I am sitting in my garden pondering these Scriptures in the Gospel of Mark and I realized there was a time in my life when everything was just plain confusing and no matter what I did; it seemed to be messed up. Ever been there?
Why couldn’t I get things right? Why were my relationships hurting? Why was I having a hard time at work, at school, and at home? The “why” I figured out was because I was not a good listener. I was growing up, moved out on my own, started directing my destiny, and I thought I had it all figured out! NOT! It was a hard lesson to learn.
Jesus tells us about this. He talks to this crowd and exhorts them to listen. He is strongly telling them that what he is about to say is important. The result of good listening is the application of what was taught. Not just the knowledge of it. Jesus talks about sowing the seeds of the Gospel message. If we can apply the lessons of Jesus to our lives, the result will be blessing.
Jesus was teaching beside the sea. An enormous crowd gathered around him, so large that he realized he needed to get into a boat and position himself a short way from shore. This would amplify his voice. When Jesus talks, I always want to listen. But when I was younger, sometimes even now, I listen to the wrong voices. Through the lessons of Jesus, I want desperately to listen to his voice above even my own. Amplify his voice in your world and life.
Jesus is in this boat now, about to teach an important lesson, and we should listen. I wish I could have been there. This lesson is one of many he taught that day. The writer, Mark, did not record most of them here, but this lesson, this parable, stuck out. Jesus exhorts them to listen: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.” ~~ Mark 4:3
We will talk soon in the next devotional about the actual parable or lesson that Jesus wants them and us to hear. As Pastor Phil has mentioned before, in Scripture, there are often lessons inside of lessons. But today, the lesson of listening is on my mind as I sit in the garden.
There is an art to “listening”. Have you ever noticed that you have two ears and only one tongue? You have probably heard this before. Think about it, maybe listening for the truth and applying it is more important than telling yourself that you know all the truths in life. I also saw this lesson in an African parable: “maybe we should listen twice as much as we speak.” I believe all truth comes from Jesus.
If Jesus is the ultimate teacher of life, then why aren’t we listening? In my life, I paid a price for not taking the time to listen. Things just turned out wrong! People tell me often, “well, I don’t have the time to pray, to talk to God every day, or to study my Bible”. HELLO, this is a big part of listening to the ultimate teacher in this thing called LIFE.
Here is what I say: I have found that if it is important to me, I find the time, and if you know me, I LIVE A VERY BUSY LIFE! Our garden, our home, my calling, our kids—kids will keep you busy! Not having the time is an excuse. Sorry to hit home hard, it really hit me hard, if I really value something, I make the time!
I listen to Jesus by reading what he says. I believe that the best time to dig into the wisdom of God’s Word is the morning time. Is there too much to do when you first get up (the kids, and getting ready for work)? Go to bed a little earlier and transpose that time to the morning (get up a little earlier before everyone else does). I started righting these thoughts at 4 am this morning, LOL.
If we don’t listen to Jesus, we often run around in circles blindly, getting way off track and wonder what went wrong. When we take the time to listen, we find the path and find true purpose and understanding in life.
The key to listening to Jesus is not only to learn but also to apply what we have heard from his mouth in Scripture! Makes sense, doesn’t it? But, oh, how often we forget this part. All the knowledge in the world is useless if we don’t apply it to our lives. The Bible (Old and new Testaments) is clear enough to understand if we truly WANT to understand it, yet obscure enough if we want to tune it out. Anything in life worth having starts with desire. If you have the desire to listen to God and the desire to apply His wisdom to your life, it will surprise you at how clear His wisdom becomes, as well as how clear your life becomes. I consider that blessing.
Listening has three requirements. TIME (make it), CONCENTRATION (think about it), and the third is the most important: APPLICATION (do it). Your life will change, and confusion will rarely rear its head (and when it does, we’ll have learned to “listen” to Jesus and often, we will lay confusion to rest.
Maybe we SHOULD listen to Jesus twice as much as we speak. That’s why we have two ears! Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11, verse 15: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Again, he was putting emphasis on the importance of what he was saying.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, knew this, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” ~~ James 1:19
James is full of practical wisdom, by the way. He learned these things from Jesus. James also said, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” ~~ James 1:22-25
There is that result of blessing again. There are lessons upon lessons in the words of Jesus. In the chaos of this world, he is someone I want to listen to!