Chapter 1.
The Tragedy of Being Out of Touch with God

Isaiah 1:1-10

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

There are wonderful books contained within the pages of the Old Testament. Each book plays an important role in the message that God conveyed to mankind through His precious Word. They are sign posts of His grace, greatness, goodness, gifts, and guidance for us.

Isaiah was a tremendous prophet and very eloquent and descriptive in his writings. Isaiah was quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. The second most quoted book is Psalms. Isaiah has been referred to as the Paul of the Old Testament or the Shakespeare of the prophets. He is also referred to as the Messianic prophet because he frequently spoke about the future ministry and reign of Jesus Christ, the Messiah and spoke often of the attributes of the Lord. The prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus is found in 7:14.

Isaiah 7:14—Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah's name means "salvation of the Lord." The salvation of the Lord is a key theme of the book of Isaiah. The word is mentioned 26 times in this book, while it is mentioned only nine other times in the other remaining prophets. You could easily explain the topic of salvation to someone by using verses in Isaiah. In fact, some have said that the book of Isaiah is like a jewel case, and Isaiah 53 is the jewel. This is the chapter that tells of the Savior who "took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows."

Isaiah 53 is a wonderful chapter to store in your memory. Each verse is a nugget of golden truth. This is the chapter that pictures Christ, our suffering Redeemer who paid the price for our sins. Paul loved Isaiah 53, referring to it five times.

Isaiah was a great man who faithfully served the Lord for many years as a prophet. He served for approximately 58 years beginning sometime during the reign of King Uzziah (790-739 b.c.) and ending around 681 b.c. when King Sennacherib of Assyria died. He preached during the reigns of these four kings of Judah: Uzziah (Azzariah), Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and some in Manasseh's reign. Tradition states that he was sawn in half by Manasseh, the successor of King Hezekiah.

Hebrews 11:37—They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.

At the time of Isaiah's ministry, Judah was a sinful and unjust nation. Nevertheless, Isaiah believed that Judah was God's chosen nation and they would be vindicated by God. With support from Micah, and the godly King Hezekiah, their enemies were held at bay and a revival swept through the nation of Judah (2 Kings 19; 2 Chronicles 32). Many commentators describe Isaiah as Judah's evangelist because he worked tirelessly to turn the people back to God.

Isaiah was a man who loved his nation. The phrase "my people" is used at least twenty-six times in his book. He was a patriot with a true love for his country, pleading with Judah to return to God and warning kings when their foreign policy was contrary to God's will. Isaiah was certainly a courageous man. Unafraid to denounce kings and priests, and unwavering when public opinion went against him, he boldly declared the Word of God.

It was a difficult time of international upheaval, when first one power and then another threatened Judah. The greatest dangers, however, were not outside the nation, they were within the nation. In spite of the godly leadership of King Hezekiah, Judah had no more godly kings. One by one, Hezekiah's successors led the nation into political and spiritual decay, ending in captivity in Babylon.

The British expositor G. Campbell Morgan said, "The whole story of the prophet Isaiah is that of a man who spoke to an inattentive age or to an age which, if attentive, mocked him and refused to obey his message, until, as the prophetic period drew to a close, he inquired in anguish, 'Who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?'"

When we look at the layout of the book of Isaiah, we find that it is very similar to the layout of the entire Bible.

  1. For example, the Bible has sixty-six books and Isaiah has sixty-six chapters.
  2. The Old Testament has thirty-nine books and the first section of Isaiah has thirty-nine chapters.
  3. The New Testament has twenty-seven books and the last section of Isaiah has twenty-seven chapters.
  4. The Old Testament covers the history and sin of Israel, as does Isaiah 1-39.
  5. The New Testament describes the person and ministry of Christ, as does Isaiah 40-66.
  6. The New Testament begins with the ministry of John the Baptist. The second section in Isaiah (chapter 40) begins by predicting this ministry.
  7. The New Testament ends by referring to the new heavens and the new earth. Isaiah ends his book by describing the same things.

Isaiah 66:22—For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.

Revelation 21:1-3—And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

As the curtain opens on chapter one of this tremendous book, we find a dire situation in the nation of Israel. God's people had become "out of touch" with God. If we are not careful, we can follow the exact same pattern as the Israelites.

Unfortunately, many Christians today are "out of touch" with the Lord. They spend no time with God. They rarely pray or read the Bible in order to let the Lord speak to them and give them direction in their lives. Why does this happen? This is what we will address in this message. Notice verse number one.

I. The Reigns of Four Kings

Isaiah 1:1

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isaiah's ministry to Judah was during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Who were these guys? What were they like?

1. Uzziah

He was a good king, also known by the name Azariah. He became king when he was a sixteen-year-old teenager and reigned 52 years. Uzziah sought the Lord in the days of Zechariah. In Jerusalem he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses to shoot arrows and hurl large stones.

His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful, but then, His pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Chronicles 26:15-16). Only the priests were to offer incense to the Lord. For his disobedience, he was afflicted with leprosy until he died.

2. Jotham

This was Uzziah's son. He too, was a good king and "ordered his ways before the Lord." He became the king at the age of 25. According to the short account of Jotham's 16-year reign, the king did just about everything right, rebuilding the Temple walls and many towns, forts, and towers. Militarily, he defeated the Ammonites in battle and was credited for conquering the Ammonites.

3. Ahaz

He became king at the age of 20. This was Jotham's son and was a bad king who worshiped idols. He is said to have given himself up to a life of wickedness, introducing many pagan and idolatrous customs. Perhaps his wickedest deed was sacrificing his own son, likely to have been Rimmon. He also added an idolatrous altar into the Temple. He ignored the remonstrances and warnings of the prophets.

4. Hezekiah

This was the son of Ahaz and was one of the best kings in Jerusalem, removing idols from the land. He became king at 25 years of age. He destroyed the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because it had become an idol. The northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria in his reign, but Hezekiah's prayers saved Judah. While Hezekiah was dying, God answered his prayers for healing. The Lord granted him fifteen more years of life. The visions that Isaiah received from the Lord took place during the reigns of these four men.

II. The Rebellion of God's People

Isaiah 1:2-4

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

Many preachers get discouraged during their ministries because they feel they are not doing any good in helping other people. These discouraged men feel that folks don't listen to what they are preaching. They need to realize that Isaiah was a godly man and many people did not listen to him either, yet, Isaiah kept on preaching. The spiritual conditions in Israel were so bad that the people "flat-out" rebelled against God in spite of the care that God provided for His people. Beloved, rebellion is an effective weapon in Satan's arsenal and will cause you to rapidly lose touch with God and a close walk with Him.

Isaiah stated that God reared and "nourished" His people. This word "nourished" is derived from the Hebrew word gadal {gaw-dal'} which means "to make important or great, to magnify or cause to prosper and grow." God magnified His own people and made them important. For all the blessings that the Lord had bestowed upon His people, they were ungrateful and rebelled. In fact, rebellion and ungratefulness walk hand-in-hand. Their rebellion spawned a number of negative traits.

A. Ignorance

1:3—"The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."

Professional golfer Tommy Bolt was playing in Los Angeles and had a caddy with a reputation of constant chatter. Before they teed off, Bolt told him, "Don't say a word to me, and if I ask you something, just answer 'yes' or 'no.'" During the round, Bolt found the ball next to a tree, where he had to hit under a branch, over a lake and onto the putting green. He got down on his knees and looked through the trees and sized up the shot.

"What do you think?" he asked the caddy. "Five-iron?" "No, Mr. Bolt," the caddy said. "What do you mean, not a five-iron?" Bolt snorted. "Watch this shot." The caddy rolled his eyes. "No-o-o, Mr. Bolt." But Bolt hit it and the ball stopped about two feet from the hole. He turned to his caddy, handed him the five-iron and said, "Now what do you think about that? You can talk now." "Mr. Bolt," the caddy said, "that wasn't your ball."

Beloved, rebellion creates ignorance and a lack of common sense. It causes us to make decisions that cause us to "hit the wrong ball" if you please. We miss the mark. When people get rebellious toward God, they just don't think clearly or reasonably. They make dumb decisions that destroy their peace, joy, and relationships with other people or with God. This is what happened during Isaiah's day.

Isaiah stated that oxen and donkeys had more sense than God's rebellious people. These animals knew their masters and who provided for them, but the nation of Israel had no comprehension of God's care for them. They would not acknowledge God's authority over their lives. That's what happens when you become rebellious. You will not let Christ be Lord of your life or acknowledge His blessings and what He has done for you.

Rebels tend to be ignorant and ungrateful for what people or for what God has done for them. Why? They are usually focused upon themselves, their plans, their achievements, and not anyone else. Rebels do not consider or comprehend the difference between those who truly care for them, and those who take advantage of them.

For example, rebellious young people will reject their parent's love for the attention of peers that would dump them in a second as soon as trouble or difficulties arise. The prodigal son could tell you a thing or two about these kinds of friends and how fickle they are. He could also tell you the lack of common sense that rebellion creates when he forsook the love and fellowship of his father.

God continued to be patient in caring for His foolish, sinful people, even though they did not or would not recognize Him in their lives. Eventually, the discipline would come because rebellion creates a thirst for that which is wild and wicked.

Jeremiah 4:22—For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

Thank God for His mercy and patience with us when we get hardhearted and ungrateful sometimes. If you want to stay in touch with God each day, then learn to count your blessings each day that you receive from Him.

Lamentations 3:22-23—It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Psalm 68:19—Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.

B. Iniquity

1:4a—"Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers ..."

Another way to lose touch with the Lord is to live in sin. So many Christians have backslidden and drifted far away from Christ because they have become gripped by sinful addictions that have robbed them of their joy and hurt their testimonies for Jesus Christ.

Beloved, Christian people are not to be setting an example of drunkenness, drug addiction, debauchery, sexual immorality, and filthy talk. Good night folks, God's people are not to be living this way at all! Stay away from this kind of stuff! No wonder unsaved people in this world think believers are a bunch of phonies and hypocrites when they do things that some unsaved people will not do. If Christ is your Savior then you are an ambassador for Christ. Be careful how you are living!

Israel's rebellious spirit led to carnal, wicked, ungodly living. In fact, Isaiah characterized the entire nation as a sinful nation. The word "Ah" is also translated "Woe." This word was used in funeral laments and carried the connotation of death. In highly dramatic fashion, Isaiah acts out Israel's funeral in advance, emphasizing that their demise is inevitable if they do not repent soon.

In fact, conditions got so bad that God's people had become "laden" with iniquity. This word "laden" is from the word kabed {kaw-bade'} which means "massive, heavy, hardened, very oppressive or abundant." The people of this nation were bogged-down with wickedness and corruption.

The filth that existed in the families influenced their descendants. Isaiah referred to them as a seed of evildoers. The picture was pretty bleak. How did God's people get so far away from the Lord? The answer is the fact that they lost touch with God. If you are not careful, you will follow the same pattern and reap the same consequences. Your children and grandchildren will be affected by your decisions and influence. God help us to have a good testimony for Christ!

My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done;

Leave countless marks for good or ill, ere sets the evening sun.

This is the wish I always wish, the prayer I always pray:

Lord, may my life help other lives it touches by the way.

Author Unknown

C. Influencing Others for Evil Purposes

1:4b—"... children that are corrupters ..."

Another by-product of rebellion is the effect that your own rebellion has upon other people. Rebels don't like to sin all by themselves. They feel more comfortable if others join with them in their rebellion and carnality. This is why they will use their influence to corrupt other people to join or follow them. This is what happened in Israel in Isaiah's day. God's people had become so perverse that they corrupted others with their vices.

It is for this reason you should use wisdom in picking your friends. If you run around with rebels, sooner or later, you will act just like them. If you don't compromise with what they are doing, they will not want to spend any time with you. That is why there is pressure for you to "give-in" to what they are doing. Paul warned all of us about the influence of the wrong kind of friends when he said, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33).

D. Indifference toward God

1:4c—"... they have forsaken the Lord ..."

Rebellion leads to an attitude of indifference toward the Lord. Rebels don't usually want to have anything to do with God, His Word, the Bible, church, or other Christians because these things remind them of the errors of their ways. Their attitude is, "I don't want to hear it! Get out of my face! I will do as I please when I please and nobody is going to tell me what to do!" Those attitudes pretty well sum up their thinking.

Isaiah stated that Israel forsook the Lord. It was another step of digression. They not only were caught up in sin, they did not want to have anything to do with God at all. In King Jereboam's day, Ahijah the prophet delivered God's message to the king, "But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back" (1 Kings 14:9). Ezekiel said, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms" (Ezekiel 23:35).

Israel had forsaken the Lord. The word "forsaken" is from the Hebrew word 'azab {aw-zab'} which means "to depart from, to leave behind, to abandon or neglect." God's people willingly turned their backs on God and wanted nothing to do with Him. God did not leave them. They left the Lord. God did not move. They moved away from Him.

How in the world did this happen? They lost touch with God. Many believers have nothing to do with the Lord today because they have lost touch with Him. What are some other reasons why folks forsake the Lord? The Bible gives the answer.

1. The Reproach and fear of the world

Matthew 26:55, 56—In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

2. Resistance toward the Lord

John 6:64-66—But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

3. The Riches of this world

Matthew 19:21, 22—Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

4. The Relationship with this world & Romance with worldliness

2 Timothy 4:10—For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

E. Infuriating God

1:4d—"... they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward."

The rebellion of God's people got so bad that it led to the provocation of the Lord. Isaiah stated that they provoked the Lord to anger. This word "provoked" is from the word na'ats {naw-ats'} which means they spurned, despised, or abhorred the Lord. It is the same word for "anger" in this verse.

That is what rebellion will do in a person's heart. It causes people to hate those who have helped them, to sneer and abhor at those who have authority. Their ungrateful attitudes and actions moved God to a point of anger. Israel's rebellion caused them to turn their backs upon the Lord and become distant from Him. How did they get so far from God? They lost touch with God.

This brings us to some good questions. First, "Does the Lord get angry at Christians because of the way they live?" Secondly, "Does the Lord discipline rebellious believers?" The answer to both questions is "Yes." God does chasten us when we are rebellious. If we persist in sinful living, He may call us home to Heaven.

Proverbs 3:11—My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:

1 Corinthians 11:29-30 ... For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

The word "sleep" in this verse is a term for death.

We have examined two areas so far.

III. The Revolt and Ruin of the Nation's Health

Isaiah 1:5-6

Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

In 1903, a mountain fell on a town in the Canadian Rockies. The town of Frank, Alberta, was buried under 100 million tons of limestone. At least 76 men, women, and children were killed. It was the rich seams of coal in Turtle Mountain that caused people to build a town under its shadow. The desire for coal led residents to ignore the regular tremors in the rocks above them. In fact, miners counted on the tremors to knock loose seams of coal and make their work easier. Days before the disaster, the mine had become "virtually self-operating in that all the miners had to do was shovel up coal as it fell from the ceiling."

Even the local Blackfoot Indian nation did not like to go near the mountain, referring to it as "the mountain that walks." But the town ignored all these warnings. Just after 4:00 a.m., April 29, 1903, an enormous piece of Turtle Mountain, 3,000 feet long and 500 feet thick, broke off and tumbled into the valley below. The exact number of dead will never be known. Of the 76 known dead, only 12 bodies were ever recovered. These folks perished because they would not heed the warnings of others. The nation of Israel was facing the same mind-set and eventual destruction.

Isaiah asked why God's people were bent or insisting on being battered and inviting more punishment into their lives by continuing their rebellion. He was more or less asking, "What are you people thinking?" His question is a reminder of the fact that when people are determined to live wickedly, they lose their rationality and common sense. They are consumed or obsessed with their sins.

Describing the condition of the nation by comparing it to a body, Israel's head was wounded, its heart was weak or faint, and wounds and sores covered its body. God's people had become gluttons for punishment. That's why he was asking why they wanted to be beaten even more.

People today who will not repent, who will not obey the Lord, who persist to rebel against God and His Word, they too, are gluttons for punishment. They reap the consequences of their sinfulness, but will not stop what they are doing. Their problems persist and get more severe, but they will not repent. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah all dealt with the same attitudes in their days.

Jeremiah 5:3—O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

Ezekiel 3:7—But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.

Zechariah 7:11-12—But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. 12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.

Beloved, when you lose touch with the Lord, you lose your common sense and make choices that end up harming your life and Christian testimony. Listen to God's Word and heed what the Bible says about doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong.

IV. The Results of Losing Touch with God

Isaiah 1:7-8

Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

There is a price for losing touch with God. The result is ruin, destruction, or devastation. God's people paid a high price for their indifference and rebellion toward the Lord. The land was in ruins. The cities were in flames. Foreign invaders plundered the crops and towns. Jerusalem was abandoned like a hut in a vineyard or shelter in a garden of cucumbers.

The only historical situation this description fits is that of the invasion of 701 b.c., when Sennacherib destroyed 46 walled-cities of Judah. He took over 200,000 prisoners, not to Assyria as some have assumed, but to Babylonia to replace the 208,000 prisoners he once took from there.

The same type of damage occurs in your own personal life when you lose touch with the Lord. Not only is your own life affected, but your family is affected, too. Many marriages have landed on the ash-heap of divorce because the couple lost touch with God. Families have been left in ruins. When the parents don't follow the Lord, the tendency of the children is to not follow Him either.

V. The Remnant of Hope

Isaiah 1:9

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

God in His grace and mercy spared a small remnant of the people so that they were not totally wiped out just like Sodom and Gomorrah.

VI. The Regard and Respect for the Lord

Isaiah 1:10

Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

If you have lost touch with the Lord, what should you do? Isaiah gives the answer here. We are to listen to what God says in His Word. That is step number one. Our ears are a great wonder. They are capable of catching 73,700 vibrations per second whether it is the rumble of distant thunder, the razzing buzz of a fly or mosquito, or the soft whisper of a sleeping baby's breathing. Of all the organs in the body, the inner ear demands the most bodily energy.

Attentive listening can be a draining experience, so God made sure the ears got all the necessary power to carry out this important task. If we are going to present our bodies to God, then we need to be willing to listen to Him first. If we have been deaf toward the Lord, we need to have a listening attitude. Listening is so important that the ear is the first organ to function in the womb and the last to quit functioning at death.

Face it, most of the problems we create for ourselves stem from the fact that we have failed to listen to wisdom or warnings. Listening carefully is essential in effective communication. Married couples with problems struggle in this area because as they argue and debate, they tend to think on what they will say next instead of listening to what their spouse is saying. Communication breakdown is the number one reason for divorce in the nation. God urges us to be good listeners. Repeatedly, we are instructed to listen to what God has to say to us.

James 1:19—Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

Psalm 85:8—I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

Jeremiah 23:22—But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. Here is what Swindoll shared: "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures.

Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable. I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.' Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me—and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.' I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'"

Beloved, we also need to learn to listen slowly to the Lord and what He is trying to say to us. The psalmist put it this way,

"Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10a).

Why We Struggle to Listen to the Lord

We struggle to listen and hear the Lord for several reasons.

1) Distraction

2 Timothy 4:4—And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

2) Discouragement & Doubt

We question if God's way will work or we weaken in our faith sometimes. When this happens, we tend to not pay attention to the Lord.

3) Disillusioned with the Messenger

Some folks will not listen to God's messenger, whether a parent, pastor, or teacher, because they become bitter toward the messenger or make excuses because of the weaknesses of the messenger. What the messenger does, speaks louder than his words. Thus, the focus is on the messenger and not the message. Poor listeners, as a result, seldom hear a good sermon.

4) Disobedience

Matthew 7:26—And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

Ezekiel 12:2—Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

Listening involves hearing and doing what is said. It involves putting into practice what is heard. This is the meaning of the words "give ear" unto the law of God in Isaiah 1:10. We are to put God's Word into practice.

Erik Weihenmayer is blind, yet on May 25, 2001 (Nepal time), he reached the peak of Mt. Everest. Suffering from a degenerative eye disease, he lost his sight when he was 13, but that didn't stop him. On a mountain where 90 percent of climbers never make it to the top—and 165 have died trying since 1953—Erik succeeded, in large measure because he listened well.

He listened to the little bell tied to the back of the climber in front of him, so he would know what direction to go. He listened to the voice of teammates who would shout back to him, "Death fall two feet to your right!" This was the method used so he would know what direction to avoid. He listened to the sound of his pick jabbing the ice, so he would know whether the ice was safe to cross.

We too, take a perilous journey in our lives. Thank God for the people in our lives that are shouting to us, "Death fall, two feet to the right!" Thank God for those folks who warn us of dangers on our paths. They are not our enemies. They are our friends.

Beloved, listening well and obeying the Lord can make all the difference in our lives.

1 Samuel 15:22—And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Don't lose touch with God!