January 10 – January 16, 2017

WORD

1I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  2He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.  4Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.  5You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you.  Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.  6Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear.  Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.  7Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.  8I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”  9I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.  10I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.  11Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.

Psalm 40:1-11

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear.

How wonderful it would be if God had placed his very ear on the earth, standing tall and strong like the statue pictured above.  What a gift it would be if God then burrowed a hole within that holy ear in which we could whisper all of our needs, secrets, hopes, and fears.  Perhaps there could be such ears placed upon every corner, like the telephone booths of old, connected to the very throne room of heaven.  All of us could have such easy access to God with all of God’s attention, assured that our petitions reached the divine hearing.

The psalmist asserts that we can be assured of such things, even without giant ears of the deity springing up from the ground!  “He inclined to me and heard my cry… [and gave] me an open ear.”  God bends down to our level and shifts Godself to our direction for the sole purpose of hearing us and attending to us.  I love the realization of God’s attentiveness that is highlighted by Walter Brueggemann in his book Great Prayers of the Old Testament.  He notes that when the Israelite slaves called out in misery while toiling in Egypt, they did not cry out to anyone in particular.  Yet, God heard their general cries and responded to them with a specific answer to their needs.  We do not even have to direct our cries to God for God to direct his listening care toward us!

Perhaps you have felt as if God could never be concerned with you or that you are insignificant in the midst of a world of such serious troubles and a cosmos of such immeasurable expansiveness.  Perhaps you feel as if God has not heard your prayers.  The ear of God is pointed toward you even now.  What you say is transported into the throne room of heaven and is able to elicit divine action on earth.  God is ready to hear you and to respond.  Are you ready to speak?  Turn now to the one who is always turned toward you.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, January 10 – 2 Samuel 13
  • Wednesday, January 11 – 2 Samuel 14
  • Thursday, January 12 – 2 Samuel 15
  • Friday, January 13 – 2 Samuel 16
  • Saturday, January 14 – 2 Samuel 17
  • Sunday, January 15 – 2 Samuel 18
  • Monday, January 16 –  2 Samuel 19

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Then I said, “Here I am…”

In Scripture, one of the most powerful responses ever given to God is the response of “Here I am.”  Many faithful men and women through the ages have responded this way to God when God has called upon them to receive and follow his word.  Perhaps today is the day for you to utter a “Here I am” prayer.  God might be waiting for your readiness, your willingness, your sign of faithfulness.  God wants your attention in prayer and in action.  The most faithful prayer you might ever pray could be a prayer of these three simple words.  Will you try praying these words this week?  Will you simply say this and let God say the rest?  Who knows what God might start in your life through this prayer of openness and trust?

Meditation Focus: He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock.

Imagine yourself walking throughout your day.  You are at home, work, and out in the community.  Upon what ground are you walking?  Is it solid like a rock?  Is it shifting like a miry bog?  Have you fallen to a place that is underneath where you should be, trapped in a desolate pit out of which you cannot escape?  Find in your imaginings that place in which you feel most secure.  Now gaze underneath your feet.  What is it that keeps you secure?  What foundations and supports has God placed beneath you to keep you firmly standing in holy sturdiness?  Give names to all of those people and systems and practices that keep you on solid ground.  Pay close attention to them and prioritize them in your life and with your time.  Fill your life with that which gives you strength and support.

Journaling Focus: He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

What is your favorite hymn or praise song?  Songs can be powerful reminders of God’s faithfulness and majesty.  They can transport us to times in which we have connected meaningfully and powerfully to God.  Songs can transform a regular time or space into a setting for holy communion with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Whenever I hear It Is Well with My Soul, which was my Class Hymn in college, I am reminded of the life-changing work God accomplished within me in my four years at Asbury.  By singing my favorite hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth, my heart, soul, and mind are readied for an intimate moment with the Creator of all and the loving One who is “to the world so freely given.”  When I hear the opening notes of And Are We Yet Alive, I am reinvigorated and empowered to do the work of ministry and the kingdom, for I am transported to the yearly opening worship services of our South Georgia Annual Conference.  What hymns have shaped you?  What praise choruses usher you into the presence of God?  Why and how so?  Reflect in writing this week on those new songs of praise that God fills you with to form your mind, heart, and soul.  And then spend some time singing them or writing a new one inspired by God within you.

Breath Prayer: Father, open our ears to your voice.

 

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