- Take as Directed
- Pay Close Attention
- Bend Your Ear
- Don't Let Them Out of Your Sight
- Keep Them in Your Heart
- Closing Prayer
Now I'm going to explain the second of the instructions God has given for taking His medicine: "incline thine ear."The word incline is slightly Old English, so we need to make sure that we understand precisely what it means. "To incline" is to bend down, and "an incline" is a hill that slopes. So, "inclining your ear" is bending your ear down.
A fact of the human body is that you cannot bend your ear without bending your head down. In inclining your ear, you are actually inclining your head. What does that express? It's an attitude indicating humility and teachability. I'll illustrate it from experience.
As I was studying the Bible in the hospital, seeking desperately for the answer to my problem, I read many promises of healing, blessing and prosperity. But my attitude was conditioned by my background, which is probably true of all of us.
My background was in a segment of the Christian church where Christianity was not associated with being happy—in fact, very much the opposite. I had early in life formed the conclusion that if I were going to be a Christian, I would have to be prepared to be miserable. I had also decided pretty early that I wasn't prepared to be miserable and, therefore, I wasn't going to be a Christian. It was only a sovereign intervention of God in my life that changed me, but I still carried a lot of these old concepts with me.
When I found these repeated promises in the Bible of healing, health, strength, long life, prosperity and abundance, I kept shaking my head—not inclining my head, but shaking my head—and saying, "This couldn't be. That's too good to be true! I can't believe that religion would be like that!" I was reacting this way to one of these statements in the Psalms where it says, "[God] forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases—so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm 103:3, 5). I told myself, "You know, that's impossible. God couldn't be like that. I mean, we know we have to anticipate misery being Christians."
As I was responding like that inwardly, God spoke to me so clearly, not audibly, but just as clearly as someone was actually speaking. He said, "Now tell Me, who is the pupil and who is the teacher?" I thought it over for a moment and replied, "Lord, You're the teacher, and I'm the pupil." Then He responded, "Well, would you mind letting Me teach you?" I saw then that I wasn't letting God teach me at all. I had my own preconceptions. If He said something different in His Word, I really wasn't capable of hearing it because my mind was blocked by these set ideas. God in essence was saying, "Incline thine ear, give up your prejudices, bend that stiff neck of yours, and let Me tell you how good I am and how wonderful is the provision I've made for you. Don't measure Me by human standards because I'm God. I'm almighty and gracious, a faithful and merciful God."
This brings out a very important principle about God's Word. God's Word works in us only insofar as we receive it. If we don't receive it, it doesn't do us any good. In a very powerful passage, James said when he was speaking about God:(James 1:18-19, 21 KJV)
18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, [Notice, our becoming Christians is due to the Word. God begat us with the word of truth.] that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
19. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: [Note that: a wise man is swift to hear, but slow to speak.]
21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
God's Word can save you, it can heal you, and it can bless you in innumerable ways, but only if you receive it with meekness.
One of the things that we have to lay aside is naughtiness. We usually associate naughtiness with children. What is a naughty child? One of the marks of a naughty child is answering back when he's taught or reproved. God says, "Don't answer Me back. When I tell you something, don't argue with Me. Don't tell Me you think it can't be true or that it's impossible or that I couldn't mean that. Let Me teach you." That is the essence of the inclined ear. It means that we come to God and we say, "God, You're the teacher; I'm the pupil. I'm willing to let You teach me. I bow down my ear and listen."
In this matter of inclining the ear, we have to come face to face with the fact that most of us have mental barriers when we begin to read the Bible. They're due, in many cases, to our backgrounds. Many of us have had some kind of denominational affiliation in the past. We may still be active members of some particular denomination. I am not opposed to denominations, but I want to suggest to you that every denomination has its weak points and its strong points. It has areas in which it has been faithful to the truth, and it has areas in which it has not been faithful to the truth. If we measure God from our own denominational background, if we judge the Scriptures by what some church or some denomination teaches, we will exclude from our minds much of the truth that God wants us to receive and which can bless and help us.
For instance, some churches teach that the age of miracles is past. I have never been able to find any basis for that statement in Scripture. I can think of dozens of Scriptures which indicate the exact opposite. But if you approach it with the attitude that the age of miracles is past, then when God promises you a miracle, you probably can't hear Him or receive it.
Some Christian groups suggest that in order to be holy, you have to be poor. Being anything but poor is considered in some way almost sinful. Well, if it's God's purpose to bless you with material prosperity in order for you to help build His kingdom, as He states many times in Scripture, it can be His purpose. But if you have the attitude that you must be poor, you won't be able to receive the blessing of prosperity which God is offering you on the basis of Scripture.
I remember when I started to read that verse, it knocked me over. My old prejudices and preconceptions rose up. I thought, "That's impossible. It can't mean what it says." But you see, God said, "Incline your ear. Don't come at Me with your arguments, your prejudices, your preconceptions. Bend that stiff neck of yours and let Me teach you."
That's an essential requirement for receiving healing through the Word of God. By laying down our preconceptions and prejudices, bending our stiff necks and opening our ears, we become able to listen carefully to what God says and not reject it because it doesn't agree with something we thought God ought to have said.