Posts Tagged Listening
We Told You So Acts 4:5-12
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” [NRSV]
Cornerstone, Jesus is the
- Power from the Cornerstone
- Truth from the Cornerstone
- Salvation through the Cornerstone
Our Shepherd Knows Our Needs Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long. [NRSV]
The shepherd leads the sheep to what they need
- Daily Bread
- Daily Walk
- Daily Struggle with Evil
- Daily Worship
1 John 3:16-24 God Jumped In First
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. [NRSV]
Love is an active verb not just a cognitive affirmation
- Christ Acts Before We Do
- God Loves Frist
- Our Response to Grace and Love is Commitment
- We Obey because God Has Already Moved in to Help/Save
John 10:11-18 Listening and Hearing
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” [NRSV]
Listening and Hearing
- The shepherd and sheep listen for one another
- Listening because we can
- Listening because we have to
- Listening to see what we choose to hear
- Listening to be found by God
- Jesus has hardwired our connection
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [NRSV]
The power of process
Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is very METHODICAL. (He’d make a good Methodist)
Too often I hear the story of people who get upset with the church or church people and especially the preacher/pastor. On one hand, not one of us is closer to God nor is anyone of us loved more than the other. We all make mistakes. We have all offended and rejected people, intentionally and unintentionally. On the other hand Jesus is telling Matthew and the other disciples persistence in dealing with conflict.
First confront the person one-to-one, (Don’t talk about, gossip, imply to those who might say something.) Take responsibility for your part of the conversation.
Second, if that does not work, take witnesses. (This is its own category, we will discuss in a moment)
Third, take the whole matter to the community. The need of the individual is relevant to the larger community.
Most folks give up before starting the process. We talk to everyone, except those directly involved and want someone else to confront. The next time conflict arrises. Try talking one-on-one, express your experience and expectation. Give the other person or party the opportunity to respond. If they don’t confront and share the same, take a witness or two. If the few of you can’t resolve it continue to expand the pool of witnesses and perspectives.
The power of a witness
A Witness may not be someone who saw or heard the events in question, but can hear and see the follow-up conversation. Think of the role of a counselor or a referee. Someone who can help us speak the truth, speak our hearts and confront with word rather than rage or worse.
This model of witness is our general role as Christian disciples. We are not witnesses to the events of the first century Jesus, but we ARE witnesses to the Word and Work of Jesus and the church in the 21st century.
The power of binding
In wedding we often refer to a couple “tying the knot.” This is symbolically seen in the double fisherman’s knot. For fly fishing it works well to join a leader line to the main line. The more loops on each knot makes the end resulting knot when tightened together one of the strongest of all knots, because of the equality of pressure.
How we respond as a faith community and church family tell our salvation story. If people see and hear us upset over money, property, shared space in the building, and not see our feeding the hungry, embracing the oppressed and being friends with the sinners then we fail the opportunity entrusted to us. Which in some cases lasts for generations.
“Granddaddy said those church folks are cheats and liars” that’s why we don’t go to that church. Half of our work in witnesses is usually untying knots we didn’t tie and never knew were their.
Homework: show someone how to tie a knot, a shoelace, a neck tie, a hair bow, a fishing knot and talk with them about what knots need to be kneaded out, loosen and untied to free up people for the opportunity of grace and love.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, 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.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.” [NRSV]
Joseph and his dreams
- OT: It is Jacob’s son, Joseph who has visions and dreams where God is revealed to him even as a child.
- His dream that the shafts of wheat would bow down to him offended his brothers who sold him into slavery.
- While imprisoned, Joseph becomes known as one who interprets dreams as God’s messages. Later he is called on to explain Pharaoh’s dreams and describes how they will have abundant years followed by lean years. Pharaoh placed Joseph as is second-in-charge to prepare for the years of famine.
- During the drought, Joseph’s brothers journey to Egypt and to Joseph’s court asking for food to feed their family. After some testing, he reveals himself to his brothers that enslaved him who bow before him. His dream is revealed over the span of his life.
- NT: Now Mary’s husband, and Jesus’s foster parent, our Joseph from today’s text continues the experience of God speaking through dreams.
- God sends an angel to comfort and assure Joe when Mary becomes pregnant.
- God speaks in a dream warning Joseph to leave town and avoid Herod and his plot to kill the baby Jesus.
- God uses Joe’s dreams to direct him to live in Egypt. (Note the geography similarity to Jacob’s Joseph in Genesis.)
- God speaks in a dream to call Joseph to return to Israel and leave the far country to return home.
- God uses Joe’s dream to direct him away from Herod’s son and to live in Galilee region in the city of Nazareth.
Does Joseph Sleeps Alot?
- I don’t think he slept too much, but it seems that is the time that Joseph was most receptive of God’s word and direction.
- It is rare that God speaks through thundering clouds and a voice from heaven rubbles down.
- It is more common that God speaks through other people, through music, through art, and through creation itself.
- Not everyone pays attention during the sermon: ref. “Best Sleep I get all Week..”
- Not everyone enjoys singing or pays attention to the words.
- Not everyone is patient enough to listen after exhausting our list of petitions in prayer.
- Some folk are too busy at work, at school or even in their own homes.
Joseph is one of those who God found his attention when everything else was laid to rest.
Where and When is God Most Likely to Speak to You?
Just as we might hope and expect to find presents under a Christmas Tree, we hope and expect to find God when we are a church. Gathered with God’s people doing good and right service, witness and worship. But there are times that we are too preoccupied with something else even when we are in the “God Zone.”
The original intention of Sabbath as a day of rest was not simply to cease working. It is a vacation from our vocation. A clearing of the table that cluttered with junk and find the level foundation where we can begin afresh.
As we continue in this season of Christmas, carve out time to be silent, open and patient for God.
It might be easier now that most of the holiday festivities are behind us. Possibly now is a better time to find Christ born anew than at the reenactment of the nativity.
The shepherds took a bigger than broadway production to get their attention.
The wise men looked to distant star and calculations and a map.
Marry and Joseph had their sleep interrupted.
Have you ever had trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep after waking up?
It seems that is my every-night struggle.
Rather than fight it, take that time listen for God.
Prayer journaling, FB chatting (you’d be surprised who is up ready to pray with you), read the Psalms (That will put you to sleep for sure..lol) Just ask God to speak. Be quiet and listen.
No matter the time of day or night, we can sleep and work right through God’s message and guidance.
Out fears, worries, control, stubbornness and uncertainty can cloud our visions and keep us apart.
Turn the Christmas tree lights back on, light a candle (that you blow out before falling asleep), and pray for the Light of Word to Open your heart and mind.
Speak to us and give us ears to hear and hearts to trust and minds to believe.
Let us know what you hear from God.
Joseph did.. as we see how God protected, prepared, moved and shaped Joseph and his family throughout their lives. A pretty good example if you ask.
Merry Christmas.. See you next Sunday.. it will still be Christmas then too.
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.
15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ [NRSV]
The Miracle of Pentecost is “Adudibility.” Our ability to hear
- It is about our hearing.
- It is a miss reading to call this witness of the Spirit an encounter with ‘speaking-in-tongues.’
- The heart of the text rest on the 2.8, “How is it that we all hear..”
Hearing is a treasure.
- Sometimes we have diminishing hearing…
- Other times we have selective hearing…
- Still other times we hear nothing or noise..
- And at times, we hear clearly.
This passage is about hearing clearly God’s word for own heart, our own need, the message that fits the challenge we face.
Are we hearing God speak to our hearts
Are we listening?
Have we heard it all before?
What is the truth in times of division?
Some in the text are not ready to hear. The message is available but they are not receptive. Peter warns us not to be afraid of Hearing What God has for us to know, believe, experience, or do.
For all those who heard in their own language and heart, received something that applied to their own lives, own communities and circles of influence. It is from this day of witness and hearing that the Good News is spread beyond Jerusalem into the known world. God speaks, and some folks are listening.
In this great time of hearing Peter preaches.
His words of encouraging, Hear this:
- God’s Spirit is with us, speaking to us all.
- Spirit talking and listening call for willing ears.
- So listen up and find salvation, guidance and faith.
How do you know when God is speaking?
Typically it is not in voices of unknown languages,
But in our own experience.
God’s Spirit speaks to hear our mind and heart, where we are thinking, processing, worrying, stuck and spiritually hungry.
God’s spirit is the invisible presence at work for our benefit.
This is one of the litmus tests of knowing the spirit.
If it is not for the good of community, it might just be for some one and not God at all.
Just this week, I have received a challenge to my spiritual hearing. Maybe some of you have as well..
conflicting messages from God.
Someone interrupted our music practice and wanted us to turn off the power and leave the building. Was this God speaking so just a prank?
It is true that sometimes hearing God’s call in our lives is an interruption.. Just as in the Pentecost story in Jerusalem.
It was not a common sight to see flames coming from the sky, resting on people and they becoming conduits of the divine message.
We’d like to think that something that impressive would grab all our attentions, but it did in the text and it does not reach all people at the same time today. Listening and trusting what we hear might call for actions that would be ridiculed or ignored by others.
But listen to the text, listen to Peter:
The Spirit’s message to the community and not just one person.
God has a message intended for each of us, in our hearts.
God has a word that intended for all of us, shared for listeners.
After much prayer, reflection on this text and conversation with other members, pastors, friends in the faith I have come to understand and affirm the following:
- Though we are all one in Christ, we don’t all hear the same things from God. (right/wrong, good/bad) God works through our limitations.
- The message from God always regards salvation, our broken-relationship-made-whole-through-Christ. Billy Graham’s “I preach Christ and him crucified every time.”
- Some people will disagree with our interpretations and faithful actions. Our call is to be listening to God and faithful to God, and not people’s opinions.
- God can speak through different languages, cultures, traditions, and experiences and that’s ok with God.
- Bottom line. We need to be open to how ever God might be speaking to us, but its generally a public address for God is interested in transforming the whole world.
- God does not work to get attention for God, but works to draw us closer to God’s heart.
50 Days since Easter:
Christ still lives! Does our life give witness to that Good News?
Disciples were willing to be messengers
Disciples were willing to take time to explain and help others understand what had been heard.
Disciples are folks like us, willing to hear and tell today.
- Don’t be quiet, Don’t be afraid, Don’t be left out.