Listen to God?! We don’t even listen to each other! Seriously friends, we talk a good line about care and compassionate understanding while our minds are really thinking about how we are going to answer whoever is talking with our opinions and desires. We are skillful at looking intently into the eyes of another but be thinking we are on island somewhere sipping a cool drink. It happens in staff meetings, family reunions, church, and any other place where a human speaks with another.
As a teacher of young students, I poured my heart out one day to a reading group about how to form words into sentences. After my “dissertation,” one of my first graders, who I thought was intently watching me speak the whole time, giving me confidence as teacher, said to me, “Mrs. Callaway, that is a beautiful necklace!” Sigh. You begin to know who is truly listening and who is not.
Listening is an art that is skillfully learned and perfected with practice. It requires our minds engaged, not in ourselves, but in others and what they are saying. It requires looking into someone’s eyes while noticing how they are saying their words so that true understanding can take place. A great listener is quiet, does not interrupt, isn’t thinking about how they will respond tritely, or how they will arrogantly change the topic altogether. A good listener truly hears what the other person is saying from their heart. A true listener can repeat exactly what the other person is saying to clarify understanding between hearts. A caring listener hears what they are not saying.
True listening can change a life or destroy it.
Pharoah is not listening to God through Moses. Death will change the lives of all Egyptians, including Pharoah, as a result.
Exodus 11, The Message
Strike Ten: Death
11 God said to Moses: “I’m going to hit Pharaoh and Egypt one final time, and then he’ll let you go.When he releases you, that will be the end of Egypt for you; he won’t be able to get rid of you fast enough.
2-3 “So here’s what you do. Tell the people to ask, each man from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor, for things made of silver and gold.” God saw to it that the Egyptians liked the people. Also, Moses was greatly admired by the Egyptians, a respected public figure among both Pharaoh’s servants and the people at large.
4-7 Then Moses confronted Pharaoh: “God’s Message: ‘At midnight I will go through Egypt and every firstborn child in Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl working at her hand mill. Also the firstborn of animals. Widespread wailing will erupt all over the country, lament such as has never been and never will be again. But against the Israelites—man, woman, or animal—there won’t be so much as a dog’s bark, so that you’ll know that God makes a clear distinction between Egypt and Israel.’
8 “Then all these servants of yours will grovel before me, begging me to leave, ‘Leave! You and all the people who follow you!’ And I will most certainly leave.”
Moses, seething with anger, left Pharaoh.
9 God said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s not going to listen to a thing you say so that the signs of my presence and work are going to multiply in the land of Egypt.”
10 Moses and Aaron had performed all these signs in Pharaoh’s presence, but God turned Pharaoh more stubborn than ever—yet again he refused to release the Israelites from his land.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESOND?
God had promised Abraham that his descendants would leave Egypt with great wealth (Genesis 15:14), and he repeated that promise to Moses (Exodus 3:21, 22). God had given His servant Moses great respect among the Egyptians, and now He would give the Israelites great favor with the Egyptians, who would freely give their wealth to them.
Listen to what God says, for His promises are true and will happen in His time in His ways.
In most cultures, firstborn sons are considered special, and in Egypt, they were considered sacred. We must remember that God calls Israel his firstborn son. At the very beginning of their conflict, Moses warned Pharaoh that the way he treated God’s firstborn would determine how God treated Egypt’s firstborn.
Listen to what God says, for His words are true.
When we read the Book of Genesis, we learned that God often rejected the firstborn son and chose the next son to carry on the family line and receive God’s special blessing. God chose Abel, and then Seth, but not Cain; He chose Shem, not Japheth; Isaac, not Ishmael; and Jacob, not Esau.
These choices not only magnify God’s sovereign grace, but they are a symbolic way of saying that it is not our first birth that makes us right with God. We must experience a second birth, a spiritual birth, before God can accept us (John 1:12, 13; 3:1–18)., because of our first birth, we inherit Adam’s sinful nature and are lost, but when we experience a second birth through faith in Christ, we receive God’s divine nature and are accepted in Christ.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
Listen to God calling you and others to believe and be saved from sin, to be free from hold sin has on our lives.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6
As we call out to our Father God, He listens! He hears every word on our lips before we speak from our minds. He also hears our hearts.
Listen to God’s Spirit living in us, growing us in His character, like Peter teaches us—
“This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1-8, NLT
To know God is to be still, let go of all other thinking and really listen to God. We will discover that perfecting our listening to God perfects our listening to each other!
Help me to remove all that hinders my listening to you and to others. Help me to be still and really listen to you seeking your understanding each morning. I don’t want to fall behind or step ahead in walking with you. I want to be by your side, holding your hand, while knowing you are all around me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to my words and my heart.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen