Last week at Calvary I asked people to put their ears on. Jesus would occasionally use the phrase, “Those who have ears to hear let them listen… ” Be honest, some of us use ears for tasks other than listening. I’ve grabbed my kids by their ears. Some of you have multiple piercings so that you can carry around valuable pieces of jewelry. Many of us use our ears to remember where we put our iphone (or other sources of music). Be even more honest, some of us hear without listening. There is something incredibly vital about listening for those who follow Jesus. Jesus is called the Word. Paul tells us that faith comes by hearing. God created the world with a word.
I’m not sure we really understand the power of the words that come from the mouth of the Living God, the one who creatively spoke the world into existence. Time and time again in the Bible, we are confronted with the power of the words of God.
- In fact in Psalm 107:19-20, the Psalmist writes… “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from their distress; he sent out his word to heal and deliver them...” The words of God bring healing. But if we don’t listen we’ll miss it.
- Or how about Romans 15:4… Paul writes, “…everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The words of God bring hope. But if we don’t listen we’ll miss it.
- Then there’s Psalm 119:105-107… ”The Psalmist writes, Your word is lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I have suffered much, renew my life, by your Word O Lord.” The word of God brings renewal and revival. New energy, new love to redeem old hurts. But if we don’t listen we’ll miss it.
- One more… 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for those of you who have big dreams for what God might do through you, who want to go out and do good with your life, who want to not only discover but live out the calling God has for you.. Paul writes, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” If we don’t listen we won’t be prepared to do good.
And God still speaks. There are many ways that God speaks to his people…dreams, visions, prayer, circumstances, other people, the Holy Spirit. But there is one avenue, one living avenue of communication that must form the foundation of our listening relationship with God. It’s the Bible, the Word of God. The Word of God is a seed that gives birth to new life. It is living and powerful.
At Calvary we are in the midst of a season of prayer and fasting — 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Fasting is a spiritual discipline of emptying space in our lives, hearts, minds so that we can be filled with something better. Listening is a form of fasting. It’s emptying myself of the need to generate and propagate my own ideas so that I can be filled with someone else’s words, and in the end there are few things that will give us more life, than the richness of God’s words.
Last weekend, I gave the challenge to put our ears on, to push the stop button on our mouths and say, “God show me, tell me. I’m listening. I’m looking. Let me see my neighborhood through your eyes.” Listen. Practice with people. Ask someone how they are doing, and then actually listen for the response. Read the news as though it was God writing you a letter about his heart for our city. Listen to your neighbor as tho God was speaking to you…and as you listen pray, “God break my heart for the things that break yours.”
If there is anyone in the world who should be known as the world’s greatest listeners, it’s the followers of the Word. Put your ears on.
(If you want to listen to last week’s message, click