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How we hear matters.

So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”
Luke 8:18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.8.18.NLT

How intently do we find ourselves listening when others are speaking?

How intently do we listen when the Word of God is spoken?

Are we hearing what is being spoken, wanting to learn,  seeking greater understanding?

The best way that I’ve found to read the Bible is to read it expecting to learn something new – not coming into it with preconceived doctrines or teachings, but actually reading it as if for the first time – and weighing any new revelations against the totality of the scriptures – and viewing them in the light of Jesus’ stated truth in Matthew 22:40 that it is all based on Love.

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.22.37-40.NLT

Yes, if we are listening and learning, we will hear His voice,  not just pick out whatever suits us at the moment,  and not just find whatever we can use to judge and condemn the world around us.

We are meant to learn, to grow, to seek further understanding,  to equip ourselves – to seek first and foremost the things of God, to repent of our evil ways, to grow more like Christ, to go and sin no more – to walk in the Holy Spirit that produces Love.

Spiritual fruit is not seen or touched as much as it can be treated or smelled. It is that sweet aroma that surrounds a life dedicated to loving Christ and loving others. It isn’t religious zeal or dedication to scholarly theology – it is that sweet,  soft heart that helps others when they are hurting. It isn’t even focused evangelism by those looking to convert people into their own religious perspective.

Spiritual fruit is the very anointing of the Holy Spirit overflowing in our lives and pouring out as sacrificial love towards our God and to others. You can practice religion all day every day, you can sing “the right songs”, you can listen to “the right sermons”, you can preach and heal and even baptize in His name, but if you do not have love,  you are nothing,  and you have nothing,  and your empty religious practice will send you to the same place as the sinner you so happily you point out and condemn from your prideful stance looking down upon him.

So today, let’s be humbled by how little we really love God and others around us. And let’s not just be humbled by our current state of heart,  but let’s hear God’s voice and let’s reach out with our lives today and grow in this love. Let’s grab hold of what He has to teach us. Let’s value it and cling to it and put it into practice.

What area of your life towards God needs to be surrendered and replaced with a deeper love and understanding of Almighty God?

What area of your interaction with others needs to be more forgiving and merciful and loving and patient and kind and gentle?

What area of your life’s witness needs to be more holy and righteous and set apart as a child of God if you are bold enough to claim the name of Christ?

Don’t just listen –
hear what the Lord is saying to you,
and choose life –
turn from your sinful ways, 
whose wages are death –
run to your renewed life in Christ
and know your destiny,
And be the light in the darkness
That is not overcome.

Be the Christ who is in you,
Or die the eternal death
and know the fiery judgement that awaits you.

But you are choosing each day,
You are proving your choice with your walk,
Which way are you walking today,  friend?
Are you walking upright in the light, dear saint?
Or are you trying to hide, paralyzed in the darkness, precious sinner?

Hear His call.

Choose today who you will serve.

Get to walking.