Listening to Jesus (2)
The Key to healthy relationships
Welcome everyone, special mention to Mothers and those who have come especially for Mothers day.
We are continuing our series on prayer and this week we are looking at Listening to Jesus.
In the theme sheets I have provided many passages that show God speaking in different ways and in your life groups during the week you will be looking at these more in depth than I can this morning as well as having a chance to put listening to God and each other into practice.
We all want healthy relationships don’t we?
And we all know that the key to any healthy relationship is to listen… it’s obvious…so how come we struggle so much with it?
I did some research about healthy relationships this week and time after time the words communication and listening kept coming up.
And when I hear people talking about difficulties in their relationships as a Pastor at some point the issue of listening and communication always comes up.
We see this in our reading from Psalm 81 don’t we.
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Here we see that the relationship between God and His people has become strained, they have stopped listening to Him.
So we know from our own experience and from the Bible that...
The key to healthy relationships is communication
1. Why we struggle to listen?
1. Why we struggle to listen?
Love & Obedience
I want to suggest 2 reasons why we struggle to listen and here is the first reason.
1. We struggle to listen because we don’t love the other person as we love ourselves.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Now you can’t love God and you can’t love your neighbour if you don’t spend time with them can you?
That’s why your life-groups are so important, so you can put this stuff into practice?
We need to practice being loving it’s not something we can do on our own and the truth is that we all think we are loving people but the truth is that we don’t really know what love is until we know Jesus.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
You can’t do what you’ve never experienced
That is why we have apprenticeships and work experience and training so you can experience things for yourself so you can then learn to do it yourself.
It’s exactly the same with Love. Until you’ve come to realise the sacrificial love of Jesus for you, until you’ve experienced the forgiveness, healing and peace that comes from dwelling in His love you have no way of being able to show it to others.
That is why we have life-groups and why it’s so important that you are in one. If you’re not please speak to me and we’ll get you into one.
This is why Jesus had to come and save us because we had stopped listening to God. It tells us this in Genesis 2:16-17
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Humanity didn’t listen and broke our relationship with God which led to death instead of eternal life.
Humanity forgot what love was and we and the world began getting worse and worse because of our human selfishness and greed… all because we didn’t listen to God.
Our reading from John 14 today starts like this.
“If you love me, keep my commands.
Notice the word that Jesus uses in both Mark 12 and here. Notice the same word used in Genesis 2.
These are the 2 greatest what? If we love Jesus we keep His What?suggestions? good advice? teachings? Nope they are commandments!
This is the second reason we struggle to listen.
2. We struggle to listen because Listening to Jesus and loving Jesus requires obedience.
Oswald Chambers wrote what is possibly the most well known and used daily devotional ever and this is from his February 12th entry which he titled ‘Must I listen?’.
Why are we so terrified lest God should speak to us? Because we know that if God does speak, either the thing must be done or we must tell God we will not obey Him. If it is only the servant’s voice we hear, we feel it is not imperative, we can say, ‘Well, that is simply your own idea, though I don’t deny it is probably God’s truth.’ (Oswald Chambers. My utmost for his highest. Feb 12th)
2. The Father heart of God.
2. The Father heart of God.
The motivation of sacrificial love.
Today is mothers day and I want to ask all the mothers a question.
Do or did your children always listen naturally or do you have to teach them to listen?
And what is or was your motivation? Do you teach your children to listen and obey because you like bossing people around? Is it because you want to exert your power over them?
Or is perhaps because you love them and want to help them?
to lead them out of trouble and danger?
or maybe to encourage them to be the best they can be?
Now, there are Parent’s who use their power and authority manipulatively or excessively for their own benefits or to fulfil their own needs. This can be because of mental illness or bad examples in their own lives or simply because they can.
If you have experienced this negative and selfish kind of parenting Jesus wants you to know that this is not what he wanted for you, and more than that He wants to walk with you and help you to find healing and peace.
If this is you, please do talk to me or someone you trust in your life-group so we can pray for you and support you.
One of the most amazing things about being a christian is that we are reconciled with our true Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross! In His perfect love their is healing and we as your brothers and sisters want to support you to learn and experience the Father heart of God for yourself.
Being a parent, being a mother entails sacrifice not selfishness, we sacrifice time, sleep, our bodies, sometimes our careers and the list could go on.
This is the picture we see of God’s Father heart time and time again in the Bible but so clearly seen in John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
What does this passage tell us?
The Father was motivated by sacrificial love when he gave us Jesus
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus was motivated by sacrificial love when He went to the cross
Now all parent’s get it wrong from time to time, being a mother is the most challenging and rewarding job in the world and we thank you for doing it and understand it’s not easy.
But lets be honest… kids can be annoying and don’t always listen because they are sinful just like the rest of us and also because they are learning.
Equally we can be tired or trying to do 6 things at the same time and then we hear ‘mummy, it was an accident, I was playing with the ball and it broke the ....’
Now I don’t know about you... but at this point the list of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control do not always come springing to mind do they?
Every parent except God gets it wrong sometimes and acts selfishly or re-actively instead of sacrificially, but that doesn’t change the fact that the motivation for doing it right is because we love them and desire the best for them.
What we are describing here is the Father heart of God which He calls all parents to reflect to His children.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
When our motivation is sacrificial love, we teach our children to listen:
Because we see and know things they don’t. (steer from danger or problems)
So they can learn. (teaching and discipleship)
To be respectful and caring towards others. (obedience and character)
This is one example of how you can show Jesus that you love Him. One example of putting Jesus’ commands into practice but there are many other ways you can do this as-well which you can explore in your life-groups. Did I mention you need to be in a life-group?
Returning to our Father
Returning to our Father
Prayer as we know it now, is only possible because Jesus has repaired our relationship with God through His sacrifice on the cross.
The cross reveals the Father heart of God, it cries out throughout eternity ‘return and listen to me my lost children!’
That is God’s motivation the motivation of a loving Father, you can trust God, he’s proved it.
The BBC describes the history of mothering Sunday like this
Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their 'mother' church - the main church or cathedral of the area.
Inevitably the return to the 'mother' church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home.
(www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/motheringsunday_1.shtml accessed 10/03/2018)
It is appropriate therefore that God is today inviting you to return to Him, maybe for the first time. In a moment i’m going to ask us to respond to God by standing up and coming forward for prayer.
I’m first going to describe a few different reasons so no-one will know which reason you want to receive prayer except the person praying for you and then only if you want to tell them.
Please know that this is a safe place and that you are loved and surrounded by God’s love.
If today as I’ve been speaking you have felt your Father Calling you home for the first time.
Maybe you have or have had a difficult relationship with your parents and you feel the Holy Spirit calling you to begin receiving His healing.
Perhaps you have simply been ignoring Jesus for a while because of busyness or because you have a difficult decision to make or for any other reason.
If any of those reasons or for any other reason you have felt God calling you this morning then please stand up and come forward and I or someone will come and pray for you.