Fuller

Hear the Words of Jesus in a Fresh Way

October 21, 2020 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 6:46-49 (NRSV)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”

Focus

No matter whether we read them quietly when we’re alone, or hear them read in corporate worship, or listen to them online, we need to hear the words of Jesus. We need our minds and hearts to be filled with the Word of God in Scripture so that we might know God truly and so that we might do what God wishes. In this way we will construct our lives so that they will be strong and truly make a difference in this world.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

Don’t you wish you could hear the voice of Jesus? I don’t mean the whisper of the Spirit in your heart. I’m talking literally hear. Don’t you wish you could actually hear the real voice of the man, Jesus of Nazareth? I expect one day we will be able to hear his voice. But we’ll have to wait for the age to come for this delight.

Meanwhile, we can certainly hear the words of Jesus, at least some of them, because they are recorded for us in the biblical gospels (see Note 1, below). What we get is mostly in translation, of course. But we can still hear a faithful rendering of the words of Jesus.

This is important because Jesus said that we should build our lives on the solid foundation of hearing and doing his words. In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion I focused on the doing part of this equation. Indeed, obeying the teachings of Jesus is essential. But in order to obey, we first need to hear or read the words of Jesus. (Jesus emphasized hearing because, in his day, reading was relatively rare. His followers would have heard his teachings. Reading them was still decades away.)

In response to what Jesus says in our passage today, I’d like to make an extremely obvious point. If you’re going to obey the words of Jesus, you need to hear them, to read them, to engage with them on a regular basis. As Christians, we would add that all of the words of Scripture are inspired by God and therefore worthy of hearing and doing (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We need to hear and do the whole Word of God, not only the teachings of the Word of God Incarnate.

Since you’re reading this devotion, I’m assuming that you are already committed to the regular reading of God’s Word. Every Life for Leaders devotion includes a short passage of Scripture and is based on the truth of that passage. You read Life for Leaders because we who write it seek to offer, not merely our own wisdom, but wisdom based on God’s revealed truth. I would imagine that you are exposed to Scripture in a variety of other contexts as well, including corporate worship and personal Bible study.

Though we can surely “hear” the words of Jesus by reading them to ourselves, I have found that actually hearing Scripture being read helps me to encounter God’s Word in a fresh way. This happens regularly in worship services. But it is also common in my personal devotions. Each morning I listen to Scripture being read by others as part of an overall devotional experience. (If you’re wondering how I do this, see Note 2 below.) As I listen, I often hear things I have missed though my own private reading.

A growing number of Christians have been greatly encouraged in their faith by listening in community to extended portions of Scripture. Inspired by Bill Hwang, the co-founder of the Grace and Mercy Foundation, Fuller Seminary offers a way for you to engage in what we call the Communal Reading of Scripture. You can learn more about this from FULLER Studio, which offers all you need for a systematic listening to Scripture. Or, if you prefer, FULLER Formation, our online learning platform, features an introduction to the Communal Reading of Scripture by Bill Hwang. (This resource is available without charge, by the way, through the end of October 2020). If you’re not quite ready to listen to several chapters of Scripture at a time, you might try listening to one chapter or even a few verses. You can do this easily online through Bible Gateway.

No matter whether we read them quietly when we’re alone, or hear them read in corporate worship, or listen to them online, we need to hear the words of Jesus. We need our minds and hearts to be filled with the Word of God in Scripture so that we might know God truly and so that we might do what God wishes. In this way we will construct our lives so that they will be strong and truly make a difference in this world.

Notes:

1) If you wonder sometimes about the historical accuracy of the gospel writings, you might find helpful a book I wrote a few years ago: Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

2) I regularly use three online devotional resources. The first is Lectio 365, produced by 24-7 Prayer, a global prayer initiative. The second is Pray as You Go, produced by a group of Jesuits in London. The third is Morning Prayer from the Episcopal Church in Garrett County, based on the Book of Common Prayer. Each of these devotional resources features the reading of Scripture and prayer. They are distinctive in their format. If you’re looking for something like this, I’d recommend checking out all three.

Reflect

What helps you to hear God’s Word so that you might be truly engaged with it?

Have you ever had the experience of seeing something new in Scripture because you were listening to it being read? If so, what happened? How did it impact you?

Act

Listen to Luke 6 online. You can do this through the Bible Gateway website. They don’t have an audio version of the NRSV, so I’d recommend this NIV rendition.

Pray

Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us how to build our lives so that they will be strong and lasting. Thank you for providing what we need to build in this way.

Help me, Lord, to hear your words so I might do them. Help me to make engagement with the written Word of God a priority for my life, so that I might be formed in mind and heart to be like you, and so that I live each day guided by you.

I ask also, gracious Lord, that as I engage with your Word throughout the years, you would give me ongoing openness. Help me not to be complacent, but rather to open my heart to new insights, new guidance, and new obedience. To you be all the glory. Amen.


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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: How Do You Respond to the Word of God?


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