A Listening Heart
Before the main text, I want to say something. Life is often extremely hard. Robert Drawdy works with young people through Truth and Nails. He helps them learn a trade but more importantly he teaches about Christ. His son, Logan, attends college in Greeneville. Sunday, October 27, Logan fell off his skateboard and suffered severe brain damage. He died from his injuries this week. Mary Funes a close friend of our daughter, Meg, lost her 15-year-old daughter to suicide on Tuesday. Pray for these families. Let your children and grandchildren know how much you love them!!!
“Let he who has ears to hear, use them.” Max says these words are used eight times in the Gospels and eight times in Revelation. He continues: “We are reminded that it’s not enough to just have ears—it’s necessary to use them.”
Max believes that in Jesus’ parable about seed falling on the soil, that our ears are comparable to the soil. He writes: “Please note in all four cases the seed is the same seed. The sower is the same. What’s different is not the message or the messenger—it’s the listener. And if the ratio in the story is significant, three-fourths of the world isn’t listening to God’s voice. Whether the cause be hard hearts, shallow lives, or anxious minds, 75 percent of us are missing the message.”
Max asks: “How long since you gave him a portion of undiluted, uninterrupted time listening for his voice? Apparently Jesus did. He made a deliberate effort to spend time with God.” How many excuses or reasons did you come up with to Max’s question? If you did not have enough, I can lend you some of mine. How many of those do you believe God accepts? He must be disappointed when we ignore him!
Max writes: “Let me ask the obvious. If Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless Savior of mankind, thought it worthwhile to clear his calendar to pray, wouldn’t we be wise to do the same?”
“If we are to be just like Jesus—if we are to have ears that hear God’s voice—then we have just found two habits worth imitating: the habits of prayer and Bible reading. Consider these verses:
“Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.” Romans12:12 - Phillips translation
“The man that looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts the law into practice, and he wins true happiness.” James 1:25 – Phillips translation.
“If we are to be just like Jesus, we must have a regular time of talking to God and listening to his Word.”
Max talks about our reluctance to set aside time for prayer and Bible study. Maybe you have tried it and for some reason it didn’t work. We make a conscious decision to benefit from others experience. Max says: “after all isn’t that why we pay preachers?” The congregation has Sunday school teachers who are supposed to spend time preparing lessons so that we can learn about God’s word. Max believes that if this is our approach to grow our relationship with God then we are using secondhand experiences. A secondhand relationship with God is NOT what he wants! He deserves to be firsthand with us. After all he created us and then sacrificed his son so we can have a firsthand relationship with him.
As you continue to read this article, perform a self-evaluation. Are you spending time praying and reading your Bible? That’s going to be Max’s line of thought. Just saying I listen to a sermon almost every Sunday is not enough. Many people base their religious beliefs on the preacher or Sunday school teacher. When asked what scripture they base a belief on they have no idea. “Well, that’s what they preacher or teacher said!” On judgement day you cannot hang your deficiencies of your relationship with God on the preacher or Sunday school teachers.
Max’s writes that we do not let people eat, take vacations or do many things for us. “Certain things no one can do for you. And one of those is spending time with God.” You cannot grow a close, loving, obedient relationship with God if you ignore him and his word!!!
Self-discipline is a requirement for study and prayer! Set aside a time and place to read and pray. Maybe first thing in the morning before you begin your day, during lunch time, or just before you go to bed but whatever works for you stay with it. It could be that short devotions several times through the day may work. I don’t believe lengthy devotionals are necessary. Quality not quantity is much more important!! Think about the following verses:
Romans 12:12 NCV - continuing instant in prayer
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NVV - Pray without ceasing
Be thoughtful for prayer several times through the day!
Max’s points to John 14:26 NCV – “But the helper will teach you everything and will cause you to remember all that I told you. The Helper is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name.” Max continues his thought: “Before reading the Bible, pray. Don’t go to Scripture looking for your own idea; go searching for God’s.”
James 1:25: NCV - “The man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty and makes a habit of doing so, is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts the law into practice, and he wins true happiness.”
Max asks, “How long since you let God love you?” From his experiences, he writes there are people who believe they are not worthy of God’s love. Their study and prayer life are hindered by this this thought. Max points to these verses:
Jeremiah 31:3 NIV - “ I have loved you with everlasting love.”
Romans 8:39 NCV – “Nothing… will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.”
Zephaniah 3:17 NCV – The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.” Think about the fact that God rejoices over us!
Max ends this thought with: “Besides, who are we to determine if we are worthy? Our job is to simply be still long enough to let him have us and let him love us.”
Max brings this chapter to an end with the following: “ Let God have you, let God love you—and don’t be surprised if your heart begins to hear music you’ve never heard before.”
Study guide: Max challenges us to spend as much time reading the Bible as we do with the paper or TV. I believe we should add our time on the internet as well. Then record the differences it makes in our lives. This challenge is huge for most of us, especially me. I have no doubt that our relationship with God will grow unbelievably if we practice his suggestion.
Spending time with God in scripture and prayer should be the priority in our lives . I have admitted in articles that I did not make these things the priority. I originally wrote “a” then thought better and wrote “the”. God deserves to be “the” not “a” priority in our lives. I believe my relationship with God has grown through more study and prayer.
Max writes: "God already knows what you’re thinking, wanting, and doing. Realize that he wants to hear from you, so begin talking to him as if he were on the car seat beside you in the morning, standing in the line at the bank or sitting at the next desk. He’s not interested in flowery phrases or pious sounding words—he just wants you.”
From God’s Little Devotional Book: “Most men forget God all day long and ask Him to remember them at night.”
Just Like Jesus written by Max Lucado, Published by Word Publishing – 1998 – Used with permission