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Apr6WedApril 6, 2022
There is a kids song called “Be Careful Little Eyes” that gives warning to our eyes, ears, hands, tongues, feet, hearts and minds. The song then tells us why, “For the Father up aboveIs looking down in love, So, be careful…” This song is talking about the world and warning us to be careful what we watch, what we say, what we hear and so on. This song is sound advice. Gossip is equivalent to murder and Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” The song is directing you to be careful who you associate with and what you do outside the church. People who are not Christians are going to behave differently at least that is how it is supposed to be. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
Today instead of applying this song to those outside the church, we are going to apply it to those inside the church. Two of the verses say, “O be careful little ears what you hear” and then the other says, “O be careful little heart whom you trust.” This is sound advice when learning how to listen and when learning how to test the spirits in the church. As we will see in a moment, there are more spirits than just the Holy Spirit at work. We already know that the church has a hearing problem. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Calloused hearts lead to deafness and a lack of healing.
As we saw yesterday, just because someone stands at the front and says this is a word from the Lord, doesn’t mean that it is. The church is filled with false prophets, preachers, teachers, apostles, and evangelists. We saw that Lamentations 2:14 “the visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity,” and Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” The people loved it so much 2 Timothy 4:3 “the time will come (it is here!) when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” It seems today that many people in the church have itchy ears and there are plenty of people to scratch them with other gospels. Because of this, whole households have been deceived and have turned from the truth. Titus 1:9 “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. 10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group (there are many groups today that are doing this). 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
Learning to listen is crucial not only for your own wellbeing, but for those around you and those who will follow you in other generations. You don’t want it said about you what king Hezekiah said. 2 Chronicles 29:6 “Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him.” He also said 2 Chronicles 30:7 “Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord.” Or as Josiah said, 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” Learning to listen means you will have things like this said about you instead. 2 Kings 22:2 “He (Josiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
Learning to listen means following the word of God wholeheartedly. The church has equated the bible with reason, tradition and experience. If tradition has a problem with what the bible is saying, the bible is set aside. If reason says the bible is old and outdated, the bible is set aside. If experience says the bible is irrelevant to my needs, the bible is set aside. What should be happening is reason, tradition and experience are seen in light of what scripture states or they may even have to be set aside so that word of God can be lifted High. This kind of thinking must be torn down and return to listening to the living word of God, creator of the universe. Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. 57You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. 160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
When you test the spirits, the first thing you have to do is put your trust / hope in God’s word. That means you have to read it and mediate on it. This meditation is not the new age meditation where you empty your mind so that evil spirits can fill it up. Meditating on God’s word is filling your mind with the words of God so there is no room for other spirits. Joshua was told Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” Psalm 77:10 “Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember our miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” When you read the Gospels and Acts, you remember the signs and wonders, healings and casting out demons. So, when a false teacher tells you God does not do that anymore, you stand firm on God’s word and say nowhere does the bible tell me that and then you reject that teaching. Sometimes false teaching is so obvious it is ludicrous but other times you have to learn to listen very carefully.
Another area of listening is to be able to distinguish between what is true and what is false. I would say that most people in the church do not acknowledge the power satan has over the church at this time. Many falsely assume that when someone preaches, it must be God speaking but that is not the case. We are not just dealing with the Holy Spirit but with many spirits. Luke 7:21 “At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.” Mark 1:27 “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.Mark 5:12 “The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.” The spirits are still here and the only way they can be defeated is through the power and authority Jesus gives. If we are not clothed with power from on high, we will be defeated.
Many people in the church have been deceived by impressiveness. Church buildings are impressive as are the programs. The leadership has attained global attention, which is impressive. They have had visions where God has given them the plan, as God forgot to put His plan in the New Testament for the church, so these men helped God out and God was grateful to them for helping His colossal oversight. Ok, that was sarcasm! They sit and listen to men and women who seem to have it all together and they are impressed by them. They speak with authority, and no one falls out any windows. It is a good thing, as that person would still be dead. Acts 20:9 “Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.” That is another way to tell. Are they a great speaker or do they have the power and authority to raise the dead?
There is a great account of impressiveness when King Jehoshaphat joined together with King Ahab to go to war. 1 Kings 22:4 “So (Ahab) he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.” 6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 1 Kings 21:25 “There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife.” Jehoshaphat on the other hand 2 Chronicles 17:3 “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals 4 but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” So that’s impressive - four-hundred prophets all saying the same thing, wow! But notice what Jehoshaphat said. 1 Kings 22:7 “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” Ahab then answers 8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.”
Keep in mind Ahab was evil and of course he did not like Micaiah as he wanted nice things said about him just as many in the church only want to be told how good their lives are even though they have rejected God’s word to follow other gospels. Now check this impressiveness out. 10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed. 12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” Then we see the instruction given to Micaiah. “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.” Isn’t that how most want it these days? So because Ahab was not like Jehoshaphat, Micaiah tells him “Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” He did what he was told. Then Ahab says to him “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” Ahab really preferred the four-hundred prophets saying the same thing.
It is at this point we see there are many spirits at work which is why we need to really listen carefully. Micaiah then tells Ahab the truth. “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’” 18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?” 19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ 23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” So all those prophets had a deceiving spirit in them as do all the false teachers and prophets the church is filled with today. Just because many are saying the same thing does not mean it is from God especially when what they are saying does not line up with God’s word, so you must listen carefully. Jehoshaphat knew and even Ahab knew but he preferred to listen to the four-hundred false prophets. Then the guy with the impressive horns comes over. 24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked. 25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.” They went into battle and King Ahab was killed.
There are many deceiving spirits at work in the church. False teachers and preachers are everywhere, all saying attack and be victorious but once again like Micaiah there will be truth. Isaiah 30:20 “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” Your eternal destination depends on whether you learn to listen to God’s word so that you can discern the deceiving spirits in men and women. Just because someone may be impressive, successful and even have props such as best sellers and a massive following and a beautiful church, say as Jehoshaphat said “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” You may be sitting there like Job with your friends and family all telling you that you are wrong, but you can’t listen to them ( as long as you are actually following God’s word) So you reject the voices and say Job 19:25 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” David said Psalm 27:11 “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
So be careful little ears what you hear and who you trust. God is watching but if you reject His word and listen to the wrong person, disaster will follow. Paul said to Timothy 2 Timothy 1:13 “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” When we see the message to the churches in Revelation, each passage ends with. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” So we need to learn to listen. At Pentecost Peter said to the people Acts 2:14 “listen carefully to what I say.” Jesus said Luke 8:18 “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” Way back we see these amazing passages. Exodus 23:20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.” Exodus 15:26 “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” Matthew 8:17 “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Ezekiel was told Ezekiel 3:10 “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you.” The most important part of our listening is to listen to God’s word. Then when we listen to men and women, we will know if they speak for God or not.