“Therefore consider carefully how you listen.”
Luke 8:18a (NIV)
Jesus spoke these words after explaining the meaning behind the Parable of the Sower. The same “seed” (identified as God’s Word in v11) produces different results, depending on the condition of the soil and how the seed is received. How should we listen to God’s Word so that we may know Him intimately (v21) and experience its transforming power in our lives?
1. Retain It
Satan is bent on removing God’s Word from our hearts (v12)! He does this in various ways. He removes God’s Word from us through our inattentiveness – by depriving us of sleep and planting distracting thoughts in our minds. He also does this through our ill-will – ill feelings against the preacher or his mannerisms, worry and anxiety, anger arising from offences and unresolved conflicts, pride in thinking that the Word is not for us but for someone else, and discouragement and disappointment.
To receive and retain God’s Word, till the soil of your heart by devoting yourself to read and hear God’s Word regularly and at a conducive time when you’re fresh and alert; by purifying your heart (confessing your sins, dealing with negative emotions, putting aside distractions); by praying for revelation and illumination and for a humble, teachable and responsive heart. Retain it by paying full attention to what you read and hear, taking notes, and doing what it takes to understand it (e.g., asking questions, meditating on it and on how it applies to you, discussing it with others, and looking up commentaries).
2. Believe It
To believe God’s Word is to agree with it and trust that it is true and that God will back it up. If you don’t believe it, then Satan has effectively removed it from you and it’ll have no effect on you (Hebrews 4:2). By all means clarify your understanding of the Word, deal with your doubts, and consult others who know the Word better. But ultimately, our attitude towards God’s Word must be “God says it, I believe it, that settles it!”
3. Internalise It
To internalise God’s Word is to cause it to become an integral part of us, our attitude, belief, thinking, and conviction. The key to internalising God’s Word is in continuing to believe in it, holding to it, and persevering in it (v15) despite hardships we face, sacrifices we make (v13), and the lure of riches and pleasures (v14). Then Satan won’t be able to remove God’s Word from us.
4. Obey It
The last group of hearers in Jesus’ parable accepted the Word and produced fruit (v15). How did they produce fruit? By obeying the Word! And not just momentarily, but by persevering in obedience (v15). This then is how the Word of God will produce fruit in our lives and how we will know Him more intimately and have our lives transformed by it. Max Lucado wrote, “we are listening to God when what we read in the Bible is what others see in our lives.”
So when you read God’s Word and hear His message, seek to retain it, believe it, internalise it, and obey it. And what’s our motivation? Love for God (John 14:21).
Monday: Luke 8:12
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
Tuesday: 2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Wednesday: Acts 17:11
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Thursday: Hebrews 4:2
For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.
Friday: James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Saturday: Luke 8:15
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Sunday: Luke 8:21
“My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice.”
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures are quoted from the New International Version
By Pastor Yong Tai Tong