Showing posts with label Series on Listening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Series on Listening. Show all posts

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Listening to the Broken Places - Part 2

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.
Job 2:11-13

Listening to those who are suffering can be difficult because we often do not know what to say. Frequently, the best thing we can give is not words but simply our presence. Like Job’s three friends, they come and sit with him “with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” Sometimes, just listening in silence is good.

Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of two lives. Henri Nouwen

Sharing with another who is suffering is a privilege. Nouwen reminds us that listening is an “active awareness” and a “coming together” of two people. Healing can occur when shared stories merge. He goes on to describe this active listening as “weaving a new pattern” with “two different life stories stretched on the same loom.” This joining of hearts and stories enriches both lives. Knowing you are not suffering alone and finding others who have had common experiences can alter perspective. Sometimes, listening to each other’s shared experiences proves necessary. - dho


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Listening to the Broken Places - Part 1

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Henri Nouwen writes, “A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds.” As we look at the word ‘comfort’ in this Scripture, we find the Greek word parakaleo which means “to call to one’s side” or “to summon help” or “to encourage”. Clearly, believers in Christ who receive comfort are called to come alongside others with comfort. Often, simply listening can be the comforter’s greatest resource. 

God’s comfort includes His presence which comes through Grace. The God of all Comfort comforts us, and we comfort others. This comfort also speaks to eternal comfort for our future lives. God’s comfort is abundant and full of hope. God listens to us.

Blackaby writes, “Just as God has come alongside our lives to comfort so we do likewise to other believers.” While struggling with disappointments and difficulties, God comforts us, encourages us, and gives us hope. When we struggle, Scripture tells us we enter into the sufferings of Christ. Having found comfort in our suffering, we are then to come alongside side others, to offer comfort. Listening to the broken places becomes part of being a ‘wounded healer’. Nouwen explains, “We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.” -dho

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Your Servant is Listening!

 “Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

In the Scripture today, ‘listening’ comes from the Hebrew word shama which means not only ‘to hear’ but ‘to hear with the intention of obedience’. Warren Wiersbe says that Samuel “became a great man of prayer.” Here we see Samuel, in the infancy of his faith, responding to God. We know that he is obedient in telling Eli what God says. This is shama, listening with intention to obey.

Henri Nouwen writes, “Prayer is the first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; He’s always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity.” To enter in to prayer requires a mutual communication, that we speak AND listen. Listening to God’s voice is more than just taking notes of what we understand God to be saying; instead, true listening must include an obedient response. It is actively participating.

Eugene Peterson says, “Listening is an act of personal attentiveness that develops into answering.” We see that Samuel answers God, which would imply a prayerful reply. Peterson suggests this provides us with “a model on how to listen to God’s word and respond to him in prayer.” Let us practice shama, the art of spiritual listening, to hear and to answer in obedience to God. -dho

Thursday, February 07, 2019


“But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
    Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!” Habakkuh 2:20

It is good to simply be quiet, sit in the quiet and listen for God. Too often we busy ourselves with living life, too busy to listen, too busy doing, even too busy talking to God. Noise and activity drown us, suffocate us. Listening must be intentional. 

Silence takes many forms. Find a place of silence that fits your life. Then recognize God, be His holy Temple, res in the holy silence. Listen! Recently I saw this thought, “The word ‘listen’ has the same letters as the word ‘silent’.” Our souls crave silence, are starving for quiet. Spend some time today - in silence - and listen! -dho

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Listening in Prison - Part 2

Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Acts 16:26-34

As Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns to God, the other prisoners - and probably the guard - are listening. Suddenly there is a “massive earthquake”; the prison doors open and the chains fall off all the prisoners. The Philippian guard panics as he is in charge of Paul and Silas. Facing certain death if they escape, he draws his sword to kill himself. Just then Paul calls to him, reassuring the guard they are still in the prison. The guard falls to the ground asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Now, the fact that Paul did not escape is in the guard’s favor, as he is accountable, but more has softened his heart. Listening to the Gospel message in the prayers and hymns of Paul and Silas has been preparing the guard. Possibly he had been wondering why would they be so joyful in these desperate and dire circumstances. Paul shares the word of the Lord with him and his household. Everyone is immediately baptized. “They all believed in God.”
Halley’s Bible Handbook says, “The Word is called the instrument of the soul’s birth.” The guard and his entire family experiences spiritual birth because the Word is shared with them. Listening to spiritual truth opens our heart and mind to God. What “prison” is holding you hostage? Are you praying and singing hymns of praise to God while in that prison? Who is listening to how we deal with difficulty? Someone, somewhere IS listening. -dho

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Listening in Prison - Part 1

...Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening... Acts 16:22-28

During his second missionary journey, Paul and Silas are in Philippi, a Roman colony, and are arrested for teaching “customs that are illegal” for Romans to practice. They are stripped and beaten then put in the “inner dungeon” in shackles for teaching about Christ. The prison guards are warned to make certain they do not escape.
Spiritual listening invites the Spirit of God within us. - Henri Nouwen
We read in verse 25 that “Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners are listening”. I suspect the guards are also listening. Perhaps they all wonder how these men, beaten and chained inside a prison, could be singing? Or, perhaps they wonder who is this ‘God’ they worship? Certainly the grim surroundings is not stopping Paul and Silas.

Blackaby sums up this perfectly: External circumstances do not determine our joy; joy comes from within, from a relationship with Christ. A Spirit-filled life is characterized by unwavering joy. Joy comes in knowing we have been forgiven of sin, born into the family of God, and we have a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father. Irrespective of circumstances, salvation alone is cause for great rejoicing.

For Paul and Silas, their spiritual listening to God most certainly invites the Holy Spirit into their experiences creating a sense of joy even within grave circumstances. However, their testimony becomes a opportunity for God to work in the lives of those who are listening to them. A couple of questions come to mind: Am I spiritually listening to God and finding the Holy Spirit? Who might be listening to my daily testimony and does it reflect Christ? - dho

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Listening Obedience

“...You must all be quick to listen...  But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says...” James 1: 19-26 NLT

Listening is harder for people, usually because we often have something we want to convey or tell. Taking self out of the conversation opens the door for better listening. Henri Nouwen writes, “Listening is giving our full attention - which requires welcoming [others] into our very beings.” Laying down self is essential to being a good listener.

However, we are not only called to listen but to respond. God’s word gives us direction and discernment in all the matters of life. Sometimes, we need to sharpen our listening skills with others, but more importantly with God. Wiersbe says, “It is not reading the Bible that makes a person happy; it is obeying what it says.” In listening with intention, we develop a listening obedience. Let our heart’s desire for genuine obedience be seen in outward actions. dho

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Listening Requires Discipline

 A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear. When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives.  Henri Nouwen 

We struggle with listening. Either we do not hear what God is saying to us, or we choose not to respond to what He asks. If we do not listen for God, we have little hope of developing our obedience. Matthew 6:6 ~ Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace. 

I believe faith is the foundation for our listening hearts. Without faith, can there be obedience to God? The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means "listening"It would seem that Henri Nouwen would go one step further and say that without listening, obedience is absent. He concludes, "The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God." ~dho