BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Communication is two-way. There is the encoder and there is the decoder – the sender and the receiver, the speaker and the listener. God speaks even many times when people think He is silent. But is anyone listening? Are you listening to what God has been saying to you or is currently saying to you?
God speaks to us through His Word that we read in the Bible or hear from other persons; He speaks to us through revelations in dreams, visions, trances, the inner witness, prophecies, and circumstances and events but are we listening? By listening, I mean, paying attention to or taking note of. And the proof of listening is making positive response or taking appropriate steps, obeying him. Are you responding positively to what God is saying to you? Are you obeying Him?
Eli and Samuel
After running to Eli three times thinking that he was the one calling him, Samuel, on the advice of Eli, was finally able to receive God’s message. “Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place’ Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel! And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for Your servant hears’” (1 Sam 3:8-10 NKJV). Are you busy saying, “Lord, listen for your servant speaks” rather than saying, “Lord, speak for your servant listens”? Many are more eager to speak to God than listen to Him (Eccl 5:1).
The Lord spoke to Samuel that day and he listened. He later told Eli what the Lord said. But why did God have to bypass Eli to talk to Samuel, a ‘trainee’ under him? It was because Eli had failed to listen to God in the past and do the right thing concerning his children. 1 Sam 3:11-14 says, “Then the LORD said to Samuel, ‘I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family. I have warned him continually that judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings’” (NLT).
Solomon didn’t listen to God
Despite the privilege of seeing God appear to him twice (1 Kings 3:5, 9:1-2), Solomon, whom the Bible once said loved the Lord and followed all the instructions of his father, David, at a point during his reign (1 Kings 3:3), failed to continue to listen to the Lord. “The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the LORD’s command” (1 Kings 11:9-10 NLT).
Israelites didn’t listen to God
The ancestors of the children of Israel failed to listen to the Lord and even their offsprings followed the footsteps of their fathers hence they were carried into captivity. Jeremiah reminded the Israelites living then of the sin of their ancestors: “This is what the LORD says: Listen to my warning and live! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day. Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors, but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention and would not respond to discipline” (Jer 17:21-23 NLT).
Speaking to Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen. Therefore hear, you nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people — The fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it” (Jer 6:17-19 NKJV).
Nehemiah also recalled how the ancestors of Israel did not listen to God but persisted in rebellion. They failed to take the appropriate steps on all God was saying. Neh 9:17 says, “They refused to listen and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt!” (NLT)
Prophet Isaiah said a similar thing to the generation of Israelites who failed to listen to God hence the judgment of God was bound to come upon them. “But because the rest of you have forsaken the LORD and his Temple and worship the gods of Fate and Destiny, I will ‘destine’ you to the sword. All of you will bow before the executioner, for when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned — before my very eyes — and chose to do what you know I despise” (Isa 65:11-12 NLT).
Are you sensitive to what those God has positioned to speak into your life are saying? Are you prayerfully considering and obeying it because they may be speaking the mind of God? Do you listen to the Word of God they bring to you or you disregard it? The people of Judah dwelling in the land of Egypt said to Jeremiah, “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem…” (Jer 44:16-17 NKJV). What an affront?
Even during the ministry of Prophet Ezekiel, the attitude of the house of Israel wasn’t different from that of the house of Judah. The Lord told Ezekiel, “The house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted” (Ezek 3:7 NKJV).
Balaam failed to listen
Balaam failed to listen to what God was saying about his trip to honour Balak’s invitation to curse the Israelites. He was more interested in Balak’s reward than obedience to God. He kept playing games. If Jehovah had spoken about the issue and had told Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (Num 22:12 NKJV), why did he have to tell Balak’s emissaries he wanted to find out what more the Lord would speak to him? (Verse 19) It was greed. Eventually, God answered him according to the idol in his heart. God said, “If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you — that you shall do” (Num 22:20 NKJV). But verse 22 shows that God didn’t actually want him to go: “Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him” (NKJV).
If the Lord had not opened the mouth of the donkey Balaam was riding on to speak like a human being to warn Balaam about the sword dangling before him, the angel of the Lord would have killed him. Although Balaam didn’t succeed at cursing the children of Israel, he was later successful in teaching the Moabites what to do to cause the God of the Israelites to turn against them (Num 25:1-18). In the plague God brought against the Israelites for having sexual relations with the Moabites, 24,000 Israelites died. What a huge loss! Moses made reference to this incident in Num 31:16. In his letter to the angel of the church in Pergamos, John also made reference to this evil that Balaam did. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Rev 2:14 NKJV). Are you listening to what God is saying to you?
Peter listened to the Lord
In Acts 10:13, three times Peter was told, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” but he refused on each occasion to eat because he would not eat anything forbidden by the Jewish laws. But when the Lord told him not to call common or unclean what He had cleansed, which was a reference to the gentiles, Peter listened to God and went with the emissaries of Cornelius. The result was the salvation of Cornelius and his household and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the gentiles for the first time (verses 44-48). Peter listened to the Lord, and the Kingdom of God was advanced. Are you listening to the Lord or you’re so rigid, unbendable, and therefore unsendable?
The Consequences of not listening to God
“I will ‘destine’ you to the sword. All of you will bow before the executioner, for when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned — before my very eyes — and chose to do what you know I despise” (Isa 65:12 NLT). God also said through Jeremiah, “Therefore hear, you nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people — The fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it” (Jer 6:18-19 NKJV).
Failure to listen to what God is saying has grave consequences. Eli’s children not only died and the ark of God taken away in the battle by the enemy, Eli died also and his family came under terrible judgment of God as God had spoken through the mouth of a prophet He had sent to Eli prior to the message he gave Samuel about Eli and his family. God had said through that prophet, “I had promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me. I will put an end to your family, so it will no longer serve as my priests. All the members of your family will die before their time. None will live to a ripe old age. You will watch with envy as I pour out prosperity on the people of Israel. But no members of your family will ever live out their days. Those who are left alive will live in sadness and grief, and their children will die a violent death. And to prove that what I have said will come true, I will cause your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to die on the same day!” (1 Sam 2:30-34 NLT)
The prophet’s word came to pass. The priesthood was taken away from Eli’s priestly clan. Abiathar was the last priest from Eli’s clan and was removed from priesthood by King Solomon because he had supported Adonijah in his failed bid to become king (1 Kings 1:7, 25). He would have been killed but was spared because he had carried the ark of God before David and suffered with David. But Solomon exiled him from Jerusalem banishing him and his family to Anathoth. He withdrew all his rights and privileges as a priest (1 Kings 2:26-27). The misfortune Abiathar suffered began with Eli. The entire clan suffered the consequences of Eli’s failure to listen to God.
Hear the warning of Wisdom on the consequences of failing to listen to God: “Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. ‘Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil’” (Prov 1:24-33 NKJV). Please take note of that last sentence: “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” Are you listening to what God is saying to you? Don’t be stubborn; don’t be disobedient.
To the people of Judah who would not listen to God, He sent Prophet Jeremiah to tell them: “Thus says the LORD: ‘If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth’” (Jer 26:4-6 NKJV).
Let him who has ears listen
Jesus would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matt 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8; Luke 14:35 NKJV) He wasn’t taking about physical ears. He was talking about listening and taking appropriate actions. “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!” (NLT) Are you listening to what God is saying to you?
To the angels of the seven churches of Asia the Lord said a similar thing, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22 NKJV). The NLT puts it this way: “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Do you have ears to hear? Are you listening to what God has been saying to you in church meetings or your closet? What steps of obedience have you taken on all the messages you’ve been hearing? In what ways have these messages changed your life? Are you being transformed by the renewing of your mind? (Rom 12:2). Is your inward man being renewed day by day? (2 Cor 4:16)
Conclusion: Pay attention to what God is saying to you. God’s warning always proceeds before God’s judgment. Your life, destiny, salvation, protection, deliverance, victory, promotion, advancement, enlargement, etc. depends on your response to what God is saying to you. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV).
The proof of listening to God is compliance, obedience, positive and appropriate action on the message you receive. The Word you receive from God is work to be done, and only the doer of His Word shall be blessed (James 1:25). Are you listening to what God is saying to you? Isa 1:19-20 says, “If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat. But if you keep turning away and refusing to listen, you will be destroyed by your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (NLT) You won’t be destroyed in Jesus’ name.
To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). “See to it that you obey God, the one who is speaking to you. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, how terrible our danger if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!” (Heb 12:25 NLT)
If you’re not born again, please take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you’ll be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I can’t save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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