September, 2015

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus made this comment as He told a parable about four kinds of soils. Jesus’ parable was about listening. How can one learn or understand anything if he doesn’t know how to listen? In Jesus’ mind, this parable about listening was foundational to understanding all of the parables He taught. “He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?’” (Mark 4:13). I conclude that knowing how to listen is foundational to all learning, but most importantly, knowing how to listen to God’s Word when it is read or heard is critical if one is to know God. 

    Here is a demonstration you can do with your family that teaches and reinforces Jesus’ parable in Luke 8. Knowing how to listen to God (or anyone) makes the difference between being deluded – thinking you have something – and truly having it. That’s why Jesus summarized this lesson in this way: “So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Luke 8:18). How can you guard yourself and your children from being deluded? Listen well to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 8!


Scripture Focus

Luke 8:11-18 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. 

Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” 



  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Flashlight
  • Towel



    This demonstration requires a dark room, so doing it at night is best. Introduce the lesson on listening to your children by reading Luke 8:4-18. As you read, point out these important deductions.

  • Vs. 10. It’s possible to be deluded – to “see” and “hear” with your eyes and ears, but not really understand God’s Word. You might think you know God, but you don’t.
  • Vs. 11. When you read or hear God’s Word, you are only getting seed.
  • Vss. 12-14. These kinds of listeners “hear,” but they don’t bear any lasting fruit (are not saved). Discuss and assign one word to describe each kind of listener.
  • Vs. 15. This is the only kind of listener who bears fruit and is saved. What one word describes this listener?
  • Vss. 16-17. Jesus gave an analogy with light to illustrate listening. Here’s a demonstration to help explain Jesus’ analogy.
  • Tell a volunteer/child to thread a needle in thirty seconds. Tell them he or she may begin when you say, “Go.”
  • Turn off all the lights, and then say, “Go.”  Of course they will complain that they can’t see, and when they do, turn on the flashlight and position it so they can see what they are doing.
  • After a few seconds, put the towel over the flashlight. When they complain again that they cannot see, turn the lights back on so they can thread the needle.
  • Once the task is completed, explain how this is like the analogy Jesus taught in Luke 8:16-18.


Foundational Truth: When you read or listen to God’s Word, do something with what you read or hear.

    For the same reason a person turns a light on in a dark room (so he can see to do something in the room), so a person reads or listens to God’s Word for the purpose of using it to bring about change in his life. In last month’s Chariot of Fire (you can read it here), we learned the important lesson that the purpose of life is to know the Father and the Son. That is Jesus’ definition of eternal life (John 17:3). When one hears or reads God’s Word, one must apply or do something with it so that understanding and life-transformation may come. Not applying God’s Word as the Spirit of God prompts us is like having a flashlight, but covering it with a towel. One may see the words or hear the words, but if the person doesn’t see how to apply the truth to life and do it, it is as ridiculous and fruitless as lighting a lamp and putting a container over it. Not listening to God, your parents, husband, or wife and failing to do something with what you hear will produce delusional living, which results in powerlessness and emptiness. Can you understand this truth?

    There may be many in the hearing of God’s Word who were as deluded as Jesus’ brothers. Maybe that’s why God the Father had Jesus’ family standing outside as He explained this parable. Surely they thought they knew Jesus! They grew up with Him. I can imagine they thought they were closer to Jesus than anyone else. They had been listening to His words for years and watching His life, but still were unbelieving and had born no fruit at the time Jesus told this parable. Listen carefully to what Jesus said in the hearing of His mother and brothers.


And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).


    Jesus said that those who are closest to Him (mother, brothers, sisters) are those who hear His word and do it. So the foundational lesson to learn is: When you read or listen to God’s Word, do something with what you read or hear until it changes your life. Those with ears to hear know Jesus best and are His closest companions. Jesus’ brother, James, must have listened that day. In his epistles he wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

    Any parent knows this principle and perhaps without realizing it, applies it when parenting. Why do parents repeat the same thing over and over again to their children? Won’t they keep repeating it until they see their children doing something with what they hear? Once they see application, then they know their children have listened



    To know Jesus intimately, one must believe Him when He says, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20, John 14:16). One will never know that God is with him until he does what he hears and discovers God’s help – by first hand experience. Understanding this powerful truth explains why there are so many people in churches who have no power and do not love, yet think they know God (1 John 4:7-8). They think if they recognize a verse or have read a passage of Scripture that they “have it.” Many think they are “saved” because they’ve heard the gospel. Evangelists and preachers may think that if they have preached the gospel and someone repeats a formulaic prayer, the person has eternal life. This misses Jesus’ lesson about listening. It is possible to see and not perceive and to hear and not understand. Fruitful hearing requires meditation, holding on to the word, asking God for understanding, and persevering in faith until understanding and revelation come. Once they put what they hear into practice, they have become fruitful hearers. 

    Do you think most people are determined, careful listeners? Don’t we typically need todevelop listening habits? How one listens to his wife, children, and others is probably the way he listens to God. Once one learns how to listen to God, the way he listens to others will probably change. Do you get tired of people telling you the same thing over and over?  How is your listening? Do you get tired of saying the same thing over and over to your children? Have you taught them how to listen? Show them that you are a determined listener by the changes they see you make as you read and hear God’s Word. Do something with what you hear.