I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I'm going to do what you tell me to do; don't ever walk off and leave me.
(Psalm 119:7-8 The Message)
The most amazing thing about God's method of "dealing with us" is his ability to get right at the heart of the matter! He certainly does not beat around the bush when it comes to "focusing" on an area of "opportunity" in our lives. As we have begun our exploration into this rather lengthy psalm, we have seen that God is focused on our "consecration" - our being set apart and living like the "highly favored" ones that we are. Yesterday, we looked at the power of "comparison" - of having a "reliable" measure by which to "line ourselves up" against in looking at the progress we are making. Today, David caps this section off with the truth that God does not mince his words - in turn, we can learn the right way of living that is reliable (trustworthy) and then walk in it.
If you have children, or grandchildren, you probably have had at least one opportunity to point out that the path they are taking is not the best. Maybe it was in the choice of a friend they were making, or the lack of progress they made with their scholastic accomplishments this semester. Whatever the "opportunity" for improvement might have been, you had one thing in mind by "pointing out" that opportunity - embrace change! Your sharing was meant to open their eyes to the fact change was needed.
God uses much the same method with us - he points out the opportunities for improvement, then expects us to embrace the change! The important thing to see from our passage is: God speaks straight from the heart! The question I pose this morning is: With what "ears" are we listening to what he says? I put "ears" in quotations because I think we have some differing "tactics" for "listening" that we use on occasion. For example, when our least favorite part of our television shows are blaring (I call those commercials!), we hit the TV remote "mute" button. We "began" to hear what was advertised, got annoyed with hearing about the same product for the 50th time in the two hour movie, and "muted" the volume. We are being "selective" in our hearing!
Whenever we use the "mute" mode in our hearing process, we are essentially making a judgment of the worth of what we are hearing spoken. This may work well for us when "shutting out" the commercials during our movie, but it does not work so well when it comes to "selecting" what it is we will listen to God speak into our lives! We often don't "want" to hear what God is speaking - but the lesson in the hearing is in the receiving of the message. To receive, one has to be actively engaged! There is not "selective muting" with God! He hears all we speak - knows all we think - and his "remote" does not have a "mute"! So, don't we owe him the same respect?
We also have "ears" that act like a "filter" much the same way a paper filter allows water to flow over the coffee grinds and into the pot in the morning. There is a mixing of the water with the grinds, allowing the end product to be a combination of the two. This works well for coffee, but not so well with communication. There is sometimes a "mixing" of the messages we receive, but what makes it through is a combination of the two "ingredients" vs. a pure message. We hear what we want to hear! We run the "ingredients" of God's message through the filter of our mind, emotions, and/or experience. The message takes on a whole different "look and feel" when this occurs. What came from God's heart as something as pure as water gets "colored" by our perceptions, emotional state, and/or past experiences.
David knew he could not be "selective" in his hearing. His openness to receiving the message God sent direct from his heart was what gained David the coveted title of a "man after God's own heart". If we want to be "connected" to the heart of God, we need to learn to hear what his heart is speaking. Filters need to be removed - muted messages need to be avoided. We need to be straight with God and he will be straight with us. It is in the true "engagement" of our heart in the listening process that we realize the intention of his heart toward us. So, listen well; listen actively; and listen in order to truly hear! God's is just itching for that kind of attention to his heart's message!