In One Ear . . . ?

When to listen, when not to

Listening is a major theme of the book of Proverbs.

The book is designed to guide young men in making wise choices, while avoiding foolish ones.

For this to happen, one must really listen, learn, and live accordingly.

Youth must listen to their parents (1:8; 4:1-6; 23:22).

But they must also avoid listening to the wrong people (1:10-19; 7:6-23; 17:4).

They must listen to wise counsel (12:15; 19:20).

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To our advantage

It’s wise to listen to needed correction and foolish not to (1:20-33; 15:32; 25:12).

Listening leads to positive outcomes (8:32-35; 21:28)

Refusing to listen results in major consequences (5:1-14; 13:1; 19:27).

God won’t hear the prayers of those who won’t listen to Him (28:9).

It’s just that important!

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Something’s Gotta Give!

“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?”

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This is, of course, a contradiction in terms.

My will vs. His will

But what happens when our will contradicts God’s will?

God gives us freedom to yield to His will or resist His will.

Jesus prayed to be spared the cross, but obeyed His Father’s will instead (Matthew 26:36-46).

What I think vs. what God says

And what if God’s command runs counter to common sense?

God promised Abraham many descendants through his son Isaac (Genesis 21:12).

But then He commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22).

Abraham so trusted God’s promise that he believed God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Instead, God stopped Abraham at the last moment.

What a severe test of faith! Yet Abraham obeyed.

Will we?

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The Past Has Passed

“Those were the days . . . .”

The Bible says it’s unwise to wonder why the past is better than the present (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

Finally freed from slavery, Israel kept themselves in a constant state of discontent by recalling the food they had enjoyed in Egypt, while focusing on their current hardships.

They neither appreciated their freedom, nor anticipated the good land God had promised them.

A healthier perspective

The apostle Paul neither wallowed in regret nor longed for the status he once enjoyed.

“. . . one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Going back is not an option. Moving forward is!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Deadline Living

How long?

Sometimes patients hear, “I’m sorry, but you have only a few months to live, at most. I suggest you get your affairs in order.”

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One day Isaiah brought King Hezekiah this message: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live’” (2 Kings 20:1).

Hezekiah was only about 39.

He prayed. He wept.

God granted him 15 more years.

How well?

Ironically,  most of the good we know about Hezekiah belonged to his first 39 years, while all the bad we know about him occurred in those final 15! (2 Kings 20:12-19; 2 Chronicles 32:24-33).

As someone said, “It’s not how long we live that matters, but how well.”

If you knew your time was running out, what changes would you make?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Answering Life’s Biggest Questions

What are we here for?

Does life have meaning? Does it have purpose? If so, what is it? And how does that affect the way we spend our days?

Is the Bible what it claims to be—the inspired, authoritative word of God? (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

If so, how will we conduct our lives?

But if the Bible is only a human document, then where do we turn for guidance?

What will we choose?

These are questions we cannot ignore. We must decide.

If we focus on this life only, we will live one way.

If we make our choices with eternity in view, we will live an entirely different way.

So does it really matter what we believe?

And does it matter whether what we believe is true?

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The Day He Changed His Mind

Speaking to King Agrippa, Paul recounts his own conversion (Acts 26).

“I thought”

“. . . I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus . . .” (v. 9).

Point: What we think may contradict what God thinks.

“I saw . . . I heard”

“. . . at midday, O King, I saw . . . a light from heaven . . . . I heard a voice . . . saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (vv. 13-14).

Point: Painful truth is far preferable to sincere ignorance.

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“I obeyed”

“. . . I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision. . .” (v. 19).

Point: Truth learned must be truth lived.

Have we made sure what we think is really the truth?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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What Did They Learn?

They kept their ears and eyes open.

No one ever had a better mentor.

How privileged the apostles were to be with Jesus those three years!

They not only heard Him preach and teach, but also observed how He conducted Himself in all kinds of situations.

They saw how He responded to opposition from enemies—facing it boldly, without retaliation.

They learned what His priorities were, that He valued spiritual over physical kinship, that doing His Father’s will took precedence over everything else; that preaching was greater than healing; that society’s rejects were worth His time; that the magnificent temple did not impress Him, but the widow’s generosity did; that He was devoted to prayer; that He aspired to serve, rather than being served.

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They learned to think as He did.

Ever so gradually His values became their values.

Are they becoming ours?

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