In Week 3 of Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Uncertain World, author Melissa Spoelstra reminds us to open our ears and listen for God's word.
An important part of listening is deciding whom we should listen to. Consider this lesson from Day 4, "The Right Voices:"
Every day we are bombarded by different voices. My mailbox overflows with mail from companies trying to sell me something. Catalogs, advertisements of everything from oil changes to carpet cleaning, and credit card offers abound. Then I can browse through social media or turn on the news and see others advocating strong political causes they want us
to jump on the bandwagon to support. In the checkout line, messages call me to be skinny and fit so that I will feel good about myself. There’s no shortage of voices in the Christian realm either. I recently saw some video clips online from a discussion between major church leaders. The dialogue mostly consisted of pastors discussing how the modern church should approach preaching, evangelism, and discipleship.
It’s great to talk, debate, and work through the issues related to trying to follow God. I’m not saying the voices are all bad. I need the news and my social media friends to keep me up-to-date on things going on in the government of which I otherwise might not be aware. But how can we know that we are following the right leaders, listening to the right voices, and walking in God’s truth in the many arenas of life?
We don’t want to be like the people of Judah in Jeremiah’s day who didn’t listen to God but, instead, chose to listen to “others” with a more popular message, such as the religious priests and prophets. They called for tolerance, freedom of expression (idolatry), and permissiveness. Sound familiar? Is it possible that we are listening to the “others” of our day instead of God’s true messengers? How can we know for sure? Let’s go to the source of truth and consider three insights God has for us in the Book of Jeremiah related to discerning which voices we should heed:
1. Consider the moral character of the messenger.
As we seek to understand how to discern the validity of a message, we must take a look at the personal integrity of the mouthpiece. Although we must be careful about judging our leaders or expecting perfection from them, we should consider if their lives reflect their own teaching. In other words, does their walk match their talk?
2. Evaluate the message to see if it lines up with God’s Word.
In order to identify counterfeit dollars, experts spend time studying a genuine bill. Likewise, in order to recognize error, we must continually study the truth of God’s Word. This will prepare us to exercise discernment when the many voices in our life and culture present us with information.
3. Ask the right questions.
We question everything today, from where to find the best deal to the decisions made at the PTO meeting. However, when it comes to God’s Word, we sometimes just recite rote prayers or fly through a passage so we can check Bible reading off our to-do list. God wants us to read His Word curiously, asking the right questions.
We have the truth. We have more than Moses and the prophets had. We have the Gospels, the letters of Paul, and more—the complete revelation of God. We need to be careful to read and listen well to what has been entrusted to us. We don’t just need to have “quiet time.” We must seek to understand—to read God’s Word asking the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual wisdom so that we may understand and apply His truth in daily life. Our approach to God’s Word, whether it is taught by a preacher, author, or scholar—in person or in mainstream media, including print resources such as this Bible study or the many others like it—should be active listening rather than passive acceptance.
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