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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kudu (Photo by Kevin Walsh)
Young Kudu from Kenya Africa
"My, what big ears you have!"
(Photo by Kevin Walsh)

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"Listening Impaired"

"Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen" (Ezekiel 3:11).

We took care of my mother in our home during her final years before she passed away in November 2005.   Caring for an elderly parent can be a real challenge, for parent and child, and she had many physical difficulties her last year.

Photo of Mom and JoeyWe do recall some humorous moments though. Like many elderly she was hard of hearing but never wore hearing aids nor did she think she had any need for them. Once I was speaking to her and got progressively louder since she wasn't responding. She put her hands to her hips and said very matter of factly, "Stephen, I'm not deaf, you know! My hearing is just fine – you just need to stop mumbling."

Now in my mom's case she tried hard to listen and excelled in her attentiveness. To this day I am sure readers who knew her will testify to one of her strengths; that of expressing personal interest in people's everyday lives.  She really tried to listen but as she aged physically she just couldn't hear well. 

But let me extend a challenging question to all; How well do we listen to God and His messengers? I consider a well known preacher who for many years has had a habit of regularly punctuating his sermon, at various points, by saying to his listening audience, "Now listen." Indeed that is such an important reminder.

Today's Scripture is a call to the prophet Ezekiel to be a faithful watchman in giving God's message to the exiled people, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says…" He was to speak God's message "whether they listen or fail to listen." 

In the English we properly make a distinction between hearing and listening.  One can hear without listening.  By "hear" we mean in the physical, audiological sense.  It may even be loud but we don't necessarily listen!  My Mom had trouble with hearing, not listening.  Some are "hearing impaired" but I'm afraid a lot more are "listening impaired!"

The Hebrew word for "listen" in our passage is "shama."  It conveys the sense of hearing intelligently with implication of attention, obedience, etc.  The basic thought is that of effective hearing.  The Expository Dictionary of Bible Words makes this observation regarding this word: "The call to listen to God, which runs as a bright thread throughout the Old Testament, is a call to know what He said, to grasp the meaning of what He said, and to respond by putting God's Word into practice."  A wonderful example of this type of listening is found during a period of revival when Ezra read the Law to the people and they "listened attentively" 
(Nehemiah 8:3)

God's call to Ezekiel forthrightly acknowledges that some will listen and some won't.  That's a good word of encouragement for preachers and all faithful witnesses today. We may get discouraged at those who show no indication of listening as we seek to earnestly expound God's Word or give a witness for Christ. Many years ago I recall a man who just wouldn't receive from our ministry and quite visibly demonstrated his disinterest. He later stirred up some trouble and left the church we were serving.

Today I pray that God will help each of us to truly listen to His message and heed His words as we wholeheartedly serve Him. Let us be on our guard against being, "Listening Impaired"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, it's interesting that we often plead for Your attention and certainly expect You to listen to our prayers and You assure us through Your Word that You hear us when we call on You.  But for true fellowship to exist we too must listen to Your voice through Scripture, through fellow believers, through Your many works of creation, and through Your still small voice that beckons our attention.  You have so much to tell us that will often encourage us, sometimes reprove us, but always spur us on to good works and needed spiritual perspective as we journey here below.  Help us to listen, to heed, and to be steadfast in our daily fellowship with You.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Brooksyne's note: Attitudes that could contribute to being "listening impaired" might include, "I've already heard that a thousand times" or "Not now.  I'll deal with that later."  Many are deluged with various electronic gizmos that are first priority from the time they rise to the time they retire.  Have you ever looked forward to going out to dinner with a friend(s) so you can catch up on each other's lives only to play second fiddle to their cell phone in the car, at the dinner table, etc.  You get to feeling like you're much less important than the folks they're constantly chatting with on the phone.  I wonder if that's how God feels when everything and everyone else is given priority over our time alone with God where we intentionally listen for His direction.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"Open Our Eyes Lord"  Video  "Open our ears Lord and help us to listen" This was a popular chorus we sang back in the 80's in our church services.

In the course of preparing today's message I found this helpful resource on preaching God's Word.

Today's photo of the big-eared Kudu
is found here and was used for illustrative purposes. This is the first time I recall ever seeing this animal.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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