Grow Deep - Listen Edition Week 3
Week 3: May 26-June 1
Listening in the Service of Community
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b
I recently bought a refrigerator for my wife and timed delivery for her birthday. The old refrigerator worked; I thought it was fine. After listening to my wife, however, I realized the need. Even so, I was haunted by the memory of a woman in despair I met decades before. Her husband had also given her a refrigerator. Though he meant the gift for good, it wasn’t what she needed. The problem was they were not listening to one another. As she sank into depression, he bought her gifts. As the gifts got bigger, so did her emptiness.
Gary Chapman in his book, “The Five Love Languages,” shares timeless insights on the way in which people express and receive love. His key insight is to listen and love with a “language” a person needs and receives. In this week of “listening,” we’re challenged to listen to our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? The Word of God shows me that my neighbor is the one Jesus loves. My neighbor is the one I can pass without noticing. My neighbor is the one Jesus has sent me to extend His love. And when I listen, He will show me how to love.
There’s another refrigerator in my story. An abused woman with five children secretly came to our home for help with her refrigerator. God challenged us to listen to her and love her. We could not solve her refrigerator problem, but God did use us to help her. We saw Jesus in her life; we saw Him in her children’s lives. God gave us the privilege of loving and helping all of them.
Let God’s Word challenge you to listen to the neighbor He’s called you to love today.
“Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You?” … “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:37-40
Sunday, May 26
Read: John 15:12-17
This section of Scripture begins and ends with the command to love one another. Jesus reminds us that love lays down its life for another and that we are chosen by God to go and bear fruit in His name.
Reflect: Find three (or more) overtures of friendship Jesus shares. How is your life defined by friendship with Jesus? Whom is Jesus sending you to befriend? What will be the fruit? What is the role of active listening in your friendships?
Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day)
Read: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Symbolic of the return of the exiled to Israel, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy dry bones back to life; God has power over death.
Reflect: Visit a cemetery today. Honor, remember and give thanks for those whose gravesites you see. How will you “prophesy,” (speak God’s word of hope and life) to the nation going forth from this Memorial Day?
Tuesday, May 28
Read: Leviticus 19:9-18
Leviticus 19 begins with a command to be holy. These verses outline what it means to be holy in your relationships and emphasizes that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Reflect: How do we trivialize “the Golden Rule.” What new insights do you hear in meditating on it in context? How will you live it out in your context?
Wednesday, May 29
Read: Romans 12:9-21
In these verses, the Apostle Paul outlines what it means for Christians to live a life of love in action.
Reflect: What blessings do you hear in these words? How have you received blessing this week? How will you bless a neighbor, whether friend or adversary?
Thursday, May 30
Read: Proverb 27:10
Solomon encourages that true friendships may be stronger and more valuable than family relationships, especially in times of struggle and calamity.
Reflect: What does this proverb mean to you? Who is a neighbor who has blessed you? What neighbor is the Spirit encouraging you to engage more deeply in a relationship? How can listening be a tool for you to engage more deeply?
Friday, May 31
Read: Jeremiah 29:4-7
The word of God to the exiled Israelites through the prophet Jeremiah was to build their lives in their city of exile and to pray for those who had conquered them. They were to seek the prosperity of the city which had treated them with abuse and contempt.
Reflect: Into what troubled setting is God calling you to unconditionally love and bless someone? What will you do next?
Saturday, June 1
Read: Acts 11:25-30
Paul and Barnabus teach and serve together in Antioch. Antioch was the community where people were first called “Christians.” The Antioch Christians were so bold as to collect relief supplies for a famine that had been prophesied but had not yet occurred.
Reflect: How does the witness of these bold Christians speak to you? How does that impact the way you prepare for the future?