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    by Fred Price

Listen, Learn, Discern
Date Posted: September 3, 2004

Now that you are away from home, for some in a way never before experienced and for others a continuation and broadening of freedoms gained only recently; let me encourage you to listen, learn but discern. The Bible encourages us to seek the counsel of many to assure success. "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22 Even on the national level, strength in numbers is suggested. "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure." Proverbs 11:14 Is this an admonition to listen to anything and everyone who offers a new or different idea? Hardly. So, who should we readily listen to? Who's advice should we really take to heart and pattern our plans and even lifestyles after?

The Apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy told him to, "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather, train yourself to be godly." 1 Timothy 4:7; "Avoid(ing) godless chatter,…" 2 Timothy 2:16 King David, a gifted and godly man credited with writing much of the book of Psalms, started his work with these words, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law (or counsel) of the Lord,…" The result being, "Whatever he does prospers." Psalms 1:1-3

Yet you have probably felt over-instructed at times. Family, friends, preachers, and teachers all telling you what you ought to do, when you ought to do it and how to go about doing it. It really can be overwhelming and even dangerous to listen to the wrong advice. The Prophet Isaiah explains that Israel's constant seeking of advice in the wrong places had the opposite effect from what they sought. "All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!" Isaiah 47:13 They had heard and tried so much; in the process becoming confused, tired and less secure than before.

Solomon, a profoundly wise man, wrote many of the Proverbs, yet acknowledged his source of true wisdom, "For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6 He goes on to assure us that this wisdom will be practical and useful, helping us to, "…understand what is right and just and fair …" Proverbs 2:9 Not just a head knowledge of facts and figures but a heart knowledge of ways to use what we know in a compassionate, useful manner; which will also give us, "Discretion (that) will protect you, and understanding (that) will guard you." Proverbs 2:11 The emphasis here is on a partnership between you and God. He will bless - when we put ourselves in a position to be blessed. That happens when we know his will and follow his instructions, when it becomes a priority in our lives to know and understand - then he guarantees that we will.

Who else should we listen to and attempt to understand? The best place to start is at home. Your mom and dad aren't perfect. (This may come as a shock to some of you.) But a theme that runs from the beginning to the end of both testaments of our Bibles is one of honoring, respecting and obeying parents. One of the Ten Commandments is, "Honor your father and your mother,…" Exodus 20:12. Jesus noted it in his discussion with the rich young ruler as being a priority. (Matthew 19:19) And Paul says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3 (quoting Deuteronomy 5:16) Solomon reminds us of the value of our parents' experience and advice, even when they are no longer physically present. "…keep your fathers commands and do not forsake your mothers teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you wake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,…" Proverbs 6:20-23

Who else are you going to get information and advice from? Your teachers and professors are going to teach new concepts, question old ideas and challenge your beliefs. New friends may test your resolve, your patience and your dedication to ideals and ethics; challenging your stand on the issues and the validity of your lifestyle. But that can be good for us. It shouldn't frighten us to explain who we are, what our ideals and sense of ethical living are, what we believe and why. Sometimes these challenges help us to focus our thoughts and verbalize as never before who we are and what we stand for. At times, to be challenged is to be strengthened! Besides, some of our ideas and concepts need challenging, refining, re-thinking - maybe not completely changed but broadened, deepened; more firmly held and clearly understood. And occasionally there is "stuff" we need to clean up and throw out.

There will be more input coming your way from a wider variety of people and personalities than ever before. That's good and bad, exciting and intimidating. The measuring stick to use to decide between the good and bad – better or best; should be in with the stack of books you have for school. Your Bible - the book of wisdom and true life-sustaining knowledge.

Listen, learn, discern; it really is of great importance. For from the decisions made now will come the ability to succeed in life - academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Set your foundation firm in God's word. Frame your life's walls in the teachings and advice of loved ones and godly friends. Then build and decorate your life with the fruit of your labor, the wisdom of Christ and the principles of His church.

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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