20190210 Sunday worship Sermon
Listening Heart (Zephaniah 3:17)
You probably all know this parable from Jesus, “The parable of the sower.”
In this parable, there are four different types of fields.
The farmer scattered the seeds and the seeds fell on these different types of fields.
Of course, the results are different.
On one place, the seed was not able to root, on the other place, the seed was able to root but not sprout, and the other field, the seed was able to root and sprout, but it was not able to fruit.
But on the good soil, the seed was able to fruit.
In the end, the important thing is the type of the field.
Interpreting this parable, many people think of the field as of our “heart.”
Our hearts are like the 4 different types of field.
When the seeds of God’s word are scattered, for someone who has hard hearts, the seeds of God’s Word are not able to root, but for someone who has a good heart, the seed of God’s Word are able to root and fruit.
Therefore, it is said that the listening hearts are very important.
Adding on, I believe that the ears, which are listening to God’s Word, are very important.
The role of the ears is to listen.
Even though we have ears, some people may close up their ears, or some open their ears, but do not listen.
But there are those who open their ears and listen carefully.
“Let he who has ears to hear, use them”
Jesus said this more than once.
We are reminded that it’s not enough just to have ears, it’s necessary to use them.
We all have ears to hear.
However, many times, we don’t use them.
We don’t listen.
It seems that we don’t want to listen.
The Bible has always placed an importance on hearing God’s voice.
The great command from God through Moses began with the words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6:4)
And Proverbs 8:34 says “Happy are those who listen to me.”
And, Jesus teaches us to learn to listen like sheep.
In John 10:3 Jesus says “The sheep recognize his voice… they follow because they are familiar with the shepherd’s voice.”
And the seven churches in Revelation is addressed in the same manner: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
There are many instances when people actually do not listen even though they are hearing.
Let me re-phrase this: their ears are opened, but they don’t listen.
Pontius Pilate didn’t listen either.
He had the typical case of ear’s, that didn’t hear.
He didn’t hear the warning from his wife, “Don’t do anything to that man, because he is innocent.” (Matthew 27:19)
He didn’t even hear Jesus’ voice.
Pilate inclined his ear only to the crowd and away from Jesus and ignored Jesus’s words.
“Faith comes from hearing…” (Romans 10:17), and since Pilate didn’t hear, he never found faith.
“Let he who has ears to hear, use them.”
How do you listen carefully to God’s voice?
How do you concentrate God’s words?
Now, I would like to re-think how well we hear the voice of God.
Due to testing how well we hear God’s voice, I would like to ask you a question:
“How long has it been since you let God have you?”
In other words, “how much do you give God an uninterrupted time listening for his voice?”
Jesus always tried to spend time with God.
Jesus spent regular time with God, praying and listening.
In Mark 1:35 it says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Luke 5:16 tells us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16)
If Jesus considered it important to clear his calendar to pray, wouldn’t we do the same?
Not only did Jesus spend regular time with God in prayer, but also spent regular time in God’s Word.
Jesus was so familiar with Scripture that he not only knew the verses, but knew how to use it.
If Jesus considered it right to grow familiar with the Bible, shouldn’t we do the same?
If we are to have ears that hear God’s voice, we need to develop two habits; the habits of prayer and Bible reading.
If we want to be like Jesus, we should have a regular time of talking to God and listening to his word.
But some of us may say, “Oh, you are talking about daily quite time? You are considering Bible study or prayer meeting? If so, those are nothing special. I have known well and tried them. But I have not been successful in them. And I am very busy. So I don’t have time to spend with God. I don’t have much time to attend the worship service or prayer meeting. There is no time to meditate with the Bible and pray to God. So rather than spend time directly with God and listening for his voice, I will let others spend time with God and then benefit from others’ experience. Let them tell me what God is saying”
What about you?
Do you agree with this approach?
If that is your approach, your spiritual experiences are secondhand and not firsthand.
I would like to challenge you with this question: “Do you do that with other parts of your life?”
I don’t think so.
What about vacation?
You don’t say, “Vacations are such a hassle, packing bags and traveling. I’m going to send someone on vacation for me. When he returns, I will hear all about it and be spared all the inconvenience.”
Would you do that?
No, that’s nonsense!
You want the experience firsthand.
You want the sights firsthand, and you want to rest on vacation, firsthand.
Certain things no one can do for you.
What about romance.
You don’t say, “I am in love with someone, but romance is such a hassle. I am going to hire someone to enjoy the romance in my place. I will hear all about it and be spared the inconvenience.”
No, it’s ridiculous.
You want the romance firsthand.
You don’t want to miss a word or a date.
Certain things no one can do for you.
What about eating?
You don’t say, “Chewing is such a bother. My jaws grow so tired. I am going to hire someone to chew my food, and I will just swallow whatever he gives me.”
Of course not. It’s disgusting!
That’s right. Certain things no one can do for us.
One of those things is spending time with God.
Listening to God is a firsthand experience.
When God asks for your attention, God doesn’t want you to send a substitute.
God wants “you.”
God invites “you” to vacation in his splendor.
God invites “you” to feel the touch of his hand.
God invites “you” to feast at his table.
Yes, God wants to spend time with “you”
And, if we have a little training, we can have great and joyful time with God.
There is a young man who married an opera singer.
His wife loves opera concerts.
But the husband has no relationship with opera.
His concern is only about sports.
He loves his wife.
So, sometimes, he attends an opera concert with his wife.
They sit side by side in the same auditorium, listening to the same music.
But their responses are different.
His wife weeps but he sleeps.
I believe that the difference is more than taste.
It is because of training.
She has spent hours learning to appreciate the art of music.
But he has spent none.
Her ears are very sensitive.
But he can’t distinguish between the pitch and tempo.
However, now he is trying to stay awake.
He may never have the same ear as his wife, but with time he is learning to listen and appreciate the music.
I believe that we can too.
Equipped with the right tools, we can learn to listen to God.
And then, what are those tools?
First, a regular time and place.
Select a distinguished time from your daily life and claim it for God.
For some it may be best to do this in the early morning.
Others may prefer the evening.
Some may prefer many encounters during the day.
Some are in the bedroom, others in the kitchen.