Daniel Fast Day 18

Who Are You Listening To? - Part 1

One of the most crucial decisions that any of us will make in life is “Who will I listen to?” When we are young, we have an innocence and naïveté about us. We really don’t think much about what we hear or who we listen to. We mostly assume that the grownups in our lives have our best interests at heart and they will tell us the truth, or at least the truth to their level of understanding. As we grow older and our minds become more curious, we begin to be more conscious about who we listen to. We begin to understand, or rather we should understand, that listening to the wrong people can very well lead us towards making wrong decisions. As we all know, wrong decisions have consequences. The opposite is just as true. Listening to the right people can benefit our lives and make a great difference in avoiding certain negative repercussions. Listening to the right people can literally save our lives.

If that is true from a natural perspective, how much more is that true from a spiritual point of view? Paul warns the church in Colossae to be very careful who they listen to. “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10(NLT)

We all can recognize a clear and deliberate lie, but we also must discern lies dressed up as a truth. Lies dressed up as a truth have the propensity to lead us away from the very life of Christ, and the very Person of Jesus. Lies dressed up as a truth always have a sense of arrogance about them. The lie sounds really good. It sounds intellectually superior. It sounds philosophical, expedient, and lofty. Its bait is always, “smart people think like this” or “true intellectuals arrive at this conclusion.” All of which are nothing but distractors of Christ. We hear things like, “You really believe that Jesus stuff? Only non-thinkers believe that.” Why is all the attention on Jesus? How many books have been written to discredit Buddha or any one of the other religions compared to Christ? Why are so many trying to discredit the Bible? Why all this outrage by some atheists (not all)? After all, why get so angry at a God you say, doesn’t exist? Why does my delusion (as some atheists call it) upset you so much?

Paul understood that this humanistic, anti-Christ, high sounding philosophy comes both from the human mind as well as the spiritual powers of this world. The strategy that the false teachers in Colossae were using is the same strategy being used today. It is the strategy that seeks to discredit God, so we doubt Him or discredit Christ. Just like the false teachers in Colossae were attacking and questioning the deity of Jesus, we are being bombarded by books, articles, podcasts, etc…, all in an attempt to make Christ less than He really is, or completely nonexistent. It sounds very familiar to the question that was asked in the Garden, “Did God really say?” Questioning God’s Word is as old as the Garden of Eden and will continue even to a greater extent as we draw closer to the end. Before you follow anybody’s philosophy, make sure you follow it all the way to the end. Make sure you know how it concludes and what it truly implies. Because ideas are not harmless, but they carry weight. Ideas carry the very weight of consequence, both good and bad. Therefore, we see the clear warnings throughout the New Testament. “I am amazed. You are so quickly deserting the one who chose you. He chose you to live in the grace that Christ has provided. You are turning to a different “good news.”  What you are accepting is really not the good news at all. It seems that some people have gotten you all mixed up. They are trying to twist the good news about Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7(NIRV)

We get mixed up because we are listening to the wrong voices. Ideas might sound good, feel good or even look good, but that does not mean they are good. Following an idea to its ultimate conclusion will bring clarity if we are willing to be honest. Many people do not want to live in a world that has us all ultimately accountable to the Creator. We want to be self-centered, self-governed, self-made, self-sufficient, and self-gratified. The only self we do not want is self-control. We do not want to be told what to do or what we are doing is wrong and sinful.

The plan of the enemy of our faith is to trap us in the sinking sand of empty philosophy and confuse us to the place where our faith in God’s Word is drained and our view of Christ is diminished. If faith comes by hearing God’s Word, then faith leaves by hearing the lies of the world. When God’s Word no longer holds the final authority in our lives, we can then change Christ into any and all images we want. By doing so, we make Jesus agree with everything we desire. For all intents and purposes, we create a Jesus in our image, instead of being shaped into His image. 

Some people want a Jesus that approves of everything they do, instead of laying down their lives to follow His. They want a Jesus of all grace and no truth. The only truth they are willing to accept is the truth that He is good with everything they say and do. After all, He made them the way they are. So, we end up having no regard for God’s Word and a Jesus that always agrees with us. “And now I bring you this charge before God and Jesus the Anointed, the one destined to judge the living and the dead, at His glorious appearance and His kingdom:  go out and preach the word! Go whether it’s an opportune time or not! Reprove, warn, and encourage; but do so with all the patience and instruction needed to fulfill your calling because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.”
 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (The Voice)

There are many voices in church circles that are clamoring for your attention. The key is to know which voices to listen to and which ones to ignore. The only way to make any sense of the voices we hear is to make sure that we filter them through the right processes. Jesus is coming back! When He returns, He will be judging the living and the dead. This is not a judgmental statement, it is simply a factual one. We must stop listening to the voices that diminish and dismiss His Word. Instead, we must now, more than ever, preach the Word with clear warning, courageous forthrightness, burning passion, and tender compassion. Remember, His Word is never out of season and there will never be a time where His Word is not needed. “His Word is forever settled in heaven.” 

“What you say goes, God, and stays, as permanent as the heavens. Your truth never goes out of fashion; it’s as relevant as the earth when the sun comes up. Your Word and truth are dependable as ever; that’s what you ordered—you set the earth going. If your revelation hadn't delighted me so, I would have given up when the hard times came. But I’ll never forget the advice you gave me; you saved my life with those wise words. Save me! I’m all yours. I look high and low for your words of wisdom. The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me, but I’m only concerned with your plans for me. I see the limits to everything human, but the horizons can’t contain your commands!” Psalm 119:89-96 (MSG)

In all my years of working with and being around people, I have never found a person who correctly divided the truth of God’s Word, and then diligently applied it to their lives, be worse off. I have, however, seen many of those who have neglected God’s Word and treated it as somewhat important, instead of being of ultimate importance, fall by the wayside. His Word and His name are exalted above everything. His Word may no longer be tolerated, and people might only say His name when they cuss. Nevertheless, pleasing people should never be our goal. Even if the voices of opposition grow louder, stronger, and more dismissive, we must grow bolder with the truth of His Word. “I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Psalm 138:2a (ESV)

We have a choice in who or what we listen to. Just remember, the predominant voice you listen to will determine the ultimate destiny you end up in. Our completion comes from Christ, not from the empty philosophical nonsense disguised as wisdom. Christ, and He alone, is our wisdom. Listening to Him should be our passion and pursuit. To whom have you tuned your ears?

Prayer and Reflection:

  • Considering the importance of God’s Word for your spiritual development and spiritual nourishment, how much nourishment are you getting? Do you think it’s enough?
  • The things that you watch, read, and listen to, do they build your faith or diminish it? What practical steps can you take to change it? When will you start?
  • Are you allowing yourself to be challenged and changed by the Word or do you find yourself making excuses for not obeying certain Scriptural mandates? 
  • The world in which we live is not very tolerant of our faith in Christ and many times downright hostile to it. Are you willing to continue to preach the truth of Christ Jesus in this environment?
  • Our battle is not just with ideas, but with ideas fueled by evil supernatural powers. Do you pray daily for clarity, discernment, and Christ’s wisdom? Would you pray that for others?

Thank You Lord, for Your loving kindness and tender mercies towards me. Thank You that I can live in the richness of Your mercy and the power of Your grace. I ask that You give me a heart burning for You and a heart desiring the truth of Your Word. I pray that You deliver me and others from ears itching to hear what makes us feel good and help us to hear the truth that empowers us to change. 
Help me not to get caught up in warped philosophies that empty Jesus of Who He truly is and diminishes Your Word. Forgive me where I have neglected Your Word and replaced it with things that cannot satisfy. I pray for a sober mind, a discerning heart, and the wisdom of Christ so that I may be able to recognize what is the truth and what is a lie dressed up as truth. I pray the same for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Your Word is the joy and rejoicing of my heart. Your Word is Spirit and life. Your Word is my nourishment and sustenance. Thank You that You sustain me by Your Word. I submit my life fully to Your Word and pray that I may walk daily in obedience to You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

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