Summary: The sixth of a Fall 2005 series through Acts
How well do you listen? We are going to find out this morning! I need 7 volunteers to help me with this. Let’s see…(I ‘volunteered’ 7 people)
(3 persons were given a phrase on a 3x5 card to look at and then whisper into the ear of the person and so on and then finally to me. Following the exercise I briefly de-briefed the congregation as to the results and if they were successful in repeating the phrase accurately asked the congregation to suggest why they were with a key condition of little or no distractions as one key condition.)
There is in the rich tradition of stories about President Franklin Roosevelt, one that involves this issue of listening. It seems that the President decided one day to see if anybody was paying attention to what he was saying. As each person came up to him with an extended hand, he flashed that big smile and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”
People would automatically respond with comments such as ‘How lovely!” or “Just continue with your great work!”
Nobody listened to what he was saying, except one foreign diplomat. When the president said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning,” the diplomat responded softly, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
Listening is a key element of our main text for this morning. Now I was not sure what would happen in the situation that we have experienced this morning, but I thought that with no distractions that our group would do really well in correctly repeating what the first person had said.
Listening is hard work and these days with all the newscasts on cable, the Internet, and now through satellite radio, we are bombarded with news 24 hours per day! But a study done several years ago by Andrew Stern of the University of California at Berkeley raises the issue of how much we listen to and what we remember.
Following a newscast, he phoned TV viewers of the broadcast. He found that 51% of those interviewed could not recall even one of the show’s 19 items. Furthermore, the average memory rate was one item.
Now the calls were made from immediately after the show’s sign-off to 3 and one half hours later. Surprisingly the lead story was the most remembered.
The ending material was the most frequently forgotten and was attributed by Stern on ‘disrupting factors’ such as dinner. He recommended that the newscasts be switched to 10:30 PM.
Well given the journalism culture of today, the headlines are given every 15 to 30 minutes these days! So do we remember all that news? Do we listen to it?
However, in our main passage, Acts 8:26-40 we see good listening take place because Philip listens to the Spirit and then does what He says to do. And I would suggest this morning that Philip was effective in aiding the Ethiopian official to come to faith because he made listening to the Holy Spirit a habit of the heart. How do we make listening to the Holy Spirit a habit of the heart? Here are four ways we do so. (overhead 1)
First, we choose to make it a habit. Philip, the others named, and not named in Luke’s account up to this point chose to make listening to the Spirit a habit. We see this in the waiting described in chapters 1 and 2.
Jesus tells the disciples in Acts 1:4, to ’not leave Jerusalem, until the Father sends you what He promised.’ What was being sent was the Holy Spirit that comes, as we read in chapter 2, in great power to empower those waiting and worshipping the Lord.
The habit of waiting on the Lord is critical for us as we live for the Lord. And waiting is highly regarded in the Bible.
For example, we read in Isaiah 40:31, ‘But those who WAIT on the Lord will find new strength.’ Waiting is a choice and our attitude about waiting is critical as well. (Somewhere I hear the word ‘patience’ being spoken.)
To wait for the Lord, to wait for the Spirit to move, lead, and act is very important. I like what Henry Blackaby says about the need to ‘make major adjustments’ to our lives when we want to intentionally and rightfully experience God.
Listen to Blackaby for a moment on this point: ‘Sometimes as you begin making adjustments, God will require that you wait on Him. This is not because God cannot keep up with you or that He does not know what to do next. God is interested in a love relationship with you. Your waiting on Him develops your absolute dependence on Him. Your waiting on Him assures that you will act on His timing and not your own.’