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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who Are You Listening To?

As a mother, I am used to talking without being heard. Oh, they hear my voice, but they don't actually hear my words. I can't count the times I've had to repeat instructions or information because my kids didn't hear me the first time...or the second...or the third. You get the picture.

But I am not without guilt when it comes to listening. I can clearly recall times when I've felt God asking me to do something or make some changes in my life, but I didn't act on those instructions right away. I paid a pretty high price on one occasion. Had I listened and obeyed, I could have saved myself and my family a whole lotta trouble!

Why are we humans so stubborn? Why do we often think our plans are better than God's?

A prime example of this took place in Genesis. Beginning in Chapter 13, verses 14 thru 16 we read:

"The LORD said to Abram (later known as Abraham) after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted."

Three times God uses the words "your offspring" or "your seed." Clearly He means Abram's children and grandchildren will inhabit the land. Later, in Chapter 15, Abram is still trying to figure out what God meant, because he and his wife Sarai didn't have any children at that point. He thinks maybe God meant a trusted servant in his home would become his heir. But that wasn't God's plan or his words.

"[God] took [Abram] outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars---if indeed you can count them." Then he said, "So shall your offspring be." (v. 5)

Seems pretty clear to me that God is telling Abram that he and Sarai will one day have children, who will have children, who will have children, and so on and so forth. Right?

But like a kid that isn't really listening when his parents speak, Abram and Sarai didn't listen to God. Oh, they heard him. They heard his voice. In Genesis 15:6 it even says "Abram believed the Lord." So what happened between that verse and Chapter 16 where Sarai takes her maidservant Hagar and gives her to Abram as his wife so she can bear him children?

Maybe it was waiting 25 years for God's promise to finally come true. That's a long time to wait for a baby, especially as you get older and older and older. Maybe it was doubt that God would keep his promise or that he even remembered his promise. I can look back on my own life and see times when I didn't fully obey God, didn't fully listen to his instructions, often with my own ideas and agendas getting in the way. Like I said, I paid a very high price in one particular case. Thankfully, God got my attention and things eventually worked out, but it took a long time to get back to where we should have been in the first place had we been listening to God the whole time.

Sarai listened to her doubts and fears and took matters into her own hands. Abram listened to Sarai. (Genesis 16:1-3) The result: a child name Ishmael and generations of trouble. Reminds me of Adam and Eve in the garden. (Genesis 3) Eve listened to the deceiver. Adam listened to Eve. Neither listened to God. The result: Sin entered the world, and the couple got booted out of paradise.

These examples beg one question:

Who are you listening to?
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This week's Prayer Shout Out countries are:
USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Rwanda, Dominican Republic

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