dog listening October 9 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 3:31-35; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21; Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13:1-23; Luke 8:4-18; Mark 4:21-25

How Well Do You Listen?

How's your hearing? You may say, “fine,” or you may say, “I don't hear so well anymore.” Many of us have selective hearing. A wife who says, “Honey, the garage needs cleaned,” may not be heard by her husband, even if he is in the same room, but the words, “How about some ice cream?” may bring a sudden improvement in his hearing. In a serious vein of thought, how well do we listen when we hear messages from the Word of God? Do we gladly receive it or do we just endure it?

In today's reading, Jesus began to teach about the kingdom of God to great crowds of people who followed him. Was anyone truly listening or were they just following him because of his miracles and popularity? Jesus taught in parables to ferret out true believers from those who were just crowd followers.

What are parables?

The word “parable” in the Greek language of the New Testament literally means to “throw alongside.” In a parable a short story or narrative of a known truth is thrown alongside and compared to an unknown truth. Some define a parable as an earthly story (the known truth) with a heavenly meaning (an unknown or previously undisclosed truth). This definition works and is easy to remember.

Why did Jesus speak in parables? Jesus said he spoke in parables to hide truth from those who would not hear because of their hardened hearts, and to reveal truth to those who would listen (Matthew 13:10-16). When teaching people it is helpful to use stories to gain people's interest, and it is helpful to use something familiar to compare it with something unfamiliar. Those who are listening will get it. Those who are not listening will not get it.

Why do some respond to the message of the gospel (the way to the Kingdom of God, i.e., heaven) while others do not? This is answered in the parable of the four kinds of ground upon which a farmer sows his seed. This illustration was effectively chosen because the Jews lived in an agricultural community.

The first kind of ground is described as a path. The seed scattered by the farmer (illustrative of the minister, teacher, leader, or even parent) is not received; it is resisted. Satan has convinced the hearer against the message so that it is immediately taken away. In American colloquialism we might say that it went “in one ear and out the other”. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses fell into this behavior. In our last lesson we saw them resisting the message and power of Jesus, even saying his power was from the devil. Even today, many religious leaders and arrogant people believe the Bible does not apply to them and easily dismiss it.

The second kind of ground is described as stony ground. To the hearer, Scripture and principles from the Word of God sound like great ideas to put into practice, and there may be some initial excitement about them, but that is the extent of it. Most ministry leaders and parents are frustrated by this attitude. The Words of Scripture and its principles need to take root, but the hearts of their hearers are too hard to receive it. There is encouragement from the Scripture, however, about continuing to sow the Word of God even with stony - hearted people. Hear the words of God spoken through Jeremiah the prophet: “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”(Jeremiah 23:29, NIV).

“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful,” (Mark 4:18-19, NIV). People listen because they want an answer to their problems, and initially they may try to obey God, but when faced by the pressures and desires of this world, they do what is easiest, most convenient, or that which gives them the most pleasure. God's answers do not profit them.

Last, the fourth kind of ground is soft fertile soil. The seed sown here becomes profitable and yields much fruit. This is the person who is ready to hear the Word of God and also listens in order to put it into practice. That person reaps great benefits. Which kind of ground describes how we listen to God’s Word?

James 1:21-25 says,

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-- he will be blessed in what he does. (NIV)

It is a characteristic of those who truly have a relationship with Christ to obey Him. Jesus said, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice,” (Luke 8:21, NIV). We all sin and make mistakes, but do we try to put God’s Word into practice? The Holy Spirit of God, who lives within us, will help us if we are willing to try. If you are not a Christian yet, God offers you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). He will give meaning and fruitfulness to your life.

Lessons to live by:

  • Our hearts must be prepared to receive God’s Word. We should do as James 1:21-25 instructs us.
  • God will bless those who not only hear the Word of God but also do what it says.
  • To the person who hears God’s Word and does what it says he will give more responsibilities and privileges (Luke 8:18).

Today’s Bible Memory Verse: Luke 8:18 “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” (NIV)

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