Tag Archives: listening

Proverbs 8-10; Psalm 144; Romans 12

I was reminded this week of the importance of caring enough for my wife that I need to be listening to her – really listen.  There is so much more peace in our home and I am such a hero when I do, that I cannot understand why I am not an expert on such matters by now.

Listen carefully
to my instructions,
    and you will be wise. – Proverbs 8:33   CEV

The same can be said of my relationship with God.  Listening means spending time with God.  I believe I have shared this before, but I believe God’s love language is – time.  It is when I stop spending time with Him that other voices have an opportunity of creeping in and messing with my mind.  Voices that even go so far as challenging the authenticity of my relationship with God.

Why do we humans mean anything
to you, our Lord?
    Why do you care about us? – Psalm 144:3  CEV

Ann-Marie and I went to visit a new couple from our church this week.  We wanted to call them and drop in and thought it might be too soon for that.  What a joy to be invited two hours later by them!  We talked all night about our relationship with God and how He has woven our faith from experiences gone by. Sometimes caring is exactly that – spending time with others, hearing their voice, celebrating new friendships.

Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home. – Romans 12:13  CEV

Father, I know in my head that You care for me, from time to time I wonder why You or any one else would matter to care.  As the evil one may want to take Your care away from me, allow me to practice to care for others, to listen well, to spend time with You so that I might be equipped, ready to accept the invitation from You or someone else to care for them in their moment of need.  There are not enough praise words in our language to speak to Your love for me.  I know how much You care – enough for a cross, a death, a burial and the joy of my heart – a resurrection.  Thank you Lord. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Genesis 18; Matthew 17; Nehemiah 7; Acts 17

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son. But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18:13-15 NLT

If I am honest with myself, there have been times when I have laughed at God like Sarah did. I’m sure she didn’t think that God heard her, since it says that she “laughed within herself” (Gen 18:12NKJV) She even denied it, but God knew her heart. How many times has God spoke to me, but I laugh instead. I explain away my disobedience. God was fulfilling His purpose in Sarah’s life. He is fulfilling his purpose in my life too. Even when I am confused and don’t understand. I am thankful for a God who is much more patient with me, than I am with myself. He pursues me. He never gives up on me. I give up on people far too easily. Sometimes I stop praying for them if it seems they are beyond reach. But God is prodding and showing me that he is still working in hearts.

Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, we can’t get away from him!” Acts 17:26-28 MSG

Abraham asked the Lord to show mercy on Sodom.

Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for a lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of forty.” Gen 18:28-29 NLT

Nehemiah listened to God to return the exiles from captivity.

Then God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, the people, that they might be registered by genealogy…There are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away.” Nehemiah 7:5&6 NLT

The disciples were relying on their own strength.

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:19-20 NLT

Dear Jesus, Help me to be obedient to your plans for my life. I pray that I would listen to your voice even when it is hard. You might be using those times to refine me. Asking me to step out in faith to overcome my fear. Thank you that you are always with me. Give me a boldness and courage that can only be found in you. Help me to truly love others like you do. And to reach out to them with your grace and mercy, like you have done to me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

“Are you talking to me?” In comedy, the question implies a refusal to engage seriously with the speaker. I can relate. Like King Ahab in the Bible, I don’t always want to hear prophetic words that warn of disaster or deny my prayers. Yet, like Ahab’s contemporary, King Jehoshaphat, I do not want to make bad decisions because I failed to ask the Lord God for direction. Sadly, also like both kings, I may inquire of the Lord, receive an answer, and then choose to do things my way, regardless of the warnings. Why is that? Is it a listening problem?

Listening has several components besides the act of hearing sound. A good listener is one who can wait patiently for the speaker to finish. I have a family member who speaks with long pauses between words or thoughts. Yet what this person says is meaningful and often witty if one listens intently. Rushing ahead of what someone might be saying, finishing their sentences before they speak, interrupting their words with “I know that,” or “I understand what you mean,” can cause frustration for the speaker and cause the listener to misinterpret what the speaker intended to say.

Listening also involves being open to opposing viewpoints. Angry outbursts and verbal bullying are more likely to occur when the listener forms preconceived ideas about the speaker’s intent. When the prophet Micaiah was brought before the kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Ahab had this to say about the prophet, “…but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” That’s how I feel sometimes when I watch the news or listen to talking heads; I just want to turn off the television or radio because I’m tired of hearing the speaker or the message that opposes my point of view. Do you, too, become frustrated with the friend who argues with you on topics which you are passionate and opinionated? I had a conversation recently about the effects of marijuana on drivers of motor vehicles. The speaker was adamant that for those who have smoked for years marijuana enhances driving abilities. Since addiction, hence drug information and research, is the focus of my career, and as the self-appointed expert in the conversation I became offended at such misinformation and felt it was my duty to set this person straight. Listening to the friend was not happening as I climbed upon the proverbial soap box. It was only after jumping off of the box that I heard the speaker’s real intent for defending the driver – relief in the restoration of their relationship that, yes, still has challenges to overcome. I had made the conversation about me, instead of listening to the speaker’s heart.

Another problem with listening is our natural desire to be with the ‘in crowd.’ There were four hundred other prophets who advised with one accord that Ahab and Jehoshaphat should embark on their desire to war, saying that the Lord would bring victory to the kings’ armies. This need to be with the popular crowd may cause the listener to turn a deaf ear to internal or external warnings. Making an unpopular decision based on the urging of the Holy Spirit, a dream, or a word from the Bible may seem odd and unconventional or even foolhardy to many.

However, there were five divine dreams that spoke to the important players in the birth and safety of Jesus Christ. First, Christ’s mother’s betrothed, Joseph, was told to take Mary as his wife because the Child she carried was born of the Holy Spirit. Second, the wise men from the East who found the Messiah shortly after His birth were warned not to return to King Herod who would later kill male children in an attempt to murder the Christ child. Third, Joseph was warned to flee to Egypt until Herod was dead. Fourth, Joseph was told to return to Israel to raise God’s Son. Fifth, after being warned to avoid the area of Christ’s birth, Joseph moved his family to the safety of a city called Nazareth.

Imagine if any one of these five dreams had been denied, ignored, or deliberated by those who heard the messengers. Mary could have been an outcast trying to raise an illegitimate son. Herod could have found and killed Jesus. Joseph might have been responsible for the capture or death of the Son of God. And the prophecies concerning the birth of the Messiah could not have been fulfilled.

Perhaps listening is more than just being polite. By actively listening we may receive the message that saves us from ourselves, from our egos, from impending doom, and therefore receive the blessings that God has reserved for us.

“Are you talking to me, Lord?”

“I am listening.”

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1 Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23; Acts 6

1The boy Samuel served the Lord under Eli. In those days the Lord did not speak directly to people very often. There were very few visions.

2Eli’s eyes were so weak he was almost blind. One night he was lying in bed. 3Samuel was also in bed in the Lord’s Holy Tent. The Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy Tent. God’s lamp was still burning.

4Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “I am here!” 5He ran to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed.

6The Lord called again, “Samuel!”

Samuel again went to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

Again Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”

7Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

8The Lord called Samuel for the third time. Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, “I am here. You called me.”

Then Eli realized the Lord was calling the boy. 9So he told Samuel, “Go to bed. If he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in bed.

10The Lord came and stood there. He called as he had before. He said, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.” 1 Samuel 3:1-10

How do I hear God’s voice?

I think at times I hoped for the deep, imposing Charlton Heston-voiced God from the Moses movie – something recognizable as a supreme being. I’ve never heard that voice.

The voice that I hear, sounds more like my own voice, echoing in the chambers of my mind and my heart. I know it’s not me because the words spoken are much kinder and more loving, inspired and not exhausted. The voice of God, still, quiet, and yet with full authority, meets me exactly where I am in any given moment, in a way that I am able to understand, in a way that is relevant, relatable, authentic. Whether resonating through the words of the Bible, a worship song, the encouragement of a friend, or the urging of Holy Spirit, everything that is spoken is borne of truth and brings light into the darkness.

I know that it’s God the same way I know that it’s my husband, my mom, my sister, my friend…when they call me on the phone and the way I know which one of my kids is yelling for me from the other room. I recognize His voice. When I meet someone new, I won’t know her voice if she calls me; she would have to introduce herself on the phone. But as I get to know her, I’ll hear her voice and I’ll know who is calling without needing an introduction. It may take some time, but my brain will make the connections, just as my heart recognizes the connection to my Creator.

Sometimes I go through seasons where I feel like I don’t hear much of His voice. Life is too loud around me and I struggle to quiet my spirit enough to discern God’s voice through the cacophony of running to and fro, children bickering and screaming their “Mommy! Mommy!”, never-ending to-do lists, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and on and on. It’s difficult to find chunks of silence on any given day and at most I may only find a moment here or there.

I am learning that when I “can’t” hear His voice, it’s time be intentional, to ask Him. It’s a chance to purposely set aside a few, fleeting minutes to ask, “What do You want to tell me? What do You have to say?” And, then stop talking, and listen.

Yesappa, open my ears to hear, quiet my spirit to listen. Amen.

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Hosea 9-11; Revelation 2

The readings speak of a love turned tepid.

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:2-4, NLT.

At the end of a year, I’m still running–to keep up with a course load, to school my kids, to manage a house and other responsibilities, to serve at church, to cultivate friendships, and on and on. A lot of my days are just focused on a moment. I try not to look too far ahead, or linger too far back.

There are words of sexual sin and food of idols, of wrong teaching on one side of the scale, and words acknowledging hard work, endurance, suffering, and faithfulness on the other side. A warning to listen.

I know I’ve been so busy at times it seems like I don’t slow enough to listen long enough to hear. Yesterday, I sat in a heap on the floor and prayed–and not the kind of prayer while I dry my hair and pack up books and rush out the door. I just sat–and realized then it had been a long time since I was so still before you.

“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel?
    How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you like Admah
    or demolish you like Zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me,
    and my compassion overflows.
No, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
    I will not completely destroy Israel,
for I am God and not a mere mortal.
    I am the Holy One living among you,
    and I will not come to destroy.
10 For someday the people will follow me.
    I, the Lord, will roar like a lion.
And when I roar,
    my people will return trembling from the west.
11 Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt.
    Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria.
And I will bring them home again,”
    says the Lord. Hosea 11:8-11, NLT.

He is the Holy One living among (us).

Lord, I want to abide in your presence and listen to you. Whatever idols fight for first place in my life, show them to me. I fool myself thinking that all this busyness is living–I miss you. Help me to be fully present and intentional in my time with you and with others.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 7-8; 1Corinthians 14:21-40

I heard Job’s voice echoing through today’s readings in Proverbs:

“Where then does wisdom come from?  Where does understanding dwell?”  Job 28:23

The question is answered:

“The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding.” Job 28:28

God’s wisdom is something I long for for everyday,  but like the fool in Proverbs 7, I can be easily distracted and before I know it, I am off chasing mental rabbits. The prostitute on the corner is a good metaphor for what tempts. She offers immediate gratification and distracts from the emptiness all of us feel at one time or another. She steals true love, real life from us. Finding God’s wisdom is painstaking work; we have to dig deep, be honest and see our own frailties and brokenness in the process to receive what He has for us.

Too often, my temptress is busyness.  If I pack my schedule tight, if I say yes to one more commitment, I get this short lived sense of self importance.  I amazed at my ability to multitask until I find myself depleted and burned out. Distractions can be cheap and easy, but only temporarily. God wants so much more for us. Jesus came that we would have abundant life, not nail biting, stressed out life.  I think of Jesus’s tender words to Martha:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

The author of Proverbs 8 encourages a life of LISTENING to the voice of wisdom (note to self: less talking):

“Now my sons, LISTEN to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.  LISTEN to my instructions and be wise; do not ignore it.  Blessed is the man who LISTENS to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.  For whoever finds me, finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:32-35.

Paul knew that the young church at Corinth had issues with listening to God and one another and instructed them to slow down and take care when meeting together. I wonder if they turned red with embarrassment or were able to laugh at themselves as they read Paul’s words:

Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?” 1Corinthians 14:36

Lord, your word certainly didn’t begin with me. Forgive me when I act like anything, anyone other than you will satisfy the longings of my heart. Quiet my soul and help me to be still long enough to listen to you and follow your ways. Amen.

Klueh

 

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Genesis 3-5; Matthew 2

The serpent persuaded her with words. (Her eyes sealed the deal with want.)

The following verses are like stepping stones leading down a path. The Lord speaks, and there is choice. Listen, or don’t.

He cares. He warns. He commands. Those who listen show wisdom–those who don’t believe to be wise in their own eyes.

  • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6 ESV.
  • 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:11 ESV.
  • but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:5-7
  • 21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24 ESV
  • 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:12 ESV
  • 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt … Matthew 2:13-14 ESV
  • 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go …” Matthew 2:19-22 ESV

Lord, You speak still. I want to be like Enoch and walk with You. I want to know Your voice (to hear it and heed it), and not be persuaded and deceived by unsteady and changing influences of a culture (or even my very own whims). I pray to draw even closer to You through Your Word this year.

Courtney (66books365)

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