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Sunday, May 14, 2017, 5:14 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1:19-27 (ESV).

Quick to Hear (vv. 19-21)

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Are we good listeners? I admit that I don’t always listen as well as I should. I do have some partial hearing loss in one ear, so sometimes that comes into play, but occasionally, especially if I am tired, I find myself fading out in the middle of a conversation, and so I have to work at focusing on what the speaker is saying. I think that being a good listener takes effort, concentration, motivation, and it requires selflessness, to where we forget ourselves and intently we listen to what others are saying. And, we not only listen, but we work at remembering what they said, too, in a good way.

Being a good listener means we don’t interrupt the other person, either, and we don’t listen to only a few words and then decide what the other person is saying, thus we stop listening, and we then draw our own conclusions without even hearing the person out. Many misunderstandings happen this way when we are not quick to hear and slow to speak. Also, if we barely listen because we are only thinking about what we want to say, and so we hope the other person hurries up so we can talk, this is bad, too, and it often leads to miscommunications and the wounding of others’ hearts.

And, another problem we might encounter if we don’t listen well is we then draw our own conclusions, we walk away in anger, and then later, when that anger is still present, we interpret wrongly what others are saying based upon the anger still present in our hearts. To be a good listener means we need to really listen to what others are saying, and we need to repeat back to them what we believe they are saying, especially if we believe they are saying something harsh or unkind, because we could just be hearing them wrong. And, it gives the others the opportunity to apologize, too, if they are truly intending to say something hurtful. Relationships break down when we fail to communicate, and when we fail to listen well, and when we draw our own conclusions and allow bitter spirits to build up inside us.

Hearers and Doers (vv. 22-25)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Not only do we need to listen well to what others are saying, but most importantly it is essential that we listen well to God, and this means we first of all must have receptive ears to hear what he wants to say to us. We can’t receive what he has for us if our minds and hearts are thinking only about what we want to do, or if we are walking in disobedience to him. We ought to be in his Word each day, and consistent in prayer, and it is necessary that we ask the Spirit of God to speak to our hearts, but then we have to pay attention to what the Spirit is saying. But, then we must remember what the Spirit says, and it is required then that we act upon what we have heard.

Our times with the Lord each day in his Word and in prayer should not be routine, ritual, short, or insincere. We also should not compartmentalize our lives to where God gets a small part while we get the rest. He is supposed to get all of it, for he is to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives. This means we don’t just give God a few minutes each day while the rest of the time we live to entertain or to please ourselves, when we are not otherwise engaged with work or the necessities of life. Our Lord must be the king of our hearts, and we must live every day in submission to him, seeking his will, and following his lead. So, when he speaks to our hearts, we don’t walk away and forget what he said to us, but we retain it, and we DO what the word says.

Bridled Tongues (vv. 26-27)

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The tongue can be used for good, to bring healing, comfort, encouragement, hope, truth, instruction, exhortation, teaching, and godly counsel, etc., or it can be used to tell lies, gossip, destroy, ruin lives, kill hearts, and injure others. So, we need to get our tongues under Holy Spirit control. If we proclaim faith in Jesus Christ, but consistently, by our words, our lives speak just the opposite, then we lose our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and our religion is worthless.

Words can be cheap, in other words. If we say we love God, then by our actions our lives should reveal that we truly do love God and that we also love our fellow humans. True faith, which is God-given, results in obedience to Christ and selfless acts of love and service to humankind.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.