We have two ears and one mouth; therefore, listening is much better than talking. This is something that I have always said to the children under my care in Children’s Ministry. Whenever I am trying to present the lesson and to teach them what the Lord has for them that day, there is always that group, those few children who desire to talk instead of listen. So I remind them that God gave us two ears and one mouth, therefore, listening is what He desires most. This usually works, but sometimes it goes right over their heads. I think the same can be true for us. We know that to listen is better than talking, but we have a tendency to speak first then listen later. Yesterday, as I was studying Acts 11 this truth jumped out at me again. I was reminded that listening comes first and before I can ever walk, I must first learn to listen.
I am not going to write out the whole of Chapter 11 for you. But what I am going to show you is what the Lord showed me out of His word. Acts Chapter 11 is right after the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit and the gift of salvation. Peter has preached to the house of Cornelius and they have all received the Word and accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts. As a result, a Pentecost of sorts has fallen upon them. Peter and those who went with him experienced the Lord pouring out His Spirit upon them and now He has now poured it out upon the Gentiles- in the same way. Peter and the others with him walk into town, and they are bombarded with questions as to why Peter would go to the Gentiles, and how is it possible that God would include these kinds of people. Had the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem not been listening to God’s word, none of them would have heard a word of what Peter said, and they would have missed a great miracle of Salvation, and a would have missed the moving of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
“Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.” Acts 11:1
As I read these words I heard the Lord speak to me and tell me that this was the first step. The word “received” is the first step we must take if we want to grow and change and become the people God desires us to be. To receive means to hear and take hold of what was heard. It means to believe the words that were spoken. We have been given two ears; therefore, listening, hearing and receiving are the first steps to our walks with the Lord. We are to have ears that are taking hold of what we hear from God’s Word. Many times I have found myself reading God’s Word and thinking- “Wow, my husband needs to read this!” Or I have found myself saying, “If only (name of sister) could read this, this would answer all her problems!” But I sometimes forget that every time I read God’s Word, or I listen to God’s word, or I sit under the teaching of God’s Word it is first and foremost for me. God speaks to me, personally and intimately through His Word- it is for me and only for me. It might apply to someone else’s life, but it first and foremost applies to me and my life.
God desires that we hear His word. He desires that we hear it, consent to it as truth and believe that what we are hearing is directly from Him. “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear, for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 12:2) Anytime we hear the word of God and do not receive it for ourselves, we become a rebellious house. Anytime we read His word, or sit under the teaching of His word and do not receive it for our own personal walk, we have become a rebellious house.
When we read or study or listen to God’s word, we are “receiving” it. It goes into our heads and we hear it, we acknowledge it to be truth. But, if we do not take it any farther, if we do not choose to take the next step then we have become a rebellious house. I had a pastor once say that the Word of God has to go from our heads to our hearts and then to our feet. These are the steps the Lord is showing us today as well. We receive the Word; we accept it as truth into our heads, but sometimes we don’t let it go any farther, which leads me to my next point.
“Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing.” Acts 11:12
Doubting nothing- this is a hard one. But, it refers to our hearts. After we hear God’s word, we receive it and accept it as truth. Then we must also not doubt what He has spoken. We read and hear God’s Word and the Holy Spirit shows us how to apply it through experience, trials, troubles, etc. He shows us how we are to live out what the Lord has spoken to us through His Word, and we are to doubt nothing. This is the point where we move the Word from our heads to our hearts.
Doubting nothing means that we do not waver in what He has spoken to us. We have received it, now it must become a part of us. We must allow the Holy Spirit to work it out in us. We must take the word and allow Him to implant it in our hearts. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:21-22)
God’s word is implanted into our hearts. It is rooted and grounded into the very depths of who we are. If we desire to live a godly life, if we seek to live for Christ, then His word has to become who we are. We hear the word of God, and that is good, but if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to implant the seeds of His word into our hearts, then we are no better than the seeds that fell on stony ground. (Mark 4:5) If there is not any depth in our hearts, if there is not a willingness to move God’s Word from our heads to the soil of our hearts, then we will find ourselves as hearers only, deceiving ourselves. God’s Word was written specifically for you. It was written so that you could grow in your relationship with your God and so that you could learn how to walk worthy of the calling to which He has called you. (Ephesians 4:1) We hear the word and think immediately of someone else, but that word is for you- and you only.
So far we have learned that we must move the Word of God spoken to us from our heads to our hearts, that we must allow the Holy Spirit to implant His word into the soil of our lives so that we may take the next step. The next step is that we must learn to walk it out. We hear the Word of God, we receive it, we implant it, but we must also walk it out.
“When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Acts 11:23
Purpose means to place something in view. The word of God that has been received and implanted in our hearts, it now must become the goal, the prize, and the race that we run. Why do we walk? Why do we run this race? We run and we walk for the goal, for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:14) We are called to walk worthy of the calling, (Ephesians 4:1) we are called to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him (Colossians 1:10) and we are encouraged to walk with purpose because God is worthy, and He has called us to Him. (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
We must first be willing to receive the Word that God has for each of us. It is not for others, it is for you and you only. We must want to receive, we must want to walk worthy, and we must desire to hear His voice. We must desire to use our ears instead of our mouths. We must desire to be doers and not hearers only. We must want to be obedient to what He says to us through His word. When we have ready minds and ready hearts to receive, then and only then will the Holy Spirit be able to implant His word in us and give us the purpose for walking it out.
The first step we must take in our daily lives is to receive the word of God for ourselves. We must be the ready ground, the tilled soil ready to receive whatever the Lord has for us this day. (Mark 4:3-20) The next step is to allow the Holy Spirit to implant the word of God into our hearts, and do not doubt nor become discouraged through the trials, struggles and experiences He must take us through. We must allow Him to dig deep into our very souls so that His word becomes a part of us, it becomes who we are. “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)
Then we must allow Him to change us, to mold us, to give us the feet and the purpose we need to walk worthy of the calling to which He has called us. We must be willing to say, “Whatever it takes Lord”. We must willingly allow Him to do whatever He has to do so that we can take the final step and walk it out. Be doers, be obedient to what He has shown you. Move His word from your head to your heart, and allow Him to move it to your feet. Don’t leave it to grow wild in your heart and allow the enemy to snatch it away, or the heat of the trial dry it up, move it to your feet and let His word give you the purpose, the way in which you must go. Into our heads, down to our hearts, and out our feet- it’s the only way for us to be Christians God has called us to be. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.
A simple prayer to pray to as you come before God’s Word: “Holy Spirit, open my ears to hear, my heart to receive, and give my feet the strength to walk it out. In Jesus Name, Amen.”