THE RARE ART OF LISTENING…….Read Psalm 81

One of the main points of Psalm 81 has to do with a very rare experience in life–listening.  Whether it’s you or me listening to someone else, or someone else listening to us–it’s something hard to come by in life.  Just listening or being listened to.  I mean without all the distractions, all the thoughts that enter our minds that interfere with a concentrated listening experience.  You know what I mean?  Ever talk with someone who just can’t wait to jump in with their own examples or experiences –always greater or more severe than your own?  Or asks you the same question 3 or 4 times letting the cat-out-of-the-bag that they were far away from any listening to you?  One of my dear members in a previous church would write long letters to me inspired by my Sunday sermon. Was I really that thought-provoking and profound?   This person so wanted me to know that the message had been well heard. Listening had certainly happened.   Each week I’d read a new letter, and each week I’d get quite a chuckle out of what I was reading for the points this member was making had absolutely no relation whatsoever to anything I had said in  my Sunday sermon.  Nothing even remotely close to what I had been saying! And I mean nothing!   Listening had not happened–not at all.   In reading Psalm 81 you discover that listening is what God does for us…and what He wishes from us.  Verse 7 says, ‘In distress you called, and I delivered you;  I answered you…’ And in verse 8 He says, ‘Hear, O my people…if you would be listen to me!’  His people cried out to Him and He answered them.  But, no, His voice has not been heard by His people.  The Bible may be the most purchased book annually,  but the knowledge of it almost anywhere (in society, novels, media, politics, wherever, and sadly among Christians and their pastors  in our churches)  diminishes dramatically with each passing year.  As believers, are we listening to our God?  Spending more time in His Word than less?  Bringing those verses and stories from our Bibles and letting them enter into our every day life…from the distant past  to the here-and-now,  from thousands of years ago to right this very moment, where I’m living and struggling and joyful and fearful and loving and needy.  Really listening to our Lord.  The choir of my last church, the United Christian Church, that has generously honored me with the title of ‘Pastor Emeritus’, sang a wonderful song entitled, ‘Listen, Jesus is Calling You’.  I loved to sing it with the choir.  The message was precious–calling us, all of us who know the Lord, to listen to Him.  Simply and honestly, to listen to Jesus. After all,  He said we would,  if we were really His own.  In John 10, verse 3, Jesus says, ‘The sheep hear His voice, and He knows His own sheep by name and leads them out.’  It may be a rare art, this business of listening, but we can and really must listen to our Good Shepherd.  He knows us intimately…even by name.  And He leads us. He knows the best pasture land of all.  He knows where Heaven is and He’ll lead us there some day.  That’s what the Good Shepherd does for all His flock.  All He asks of us, in the meantime, is to listen…’to hear His voice’. And to follow.   Can you hear Him?

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