Our word for today is "listen," and it's one of the most important - and overlooked - words in the Christian faith. It's a word that is central to our understanding of God. How can we have a relationship with someone, including God, if we never listen to what they have to say? How can we know what someone, even God, wants from us or for us if we don't listen? Deuteronomy 6:4 says, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." This verse forms the basis of what is known as the Jewish Shema, a prayer recited twice daily that affirms the unity of God and acknowledges God's sovereignty. But it opens with a command to "hear."
Listening, however, is more than just hearing. What good does it do if I hear what you have to say, but don't respond in any way? Listening to God involves hearing and responding. We hear, then we do. In the New Testament, Jesus's parables teach important lessons about listening to God. In the Parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13, Jesus compares the listener to soil where seeds are planted: some soil hears and responds to God's Word and bears fruit (seeds take root and grow), but other soil - for a variety of reasons - does not and the seed dies. In John 10:27-28, Jesus says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me."
Lent is a time to listen to God more closely. Listening involves more than just reading the Bible or attending church. It requires an active and attentive heart and an open mind that is receptive to God's voice and leading. One practical way to listen to God is through prayer and meditation. Here's something to try: Read a passage from the Bible and then try and put yourself inside those verses. What do they mean for you right now? Can you hear God's voice? Here's an example for today. Think about these verses from Proverbs 3: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean (depend) on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge (listen to) him, and he will make your paths straight." I invite you to listen to these words today with your heart and mind and hear the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
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