"Listen carefully to what I am about to say."
Have you ever heard that phrase? Parents, have you ever spoke that phrase? Come on, be honest.
I remember that phrase being spoken to me as a child. My dad's favorite way of getting me to listen was to say my first name and middle name - "Caleb Daniel!". That's when I knew I was a goner.
As followers of Jesus, we're called to "listen carefully". Our culture, our media, and our friends are constantly telling us what we want to hear and what we "need" to hear. Jesus, on the other hand, is by our side whispering "listen carefully."
It's so easy to listen to others and follow what they say. To do the "cool" thing. To have the nice clothes.
It's easy to listen to Jesus, but it's hard to follow Jesus. To help the poor. To feed the hungry. To pray for your enemies.
John is very clear about how we should listen and respond. He says, " ... continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming". Follow Jesus. Trust in him. Don't stray.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your guidance. So many times in my life I have strayed from you. I have listened to my friends, the media, and my culture instead of obeying You. I want to follow and trust in You with all that I have. May I see You in all I do today. Guide me and open my ears to Your voice. Amen.
When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’
“But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’
“But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’
“But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’
“The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 2:18-28