July 18, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 1:1-3 (NIV)
The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
In a world filled with all kinds of noise and distraction, we can easily miss the voice of God. Yet God is speaking to us. We need to quiet our hearts so we can hear the Lord.
If you’re around my age, you might remember a classic series of television ads that were as entertaining as they were informing. In the middle of some crowded, conversation-filled room, two people were talking about their investments. Then, one of them would say, “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton. And E.F. Hutton says . . . .” Suddenly, everyone in the room became completely silent, leaning forward eagerly to hear the wisdom of E.F. Hutton. The voiceover would clarify, in case we missed the point, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
Would that this were true when God speaks! Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we pay attention to God’s words. But sometimes we don’t.
Ambivalence about listening to God isn’t new. It was true centuries ago among the Israelites. Sometime in the eighth century B.C., the prophet Isaiah had a vision in which he heard the Lord speak. God’s message was not just for the children of Israel, however. It was for the whole earth, indeed, the whole universe: “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!” (Isaiah 1:2). The hosts of heaven and earth should pay attention to God’s words—which, in this case, contained an indictment against his people for their rebellion.
One result of this rebellion was that Israel did not know or understand God and his ways (Isaiah 1:3). In this, they were even less perceptive than animals. Whereas the “ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger,” God’s own people did not know God.
Why did they not know the God who had redeemed them and formed them as a special people? The most obvious reason is that they did not listen when God spoke. Or, perhaps they listened, but soon forgot what the Lord had said. They rejected not only God’s commandments but also his revelation of himself. When God spoke, they did not listen, nor did they obey.
You and I can learn from their example to do otherwise. We can hear and respond positively to the call of Isaiah to listen when God speaks. By God’s grace, we can set our hearts to hear God so that we might indeed know God and his ways.
If we’re going to hear God speak, we’ll need to quiet other distractive sounds and voice. If you’re spending every free moment on your phone, for example, it’s not likely that you’ll be in a place to hear God’s voice. The same is true if you’re somebody who prefers the sound of your own voice. Hearing God, really hearing God, requires us to learn to be quiet.
Listening to God will also be disruptive at times—well, most of the time, actually. We will be disturbed when God confronts our sin and calls us to right living. God’s word will be disruptive in a different way as we hear the good news of his love for us in Christ, a love that never lets us go, a love that transforms us and every aspect of our lives. No other disruption is more merciful, more restoring, and more needed today.
So, as we begin our devotional study in Isaiah, let’s be ready to hear from God. When God speaks, may we listen!
Can you think of times in your life when God spoke to you in a particularly powerful way? How did you respond?
What helps you to listen to God?
What keeps you from hearing God, believing, and obeying?
What helps you to believe and obey?
Find a time today when you can be quiet before the Lord. Maybe it’s only five minutes. See if you can be attentive to whatever the Spirit of God is saying to you.
Gracious God, thank you for speaking to us. Thank you for teaching us how best to live. Thank you for revealing yourself to us, that we might know, serve, and love you.
Help me, Lord, to listen to you attentively, openly, and faithfully. Because I hear you, may I know you, growing in greater intimacy with you each day. May I learn from you how to live each day, guided by your word in every setting. Help me to hear you at work and at play, with my friends and my family, in church and in my community.
Speak to me, Lord, and I will listen! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Introduction to Isaiah
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.