One of my Bible teachers noted that humanity’s attitude is this: “Lord, tell me once, maybe twice, and I'll take it from there.” It reminds me of a young child telling his or her parent, “I do it myself.” Positive thinking and our self-help culture tempt us to believe we can do it ourselves—we don’t need God. So while we’re repeating, “I think I can, I think I can,” we set God aside in disrepectful self-determination.
David demonstrates a positive attitude, yet not one based on smiley-faced bravado. A positive attitude results from respect for God. But positive thinking can enforce the idea that if we think the right thoughts or say the right words or visualize the right images, we will achieve our objective. We set goals, identify roadblocks, and work to eliminate these in order to get what we want. And, while we’re choo-chooing along, we pray, “Lord, bless my plans.”
David behaves quite differently. David’s attitude indicates that he puts God before himself. He acknowledges that his success depends on God’s guidance and intervention. When David keeps this focus, he avoids failure and experiences success. David not only proclaims God as his God but expresses his respect for God in his understanding of God as protector, deliverer, savior, and hope.
While positive thinking may carry us far, it is often insufficient and unreliable. Positive thinking that excludes God is not only disrespectful but idolatrous. Respect for God leads to contentment and security through trust in the Lord. Our day will look and feel different as we practice respect, which brings a bonus: the experience of God’s peace.
Father, may I learn to keep my attitude focused on you, not me. Amen.
Three of the texts for this Sunday deal with intercession; although they certainly will not make praying any easier, they may make it more hopeful. The readings from both Jeremiah and the psalm depict the anguish of one who identi es with the pain of God’s faithless people. Prophet and psalmist grieve with and for the people and join in the persistent and impatient plea for health and renewal. But God turns out not to be an impassive or distant deity but one bound up with the anguish of the prophet and the anguish of the people. Likewise, the psalmist discovers that the God who refuses to tolerate Israel’s faithlessness nevertheless cannot nally abandon the chosen community. First Timothy also challenges readers to offer prayers of intercession and speci es that they be made for those in positions of political leadership.
• Read Jeremiah 8:18–9:1. Jeremiah weeps for the self-will and disrespect of his people toward God. What do you see in the contemporary world that causes you to weep?
• Read Psalm 4. How do you, like David, acknowledge God’s guidance in your life?
• Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7. Paul reminds us to pray for everyone, no matter their relation to us. How can you be more inten- tional in praying for others?
• Read Luke 16:1-13. In what ways can you take more per- sonal responsibility in being a steward for the things God bestows to humanity?
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