Tuesday, February 3, 2015

“Listen Carefully!” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

S-1474 4SAE/3B 2/01/2015 Hymns: (O) #5; #36; (S) #296; (C) #52

Texts: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Theme: “Listen Carefully!” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

Question: “How is your hearing?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the O. T. lesson: The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Beloved saints in Christ, we all have problem with our hearing. But this does not mean that you all need hearing aids! The problem is not mechanical. It is with who we are! We are not good listeners. We don’t know how to just sit and listen. We all try the fool’s game of multi-tasking. Perhaps you have done this: You are listening to the news, but your eyes are following the script that is being scrolled on the bottom of your screen. You are in a meeting and someone is giving a presentation and you are looking at your phone, I pad, or lap top. I am guilty of this also. We hear the sound, but we miss the meaning! We are hearing, but not listening!

It is easy to hear. It takes work to listen! In our hurried age and culture, we haven’t mastered the art of listening. We don’t do what the Psalmist says: “Be still, and know that I Am God” (Ps. 46:10a), neither have we learned what the Scripture teaches in the Great Shemah: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4).

Moses, the author of the text that is before us, exhorts us few chapters before to listen to God daily. Daily let His Word be the compass of your life. Daily listen to Him as He guides you in the way you should go. Daily cry out with Samuel saying, Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears!” This should be our daily prayer to listen to the voice of God.

Moses empresses upon us saying: The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen.” In other word, Moses states: open your ears and listen carefully to the Prophet that will come after me. Listen to Him because He is the Only One who is worthy to be heard. Listen to Him because He will guide you in the way of truth. Listen to Him carefully because He will spare you a lot of heartaches and a lot of headaches. PAUSE.

But who is this prophet that Moses is talking about? The text identifies Him thus: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And whoever will not listen to My Words that He shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him” (Deut. 18:18-18). Moses is saying, “God Himself will send this One and He will speak on His behalf of God!”

Moses the great prophet who was God’s spokesperson for over 40 years and led the Israelites, points them and us to another and greater prophet. He will come from among His brothers—the Israelites. This One will be the Davar Yahweh—the Word of the Lord. He will speak on behalf of God and do things in the things only God does.

Beloved in the Lord, since we are still in the Epiphany season, we look at the New Testament to help hear and see with eyes of faith who this prophet is. In the Gospel of John we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). And in the Gospel of St. Matthew we hear these words: “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I Am well pleased; listen to Him!” Matthew 17:5). Not only does Moses ask us to listen to Him, but even God the Author and creator of the ear exhorts us to listen to Jesus because He is the voice of God and the final prophet, NOT Muhammad.

However, as I said earlier we have a hearing problem. We have not mastered the art of listening. We don’t know how to sit still and just listen to God’s voice. But that is what we should do. The more we spend time with Him and in His Word, the more we are able to discern which God’s voice and from the world’s voice. When you learn to listen to the voice of God, then your ears are opened to His message. When you listen to the voice of God, then you learn to trust Him above all else. And when the voices of the world rise high, you will know that it is not the voice of God but the voice of a devilish lie! PAUSE.

The Psalmist stated: “Be still and KNOW that I am God.” In the stillness you will hear the only voice that leads to life eternal—the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd who said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27). The more you listen to His voice the closer you will come to know His Word and His thoughts and His grace for you.

This reminds me of a story of an Indian who traveled to New York for the first time in his life. While he was walking through the streets with his friend, he said, “I hear a cricket!” His friend said, “How can you hear a cricket with all of the noise in the background?” the Indian said again, “I can hear a cricket!” He listened carefully and walked slowly towards some bushes and when he removed them, he pointed to his friend and said, “Here is the cricket! In time you learn how to listen.

That is the joy of being in the Lord’s house. When we come here we call upon the Holy Spirit to open our ears and hearts to hear His voice. As the opening hymn teaches us: “Lord, open Thou my heart to hear, and through Your Word to me draw near; let me Your Word e’er pure retain, let me Your child and heir remain.” (TLH 5 v1)

Moses calls us to listen carefully to His voice. He is the Only voice that we should hear and listen to. You won’t hear it anywhere outside of this House and God’s Word! When we hear it we know the sound of rejoicing that will never end as the Lord speaks the words of Law and Gospel that convict and kill, renew and resurrect us on a daily basis!

We can do that only because the Word of the Lord—Jesus Christ, listened carefully to His Father when He sent Him on His earthly mission to redeem the world from sin, death and the grave. He listened with joy to all that the Father asked Him to do. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed before going to the cross saying: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Don’t think it was easy for Jesus to endure what lies ahead. He knew what was going to happen to Him. Be betrayed by one of His disciples, denied by His closest companion; receive harsh beating, humiliation, suffering, agony, pain and even death. But He listened to His Father because we don’t listen carefully all the time. When we don’t listen to God we are permitting the evil to be in us. When we don’t listen to God other voices fill our ears and hearts and we are deceived. But thank God the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts and ear to listen as we should. In the Gospel lesson for today, the evil the Spirit went to the Synagogue thinking they would be safe, but Jesus is there and says to them “Shut-up and get out!”

That is why it is such a blessing and privilege to be here, because here He speaks to us. Here in this place we learn of His unconditional love. Here we gain new insights about the One Moses spoke about, the Prophet to come—Jesus Christ. He listened to the will of the Father who sent Him as God’s gift to the world as we are informed by John saying, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). Because of the enormous love of Christ, the Holy Spirit leads us to listen carefully to Him always.

Listen to Him dear friends and hear Him attentively especially in His final week of life. Hear Him say: Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk. 23: 34). Listen to Him carefully as He says: “It is Finished!” (John 19:30). Hear Him say, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Listen carefully to Him today and always because He has forgiven you your sins, has claimed you as His very own and wrote your names in His book of life.

Today, by the Spirit’s power we have had our ears opened and His voice entered into our inner chamber. Because of His voice, we listen carefully and follow Him all the days of our lives. Because we listen to Him carefully we have peace forever more. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


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