The Importance of Listening

 

“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong” (Hebrews 5:11-14 MSG)

 

To listen means ‘to pay attention to something being said’, ‘to obey’, ‘to catch’, ‘to concentrate’, ‘to tune in’, ‘to observe’, ‘to hear and pay attention’. Listening is different from hearing in that, hearing is more passive and requires little effort. Merely hearing has very little attached to it besides receiving sound vibrations. Listening is hearing plus paying attention with the aim of getting maximum benefit from what is being heard. Listening is purposeful hearing.

People with bad listening habits undermine their own growth and development. Listening well is so crucial in all realms of personal development.

When you attend any meeting especially meetings in the house of God, it is very important that you listen to what is being said and taught. Our opening verse shows us that some of God’s people have picked up a bad habit of not listening when they go to the house of God.

This bad habit of not listening has serious repercussions on them especially with respect to their spiritual growth and development. It is hard to get anything across to people who do not listen. Until you listen and listen well, you are unable to understand the Word of God as you should and this has an adverse effect on your spiritual growth and more so, on the quality of life you live.

The Bible says in the 82nd Psalm that people who lack understanding will continue to walk in darkness. “They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” (Psalms 82:5). The first step however in gaining spiritual understanding is giving the Word of God your attention. The man who will not listen well will not understand well.

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV)

 

The Effects of Not Listening

  1. You make it hard for your man of God to get anything across to you.
  2. You are unable to receive spiritual understanding.
  3. You become slothful in achieving spiritual insight.

Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even slothful in achieving spiritual insight]. (Hebrews 5:11 AMP)

  1. You are unable to develop spiritually.
  2. You are unable to become a teacher in the house of God.
  3. You are unable to make progress in life.

This is because you keep needing to have someone go over the basics with you and start you out from square one. In effect, you take one step forward and one step backward.

  1. You are unable to go on to the greater truths of the kingdom of God.
  2. You will remain inexperienced in God’s ways.

The difference between the wise and the unwise is evident by their listening habits. The Bible says, “a wise person will listen and continue to learn, and an understanding person will gain direction” (Proverbs 1:5 GW). The Greek word translated ‘listen’ is “shama’ which means to hear intelligently, to hear attentively, to discern, and to make an effort to understand. The wise hear intelligently but the unwise do not.

Decide from today to give the Word of God rapt attention. Don’t take up the bad habit of not listening and not paying attention. Be one who gains maximum benefit from the Word of God because of the manner in which tune in, observe, concentrate and catch revelations from you man of God.

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Riches & Godliness: How to be Good at Being Rich

“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven—it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well” (1Timothy 6:17-19 TLB)

There are two kinds of rich people. These are:

1) Those who are good at being rich

2) Those who are not good at being rich.

Those who are good at being rich have overcome the dizzying effects of being rich. I will show you how to be good at being rich according to the Scriptures.

 

How to be Good at Being Rich

1. Show respect to all men irrespective of their social standing. “Tell those who are rich not to be proud…” (1Tim. 6:17 TLB). Proud people do not show respect to many people especially when they perceive they are better placed in society than other people. However, those who are good at being rich show utmost respect to all men.

2. Walk in love towards all people.

3. Use your money to do good.Tell them to use their money to do good…” (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). Those who are good at being rich use their money to promote only good and worthy causes. Those who are not good at being rich use their money to perpetrate evil.

4. Be rich in good works.They should be rich in good works…” (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). Some rich people use their money to do good sometimes but are not rich in good works. Much of their riches go into selfish expenditure while very little goes into good works. Such people may spend a lot of money on a custom-made vehicle and think that the same amount of money that went into the purchase of that vehicle is too much for the work of the ministry and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such people do not do good lavishly. Being rich in good works also denotes giving not just money, but a lot of time, effort and energy in doing good.

5. Be liberal and generous of heart. “…And should give happily to those in need…” (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). The liberal soul gives happily to those in need. He is moved with compassion when he sees the needs of others and acts to meet those needs.

6. Be ready to share what you have with others. “…Always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them… (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). 

7. Realize that whatever you have was given to you by God. “…Ready to share with others whatever God has given them… (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). The man who will be good at being rich must start out with the awareness that whatever he has was given to him by God. This will set the pace for wisdom in the use of those riches.

8. Keep your hopes on God’s Word and God’s prescriptions for solving problems. Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to…set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God…” (1Tim. 6:17 TLB). Those who are good at being rich do not allow their trust to shift from God to riches. Such a person thinks “What does God’s Word say about this kind of problem or challenge?” rather than “How much money do I need to solve this problem?”. He would often pray about an issue first instead of quickly taking refuge in the potential of his money.

You can be good at being rich. That way, you become truly blessed and fruitful on this earth while storing up real treasures for yourself in heaven. God bless you! 

 

Riches & Godliness: Challenges of the Rich in Christ

“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:23-27 KJV)

People are often under the impression that it is impossible for a person to be rich and godly at the same time. However, that impression is erroneous. Jesus did not say it was impossible for those who had and trusted in their riches to enter the kingdom of God. What he said was that it was going to be difficult for them to enter the kingdom of God.

He went on to say that even though it was going to be difficult, it is a feat that is possible to achieve with God.

The wisdom of God personified in the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs said that she had “durable riches and righteousness” (vs. 18) in her possession at the same time. She also said she would cause those who love her (wisdom) to “inherit substance” (vs. 21).

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions…..I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness…..I lead in the way of righteousness…..That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” (Proverbs 8:12-21 KJV)

These Scriptures let us know that:

  • It is feasible for an individual to have riches and righteousness when he functions with the wisdom of God.
  • Wisdom causes those who love her to inherit substance.
  • Durable (enduring and lasting) riches are found in the way of righteousness.
  • Riches and righteousness are not opposing or contrary forces (as many people erroneously perceive).

The born again Christian is born rich and born righteous. Christ became poor that we might be rich.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2Corinthians 8:9 KJV)

Christ has also been made wisdom to the born again believer. Just like we saw in the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs, we see also in the new creation man a vital connection between wisdom, riches and righteousness. The new creation man is therefore rich and righteous, possessing the wisdom of God.

The rich in Christ however face some challenges in their walk of godliness on account of their riches. These have been outlined below in what I call, ‘The Challenges of the Rich in their Walk of Godliness’.

 

The Challenges of the Rich in their Walk of Godliness

1. The temptations and acts of pride and arrogancy.

The rich are prone to making offensive displays of superiority or self-importance.

2. The temptations and acts of contemptuousness towards others.

The rich often have strong tendencies to disdain, scorn and disrespect others, especially when they are of a relatively lower financial standing. Rich people who have overcome such tendencies stand out as psychologically mature and people of commendable virtue.

3. The temptations and acts of setting one’s hopes on riches that are uncertain.

4. The temptations and acts of not trusting God in many, most or all circumstances.

5. The temptations and acts of shifting primary hope from God to money.

6. The temptations and acts of seeing one’s money as the source of safety and security.

“A rich person’s wealth is his strong city and is like a high wall in his imagination.” (Proverbs 18:11 GW)

7. Not realizing that there are some things that money cannot protect you from.

“Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 11:4 KJV)

8. Not being conscious of the fact that there are some things that money cannot buy.

9. Not coming to terms with the fact that money cannot cure many thoughts and feelings of insecurity.

In spite of all these challenges, you must realize that it is possible to be good at being rich. Understand that when the Word of God gains the ascendancy in your life, these challenges become very easy to deal with because the Word shapes your character. Meditate on these things and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you a few things along these lines. God bless you!

Quote

“The two main things that make for the contrast between the righteous and the ungodly in terms of how well they fare in life are: their associations and the value that they place on God’s Word.”
~ EDEM AFFRAM

Wisdom gleaned from the Bible (Psalm 1).

Miracle-Eliminating Opinions

Elisha answered, “Listen to the word of the LORD! This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow 24 cups of the best flour will sell for half an ounce of silver in the gateway to Samaria. And 48 cups of barley will sell for half an ounce of silver.” The servant on whose arm the king was leaning answered the man of God, “Could this happen even if the LORD poured rain through windows in the sky?” Elisha replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it.” (2Kings 7:1-2 GW)

 

The dictionary defines an opinion as “a view somebody takes about an issue, especially when it is based solely on personal judgment.” It is important to ensure that your life is guided by the right opinions. A great number of people in this world are guided by the wrong opinions regarding success, prosperity, happiness and life itself. It is for this reason that a lot of people in this world live unsuccessful, unfulfilled and poor lives.

Napoleon Hill, author of bestselling Think and Grow Rich, pointed out that opinions are the cheapest commodities on earth. Too many people in this world live with very backward, inferior and negative opinions about life and prosperity. Surprisingly, it is these very people who put in a lot of effort to impose their opinions on the rest of the world. Another important thing you must do is to ensure that your life is guarded from the wrong opinions.

Once you accept the wrong opinions, you embrace wrong thinking. Wrong thinking shapes your life when it is embraced and is the chief cause of non-achievement in life. The reason why most of the world’s population is poor is because they think poor. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

Many people sell the idea that you have to struggle in this life before you become rich. Others sell the idea that you have to work for a number of years before you can afford this or that. They sell the idea that you must work for at least “x” number of years before you rise up the corporate ladder. Bob Procter, in his book You Were Born Rich advises that men ought to make up their minds to heed their own counsel whilst keeping an attentive ear open for God’s counsel. I strongly agree with him in such an era when multitudes with a flock of wrong opinions are always trying to foist their negative thoughts about life and prosperity on others.

Wrong opinions will always eliminate the miraculous and spectacular in a person’s life. Wrong opinions shut the doors to possibility thinking. Wrong opinions rule out the power of God from being manifested in any situation or circumstance. Wrong opinions make no room for the working of supernatural favour in a person’s life.

Never embrace thoughts that eliminate the miraculous. What corporate or governmental ladder did Joseph (son of Jacob) climb before becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt? He moved straight from jail to Prime Minister of Egypt with no relevant working experience whatsoever. What work did the four lepers do before they gathered so much wealth in the Syrian camp? The answer is no work at all. For how many years did they work before they could afford the things that kings and nobles desire? The answer is zero hours. (See 2Kings 7:1-9)

In our opening verse, Elijah prophesied that a very bad economic situation (probably worse than The Great Depression ) was going to be reversed in 24hours. How daring! Someone, whose opinions were so limited, ruled out such a possibility totally. Even though the whole city enjoyed the abundance that was spoken of, this man (a lord on whose hand the king leaned) did not enjoy the abundance of resources. Rather, he was trampled upon and killed by those who reached out for the abundant supplies.

Don’t let wrong opinions rob you of the good of the land. Don’t let small thinking keep you from all the untapped riches and resources in this world. There is enough wealth for every single human being in this world to become a dollar billionaire. Don’t let your thinking deprive you of God’s power and the miraculous. The Bible says that God is able to do “superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]” (Ephesians 3:20 AMP). If you can think it, know that God can do it and much more.

The Prescribed Order

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we {kept} working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right {to this,} but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. (2Thessalonians 3:6-12 NASB)

 

It is clear from the above verses of Scripture that there is a prescribed order by which God wants his sons and daughters to conduct their lives. To lead an unruly or disorderly life is to deviate from the prescribed order or rule by which God wants us to live.

Before we discuss the prescribed order (i.e. the kind of lifestyle that God commends), let’s look at some traits of an unruly or disorderly lifestyle:

a)      Idleness – idle lives are characterized by “not working at all”, “unwillingness to work”, “doing nothing”, “discharging oneself from the services and business of one’s particular callings and employments in the world”, “setting aside one’s responsibilities” and “not planning for the future at all”. It is a great error to use one’s faith/beliefs as a cloak for idleness.

b)     Laziness – laziness has to do with “inactivity resulting from a dislike for work” and “apathy in the practice of virtue”.

c)      Being a ‘busybody’ – busybodies bustle about uselessly; keep themselves busy with insignificant, needless and useless matters. They are often meddlesome and inquisitive about the affairs of others, and as a result often engage in gossip, rumours and hearsay that tear people down.

 

“Most commonly those persons who have no business of their own to do, or who neglect it, busy themselves in other men’s matters” (Matthew Henry).

 

The Prescribed Order of Life

The order of life that God prescribes and commends is characterized by the following:

a)      Working to earn one’s own living – this is in contrast to living an idle life in the hope that other generous people who are engaged in fruitful labour will provide for your basic needs.

b)     Not depending on others to provide one’s own basic needs – God never intended for his children to count on the generosity of others as their means of survival.

c)      Financial independence – being able to provide for yourself and for your dependants. Your aim should not be ‘to find someone you can depend on’ but ‘to become someone whom others can depend on’.

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:28 KJV)

If hitherto you have been idle and/or dependent on others, it’s now time to choose a nobler path, one of diligence, responsibility and financial independence. May the Lord help you in all your efforts along this noble path!