Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Listen Up

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

21st October 2012

There’s a great story of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who on one occasion got tired of smiling and saying the usual things that are said 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 simply smiled 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, "Mr. President, I'm sure she had it coming to her."

This story is symptomatic of the all-too-common fact that we do not take the time to listen to what other people have to say.

It is a wise truism that as we have two ears but only one mouth; we should listen twice as long as we speak. This is a point picked up by Jesus' brother James:

‘My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires’. (James 1:19-20)

James then goes on to say something profound:

‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says’. (V.22)

James' comments throughout this chapter provide us with a fair idea of the kind of life a Christian should live.

We are to have a positive attitude to the difficulties of life; know where to turn for help and guidance; have control of our tongue; listen to God and do what He says.

It is so important, therefore, that in our prayer life we cultivate the practise of listening, for it is in that time of silence and reflection that God will speak to us, but we must give Him the time.

As Mother Teresa once said, "If we really want to pray, we must first learn to listen, for it is in the silence of the heart God speaks."

So often we rush through our prayers with a quick Amen, and move on to what we’ve got to do.

Yet this need to listen was one of the commands given by God when Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain where the transfiguration occurred:

‘After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:1-5).

Why not take some time during the coming week to read the following passages and listen to what God is saying.
  • Read Deuteronomy 5:1–33 (key verse 1). Listening to God is the first step toward obeying him
  • Read 1 Kings 19:1–18 (key verses 12-13). Listening for God is training in humility. Elijah knew that the sound of the gentle whisper was God’s voice. He realised that God doesn’t reveal himself only in powerful, miraculous ways. Are you listening for God? Step back from the noise and activity of your busy life, and listen humbly and quietly for his guidance. It may come when you least expect it.
  • Read Mark4:1-20 (key verses 11-12). We hear with our ears, but there is a deeper kind of listening with the mind and heart that is necessary in order to gain spiritual understanding from Jesus’ words. Some people in the crowd were looking for evidence to use against Jesus; others truly wanted to learn and grow. Jesus’ words were for the honest seekers.
  • Read Luke5:12-16 (key verse 16). People were flocking to hear Jesus preach and to have their diseases healed, but Jesus made sure he often withdrew to quiet, solitary places to pray. It was a habit. Many things clamour for our attention, but like Jesus, we should take time to withdraw to a quiet and deserted place to pray. Strength comes from God, and we can be strengthened only by spending time with him.
  • Read James1:19-27 (key verses 19-20). When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. James wisely advises us to reverse this process.

Have a good week listening to God.

Pastor Barry

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