Monday, 7 May 2012

Listening and Obeying

One morning I was reading a parable in Luke’s Gospel.  I looked down and read this in the explanatory notes at the foot of the page. “Jesus often communicated spiritual truth through parables – short stories or descriptions that take a familiar object or situation and give it a startling new twist.  By linking the known with the hidden and forcing listeners to think, parables can point to spiritual truths. A parable compels listeners to discover the truth for themselves and it conceals the truth from those too lazy or dull to understand it.”(Life Application Bible)

Boy did this get me thinking!  Dull?  Lazy? Why would Jesus want to conceal the truth from anyone?  Jesus knew the heart of everyone who was there to listen to him that day.  He knew there were followers, seekers, spectators, agitators, procrastinators, lovers of truth, and lovers of self.  Why did he conceal the truth from some? I then found my way to John 11:45-46, intrigued by the different responses of people who witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.  But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” 

Witness A put their faith in Jesus after seeing him raise Lazarus from the dead.  Witness B went and ‘told on’ Jesus to his opponents, so making trouble after witnessing the very same miracle as witness A. Unbelievable! It would appear that some people can be confronted head on by the truth and yet be too blind to see it.  Does that make you frown? How could people be so blind to such miracles?  

Ravi Zacharias said “A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence.  A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”  This seems to me to be the only logical conclusion. We can be confronted head on by the truth and through pride, be too blind to see it. 

I can only hope that in sharing my challenge in this area, that you too will be moved and challenged. God isn’t brutal with me. He gently urges me to grow. I hope these few words will do the same for you. I’d hate to bully you.  If it feels that way, I apologise. Excitement bubbles when God teaches me something and ‘one’ can get somewhat enthusiastic when sharing it!!

God’s been at me lately about hearing and understanding truth, yet letting it sit in the vacuum of my heart without it seeping into my life.  I hear it. I get it, but do I let it get me?  We can listen to a wonderful sermon that should give us reason for change but then just let it lie.  Do you get what I’m saying here?  Am I alone in this “hibernating sermon” phenomenon?  It’s commonly called head knowledge and I have to let you know that as scary as this sounds to my ears, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of just being a listener.  It’s so easy for us to get affected by a sermon while it’s being preached but then just let it slide after the service is over. Sure we do it in a ‘Christian way’ though. We end up still looking good. I mean we were at church, listening to the sermon and we even took notes, but really we are avoiding Jesus’ word to our hearts. We busy ourselves after church, then the week starts and before we know it, it’s Sunday again and we’ve thought no more about what we heard. 

Hopefully all the teachers you listen to, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are scattering the seed of the Word of God in your life. The question we should ask is, are we preparing the soil of our hearts to better receive that seed?   Dallas Willard once said “God ordained that people should be governed in the end by what they want.” Do you want to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ?  God the Father adores Jesus Christ. He lavishes His love on him, so much so that He wants children growing like him, modelling him, immersed in him, because Jesus is so amazing.  Is that what you want?  That’s a good question to be rattling around in our heads.  Do you and I want to live our lives in a state of ‘as is’ or do we want to grow and flourish? If we are governed at the end of the day by what we want, is what we want worthy of our calling as Christians? 

So where to from here?  I’ve read books where they are good at telling me what I am doing wrong, yet I feel they fail to give me direction on how to change.  Maybe it’s a case of giving a biblical principle for us to follow, but forgive me, I need a process. A ‘how to’.  I guess this can also get a little scary as then we get into ‘fix it’ mode and forget it’s all about God’s grace working in us, not just us trying hard to tick the boxes.  So I’ll try to give some ideas for change that will hang loosely; Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  We can so easily talk ourselves out of change, “I nearly do that, so I’m close enough”. “Well I’m okay really, my strengths are in other areas”. “I have bigger issues to sort out.”  If you get challenged by the Lord, trust Him, it’s important. Don’t try and excuse yourself. Then stop and think on it.  Joshua 1:8 talks about meditating day and night.  Stop and think on it.  If you have to get some time away from the busyness of life, then do it.  What is more important than God speaking to you through His Word? Nothing, that’s what. Absolutely ziltch!!  Pray and ask God to make things click in your head and heart and take some time to be quiet in His presence. 

3 simple points. 1. No excuses, 2. Think on it, 3. Pray and listen. 

Now it’s time to put into practise what we have been thinking together about. Have you heard a good sermon lately?  Been challenged for change? Don’t avoid another week of change. Remember God loves you enough to challenge you to move forward and grow not to stay ‘as is’.
Lord may we each be open to you, not dull and lazy toward the truth.

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