Improving my listening by focusing my thoughts…

My mind has a tendency to wander. Perhaps yours does too. So when I silence my cell phone in a service I want to attempt to shut off my mental day-timer too. Letting the day’s events run through my mind is not conducive to hearing what God desires for me to learn.

It often doesn’t feel like I’m in control of my thoughts because they are so hard to control. But the Scripture states that by God’s strength I can control them (2 Cor. 10:5), and he commands me to as well (Phil. 4:8).

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).

I find this personally challenging in ministry. Whether racing to class or Sunday services my mind is racing too. I am looking for people I need to see. I’m remembering commitments I need to keep. It’s hard to limit my thoughts to God’s Word in those moments so that I might be attentive. But it is so necessary. And while it may not feel possible, God’s Word promises me it is.

I like the picture my brother-in-law shared with me of Chuck Swindoll who, prior to speaking at a chapel service at Dallas Seminary, was talking to his daughter. It was as if everything else was background noise. There were students pressing in for books to be signed. There was music being played, but none of it seemed to matter. Swindoll was focused on hearing his daughter. His eyes were glued on her as she spoke to him. He was listening…intensely.

That is the focus you and I need to bring when God’s Word is being taught, or when we are simply opening a Bible for our quiet-time. We need to limit the other thoughts so that we can truly listen to what God is saying. Don’t try to multi-task with God. Give him your undivided attention. You’re sure to hear his voice more clearly.

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