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Singing Psalm 5 to listen and be heard

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” ~ Romans 15:13

To listen is more than simply hearing. To be heard is more than airing opinions.

To listen, implies affectionate action. To be heard is to provide a true picture in words of what is happening inside you.

Singing Psalm 5 to listen and be heard might not turn out at first to be what you expect or hope

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’  And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ … Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking…’” ~ Mark 10:35-38

Jesus listened. James and John were heard. Now it was their turn to listen.

When you want to listen and be heard, you can learn from Jesus’ encounter with James and John to be aware of what is going on inside of you and guard against self-serving motives. 

Over two thousand years ago, life seemed to revolve around comparing and competing. How can you get ahead of the next guy on your own merit or contrivance? Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

You measure yourself against another and are found wanting. You come up short and find yourself wanting what he has. You want what she is wearing or driving or to look as good in it. Never mind how the game is played, as long as you win.

Self-worship. Ouch. “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” In these cases, keep yourself from yourself. If you won’t listen and be heard but rather, not wanting to listen and only wanting to be heard, you put up walls and do damage to relationships. 

It happened with James and John. It happened with Joseph’s brothers who couldn’t stand him because he was the favored son. Self-worship and relational damage happens wherever there are opposing, strong opinions where one or more persons are unwilling to listen and be heard.

If you are not in the practice of inviting the Lord to hear the whispered things you say, you might find that when it’s quiet and you are alone in the midst of some creative or reparative process, the perception of your abilities sometimes becomes clogged.

A kind of  paralysis creeps into your mind, threatening, causing you to question every action as if you must justify your existence each moment with proof that you are earning your keep. It is sometimes hard to breathe when you fear you might not have done enough to justify the air that you are consuming. 

If you are in the practice of inviting the Lord to hear the whispered things you say, you see all that you are given as a gift coming from the Lord your God, from that invisible world of faith. The ways that you are able to give are a reflection of the Giver in whose image you were made.

Without his protection, you are subject to attack on your perception of what you can and cannot do that begins within and exponentially worsens when other people are added to the mix.

When you perceive a continual barrage of attacks within, no stable structure is established in life. You literally are flying by the seat of your pants. That might sound fun in the movies, but it is no barrel of laughs in real life. Worst of all, you have no structure to pass on to your little loved ones who depend on you to help them find a way to make sense of life.

It’s the triune God alone who can give you ears to hear your own thoughts and the silent cries of your family or friends of their unspoken, unmet physical or spiritual needs. Only he can help you to not plug up your ears and withdraw but rather to listen and be heard and to make room for those you are with to listen and be heard. It is only through the Lord your God and by his light of grace that others can be a part of your life in a glorious way where relationships flourish.

When a person is so worried about whether or not they will measure up, the thought of tackling a task that needs to be broken down into smaller steps might seem insurmountable and completely overwhelming.

To listen and be heard is not an option, and it might not even occur to them that they could enjoy sharing the steps of, say, making a meal with a child. They might be stuck thinking they have to pull off some incredible culinary delight, pressured from within as they cook frantically, burdened by it all.

Add to this identity crisis the need to figure out what to wear, what to eat, what to plan. Is it any wonder why people who feel this way turn to drugs that, whether or not they deliver, offer some temporary hope of just being able to function, to survive?

Singing Psalm 5 you acknowledge the great triune God who enables you to function beyond survival — to care and listen for real needs. He opens hearts so that you will be heard when you speak up about how you put your hope in Jesus and rely on him to make known to you the answers for redeeming whatever is plaguing you and your family.

Singing Psalm 5 can help you begin to let go of the mad idea that you can earn God’s favor on your own merit, you stop looking at yourself and others based on comparisons and merit. We humans are all level at the foot of the cross of Jesus. As hard as it is to come to grips with, we don’t merit anything that lasts.

Jesus merited your access to the tree of life that lasts even through death by being cursed on the tree of judgment to bear your guilt and cover you with himself so you can now live for him better than when you lived for yourself. What you need is unmerited favor. What a wonder that God is willing for you to rely on his grace and not on your merit nor on anyone else’s. 

As with Jacob, the Lord your God has been with you wherever you have gone and answers you in your distress. He is worthy of your freely offering yourself to him in all things, placing yourself at his disposal because he saved you, saves you, and continues to save you from yourself.

This honest assessment is a death blow to your pride and to the deception that you can be a “self-made man” who can keep from falling off the rickety pedestal that you constructed for yourself. You didn’t, don’t, and never will make yourself. “Without our aid He did us make.” You are not your own. You are his.

Our tendency to compare is what makes it so easy to get drawn aside to worship what is other than God. An angel had to tell even the apostle, John, not to worship him but God. Granted, God is so far above humans that to any human, an angel would seem god-like in comparison. 

How important it is to praise God for making impressive people, not to mention, angels, without worshiping them. Singing Psalm 5 moves you to echo this angel:

“Worship God!”

When nothing and no one else matters more than the Lord, you can listen and be heard. When you are consumed with him, you thank him for all that seems good. For what seems bad, you thank him for the good he will bring from it.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” ~ Daniel 3:16-18

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” ~ 1 Peter 4:19

When the Holy Spirit intervenes it can seem as if you are beside yourself, taking yourself in hand to make the switch in your thinking. Like Jacob, you are progressively becoming unrecognizable to yourself. Embracing the gift of repentance is good news.

How much different would life look if you took an honest assessment of the gifts God gave you and used them, even displaying them as you interview for opportunities, humble and thankful that you can use what he gave you to do some good? This is a breath of fresh air as opposed to presenting yourself as better than you are, thinking that you have to show that you are better than the next guy in order to have a “fighting chance.”

What if when your life doesn’t look the way you would like it to, when things don’t go the way you think they should, rather than look around and find someone to blame, or walk around set in despair disheartened and depressed, you reserve judgment, take a deep breath, wait on the Lord observing what he is doing, what he is teaching you? Though everyone and everything else seems to be against you, he is with you.

What if you look for the ways that he is helping you, the means of grace he provides, a way out of the trouble you are in? Looking back, you marvel at how he saved you through it, how he brought good from what you could only see as an awful thing. Like Peter, you sometimes have no words in the midst of the trouble.  All you can do is break down and weep bitterly.

But there is peace knowing you are in the hands of the good shepherd, that you are one of the sheep of his pasture. He cares well for each of his sheep. He is both kind and infinite, committed and truly able to help each one of his people to listen and be heard. He also works in each of his finite people a kind heart and willingness to help one or a few within each family, church, and friendship circle to listen and be heard as he directs.

All the pressure is off when you no longer see yourself as a little king who is ill-equipped to manage a self-imposed kingdom. How much better to wait for Jesus to lift you up to share in his glory and to reign with him in his kingdom, humbled to be doing this in the presence of his enemies, those who would not listen and be heard and accept neither his grace nor his kingship (Psalm 23, 110). Yet you who trust him will rule with him just as he promised.

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:2-3

Singing Psalm 5 to listen and be heard, you first make room in your heart for his voice

Pause. Selah. Who is wise enough to call the shots before every decision you make?

If you, wanting to listen and be heard, don’t stop, think, and establish that the answer to this question is the triune God alone, you will resent his direction as King over you. You will seek to be king of your own little kingdom. There’s no telling the sorts of advisors in whom you will entrust yourself to then.

Singing Psalm 5 alerts you to the reality that you are surrounded by those who misspeak without malice aforethought, and there are those whose throats are like open graves as they speak with honey on their tongues.

When one communicates that she is shocked that someone would do a certain thing that she thinks she would never do, what she is in essence saying is that there is no grace available for that person. She is deceived into thinking that she is not a sinner as that person is, and therefore is not in need of grace.

When you listen to someone give specifics on how to be physically healthy, and mixed in with all the good advice is a point of motivation for practicing these healthy habits so that you would attract a different spouse, not the one you now have, but an otherwise unattainable and somehow perfect spouse.

An “evangelist” tells you to name it and claim it. If you’re not receiving all the material goods that you would like, you are just not believing enough. You are just not sending enough money.

Yet God’s word directs you to listen and be heard as you guard your heart and mind against gossip, vanity, comparing yourselves with yourselves, covetousness, greed, self-righteousness, deceit, pride, pleasure-seeking, divorce, and adultery. These are just some of the evils that are mixed in with good advice you come across as you seek to listen and be heard.

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.” ~ John 8:37

Jesus said that their not making room for his word within them is the reason they sought to kill him.

Would you liken making no place for his word within you with seeking to kill Jesus? 

Jesus does.

Wow. Just think: when his word is not what drives me to listen and be heard, in my mind I am killing Jesus, the author of life, and attempting to bring to life within me whatever is driving me — my own opinions or something or someone else – to death.

What do you make time for if not the words of Jesus, the Word of God? What gets a room devoted to it in the home of your heart instead?

“I hold back my feet from every evil way,        in order to keep your word.” ~ Psalm 119:101

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” ~ Hebrews 5:14

“He has told you, O man, what is good;    and what does the Lord require of youbut to do justice, and to love kindness,    and to walk humbly with your God?” ~ Micah 6:8

You marvel that the Lord Jesus is the righteous one who gives you covering. And when you hide yourself in him, every aspect of who he made you to be shines.

Singing Psalm 5 to listen and be heard, you must make discriminating distinctions

When you, who want to listen and be heard, really listen well to one sound, note, speech, or song, the prerequisite is that you tune out all other sources of sounds.

“And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” ~ Luke.9:35-36

If God, the Father, made such a clear distinction, choosing Jesus over even Moses and Elijah, how much more ought you make a clear-cut distinction to choose to listen to Jesus over listening to anyone else?

Though some of what people say and do might be good, if you aren’t careful, there are those who would steer you to rely on them over Jesus.

There are those who would make their way into your needing them for financial gain (theirs and/or yours), and if you allow it, for your very existence: how you eat, dress, move, speak, listen and be heard, and how to order your emotions and relationships. 

Once you let certain influencers into your head, they speak as if they created you, know you inside and out, and that without them, you have no hope. Mixed within the good things they have to offer are pride and lies. 

There are those who say they want to listen and be heard. It’s good to listen even if not heard. It’s best to listen and be heard.

They might not have anything bad to say about Jesus. The problem is when they don’t have much of anything to say about Jesus and make no effort to listen and be heard but only want their opinions to be heard. If one is to be put to the side, they would have that one to be Jesus. Rather than central to all you are and do, there are those who place Jesus on the periphery as irrelevant to the matters at hand.

Your counterpoint? Know that the good they have to offer is a means of grace for you given to them by the triune God. He will help you listen and be heard to sift the pure good from what they present to you even if it’s laced in hubris and deceit.

You carefully remember Jesus — his words and ways — to glean the truth out of mixed messages. When you are overlooked and rejected because you don’t go along with what is not true, you get to cling to Jesus in your mind. May you look back and say, “Jesus was found alone.” He was, is, and will be with you. He will never leave you.

The triune God wants you to listen and be heard, to hear his voice and to be open and real with him. Do not hide from him but rather disclose to him the ways you have gone awry and ask him to hear your cries for help.

You give due honor to each person of the triune God. He is your creator, king, redeemer, protector, lord, savior, comforter, confidante, and counselor.

Singing Psalm 5, you ask God, the Father, to listen to the meditation of your heart, to your thoughts, to your words. You consult with the King. He is privy to your silent deliberations as your sole confidante.

Jesus, God the Son, is your good shepherd, the King, protecting and guiding you, a sheep who is prone to going astray. He intercedes for you in prayer and negotiates for your good.

The Holy Spirit is both your counselor and your comforter, the King, protecting you from trying to be your own king and from listening to duplicitous advisors that spring up from the kingdom you would attempt to establish.

When you read of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you are privy to a human trinity that the Lord uses as a type to point to the work of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in the lives of his people then and now. If you pay close attention to the relationship of this human trinity with the Triune God, you will have insight into how to listen and be heard in a myriad of ways.

Tuning out the static and chaff, you listen to Jesus, the King, and set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when he returns to reign and before whom every knee will bow. 

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 1:13

Meanwhile, the Lord your God will be with you to help you to listen and be heard, to guard your heart — the wellspring of life. He enables you to give due honor to him, show honor to those who honor him, and to be gentle and respectful toward those who oppose the gospel of grace.

When the Lord your God hears the whispered things you say as you invite him to do so, he does not destroy you but has compassion on you helping you to progressively master how to listen and be heard.

You have compassion as Jesus does on those who oppose his grace realizing they are harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.

Before you understood his grace, you opposed it too. And were it not for his grace, you would oppose it now.

Praise him that he is with you to redeem the ways you navigate through the mazes of whatever it is you do: how you eat, dress, speak, move, listen and be heard, and how you order your emotions and relationships whether at home, church, work, school, online, as you travel about, or in your neighborhood.

You ask the Lord your God to lead you in the moment, in every moment. Learn to listen and be heard to discern what is for you and what is not for you. When you determine that something is for you to do, you seek the Lord‘s help to do it well. When it is clear that something is not for you, you seek the Lord’s help to let go of it in the very best of ways.

“Listen to my words, O, LORD;Know the whispered things I say.Heed my crying out for help —God, my King, to You I pray.

“Hear me in the morning, LORD,When I lift my voice on high,Setting forth my plea to You,Looking out with watchful eye…

“Evil cannot dwell with You,Nor the proud stand in Your sight.You hate all who practice sin.You destroy the one who lies;…

“In their mouth there is no truth;All their heart destruction seeks,Like an open grave their throat,While their tongue with honey speaks…

“Yet let all who trust in YouSing for joy through all their days.Guard all those who love Your name;Let them give You joyful praise…

“With Your favor, like a shield,You will give him covering.” ~ Psalm 5:1-12

January 13-20, 2023


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