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All Those Who Were Listening

While Billy Joel refers to honesty as such a lonely word in his 1979 song, teachers often feel the same way about listening.  As a former high school teacher who spent a decade standing in front of teenagers, rarely did I grab the attention of an entire class.  This became apparent during each chapter review prior to the next text as only a handful of students were prepared.  At some point during my lectures, these informed students were attentive, able to concentrate or kept an open ear to what I was presenting.  While uniformed students may cram their way toward a good grade, all those who are consistently listening receive blessings from God.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message [confirming God’s acceptance of Gentiles]. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, Acts 10:44-45.

While interviewing Peter about an encounter with Gentiles, Luke narrows in on the power of listening.  Based upon Peter’s recollection of this day, not everyone in the audience was listening to his sermon.  This became obvious when those talking in the back or whispering on the side did not receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Whether the words above are a direct quote from Peter or an observation made by Luke the author, “the Holy Spirit only fell on those who were listening.”  While not mentioned, the rest of the crowd sat around dumbfounded, likely disappointed that they missed this blessing from God.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied up until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is [the fulfillment of] Elijah [as the messenger] who was to come [before the kingdom]. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words, Matthew 11:13-15.

When John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, a delegation of John’s disciples was sent to Jesus to make sense of his earthly ministry.  John’s disciples wanted to know if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.  Thus, as these men approached Jesus, they hung on every spoken word.  Following a tribute to John the Baptist, Jesus ends his comments with a plea to listen.  Based upon the quote above, there are two types of listening: casual and responsive.  Jesus doesn’t want people to nod in agreement.  Rather, God desires followers of Christ to become doers of the Word by putting Jesus’ advice into action.  Blessings will bestowed upon all those who are attentively listening.

by Jay Mankus

Before God’s Presence Appears

Most Americans have become spoiled, expecting a response at the snap of their fingers.  Subsequently, when people go out to eat, go to a show or make a significant purchase, they want perfection.  When disappointed by a product or service, heads will roll and reputations will be harmed if these individuals don’t get their way.  If this is how a growing number of citizens are responding, its no wonder God is waiting to appear until faith and actions coexist.

The book of Leviticus consists of a conversation God had with Moses while on Mount Sinai in Exodus.  As I recently read through Leviticus, a pattern forms throughout the first 8 chapters, “God said to Moses.”  Following these instructions, Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord told Moses.  However, it wasn’t until Leviticus 9:4 before God’s presence appears before Israel.  Thus, this passage suggests God is waiting for his children to carefully follow the Bible’s commands prior to being accompanied by blessings, Deuteronomy 28:2.

While some may say, “what are you waiting for,” others are trying to twist the Bible to conform to their own beliefs.  As for me, a lack of results makes the obvious seem clear once again, “be doers of the word, not just hearers,” Matthew 7:24-27.  Once I realign my priorities to Matthew 6:33, God promises to provide for my daily needs.  Therefore, if you are hungry and thirsty to experience God’s presence, listen to words of Jesus like Aaron followed Moses.

Let us know when you’ve encountered God’s presence.

by Jay Mankus

 

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