- Pastor Tom Cunningham
ARE YOU LISTENING?
Scripture Reading: Zechariah 7
1 Now in the fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the LORD came to Zechariah… 5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me? 6 When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? 7 Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?’ “ 8 Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, 9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.’ 11 “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. 12 Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. 13 Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts. 14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.”
A popular diagnosis in our generation is ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’. Another word for ‘they just don’t want to listen...’ ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in children and, over the past decade, has been increasingly diagnosed in adults. It is believed that around 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD retain the disorder as adults. Ever tune someone out because you did not want to hear what they had to say? Maybe hearing would then make you accountable? Many of you feel that if you purposefully do not really listen to the preaching or you work to keep yourself disqualified from ministry, you won't have to be accountable for what you hear. Because you are stopping your ears and remaining disqualified, you feel you can do whatever you want and still be a Christian?
Discipleship is about being a disciplined learner and there is no other way to be a disciplined learner than to listen—and I know you hear the Word of God and you hear my sermons, but do you listen? There is no better way to really listen than to (1) check your personal motives for HOW you are hearing and (2) be ready to receive instructions as a soldier receives mission briefings—as if their life depends on it—and it does!
The real issue behind fasting in our text is motive and attitude...We can begin to question ourselves. Do we hear the Lord? Why do we do what we do? Do we want to be in good standing? Appear spiritual? Self-righteous? Why do we say what we say? Are we really interested in the church getting better, or do we just get a buzz out of gossiping and raking the church over the coals? Do you go to the prayer room because Pastor wants you to—to be seen perhaps? Or is it your attitude to honestly petition the Lord and your motive to please God?
When we ask of God, It must be with a readiness to receive instructions. Why ask God to speak when you don’t want to listen...? When God say’s it, it’s not a matter of if, its matter of when!
When we won’t hear God our hearts grow hard to the ways of God. (Our text) They made their hearts as ‘adamant’—a stone, like a diamond, the hardest of stones to be fashioned upon, or as a flint, which the mason cannot hew into shape as he can other stones out of the quarry. Nothing is so hard, so inflexible, as the heart of a presumptuous sinner or a self-righteous saint;
and those whose hearts are hard may thank themselves. They have created their own hardening and so God gives them over as unteachable. They are left to the hardness and unrepentance of their own hearts. They hardened their hearts on purpose for fear that they will hear what God has said to them.
As we turn a deaf ear to God’s word, so God turns a deaf ear to our prayers!