Aloha Friday Message – July 25, 2014 – Somewhere Listening

1430AFC072514 – Somewhere Listening

Read it online here, please.

Isaiah 55:3 – Incline your ear and come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

Aloha nui loa, Belovéd. Last week I wrote about making a concerted effort to develop a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is so fulfilling to experience that kind of exceptional closeness with the entire Trinity!  Listening to the voice of God is somehow easier, or so it seems to me, when we are fully attentive to the fullness of God. I came across a quote recently that speaks to this issue: “Even in the midst of the world, it is possible to listen to God in the silence of a heart that wants to be God’s alone.” (Élisabeth Catez) How do you listen to God? Where do you listen to God? Is he in your head or in your heart? Is he outside of you somewhere walking ahead of you, or behind you, or beside you? When he speaks, what does he say? What does he sound like? A big booming voice like in the movies, or a still small whisper like Elijah heard in Horeb? Do you hear God speaking in church?

As the Church works its way through the Gospel of Matthew, we have heard passages that contain a series of parables used by Jesus to teach the crowds about the coming of The Kingdom of God and its Righteousness (See Matthew 6:33). In Matthew 13, Jesus has just finished with the story of the sower, and the disciples ask him why he talks to the crowds in parables. Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 – “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.”  Jesus said he was speaking to them in parables because the crowds were looking but not seeing, hearing but not listening. The parables were simple stories that made people think; those reflections on the meaning of the story became the vehicle for their faith. The parables helped them to listen, to “incline” their ears.

InclineEarLet’s go back to Isaiah 55:3 and work through that verse as an approach to listening to God. We start with “Incline your ear and come to me heedfully.” Recall that sometimes when we want to listen most closely to someone, there is a tilt of the head, maybe one ear is turned toward the speaker; sometimes a hand is cupped around the ear to pick up more sound. We’re not just hearing – we are concentrating, listening, engaging more than just one sense in the process of gathering information.  What is heedfully? It is to be alert, cautious, careful, watchful, attentive, thoughtful, and fully conscious of what is happening and might happen. Here God is saying that when we come to him we must be prepared to see, hear, and obey. “This isn’t a company picnic. This is a life and death matter. Listen up!”

Next he says, “listen, that you might have life.” The word used here for listen is also used in the Old Testament for the verb hear, but it is a command to hear, not always the act of hearing. The most recognizable instance is in the Shema: Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. This declaration by Moses is so powerful! The connotation is “hear, listen to this, and obey.” In this “hearing” one achieves consent, agreement, understanding because what is heard is so undeniably clear it goes straight to our hearts. We know we have heard Truth speak. And when Truth speaks, there is life. Do you remember what Jesus said about truth? John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. And Truth? John 14:6b – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That is the Life that comes from the listening. It is life that renews us.

That renewal is what God promises as the compensation for coming to him with our eyes and ears wide open, eagerly waiting for something that is exciting and life-changing – the blessing of God! He says, “I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.” What are those benefits? Take a look at this list of translations of this verse and see how that last phrase is presented:

… my faithful love promised to David … my steadfast, sure love for David … the promises assured to David … the blessings I promised to David … And what are those promises? The Messiah would be his descendant, sit on his throne as King of Israel which will be established as a new and everlasting Kingdom. David’s descendant, the Messiah, would conquer sin and death, bringing peace and joy to the New Israel – the Church – to grow out of the lives of the Apostles. The promises to David are the vital promises and foundation of Christian life. That LIFE is our inheritance – when we listen carefully. But where? How? When? What do we hear?

The “where” is everywhere. God has given us so much positive evidence of his presence, his creative power, his love, his might, his compassion, and his absolutely amazing mercy. It’s everywhere! How do we listen? Carefully, paying attention, as if our very lives depended on it (think about that for a second longer). When do we listen? Well, if God is speaking to us everywhere all the time, that’s be best time and place to listen: Everywhere all the time. We earthlings find it difficult to do that for some reason – lots of reasons, actually. The World and the Prince of the Air don’t want us to listen and there are plenty of distractions to make us stop our ears and cover our eyes. And that brings us back to the Parables.

Jesus’ quote from Isaiah is a good example of God’s indignation when we ignore him. He does indeed give us so many opportunities to see, to hear, to learn, to know, and to obey. Here he is, telling Isaiah, “Make sure they don’t listen. Don’t let them see what I’m doing. If they recognized what’s been right under their noses since forever, they might wake up and realize that I AM is here to heal and save them if only they will listen and obey.” Jesus is in the middle of Israel, performing miracles, fulfilling prophesies, teaching about and bringing about the Kingdom of God, and the leaders – and some of the crowd too – can’t get past the fact that he’s just a country boy whose dad was in the construction business – in Nazareth, of all places! Who does he think he is, carrying on like he had a direct line to God?! Ah, beloved, who do we think we are if we think we can listen to God?

I’ll tell you who we are. We are The Kingdom. We are The Church. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Bride of the Lamb. We are the Temple of the Spirit. We are the Joy in God’s smile. We are the Children of the Promises. We are the Adopted Siblings of Jesus. We are the sinners who become the Saints of God. We are the People Set Apart because when God spoke, we shut up, tilted our ears and eyes toward him, and we watched and listened as he proved to us through his life, death, and resurrection that God is Love, and those who abide in Love abide in God.

Are you interested in learning more about Hearing the Voice of God? I’m going to invite you to visit Brendan Case’s dynamic course on just that topic – HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD. It is there for you, thanks to God’s generosity and Brendan’s cooperation, FREE. In Matthew 10:8b, Jesus says, “Freely you have received; freely give.” God wants to make it that easy for you; take a free course and learn how to discern God’s voice out of the thousands of voices contrary to his Word. In 1 Corinthians 2:12, Paul says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Belovéd, all the benefits assured to David are YOURS, freely given to us by God. The price?

Pay attention. Be Somewhere Listening!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

Thank you for your prayers for EN, RN, MB, and MC! ALL have been blessed because of your faithfulness!!!


Aloha Friday Messages by
Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License


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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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