Are you listening?
Within a second, our ears have received many sounds that are sent to our brain for processing. We can differentiate sound, discern what direction it’s coming from, who is speaking, and whether it is a cause for alarm, even before we go towards it. From all the noise around us, we are selective about what is of importance. When we pay close attention to sound, we are no longer just hearing it but listening. Listening is a skillful art. It requires rapt attention to catch specific details of what we hear. We can’t listen while we are speaking or thinking about something else—we must put aside all distraction. There’s a mine of information we can retain, if we hear intently and act on it. We listen with our minds when we read words out of a page. We hear ourselves narrating what is written and choose how to respond.
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1).
People are drawn to the information which can reinforce their knowledge or can teach them something new or exciting. Most people will take time to listen or read what they consider pertinent to their well-being. If we put aside distraction, we can pick up invaluable information that can greatly benefit us. What are you reading to profit your soul? Whatever we feed our mind will motivate us to do what will benefit the body and soul. But the body is temporary, while the soul is eternal. These bodies were not meant to last; hence all the aches, pains, slumping, atrophying of tissues and muscles, and loss of senses, as we age.
We have to do whatever is necessary to keep our souls in what will profit beyond this life. The Word of God is our best source of nourishment for the soul. There are a lot of diets out there; to help those with different ailments, food allergies and intolerances, that also increase longevity. There’s only one diet for our soul—The Word of God. As we try to sustain our bodies by avoiding intake of high levels of destructive food, we should not neglect to be as earnest with what we feed our souls. We must nourish our souls with Scripture so that we can get to live for eternity. We have to be not just hearers of the Word, but do what it says. The Word reveals our condition so that we can do something about it. Just as one has to put on their face in the morning before they go out the door, we have to strive to purge our souls of unsightly attitudes and passions. Repentance is accepting God’s correction and being willing to change. Those who just hear the Word and fail to do what is said, are like one who sees themselves in a mirror, denies that they need to clean up, and goes on to continue in a dissipated lifestyle. Listening is meditating on what we have heard and applying it ourselves. When we do what is good and pleasing to God, we will profit in this life and the next.
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead. (Luke 16)’ ”
The LORD Jesus told of a true story of a rich man and a poor man, who both died. The poor man, Lazarus, went to heaven and was in the bosom of Abraham. The rich man who ignored Lazarus afflictions, went to hell. The story picks up where the rich man in his agony of hell’s torment, sees Lazarus and begs Abraham to send him to his family to warn them of hell. The rich man believed that if his loved ones saw one who came from eternity they would believe that hell existed. There are those who don’t believe in God’s Word until they see something extraordinary or supernatural. There are also those who believe that the soul is only destined for heaven; like the rich man who was pleading to have his family convinced of hell. God has spoken through Moses and His prophets, but many have turned a deaf ear to the only Truth that ever existed: The Truth that can save their souls from hell. If we won’t listen to those who God has ordained to deliver His Word and Truth, then we don’t need miracles, signs or people back from the dead, to convince us.
Abraham is alive as we have read, and Christ already died and rose to life; yet some are still obstinate in their unbelief. God’s Word is time-honored and unchanging. He continues to speak through Scripture. Reading God’s Word is listening to His Insight. The rich man and his family failed to heed to those who spoke what God revealed. We often give credence to a lot of false information out there, but we should not ignore truth that will determine our eternal destiny.
22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the Word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
We can muffle what we hear, by allowing all sorts of distractions to drown out the Word of God. Our minds can wander off to the cares of this life and we can easily lose the opportunity to hear what The LORD is speaking to us. Those who hear the Word and understand it, have to go and do what it says. They should be fruitful, and with increasing measure become more like Christ. They are the good ground that profits from being in The Presence of God. They are resolute in obedience and submission to The Holy Spirit’s prompting. We need to read Scripture as a guide to be fruitful and useful in Christ’s Likeness.
9 And He said, “Go, and tell these people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of these people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes. Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed (Isaiah 6).”
There are those who have heard the Words of God but they have had no impact on their lives. They are those God prophesied by Isaiah that their eyes can’t perceive, their ears are dull and they lack understanding. If they were listening they would have understood that they need to be healed. Those who seek after God, seek to be made spiritually whole. Reading and listening to The Word of God is an admittance to His Presence. In Scripture, we see ourselves clearly as we see God in His Holiness. It is by listening and meditating that we yearn to be restored. It is also by choice that many have become apathetic to the things of God. If they understood with their hearts they would repent and be healed.
47 He who is of God hears God’s Words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God (John 8).”
When we are in agreement with God, because we believe He is the source of Truth, we will listen to Him. Those who are of God, are those who are chosen in Christ—born-again of The Spirit of Christ. They are in one accord with Him, therefore they hear what He says. Those who don’t hear are those who are not of God. It’s that simple. We can try to convince others to listen or read God’s Word until we are blue in the face. Christ tells us there are two groups of people; those who are of God and those who aren’t. God made creation with two opposites, physically; light and darkness, mountains and valleys, hot and cold and the list goes on; so it is with the spiritual; those of God and those who are not.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolish to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2).
The Holy Spirit fills us with spiritual things which the wise and educated of this world can not grasp. Those who have the Spirit of Christ have the mind of Christ; to know the deep things of God that can not be discerned by the natural mind. Those who reason with logic are incapable of understanding spiritual wisdom. The Holy Spirit teaches those who are willing to grow deeper in the things of God. They are mysteries freely given to those with an insatiable piqued-interest in knowing God. The wisdom of The Spirit is never revealed by man’s wisdom. It is taught by The Holy Spirit.
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock (Matthew 7).”
What principles are you building your life on? There are all sorts of books, resources and seminars for self-help and improvement. Unfortunately, they are not enough to sustain our spiritual well-being. The Creator of all things bids us to listen and do what He prescribes. When storms, trials and hardships come, those self-help strategies will not stand you in good stead. Whoever builds his life in trusting and obeying God’s Words, will not be shaken by troubles. They discover that in spite of storms, a foundation of obedience and trust overcomes all sorts of untoward emotions. Listening to God is shown by trust and obedience. If we teach trust and obedience to our children from a young age, they will not be easily swayed by uncertainty.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. On the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest (Hebrew 3).’ ”
What do you listen to routinely? We are physical and spiritual beings; we must consider giving precedence to godliness which profits everything. We can do better in every area of our lives, when we understand that our body is the temple of The Holy Spirit. By obedience to Him we are assured of His rest and peace. The Holy Spirit is speaking in us and we must submit, to do as He commands. He wants to change us to His Likeness, as sons and daughter of The Most High God. We have to be diligent to listen with our spiritual ears and understand by trusting, repenting and obeying. We are of God if we hear Him. Let’s tune out all distractions and perk up our ears in His Presence. We can ingest and digest the things which will keep us firm, unshaken, to overcome the challenges of this temporary life. Today, if you hear The Spirit speak, do not harden your heart.
41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12).