Sunday, May 10, 2009

“Are You listening?” (1 John 4:5-6)

S-1119 5/10/09 4SAE/3B Hymns: (O)#5; (S)# 296; L.S. #314; #642 LSB; #200 (C) #53

Texts Acts 8:26-40; 1 John 4:1-11; John 15:1-8

Theme: “Are You listening?” (1 John 4:5-6)

Question: “How is your listening skill?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “…They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6)

Saints in Christ, on April 27th 1994, I received a call from a church called Redeemer Lutheran Church, Armour, SD. I didn’t know where Armour was. However I was very excited to come and serve as your pastor (as many candidates are). After I got the call, I asked one of my colleagues who had been serving as a pastor for a year, what is the greatest advice you can give me? He said, “Listen to your people!” That’s a great advice. I pray that I have done so since I have been with you.

Listening is an art that takes time. Many people hear but don’t listen. To listen, you have to be intentional. You have to pay attention. You have to be aware of your surrounding. It is not important just to hear, but to listen; really LISTEN.

A story is told of a Native American who traveled to New York City to visit one of his friends. As he and his friend were walking down the streets, the visitor said, “I hear a cricket!” His friend said, “How can you hear a cricket in this great noise of cars and buses and people?” The visitor responded, “It all depends what you are listening for!” The visitor stopped closed his eyes and listened more intently and said, “The noise is coming from those bushes!” He and his friend walked towards the bushes, and as he pushed the leaves away the cricket ran for cover.

In the Epistle lesson for today, John tells us of the importance of listening to the voice of those who know God. Those who know God listen to Him and to His followers. John can share these thoughts with us, because as you know He was one of the inner circle of Jesus. He along with Peter and James spent many hours with their Master and Lord. He learned the art of listening because he heard Jesus teach on this subject often saying, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand’” (John 10:25-28). And again, The one who hears you hears Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me (Luke 10:16). And again, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:29).

The same close inner circle of Jesus’ disciples were invited one day to go with Him to a high mountain. There they beheld His transfiguration. But at the same time they heard the voice of God saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I Am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Mt. 17:5).

So how is your listening skill? Are you listening to the voice of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light? PAUSE.

Children of God today our nation observes and celebrates Mother’s day. It is fitting that the text for today exhorts us to listen to our mother for many a mother has said, “Are you listening to me?” They ask this question because they want their children and even their husbands to hear what they are about to say because it is important.

Sadly many don’t listen to the voice of their mothers or Mother Church. Many ignore the warnings that are given by God in His Word. Many disobey the decrees of God. Many even challenge the teachings of the Church. Who said, “Homosexuality is sin?” Who said, “Women can’t be pastors?” Who said, “There is only one way to heaven—through Jesus Christ!” Who said, “You shouldn’t get a Scriptural divorce!” Who said, “You can’t be happy pleasing and thinking only of yourself!”

There are many voices in this world that are screaming at our ears to listen to them. There are many voices that want to distract us from the truth. Satan, self and sin beckon us to listen to our thoughts and ideas instead of God’s Word.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, a few weeks ago, I preached a sermon called, “Let No One Deceive You!” That same message still applies today because there are many who attempt to deceive us to listen to the voices of the world, rather than the voice of the Savior.

Today, John speaks of God’s children who listen to the voice of their mother-the CHURCH. Those who are true children, who know the truth, are not ashamed to listen to the teachings of Christ—the teaching that reminds us how dearly we are loved by God. God’s love story is told for all who would listen.

We know of this love story. We hear it often. Many of us have learned this from our mothers. We learned it when we were children and continue to listen to it even as we grow older in years. The story of how Jesus listened to the voice of His Father. How do we know that He listened? Read the Scripture and see what it tells us. He listened to every syllable of God. He listened by suffering our punishment. He wore the crown of thorns. He took our beating. He was nailed to the cross. Jesus listened and was obedient to the will of God even to giving up His life on the cross of Calvary. There He taught us the blessing of listening to the voice of God and even now calls us to listen to His voice and to all of those who teach His commandments.

As children of God we have been listening to the voice of God ever since the waters of Baptism were sprinkled over us. By the Spirit’s power our ears have been listening to Jesus’ Words and decrees. We have come to His house often to hear Him say, “I forgive you all of your sins!” We have heard the invitation, “Come and eat, Come and drink…this is My body and My blood given for you!” We have heard the message to go out into the world and share His love. We have heard the truth that we are the beloved of the Lord. What a blessing for us to listen to the voice of the Master teacher, Jesus Christ.

For after all He is our Good Shepherd and His true sheep listen to every Word He says because it brings us to a closer walk with Him. PAUSE.

A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the 23rd Psalm. The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would recite it also. The actor’s recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis, for which he received a lengthy standing ovation. The preacher’s voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished. When he finished, there was no applause; but there also wasn’t a dry eye in the room. After the gala had concluded, someone asked the actor what made the difference. He replied, “I know the psalm, but he knows the Good Shepherd.”

When it comes to our relationship with God and our eternal well-being, the saying applies, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” By God’s grace we know the Good Shepherd; not just with knowledge of the facts but with firm and solid trust.

Jesus said, “My sheep know Me.” Consider the miracle of that statement. By nature we don’t know God. We neither know all the facts about Him, nor do we claim any relationship of faith and trust.

However, due to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; His love for us; His death and resurrection which He endured for us; we have a different picture of our loving God and Savior. Through His Gospel, God has introduced Himself to us, not as an impersonal judge but as a loving Shepherd. What a wonderful thing He has done for you. Think of all the voices crying out for your attention and allegiance. Follow me! No, follow me. Jesus tells all those forces of evil that want to make us wayward sheep, “No, My sheep know Me. They trust Me. They love Me. They listen to Me. They know that I will keep them on the road to glory in heaven.”

What a blessing for us as the Children of God, (even mothers are children too), to be in God’s house to listen to His voice yet once more and be fed again at His table and send out into the world blessed by Him because He loved us so much. Amen.

Now the peace…

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