Grow Deep - The Listen Edition Week 2
Week 2: May 19-25
Listening in the Journey of the Church
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, love one another.” John 13:34
When I think about listening in the journey of the church, I realize that listening is critical to growth, whether it is in my own personal journey of faith or in the corporate journey of the church. Good listening comes from hearts that are humble. Good listening is a sacrificial, unselfish gift we give. It is a funnel through which we channel God’s love and grace to another person.
In the Old Testament, there is much emphasis on hearing from and listening to God. The Shema (or Sh’ma Yisrael) is Hebrew for “Hear, O Israel,” and serves as a prayer and centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. It is found specifically in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” New Testament writers have much to say about listening, too. In three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), Jesus commanded His disciples and now commands us: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” In Matthew 17:5, Jesus was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James and John. The voice of God came out of the cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” St. Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”
Jesus loved us so much that He laid down His own life so that we might have life in Him and have it more abundantly. Listen to Him! Listen to others! Share Him with those who don’t know Him. Consider ways to better love and serve Him and others by listening more effectively.
Sunday, May 19
Read: John 13:31-35
Before Christ left this world, He gave His disciples a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This is so that the world might listen to Him and know Him by His disciples’ words and actions. Jesus’ command is for us to put into practice a love which is (1) sacrificial, (2) humble, and (3) unselfish. This can only be accomplished by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Reflect: Today, what is one action you can take that will demonstrate the kind of love commanded by Jesus to another person? What does it mean to you personally to live a life of sacrifice?
Monday, May 20
Read: Galatians 5:13-18
Paul addresses the Galatians as an apostle of Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. He teaches that all law is fulfilled in this: love one another as we love ourselves. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are to serve one another humbly in love.
Reflect: What is the one thing Paul says will fulfill all the Law of Moses? Post these questions on Facebook or Twitter: “Is it possible to love another as much as and in the same way that you love yourself? Why or why not? How does listening demonstrate your love for another?”
Tuesday, May 21
Read: Acts 16:11-15
Paul continues his journey of preaching and teaching the Gospel, stopping in Philippi at a prayer meeting. After Lydia and her household heard Paul’s message, they were baptized, and opened up their home to Paul’s group. As we listen to the Word of God, He opens our hearts to receive and respond to His teaching by becoming servants as well.
Reflect: How can you go a little out of your way to connect with someone who needs help right now? Reach out to someone you know and with whom you want to spend time in a spiritual conversation.
Wednesday, May 22
Read: Matthew 18:10-20
Verse 11 outlines Jesus’ mission: “The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Jesus saved us, and continues to save us, through His death and resurrection. As believers, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have one Heavenly Father. Listening and understanding each other is a critical step in reconciliation when there is a wrong committed against another in the family.
Reflect: How can you show grace and love to a family member who has wandered? How is listening an important step in reconciling with someone who has hurt you or who has been hurt by you?
Thursday, May 23
Read: Hebrews 10:24-25
We hold fast to the confession of our hope. The invitation outlined in these verses is both individual and corporate. Just as coals burn brighter and hotter together in a single pile, we work best when we work together toward a common goal. We encourage one another to worship, to listen to God and others, and to love within the Body of Christ. The goal is our spiritual growth.
Reflect: Who is one person near you that you can invite to the next church service, small group, or Bible study? Pray for that person. Reach out today with a personal invitation.
Friday, May 24
Read: Acts 16:25-38
Even as Paul and Silas were doing time in a Philippian prison, they were singing hymns to God, and all those around them were listening. The jailer was so impressed by the faith, joy and grace shown to him by Paul and Silas that he asked how he could be saved.
Reflect: When times are tough for us personally, how can we still be sensitive enough to engage in a spiritual conversation with those near us? Why is listening particularly important when we enter into a spiritual conversation with a non-believer?
Saturday, May 25
Read: Acts 2:42-47
The early church lived life together. Day after day, they listened to God’s Word together, prayed together, ate together, praised God together, enjoyed fellowship together and loved one another. In this Christian life, we are called to encourage and build one another up in the faith.
Reflect: Take a bold step today: think of someone you can serve, encourage and love … someone who needs a friend. Write a note, make a call, or invite them for coffee or lunch. Sacrifice your time or your own plans to meet their needs. Extend the love and care of Jesus to them.