Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes - 01.18.09


That's the word for me. And for a lot of other people I know.

Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.

[Isaiah 28v23 - TNIV]

This verse is to me and for me. As a husband. As a father. As a son, a brother, a friend, a neighbor, and as a pastor.

The consequences of not listening are painful. Yet it is so easy to not listen well; it is hard work to listen well. And it's easy to lose sight of the benefits of listening well - the benefit of understanding, of being understood, of strengthening oneness, of furthering healing and restoration.

For me, for Anchor, for a lot of people, choosing to listen well is the next step we need to take in loving God and loving the other in our life. Listening is primarily an act of love, and for too many of us, we are failing to love others precisely at the point that we fail to listen well. We let all sorts of obstacles stay in the way to listening well. And we chafe at the consequences of our choice to not listen well.

If you were going to rate yourself...
How well do you listen to:

Yourself? Not Well---Well---Really Well

Others? Not Well---Well---Really Well

God? Not Well---Well---Really Well

And - how well would God and Someone Else rate you?

______ Not Well---Well---Really Well

______ Not Well---Well---Really Well

James the brother of Jesus learned this the hard way, and he passes his wisdom off to us:
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Don't merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself - Do what it says!

God makes it clear to Jesus' followers that what he said through Isaiah still mattered; at the Transfiguration Peter kept chattering away, until the Voice from the cloud declared: This is my son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!

And so it is for us today with our marriages, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, family, friends, neighbors, etc: be quick to listen to Jesus! Do what he says! When it comes time to listen to somebody - anybody (especially those close to you...) - "pretend" that you are not just working hard to listen to that person, but that you are also working hard to listen to the LORD. The act of listening to God and others is intertwined, so we might as well step it up a notch in our listening to God and others.

When it comes to listening to others, usually what you hear prompts a prayer: LORD - what do I do with what I just heard? And when it comes to listening to God, it's usually going to result in direction for how to join him in his work of restoration in you, in others, in the world around you - which will at some point require some difficult listening.

Ways to Listen to the LORD:
Read The Scriptures (like Luke...or Proverbs...)
Reflectively Pray through the LORD's Prayer (like the one in Luke...) and listen for what the Spirit says to you
Ruminate on the LORD's Great Commandment (also found in Luke...) and renew your commitment to listening well.


diannaburt said...

The best way for me to listen is to actually slow down, sit down and breath. I pray and then just listen. I read and listen. Listening takes time. That's why it's so hard for me, at times. I have to take the time for it.

Jean said...

These are some good thoughts. Listening is a vital part of our relationships. It causes others to realize we are actually interested in them, and that what they have to say is important. It helps us to understand others. Interestingly, I had recently read the James passage and spent time thinking on that exact verse. Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Listening does take time, but it is time worth taking. If we choose to follow after Christ, people will be important.