In #26 in his series A Study of Luke, Pastor Don spoke from Luke 8:16-21.
Sometimes we don’t listen to what we hear. Our ears can become dull—that’s dangerous when God’s word is what we’re hearing. Listening requires intentionality. Intentional listening comes before learning. We have to listen to the Lord so we can do what He wants us to do, and we grow as we do what He wants us to do.
Just before these verses in Luke’s gospel, Jesus taught the people how important it is for our hearts to be fertile soil where God’s word can grow. Now He uses the metaphor of a lamp: “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:16 -17). Jesus is the light of the world, and His word exposes the darkness in us. Our sin makes us want to hide from God. But we need to respond to His teaching as He shines into our hearts, and then we can be set free from the darkness that’s in the world.
God has always urged us to listen to Him. We need to listen to Him and do what He says. We’re not perfect, but if we want to please Him more than we want to please ourselves, then we’re in the right place and our hearts are open to God’s word.
Jesus warns us about the importance of listening: “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them” (Luke 8:18). Those who listen to the word of God will grow. But those who won’t listen will lose even what they think they learned in the past. When the world and things in the world takes our time away from God, it also takes our attention away from God, so that one day we will wonder how we drifted away from the Lord when we could have enjoyed a powerful life responding to God’s teaching. Nothing is more powerful than what God teaches us in His word.
Christians need to learn to respond rightly to this world: the world can’t teach us what it doesn’t know, and it knows nothing about God. Not to listen on purpose to what God has to say is to be left in the dark.
When Jesus spoke with the great prophets Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). Jesus is the one we need to listen to.
God wants us to be so responsive to Him that we reflect His character. God’s word will turn us to the minimal self-help in the world to the momentous world of God’s help.
Jesus honored those who respond to His words; He included them in His family: “Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice’” (Luke 8:19-21).
We honor God’s words by reading them, meditating on them, memorizing them, discussing them with others, hearing them taught—and especially by believing and obeying them. They are our life!
Here are the quotes that Pastor Don used in this message:
“Where the word of God has taken root in a person’s heart, that person begins to be nurtured; more and more is given to those who are open to the things of God. But to those who are closed, whatever semblance of benefit of the things of God that person has, they are going to lose it. God does not give his gifts to be played with. This is a very sober warning from Christ” (Dr. R. C. Sproul).
“Don’t listen to your doubts; don’t listen to your fears; don’t listen to the minimizers and detractors. Listen to the Holy Spirit who points the way to the King, and take your place as part of the family of God” (Bruce Larson).