Bless Week 2: Listen
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Who is the best listener you know?  My guess is they are someone you want to be around.  This week, Kent challenges us on the kind of listener we are and how this simple act can have incredible consequences in the lives of those we care about. Help us advance the Kingdom, support our online ministry (  Got kids?  Check out Harmony Kids online (updated weekly)! 
Sermon Notes Slide Key:

  • Sermons always start with “OPENING ILLUSTRATION:” and end with “CLOSING ILLUSTRATION:”
  • All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted
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  • Bold Red = Scriptures (please reflect formatting of scripture on slides, i.e.  – underlines, italics, etc.)
  • “b” or “B” on a line by itself = Slide break/New slide
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  • [some text] = programming notes to be paid attention to

—————————–OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Years ago when I was in youth ministry I walked up to this group of teenagers that were all talking at each other.  What I mean is this, every kid was having a conversation standing in this circle, but they were all having their own conversation.  This one was talking about video games, this one was talking about what he was going to do on the weekend, etc., etc.  I stood there watching it and laughing to myself.  I finally stopped them all and I said, “You are all talking to each other, but none of you are listening to each other…”  
They were all so busy wanting to take the conversation to what they wanted to talk about that none of them cared about what anyone else wanted to talk about.
We’ve all had those conversations, right?
-The person who goes on this long tirade about something, you go to chime in and they immediately cut you off to go on another tirade…-You sit down to share with your boss some concerns you have, they tell you thank you for your time and then continue down the exact same road as before-You ask your husband to help with the dishes and getting kids to bed and 30 minutes later find him sitting in a chair watching tv (not that I’ve ever done that)
Listen to this…A study of over 8,000 people employed in businesses, hospitals, universities, the military, and government agencies found that virtually all of the respondents believed that they communicate as effectively or more effectively than their co-workers.  However, research shows that the average person listens at only about 25% efficiency.  While most people agree that listening effectively is a very important skill, most people don’t feel a strong need to improve their own skill level.
ILLUSTRATION: It’s funny because I don’t know how many times I’ll get done preaching a sermon and have someone come up and say, “you know, that one thing you said about…”  That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, it really made a huge difference in my life!  Thanks…
They will walk away and I will think to myself – “I never said that, wasn’t even what my sermon was about…”
Why does this happen?  What is going on when it comes to listening?
What’s going on is that our inner worlds are consumed with one thing.[put a separate slide for the next line]Us.
There was a study that was done that the instant your brain stops engaging in a conversation or directed thinking that it goes back to processing your inner life and inner world.
It’s no wonder that Jesus said Matthew 16:24-2624 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Jesus understood that in order for us to embrace the life He offers, we had to let go of the life we thought we wanted.
The scripture calls this dying to self…
One of the things I’ve always been amazed by Jesus is how completely present He was when He was with people.
I dare you to read the Gospels and see if you can find one instance where Jesus seems rushed.-intentional, yes, but never rushed. Can I just give you some examples? Luke 8A synagogue ruler comes to Jesus.  His 12-year-old daughter is dying.  His little girl – the one he’s told bedtime stories to, danced with, held when she cried and watched as she has grown into a young woman.  And now, she is dying.  Can you imagine the pressure?  This is the equivalent of getting a surgeon out of bed to perform emergency heart surgery.  Jesus starts to make his way through the crowd to get to Jairus’ daughter when something crazy happens.  A woman is in the crowd, she has had constant bleeding for 12 years.  I’m not a woman and can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this would be in a modern context with the products that we have now, but in the ancient world, this would have been a terrible issue to have.  She would have been considered unclean because of this, likely had hygiene issues.  She has likely been discarded by everyone that cared about her. She has ventured out having heard the stories about Jesus.  She just happens to be close enough to have him walk by and as he does so, she reaches out to touch him.  She doesn’t do this because he’s famous and she just wants to touch him, she does this hoping to maybe, just maybe have him rub off on her and when she does something happens.  Power leaves Jesus’ body and flows through to her and her body is healed.  Get this, Jesus didn’t even know He was going to do it, from what we can tell.  She just has faith and exhibits it and the power flowed.  Up till now, everything is fine, makes sense.  Jesus, get’s called to an emergency, he goes, this woman reaches out and gets healed.  No harm no foul, Jesus can continue on his way without ever having to do anything more.
But that’s not what happens. Instead, Jesus feels the touch, he stops and asks a funny question in a crowd that’s pressing in on Him, “who touched me?”The disciples are like, “seriously?  everyone’s touching you” Jesus won’t stop till he finds the woman – so much so that what Luke says is when the woman sees she can’t go unnoticed, she finally comes forward.  
Do you see how out of sync this story is with the way we live our lives?
Jesus takes a stop from getting to the 12-year-old girl that is dying, and oh, by the way, dies while He’s doing this so that He can give His attention to a woman who has been sick for as long as the girl has been alive?  What’s one more day?  What’s wrong with healing her and going on?  why have to talk to her?
These are the words He says to this woman…Luke 8:48“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Jesus did not just come to heal her body, but to heal her heart as well.  He needed her to know she mattered.
He does this kind of thing ALL the time!-impressive adults all around Him, why not stop and pray over and bless children-meeting with lepers-eating and partying with tax collectors
Jesus seems to be unhurried by the tyranny of the urgentHe has one overarching theme – Love people.
TAKE THE TURN: We have started on this journey of Blessing our circle – our neighbors, friends, and family.  
We challenged you to pick a circle of 8We challenged you to Begin with praying for your circle daily
The next step in BLESSing our circle is to actively listen to those in our circle. To give ourselves away by thinking of ourselves less
What would happen if you made a concerted effort to stop letting the tyranny of the urgent drive your life and instead be fully present to every single person God puts in front of you?
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: I have known a few people in my life who have done this well.  They are people who show you with their face, their body language, their questions that what you say matters.  That YOU matter.  You know how to do this if you’ve ever wanted someone on a date to like you.  You were interested in them, cared about what they said, asked probing questions.  Let knowing them become more important than being known.
This is actually the secret to being an attractive person to other people.  People are attracted to those who are interested in them.  
It’s what we all love about Jesus.  He cares for me.
Listen, Sharing the good news with other people does not start with you talking, it starts with you listening.
When we were in Florida Shark fishing, I started talking with our guide.  I found out as we were talking that his father had died pretty recently.  At the end of our time together we were thanking him and telling him how good of a job he did.  I asked him if there was anything we could pray for him about as a family.  He got thoughtful and said, “my son is having a really hard time with the loss of my dad, and I am too…”  We talked for a few more minutes, but he has been on my mind ever since and I’ve been praying for him and for God to send more fishers of men his way.  
Here’s the deal.  I was paying to be on that boat.  I wanted to fish for sharks, not talk.  There was a temptation in me to be like, “I’m not on the clock this is my time…”  but that would betray a lie, my time is no longer my time, it’s all His time.  It’s all His money, it’s all His life.  I’m His servant now and my heart is his.  So, I listened.  What about you?  What if you practiced the spiritual discipline of listening this week?—————–