Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)
I don’t suppose I need to convince you that the apostle is right when he says we should be “quick to hear.” You know that listening is good. Both your personal experience and our Lord’s call to “love your neighbor as yourself” make the value of listening clear. Indeed, how will we ever speak words of Christ-centered hope and wisdom if we have not first listened attentively so that we might know what will be profitable to share?
But if it’s so obvious that listening is good, why is listening so hard?
Kelly Kruse wilted in her studio, tearful blue eyes sinking toward the floor.
She’d had a rough night amidst a rough year. The year walked her through a bout of deep depression and the night, a nightmare.
The former opera singer found solace in one of her favorite musical compositions – Brahm’s A German Requiem. Its lyrics consist completely of Scripture, beginning with “Blessed are the suffering.”
A chorus of voices booms…
Did you know that the most important relationship you have is the relationship with yourself? Too many people don’t like who they are. They focus on their faults and weaknesses. They relive their mistakes and failures. They wish they were taller, had a better personality, and looked like their cousin instead of accepting themselves as a masterpiece, made in the image of God. Then they wonder why they’re not happy, and why they don’t have good relationships. It’s because they don’t like themselves. If you don’t get along with you, you’re not going to get along with other people.
It can start as that small feeling inside, leading you toward a path you never thought to travel. Maybe it’s the small voice that whispers in your mind to think toward a different perspective than the one you have now. Or, it could be hearing a clear message from God that you think isn’t possible, only to hear it confirmed over and over by others who had no knowledge of this message beforehand. When we are at a crossroads in life, or just feel a stirring in our hearts for more than our present circumstances, this is usually when God might be telling us something we need to hear or do.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
Why might God, with every conceivable possibility available to him, decide to create and nurture new life through parents? Why would he bring us into the world through a father and a mother?
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.
Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions…
It’s interesting that when God speaks about us in Scripture, we often don’t feel like the person He’s talking about. He speaks about us as if we’re already the completed person He’s making us into. For instance, He says that you are His masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things He planned for you long ago (Ephesians 2:10). Is that how you see yourself?
In the wake of COVID-19, we have yet another pandemic. It’s the pandemic of loneliness. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Miami, there has been an alarming increase in loneliness in the past year. I saw a similar statement on the evening news recently.
While the pandemic of loneliness is disturbing, it is a critical moment in history for the church. Loneliness provides a wonderful opportunity for the body of Christ to rise up and demonstrate love tangibly.
I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. (Psalm 13:5)
If faith is the beating heart of a Christian’s spiritual anatomy, then praise is the healthy pulse. When faith looks back upon God’s wondrous deeds of redemption, we cannot help but praise. We praise him for parting the Red Sea with a word. We praise him for felling giants with a shepherd’s sling. We praise him for sending his Son to suffer and die. We praise him for raising Christ from the grave.
Do you sometimes find it difficult to believe that you have total forgiveness for your sins in Jesus Christ? Intellectually you believe it, but how about deep within your heart?
Imagine yourself in the crowd as this story takes place as recorded in the Book of Luke:
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven!”