Saturday, February 23, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

"Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have." Luke 8:18

I read about a lady who had a hearing problem. One day she and her husband were driving from Tennessee to Little Rock, Arkansas. They were pulled over by a state trooper who asked if the husband knew how fast he was driving.

The wife asked, "What did he say?"

The husband replied, "HE ASKED IF I KNEW THAT I WAS SPEEDING."

Looking at the driver’s license the trooper said, "I see you’re not from around here."

The husband said, "No, we are from Memphis."

The wife again asked, "What did you say?"

The husband told her, "I SAID, WE ARE FROM MEMPHIS."

The state trooper then commented, "You know, the meanest woman I ever met was from Memphis."

The wife again asked, "What did he say?"

The husband replied, "HE SAYS HE THINKS HE KNOWS YOU!"

How many of you think that you are good listeners? They tell us women tend to be better listeners than men are. Husbands are notorious for being poor listeners. We are all familiar with the scene of a husband reading the newspaper while his wife is trying to talk. His response is "Yes, dear. Uh-huh. Mmmm. Is that so?" But we all know he’s not really listening. Suddenly she pulls down the paper and says, "Have you heard a word I’ve said?"

Two men were talking one day. One of them said, "My wife talks to herself a lot." His friend answered, "Mine does, too, but she doesn’t know it. She thinks I’m listening."

Too often, we feel that we are listening what God is saying to us but we really hear only what we want to hear.

God desires to speak to us. He desires to reveal His will to us, and to be actively involved in leading us. Jesus declares that He came to reveal the truth and not to hide it. The warning Christ gives in is in reference to hearing that truth and what you do with it after having heard it. How you listen and what you do with it will determine what you receive.

Someone said it’s the Law of Use: "Use It or Lose It." How can you expect to keep your powers of hearing when you never want to listen? That God should have time for you, you seem to take as much for granted as that you cannot have time for Him.

Proverbs 8:34 "Blessed is the man that hears me..."

Four Types of Hearers

1. Care-Less Hearers –

Luke 8:12 "Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and
takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved."

The message goes in one ear and out the other. They could care less what they hear. It is possible for us to hear with our physical ears and not hear with our ears of understanding.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile and saying the usual things at all those White House receptions. So, one evening he decided to find out whether anybody was paying attention to what he was saying. As each person came up to him with extended hand, he flashed that big smile and said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." People would automatically respond with comments such as "How lovely!" or "Just continue with your great work!" Nobody listened to what he was saying, except one foreign diplomat. When the president said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning," the diplomat responded softly, "I’m sure she had it coming to her."

Matthew 13:13 "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."

There are those who make the mistake to imagine that by simply hearing first one preacher and then another they can derive benefit to their souls! Such hearing profits little.

You can go from banquet room to banquet room, and the sight of the tables of food will never relieve your hunger.

What matters is not to just hear but to have and hold the truth personally and inwardly. If you don’t see to this, you will die in your sins, even if ten thousand voices direct you to the way of salvation or even if you’re able to recite the bible.

Charles Spurgeon said:"It is a tragedy that the bulk of hearers are hearers only, and are no more likely to go to heaven than the pews they sit on in the churches across this land."

2.Superficial Hearers –

Luke 8:13 "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation (testing) fall away."

He hears, believes and receives the Word of God in respect to forgiveness and redemption – but fails to clearly hear what the word declares concerning the Lord’s call to discipleship. They fail to count the cost, to consider the extent of the commitment, self-denial, sacrifice to which the Lord calls His disciples. They never apply themselves to gain a fuller or deeper knowledge of Christ, to discern His will, to become rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

Matthew 24:12 "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of
many shall wax cold."

Neil Postman in "Amusing Ourselves to Death", Christianity Today, Vol. 38, No. 10 – "I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether."

John 12:25-26 "He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor."

Matthew 16:24-26 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

3. Carnal Hearers

Luke 8:14 "And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."

This person receives the Word and honestly tries to live for Christ. He joins in church activities and professes Christ in his daily walk. The problem is that he is unwilling to sever himself from the world. He lives a double life trying to live for Christ while living for the world. He brings forth fruit but his fruit never matures.Christians who compromise can never evangelize the world.

James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Dwight L Moody said: – "There are very few who in their hearts do not believe in God, but what they will not do is give Him exclusive right of way... They are not ready to promise full allegiance to God alone. Many a professing Christian is a stumbling block because his worship is divided. On Sunday, he worships God; on weekdays, God has little or no place in his thoughts."

I John 2:15 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

4. Sincere Hearers –

Luke 8:15 "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

At the beginning of his reign, King Solomon prayed one superior gift from God. Not wealth, not long life, but something far more valuable--he asked for "an understanding heart," which translated a hearing heart.

1 Kings 3:9 "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"

He asked, we say, for wisdom. But the genius of wisdom ... is the ability to open a room in one’s heart for the talk.

John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:"

John 8:31-32 "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Those who are closest to Christ are those who hear and obey –

Luke 8:21 "And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it."

They hear and do! The deepest relationship is not determined by blood, but by hearts and minds meshed together. The person closest to God is the person who obeys God and takes His Word seriously.

John 14:21, 23 "He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him... Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
1 John 2:24 "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father."

In our passage, this morning, Jesus says that when we hear the word, we become accountable. If we hear the Word and make good use of it, we shall benefit from it and the opportunity for greater knowledge and grace will come. If we hear the Word and do not make good use of it, we will not only not benefit from the Word we hear but will lose out on the blessings we now enjoy. We will go spiritually backwards rather than forwards.

How to Hear.

This morning, I am going to discuss with you how we should properly hear the Word if we want to derive spiritual benefits from it and pave the way for greater blessings.

  • With Longing

1 Peter 2:2 "like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation."

The Apostle says that we need to hunger for the Word of God as a baby hungers for milk. A healthy baby instinctively hungers for milk and demands it often. If that baby does not feed on milk, it will quickly become malnourished. Its development will be diminished. The little one will eventually die.

  • With Faith
Hebrews 4:2 "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard."

The writer of Hebrews is talking about the Israelites whom God delivered from Egyptian slavery. He brought them into the desert of Sinai and gave them His word. They received the good news that if they trust and obey God’s Word, they will be given the ‘promised land.’ On the other hand, they were told that if they should fail to trust and obey, they would never get to their desired destination.

The writer says that we are now in a similar situation. God has delivered us from the kingdom of Satan and slavery to sin. He has given us His Word. We have received in that Word the good news that if we trust and obey, we will reach the spiritual ‘promise land’ - heaven. On the other hand, we have been told that should we fail to trust and obey, we will never reach heaven.
We need to realize that hearing the Word or reading the Word will not profit us in our lives unless we believe what we hear or read. That is, we will derive no advantages or blessings from the Word unless we place our complete trust and confidence in it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 "And for this reason we also constantly thank God that
when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the
word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its
work in you who believe."

The Word works on our hearts and minds and lives only if we believe what it says. It will not bring any blessings into our lives unless it is received with faith. Faith says - ‘I believe what I am hearing to be true and because I believe it to be true I will begin to act on it.’

Ezekiel 33:30-32 "But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, ’Come now, and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people, and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. And behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not practice them."

Proverbs 16:20 "He who gives attention to the word shall find good, And blessed
is he who trusts in the Lord."

  • With Humility

After receiving the Word with faith, the next most important way in which we must hear the Word is with humility.

James 1:21 "In humility receive the word…which is able to save your souls."

It takes humility to accept a message which says that you are a no good sinner. It takes humility to openly receive a message that says that you need to be told how to live your life. It takes humility to accept counsel which tells you that you got to change your attitudes, your ways of thinking, your speech and your behavior.

Proverbs 11:2 "With the humble is wisdom."

Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he
who listens to counsel."

The truth is: if you are not teachable, you are not saveable. In order to be saved, you must be humble. Humility begins by being willing to accept the instruction, the correction and reproofs found in the Word and to apply them to our lives.

Proverbs 10:17 "He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who
forsakes reproof goes astray."
  • With Love For The Truth

This day was predicted by the Spirit of God.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth."
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them
that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be
saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should
believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had
pleasure in unrighteousness."

Paul says that if we do not love the truth and seek it at all costs, but turn to those who teach a false Christianity because we take pleasure in wickedness, God will send upon us a deluding influence that will cause us to believe in false teachings and practices. If we reject the truth, God will see to it that we will have access to falsehood and cause us to accept it to our own destruction. That is one reason why we need to hear the Word with an intense love of the truth. No matter what the truth may be or what it might demand of us, we should value it above all else.

Proverbs 23:23 "Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding."
  • With Study

Acts 17:11 "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so."

The Apostle Paul came to preach the Gospel to these Jews. Thus, the people were taught by the most famous apostle and theologian of the early church, and the human author of at least 13 New Testament books. Yet, they searched the Scriptures when Paul taught, to see if his teaching was truly Biblical! They would not accept Paul’s word at face value, but wanted to know if these things were so. Its not that they were skeptics or cynics. It says they "received the word with great eagerness." They had open hearts….but, they also had clear minds. In their eagerness, they were not careless to accept anything that just sounded good. They were diligent to make sure that they would not receive anything that was not consistent with the Scriptures….not just with some Scriptures but with all of the Scriptures.

  • Implant the Word

James 1:21 "In humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves."

James says, "Receive the word implanted." What does he mean? James is telling us to do everything we can to allow the message to sink deeply into our hearts and minds.

How many of you can remember the subject and chief points of the sermon that was delivered, last Sunday? When we hear a lesson or a sermon, we need to make an effort to implant into our brains. A powerful lesson or sermon is worthless unless we implant it into our brains.

Why is it so important to implant it into our brains? If we do not implant it, it will do us no good in the days ahead. We will not be able to apply it to our circumstances in the future unless we can draw it out of our hearts and minds.

James says "receive the word implanted" and then goes on to say "prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." The fact is: if you don’t implant the Word, you won’t be doers of the Word.

Let me give you a couple tips on how you can help yourself "receive the word implanted":

  1. Write down the sermon’s chief points and Scripture references and meditate on them throughout the week.
  2. Come up with one or two ways you are going to apply the principles learned and follow through with them. No method is better in implanting the Word than putting the Word into action as soon as possible.

Psalms 119:11 "Thy word I have treasured in my heart."

Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom."

Revelation 21:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Can you hear me now?


Hope said...

I just wanted you to know that I've been blessed once again by your sermon notes today.

I had to laugh about the husbands not listening to wives! I've accused my own husband so many times. Then as I read on I realize that I am guilty of the same thing with the Word of God! I realize that I need to get back to the "milk" and really listen to what the Lord is speaking to my heart.

Thank you for your message and I pray God will continue to bless your ministry here on the www.

pse said...

Thanks for writing. It is good to know you are out there. Give God the praise.
Pastor Darrell

A Romantic Porch said...

Darrell, This is a good one. I've gotten behind reading your sermons. Trying to catch up. I love the addition of the music. xoRachel