In the book I recently wrote, “God’s Questions to Us”, I credited my father with implanting in me an early awareness and appreciation for those people who asked good questions. This is in contrast to others who only share their opinions, compete to tell the best story or don’t care about what others think. That’s what drew me to reflect on all the questions God asks and Jesus asks.
In my devotions I am reading through the book of Deuteronomy. In the chapter I read today (chapter 9) I came across verse 19 where Moses tells the people of Israel “But again the Lord listened to me.” How beautiful is that? God not only asks questions, but also listens! Throughout the book of Psalms (6:9, 18:6, 28:6, 40:1 and others) the Psalmist declares that God hears our cry.
Sunday’s text (Acts 8:26-40) provides us with a great example of a believer who listens well to God. Philip’s name is first mentioned in Acts 6:5 as one of the “deacons” appointed to help distribute bread and to care for the Hellenist widows and those in need. After Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7, the church in Jerusalem was “scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” (Acts 8:1). Philip ended up in Samaria, (possibly the city of Gitta) where he preached, healed, cast out demons and grew a church full of “great joy” (Acts 8:8). Then he heard an angel voice telling him to leave the city for the desert road to Gaza.
As I read and reflected on this story, I observed a lot of listening by Philip. A characteristic of Philip’s life and ministry could be that he was a great listener, to God and to others. As you prepare for worship on Sunday, reflect on those who have listened to you best in your life. You might even want to write, call or email them a word of thanks for the gift of listening. Examine your own life and the ways you listen well or listen poorly. What would you like to see changed in the way you listen? What are the ways you take steps to listen to God?