- Take as Directed
- Pay Close Attention
- Bend Your Ear
- Don't Let Them Out of Your Sight
- Keep Them in Your Heart
- Closing Prayer
I now want to share with you the lessons I learned about the directions that are on God's medicine bottle and how to apply them. The first of these four instructions is, "attend to my words." We need to understand that when God speaks to us, He requires our undivided attention. If Almighty God is willing to speak to us at all, surely any sense of propriety would indicate that we need to listen to God with our full and respectful attention. Sadly, that's not really the attitude of many people today.
Because of the tremendous proliferation of the media—radio, television, and so on—and because of various different factors in our contemporary culture, we have almost cultivated the practice of listening to two different things at one time. We suffer from a disease which could be called "divided attention." I'm amazed when I go into a home and see teenagers doing their homework while watching television at the same time. They're not giving full attention to either one or the other.
In many places now, we have what is called background music. We carry on a conversation, but at the same time, with one ear we're listening to the music in the background. I have to say that for me, personally, this is intensely frustrating. I'm the kind of person who desires to concentrate on something without dissipating my attention. I think that's a characteristic God has conditioned in me which I am not willing to relinquish. If I'm having a conversation, I want to listen to the person who is talking. If I'm listening to music, then I want to listen to the music. I love music. When I listen to it, I listen to it with my full attention.
But you see, all through the Bible, the primary key to healing from God is hearing. Let me say that simply: The key to biblical healing is hearing. It's what we listen to and how we listen that is so essential. Jesus said to His disciples, "Take heed what you hear" (Mark 4:24 NKJV). He also said, "Take heed how you hear" (Luke 8:18 NKJV). We have to put the two together. It's what we listen to and how we listen to it.Another passage which relates to healing is found in the Old Testament and brings out the same emphasis. In Exodus, the Lord told Israel, through Moses:
"If you will diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I have brought upon the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."
(Exodus 15:26 NKJV)
Notice that final statement. That goes right along with the medicine bottle instructions: "I provide the medicine, and I am your physician." In modern Hebrew that's exactly how that word would be translated: "I am the Lord, your doctor." God says to His people, "I'm willing to be your doctor, the doctor of your physical body. However, there are conditions." He begins with an "if." The first condition, the basic one, is: "If you will diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God." You see, what we listen to is very important. The Hebrew word that is translated "diligently heed" is a repetition of the verb "to listen." It goes something like this: "If you will 'listen listeningly' to the voice of the LORD your God." The complete emphasis is on listening.
When I was seeking healing for myself I came across this verse in conjunction with Proverbs 4:20-22. I asked myself, "What does it mean to 'listen listeningly'?"
God gave me an answer to my question. He said, "You've got two ears, a right ear and a left one; 'to listen listeningly' means to listen to Me with both ears, with your right ear and with your left. Don't listen to Me with your right ear and something else with your left because the result of that will be confusion."
The emphasis is on attending to God, listening for Him, giving God your undivided attention. That is the primary instruction on God's medicine bottle. It matters what we hear and how we hear.
This is not only the key to being healed, it's also the key to receiving faith. Of course, they go very closely together. It's faith that enables us to receive the healing that God has provided and to benefit from the medicine.
One of my favorite Scriptures, which was also made real to me during this long period in the hospital, is the following: 17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
Lying there in that hospital bed, I was continually saying to myself, "I know if I had faith, God would heal me." But then I would say immediately after that, "But then, I don't have any faith." When I repeatedly told myself that I didn't have faith, I found myself in what John Bunyan described in Pilgrim's Progress as the "Slough of Despond"—a dark, lonely valley of despair.
One day, as I was reading my Bible, my eyes fell on Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." There were two words that leaped out from the page at me: "faith cometh." In other words, you don't need to despair. Maybe you don't have faith, but faith comes. If you don't have it, you can get it.
Of course, I looked to see how faith comes. The Word says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Again, just as in Proverbs 4:20-22, I was directed right back to the Word of God. As I began to analyze that verse, I saw that we start with the Word of God. That's the beginning. We listen to the Word of God carefully, and, out of that listening, there comes what the Bible calls "hearing," the ability to hear God. Then out of hearing, faith develops.
It's the Word of God which, when we first attend to it, produces hearing. As we continue hearing, or being focused on God's voice, faith develops out of that hearing.
In a sense, everything depends on how we approach the Word of God. Do we approach it with undivided attention? Do we listen with both ears? Are we focused on the Word of God? Do we get ourselves into a condition, both spiritually and mentally, which the Bible calls hearing, where we are truly able to hear what God is saying to us?
I'm sure many people read the Bible but never hear God. They don't hear God because their minds are occupied with other things. They're wondering how they are going to pay the rent, or what the weather is going to be like, or they're concerned with the political situation. There are other forces at work in their minds. Consequently, they never develop the ability to hear God.
We have to develop hearing, and out of hearing faith develops. God's Word itself and the right attitude toward God's Word produce hearing. When we are able to hear, then faith comes. We're always directed back to the Word of God and how we are to receive it.