Listen with Respect

miami_package_feelthehealdetoxHow do you know what you think you know? It’s amazing how many times we jump to conclusions. We hear something through a third party, or we overhear a part of a conversation, or we hear something in the way we want to hear it and insist we know the intention behind it. We fill in the gaps between what someone actually said to make the entire story into what we want it to be instead of what it actually is. We omit the parts that contradict what we want to believe, and we ever-so-slightly embellish those areas that emphasize our points.

It’s important to go to the source, then listen with respect. Listening with respect isn’t the same as listening for ammunition. It’s listening for truth. It’s giving the person time to talk. It’s asking clarifying questions and briefly summarizing or restating every now and then to insure what you’re hearing is the same as what the person is trying to communicate. It’s listening more than you talk. It’s setting aside your personal agenda for the common good of the relationship. It’s putting others above self.

Active listening is a developed skill. It takes practice. Most of us talk much more than we listen. Even if you’re a quiet person, you can’t quickly take yourself off the hook on this one, because a quick word count comparing what you say and what you hear isn’t the same as active listening. Active listening involves investment in a relationship, which means you need to respond in order to show the person your respect. You need to engage, asking questions and restating the basics.

Listening with respect doesn’t assume you agree with everything being said. It’s not nearly as much about what is said as who is saying it. God instructs us to respect one another. It’s clear by the standards and expectations he sets that not every behavior, belief, and attitude should be respected, revered, accepted, or tolerated. But we don’t throw the person out with the behavior. It difficult to listen with respect when the person has done something we don’t respect, especially when we find out a person we’ve previously looked up to has gone against biblical principles he or she has previously personally revered and taught. However, it’s not about how we feel like responding. It’s about how God instructs us to respond. And there’s no doubt he commands respect among his followers.

To whom do you need to listen with respect today? Invite the conversation. Let God build your faith by trusting him through the process. He will guide you through what you think is impossible.

Show respect for all people: Love the brothers and sisters of God’s family… (1 Peter 2:17)

What Do We Do With All Those Notes We Take?

When we stare at a fill-in-the-blank, we want to…fill the blank. In fact, we feel a need to fill every blank. The most important things might be said at another time not noted by a fill-in-the-blank exercise, but if something isn’t highlighted on our paper, we’re less likely to write it down.

The same is true for PowerPoint or other statements placed on a screen. We write down what the speaker has decided to highlight. Everything else seems secondary.

We need to be more attentive and less lazy.

I’m not saying we should do away with slides or note outlines altogether, but we don’t have to let them limit what we emphasize. We need to engage in the lesson, which is like a conversation. It’s not just about listening. It’s about responding.

When we ask God what He wants to highlight, the journey is much more personal, no matter how many people are in the room. God can use a single person, message, book, video, etc., to reach many people in a variety of ways at the same time.

When you’re willing to pay attention to what He highlights for you, you might have a lot less notes, but you’ll remember them better. They’re less likely to be tossed aside or filed away, which is important, because when God highlights something, it’s for a reason. He wants us to follow through and follow Him well.

It’s important to handle what He gives you well, but that assumes you are attentive to what He is trying to give and tell you. It takes practice. We’ve been coddled through fill-in-the-blanks and highlight slides.

Choose to write on a fresh piece of paper instead. Listen attentively, even if that means closing your eyes to not let the visuals distract you.

Listen for patterns. You might notice a word that keeps popping up in a variety of situations in your life. Perhaps it’s a Scripture verse that is perfectly timed for what you’re going through, or perhaps it’s a verse that seems out of place, and you need to dig a little deeper to find out why. Be alert for “a-ha” moments, when pieces click together and you get a fresh perspective.

Toss aside distortions of truth and nonessentials. Refuse to copy off your friend or neighbor. Discern for truth God wants you to know and claim right now. Then let it come alive off your notes and into your life.

 

Praying through the Psalms: The End Is Just the Beginning

prayingpsalmsimageAs our Praying through the Psalms series closes, it’s not an end as much as a beginning. My prayer has been for you to soak in God’s Word. To claim the truth He gives you about Himself and for your life. When we merely skip through the sections of Scripture we most want, we miss out on many things God has to say to us. When we’re at a loss for words for our prayers, or we’re in a rut, God’s Word is the best place to start. And that’s what we’ve done…started.

We haven’t prayed all the way through Psalms, but you can continue on your own. Or, grab a friend and commit to holding one another accountable as you pray through Scripture. Use the prayer tips I’ve provided along the way. Need a reminder? Simply type “prayer tip” in the search bar, and you’ll have at least a dozen ideas to dig into a growing prayer life.

We need God. I need God. You need God.

Keep talking with Him. Keep listening.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 77

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 77

I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and He will hear me.
I sought the Lord in my day of trouble.
My hands were continually lifted up
all night long;
I refused to be comforted.
I think of God; I groan;
I meditate; my spirit becomes weak.Selah

You have kept me from closing my eyes;
I am troubled and cannot speak.
I consider days of old,
years long past.
At night I remember my music;
I meditate in my heart, and my spirit ponders.

“Will the Lord reject forever
and never again show favor?
Has His faithful love ceased forever?
Is His promise at an end for all generations?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger withheld His compassion?”Selah

10 So I say, “I am grieved
that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
11 I will remember the Lord’s works;
yes, I will remember Your ancient wonders.
12 I will reflect on all You have done
and meditate on Your actions.

13 God, Your way is holy.
What god is great like God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
You revealed Your strength among the peoples.
15 With power You redeemed Your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah

16 The waters saw You, God.
The waters saw You; they trembled.
Even the depths shook.
17 The clouds poured down water.
The storm clouds thundered;
Your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
lightning lit up the world.
The earth shook and quaked.
19 Your way went through the sea
and Your path through the great waters,
but Your footprints were unseen.
20 You led Your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Read Psalm 77 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 77 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 76

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 76

God is known in Judah;
His name is great in Israel.
His tent is in Salem,
His dwelling place in Zion.
There He shatters the bow’s flaming arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.Selah

You are resplendent and majestic
coming down from the mountains of prey.
The brave-hearted have been plundered;
they have slipped into their final sleep.
None of the warriors was able to lift a hand.
At Your rebuke, God of Jacob,
both chariot and horse lay still.

And You—You are to be feared.
When You are angry,
who can stand before You?
From heaven You pronounced judgment.
The earth feared and grew quiet
when God rose up to judge
and to save all the lowly of the earth.Selah
10 Even human wrath will praise You;
You will clothe Yourself
with their remaining wrath.

11 Make and keep your vows
to the Lord your God;
let all who are around Him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring One.
12 He humbles the spirit of leaders;
He is feared by the kings of the earth.

Read Psalm 76 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 76 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 75

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 75

We give thanks to You, God;
we give thanks to You, for Your name is near.
People tell about Your wonderful works.

“When I choose a time,
I will judge fairly.
When the earth and all its inhabitants shake,
I am the One who steadies its pillars.Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn.
Do not lift up your horn against heaven
or speak arrogantly.’”

Exaltation does not come
from the east, the west, or the desert,
for God is the Judge:
He brings down one and exalts another.
For there is a cup in the Lord’s hand,
full of wine blended with spices, and He pours from it.
All the wicked of the earth will drink,
draining it to the dregs.

As for me, I will tell about Him forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.

10 “I will cut off all the horns of the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”

Read Psalm 75 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 75 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 74

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 74

Why have You rejected us forever, God?
Why does Your anger burn
against the sheep of Your pasture?
Remember Your congregation,
which You purchased long ago
and redeemed as the tribe for Your own possession.
Remember Mount Zion where You dwell.
Make Your way to the everlasting ruins,
to all that the enemy has destroyed in the sanctuary.
Your adversaries roared in the meeting place
where You met with us.
They set up their emblems as signs.
It was like men in a thicket of trees,
wielding axes,
then smashing all the carvings
with hatchets and picks.
They set Your sanctuary on fire;
they utterly desecrated
the dwelling place of Your name.
They said in their hearts,
“Let us oppress them relentlessly.”
They burned down every place throughout the land
where God met with us.
There are no signs for us to see.
There is no longer a prophet.
And none of us knows how long this will last.
10 God, how long will the enemy mock?
Will the foe insult Your name forever?
11 Why do You hold back Your hand?
Stretch out Your right hand and destroy them!

12 God my King is from ancient times,
performing saving acts on the earth.
13 You divided the sea with Your strength;
You smashed the heads of the sea monsters in the waters;
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
You fed him to the creatures of the desert.
15 You opened up springs and streams;
You dried up ever-flowing rivers.
16 The day is Yours, also the night;
You established the moon and the sun.
17 You set all the boundaries of the earth;
You made summer and winter.

18 Remember this: the enemy has mocked Yahweh,
and a foolish people has insulted Your name.
19 Do not give the life of Your dove to beasts;
do not forget the lives of Your poor people forever.
20 Consider the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of violence.
21 Do not let the oppressed turn away in shame;
let the poor and needy praise Your name.
22 Rise up, God, defend Your cause!
Remember the insults
that fools bring against You all day long.
23 Do not forget the clamor of Your adversaries,
the tumult of Your opponents that goes up constantly.

Read Psalm 74 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 74 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.