By show of hands, how many of you have ever been in a conversation with someone who just flat-out isn't listening to you?
Maybe they text while you're talking to them.
Maybe they talk over you.
Or maybe they just outright ignore you.
It's frustrating, right?!
By show of hands, how many of you have had times when you ignored someone else who was talking to you?
Thank you for your honesty.
The rest of you are lying. In church, let me remind you.
You mean to tell me that you never ignore your mom when she asks you, for the third time, to clean your room?
You never ignore your little brother or sister when they ask you for something?
We live in a culture where everyone wants to be heard, but few people actually take the time to listen.
Think about it: tons of people want to be an Instagram influencer or a YouTuber.
Everyone wants to share their voice and their opinion.
But how many people are actually quiet enough to listen?
Jesus is one of the best listeners of all time.
If anyone deserves to be listened to, it’s Jesus—you know, since he's God and all.
But what we see from Jesus is that he’s actually a a really great listener.
He was patient.
I think that maybe we can learn from Jesus’ ability to listen.
Have you ever been in a crowd and heard a voice call out your name, only it wasn’t your name—it was the name of someone with the same name as your name.
The sound of our own name can make us turn our head even if no one else can hear it.
We could hear anyone say our name, and it would get our attention, because we’re so familiar with the sound of our own name.
And then there are people in our lives whose voices we’re so familiar with that we can tell who they are as soon as they start talking.
Right now, I want you to think about the voice of one of your parents or guardians.
It might be your mom telling you that dinner’s ready or your dad telling you it’s time to go to school.
Chances are that you can “visualize” that person’s voice really easily.
Maybe just thinking about your dad’s voice automatically makes you feel like you’re in trouble for something.
I remember a time when I was at a concert with my dad and got separated from him for a second.
Instead of trying to yell over the crowd, he just whistled, and I recognized the sound of his whistle.
That’s how well I know my dad’s voice.
I spent so much time hearing my dad’s voice that I could recognize even his whistle over all of the things that were going on around me and all of the sounds I was hearing.
The reason I’m talking about this is because we hear all kinds of noise in life—not necessarily literal noise though.
I’m talking about the voices in our world that are trying to gain our attention.
Things like social media, telling us that if our lives don’t look a certain way, we don’t measure up.
So much of our Instagram feed is telling us we have to be popular or have a lot of followers or look a certain way in order to actually matter to anyone.
There are so many voices trying to get your attention—parents, teachers, coaches, the little voice inside your own head telling you how little you have to offer.
The reality is that we all have voices trying to influence us and trying to get our attention, but what we need to know is that there’s one voice that’s more important than any other voice, and that’s the voice of God.
If you don’t take anything else away from this morning’s message, this is the one thing that I really want you to zone in on.
In order to hear the most important voice—the voice of God—we have to be quiet enough to hear.
That means quieting the voices inside you and quieting the world around you so you can focus on God’s voice.
Where’s God trying to lead you?
Who’s God trying to get you to serve.
How’s God trying to help you learn to love those around you?
Who around you needs to be encouraged?
In order to learn and follow through with these things, we have to be quiet enough to hear.
Jesus knew that in order to lead, love, and serve those around him, he had to be able to hear the voice of his father.
He had to be quiet enough to hear.
Let’s take a look at Luke 18:35.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.
—Luke 18:35–43 (NLT)
If Jesus hadn’t been quiet enough to hear in this moment, he would have missed the needs of those around him.
He needed to be so present with the people around him and so tuned into the voice of God that he could hear what God was calling him to do.
The Bible tells us that Jesus spent intentional time being quiet enough to hear the voice of God.
As we continue thinking about this passage, I want to ask you a question: where do you see yourself in this story?
Like I mentioned earlier, I knew the sound of my dad’s whistle because I spent so much time with him.
I also knew that he was whistling because he cared about my safety.
He used his voice to keep me safe, just like God often does.
God wants the best for you.
God wants to lead you.
God wants to help you serve.
Mark 10:45 says that Jesus “came not to be served but to serve others.”
Until we spend time getting to know God through prayer and through reading scripture, we won’t be able to hear the voice of God as clearly as we should.
If we don’t make an effort to listen to God’s whisper, we’ll have an even harder time hearing God’s voice when life gets loud.
When you’re quiet and listening to the voice of God regularly, it becomes easier to make it out in a crowd.
When the world around you is raging, you can still hear God’s voice.
You can hear when God’s calling you to serve someone.
You can notice when God’s speaking to you in those moments when life get so loud and chaotic.
But what does “being quiet” look like?
Sometimes it does mean literally sitting in the quiet and listening internally for what God is saying to you.
Other times, it means listening to what scripture has to say.
Hebrews 4:12 says that “the word of God is alive and powerful.”
God gave us scripture so that we could better understand the world around us and the best way to live in it.
Reading scripture doesn’t have to be some big ordeal.
It can be as simple as reading the Verse of the Day in your Bible app or starting a reading plan with some friends.
When you spend time in scripture, it makes it a lot easier to recognize when God is prompting you to treat that kid in your class better.
When you remember that Matthew 5:14 says to “love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” it gets easier to treat other well, even if they don’t treat you well in return.
When you get familiar with God’s word, it’s easier to hear when God’s telling you to help that kid out that everyone else thinks is kind of weird because in Matthew Jesus tells us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
It gets easier to hear when God is telling you to invite that girl to church when you remember that in Mark 16:15, Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
Spend time in prayer.
Spend time asking God to open your eyes and your ears to see and hear the needs of those around you.
And in order to hear the needs of those around you, you have to be quiet enough to hear.
If you haven’t really bought into this whole God thing yet, that’s okay.
At this church, you can belong even if you don’t believe.
But I’m going to ask you to suspend your disbelief and try an experiment.
My challenge to you is to start listening for God’s voice.
I believe God is trying to speak to you.
Often, God calls us to do things that don’t necessarily come naturally or easy.
It’s easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Regardless of where you found yourself in today’s story, what do you think would happen if you stopped to listen for God’s voice?
What would happen if you started to see people the way that God sees them?
What would happen if you were quiet enough to hear?
There are people all around us who need help.
There are people all around us who need the love of Christ.
If we spend time in God’s word and spend time getting to know that still, small voice, we’ll be able to better hear and know what the voice of God sounds like.
And if we begin praying and spending time in scripture regularly, we might even be able to change how people see us.
You could change how people view your entire generation.
People are your schools will look at you and ask,
You have no idea what kind of impact you might have if you simply get quiet enough to hear.