Easter People … are Good Listeners James 1:16-21
This week we’ve been going deeper into listening. Sunday’s message invited us to think on how well we listen to self, to others, and to God. To be intentional about listening. In James 1 verse 16 it says “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Listening is hard work. In our study this week it was said that in order to listen well you need to shut up well. (lol) But isn’t that true. During the message Sunday we were asked to give thought to our listening minutes versus minutes you talk. We’d like to add listening versus mind wondering while someone is talking; or really listening versus already thinking on my immediate response to what is being said. This all takes discipline.
Listening to self: Sunday’s message suggested that we ask ourselves, what do I need? If we keep going a mile a minute, never slowing down, do we even know what we need? Don’t fill every minute of the day with busyness and noise. Pastor George suggested that we slow down. In his example of a cup full to the brim with water, much like our lives can get, remove some, let your cup lower, allow room for yourself. We are called to love others as yourself. Loving yourself is taking care of you and your needs so that you can be there for others when needed. The scripture passage for Sunday, James 1: 21 tells us that we are to “…receive with meekness the implanted word,” Meekness means quietness, humbly, submissiveness, compliance, fearfulness, the implanted word, means the Word, the Bible. What’s happening in my soul? It’s in the quietness that we can get a handle on the F.O.G. of life acronym that Doug Fields tells us to use. The F is for feelings – what emotions are going on inside at the moment. It can be us or it can be another. O is for others – what are we hearing from others? As to our self, or them. What others tell us about ourselves could very well be what God is trying to tell us, but we’ve been too busy to listen. Or others can confirm what we are feeling, seeking guidance from someone possibly older and wiser, to what we feel that God might be calling us to do. The G is God – are we spending some time in silence? Reading scripture? Quiet, on our own alone. We need moments of silence to hear God.
Listening to others: In our RNM video series this week we were given an opportunity to listen regarding listening. Active Listening by Bill Search means just that, active. Be there with eye contact. Don’t interrupt while the person is talking. Listen, seeking to understand. A great way show that we are listening is to ask follow-up questions to keep them talking, possibly to say it again in a different way. It will help us to understand a little bit better. Listening, by Henry Cloud, tells us to listen with humility, it’s not about me only. To care, it’s when the person talking understands that we understand. He says the first 5 minutes of your remarks will send the message of your listening. You may not have answers, for some it’s simply to know that other people know what’s on their mind. Also, we learn that it’s not always best to give a pet answer to everything. Quoting scripture, throwing out a bible verse that they need to study, pray over, as their cure-all. Winston Smith in his video of Becoming an Expert Listener, says we need to listen to understand their suffering. What are they saying? Where are they coming from? Get their suffering, show empathy, it’s a bridge from you to them to show that you understand.
We need to discipline our listening. Paying attention to old behavior patterns of interrupting or minimizing what they are saying. We may want to get on the defense when we are feeling attacked. We need to manage our reactivity as to what someone is saying. If you don’t, the consequence is that you lose. You lose the person that was talking because they are not being heard. A lack of listening creates a division. Then there won’t be any results. We need to discipline ourselves to listen. Listen to understand, then find the right time to say something.
Listening to God: It’s hearing from God. We heard during the Sunday message that it’s that voice on the inside of us. What is he saying to us? Then we need to act on what we hear. Don’t mute it, don’t turn it off, hear God’s nudges then respond, be a people who listens to the still small voice. God may be talking to us personally, or he may be talking to us to act in another person’s life. It’s our responsibility to personally submit to God’s authority. God also uses personal stories, personal struggles to minister to others. It’s our willingness to be open and honest. It’s our testament as to how God worked in our life.
Listening to God, receive with meekness the implanted word, so that we can minister to others in their time of need. To Impart grace to the need of the moment, by our discipleship, our words, our actions we impart Christlikeness. Move towards people in mercy. Connecting people to the Savior Redeemer, we Easter People, show what we know. We are to live life vertically with others and horizontally with God, showing grace, with people, with God – called Reconciliation. We as Easter People are to be better at loving people well, and better at being good listeners.
Larry & Darlene
Missional: an important goal or purpose that is accomplished by strong conviction; a calling; the business with which such a group is charged.
Identity :character as to who a person is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person.
This week RNM video series from Brody Jespersen titled “Gospel Identity” asked us the question: Who am I in relation to the Gospel Message? All people have the same response, we are all born into sin, needing to be rescued from our sin, because our sin separates us from God. Brody explained that Adam & Eve wanted their own control. We are all motivated by our own self-interests, those things that control us or that we want to control. He went on to say, in your pursuit of control you have welcomed a power struggle into your relationship; fighting and garnering control for ourselves, is our struggle with God, called Free Will. God’s desire is not to control us. True relationship with God is given freely, not forced. Because God loves us, he met us in our brokenness, offering a way back into relationship with him. We chose to be rescued. By accepting and believing in who Jesus is, our Savior, our Redeemer, the one who rescued us from our sin, we are no longer seen as broken or sinners. He is giving us a new identity.
Todd Brooks spoke during his message Sunday of our Identity in Jesus and how we should lean into that identity. In the scripture reading 1 Peter 2:4-10, we read that Jesus is our Cornerstone, we are like living stones, to be holy priests. Verse 9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priest, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession”. You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. We no longer are just people, we are God’s people, a new identity is given to us because we believe.
We are a rescued people. Brody Jespersen stated, living in our brokenness is death not life. Now, we are a rescued and a redeemed people with a purpose, for something. 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21 in summary says, through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him. So, we have been sent to speak for Christ. To be his Ambassadors, to be missional. As Todd Brooks said, to take this new life everywhere we go. To proclaim, to declare, to proclaim the excellence of Him who called you out of darkness. We are now the temple, the church, living stones in Him, our Cornerstone, Jesus. We as Easter People sometimes don’t realize the impact we make, accomplishing more than you can see or know.
Matt Chandler, in his RNM video on Identity, Go therefore… be a Mission church, a Gospel centered church. It’s through his church, his people that His Glory shines to all people. Every maturing follower of Jesus Christ is a disciple of Christ. We are to be Gospel Centered in Worship; Gospel Centered in Community; Gospel Centered in Service; Gospel Centered in Multiplication. We are called to be Ambassadors for Christ, as if God is making his case through us. To study, to pray, to share the gospel with others, just as another has prayed for us and/or has shared the gospel with us. It’s what we do every day with the gospel on our minds. In worship, our growing relationship with Jesus. In community, the crew we are running with, edified in Jesus. In service, how are we serving? Generosity? Joyfully? In multiplication, interacting, praying for those whose life intersect with our own, especially those who don’t know Jesus, pouring into others.
Our identity as Easter People in Jesus is something that God has given his church, the members of his church. Our Missional duty, corporately as a church is to stand between the lost and the Savior and mediate between God and people. We are to be a life lived in this identity every hour of every day. To be ready to give a reason for the hope and joy within us. To be a people being about God’s business and not our own self-interest. Sharing the gospel through our actions, words, our character. As people watch us, we don’t live to their standards, we live for an audience of one, God.
We have our future inheritance, let’s be Ambassador’s for God, used by Him. Missional, with the love of God pouring out of us. Identifiable as a Christ follower, allowing God to use us to call others to be Easter People who too want to share the Gospel message.
Especially through these difficult days that we are experiencing, Pastor Paula White, in an article titled ‘God Is Your Resting Place’ in This Age of Coronavirus, wrote: “God is your resting place. When there are things that feel so out of control in our life, we need each other, we need encouragement. And most of all, we need to call upon God.” “But I’ve always said that the church has never been a museum for saints. It’s always been a hospital for those that are hurting”. “We are praying for our first responders and our medical doctors, for CDC, for our president, for everyone. Not everyone has health centers, some do, and some have now become testing centers and are using the churches. We’re helping in all different ways”. (White is President Trump’s spiritual advisor and close friend.)
May we too find a way to help. It’s part of being missional. God help us, God use us, God be good and gracious to us. In his name we pray, Amen
Larry & Darlene
3/8/2020 EASTER PEOPLE - Focus on Building Others Up
Life Circumstances – Life Choices – Life’s Storms
These all relate to our everyday lives. We sometimes attribute the circumstances that surround our life as the cause for troubles, or it may be a poor choice, sometimes it’s a combination of both. How are we to respond when difficulties arise for us, but even more so for our loved ones?
We’re tempted to control the lives of our children to help them avoid making poor choices. To tell them the choice they should make. Or better yet, to demand them to make the choice that we choose for them. Is that building them up, helping them to learn. Chip Ingram, in his message on “Great in God’s Eyes – Empowering Great People” says we are to ‘train up’. Remember Proverb 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it”. To train up is to build up, to help them to learn. Sunday during worship we witnessed a baptism for little Madigan. Her parents want the gift for her, they are wanting to train her up. It’s waiting for her, the gift of what Jesus has in store for her, for our little ones, for all who want to receive it. We also sang the song, ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling’, calling all sinners to him. This gift is for all who are young in the faith, regardless of age. It’s our duty as Easter People to teach, to train up, to build up those who have yet to open that gift.
Phil Tuttle of Through the Bible, in his message of “Raise up a Child” used the story of the Prodigal Son to get his point across. That we need to be people of compassion. He says, Compassion focuses on the person – not the behavior. In the story the father had two sons each with their own set of problems and choices. He allowed the son to make his choice to leave. Phil says that sometimes you have to get lost before you can be found. In other words, they need to learn the hard way. The father worried for the son, looked on the horizon for him daily, was elated with joy to see him returning in the distance. Would the son have learned a valuable lesson if the father made the choice for the son? No.
Chip Ingram also shared that we become Great in God’s eyes by helping others become greater than ourselves. Great Christians empower other people, they die to self and pass on what they’ve learned to another person. God is at work continually in us, and through us. As Pastor George shared, “You are the diamond God is forming, God wants to work in us and through us in the process.” In 2 Timothy 2:2 Good Soldier of Christ, Jesus says, “You then, my child, be strengthen by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”.
So then are we supposed to just let our kids, our loved ones, go? Make poor choices? All that will do is give us a lot of grief and worry. We’d say no, not exactly, but we need to loosen the rope that’s holding them, teach as we go along, allow them to make mistakes, it’s all part of the growing process. Not only in life in general, but also in their faith walk.
Louie Giglio, in Eyes UP wants us to see the God of Heaven. To look up to the one who created all - God. He has an unbroken track record of faithfulness. He never sleeps, nor slumbers. Loud praise replaces loud fears, Louie says. He’s bigger than any storm that’s coming. Ask God what to do because the Father knows the things you need before you ask them. He’s going to do the best thing. He’s going to take care of you – through the storm. He’s going to meet us in that place, with his grace.
Eyes UP is a very powerful instructional true worship video where we learned that we need to find our secret place, just ourselves and God; get on our knees with God, where the power is, with hands open. Once we bow, it’s easiest to open our hands. Open your hands and release the destiny into the hands of God. Focus, gazing up to worship, I’m here to trust you God. Pray: Whatever you want to do God is what I want to do – my hands are open, take out and put in what your will is God, I’m letting go. I trust and believe in you – all the way through Lord. Proverbs 95: 6-7 “Come, let’s worship him and bow down. Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us, because he is our God and we are the people he takes care of and the sheep that he tends.”
The choices we make, the circumstances we find ourselves in. We heard during Sunday’s message do not be deceived, every good gift come from God, look for the good gift. Tested for our faith, by enduring we grow, in the end we’re stronger, honoring God to seek His best. God is not out to destroy us, but to give us good gifts. Easter People, Build up!
Larry & Darlene
A doctrine idea by John Piper:
of a thinking faculty that glorifies God by right thinking about him
of an emotional faculty that glorifies God by feeling right about him
In the Midst of Trials
Watching God’s Strength in Trials we listened to a man born without arms and how he accepted his God given body. He tells us to embrace God’s plan whatever that may be. It’s God strength that we need, and God’s plan for us is to grow as a person and grow closer to Him. Trials are meant to draw us closer to God and find our strength in Him.
Matt Chandler in Trials Build Deeper Trust in God knows first-hand through his brain tumor and cancer treatments of trusting God fully. Trust is a firm belief or faith in another. Trusting God for what’s to come. During Sunday’s sermon we heard that we need to have faith in our trials. To put your full weight, full trust in God.
As we go through our trials, draw close to God, find your strength in Him. Don’t lose your Joy in who your God is. As James 1: 2 Testing of Your Faith says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness”. We count it joy because we are Easter People!
Larry & Darlene