A J-BAR PRAYER

Father, we come before you now on bended knee, hoping to honor you with our integrity. Please make our judgement as sound as steel and be our hands upon the wheel. Give us strength and vigilance on our routes and help us to serve others, as You did, Lord, without any doubts. Remind us to be gentle, humble and kind, and help us when we stumble in body and mind. Please shelter our families whilst we are away and bring us safely back to them at the end of this day.

Listen Up!

Listen Up!  Have you had those words directed at you? They usually indicate that the one about to speak wants you to really receive what is being offered.  The trouble with most of our 21st century days is that everyone is demanding that we listen.  One researcher offered the following (somewhat startling) observations:

· People spend between 70-80% (10-12 hours) of their day engaged in some form of communication, and about 55% (5.5-6.5 hours) of their time is devoted to listening.

· The average number of words you’re able to listen to per minute is around 450. (that’s more than 170,000 words)

· But sadly, most people usually only remember about 17-25% of the things they listen to. (just a smidge over 40,000)

Listen Up! We’re drowning in an ocean of words. We’re being covered over with audible signals aimed at our ears.  You might just convince yourself that it would be easier to just not listen to anything at all.  But God has a divine nudge that might just be what you need to hear this morning:

James 1:19-20 offers instruction “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness”

Did you catch it?  Speed up. Make haste. Be first in line. Get on the expressway. Listening should be the thing we put first in line. The culture around us is spewing a message that is counter to this.  But God’s direction for those who have asked for His forgiveness and seek to be more like Jesus Christ is to listen.  Do you remember the stories about Jesus? People were always trying to get him to speak. Asking him questions. Trying to trip him up.  One of my favorites is in John 8 – when the self-absorbed religious wannabes brought a woman caught in adultery.  Expecting quick judgment. Expecting harsh words. Expecting a pronouncement that they could really sink their teeth into.  The Bible tells us that Jesus stooped down and began to draw in the dirt.  Perhaps he was teaching (by example) that words spoken too quickly simply muddy the water.

The verses in James not only tell us to speed up to listen, but there is also an instruction to slow down.  Biblical rumble strips on the road, if you will.  Listen to it again:

“Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness”

Slow down. Don’t be in such a hurry to speak. Don’t rush to add to the jumble of words just so you can feel better about yourself.  (“I sure told him, didn’t I?”)  If our goal is to be more like Jesus, then this is a great place to start.  Heed the warning. Pay attention to the simple lesson.  Or to put it another way, “Listen up!”

God’s desire for us is to not leave us like we are – but to make us more like Him.  So today, hit the throttle when it comes to listening.  Be aware of what others are saying.  Tap the brakes when it comes to speaking.  (and we didn’t even get to the whole “getting angry” bit).  Make note of the difference you notice in the world around you.  You might just hear the voice of God.

We are J-Bar — we are blessed beyond measure. We love — we are thankful beyond measure. We serve, and in so doing become the leaders that God wants us to be.

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