Listening

Listening is a skill. I have learned over the years that to be an effective communicator, I must listen. I don’t claim to be an expert listener, I’m a work in progress. I majored in Communications in college and I remember being taught how to speak well and communicate effectively to my audience. I cannot recall the times I had to give oral presentations for classes. I was prepared somewhat by my life experiences. I held jobs where I had to train people both individually and en masse. I paired written words, which I prepared, and articulated my thoughts extemporaneously. Those who learned quickly were good at listening and were attentive.

I have a friend who is an excellent listener. We used to have lengthy conversations and in talking to him one day I mentioned that he had excellent listening skills. He is patient when I communicate with him whether we are face-to-face or chatting on the phone. He told me it was an acquired skill. I have often thought of this over the years. I have tried to hone my ears to not only hear people when they speak but to actively listen. I try to listen to their emotion and their intent. If I don’t understand what they are saying, I ask questions. I tell them what I perceive and if I’m off-base most of them will explain their words if they want to get their point across.

I looked up the words hear and listen. Hear is a perception of sound and information. Listen is to pay attention and to wait for sound, to actively hear. “To wait for sound” shows me the patience we must have when we listen. Hearing is simply to perceive with the ear while listening is to try to hear and be involved with sounds. We hear noises all day, our alarm clock, our coffee maker, voices, traffic, music, birds singing, dogs barking, our computer’s hum, but how often do we actively engage with the noises we hear? Do we just hear them or do we pay attention to them and think about them?

Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. Isaiah 55:3

I remind myself mentally to take note of what other people say and try to actively listen and not just ‘hear’ their words. I try to have my ears wide open. The Bible says that we “will find life” when we listen! In Proverbs it says “don’t lose sight of them.” This is an active form of listening! It goes on to say “let them penetrate into your heart.” When we listen and understand, we don’t simply have the knowledge in our minds we carry it in our hearts. Having the words in our heart brings a change of attitude and perception, it helps us connect.

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverb 4:20-22

In Romans it speaks of connecting our faith when we hear the words of Christ. This is an active form of listening. In the Greek, the word for hearing is hearing with the soul. This is an exhortation to allow the word of God, Jesus, to penetrate our heart and soul. The “word of God” translated into the New King James version is from the Greek word ‘Christos’ referring to Christ. Christ IS the ‘word of God.’

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. (NLT) or So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJV)

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverb 4:20-22

I want to communicate effectively. I want to be a better listener to my friends and family and to God. It is my desire to learn.

Prayer: Father, help me to not only hear your words but to allow them to penetrate my heart and soul. Help me to be a better listener and not one who just hears. Amen 

Nothing is Hidden

What things are we trying to hide? Are we enjoying the presence of God or trying to hide from it?

When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” God said, “Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:8-11 (Message)

No matter how hard we may try to hide from God, we can’t. We may act differently around certain people, but God is always present and he isn’t fooled. Because we have a sin consciousness, we know what we should and shouldn’t do. Adam and Eve recognized their disobedience to God and felt naked. The recognition of their disobedience caused them to feel bare and ashamed. They sought out a place to hide – a dark place where they could cover themselves.  They even clothed themselves because of their shame. How do we delude ourselves that he doesn’t know what we are doing?

 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT)

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)

Prayer: Father, forgive me for anything I try to hide from you or in any way I’ve been disobedient. Let me recognize where I have gone wrong and not return to those things. You know where I am at all times and know my thoughts. You love me with tenderness and I rejoice in your Presence! Thank you for watching over me. I want to realize your presence everywhere I go and I long to please you Father. Amen

What Wisdom do we seek?

“The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” Genesis 3:6

Adam and Eve wanted to attain wisdom. They weren’t satisfied that God would give them the wisdom they needed. How does this pertain to us? What areas of our lives do we search out man’s wisdom instead of the wisdom of God? Do we turn to God with our decisions or do we rely on what trusted friends and our peers advise us? We should rely on what God knows. Where is our trust? Shouldn’t our trust be in God?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. ” Proverb 3:5-6

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” James 3:17

Prayer for every day: Father help me to seek your wisdom in all that I do. Help me to look to you in every decision of my life. Help me not to go by what is in MY mind but to look for your understanding. Your ways are far superior to mine and I ask for your wisdom in every aspect of my life.  No matter how enticing other’s ways seem, help me to keep my focus on you and rely on your Word for wisdom. Thank you Father that you are faithful and take care of each of my needs. I love you, Father. Amen