Quarter’s Theme: Discovering Spiritual Maturity
Unit 2 Theme: Practicing Spiritual Maturity Essentials (Lessons 4-9)
Sunday 28/12/ 2014
THE HABIT OF ATTENTIVENESS
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 186
Devotional Reading: JAMES 1:19-25
Topic For Adults
BE SWIFT TO HEAR
Topic For Youths
BE A GOOD LISTENER
Topic For Intermediates
LK 6:46-49; 7:28-35; 10:38-42; 19:47-48; ACTS 17:11; 8:29-39
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (Jam. 1:19).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Blessings Of Being Attentive
The level of attention that a man gives the Word of God dictates the level he will walk with God. There are those who don’t pay attention at all to God’s word; there are those who give cursory attention to what God has to say and there are those who meditate on God’s laws day and night. It is a spiritual law that when you pay close attention to what God is saying, you cannot be stranded in life. Attention to His Word separates you from the counsel of the ungodly, from the path of the sinners and from the seat of the scornful. God ensures that those who pay attention to His words and diligently obey are blessed. In all they do, they prosper. If you have been flippant in your attitude to God’s Word before, change today that you may begin to prosper.
Point of Emphasis: Those who delight in the law of the Lord prosper in all they do.
Prayer Point: I receive the heart and mind that pay diligent attention to the word of God.
Watchman Nee during one of his training sessions for Christian workers in
1948-49 about the ministry of the Word said, “If three or five brothers
are just spectators trying to find out what is going on, having closed spirit and feeling no need to touch or receive God’s word or to prostrate themselves before him, the word will be frustrated. It will be so frustrated that it will be bound completely. The more spiritual the things we try to impart to others are, the easier it is for our speaking to be affected by men. The less spiritual the things we have to give to others are, the less likely our speaking will be affected. The one thing that threatens the ministry of the word is an air of being wise and intelligent. The gentler the audience is, the stronger the word will be released …”
NOTES ON THIS TEXT
- THE MEANING OF ATTENTIVENESS: LUKE 10:38-42; 19:47-48
Attentiveness is showing the worth of a person by giving undivided concentration to his words. It is also the act of being considerate, courteous and thoughtful. Scriptural synonyms for attentiveness include giving ear, listening, heeding, attending, hearkening, hearing, considering and keeping. Attentiveness is hearing to hear. It goes beyond audible sound but recognising the voice of God as He speaks (Ps. 62:11; Prov. 4:1; 5:1).
Attentiveness is the ability to control your action and reaction to what is going on around you and within you in such a way that it won’t constitute a distraction to you. Sometimes what distracts you is within you and until you honestly deal with it, you cannot have a meaningful and rewarding faith-walk with God (Lk. 10:38-42). Attentiveness is first a matter of the heart rather than posture. It is having a pure heart and a right focus (Heb. 3:12; 4:2). Attentiveness is being where you are and concentrating on what is being said. It is attentiveness that helps you to get the best of the moment. Make the best of every opportunity. Attentiveness is by choice. I will hear no matter what! (Ps. 85:8).
- THE IMPORTANCE OF ATTENTIVENESS: LUKE 6:46-49
Attentiveness is a communication skill with a very vast range of importance. Some of its importance includes the following: (1). It is an indicator of honour (Lk. 6:46-49). When you listen attentively to God’s Word, you are honoring Him. Conversely, when you fail to pay attention to God’s Word, you are dishonoring Him. (2) It is the route through which faith comes (Rom. 10:17). God would always send His Word ahead of you to prepare your way, to build up your faith muscle and to condition your character to align with where He is taking you. What you don’t pay attention to, you don’t have faith for because attention is the bedrock of faith; faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by passionate attentiveness. The faith of many is deflated because their hearing is defective. Acts 17:28-34.
III. DEFECTIVE HEARING: LUKE 7:28-35
There are basically two hearings that affect our faith. They are: defective hearing and effective hearing. Defective hearing can be seen in the following areas: (1) Hearing as a judge, critic or faultfinder with a closed mind with presupposition (Matt. 26:57-68): When you have a closed mind, the Word sent to deliver you would be an offense to you (Ex. 6:1-9; Lk.7:28-35; Eph. 4:30-32). Watchman Nee said: “When there is a person who thinks highly of himself or who is a critical bystander, the speaker cannot release the word in a pure way even if he has the word”. (2) Hearing as a mocker (To hold up to scorn or ridicule) – Acts 17:28-34; Jude 18: The human limita-tions of the minister of the Word should not be used as a license to ridicule the Word (II Cor. 10:7-11). We must know that it is God’s Word (I Thess. 2:13). (3) Hearing as a spectator – Ezek. 33:30-33: A gentle spirit will always make a demand on the anointing but a proud spirit will repel the anointing. Others in the category of defective hearing are: (4) Hearing as a doubter or unbeliever – Luke 1:11-20; 30-38; John 2:45-50; Acts 17:28-34; Heb. 4:2: The Word of God comes at almost impossibly high level that baffles our human comprehen-sion but when we know that the weight of performance is on the credibility of the one who spoke, we can easily worship and say “Amen” [Rom.4:16-25]. (5) Hearing as a consumer – John 6:24-27, 53-66: Majority of people in Churches today fall into this category. Many are after their needs being met. As far as it is true that God meets our needs through His Word, the utmost purpose for God sending His Word is to reveal His will to us and thereby mature and conform us to the image of His Son. We must go beyond seeking Him for our needs but seeking Him for His will. Our needs are taken care of in His will (Matt. 6:25-34).
- EFFECTIVE HEARING: ACTS 17:11; 8:29-39
Effective hearing can be exhibited in the following ways: (1) Hearing as a seeker or learner – Ps.85:8: When we know that there is another dimension of God that we have never known and that the best of our revelation is just a part of the puzzle, it helps us to condition our hearts as learners anytime we come to His presence. We must always come as infants ready to be fed (Matt. 11:25; I Pet. 2:2). Avoid closing up your mind immediately the passage is read. (2) Hearing as a sower – Is. 55:10-11: It is not every word that comes that is for you. All you need to do is to be attentive, take the wheat and throw away the chaff. The riddle behind the ministry of the Word is that what looks like a chaff to you might be wheat to someone else; that is why you must not use the depth of your knowledge to keep someone else in bondage. Knowledge projection is very dangerous to the body. As a sower, you are not only hearing to meet your needs but you are hearing to get some seeds. When you hear as a sower, you are meticulously following the thought pattern of the speaker. A wise sower gets many viable seeds and puts them in storage waiting for the time of sowing (Prov. 10:14; Eccl. 10:16-17). You cannot be a good speaker if you are not a good hearer, a good reader, a good writer and a good organiser. For a sower, every meeting is an opportunity to get seeds. (3) Hearing as a Disciple: A wise disciple listens, jots down points, notes points that need clarification and seeks a private audience with the teacher. Real learning begins after the teaching is concluded (Matt. 13:36-43).
Don’t jump over what you don’t know. It might be the next problem to solve in the exams of life. Shun every form of defective hearing and develop effective hearing. You dignify what you hear by putting it into writing. One of the habits an aspiring disciple must consciously cultivate is the habit of note taking. “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips”. If you haven’t put your observations on paper, you haven’t really thought about them (Hab. 2:1-4; Ex. 17:14-16; I Sam. 15-1-3; 34:27-28; Deut. 6:9; Jer. 30:2; 36:2, 17, 28; Rev. 1:11; 2:1; 19:9; II Tim. 4:13). Keep a good note because God could call for them, your assignment could require them, your situation might need them and you might need them in the nearest future (II Tim. 4:13).
- How can you define attentiveness?
- What is defective hearing?
- Give two examples of defective hearing.
- What in your own words, is effective hearing?
- Give two examples of effective hearing.