So You Think You Can Listen?

Bible Book: Luke  1 : 26-47
Subject: Listening; Hearing God; Christmas; Mary
Introduction

Luke 1:26-47

Almost everyone is familiar with the television program entitled, “So You Think You Can Dance?” As I thought about that question, I could not help but think of other ways you could ask a similar question. One in particular was the one chosen for the sermon today. So you think you can listen?

It seems we all think that we listen better than others. A wife will say, “My husband never listens to anything I say.” Of course, the husband says the same about his wife. Parents moan and groan about their children never listening. Teachers complain about their students never listening in class.

Everybody wants to be heard, but do we want to listen. Just think about it, 74% of people ages 18-34 have a Facebook Account. Twenty-four percent of people ages 55 or over have an account. Certainly that tells us that people want someone to know who they are, where they are and what they have to say. But, are we listening? That is the question.

Do you think you listen well? Do you listen to what God is saying to you? I must say that people are listening to something. Oprah. Rap Music. Bill O’Reilly. President Obama. Dr. Phil. But, is anyone listening to God? In fact, when it comes to getting directions for life and eternity, who do you listen to? Popular figures in entertainment? Friends? The world in general?

In Numbers 10, the people were told to listen to trumpets to know what to do! We don’t have trumpets to give us directions as families and a community, so how do we make a decision about what is best in our lives?

Note the story of Mary and Joseph, and observe how they listened and reacted in a tense and difficult situation. An angel came to Mary to inform her that she was going to give birth to a son. When Mary asked how this could be, since she had never been with a man, the angel told her that this child with be God’s child – a miracle – a virgin birth.

Now, let me stop right here and say something important. I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. I don’t have any problem with it at all. Do you know why I believe it? I believe it because I listen to what God says.

Let’s start right here and let me share something about how we are to listen to God. I am going to communicate three things about this, so LISTEN UP…

I. When God Speaks to You, Listen with Humility!

When the angel appeared, Mary didn’t say, “It’s about time!” When the angel appeared, Mary didn’t say, “It’s all about me!” Mary acted with humility in listening to the message from God. In order to properly hear from God, we have to be humble before Him. We are servants – not masters!

Humility feels no pride, jealously or envy! Just because Mary had a message from God, and a special duty to perform, she was not going to flaunt that over others. Nor was Mary going to be envious of those who would not have to bear her burden. She was going to be obedient!

The more you listen to Jesus, the less you will listen to yourself! Why? You see, there are many voices competing for our attention. They enter out minds surreptitiously. We don’t even know that they are having an effect upon our thinking. So, when we think about things and hear things, we view them through a matrix of our accumulated thoughts. But, when we listen to the Lord, He begins to show us the ungodly nature of our ideas. He corrects us. He guides us. He instructs us. The more we listen through the Word of God, the more correct our thinking becomes.

Let me give you an example of how our humility grows as we listen to the Lord and follow Him. Think about Paul’s life and the progression of humility that came in his life over time. In 59 AD, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:9, “For I am the least of all the apostles.” Certainly that is a humble statement, but not as humble as the one he wrote four years later in 63 AD. At that time Paul felt this way about himself as recorded in Ephesians 3:8, “Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people.” Now he has stop comparing himself to apostles and started comparing himself in an humble to every child of God. But, note what he wrote just one year later, in 64 AD, as recorded in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them all.” Paul now sees himself as compared to every living person, and calls himself the worst sinner of all. Wow! The longer Paul listened and walked following the voice of God’s Spirit, the more humble he became.

I have noticed that some of us become more arrogant as we serve God longer. Why would that happen? We aren’t listening to the right voice!

II. When God Speaks to You, Listen with Faith!

Mary knew what would happen, but didn’t know how it would happen. Mary believed in the promise, but didn’t understand the performance of it! Mary was reassured that God was acting on her behalf.

Faith is a simple fact of believing what God says and acting upon it. That is how a person begins a relationship with God. God says you are a sinner. Do you agree with Him? God says that sins lead to eternal death. Do you believe Him? God’s says that His Son came to this earth to die for your sins. Do you believe it? God says that He will save you and give you life abundant and eternal if you will turn from your sin and accept Christ as your Savior. Do you believe it? Are you listening? If you will  say YES to these truths from God and accept Him today, you WILL be saved. That is how important it is to listen and believe what God says.

Mary was told that the son she was to have would save people from their sins. She believed God! You must listen with faith in order to get results with God.

Faith produces obedience. I do not show that I have heard and believe unless I obey. That is why James says that faith without works is dead. It is not enough to believe, we must act. Mary was willing to do whatever it took to act on her faith.

I don’t know what you are going through this Christmas, but I know that the birth of God’s Son into this world is a clear message that God is FOR you. He loves you and wants a relationship with you. For those of us who are saved, He is as near as we want Him to be. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Now, note a third thing about listening.

III. When God Speaks to You, Listen with Joy!

Luke 1:47 reveals that Mary said, “How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

What Mary was going to face in the days ahead would not be easy, but she rejoiced to have a word from God.

God gave you two ears and one tongue. That means we are to listen twice as much as we talk. I’m not sure many of us actually do that, but if we will listen to God’s voice in our lives we will have joy. Sometimes the joy will occur because of the good things that God is doing in your life. But, you should give God the glory in the bad times of your life as well. Why? You should glorify Him in all things because we don’t know the entire story. The Lord has a plan that we cannot see. He is at work when you least expect it. Someone here today needs to LISTEN right now. God is at work in your behalf. Listen! You can hear Him whisper words of encouragement, peace and hope to your heart.

When Mary received the promise of the Savior, the world was an extremely difficult place to be. Romans ruled the homeland of God’s people. Taxes were extremely high. Work was extremely hard to find. Most people lived, not week-to-week or month-to-month, but day-to-day. If they did not find some work each day, they just might not eat that day. But, Mary had a word from God. She rejoiced. She was filled with joy. When she woke up the next day, the world was the same, but Mary was not the same.

Some of you are hoping the world changes. Listen to God speak and the Him change YOU.

Conclusion

What is God saying to you this morning? Are you listening? Will you respond? What is your answer? Say, “YES,” to Him today!