Godly Listening

1 John 4

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I listen to the radio when I drive. I have three stations that I rotate between, depending on when there are commercials. In an attempt to avoid commercials, I flip between those stations in search of music. If there is music on one of those stations, I’ll listen to it instead.

 

Some of you may gravitate towards talk show hosts or only listen to news and traffic alerts on the radio. You may skip the radio altogether and instead plug your phone in for a completely customized driving playlist. Perhaps, you listen to your GPS, because it tells you where to go.  

 

Needless to say, we all choose what we listen to in the car. In fact, I can make that sentence even simpler:

 

We all choose what we listen to.

 

You see, we have a choice to make.

 

You can choose to listen to the world – to it’s lies and it’s deceptions. Or, you can choose to listen to God – to His truths.

 

1 John 4:4-6 says, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore, what they say is from the world and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.”

 

You have a choice to make. Will you listen to the words of men or the words of God? The choice is yours.

 

– Madison Cisler

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Jeremiah 27-29

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Tuesday, March 7

 

After struggling to come up with a devotional topic that hasn’t been completely overdone (Jeremiah 29:11 anyone?), I finally decided on a specific idea to focus on:

Lies are hidden by “good” and the only way to differentiate is by listening.

Hananiah, the false prophet from chapter 28 did not come screaming lies against God, but he came claiming “good” things.  Even Jeremiah was excited about what Hananiah had to say!  Many lies in our own lives come disguised as “good” too.  Some are obvious and easy to avoid; that’s like our pre-test.  Others come hidden behind things that make us feel good and happy, and that is the true test.    So how did Jeremiah know that this “good” prophecy was fake?  He listened when God spoke to him.

I once heard the metaphor that God is like a radio station.  He is always broadcasting, but we have to tune in to hear Him. (Thanks, Susan Landry!)  I know  that I don’t always really listen when God is talking to me.  I’ve been known to completely ignore Him in fact!  As you would imagine, this generally ends in a whole lotta stress and unnecessary discomfort.  It’s not until I really hear what He has to say that things fall back into place.

Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  God promises to His people that as long as they are seeking, He will be there!  He is always broadcasting, we just have to tune in to the right station!

-Sarah Blanchard

 

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What Are You Dishing Out Today?

Proverbs 17-19

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Thursday, January 26

So, how has your mouth been doing this week?  Today is a great time to make some positive changes.  One of my favorite Proverbs about our mouths is in today’s reading:  “The tongue has the power of life and death” (18:21).   Life or Death – you can’t get more powerful than that.  Life or Death – what life-giving words will you use today?  Life or Death – which will you be dishing out today?

And, just like your momma always said, “If you can’t find anything . . . to say that brings life . . . then DON’T say anything at all.”  I’m pretty sure she got that from Proverbs.  Maybe from 17:28 – “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”    So, consider this the next time you open your mouth to speak words with the power of death – if you close your mouth before speaking it just might be a win-win for you and your listener alike.  You might avoid proving yourself foolish, and your intended audience might be spared a deathly blow.  And, if you do spit out those deathly words that are fighting to get out . . . does anyone win?  Other verses also remind us of the importance of listening and how it leads to wisdom:

18:13 – He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

 

19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise

Today’s chapters also repeatedly speak of the wisdom of overlooking an offense, or on the flip side, the foolishness of quarrelling.  Do you more often find yourself holding onto a grudge or forgiving and moving on?   Do you find your feelings easily hurt and hold it against others?  Are you quick to start a quarrel, or let the moment pass in peace?

17:9 – He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

17:14 – Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

17:19 – He who loves a quarrel loves sin.

I think we could all benefit by evaluating how well, or poorly, we do with 18:2: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”    Which do you find yourself more interested in – understanding others or speaking your mind?  One little note on covering offenses – I am sure this is not referring to ignoring immoral sins.  We know that unrepentant sin leads to death and it is not loving to ignore that.  Galatians 6:1 has some wise advice in that case, as well as Proverbs 28:23 and Matthew 18.  No doubt, it takes much wisdom to know how to proceed in various situations.  Good thing God gives wisdom (James 1:5) and thank goodness we have the book of Proverbs to help us grow our wisdom.
A few more Proverbs that are just too good to not mention briefly . . .

On Zeal – typically considered a good thing – however . . .  “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (19:2)  Can you think of a project you may have jumped into . . . and then realized you should have done more “homework” first?   What about those facebook posts we have all seen where a very zealous person is on a rampage because of the latest outrage . . . only to have a friend point out the errors in their information (thank you, snopes).  Very zealous, but not very helpful without the true knowledge – and God’s Word is even more reliable than snopes.

On Disciplining Children/Youth – “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (19:18).   No one likes to be  disciplined – and the parent doing the discipline isn’t too thrilled either.  However, discipline sure beats death.  As a parent I need to remember that I do NOT make their life better by being their best friend and making things easy for both of us.  I make their life better by firmly and lovingly teaching rules, consequences, boundaries, how to listen and follow directions.  By teaching our children how to obey their parents we are also teaching them how to obey God and that is the most important lesson, that leads to life not death.  So teens out there reading, next time you are disciplined by your parents, surprise them – give them a giant hug and a great big thank you for saving you from death.  Then, watch them faint!

What would our relationships and family look like if we lived out all of these wonderful Proverbs everyday?  Keep praying for wisdom and working at the lessons learned in Proverbs.  They bring life – and who couldn’t use more of that.

Marcia Railton

 

If a Tree Falls in the Woods…

Job 31-34

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Wednesday, December 21

A profound and familiar philosophical question that has repeated through many ages says, “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  While this is a simple “yes” or “no” question you would probably get ten different explanations if you asked ten different people.  The question really is not precise enough to be answered on its own.

 

I have found the following question, heard in many theological circles, to be similar: “Does God speak today?”  Again, a question like this would be met with a variety of logic and debate because depends on interpretation of the question.

 

I feel both questions can be clarified by defining a single word. What do you mean by “sound” or “speaking”?

 

While there in a nuance between the two, I define both as an active force that travels through space or time that can/will eventually meet a listener.  God is not AN active force, but THE ever-present active force working in our lives.  While He has chosen to speak audibly to some, He has also spoken through vision, through prophets, and the ever-reverberating and active forces, His word and nature. (Heb 4:12; Psalm 19:1-6).

 

In our reading today, Elihu gives Job many examples of how God speaks not only audibly but inaudibly, through circumstance, His word, and through our brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

“But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue; My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.  The Spirit of God has made me;   the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” – Job 33:1-4

 

“For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds,he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.”  – Job 33:14-18

 

We may grow “deaf” because we have rejected Him, we may tune out certain frequencies because we have parts of our lives we are not ready to turn over to Him, but it does not mean He does not speak; it means, like Job, we have not listened.  There is always an audience for Him in moving and active creation. (Joshua 24:27).

God’s target audience is not the rocks; it is us.  He is constantly speaking in His word, through his pastors, in the sunrise, through his children, and yes, audibly.  Slow down.  Stop even.  Make time.  Ponder.  Pray.  Seek.  Perceive His wisdom, warnings, and wonders.  Today, make time to listen.

-Aaron Winner