Posts Tagged ‘ Listen ’

Tune In To Tune Out

“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NRSV

MP900387570[1]God says, “Be still.” Why? Because it’s hard to hit a moving target! It’s hard to talk to someone who isn’t listening, or who is too busy talking. It’s hard to teach a mind that is bouncing all around. It’s hard to heal a heart whose loyalties are divided by competing desires.

I want to know God, and I imagine you do too. But God told us that knowing comes when we are still. Knowing happens when we leave the distractions and challenges of our day behind. Knowing comes when we quiet the thoughts that preoccupy us, and turn from the worries that normally absorb our attention.

The prerequisite to knowing is being still. When we are still, we can know who God is, and what God is doing.

Being still is the prerequisite to knowing.

When I think of being still, I picture water in a pond. If the water is undisturbed and the wind quiet, then the surface is as smooth as glass. If just a single rain drop falls into that pond, it transforms that water into a beautiful pattern of rippled circles. Now picture the rough waters of a storm tossed sea. A droplet of rain lands in that sea, but it makes little difference in the waves, as they toss and turn.

MP900400015[1]Our minds are like that. God’s word, dropped onto the surface of a still mind, can create ripples of truth that transform the entire landscape of a person’s life. But revelation dropped onto the churning waters of a turbulent mind will probably pass unnoticed.

That tells me, we must tune out to tune in. We must tune out the world’s chatter, and tune into God. We must allow ourselves to release worry, and let go of fear. We must allow the peace of Christ to quiet us. Then we will be ready to receive the revelation that God has for us, and ready for it to change us!

beautiful girl portraitAre you hungry to learn? Be still. Are you wanting to know God? Be still. Are you longing to understand God’s ways and will for your life? Be still. Do you really want God’s touch to change your life? Be still. Then, start a conversation with God.

The bottom line is, when drawing close to God, do a lot of listening. If you do, it will change your life!

Be still. Tune in. Know God today!

Prayer:

God, you speak, but I am not always listening. Help me to just be still. Help me to turn from the noise and tune out the distractions that keep me from hearing you and knowing you. Then speak. Your servant listens. Amen!

Awe

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Avoid Misunderstandings

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son on Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:52-53 NRSV

Great success is often followed by major setbacks. In terms of popularity, after feeding a crowd of thousands, Jesus was at the top of the charts. MC900351599But it didn’t take long for people to become disillusioned and antagonistic toward him. Jesus’ fall was mostly due to a simple misunderstanding. He tried to get the people see that he was the Bread of Life.

The problem was that people heard his words, but totally missed his meaning. Isn’t that how misunderstandings happen? We listen, and then interpret things from our own perspectives. We don’t give others the chance to open their worlds to us and explain what they really mean.

MP900408938[1] I don’t want to walk away from anyone because of a misunderstanding. Today’s passage reminds me I need to slow down and not rush to judgment. I need to take a moment to see things from the other person’s perspective. Then, once I have heard and clearly understood the full meaning of what I had been told, I can decide whether I agree or disagree.

I see lots of people talking, but see very few really taking the time to listen. That was the problem in Jesus’ day, and still is ours today. Maybe that’s why there are so many partisan divides in our society and broken relationships in our families.

If nothing else, 2011 is a great time to learn from past mistakes and do things differently. If you find yourself confused by Jesus’ words, and hurt by what others say, maybe you can begin pausing before reacting. Maybe you can give yourself the chance to see things from a different perspective.

As you do, I think you will find you will react to JesusMP900399830[1] less like the Jews of his day, who turned their backs on him, and more like his disciples, who drew closer to him. You will also find your reactions to what others say becomes more loving, and in the end much more Christ honoring!

Is Anybody Listening?

Wisdom cries out in the street, in the squares she raises her voice. Proverbs 1:20 NRSV

MP900423020[1] Wisdom may be crying out, but I wonder, is anybody listening? Our attention span is so short today that I question whether we are even able to keep our mind focused long enough to really hear the message God has for us.

This is not a new problem. The Jews in the Old Testament were frequently chided by prophets for ignoring the Word of the Lord. The Word was there, it was crying out in the streets, but few were listening.

MP900401941[1] Of course the ancient Jews didn’t have texting , web-surfing, email, e-readers, Facebook, DVRs or infotainment. They didn’t have the kind of information overload we have today. I think it is safe to say that we have more information available today than any of us can possibly consume.

So we have two choices, we can bounce from one thing to another, hoping to pick up useful  tidbits along the way. Or we can sharpen our focus, turn away from the noise, and tune into God’s voice, the voice of truth and wisdom crying out in the street!

When I finally settle down and focus in on God and God’s Word, I always come away refreshed and restored. I never come away feeling like the time I put into matters of faith was wasted time. I find that the Word of God is always worth listening to!

Not only that, I find the more attention I put on God’s Word, the more impact it has on me! In fact, I can honestly say that the impact God’s Word has on my life is directly proportional to the amount of attention I give it!

Maybe that is why prayer is such a powerful experience. As we pray, we take our normally divided attention and put it all on God. When that happens, the impressions we receive, the verses that come to mind, and the impulses we feel end up having a very powerful effect on us!

Today wisdom continues crying out. The Word is searching for listening ears. Why not tune out the noise for a day and tune into truth. Give God the gift of your attention. Then hear what God has to say!

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Listen Eagerly!

MP900444217[1] The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did. (Acts 8:6)

As Philip spread the good news of Jesus Christ, he quickly garnered an enthusiastic audience. Crowds gathered to listen to him. We are told that they didn’t just listen, they listened eagerly. There was a sense of expectation in the air! That expectation triggered a desire and a hunger for Philip’s words!

Eager expectation triggers desire!

Isn’t that a great way to approach the Word of God? Whether reading the Word or hearing the Word proclaimed, we would do well to be eager recipients. Jesus told us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied. So we have good reason to be eager and expectant whenever and wherever the Word is being proclaimed!

Another advantage to listening eagerly is that it causes us to pay closer attention. In fact, the impact something makes on us is often directly proportional to the amount of attention we give to it! When we pay close attention, we move from just listening to actually hearing! With hearing, the message is more likely to get through, take hold and begin to change us!

Eager listeners pay closer attention!

MP900422194[1] Frankly, it is not uncommon to hear a person say, “God was so real to me in that moment” when they describe a spiritually rich time in their lives. Part of the reason God was so real was because their attention was 100% focused on God. Everything else was set aside. In that moment, that person was so attuned to God that God became more than an idea or theological concept. In that moment, God became real. God was experienced!

How wonderful it is to be that focused! Singular attention can really put us in a position to realize how wonderful God is, how indescribably amazing God’s glory is, and how life transforming God’s love can be!

Giving God our attention is also a sign of our love for him. When we give God our attention, we are showing God that God is more important to us than anything else going on in our lives at that moment. Attention is definitely one way to communicate to God how much we value him.

Attention communicates value!

MP900402576[1]But attention does even more than that. Giving God our full attention is one way of  making ourselves more available. That’s because the more attention we give, the more God’s truth will be able to penetrate our hearts and minds, the more God’s love will be able to change our lives, and the more God’s Spirit will be able to influence our behaviors.

Attention increases availability!

So we can all learn from this Samaritan crowd. We can learn to do what they did, and to put our full attention on the things of God!

Listen eagerly to what God is saying to you!

 Prayer:

Lord, you speak in so many ways. Help me to eagerly hear your Word. Help me to put my full attention on what you are revealing. Make me an enthusiastic listener!

Amen.

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All Talk & No Listen

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” (John 8:13) NRSVBlurred christmas lights

He did it again! Jesus just kept on making one incredible claim after another. First he said that he is the light of the world. Then he claimed to give the light of life.

But the Pharisees weren’t convinced. They were full of misgivings. They had questions, lots of questions. Sometimes I wonder why they couldn’t just believe what they saw, and take Jesus at his word.

Why couldn’t they just take Jesus at his word?

But the Pharisees had an obligation to question Jesus’ authority. Before Jesus, there had been many so-called messiahs in Israel. Some came with wild ideas. Others seemed driven to lead God’s people into a political rebellion.

The Jewish people had a long history of following after false religions and teachers, so the Pharisees had to keep a close eye on what was happening. They tested and evaluated all these self-proclaimed messiahs and their messages.

Wisely, the Pharisees recognized that a person making big claims was not necessarily a messenger from God. Just because a self-proclaimed messiah said something, that didn’t make what they said true. There had to be some kind of authority backing up whatever was being said.

Jesus agreed. That’s why he gave them a straight answer about his authority. Once Jesus made his authority and his connection to God clear, the Pharisees were still clueless. They had no idea who Jesus really was, nor did they even try to understand what he had come to do.

Clearly, the Pharisees weren’t listening. They questioned and condemned without first giving Jesus a fair hearing. Maybe they saw Jesus as a threat to their power, and to the well-being of the entire nation.MP900178784[1]

Today, I wonder if we don’t sometimes act like those Pharisees. We question God, but do we truly listen for God’s answer? We plead for God to show us the way, but do we open our eyes to see it? We pray for wisdom, but do we open our minds to receive it? We ask God to teach us, but do we open our Bibles to learn? We pray, “Thy will be done.” but do we make Jesus the Lord over our lives, and submit to his authority?

Ask, and then be sure to listen!

Jesus never ignored a good question. He never turned away a true seeker. But he had little patience for people who pretended to love God while judging everyone else.

If you are anything like me, you probably have many questions for God. The good news is that Jesus has all the answers! Not only that, Jesus is looking for people who honestly want to know God and live in the light of God’s Word.

So why not join me this week, and ask God about some of the things that have been troubling you. Seek God’s wisdom. Sit at Jesus’ feet and listen. As you do, keep an open mind, because Jesus’ answers may surprise you!

Seek and you will find!

Prayer:

God,

You have the answer to every question. Your word is the true word. Help me to not just ask, but to listen to what you have to say. Then, give me the faith I need to follow your truth, and to live under the authority of Jesus Christ!

Amen!

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