Thursday, July 05, 2012

Daily devotion: The Art of Listening - Genesis 24:50

Genesis 24:50             Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.”

Sometimes I wish that I could clearly hear God’s voice in the midst of all the cacophony of voices that creates confusion in the church and across the world. I might not like what He has to say to me, however, so perhaps I surround myself with theological noise and church distractions in order to drown out the still, small voice of God.

We live in an age when people want to be heard, but hardly anyone wants to listen. Shrill voices and angry tears, strident statements and intolerant expressions seem to be part of all our lives. Whether it comes from Church or State, religion or politics, sports or fashions, the modern trend is to make sure that you get the opportunity to express what you want to say before anyone else does. The ancient art of listening appears to be dying out.

Listening to the Lord requires quiet and no distractions. Every day, Jesus did this early in the morning before the local community could get to Him with their demands. Laban and Bethuel from today’s Old Testament passage (Genesis 24:42-51) also hear God’s Word in what Abraham’s servant tells them. They know it to be truly God’s will and so they will not speak a word against what God has obviously decided.

It’s that kind of humble acceptance that we are missing in today’s society. We’ve all become so suspicious of other people’s agendas that when God speaks to us quietly, plainly, and firmly, we still question Him. And if we do that to God long and often enough, then we become selfishly stubborn, destructively defiant, and eventually totally disobedient.

We have to find quiet places in the midst of all our busy ways in order to be still, listen, and hear what God wants. We have to quieten our own minds and silence our own voices. Eastern mystics call that process ‘meditation’; Christ would simply call it ‘service.’

Question for personal reflection

Where and when can I be alone with God?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, teach us to listen to God. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is John’s latest 4th July drawing called “Liberty Lights.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link:

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