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Friday, January 13, 2012

Listening When Hearing

As I prepared to teach a lesson on Sunday, the story caught my interest. It was not so much the story in itself that attracted my interest but the lesson, listening. Further, on in the week, other readings in my Bible and in my devotion guides continued to capture my attention. My reflections revolved around this topic, listening leading to obedience. Is God trying to get me to obey Him in something? I continued to read and pray about it. 

            When you look at Saul and his first campaign as king, you also see his son, Jonathan. God appointed Saul as king because the children of Israel wanted to be similar to their neighbors and have a king. God
 told Samuel He would provide a king for them but they would be subject to the human whims and shortcomings of any king they had. Saul proved to be just that sort of king, human. In the first story of Saul as king, we find a story within a story (a pericope), one of Jonathan and his armor-bearer, which teaches the reader and his listeners how to listen and follow. The story is in 1 Samuel 14. Jonathan tells his armor-bearer what to do in verses 6-10. We see in verse 13 the armor-bearer follows Jonathan. He could not have followed if he had not listened. This following led to panic on the part of Israel's enemies, the Philistines, which led to the ultimate victory over the Philistines.

            Now, consider Jesus telling His disciples about the parables He spoke to His followers in Mark 4. Jesus spoke to the people about the sower and the seeds in the first eight verses after which Jesus proclaimed for them to hear if they had ears, leading them to consider and comprehend. Hearing comes when you actively listen. The disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable. He explains it to them and subsequently, almost verbatim, repeats vs. 9 except instead of saying "let him be hearing" Jesus says in vs. 23 "let him be listening and perceiving and comprehending" (AMP). You will notice active hearing, intense listening, must be followed with study, perception, and comprehension or else the Word spoken by God's Spirit to us falls on infertile ground.

            Let us now go to 2 Peter 3:16-18
. Peter speaks of Paul and the his difficulty in understanding many of the things of which Paul spoke. Peter warns his hearers to be on their guard so they fall not as prey to those who misconstrue and twist the Word. He wants the readers to understand beforehand this will happen and they will need to be on their guard. How then are we to be on our guard against Satan's deceivers? Peter states this answer in verse 18, "Grow in grace and spiritual strength and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (AMP). To recognize Christ and His Word, we must have knowledge, which comes through study, understanding. To have understanding, we must obey. To obey, we must actively listen. Do we listen like Jonathan's armor-bearer and follow Christ? Do we listen as Christ speaks to us, His disciples, to be able to obey Him? How do we obey? Is it not by seeking Him and acknowledging Him and understanding Him? In which soil do we live our daily lives, fertile or shallow and thorny? Do we have a daily life with Christ where we keenly seek, listen, study and obey Him or is it haphazard? 

            Here is the challenge for us, seek him and actively listen
 to Him each day. To do this, we must read His word, not because we should by human godly standards, but because we want to hear Him, know Him, love Him, and obey Him. 

            This is not a new year's resolution but a commitment to love
 Christ fully and to know and follow Him.