Do you remember the first time you heard music through quality headphones? I sure do! I was about twelve years old and my dad brought home some very nice headphones. I lay down in front of the new HiFi stereo in our living room and listened to a stack of records. Yes, records — 33 1/3 LP records to be exact. The high sounds were crystal clear, the bass was not muddied or muffled, and the music was rapturous. I was hooked.

Over the years, the quality of sound has improved in some ways with superior equipment. It has also degraded in others with the widespread use of MP3 recordings. Yet music still nurtures my soul, especially when it is clear and loud and I can feel it!

The logo on the label of many of those records was a dog named Nipper. The caption for the RCA Victor logo was, "His Master's Voice." Nipper was standing in front of a Gramophone (phonograph) and was listening to his master's voice.

One of the biggest challenges we have as followers of Jesus is learning to listen to our Master's voice. Yet Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit — the Comforter — would play this role in the lives of Jesus' followers (John 14:15-18;  John 14:25-26;  John 16:12-15). The Spirit is supposed to help us hear our Master's voice.

But how?

Well, I certainly believe that Scripture is a crucial place to start listening to the Master's voice since the Bible claims that Scripture comes from the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Yet more than just reading words, we must yearn for a clear word from Jesus through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are the tool of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) that the Spirit uses with surgical precision to work on our innermost being (Hebrews 4:12-13). And as powerful as this is, I also believe there are many other ways the Spirit helps us hear the Master's voice and follow his will.

The Spirit is active when we pray (Romans 8:26-27;  Ephesians 6:18;  Jude 20). The Spirit speaks to us through the voices, songs, and service of our brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 5:17-21). The Spirit speaks to us through the proclamation of the word in the assembly of God's people (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 Peter 4:10-11). The Spirit ministers to us when we sleep and helps us know the will of God (Psalm 3:5;  Zephaniah 3:13;  Acts 16:9-10). The Spirit speaks through the voice of God's leaders when they have sought his will in prayer (Acts 15:28). The Spirit helps by providing open and closed doors to direct the Lord's mission (Acts 1:8;  Acts 16:6-7; 1 Corinthians 16:9;  Colossians 4:3).

So the real question is how do we put our ear up to the speaker and hear the Spirit's voice? How do we open our hearts to receive the Lord's message to us? How do we put on our spiritual headphones?

For me, four questions are crucially important as I begin my day, as I pray, as open the Scriptures, and as I worship with God's people. These four questions help awaken my heart to the voice of God and submit my will to the leading of the Savior. They also focus my attention away from what I want to what I need to hear, change, remember, and do. I ask these questions in the form of a prayer and I share them with you for your blessing. I'd love to know what you do to listen to the Master's voice!

How do we put our ear up to the speaker and hear the Spirit's voice?

  • Father, please help me hear what your Spirit is saying to me today.
  • Father, please use the Holy Spirit to convict me of sin and show me what I need to change.
  • Father, please have the Comforter remind me of the words and actions of Jesus so I can better understand what I've heard, read, thought, and seen today.
  • Father, please use the Spirit to show me what I need to do to be more like your Son.