Absent-Minded Listening

Not Really Listening

A few days ago I was driving to a location about three hours away. While driving I had started out listening to a good Christian radio station. After a while I had lost the station and did not feel like slowly searching through the stations to find another good station to listen too.

I decided to pull over for a moment and search for a sermon to listen to online on my phone. I had found a couple that looked like they could be good to listen to, so I started playing one of them while driving.

The first sermon I listened to, I could remember what it was about afterwards. The second sermon, by the same person, after listening to it, I realized I could not remember much about it.

Car Radio

As I though about why I could not remember it, I started to realize that I was driving down the road I could hear the sermon, but my mind was not on it. My mind was thinking about other things. Thinking about things that I was seeing on the road, thinking about things that need to happen, thinking about the job, thinking about the future of things in my life, and thinking about things that had happened.

Later on I thought about what had occurred that day with listening to those sermons and how I listen in life many times. It is easy to let the mind wander around when doing something or listening to something. This causes a person to just be going through the motions of listening, but is not really listening. The ears are hearing, but the heart and mind are not hearing.

Hearing like this can occur a lot in the life of a person. On Sunday mornings, how many times does a person “hear” the sermon, but really does not hear it? He cannot remember what was talked about, he was listening with an absent mind. His thoughts are on something different.

Husbands are often guilty of this type of listening with their wives. I know I am guilty of this at times. My wife will tell me something as I am doing something else or just sitting there, but my mind is not there. Later I will ask again about that subject and she will tell me that she already told me, but I will not remember. I had heard it, but did not really hear it.

Man Not Listening

Parents can also be guilty of this with children and children with parents. Many times things are said that later a person says he never heard said. Children tell parents of their day at school, but the parent really does not hear what was said. Or the parent tells the child to do some chore, and later the child says he never heard it said.

This can also happen very easily when a person is reading the bible. Reading the words and hearing what they say are two different things. God has plenty to say in the bible, if we are just willing to listen to it as we read it.

God is also willing to speak into our lives. How many times do we pray to God for an answer to a question we have, but then do not listen to what God tells us? Sometimes it is that we do not like His answer. Other times we are not really listening for God’s voice.

We are busy searching for an answer or busy doing things in this life, so that we do not hear what God is saying. Then when He gives an answer we do not really hear it and forget it almost immediately or dismiss it as not of God.

As a believer we need to be in tune to what God is saying at all times. God spoke to Elijah in a still quiet voice on the mountain. He does not like to shout and holler His answers to us.

God Speaks In a Quiet Voice

God will speak through other people, children, creation, books, songs, and any other media. You may hear something stated in a movie, a movie that has nothing to do with God, but it speaks a truth of God, or a lie of the devil. He could be pointing out a change that must be made in your life through something you hear or see.

He loves to remind us of His love for us through creation, tells us there is hope of a new day seeing the sunrise. Reminder of provision through seeing a bird that He provides for. Clothing is provided through seeing the plants of the field. How great He is through the stars at night. His majesty through the mountains. Being fishers of men in seeing fish. And the list goes on forever.

Mountain Scene

He may also speak to you to reach out to someone who is in your path. Or to go off your path to reach out to someone.

However, in all of these ways, you must be actively listening. Too often we listen absent-mindedly. Hearing, but not really hearing what is being said. That is when we get discouraged or scared, because we are not hearing what He has to say.

I pray that in the days to come you will be an active listener of God. Seek to hear what He is saying at all times. You will be amazed at how much God is saying, if you are really listening and will apply to your life what He is saying.

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Ezekiel 40:4 The Little Details

The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen closely and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the people of Israel everything you see.” Ezekiel 40:4

Fourteen years after the fall of Israel, God had given Ezekiel brought to a high mountain in a vision, seeing Jerusalem. Ezekiel was told to pay very close attention to everything he was being shown and then to go and tell the people everything that he had seen. The specific area of Jerusalem that he was being shown was the temple courts and the temple. As he was being shown the temple, the person in the vision (believed to be pre-incarnate Jesus), measured all the areas and gave him the dimensions. The rest of this chapter shows all those details.

As people read this passage, most people thing that it is boring and wonder why God would place so much details in the text. This is especially true when one looks at it over 2,000 years later. One of the main reasons is that God is giving them the details of how the temple was to be set up when they returned from exile. The temple had been destroyed and the people would need to rebuild it.

For those reading today, it shows how God is interested in the little details. Why would God care for the exact dimensions of the building of the temple? What difference will it make if it is a few feet larger or shorter? Only God knows those answers.

However, the idea that God is interested in the little details should bring peace and joy to your life. There are little things that happen in your life each and every day. Some of those things are blessings, while other things are trials and challenges. God is interested in each one.

God is interested in what you say and do each day, even in those little mundane things that you do. Every word that you speak, God is taking into account.

As you get ready to go through your day, bring all those little things before God. See what God has to say about them. Seek out what God wants you to do each day. He is interested in your little life and has the details for you mapped out.

I pray today that you will know God’s detailed plans for you; that you will trust God’s details; that you will know God loves and cares for you; and that you will strive to follow Jesus with all of your heart. 

Isaiah 42:20 Not Paying Attention

You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen. Isaiah 42:20

God was talking to the Israelites when He made this statement. They had seen God do many miracles, they had heard the law read to them time and time again, and they heard what the prophets were saying. They knew what God wanted, yet they still rejected Him and chose to follow idols instead. The Israelites were unwilling to really see what was happening or hear what was being said.

It is very easy for a person to see what is happening and not really see what is happening. They will only see on the surface or they will ignore the signs. How many people drive down the road and ignore some of the signs? The speed limit is lowered with signs telling the driver to slow down, yet he does not slow down. Suddenly he is stopped by the police and given a ticket for speeding, all because he did not pay attention to the signs in front of him.

Many believers go to church every Sunday morning and hear the pastor preach God’s word to them. They hear the words of God, but are not really listening. As they sit in the chair ‘listening’ they are thinking about going fishing or shopping,  or the meal that day. When the service gets out, many will say it was a great sermon, but very few can tell what it was really about. They were listening without hearing.

God is speaking and doing things all the time. You must be willing to see and hear what He is up to. Jesus spoke of many signs of the times. As you go through life are you seeing those signs?

Those signs may be that a person is ready to hear about Jesus; or not to go down a path that is one of destruction; or maybe a warning of persecution about to come. God will not leave you in the dark, if you are willing to watch and listen. He will show you great things, but you must be willing to see them. He will tell you great things, but you must be willing to hear them.

Are you really listening?

Are you really seeing?

I pray today that you will have your spiritual eyes and ears open to what God is showing and saying; that you will be aware of what is happening around you in the spiritual realm; and that you will pay attention to what God is saying and doing in and around you.