The starting place for listening to God is to listen to God’s Word in scripture. Read the following passages in Jeremiah and note the concerns you encounter looking for ongoing themes.
Review Deuteronomy 6:4-5, the Shema. Use biblegateway.com or another Bible website or phone app to read it in various translations, but note how the message remains. The Hebrew word shama means to listen attentively.
There are multiple ways to listen to God. “What is God saying to you through
Spoelstra suggests bringing the following questions to our study of scripture:
Read Jeremiah 18:1-12.
Here are some notes from Spoelstra’s study that relate to this passage:
Pottery is fired in a hot kiln to become more useful.
Let’s look at another image for God’s character according to Jeremiah (also used in psalms).
Note: the Hebrew word here is Adonai (Lord) Sabaoth or Tzav’ot (Commander of heaven’s armies). This is where Martin Luther got his name for God in the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, used in the second verse “Lord Sabaoth his name.” Spoelstra writes, “The Name Lord Sabaoth is used to remind us of who our God really is: the powerful Commander in Chief with all of the angels at His disposal. Our problems are not too big for Him. He is holy, sovereign, and able to do with He says He will do.”[ix] It reminds me of the saying these days, “Don't tell God how big your problems are. Tell your problems how big God is.” (anonymous)
To take our problems confidently to God, we want to be in a very close relationship with God. Read Jeremiah 13:1-11. If you didn’t listen to the sermon before doing this study, you might want to check a few translations; it varies a bit. Spoelstra used NLT (New Living Translation).
Spoelstra asks which describes your relationship with God best:
Perhaps you’ve caught on that Jeremiah uses a lot of imagery, like a poet, to help us understand the message. This is how God taught Jeremiah. It is similar perhaps to how Jesus used parables. Look at an image of how we might consume scripture as you read Jeremiah 23:16-32. (see vs. 28 especially)
Spoelstra writes, “Straw: sometimes comforting but holds no real spiritual nutritional value. Grain: consistently speaks truth that feeds your soul (whether Christian or secular – all truth is God’s truth)
I think the most important questions to ask ourselves, one demanding intentionality in our lifestyle is this:
Read Jeremiah 8:7-9.
Melissa Spoelstra, Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable Word. kindle edition
[i] P. 1487 & 1500
[ii] P. 1520
[iii] P. 1563
[iv] p. 1930
[v] P. 1595
[vi] P. 1599
[vii] P. 1604
[viii] P. 1612
[ix] P. 1631
[x] P. 1679
[xi] P. 1812
[xii] P. 1893