August 18, 2015
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 18 August 2015
While talking is obviously an important aspect of communication, hearing and listening are also essential to the process. Effective communicators are excellent listeners because listening begins with attention and hearing. A “Dennis the Menace” cartoon emphasizes the difference between hearing and listening. Dennis runs into the home of his neighbor, Mr. Wilson, who is reading a newspaper. Dennis greets Mr. Wilson with a cordial, “Hello, Mr. Wilson,” to which he receives no reply. Dennis speaks louder, “Hello, Mr. Wilson, yet still there is no response. Finally, he shouts, “Hello, Mr. Wilson!” Still no answer is given. In a normal voice, Dennis says, “Well, then, goodbye, Mr. Wilson.” His neighbor replies, “Goodbye, Dennis.” As he exits the house, Dennis remarks, “There’s nothing wrong with his hearing, but his listening’s not so good.”
First Samuel 3 details how God called Samuel to be a faithful communicator of his Word. The boy Samuel was ministering in the temple of the Lord yet had not listened for God’s calling. Samuel could hear, yet needed to listen for God’s call and be obedient to it. Eli taught Samuel to say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’” Samuel needed to learn how to listen to God so that the Lord could speak through a faithful prophet to his people.
Proverbs 18:13 – He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.
Whatever difficulty Samuel may have experienced in communicating the message of God, the power of the calling on his life was evident in the faithful presence of God. “Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail” (3:19). The fulfillment of God’s words proved His faithfulness to Samuel (cf. Deut 18:22). The same authentication may be expected today from those who claim to speak as God’s messenger (i.e. if a message does not coincide with the clear teachings of Scripture then it should be rejected). God’s people throughout the ages may have the confidence of his presence when faithful and obedient to his Word.
God’s people are called to display his character and to proclaim the message of his Word to the world around us, and therefore to refrain from the activities and habits that clearly violate God’s Word. The Latin phrase post tenebras lux (“after darkness light”) historically means that God’s people receive light when the Word of God is proclaimed freely (cf. Job 17:12; Ps 118:27). Frances M. Owen (1842-83) conveyed this truth in the opening stanza of her hymn: “Lighten the darkness of our life’s long night / though which we blindly stumble to the day. / Shadows mislead us; Father, send Thy light / to set our footsteps in the homeward way.”
The Bible is God’s gift to his people, and the absence of hearing God’s Word is his judgment because it indicates the loss of his presence (1 Sam 28:6, 15; Ps 74:9-11; Isa 6:9-10; Amos 8:11-12; Mark 4:9-12). God’s grace is evident when his Word is heard and heeded. Scripture is the token of God’s grace; therefore, its proclamation and acceptance is crucial to the wellbeing of the individual and our nation.
Luke 7:32 – “They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
The powerful evidence of God’s calling was proclaimed “from Dan” (the far north) “even to Beer-sheba” (the far south) (i.e. the entire country; cf. Judg 20:1). Samuel was humble to hear and to obey the Word of the Lord; therefore, God extended his reputation throughout the entire country. The famine of hearing God’s Word ended (3:21) because Samuel learned to say, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” God has spoken in the 66 books of the Bible. Are you listening and obeying? When God calls to service, He also grants spiritual power by his grace and for his glory.
Missionary Pastor to Georgia's Leaders,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia