Kingdom Principle: You must be anchored in the Spirit or you will be blown by the world.
|2 Kings 5:1-14||Psalm 30||Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16||Luke 10:1-11, 16-20|
How often have you heard something only to have to ask, “what did you say?” because you truly were not listening. In this week’s text, Naaman says to Elisha, “I heard you, but I’m not listening”, or more accurately, “I’m not listening because you are not saying what I was wanting to hear from you”. Elisha can say to Naaman, “I hear you as I hear the LORD, and may you be blessed by what you hear from me.” The passages this week draw to the surface the power of listening. This post and next week will bring to light the power of listening and the key element of a prophet to hear to God. The Goal of the next two weeks is that we will learn 2LAF. (pronounced “to laugh”) This teaching was given to me by a mentor, Chuck Miller and covers only 2 pages of his wonderful comprehensive (350 pages) study of spiritual leadership and discipleship. A much different and new & fresh look at communication is call INTRIGUE by Sam Horn. Her book “Got your attention?” is not about our spirituality, but one of greatest tools I have found on connecting with other in a very practical manner.
Who has accepted you? Who has listened to you? Who has forgiven you? The person who has fulfilled these three roles in your life has given you a great gift. This lays the foundation of a relationship with you. If you will not listen to someone, that relationship will struggle to grow. We must connect with others to experience change in ourselves. Yet all too often our focus is how can we change others rather than looking at our own lives. In that we are living in judgment over them rather than acceptance of, this relationship will never be one of intimacy and joy. While relationships are initiated by listening, there must a two way engagement of the information. This exchange in healthy relationships will be in an acceptance of each others identity. However, acceptance is not the same as approval. This acceptance is to embrace one’s reality with respect, not to judge or to evaluate.. This is not “to hate the sin, but love the sinner”, rather is to see the person regardless of sin or label and know that not one of us is perfect. To declare approval or potentially dis-approval is to have completed the judgement. Elisha does not judge the King, he hears his distress. Paul counsels us to listen with gentleness not judgement, Jesus’ instruction to the 70 are built on establishing relationships with those to whom they hope to reach, even to listen to others rejecting, and accept them as people, proclaiming the truth of the kingdom, rather judgment of their state. This is vulnerability is only possible for those who themselves have accepted their imperfections. What must follow in this relationship is the freedom of forgiveness.
Has God listened to you? Accepted you? Forgiven you? If so you are in relationship with Him. God hears my cry and he covers my sin and shame and pronounces me forgiven. (Romans 5:8-11) In this God accepts me for who I am and the sin which once separated us, now catapults me into a relationship. It is through the act of being forgiven that all barriers are removed. What is more is that God has fully offered this forgiveness prior to my even asking. So the key to this relationship is my acceptance of my need (see ATHOE), and the receiving of the gift that God has given me. This is where the listening must begin, and when we see the beauty of this relationship we can’t help but 2LAF.
LISTEN, ACCEPT, FORGIVEN – are the first three steps L.A.F.
The first three steps in the relationship are about one’s awareness of themselves. First, I open my ears to listen, then, I open my arms to accept and finally I open my eyes to forgiveness.
To open one’s ears, a person must be grounded and anchored in the truth of the Holy Spirit. When I am dependent on the other person’s approval or my need to be loved, then my listening will be corrupted. When we open our arms to receive another (in the form of a hug or handshake, or simply unfold our arms of judgment, to an open posture of acceptance), you expose yourself and become vulnerable. When I am hiding or covering up my true feelings and fears, then I cannot open myself to another person. Finally, I need to open my eyes to my own need of forgiveness. This final step brings us all to level ground. Relationships are complicated, and even more so when people see themselves as standing on unequal ground. The first 3 steps to LAF are in our own self-discovery. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. To open my arms to a loving Savior reminds us just how much we have been forgiven.
Yet this is just the first step… We all need more joy in our lives and “laf” is a good start to a relationship, but we must L.A.F 2x as much. Our second step to “laf” more is
LOVE, APPRECIATE, FORGIVE (we will look at these next week)
Now to review step 1:
Listen – we are sent into the world as listeners, because the Lord has listened to us
Accept – we are sent into the world to accept, because the Lord has accepted us
Forgiven – we are sent into the world as forgiven, because the Lord as forgiven us
How to take action:
- Set to Pray, (then do it) with the expectation that you will listen as much as you talk…. Prayer is communication with God, not simply to God… so spend as much time listening in prayer as you do speaking.
- Hear the Truth! There is more than one spirit, and you want to make sure you are hearing the Spirit of Truth. The best way to do this is through the Scriptures. Read these Scriptures out loud, and everywhere there is an underlined word or space – read your name there.
- Practice. This means actually listening – which is hard work. If you don’t know where to start, read this book that outlines the process….