The First 15

Thursday December 16, 2021

by Jan Davis

Today is Thursday, December 16 and during this third week of Advent we explore what the Bible says about listening for God.

Opening Prayer

As I enter a time of prayer, I pause and become still. I breathe slowly and deeply, and focus myself on the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

Pause and Pray

Holy and loving God, I am here to listen for your voice speaking in my life. Reveal the message you have for me today through the power of your Holy Spirit. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading

I praise God for his attentiveness and loving concern for me. I cry out to the Lord with the words of Psalm 5.

Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:1-3rong>

Pause and Pray

In the gospel of Mark, after walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee and before feeding the crowd of four thousand, Jesus journeys through the territory known as the Decapolis. The Decapolis was a group of ten Gentile cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman empire. The local residents introduce him to a man who cannot hear or speak. This is an opportunity for Jesus to bring the miracle of healing to this man and fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah about the Messiah of God. Through the power of the Messiah the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped (Isaiah 35:5-6). A God who listens and speaks to humanity, gives the gift of hearing and speech.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Mark 7:31-35

Reflection

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be deaf. I do not want to minimize the depths of struggle for those over the centuries who have lived their life without sound. I am thankful for stories of physical healing and modern improvements in technology for those who cannot physically hear. Yet, today, I ponder this scripture from another perspective. What about those who are spiritually deaf? I recognize that sometimes I cannot hear the Lord. I am unable to listen to God’s voice, I need healing for my spiritual deafness. As I read this scripture, I imagine being the man who is deaf. The people around me are sorry that I cannot hear God’s voice, so they bring me to Jesus and beg him to place a hand on me. Jesus’ wounded hands touch the ears of my soul and he says to my deaf heart “be opened!” Whatever barrier that existed before, is now removed by Jesus and I am able to listen to the voice of God.

Ask: When have I struggled to hear God’s voice in my life? Do I need spiritual healing to open the ears of my heart?

Pause and Pray

Jesus, you are the great Physician and you are the healer of my soul. I do not understand why I am unable to hear God’s voice in my life. Remove the obstacles that exist which interfere with my communication with you. Come Holy Spirit, cure me of a deaf heart that is unable to hear the voice of God. Open my eyes that I might see and open my ears that I might hear. I read Mark again, listening for the message you have for me today.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Mark 7:31-35

Ask: What image, word or phrase stands out to me when I slowly read this passage? What is God trying to say to me through these words of scripture?

Pause and Pray

What emotions does this passage of scripture evoke for me? What words resonate the most? Words like deaf, hear, ears, listen, open or words like talk, tongue, loosened, speak? Does the Holy Spirit want to encourage me to listen more or speak more? Should I endeavor to spend more time in quiet reflection listening with the ears of my soul? Should I spend more time using my voice to speak to God? Or should I spend more time speaking words that heal others and lift them up? If my tongue is loosened will I speak the truth plainly to others? If my ears are opened what will I be able to hear what I am currently missing or of which I am unaware?

Pause and Pray

Lord Jesus Christ, open my ears that I may hear, open my eyes that I may see, open my lips that I might praise you, open my heart that I can love, open my hands that I might give. Heal my heart and my soul as only you can so that I can experience life more fully. Show me what I am missing, Lord, and awaken me because I do not want to miss a thing. Amen.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. Isaiah 50:4-5

Closing Prayer

As I leave this time of prayer and go throughout my day, I listen for the voice of God with the ears of my heart and I speak words of love and truth for others to hear. Amen.

The First 15

Sign up to receive an email notification whenever a new devotional is posted to The First 15.