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]
One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
The Bible talks a lot about those who talk a lot. I have spent a lot of time studying some of the verses about talking a lot because I talk a lot. We are told to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19). We read that, “Too much talk leads to sin.” (Proverbs 10:19). Keeping one’s mouth shut comes from one considered to be “a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28). The Bible also says that “mere talk leads to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Today’s verse speaks about a fool who multiples words. It also reminds us that no man knows what is going to come. The issue we can see in this verse is that the person is not simply speaking a lot, but the person is a foolish person. Why is the person a foolish person? The only thing we can read into from this verse is that the person is a fool because he is speaking about something that he cannot understand or foresee. Maybe he is a fool for other reasons, but this is the one reason addressed.
We all know that person who is a “know-it-all” type of person. We are called to be humble and speak truth. Often I find myself in the middle of a conversation I know little about so I keep quiet or speak minimally. I don’t know much about pop culture. I don’t know a great deal about sports. It would be foolish for me to start up a full on conversation about these topics. But to the fool mentioned in this verse, he will ramble on and on trying to make it appear like he knows what is going on, like he knows what is to come. This person may talk a lot because he likes the sound of his voice or he is trying to be important in another’s eyes. He may be trying to puff himself up. At times, listeners may even be tempted to believe what the person is saying and possibly be led astray. This person will keep talking even if they no longer know what they are saying is true. This is a bad habit and certainly is a pathway straight to sin (Proverbs 10:19). To avoid being this fool, speak only what is true, and work on your listening skills. You learn a lot more from listening. Be quick to listen (James 1:19).
“A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him?” – Ecclesiastes 10:14 [ESV]
People are not always reliable for one reason or another. We often let each other down. We oversleep. We double schedule by accident. We run late. We don’t pay attention or lose focus. We misunderstand. We miscalculate. We even lie. I don’t think I would be far reaching to say that there is no person who did not let someone down.
In today’s passage, the Psalmist speaks about God who “has never let you down.” He further states that “He has never wandered off to do his own thing.” He is always there, always present, always caring, always loving—He is always.
We often wander off to do our own thing when we are supposed to be helping a friend, at work, attending a function, handling our parental responsibilities, etc. All we have is excuses for our shortcomings. But with God, there is no need for excuses. He never lets you down. He never wanders off. Today let us thank Him for always being present, for always listening, for always loving.
“Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory, you sons of Jacob;
adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way
when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
he has been right there, listening.”
-Psalm 22:22-24 [MSG]
This past week was a difficult one for me. My routine was missing in action. Sleep escaped me. My level of pain was at its highest. We were relocating. I was working every day, all day. It was draining.
I was standing at work in pain, tired and dreading the end of my shift when I would return home to move more stuff to the new place. I asked a friend if she had some hard candy like a Lifesaver, because my throat was dry. Little did I know, a customer was listening to the conversation. As I finished with his order, he handed me the Lifesavers. I argued that it was against policy to accept things from customers. He then said he would leave them sit for me, that it was his policy to be nice. Jokingly, the lady behind him said she liked Three Musketeers. I was amazed as I spied him picking up yet another small gift to bring another smile around.
My day was not going well. I was exhausted and found myself on the verge of tears, nearly falling asleep standing, and wearing more braces than ever before because my body was feeling the week’s work. Then here came this fellow who became a lifesaver for a moment. His attitude and generosity had a great impact on me and the other customer. One small gesture had a ripple effect. It was a great reminder of our great Lifesaver. The gentleman paid attention to those around him and took action. It did not cost him a lot of money. It did not cost him a lot of time. This reminds me of something Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” – 1 John 4:7 [MSG]
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]
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]