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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, July 27, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Acts 28:23–31

After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets. Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe. So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’ Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (NRSV)

The Apostle Luke’s message in this story in Acts makes the point that God will work with people who listen to what God is trying to do and say. The human challenge, though, is that sometimes we disagree. How do we know what is right? How do we know what is true?

Sometimes we listen but don’t understand. Other times we don’t even listen. We carry on, sure that we know the truth, but sometimes we get it wrong. Our own conviction is our undoing if it closes us to possibilities that are different from our expectations.

Paul, in citing the prophet Isaiah, assures us that this won’t stop God from working. God will continue to speak to the hearts of those who do listen and are open to understanding whatever challenging message God brings about God’s kingdom of justice and peace.

The resurrected Christ continues to teach us through the Holy Spirit. But to hear and understand, sometimes we need more humility. Sometimes we need to recognize that our views are limited, that we might have something wrong and that we need a new perspective.

Holy God, what am I missing? Help me to open my eyes to new perspectives, to truly listen to the testimony of those whose voices have been silenced. Help me to understand what I hear and to open my eyes, even to those things I don’t want to see. Help me to welcome all. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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