When God called me to be a preacher, God used Psalm 40. I was still in high school, and when I read the beginning verses about God leaning down and lifting the psalmist out of the pit, I saw the story of my own recent conversion. So when I got to the verse that read how God “put a new song in my mouth” and that “[m]any will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (v. 3), I felt I was being called to tell the story of God’s gracious solicitude so that others could wake up to the truth of God’s love and grace.
Psalm 66 strikes a similar note. After recounting God’s gracious presence amid trials, the psalmist declares, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.” What has God done? God has listened and heard the psalmist’s prayer. This poet wants us to know: God listened, God heard.
So many things vie for our attention that we can’t give any one thing our full attention, it seems. Psychologists describe this phenomenon as continuous partial attention. Given all the distractions, it’s hard for us to focus for long on one thing; it’s even harder to find another human being who will listen to us wholeheartedly without sneaking furtive glances at their phone.
In such a culture, this psalm writer’s testimony resounds as good news: God listens! God hears! God is “all ears,” as we sometimes say. No expression of joy, no plaintive cry of grief, no protest for aid can be lost in the attention of a mindful God who listens and responds.
Mindful God, I thank you for your gracious attention to my life. Help me to speak with you as with a friend, knowing you are listening. Amen.
In Acts, Paul visits Athens and finds the people worshiping various deities. He attempts to show them the one true God not by open confrontation but by understanding where they are in their own thinking and then engaging in conversation. This model is confirmed in First Peter: We should always be prepared to give reasons for our faith, but this should be done with gentleness and respect, not confrontation. The psalmist promises to make offerings in the Temple to the Lord because God has brought the people through a period of testing. The psalm thus also ties into First Peter, where the believers are being tested. Jesus tells his disciples in John that God will send the Spirit to empower them to demonstrate their faith by keeping his commands.
Read Acts 17:22-31. When have you searched for God? How did God’s nearness surprise you?
Read Psalm 66:8-20. What tests have you endured? How have you known God’s presence through times of difficulty?
Read 1 Peter 3:13-22. How does your faith help you determine what is right? How does it give you courage when doing what is right brings you suffering?
Read John 14:15-21. When have you felt encompassed by the Trinity? When has your identity as part of this family felt fragile?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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