A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Lebanon County backyard gazebo and pond
"Choose To Listen"
Message summary: Today may God help each of us to truly listen to His message and heed His words as we wholeheartedly serve Him. Let us be on guard against the peril of being "Listening Impaired". Let us choose to listen.
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“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).
Brooksyne and I wonder if we are starting to get a little hard of hearing, which is somewhat expected as people age. But I had a hearing test several years ago and was told my hearing is fine although the audiologist did inform me, "There is some loss of hearing in the frequency range of the female voice" which may account for some communication challenges in our home.
We took care of my mother in our home during her final years before she passed away in November 2005. Many are at a season in life where they personally care for or oversee the care given to an elderly parent and it is a regular topic of discussion in our chaplaincy. It can be a real challenge for parent and child. Mom had many physical difficulties her last year.
But we do recall many humorous moments and years later we find ourselves missing them. 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 with exasperation and in all seriousness, “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 as well.
But let me extend a challenging question: 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 frequently 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 the people listened or refused to listen.”
In the English we properly make a distinction between hearing and listening. One can hear without listening. By "hearing" 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. She had a condition in aging commonly referred to as hearing impaired.
But today let us consider the peril of being "listening impaired".
The Hebrew word for "listen" in our daily Bible 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: "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 needed word of encouragement for preachers and all faithful witnesses today. We may get discouraged at those who show no indication of listening made visible by their lack of application. Nevertheless let us earnestly expound God’s Word or regularly give a witness for Christ.
Today may God 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 the peril of being "Listening Impaired". Let us choose to listen.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen and 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 choose to listen, to heed, and to be steadfast in our 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 so many 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 or texting on their phone. I wonder if that’s how God feels (if we try to "humanize" Him) when everything else is given priority over our time alone with Him so that we intentionally listen for His direction.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Yesterday we shared a video link of a group of Zimbabweans singing "The Blessing". Our Zimbabwean friend Tobekile wrote, "Thank you for the link. Isn't that wonderful. This song was composed by different Zimbabwean musicians. We know some of them close but others from a distant. Very powerful music, thank you for sharing."
Today we share a link of the same song prepared by the church in Malaysia and dedicate it to Laifong, a Malaysian friend. Video Laifong and her husband Nigel were a part of our congregation in New England and were the very first recipients of a Daily Encouragement email devotional in 1996. After nearly 25 years we still stay in touch. What a joy that they are staying faithful to each other and to the Lord! Both have scientific doctorates; Nigel a PhD in electrical engineering and Laifong a PhD in molecular biology, both from Princeton where they met at Chi Alpha, a campus ministry group. It was a joy to speak to Laifong on the phone this morning and catch up. She told me she had already been listening to the video.
"He's Been Faithful" Video TaRanda and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Brooksyne's note: This has been a favorite of mine for at least 25 years when I led directed our choir in Taunton, MA and Joanne Larrimore was the soloist. Carol Cymbala, director of the Brooklyn Tabernacle introduces this song that she wrote and in a very moving testimony. TaRanda is an amazing soloist clearly empowered and gifted by God as she sings "He's Been Faithful".
"Psalm 34" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir What a powerful song! We wonder when the choirs will be able to sing again? For sure, we expect to hear choirs in heaven!
Yesterday we visited with Ken and Audrey Mull, friends in Lebanon County, and enjoyed their large fish pond. (The lead photo is the gazebo setting and here is the up-close of the fish pond.) It is a most beautiful and relaxing setting!
In the afternoon we stopped by Roots Farm Market to visit with my brother and his wife who are camping in the area. What an unexpected surprise to run into Pastor John and Faithe Keefer whom we visited with for a few minutes. Temps were in the 80's so it was a very warm setting as we walked the grounds. We hunkered down for a few minutes here as the fan (or what reminded Brooksyne of the water cooler of her youth, seen above left) cooled us down.
Today is Pat and Laverne's 48th wedding anniversary and of course they have to get creative with the restaurants being closed. Yesterday he bought her a funnel cake! Here's a better photo of them from last year on our front porch.
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