Although I am not as easily offended as I was in my past; one thing that remains egregious to me is when someone intentionally cuts me off mid-sentence, mid-thought or someone rudely talks over me. My takeaway when this happens is that my opinion is not valued, nor am I. This cuts deepest when in done publicly by upper management or ministry “leaders”. And knowing this pain all too well, I’ll either refrain from speaking or say what I need to say quickly.
Recently, I noticed that I have picked up the habit of doing the same to others. When in conversation and something is said that triggers another thought or opinion, I immediately react - unintentionally cutting them off. Since I have been on the other end of this ‘ugliness’ for most of my life, I refuse to continue this reactive behavior. I know firsthand that such a flagrant disregard of what is being said makes the speaker feel less than. I had to learn to stop and listen before speaking. Yes, we are speaking spirits, but there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent (Eccl 3:7). Ironically, keeping silent is the first step to learning to listen which requires the use of our ears- the very organ design for hearing.
By definition, hearing is the process and function of perceiving sound- an event which can happen unintentionally. And, it is also defined as listening and paying attention to. Listening is a “conscious action”, intentional.
I am reminded that the Word lists at least ten times “he that has an ear, let him hear…”. The Lord has cautioned us to listen- to hear intentionally- to pay attention.
It is in my working on listening to others that my ears are piqued to hear what the Lord is saying to me. In chapters 2 and 3 in the book of Revelation, the Lord beseeches me to pay attention to the following seven points of contention:
1. Last fall the admonition to the church of Ephesus just kept ringing in my head “you have abandoned your first love” - loving God and loving your neighbors. While there is no doubt that I love God, I was not able to really find a place in which I felt I was able to worship Him in spirit and truth. Now there was nothing wrong with the Churches and Fellowships I visited, but something was missing. Eventually the words, the reminder, pulled me back to the ministries of my heart in which I served when I lived in the Atlanta area. Until I was out of state for 4 years, I did not realize how much I had stepped away from my first loves. Not only did I miss being poured into by the ministry in the house of Cathedral International; I missed and needed to be able to pour into others-to be an extension of God’s loving outstretched arms. (Rev. 2: 4-7)
2. The Church of Smyrna was advised to remain faithful even through trials and tribulations. While this year has presented health challenges, economic challenges and spiritual warfare on all sides, even prior to 2020, I have had to press through trials and tribulations. In listening, I can hear His voice encouraging me to press forward, to remain faithful on the path He has for me, to stay with it through injuries, tests and trials. Don’t give up, don’t quit! And even more so, to be a faithful believer- faithful to believe and follow Him through trials, tests, persecution and unto death. (Rev. 2:10)
3. The church of Pergamum was warned against false teachers and false teachings. I am repulsed that we have to be warned against such and that it is running so rampant in the church. We know the enemy’s time is short and he has kicked his efforts to deceive and distract up a couple of notches. With this in mind, I do not intend to let my knowledge of God and understanding of His Word be spoon fed to me by anyone. I try to be like the Bereans mentioned in Acts 17 by rolling up my sleeves and searching the scriptures for myself. Now I am not advocating complete self-education and certainly not leaning on my own understanding; but, I need to confirm what I have heard or read with in depth personal study and by revelation from the Holy Spirit. It helps to know that He will also point me to those whom He has appointed to walk alongside me and provide guidance. I stay away from religion – man’s rules, regulations. For me it’s relationship over religion. (Rev. 2:14, 15)
4. Later in the second chapter the church of Thyatira was warned against idolatry, adultery and sexual immorality. No profession of sainthood here; however, I’m feeling pretty confident about the adultery and sexual immorality. Idolatry, though not practiced intentionally, is one area in which I continually check myself. I have to make sure I am not making things like work, relationships, service in ministry, money, food, etc. a god in my life; nor placing either of these before the only True God. (Rev. 2:20-27)
5. Now the church of Sardis’ exhortation to come alive, wake up and complete the assigned work is apropos for the current state of my world. With themes of Social injustice, Systemic racism, Coronavirus Pandemic, the resulting economic crises for most people and the Fear epidemic; more than ever, I had to wake up and stay woke! Admittedly, my apathy was getting quite tiresome. A part of me had been looking to get involved, to become part of the solution instead of watching or denying the problem. Yes, there are an overwhelming number of vehicles out there -many of which are not really working towards a solution, but tend to escalate the problems. I find I have to be discerning. At least daily I pray that the Holy Spirit provides clarity on the work assigned for my life. One easy and an effective course of action is voting. But I can’t stop with voting. I am moved to action- to taking advantage of the opportunity to set up organizations formed specifically to help my neighbors with homelessness, food, education, business, counseling and spiritual growth. I’ve come alive. Now to stay woke! (Rev. 3: 2,3)
6. I’m standing on the promise to the church of Philadelphia for keeping His command to patiently endure, to wait. I, too, more than anything, want to hear a “well done” and/ or receive kudos from the Lord. For their endurance, they received the blessed assurance of His protection from the trials that are sure to plague the rest of the world. What a security plan! (Rev. 3:10)
7. And finally, the reprimand to the Church in Laodicea for being neither cold nor hot, straddling the fence if you will. This is probably why being apathetic about life was so unnerving to me. I understood being lukewarm would land chastisement from the Lord. And who wants that? I want to be for Him and not against Him; just as He is for me and not against me. There are times I let the influence of the world affect my stance. To say I’m unashamed of the Lord is easy, to show it… well there’s the challenge. I labor to make sure not to give the disgusting perception of being lukewarm or double minded in my life’s decisions and certainly with regard to ministry. Affirming daily that I am decisive and faithful! (Rev. 3:15; James 1:8)
These seven points order my steps, day by day, minute by minute.
The Word of My Testimony
Ecclesiastes 3:7 - A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Mark 4:9 - And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 4:21-25 - Then Jesus asked them, "Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed to shut out the light? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine."Everything that is now hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light.  Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!  Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given —and you will receive even more. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them.
Revelation 2:4-7 - Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 2:10 - Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Revelation 2:14-15 - But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Acts 17:10-11 - And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Revelation 2:20-27 - Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.  Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.  But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.  And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Revelation 3:2-3 - Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Revelation 3:10 - Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Revelation 3:15 - I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
James 1:8 - A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.