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Posts Tagged ‘attentive’

The Still Small Voice

November 15th, 2016

toby-mac

The noisiness of your surroundings and the busyness of your schedule will impair your ability to hear the still small voice of God.

“The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a Voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV). Only then did the Lord commission Elijah to anoint a king over Syria, a king over Israel, and to anoint Elisha as a prophet in Israel.

God has a purpose for your life and you will only discover His purpose when you make time and priority to listening for the voice of God, and obeying what He says. God can and will speak whenever He chooses, and whatever your circumstance, and wherever you may be. You and I have to come to a place where we can and will best listen for His voice.

God’s admonition remains, “Be still and know that I am God . . In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Draw aside and alone, and listen with your heart. You will hear God and know His voice.

I pray for you to draw aside today to be alone and attentive before God where you will quiet your heart to listen. God has the answers you seek. He has the wisdom you need. He has the direction you lack.

Christian Communications 2016

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Prayers God Hears

December 28th, 2012

 When listening to a person’s words, be sure to hear their heart.

“God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” Psalm 66:19 NIV.

Have you ever been listening to someone, then realized you had not heard very much of what they were saying? I think everyone has on some occasion, either as a speaker or listener. When listening to a person’s words, be sure to hear their heart. Hearing is more than just a physical capability; it can and should be a practical means for an emotional connection. Disinterest, or some measure of distraction, can lessen a person’s ability to truly hear what another is saying.  Hearing someone – really hearing with your heart – requires interest, attentiveness, and identification with what concerns them. Listening attentively and hearing compassionately build meaningful, caring relationships.

Let’s apply those thoughts to the practice of prayer. Ever wondered why you sometimes may not be as motivated to pray consistently or confidently? I think prayer can become inconsistent if you are unsure God will be listening. And it logically follows that any lack of assurance of His attentiveness to your needs reveals uncertainty about His personal care for you. Those doubts inhibit prayer. Peter encourages, “Casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV. Listening and hearing reflect genuine caring. Be sure of this; on God’s part, genuine caring is never in question.

Joyfully, the Psalmist wrote, “God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer nor withheld His love from me.” Psalm 66:19-20 NIV. You are more eager to pray and more confident when you do so when you are persuaded that God loves you, and listens to your voice and hears your heart.

Additionally, the Bible is clear that the will of God must be uppermost when you pray. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV. I suggest the description, “righteous man,“ implies a person desiring the will of God in their life above all. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. Effective, fervent prayer begins with a lifestyle of submission, submitting every plan and desire to God’s sovereign will.

Ask boldly, but trust His wisdom completely – “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NIV. That should be how you would always describe God’s will for your life as, “good, pleasing and perfect.” Trust God to answer sincere prayer, always at the time and in the way consistent with His will and wisdom for your life.

There are times you will carry a burden requiring prayer, but may be unsure of God’s will in a matter about which you pray. God’s Word has an answer for such times. “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.” Romans 8:26 NLT. Could that describe you or your situation presently? Here’s the answer: “But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Read Romans 8:26-30 NLT. Read that thoughtfully, then consider it joyfully, “the Spirit pleads for us . . in harmony with God’s own will.” That is prayer to which God listens and hears – and answers!

My prayer for you today is that you know God cares and hears when you pray.

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The Art of Listening

August 8th, 2011

“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.” James 1:19 NKJV

“Your ability to hear does not guarantee the discipline to listen.”

My thoughts today are about the “art of listening.”

We live in a noisy world, and too much noise diminishes your capacity to listen. Hearing is so much more than a physical ability; hearing must include the art of listening, offering a welcome to the valuable input of others. I have a friend, Sanford, who is a capable counselor. I wish I had his relational sensitivities. Beyond his training and experience, his interest in others’ well-being makes him a skilled and sincere listener. His interest provides a place where their heart feels free to share, and a safe place to be vulnerable. Isn’t that we all want and need to be given us? The art of listening makes that available to people.

Your ability to hear does not guarantee the discipline to listen. Hearing involves only your ability to receive and understand intelligible sounds; listening includes opening your heart to another person’s heart. The Bible offers this wise, practical counsel, “Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak . .” James 1:19 NKJV. I think that may reveal a frequent problem; more typically, people are prone to reverse the order, being more ready to speak than available to listen. When you care, you listen; when you listen, you care.

Solomon observed, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28 NIV. That seemed to be the opinion of my father as well. As a young boy, I remember his once having to say to me, “Allen, there may be a reason that God gave you two ears, but only one mouth. It is wiser to listen twice as much and talk only half as much.” I am not persuaded that was God’s intention at creation, but was certainly practical counsel for me; I wish I had followed his advice more often. A quote is attributed to both Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Good relationships require good listening. There seems too little concerned listening and all too frequently unprofitable words spoken. There have been many times I just needed a friend to listen with their heart; I am thankful for every time someone has. Being attentive to listen demonstrates sincere interest and respect for another person. Marriages, friendships, and even business relationships are built and succeed on that foundation. I have not always been a good listener in our marriage. It has taken me a while to learn that Gayle does not always want me to “solve her problem,” as much as she needs me to open my heart to her heart, and listen to her concerns – well, to be honest, I am still a work in progress in that area!

Most importantly, your relationship with God and spiritual life thrives and grows with a listening ear for God’s voice and an open heart to obey. Listen for God’s voice today. Prayer, like conversation, is not so much about speaking your own concerns as it is listening to another’s. Here’s good advice: Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know they are wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth; do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in Heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will learn the skill of listening with your heart.

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Going in Circles

November 16th, 2010

“You have been wandering around . . long enough; turn.” Deuteronomy 2:3 NLT

To be meaningful, life must have direction; if it is aimless, it will be pointless.”

My thoughts today are about “going in circles.”

Have you ever gotten turned around until you were not sure which way you came or which way you should go. Recently, I visited a family in an unfamiliar neighborhood. As I left their home, I made a wrong turn, not realizing I was headed the wrong way which then brought me to a dead end. I was so sure I knew which way to go, but now I was confused. I was going in circles. I did not know what to do, except to retrace my path and start over. Life sometimes feels like that too.

It is easy to lose one’s way. You can begin with a sense of direction and purpose, but along the way, distractions and disturbances misdirect your life, often without your noticing that at first. Things that once seemed more obvious to you have become a bit more obscure; answers you once knew for sure have given way to troubling questions; the projected future you were planning on appears less certain, or even possible. Going in circles keeps you busy but takes you nowhere.

By God’s might and miracles, Israel had been delivered from Egypt. Their path was clear; their destination sure. Until somewhere on the way to the Promised Land, they got stuck in one place, going in circles. Along the way, they lost their way. Then God said, “You have been wandering around . . long enough; turn.” Deuteronomy 2:3 NLT. It was time for them to proceed forward. When you find yourself making no progress, you are going in circles. Here’s what I suggest.

You can get lost when you aren’t paying attention. Inattention to where you are and which direction you are going can leave you confused, even wondering how you got where you are. No wonder Jesus frequently warned, “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:23 NIV. If you aren’t listening to God every day – aren’t listening for His voice in every situation – you could be going in circles.

You will get lost when you insist on having your own way. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death . . but as for God, His way is  perfect.” Proverbs 16:25 NIV/2 Samuel 22:31 NKJV. Your way is never a better way than God’s way! The man or woman who thinks otherwise is not wise. Read Isaiah 55:6-11 NKJV. I am grateful for the many times God did not give me what I insisted on having.

You can become lost when you follow bad counsel. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly . . the counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” Psalm 1:1/33:11 NKJV. See also Proverbs 12:15 NKJV. Be careful who you are following. If you do not intend to be where they are going, don’t walk where they are walking. If you don’t want to be like them, you shouldn’t be with them.

You are never lost whenever you are where God wants you to be. In His will doing His will is the only place to be! God can and will use you, but only where He directs you to be. To be meaningful, life must have direction; if it is aimless, it will be pointless.

My prayer for you today is to know and follow the One who says, “I am the Way!”

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