Hearing But Not Listening

We know that God is omnipresent, so He sees and hears everything. But there's a difference between hearing and listening. You may hear the television blaring away, but if you're not listening, if your attention is elsewhere, you won't know what's being said. It may surprise you that even though God hears everything, He doesn't always listen. There are certain times when the Scripture says God doesn't listen. We may be talking but He's not tuned in.

Perhaps you know the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He took his father's inheritance early, left home, and spent all his funds on wild living and partying. Broke and destitute, he ended up feeding pigs just to survive. He knew he had brought all the trouble on himself. When he came to his senses, he determined to go home and ask his father to hire him as a servant. He carefully prepared what he was going to say: "Father, I have sinned against you and God. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your farmhands."

But when the son returned home, his father saw him coming and ran to him, hugged and kissed him, weeping tears of joy. In that moment the son passionately started his speech, but The Message says, "The father wasn't listening" (Luke 15:22). When the son was pouring out his genuine remorse, telling how unworthy he was, the father wasn't paying attention. He was calling his staff to put the finest robe on his son and the family ring on his finger, to kill the fatted calf for a party. He was declaring, "My son was lost and now he's found!"

Are you doing what this son did with his father, telling God everything you've done wrong, how unworthy you are of His love, how you don't deserve to be blessed? Can I tell you, God hears you, but He's not listening? You're wasting your breath. The moment you asked God to forgive you, He forgave you, and then the Scripture says He forgot your sins. You're not worthy because of what you did or didn't do. You're worthy only because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. If you keep asking Him to forgive you and keep telling Him you're not good enough to be His child, He tunes all that out. If you want God to not only hear but to listen to you, speak the language of faith: "Father, thank You that Your mercy is bigger than my mistakes. Thank You that You're not holding my past against me. Thank You that I am forgiven. Thank You that I'm redeemed. I'm coming boldly to Your throne right now."


It’s All About Your Attitude

I saw a recent study done at Stanford University that found a direct correlation between our attitudes and the level of success in our lives. The study found that a positive attitude can be just as important a predictor of your success as your IQ. That means that no matter how high your IQ is, which you can't control, you have the ability to take charge of your thoughts and attitude and lift your life to new levels.

If the researchers had studied Joshua and Caleb as they're described in Numbers 13, they would have come to the same conclusion about how powerful a positive attitude can be. Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan, which God had already promised to give to the Israelites. Those spies reported back that the land was rich in produce and flowing with abundance, even bringing back a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it on a pole between them. All twelve spies also agreed that the people were strong, with large walled cities, and, yes, some people there were of giant stature.

But ten of the spies came back with negative attitudes that said, "There are giants in the land. We'll never be able to conquer those people. In fact, we look like grasshoppers in our own sights, and so we are in their sight." However, Joshua and Caleb tried to hush the bad report. They declared, "If the Lord delights in us, He will bring us into the land and give it to us." They had what the Bible refers to as "a different spirit." They looked beyond the impossibilities and chose to believe and obey according to what God said. They looked beyond the giants and saw an opportunity to trust Him to fight their battles for them and possess the Promised Land.

Do you see how important your attitude is? Do you see how a negative attitude can have devastating consequences? The bad attitude of the ten spies spread to all the people of Israel and kept them out of the Promised Land. But Joshua and Caleb, whose faith never wavered, were still strong enough forty years later to lead the next generation into the land God had promised.

When you have a winning attitude, you can look at your most challenging situation and make it through it by choosing to set your eyes on God's promises. You'll quiet the discouraging voices that come against you by looking through eyes of faith, not fear, and believe that God will lead you through your wilderness into all He has for you.


Believe First

I talked to a man who had struggled with an addiction for twenty-two years. He said, "I asked God to help me, but nothing happened. I can't get free." The addiction remained as strong as ever, so he assumed that God wasn't doing anything. He was waiting to see the manifestation before he believed that God was working. But faith says you have to believe when you pray that God put the miracle in motion. You can't wait for the evidence and then you'll start believing; you have to believe first. You may not see any sign of it, but down deep you have to know the source of that addiction has been cut off.

One day Jesus saw a fig tree off in the distance. He was hungry and walked over to get some figs, but the tree was barren. He said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again" (Mark 11:14). He cursed the tree. But when He said it, nothing on the outside changed. There was no evidence that what He said had happened. The disciples had seen Jesus speak and the sick were healed and storms calmed immediately, and I can imagine they wondered what went wrong. But the next morning "the disciples saw the fig tree had withered from the roots." When Jesus spoke to the tree, nothing happened on the outside, but down in the roots, the source was cut off. When the roots are dead, the tree is dead. It may still look alive, but it's just a matter of time before the outside catches up with the inside.

I told this man what I'm telling you. You may not see anything happening, but the moment you pray in faith, God acts. Instead of thinking, "One day I'll be free," try a new approach and say, "Father, thank You that I am free. Thank You that this addiction is dead. It doesn't control me because You've already put an end to it." This man started living with the attitude that it was already cut off. He kept thanking God that He was free, talking like he was free. I saw him about six months later and he said he was totally free.

Jesus said, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24). It doesn't say to believe that you receive it when you see it. Whether it's for freedom from an addiction, the healing of a sickness, or a breakthrough in your finances, the prayer of faith says, "When I pray according to God's Word, I believe it happens right when I pray. I have it in my spirit." It's just a matter of time and you will see what God promised.