Open my ears, O Lord, to Hear
“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning, he awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.” (Isa 50:4)
It is the design of God in the new covenant, that all who come to faith in Jesus, are to learn to listen for the Shepherd’s voice. This is a learning experience. The ability to hear comes with spiritual growth and with our willingness to walk in obedience to God.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (Joh 10:27-28)
The sad note is that those of the Jewish people who refused to accept Jesus as God’s Messiah, is that they not only lost their place as the earthly kingdom of God, but they also lost their ability to hear clearly and directly from God. Israel would become a scattered people, like sheep without a Shepherd.
The Time Was Coming
John the Baptist had given the warning –
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?‘ …
“‘The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“‘As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'” (Mat 3:6-11)
In this context, every time John uses the term ‘fire’, he is speaking of a judgment to come. It is important to understand this. (From the time of John the Baptist to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, there would be 40 years. The 40 years had to do with that generation.)
Then in verse 12 of that same setting, John says,
“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Mat 3:12)
The wheat represents the believing Jewish people. The chaff represents the Christ-rejecting people.
The Chapter Closes
As the book of Acts closes, the time for the out-gathering of the Jews was nearing the end of its forty-year apex. Jerusalem would soon lie smoldering in flames. The temple and every trace of the Old Testament covenant of Law, would be no more. When the sacrifice of the cross is rejected, there is no other sacrifice to be had.
The apostle Paul has these last words for the Jews in Rome, as he quotes the prophet Isaiah —
“And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word,
“The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive …
” … for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their eyes they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and I would heal them.
“Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” (Act 28:25-28)
Makes you wonder how many today fit this category. Yes, there is a judgment coming. I pray that none of my readers have closed their eyes and their ears. Have you?
Let’s come back to the issue of the listening ear with regard to Christians.
Listen So that You May Live
We begin as babes in Christ, and afterwards we continue to grow in all areas of our walk with Him. Jesus gave a gauge to set the tone for our new covenant walk with Him. It has to do with ‘seeking’. We are to seek His kingdom rule, and to seek His righteous path.
Seeking the kingdom has to do with seeking the direct rule of God over our lives. Seeking for His righteousness has to do with walking in the path that the Lord has ordained for us. David said the Lord leads us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.
The prophets had long spoken of the Messiah’s kingdom to come. It was this knowledge that Jesus used to cause discomfort among the Jewish religious leaders. Various ones would try to trip Him up. The Lord disarmed each of His opponents.
It is at this juncture that the Lord asks them a question. He said,
“How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”‘
“Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?” (Luke 20:40-44)
Jesus is quoting from Psalm 110. What caused the religious leaders concern was that the people fully accepted Psalm 110, in regard to the Messiah. They knew Messiah was to be a descendant of David. Yet in this Psalm, David actually calls the Messiah his Lord.
How can Messiah be David’s son, and yet also be David’s Lord?
David does much more. He also calls the Messiah, God’s Son. Listen –
“Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.
“Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psa 2:10-12)
Do you again see the judgment language. It all centers on doing homage to the Son.
This doing homage to the Son is especially seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. The disciples are terrified. But the message is clear –
“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’
“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said,
‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’
“When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.” (Mat 17:4-6)
Did you catch it? Who are we to listen to?
For the sake of repeating myself, let me say it again. The Lord did not come to give us another religion, a better religion, or a more-correct religion. He came to give us life. This life is found in the Son. Learn to listen to Him, and you will learn to walk in the life.
Now let’s talk about …
The Decree of the Cross
If you are not familiar with the decree of the cross, here it is –
“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Act2:21; Rom10:13)
But there is more at hand. Since Jesus is talking to disciples in the sermon on the mountain, He is laying out kingdom principles. The word for kingdom is ‘besileia’. This word translates over into English as royal power, kingship, dominion, rule.
Jesus is not speaking of a kingdom that can be measured by borders. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world. It will be a kingdom of the heart.
What we are to seek is the royal rule of the King in our lives. This is the essence of kingdom Life.
Paul has this in mind, in saying,
“As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Col2:6)
The apostle is telling us to live out our lives in the sphere of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus said we were to seek His kingdom rule, and His ‘righteous’ plan for our lives.
The issue here is not the righteousness we are given when we are born again. Every believer is given perfect righteousness before the throne of God when they are born again. However, the issue here is ‘pathways.’ (How to live out our life.)
Seek the Pathway of the Lord
In the new covenant every person has direct access to the throne of heaven, all the time, every time, wherever and whenever. Notice that Jesus places our kingdom-righteous walk in the care of our loving Father.
Peter elaborates on this, when he says,
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2Pet1:3)
Paul says much the same;
“So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or the world or life or death of things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” (1Co3:21,23)
Here is the point at hand –
Have you ever noticed that as a believer becomes really serious about seeking and serving the Lord, that their lot in life begins to improve. It is because the Lord sees to both to our spiritual needs and our temporal needs.
This means more than having our needs met. Seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness means we have an obligation to see where we fit in the Father’s business. The most miserable Christian on earth is that one who gets caught up in seeking blessings, but does not seek his or her place of service.
We all begin our walk under the auspices of some sort of church life. This is well and good as far as it goes. Yet the very purpose of our gathering as a flock is so that we can be taught how to live under the personal Lordship of Jesus.
If the church begins to take the place of the personal Lordship of Jesus, then we have entered into the zone of religion-worship. Whether we realize this or not, we are exchanging Lordship of Jesus for our religion. (Think about it.)
The Key Will Always be Lordship
The first time I heard the Lord speak directly to my heart was in 1964. Jesus spoke to me from the Scriptures, and said, ‘Have I been so long time with you Buddy, and you do not know who I am.”
Rather than elaborate on this, you may wish to read my personal story: http://buddymartin.net/blog/testimony/
From that time on my life has been a journey of seeking and finding. Over these almost fifty years of walking with the Lord Jesus, He has often spoken to me. He has spoken by impressions of the heart, by visions and dreams, many times through others, and often by a direct word from His mouth.
In all this I was learning how to listen. Have I ever missed it? Yes, several times. But that goes with the ‘learning’.
I thought it would be good to share one of my personal stories. For lack of a better term, I’ll call it…
The Gate to Miracle Land
Having pastored our first church and afterwards entering into the evangelistic field, I was beginning to experience spiritual fatigue. I was tired. My family was tired. More than anything else, I needed a spiritual restructuring of my life. So, in 1971, I left the full time ministry for a season.
The next three years would prove to be crucial to the Lord’s plans for my future. It was during that season that the Lord baptized me into His Word. I realize how strange that sounds, but I don’t know any other way to explain it. The sacred Scriptures began to take on a life that has continued to this very day.
Early in 1975, the time came. I was at the place where I could say, “Lord, I’ll go anywhere you want me to go. I’ll do anything you want me to do. All I ask is that You tell me Yourself what you want me to do. Don’t send someone to tell me.”
The dye was set. In just a few short weeks the Lord offered me an invitation to walk through what I can only term, ‘the gate to miracle land.’
It happened Friday morning, January 19, 1975. That morning I was playing my guitar and singing to the Lord. I even remember the song. It was about the Battle of Armageddon.
That is when it happened. While I was singing and worshipping, I heard the Lord say, ‘Go home!’ It was so real, that Betty and I took our children out of school and headed north. We were living in South Louisiana and home was Central Louisiana.
I kept trying to figure out what the Lord had in store. I began making plans to visit a number of churches that I had held revivals in. I thought perhaps the Lord wanted me to share my testimony. Was I ever wrong. That wasn’t what the Lord had in store at all.
We took our children to my sister’s home. Across the road from her house was a church I had held my first revival in. The lights were on. I found it odd since it wasn’t a church night. Cars were everywhere. I thought this must be where I am to begin.
We stepped in the door and sat quietly in the back. A service was in progress. I waited, but the Lord said nothing else. ‘What are we doing here?’
That is when the minister recognized me, he said, “Welcome brother and sister Martin. Brother Martin, do you have anything you would like to share.”
I absolutely did not know what to say. I simply stood, and said, “Brother, I don’t know why the Lord sent me, but I am here.”
When I spoke those first words, there was a holy hush. Then I heard weeping in the congregation. What I didn’t know was they had lost a pastor, and they had been praying for the Lord to send them ‘their’ pastor.
The Lord had given them the witness. Their pastor was standing in their midst. That was the beginning of my new venture into the world that I had only skirted around. It was the world of a disciple.
Was it easy? No. I had a business in South Louisiana. How could I refuse. Yet the struggle in my mind continued as we drove 120 miles each way, each week, to begin pastoring that country church.
But the Lord never leaves us hanging loose. While sitting on the platform with my struggles, once again I heard the Lord speak in my heart. He said, ‘I have given you the heart of a pastor.’
At that very moment something happened inside me. The struggle was over.
I could share story after story of how the Lord has provided for us, and has continued to do so from that day. He has taught us principles of discipleship. And through that gate to miracle land would come another ministry called, Christian Challenge International, a ministry that would be entrusted with teaching believers how to live the life of a disciple.
But as a believer, you will have many of your own stories to tell.
Walking through that gate was the best thing that had ever happened to my wife and me. It brought us to where we are today.
And it all had to do with having my ears opened to hear from the Lord.
How About You?
Is there a gate the Lord would have you walk through?
Rather than add anything else at this point, let me simply point out that the level of our walk with the Lord can always be measured by how we respond to the principles of His kingdom. I only shared one principle. The Sermon on the Mountains is filled with instructions for the disciple.
You may want to read through the sermon again. Do it like it is a first time. Listen to the Spirit of the Lord. Just put your disciple ‘glasses’ on as you read it.
In the mean time take a listen to Eric Tom, as he sings, ‘Here I am Lord.’
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Your brother in Christ,