“Listen, my people, to my teaching; tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth” (ceb).
So many things clamor for our attention that it can be hard to know what’s most important. Between social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle, we’re conditioned to believe that we must stay on top of things in order to be relevant and ready. This rush to know, however, can lead us to drown out the wisdom and perspective that time, stillness, and prayer can bring. Today’s psalm invites us to consider what we’re listening to. What gives us a sense of purpose and meaning? What shapes our decisions and choices? To whom do we give most of our attention and allegiance?
As much as I’d like to think I’m focused only on doing God’s will, I must admit that I’m sometimes tempted to seek the approval of others or hop on to the latest trend. Other times, I look to my work to shore up my sense of purpose and meaning. But if we only hear what’s wrong or how to cut corners, we’ll probably be inclined to do the same. If we are constantly attuned to our society’s obvious and not-so-obvious messages about success, striving, achievement, and acquisition, we will be unable to hear the truth about ourselves and one another—that we are beloved. But if we hear of God’s faithfulness, we may find that we have an anchor amid life’s turbulence. Indeed, when we stop to be still in God’s presence, we can recognize that all that we need is not on TV or our smartphones but in the cross of Christ, calling us to a life of forgiveness, beauty, and grace.
Ever-present God, you are always among us, speaking to us in the most unexpected ways. Help us to have eyes to see and ears to hear your truth and hearts courageous enough to follow you. Amen.
For the second time this year, we read the story of the Israelites complaining in the desert about water, only to see God provide a miraculous spring. The psalmist reminds the people of the many powerful deeds performed by the Lord, including leading them through the sea out of Egypt and providing them water from the rock. Paul emphasizes to the Philippians the need for humility and unity. In quoting the earliest known Christian hymn, Paul encourages them with the example of Christ, who gives up all his rights for the sake of others. In back-to-back encounters with religious leaders, Jesus evades an attempt to trap him in his words and then teaches that true obedience is shown not by our speech but by our actions.
Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you tried to “do it all”? How can admitting your limitations help you lead?
Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Recall times when you have known God’s presence. How might remembering and retelling these stories shape your faith?
Read Philippians 2:1-13. How does your life speak of God’s love for you and for all humanity?
Read Matthew 21:23-32. How have you created your idea of Jesus in your own image? What would change if you found your identity in Jesus rather than creating Jesus’ identity from your own?
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