The Art of Listening

The Queen of Sheba traveled about 2,000 miles to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. Gideon put out fleece to listen to God’s will. Abraham listened and his son Isaac was born, and his servant listened to God and brought Rebecca to Isaac for his bride. The people told Joshua they would listen to God’s voice, and they did all the while Joshua was their judge. God told Samuel to listen to the people and anoint Saul. The king listened to Nehemiah and the walls of Jerusalem were built in 52 days. King Ahasuerus listened to Esther and the Jews in Babylon were saved. Lemuel listened to his mother and found out a good woman’s worth is far above rubies.

Good things happen to those who listen… and take heed. Listening isn’t hard to do, although it seems hard. Listening to God is the same as listening to your spouse, your kids, your parents. The trouble with that is we usually are not good listeners even to our friends or family. I was writing this column and my daughter called. I was in the middle of a thought and I kept typing all while she was telling me something. I should have paid attention to her, which I eventually did. The snag was that I missed those few minutes with her.

Listening is deciding what another person is saying is more important than what you are doing at that precise moment. It also involves a great deal of trust that God
will bring back to mind what you were doing if that is within the realm of His will, which leads to another snag. We don’t always listen to God. Come on now, I know I’m not the only one that has this problem.

You decide that what God has to say is more important than the TV or newspaper or radio. God speaks to us in many different ways, mostly through His word, sometimes He is that still small voice, sometimes He speaks through our close and trusted friends, our pastors, our parents. Sometimes He speaks things we just do not want to hear because we have our own agenda. However, being silent with the intent to hear what God is saying has become a very hard thing to do.

Our world has come to a point where silence is unheard. We are constantly bombarded with noise: sounds of television, radio, construction, trains, planes, and automobiles drown out the chirping of birds and other sounds of nature. These are also the sounds that drown out the voice of God. How often do we go to God with a shopping list, say amen, then go busily about our business?

Of course communication is a two-way street. We talk and God listens, God talks and we are supposed to listen, but in reality, we may or may not listen. The consequences can be most dire if we do not hear His voice. Let me point out some very bad listeners of the Bible to you.

Herod Antipas... he was in a perverted marriage (his brother's wife). John the Baptist told him the marriage was perverted and Herod was a little sorry, but not enough to end the marriage. He was also so perverted that his wife's daughter moved him to unholy passion so he handed John's head to Salome.

Herodias... Herod's wife. Hated John the Baptist because she saw his truth but was too caught up in her pursuit of fame, power and money so she had his head cut off, using her husband’s perverted lust and her daughter to get the deed done.

Pontius Pilate-- looked Jesus in the eyes and asked "What is truth?" He washed his hands of the whole thing after declaring Jesus perfect and without flaw. He couldn't recognize truth when He looked him in the eye nor even when he spoke it himself. He heard his wife’s admonition to have nothing to do with Jesus because of her nightmares, but he did not listen.

Judas--suddenly realized that the Sanhedrin was actually going to kill Jesus. He became remorseful but unrepentant. He had listened for three and one half years to the teachings of Raboni Jesus, but he never heard the truths He spoke. He never trusted Jesus and proved that by killing himself. Judas was a false professor.

Agrippa and Bernice -- Both of these listened to Paul's testimony and Agrippa said, "I'm almost persuaded." Being almost persuaded receives the same results as unbelief.

All of these met Jesus, heard the call, but did not listen for they turned away. Every one of these had something more important to them than God or their own salvation. None had any fear of what was to become of them and apparently, all but Judas never thought about it again.
Psalm 26:1 A Psalm of David. Judge me, O Jehovah; for I have walked in my truthfulness. I have trusted also in Jehovah; I shall not slide. 2Examine me, O Jehovah, and prove me; purify my heart and my mind.
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