at your school.
Meet one time a week to pray for the school, the administration, the teachers, and the student body. Pray for God’s kingdom to come to your school. Just pray!
Do random acts of kindness…
…without anybody else knowing anything about it.
Start leading a weekly devotion with your family.
As a family, read some Scripture and make a list of things that you are praying for as a family together.
Organize a toy drive from
Thanksgiving to Christmas for some less fortunate kids in your community.
Deliver the toys by Christmas Eve.
Initiate a weekend of nonstop prayer at your church.
Shoot for 24 or 48 hours of nonstop prayer! Set up a prayer room, and ask people to sign up for 30-minute time slots.
Clean your room without being asked.
Help with a VBS for a whole neighborhood of kids.
Save money so you can take a non- Christian friend to church camp or a youth group retreat.
Skip lunch one day a week at school and use that time to pray for your school.
Visit claimyourcampus.com to see other ways you can find your calling at your school.
Invite a friend to church.
If all your friends already go to church, make some new friends who don’t so that you can ask them. Get a new job or join a club where you don’t know anybody. Do what it takes to put yourself in a place where you can meet new people who don’t know Jesus.