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Selected Hearing
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That’s right: “selected” hearing. Many of us are accused at one time or another of having “selective” hearing—hearing only that which we want to hear. But I think God is in the business of providing “selected” hearing.

 My first introduction to that concept came from reading Acts 2:1-6 when on the day of Pentecost the disciples were gathered together in one place and “tongues of fire” came upon them. They went out and began preaching to the God-fearing Jews who had come to Jerusalem from every nation. And each listener heard in his own native language.

The disciples were given the gift of speaking in other languages, but it is no stretch for me to believe that people of different nationalities standing in the same crowd listening to a single discourse heard it in their own tongue.

A retired pastor friend once told how, as a young minister, he wanted to be the best preacher ever. He thought it would be helpful, when people shook his hand and said “Great sermon today,” to ask them, “What was the most memorable part of my sermon?”

To his dismay, people described phrases or lessons that he’d not even touched upon. This troubled him greatly and he thought for a while that he was a total failure as a preacher and that he should look for another line of work.

Balaam's Story
Then he thought of Balaam’s donkey –the one that saved Balaam’s life and spoke to him (ref. Numbers 22:28-30).

“Well, I guessed if God could use a donkey, God could use me.” This pastor didn’t quit the ministry. He began to marvel at how God used his sermons to provide opportunities for “selected hearing” within the congregation. While some people were just thinking their own thoughts about their own agendas, others listened to the words being spoken. For those listening with open hearts and minds, the Holy Spirit drew connections to deeper truths and insights. 

It is one of the many functions and ministries of the Holy Spirit to help us understand the word of God with greater clarity. In Christ’s parting message to the disciples, He spoke of the Helper: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).

In the din of sounds and voices around us—that stuff that’s “in one ear and out the other’’—the Holy Spirit works to provide messages and memories that will lead us to salvation.

It is not just from the pulpit that the Spirit works. It is more often through conversations of friend to friend. We may not remember saying the exact words that someone says we said. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that the friend is drawn closer to God by words “selected” by the Holy Spirit for his or her hearing.

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION ®.

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