December 11th, 2010 by Bryan Anthony

“…. let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak….” -Jacob 1.19

“…. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God….” -1 Pet. 4.11a

We are far too verbose of a people, and this is one of the characteristic signs that we have not been living as priests in the household of God. When we are quick to speak and always wanting to be heard by men there is little or no room for hearing the voice of God, and this affects the manner in which we hear men as well. Hearing is a great pastoral quality, but in our blabbing generation where everyone feels entitled to opinions and sees it as their self-serving right to make themselves known, we are suffering from a real famine of true hearing.

Hear Watchman Nee:

No worker of the Lord can do a good job if he can only speak to others but cannot listen to them. A worker is of little use to God if he can only speak to others, if he can only blast incessantly at others like a firecracker. No worker of the Lord can be an incessant talker. If he can only speak to others, but cannot listen to them and realize their problems through conversation, his usefulness is very limited.

….. This is a serious problem among many people; they simply cannot listen to others. They cannot discern what others have kept within themselves because they are too insensitive. It is impossible to expect such ones to “give…. food at the proper time” (Matt. 24.45).

…. If we cannot understand the audible words from men, how can we understand the words that God speaks to us in our spirit?

(Watchman Nee, The Character of the Lord’s Worker; Living Stream Ministry, pp. 2-5)

It is unfortunately the case that many saints simply talk too much. We need to remove our souls from the busy and boisterous tenor of this age, and to crucify our thoughts and our tongues. We need to clear the way for the voice of the Lord, that we might stand as priests in His house, sounding forth notes that ascend as worship unto Him, and witness unto men. Our innermost parts need to be stilled and our excessive speech truncated, that we might hear His voice, and thus rightly listen to those who are so in need of true bread from heaven.

We cannot speak from heaven unless we have circumcised our hearts and learned to listen to the Lord, and if we are hyper and opinionated rather than speaking with the life and authority of God, it has everything to do with the fact that we have yet to come into a life of authentic surrender and circumspection before Him. This soul sickness will inevitably manifest itself through an inability to listen to others, for if we cannot honor and hear those whom we can see, how can we live as priests before the invisible God?

The measure of holy power in our speaking is intricately linked to the quality of our hearing.

Our opinions may be correct, but they cannot produce life in men. For that holy dynamic to take place, we have got to be priests before God, standing single-eyed in the holy place, with hearts unmoved by the winds of this age. We have got to see Him high and lifted up, recognizing the uncleanness of our own lips- even our correct religious jargon- that He might purge our hearts, tame our tongues, and make us into servants who are fit to preach and bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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February 2nd, 2010 by Daniel Kolenda

Jacob had a get-rich-quick strategy. He made a deal with Laban, his father-in-law that rather than being paid in cash for his shepherding services he would receive as payment all of the imperfect members of the flock; all the striped, speckled and spotted cattle, sheep and goats. Laban preferred the beautiful ones anyways. He was glad to be rid of the imperfect members of the flock and agreed to Jacob’s pathetic idea of remuneration. But soon Jacob’s motley flock had exceeded Laban’s and the lowly farmhand had grown more rich and powerful than his master.

I visited a church not long ago where the pastor was very proud of the fact that his congregation was made up of some of the wealthiest, most successful and most famous people in town. Everything from the building itself to the demeanor of the staff to the kind of people that were positioned on the platform, shouted that this was a church for the good-looking, the rich and the powerful. Anyone who did not fit into that category might not feel very comfortable there, but for those that were members it was more than a church, it was a sort of elite club for classy Christians. It reminded me of Laban’s perfect flock.

Rich people need Jesus too and I’m glad that they found a place of worship where they could feel comfortable, but somehow I think that if Jesus were pastoring in that city, his church would probably look a lot different. Jesus was known as a “friend of publicans and sinners. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18). And again, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt 9:12). And again, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). “The Son of man” He said of Himself, “is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

If Jesus pastored a church I think that it would be “on the wrong side of the tracks”. It would be filled with hookers, drug addicts and bums. It would be a church where the unlovely would feel welcomed and accepted. It would be a church for the striped the speckled and spotted members of society.

In fact, Jesus identifies with the needy to such an extent that he takes our actions towards them personally saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Mat 25) One of the two elements of “pure religion” according to James is to, “…visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need.” (James 1:27 AMP) The ones that, “…turn many to righteousness [shall give forth light] like the stars forever and ever.”

If any evangelist, pastor or church will follow the example of Jesus and Jacob they will soon make an amazing discovery. A church that is after the lost, the unlovely, the poor, the outcasts and the sinners will soon surpass in every way, the wealth of its country-club counterparts. An evangelist that is willing to leave the well-traveled circuit of itinerate preachers and venture into the dark, dangerous and remote areas of the world will discover rich and abundant harvests where no one would have ever expected to find them.

I am convinced that at the end of the day, the greatest reward will be for the ones who have gotten down in the dirt with Jesus and served “the least of these”. The greatest honor will belong to those who have preached the Gospel to the poor and the first prize will go to the ones who have invested in the striped, the speckled and the spotted.

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