October 25, 2017 • Life for Leaders
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
Isaiah 50 begins with God’s word to the prophet. Isaiah responds by saying, “The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears.” Of course, this is not literal but metaphorical. It’s saying, “God has helped me to hear his word to me.”
How I want to have my “ears” opened by the Lord! I am so aware of how easily I can miss God’s voice as he speaks through Scripture or through the whispers of his Spirit. Even worse, I can sometimes hear my own “voice” and attribute it to God, which is a form of taking the Lord’s name in vain. I know this is both wrong and foolish. When I fail to hear what the Lord says to me, not only do I dishonor him, but I also end up making choices that lead to hardship and pain. God’s ways are always the best, and I want to receive his guidance for how I ought to live my life.
How can I be more attentive to God’s voice? In part, this comes when I have extended time with the Lord in quiet and solitude. But it also happens as I gather with God’s people, where the gifts of the Spirit are active. God speaks through sermons, Bible studies, hymns, songs, and prayers. He makes his voice known through the wise counsel of a friend. When I’m alone, I can hear God’s voice by immersing myself in Scripture, by letting God’s Word inform my mind and transform my heart. I’m listening for the voice of God, so that I might believe and obey.
And obedience is key if I want to hear the Lord. Notice what Isaiah says, “The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away” (50:5). The prophet’s intention to respond favorably to the Lord, his commitment not to turn from God’s truth, prepared him to hear what God said.
So it is with us, whether we are in a small group, a worship service, or a team meeting at work. If we want to hear from the Lord, we need to offer ourselves to God, ready to hear, ready to obey.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Are you open to hearing God’s voice?
In what settings are you more attentive to God?
Is God saying anything to you today? Even right now?
Do you ever hear from the Lord in the context of your work? If so, what helps you to listen well to his voice?
Gracious God, when I read this verse from Isaiah, I yearn to hear your voice, to have my ears open to you. You know all the things that get in the way of my paying attention to you: the “noise” that surrounds me and the “voices” that echo inside of me. Of course, sometimes I don’t hear you because I just don’t take time to listen. And sometimes I don’t listen because, frankly, I don’t want to obey you. Forgive me!
I’m reminded, Lord, of the hymn I sang as a boy. Its words convey the prayer of my heart today:
Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wave notes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!*
May I be ready to hear you, dear Lord. Speak to me so that I might believe and obey. Amen.
*Verse 2 of “Open My Eyes, That I May See” by Clara H. Scott, 1895.
Photo by Kuo-Chiao Lin on Unsplash.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Does Your Body Language Honor God?
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.