As the dogs and I were walking along, I noticed that Marci was walking differently. I picked her up and found something on the bottom of her foot that I quickly removed.
Observation – paying attention – requires us to be intentional. It is necessary to be intentional to understand the needs of the people around you. In this busy world, we often don’t listen when someone is talking with us, because we are trying to contemplate the best answer to the conversation or even thinking about the next task we must accomplish, looking beyond the current interaction. Many times, we are so stuck on ourselves and our goal is to be heard instead of to listen. Also, we are rarely present in the moment, and yet this presence is what is needed to show love and compassion to others. Time is precious, and how you use time is a choice. Do you choose to run around on empty and allow the situations around you to dictate your actions? Do you attempt to be in the moment wherever you are at, being at attention, and calmly following the leading of your Father?
Notice that Jesus was always intentional—always present – and able to understand the needs of those around Him. He spent much time in prayer. He spent much time interacting with people, whereby He invested in their lives, actively listening and engaging in conversation. Conversation, such a lost art today.
Today, be mindful of what is happening around you. Wherever you go, be there. Slow down. Listen for His still small voice. Invest in those before you. Enjoy the people God has put before you, and ask God how you can bless them today to bring Him glory.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 [ESV]
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 [NIV]
I love reading Nehemiah. It is so awesome to read of the restoration and to see the people returning to God. I cannot help but smile from ear to ear when I read about Ezra bringing forth the Law. The Bible says he read it aloud from daybreak until noon. Can you imagine that being done today? Some people shift in their seats when the pastor’s sermon goes over a half hour.
These people were so eager to hear the Word. The people “were all ears” it says. All ears. That’s amazing. I love it. Sadly it’s not something we hear of often today. The only people I see like this are those who struggle to get their hands on a Bible. In places like Kenya, they have a lack of Bibles so families or even an entire church share one Bible and pass it around. And they cannot wait to get their turn at reading God’s Word. They want to hear it that badly.
Today, I am praying for each one of you. I am praying that you will want to hear God’s Word with such intensity, that you would want to be “all ears” for His Word. If you have such a passion for God and His Word, it will overflow out to everything around you. That my friend is a beautiful thing. May we all be all ears.
“So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.”
– Nehemiah 8:2-3 [MSG]
We talk often about God being faithful but what about us? How can we be faithful to God? I know that God has always been and will always be faithful. I also know that I have not always been faithful. I fail Him daily.
Stop Hesitating. Move forward to what God has promised. Don’t stand on the verge. Embrace God’s plan for you. James 1:6 speaks about those who are double-minded, who are “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (NIV).
Start Acting. Bury yourself in the Word. Read it. Study it. Study it alone and join a group. Remember the Armor of God? The Word is the only offensive weapon. Take an offense. Pray. Pray continually. Helplessly. Shamelessly. Listen intentionally.
Stand Firm. It is easier to fight than to stand. Remember, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:13 NLT).
I often will call for my children. At times it is because it is time for dinner. At times it is because we are going to be leaving soon. At times it is because they have some chores to do or I have a question to ask them. Sometimes they get irritated because they have to come to listen to what I have to say because I won’t yell anything other than their names. If I would yell something else, they wouldn’t hear much anyway.
Today’s verse says that we are to come and to listen. If we come with ears open wide and listen, Isaiah writes that we will “find life.” The first part, the coming, is difficult. It requires us to have ears wide open. That means we come with the intention of listening to hear what is being said. We come ready to listen. We come open to listen.
God is ready to speak with each of us. He has a beautiful plan for each of our lives. He has so many things to tell us. First, we must come and listen. He’s already done the work. He already has the message prepared. We must act. We must come with an open heart and open ears. He promises that when you do you will find life. Life with him is so much better.
“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.” – Isaiah 55:3 [NLT]
There are moments in life when we recognize what is right but we do not always do what we should in response. We like to call it our sin nature. In Isaiah 42, it spoke of those who understood what was right but they did nothing. The people heard what they were to do, but they did not act.
James said we are to be doers of the word. True faith requires action. The people Isaiah was referring to knew what was right but did not act on it. We do the same thing today. It is easier to refuse to act. It is easier to ignore. It is easier to accept what the world accepts.
Today let us challenge ourselves to listen. Let us recognize what is right and act. Let us stand firm in Christ. Knowing and refusing to act is worse than not knowing at all.
“You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.” – Isaiah 42:20 [NLT]
People like to talk. I know I talk a lot, sometimes more than I should. Solomon advised that when we “enter the house of God” we are to do two things. We are to keep our ears open and we are to keep our mouth shut. If we are not entering the house of God with ears to listen, why are we even there? We are to approach the Lord for wisdom, for guidance, to seek His will for our lives.
At the same time, Solomon says that we need to keep our mouths shut. Why? Because we tend to approach God and tell Him what we want—what our plan is for our lives. But that’s not necessarily what God wants for our lives. If we are too busy telling God what we want Him to do, we are not focused on listening to Him tell us what we were made to do, what is our purpose—the plan for our life.
Today consider how you enter the house of God. Consider how you read and study your Bible. Do you have your ears open? Do you have your mouth shut? Are you listening for what God has to say or are you using your mouth to interject with your instructions?
“As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:1 [NLT]