ATTENTIVENESS – Showing respect by listening to what others say
Have you ever seen an animal “perk” up it’s ears? A deer may be grazing in a field when all of a sudden it raises its head and lifts its ears. He will listen intently because he senses danger. He gives all of his attention to the noise that he has heard to see if he should run or not.
Your dog might do the same thing. He may cock his head to one side, perk up his ears and give his full attention to whatever it is that he hears. After a while he might put his head down again or he might start barking at what he thinks is trouble.
You and I should be attentive too. Many times we may daydream in class and we miss what our teacher is saying. Then when we go to take a test, we don’t do well because we weren’t paying attention. Other times our mom or dad might tell us what they want done, but we only half hear them and then we fail at the task. Sometimes not paying attention can get us hurt. If we are crossing a busy street and aren’t attentive, we might be hit by a car.
Have you ever been talking to a person and they aren’t paying attention. They keep looking away from you or looking at their phone. They might say “yeah” or “right” once in a while, but you know that they aren’t listening. How does that make you feel? You might be angry at them for being rude or you might get frustrated because you feel like you are not important to them since they can’t even give you a few minutes of their time.
I wonder if God ever feels that way when we don’t listen to Him. God wants us to know Him so He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. Sadly though many people don’t give Him any attention at all. They just keep on living the way they want to and they don’t listen to the God Who made them.
Jesus told a story about a farmer who went out to plant his fields. As he threw out his seed it landed in different spots on the ground.
The first seed landed on hard, packed down soil. The seeds stayed on top of the hard ground and never grew. Instead, some birds came and ate up these seeds.
Other seed fell on rocky soil. It took root and grew for a short time. But as these plants grew, their tiny roots hit rock and were unable to grow more or get enough water. Without the water they needed, these tiny plants dried up and died in the hot sun.
Some of the seed took root and began to grow well. As these plants grew, they were soon surrounded by weeds. These weeds took all of the nourishment from the soil, so the plants were very weak. The weak plants continued to grow a bit but did not produce any fruit.
Thankfully, some of the seed fell on good ground. These plants grew and grew and grew. These plants became strong and produced fruit. Some of these plants gave 30, 60 or 100 times more than what the farmer had planted. The farmer was very happy to see such growth!
The story that Jesus told is really about real people and how they listen to His Word (the Bible). The seed in the story represents God’s Word.
The hard soil stands for those people who don’t even hear God’s Word when it is shared. They are not paying attention when the preacher, teacher or parent tells them the good news about Jesus. They miss any benefit of growing or producing fruit. Jesus said that the birds represent Satan, who distracts people so that they don’t listen to the good news of the Bible.
The rocky soil stands for those who initially hear the Bible and give God their attention. But when troubles come along or people make fun of them for thinking about God, they give up and quit thinking about Him.
The weedy soil stands for people who listen to the Bible and receive Jesus as their Savior from sin but after a while they get busy with life and they ignore God’s Word. They don’t read their Bibles or attend church much, so God’s Word has little effect on them. Even though they have Jesus as their Savior, they live any way they want and they ignore God speaking to them. They miss out on the benefits of growing in Jesus and doing great things for God.
The good soil stands for those who REALLY listen to God. They gladly receive Jesus as their Savior and they decide to follow Him with their whole heart… they never give up on living for God and they don’t ignore His Word. These people are like the deer or dog at the beginning of this lesson in that they are attentive … they listen for God’s direction and then they eagerly respond to do as God asks them to act. God says that those who do this will have much to show for their actions and they will receive reward in heaven.
Did you know that YOU can be just like this good soil that grew the healthy plants … YOU can be attentive and listen to God. YOU can grow strong in Jesus as you read your Bible and pray every day. Knowing God’s Word makes you attentive to what is going on around you and able to do just like it says in Psalm 119:11 … "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
Don’t let the many voices in this world take the place of God’s voice ... things like friends, music, internet, videos, games, etc. Instead, be attentive to God. Spend time alone with Him each day. Watch yourself grow.
Here are three tips to help you be more attentive as you spend time with God everyday:
Pray first. Ask God to show you something from His Word the Bible.
Read the Bible carefully and look for something important you should know about God, something you need to do for God and something you should do to keep from doing wrong (sinning).
Memorize Bible verses from what you read every day or from the verse list you will find on the Shepherd’s Place web site. Learning verses is very important and helpful.