I’m speaking today to God – no, I am continuing to try to really learn what it means to listen. First I ask Him to purify my mind, my heart, my tongue – forgive me for every wrong thought and inappropriate word and action I have done.
“Help me to empty my mind of all the thoughts churning around in my head that I am thinking [that means what I am saying to myself in this constant conversation I have with me] because this stops me hearing You speak Lord. Especially the worries and cares of this world (Mark 4:18,19).” Here I am reminded of teaching I had during a course we did to become Life-Line counselors, where the basis of their counseling is listening. What they said, and listen carefully now, because we don’t hear so good do we? “If you are thinking what you are going to say to the person while they are still speaking, you are NOT listening to them”. Ouch – so if you are speaking to yourself while you say you are listening to the Lord then you are not listening to Him.
To show you have been listening properly to your client and to help them to see their own problem, we were then told to feed back to them what you have heard them saying. So it would go something like this “so what you are saying to me is xyz?” (The aim of that sort of counselling is that the client should work out solutions to their problems themselves with you just playing a part in active listening). Now how do we do this, give feed back, when we are listening to God? Well quite simple actually, keep a journal and write down what you feel He has been saying to you, with the scripture references or even the passages written out in full. This will enable you to crystalize what you have “heard” Him say to you.
At he end of my time with Him I write in my journal, “So what is this saying to me today?” as I seek to condense it into action for that day.
Now I want to get back to my discussion last time on what it means when we say “God is love”. Our interesting discussion at our early morning prayer meeting with Ludwig was that we can only know God in as much as He has revealed Himself to us. Thus we know God is love because of many actions He has taken favouring us, like and especially, sending His Son to die for us. The story of Tim Keller of the two bushes in Jerimiah where he was saying that we should love God for who He is and not what we can get from Him through our relationship with Him, refers to an attitude where we seek God merely to receive from Him what we desire. So that means it is quite an OK part of knowing God by seeing His revealed actions as a revelation of who He is.
A picture of the Songs of Solomon then comes to mind, of the love of the bride and the groom for each other. I seem to hear The Lord saying to me “Remember the most exquisite moments of your relationship with Emily, how you felt then. Now multiply that by many times and that is how I feel about my bride, each one of the people who make up that group, and that includes you”
But God’s love for us needs to pass on further, not stop with myself. So what does that mean? lets look at that passage in 1 John, where he repeats twice that God is love. John is warning the readers that their love for Jesus will be known by their love of others revealed, in their actions. It is not enough to say “I love you”, one has to demonstrate that. The problem his readers had was that they claimed to be Christian yet were being nasty to some other Christians. Sound familiar?
I am reminded of a revelation I had many years ago about the meaning of the word “attitude”. This was the definition I found: “An attitude is a way of seeing others in relation to ourselves and it is expressed in actions”. So our experience and appreciation of God’s love for us is demonstrated in the attitude we have towards others in relation to ourselves. OK that means not only to family, not only to other like-minded Christian brothers and sisters, but to every one of the people we interact with. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, says our attitude should be like that of Christ Jesus. We should consider others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3) .
Wow – does he really mean that? Its easy to regard the good, nice, distinguished people, especially those who love us, as better than ourselves, but Paul is saying “everyone”. The meanest, the lowest, the dirtiest most detestable, cruel ??? Jesus said in Matt 5:43 we must love even our enemies. Can I do that? Can you do that?
I have good news for you. The gospel isn’t about trying to do the impossible, just trying harder and harder every time we fail. No, the gospel is – first experience God’s love for you, Really experience it believe it and receive it and from that flows the power and desire to love even the most unlovable. Will we fail? Of course. Should we try harder?…. NO the gospel tells us when we fail we go to Jesus, the foot of His cross, confess our failure and draw again from His love and go out. And no matter how often we fail, that is the Good News, He will always forgive us and fill us afresh with His love. Read 1 John, first chapter, that explains it.
Dear reader there are so many of our brothers and sisters who are trying so hard to be good Christians, but it is no more than legalism. The Good News is that we have been transformed by Jesus, filled with His love, all we have to do is go out in that knowledge and strength of the Holy Spirit and do it.
Hallelujah that is why it is called “The Gospel” in other words “The Good News of Christ Jesus”.