The Ears of God

Bible Book: Psalms  40 : 1-2
Subject: God, Nature of; God, Ears of
Series: A Portrait of God

The Ears of God

Dr. J. Mike MInnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Psalm 40:1-2

We come now to the next message in the series of sermons entitled, "A Portrait of God." The anthropomorphic characteristics of God found in the scriptures help us to know God better, and to also know ourselves better. Now turn to Psalm 40, verses 1 and 2, and lets consider, The Ears of God, and specifically, the hearing of God. If you can, and if you are willing, please stand to honor the Word of God and the God of the Word.

We need to understand that what we say, what we ask for, and how we speak is serious business. I heard a joke the other day that I want to share with you. There was this husband who was talking with his wife. She told him that she wanted him to buy her a Jaguar. He answered that he did not think that it was a very good idea to do so. But she went on to tell him that all her friends had received one from their husbands, and that she wanted one also. Again he told her that he did not think that it was a very good idea, but she insisted and insisted that he buy her a Jaguar. Finally he gave in and bought her one. Two weeks later, the Jaguar ate her.

Sometimes our selfish words may lead to serious and dangerous consequences. We can say things that are misunderstood by others, but we can be sure that God is listening and He understands and knows the meaning and purpose of all that we say.

Let's begin by looking at ...

I. The Dynamic in God's Hearing

By the dynamic of God's hearing, I am speaking of the unique characteristics in God's ability to hear. There are three specific truths I want us to remember.

A. The Range of God's Hearing

All creatures with ears have a range of hearing. That is, there are sounds which are too low or too high for our ears to receive. Dogs, for example, can hear sounds that are pitched so high that humans cannot hear them. There are actually dog whistles which you can use to call your dog, but when you blow the whistle you will not even be able to hear the sound it makes.

Interestingly, there is no sound so low or so high that God cannot hear it. God hears all! In Genesis 21:17 we note that God heard Hagar's son crying and sent an angel to minister to them.

In Exodus 2:24 we read that God heard the Hebrew people groaning under the oppression of the Egyptians, and he sent aid to them.

And, if there was ever a passage to convince you that God hears every word, read Matthew 12:36-37, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Be assured that no matter how many people are talking, and how many people are conversing, God can hear and record them all at the same time.

Also, think of ...

B. The Reach of God's Hearing

But we need to go one step deeper than simply thinking about how God can hear and consider for a moment about what God can hear. What I mean to say is, God can actually hear your thoughts.

Luke 5:21-22, "The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'" Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "'Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?'"

Look at 1 Chronicles 28:9, "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."

Words and thoughts are certainly not the same thing. A thought may be a fleeting thing, but there are some thoughts we hold on to. We cherish them and fertilize them. We may not speak the words, but the heart is holding to the thought which is evil and wrong. God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts just as clearly as the words which we speak.

Also, look with me at ...

C. The Recall of God's Hearing

Thirdly, when looking at the dynamic in God's hearing abilities, we must note that He can recall every word we have ever spoken. It is most difficult for us to do this. A party game of some years ago was based on the principle that we cannot remember what someone has told us for more than a few moments. In this game, one person whispers something to the person next to him, then that person whispers it to the next person. The whispered words go all the way around the room from person to person. At the end, the statement is compared to the original. Almost never is it the same phrase. Somewhere along the way the phrase is heard differently, though of differently perhaps, and is passed along incorrectly. But God can recall your words and thoughts precisely, without error or and without losing a single syllable. Total Recall! That is frightening, isn't it? It certainly is if you do not know the forgiveness of God in your life.

Now, consider ...

II. The Delight in God's Hearing

There are certain sounds which are a delight to the Lord. It would be good for us to rehearse what they are and to be sure we practice these sounds in our lives.

A. Praise

It is apparent from the calls for praise in the Scriptures that God loves praise. In Psalm 50:23 we read, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."

We further along read that it is a sin not to praise and glorify the Lord, as recorded in Romans 1:20-21, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

1. Worship

Worship, public and private, is one way we can offer praise to God. It is sad to see church services where a choir, band and/or praise team is lifting up praises to God, but then to see that most of the congregation is simply standing silently and not joining at all in the glory being given to God. A lot of churches record their worship services and re-play them on the internet through a website. Some choir members or praise team individuals are singing with faces that are joyful, but there are others that look like they got up on the wrong side of the bed. If we are going to praise, let's do it as worship unto the Lord of glory, the God of our salvation. He hears us. He sees us. He knows if  you are singing to Him with a face that looks like you just sucked a lemon dry.

2. Witness

We are to share a witness with the praise of the Lord, Look at Psalm 57:8-11, "Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth"

God knows that our witness will help bring others to Him. His love for sinners causes Him to desire praise. Every time we are praising God faithfully, we are making His goodness known to those who need to know Him. Actually, it is shameful that so few believers ever really share a personal witness to the greatness of God. What a surprise it will be one day in heaven when God replays our conversations for us. When we hear how much idle talk we engaged in and how little time we spend making Him known to the world.

B. Prayer

God delights to hear his people pray. Prayer has fallen out of favor in the world. Let me share a funny but sobering story from the late Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina. A teacher went into her classroom about fifteen minutes before the class was supposed to begin and caught a bunch of boys in a huddle on their knees in the corner of the room. She demanded of them what they were doing, and one of them hollered back, "We are gambling with a pair of dice." She said, "That's good, go right ahead, for a moment there I thought you were praying."(Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., The Preacher Joke Book, edited by Loyal Jones, pp. 25-26.) It is true, isn't it, that gambling on a school room floor is more accepted in school than a sincere prayer to God!

Even if prayer has fallen out of favor in certain corners of the world, prayer has always found favor with God.

There was a certain church where the people engaged in what might be called responsive praying. Someone in the congregation would spontaneously respond to each request made in a public prayer. It is in the day when you had to pay a lot of money to make a phone call to a foreign country. The pastor stood to pray one morning, caught up in the reality of the judgment day. On the front row, as usual, the church treasurer was sound asleep. The pastor prayed, "Dear Lord, one of these days we are going to wake up, and it's going to be dark everywhere!"

A deacon cried out, "Lord, help us!"

The church treasurer awoke suddenly. The pastor continued, "And we are going to pick up the telephone and call Hong Kong, and they are going to say, `It's dark over here!'"

A different deacon shouted, "Lord, have mercy!"

The preacher raised his voice and kept going. He said, "We're going to pick up the phone and call Honolulu, and they are going to say, `It's dark over here!'"

Now another deacon said, "Lord, deliver us!"

The preached, egged on by the responding deacons said, "Then we're going to pick up the phone and call Paris, and they are going to say, `It's dark over here!'"

Once again, a deacon shouted, "Lord, deliver us!"

The preacher then said, "We're going to pick up the phone and call Moscow, and they are going to say, `It's dark over here!'"

The church treasurer, silent up until this time, uncontrollably cried, "Lord! Lord! What a phone bill!"

The great thing about calling on Jesus is the call is already paid for. Christ paid it at Calvary. We have access through Him. God calls upon us to call upon Him. He loves to hear His children praying. Look at Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

Note Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."

That is why the Bible says, "Casting your cares upon Him, for He cares for you." The Lord desires that we meet with Him. The songwriter penned,

"I must tell Jesus
All of my trials
I cannot bear these burdens alone
In my distress
He kindly will help me
He ever cares and loves His own.
I must tell Jesus
I must tell Jesus
I cannot bear these burdens alone
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone." (I Must Tell Jesus lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave)

Yes, Jesus hears us when we call upon Him - and He answers prayers of faith and sincerity.

C. Purity

Note how important our words are, James 1:26 states, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."

Ephesians 5:4-5 reads, "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

  • Conversations
  • Associations
  • Negotiations

"It is not well for man to pray cream and live skim milk," said Henry Ward Beecher

III. The Denial in God's Hearing

We must be aware that there are some things that cause God to cut off His hearing. It is not that God cannot hear, but that He refuses to hear or heed our call to Him.

A. Sinfulness

When we regard or cherish sin, God closes His ears to us.

Look at Psalm 66:18-20,

"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!"

B. Slothfulness

Another thing that causes God to stop hearing us is laziness or slothfulness on our part. We must be persistent in prayer. We must be patient. The Psalmist said, I waited on the Lord and He heard me and answered me! We must not grow weary in well doing.

In Job 30:20 we read, "I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me." Yet, Job kept praying and waiting. Finally, his answer came. Job was blessed more at the end of his life than at the beginning.

A woman telephoned the manager of a large opera house and told him she had lost a valuable diamond pin the night before at the concert. The man asked her to hold the line. A search was made and the brooch was found; but when he got back to the phone, the woman had hung up. He waited for her to call again, and even put a notice in the paper, but he heard nothing further. What a strange and foolish person, we say, but isn't this the way some of us pray? We tell the Lord all about our needs, but then fail to hold the line. As a result, we miss the joy of answered prayer and the thrill and reward of a persistent faith.

C. Selfishness

James says that we often do not get what we ask for because we ask in selfishness. Look at James 4:3, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

Another part of selfishness is the act of not forgiving those who have sinned against us.

D. Skepticism

Faith is an absolute requirement for God to hear and bless our prayers. There are so many verses on this that it goes without saying that one must believe that God is and that He is the rewarder of those who come to Him or you cannot have your prayers answered.

Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo), told the following story: A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So during devotions that morning we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her little sister who was now an orphan. One of the girls responded, Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won't feel so lonely. That afternoon a large parcel arrived from England. Eagerly the children watched as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to delve deeper, exclaiming, If God sent that, I'm sure He also send at doll. And she was right! The Heavenly Father knew in advance of the child's sincere requests, and 5 months before, He had led a ladies group to include both of those specific articles. Although many of our prayers are not answered so dramatically, God always sends what is best. Let's praise Him for His loving responses to our needs.

IV. The Dividend in God's Hearing

There are blessings untold in knowing how to speak in the presence of God. In fact, speaking correctly can result in more than answered prayer - it can lead to much more than you asked for!

A. A Promise is Realized

God gives us this as a promise - He will hear us and He will answer us. This is not wishing or guessing, this is God's promise. O, why do we not pray more frequently and more powerfully? Because we do not have confidence in God and in His gift of prayer to us!

B. A Presence is Realized

John says that God hears us when we pray. Think of how close you have to be to hear someone talking. Think of how much closer you have to be to hear someone whispering. But think of how close you would have to be to hear someone thinking!!! The Bible tells us that Hannah prayed without making any sound and God heard her and answered her. Wow! God even hears private, silent prayers. That is how close God is to those who call upon Him.

Paul spoke of this in Philippians 4:4ff. He said that the God of peace is with us when we pray and trust Him in prayer! Do you want to get close to God, get down in prayer!

C. A Peace is Realized

Yes, there is a great peace that comes when you have confidence in God through prayer. That is why Paul also says that the peace of God is with those who pray with faith and faithfulness. God wants us to have peace that He is hearing us and will answer us when we call upon Him! He wants us to know that He will do more than we ask, when we ask aright.

D. A Power is Realized

God's power is unleashed in our lives. He does do what we ask, He does much more than we ask! Solomon was told to pray and ask what he would from the Lord. He prayed, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" (1 Kings 3:9)

Conclusion

Solomon prayed for wisdom to help him take care of God's people properly. Listen to what God did for him. In 1 Kings 3:11-12 we read what God did, "And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given Thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like Thee before Thee, neither after Thee shall any arise like unto Thee."

God did more than Solomon asked for. God not only gave him what he asked for, he promised to make him smarter than any man in history. God went on to add even more. He told Solomon that He would give him wealth and honor. He also added that He would lengthen his days upon the earth.

We find this same principle in the New Testament.

  • A man was brought to Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 9:2, who had palsy. Note what Jesus did for him. This paralyzed man sought Jesus for healing, but Jesus did for more than simply heal him. Read Matthew 9:6, and you will see that Jesus also forgave his sins and told him to take up his bed and walk.
  • The man dying on the cross asked to remembered. Jesus gave Him eternal life and took him to paradise that very day.
  • The crippled man at the Gate Beautiful asked for some coins to help in his poverty, but he was healed and made to stand up and walk. He got far more than he asked for. God will not just answer our prayers, He will do more than we can think or ask! We must commit our speech to Him. We must have our lips cleansed.

God is listening now for your voice. Is there some praise you ought to give Him? Is there a need you need to bring to Him? Is there a sin you need to confess to Him? Is there some soul here today that needs to ask for salvation? He is listening. Now, let us respond.

Extra Illustration

This was written by a teen in Bagdad, Arizona.

"Now I sit me down in school

Where praying is against the rule

For this great nation under God

Finds mention of Him very odd.

If Scripture now the class recites,

It violates the Bill of Rights.

And anytime my head I bow

Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,

That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.

The law is specific, the law is precise.

Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall

Might offend one with no faith at all.

In silence alone we must meditate,

God's name is prohibited by the state.

We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,

And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.

They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.

To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,

And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.

It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,

We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.

We can get our condoms and birth controls,

Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.

But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,

It's scary here I must confess,

When chaos reigns the school's a mess.

So, Lord, this silent plea I make:

Should I be shot; My soul please take!"

Amen (Source Unknown)