OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[April 05]—Hearing And Listening

Ezekiel 33:30-32

One of my favorite stories about hearing vs. listening is about President Franklin Roosevelt (possibly apocryphal). He was complaining to his aides that people in dinner parties and receptions never paid attention to what he said. So he decided to try an experiment. He was in the receiving line for the ambassadorial guests at a dinner the White House was hosting. Representatives from several nations bent down to shake his hand as they entered the room. As they bent down, he whispered in their ear “You know, I murdered my mother-in-law this morning.” Most of the people to whom he told this bit of news simply nodded and acceded, saying something like “That’s wonderful, sir! Keep up the great work!”

But one man actually caught what he said and understood. So the nonplussed dignitary paused for a moment and responded “Well, I’m sure she had it coming, sir!”

There’s a huge difference between hearing and listening, and there’s nowhere truer than in the case of God’s word. The Lord told Ezekiel that his message seemed to be really popular. People were telling each other “Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.” They'd come from all over to hear his message. Ezekiel was really pulling in the crowds.

And not only were they coming to hear him. They were saying wonderful things about it. Basically they were commenting on his charisma and speaking ability. They recognized him as eloquent and pleasing to the ear: “one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well.”

But you can’t judge the effectiveness of a message/sermon by how many people sit and listen to it. And you can’t even measure it by the compliments that people give it. And least that’s not how the Lord sees it.

His criterion was pretty simple: Were people repenting? Were they putting Ezekiel’s admonishments and warnings into practice? Were their lives being changed? Imagine for a moment someone coming on Sunday and hearing a sermon on being honest in one’s business dealings (yes, there’s plenty of material on that in Scripture). The man listens to a preacher eloquently preaching on the Lord’s expectations in this matter. As he leaves, he says to his wife “Wow, that was a great sermon! I nearly cried when he told that story.” But then on Monday his conduct is exactly the same as before: He cheats his customers and lies to them about what he’s selling them. That’s what we’re seeing in today’s passage.

Let me tell you something. I know I can speak for every God-called and God-fearing preacher and teacher out there: We don’t care about any compliments you have to give about our eloquence or charisma. We care about the impact on your life. We care if you were doing things your way and now you’re doing things God’s way.

Now, we need to clarify something. If someone listens to a sermon or Bible study and don’t put it into practice, that’s not a failure on the part of the preacher/teacher. That’s a failure on the part of the listener. If someone is faithfully presenting God’s word in an understandable format, that’s success on his part. No, I don’t mean that it leads to success. That is success. At least it is as far as the Lord is concerned, and that’s all that matters.

Of course the application questions are pretty predictable. “Am I a hearer or a listener?” “Do I judge a sermon by its eloquence, or by its faithfulness to Scripture?” “Am I letting God’s word change the way I think, talk, and act?” And yes, I’m asking them of myself. And the more often I ask, the better.

Father, am I listening? Does it show?

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