Listening is a spiritual art. It is the beginning of salvation. Many saints often begin the steps of salvation with hearing the gospel: “hear, believe, repent, etc.” That’s the blessed and necessary starting point.
The great Jewish recitation is the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” Deut 6.4 ESV. They say these are a faithful Jew’s last words. Supposedly, those last words have been the main words of a faithful life. In the Old Testament to hear means to obey.
So the New Testament sees it as well. Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it! Lk 11.28. See also Jn 12.47-48.
Listening to others is also a spiritual art. Perhaps above all other things, it opens a person’s heart to listen to God. Listening is the invitation to intimacy.
Listening is the test of selflessness. The self wants to speak, to answer, to defend, to protest, to show off knowledge. Listening is the affirmation of love.
Above all, God listens. Every humble saint can say with the psalmist: “… God heard; he listened to my prayer” Psa 66.19 NET. Yes, it is true that “if anyone is devout and does his will, God listens to him” Jn 9.31.
God is not too busy to listen to me. How then can I fail to listen to him and to those whom he works to save?
¶ From the little that one hears from saints’ conversations about American elections, seems like they serve more as a distraction from doing the work of God. Instead of “God bless America,” why not try “God bless our efforts to save others through the sharing of the gospel”?
¶ Thirty-something years ago today, two starry-eyed young people, following the will of God and placing their hopes and dreams in a special relationship, said, “I do.” The Lord has preserved them with good health, blessed them with wonderful children and grandchildren, provided them meaningful service in God’s kingdom, upheld a commitment that has held them steady in lean times and better days. They give thanks and praise God for his goodness.
¶ UK newspaper reported this morning that a soccer player slipped a 14-year-old girl an ecstasy tablet in a kiss during a party. Moral of the story: Loose lips take trips.
¶ Modern phrase now is “everyday carry,” abbreviated — as all things modern must be — as EDC. People normally carry items they consider essential or important for their daily needs or for emergencies or social upheavals. One site devoted to the idea features photos that people take of their EDC items (along with Amazon links for you to buy them). Reddit has a subreddit for EDC. Many people, women and men, now have EDC bags. (I have mine—a new one, even.) There’s some cool stuff out there.
So here’s the challenge: Show a photo of, or describe, your spiritual everyday carry.
¶ For those who teach, preach, or like to meditate on the things of God, check out this ultra-brief outline: “What God does not want you to know.” Flesh it out, add to, share in the comments area. The catchy title takes you from some people’s assumption that God is not friendly toward mankind, to three points that show how benevolent he is toward his creatures. Imagine this title splashed on your marquis or published in your church bulletin, if you have those. Probably someone has done something similar, but I’m not aware of it.
¶ Privacy has become a hot issue in recent years. Governments and businesses collect our information. Facebook and Google know all about their users. Information can easily be leveraged against a person. This is a new and sordid twist to the commonplace that knowledge is power.
It’s not a good thing for man to have tons of information on his neighbor. From the beginning, however, the Creator knows all about us. “And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account” Heb 4.13. He uses that knowledge only for good. Even in judgment (see previous verse) he is doing good.
Our problem is trying to hide from God what he already knows. Foolishness! No secrets there!