Do you really listen to God and to others?
I know you will probably answer with an emphatic ”yeah I Listen all the time, ask my
wife shell tell you”.
I like to think that one of the problems with listening is that people don’t listen. Yeah they hear words but they do listen to them.
How many times have you had a conversation with someone and walked away wondering what they said, why? The answer is simple you, weren’t listening.
Let me give you some quick examples.
Example # 1
It is Sunday afternoon and a football game is on. Your
husband or wife depending on who the fan football is, sits in front of the TV set eyes glued to what is going on. You come walking in and proceed to carry on a conversation with the person watching the TV. The person answers so you feel that they heard what you were saying.
Later when the pipe in the basement burst you are surprised because you had told the other person about it and assumed
they were listening.
Example # 2
This is example is much like the first one except it involves teenagers and listening. I know that is an oxymoron but bear with me a moment.
Your teen is watching their favorite TV show and your lovingly remind them that need to take out the trash. Now I just picked taking out the trash as an example you can fill in the blank with whatever chore you
want. Well anyway you ask them to take out the trash and they respond by saying
A couple hours later you notice the trashcan still not emptied and lovingly remind your teenager
that they said they would take out the trash whereby your teenager replies with the words “what trashcan?”. The problem here is that you assumed your teenager was listening to you and
not the TV, well you were wrong. Teenager do not listen unless you get them to
make eye contact and acknowledge what you are saying to them by shaking there head yes.
Then and only then will you stand a chance of getting them to do what you asked them to do.
These two examples show a clear distinction between listening and really listening. Listening does not involve a whole lot of effort. You
simply shake your head or agree with the other person even if you have no clue what they are saying. We can do that with God we can hear what the Lord is saying to us but never really listen to
what He is saying to us. So we go along in life thinking that we are following
His lead when it is only our own misguided judgment because we never really took the time to listen to Him in the first place. We must learn to listen with our ears and our hearts.
Listen with your ears and your hearts
How often do you listen with your heart? Take
the time to list those instances that you remember.
The concept of listening with your heart means that you must listen to what God is telling you
not what you think he is telling you. God is clear when He tells us what
he wants us to do. In other words God does not mumble or give us commands like
“Go…. to…. give”. Oh by the way the words are missing
because when God was talking we weren’t really listening.
Read Isaiah 55:2 and in your own words describe what God is saying to you in this verse.
God calls us to open up our hearts to Him so he can talk.
Part of living an onward life is getting rid of all the distractions that muffle or limit God’s voice and cause
not to hear what is being said.
If you want a good example of not listening with your hearts all you need to do is study the book
of Exodus. Now here is person who had a direct conversation with god but
weren’t really listening. If they were they would have it would not have
taken 40 years to get where they going. Talk about not following the directions. God said I will deliver you, which had a deeper meaning then just taking them out
The Israelites because they were not listening did not hear anything beyond “I will”
after that it was all open to their own of what God was going to do. Their
ears were open but their hearts were closed as to the true nature of what God was doing for them.
Even Aaron who should have know better listened to the people and momentarily turned His heart
from God and gave into the voice of the people.
Read Exodus Chapter 32 and discuss or write down what is happening here. Then take the time to think a time in your life when you built your own golden calf and with your
heart turned away from listening to God. We all have done it at one time
or other. The point is to be honest about it.
You can now see that listening with the heart means being attentive to what God is saying to you
not only through His word but also through the words of others.
Be attentive to what is said around you
Take the time now to discuss with a friend or spouse about how well you actually listen
When I say you must listen with your heart, what I am talking about is listening to hear what is
said between the words. As in the previous illustration most of the time
when listen to someone else we barely hear the words let alone the context in which the words are given.
If you still haven’t figured it out here are a couple more examples I would like you to answer
the following statement as you normally would answer them and then take the time to really look at the words as if you were
listening with your heart.
She says, “We need to spend some quality time together”
A teenager says, “My girlfriend/boyfriend left me!”
He says, “ I like to watch football”
I hope you get the idea because you have to listen attentively to get the idea..
Proverbs 18:13 says that:
He who answers before
listening- that is his folly and his shame
The idea here is not
just casual listening but listening to hear what is said
I know it is not going to be an easy task but if you start to listen to others with your heart
instead of your ears you will here their needs and their which will make you more able to serve them.
Read Mark 4:9 and in your own words describe Jesus’ call to us all
Sometimes God speaks to you through other people
I don’t know about you but personally I have never spoken to a burning bush or been stopped
on a road by a blinding light and the voice of Jesus. In fact I have never heard
God physically speak to me, yet I hear from God everyday. I can picture you sitting
there going wait a minute I have never heard from God, how does this guy rate.
Well actually everyday whether you know it or not you do hear from God. How you might ask?
Take a moment to read 2 Timothy 3:16, I’ll wait
In your own words write down what this verse says to you >
Guess what you just heard from God and you were listening to what he had to say to you because
I told you to listen to God’s Word by writing out what God’s Word said to you..
Guess what God talked to you through His word. Part of onward thinking
and living an onward life is taking every opportunity to listen to God.
If you listen to a sermon or attend a Sunday school lesson sermon or Sunday school lesson, God
is talking to you. The bible says in Ephesians 4:11 that God gave some to
be “preacher and teachers”. The idea here was that God would
communicate His Word and instructions through men appointed by Him. Now
doesn’t that open the eyes of those of you who think the sermon is a time to catch up on some zzzzzz.
God can also speak to su through other people we come in contact with. I know many times I have had conversations with people and have come away saying to myself,“ok God
I can see what you are telling me through so and so”.
In every conversation we need to not only listen to what is said by the other person but as part
of onward living we need to be listening to what God is also saying to us through that person.
Perhaps you are talking to someone and they bad mouth God, hear God saying to you this conversation is wrong. Perhaps you are talking about someone else, hear God speaking to you, saying don’t
be part of this gossip.
If you’re listening for God’s voice it is there but you have to listening.
People feel valuable when you listen to them.
How many times have you had conversations with someone and you knew they were not really listening
to you? If you feel like it you can share some of those times.
Now how many times has God been talking to you and you were not listening to Him?
What was the outcome of your lack of listening?
People feel valuable when you actually take the time to listen to them. We have talked about how you need to listen attentively to other people not to only hear what they
are saying but also to show you care.
I don’t know if you know this or not but as part of onward living we are called to listen
to others. Jesus did it all the time. If
you red of Jesus and the conversations He ahd with others He listened to the heart.
When Jesus listened His thought were on the person’s internal security.
Read John 4:1-42
Some things to consider when reading this passage:
Why did Jesus start the conversation?
How did Jesus construct His conversation in such a way that the woman would listen and hear Him?
Why did the woman listen to Him?
What was the outcome of the conversation?
You can see from this example that you can listen attentively and still not care. In the beginning
the woman listen to Jesus but did not really care what He was saying. It is when
Jesus turns the conversation to Her needs so that she really starts to listen to Him. The trick as Jesus shows in these verses
is to listen and show empathy for the other person.
Empathy is what we lack when look at other people. We
deal in what we perceive and not what God perceives. This happens when we listen
we listen to what we perceive to be what the person is saying not what they are saying.
Let me give you an example. Your kids are arguing
and you sit there listening attentively but you don’t do anything about what is going on simply because you don’t
This is an example of listening to what is being said but not having any empathy to what is being
set. If you show you care you would stop your teens from arguing and listen to
both sides of an argument and try to diffuse the situation.
Earlier we talked about communication. If you do not
listen you will not be able to communicate. It is that simple and that complex. Look onward Christian and listen to what God is telling you. Sometimes we think we have heard it all well guess what? You haven’t!