Monday, October 31, 2016

lost

Opening Prayer: O Lord Jesus, great Shepherd of the sheep, thank you that you are constantly leaving the ninety-nine to find the one.  I am amazed at how often in my life I have been that one.  Whenever I am tempted to make myself a part of the ninety-nine, quickly remind me that apart from you I would be lost forever.  Thank you that you came and found me; and that you continually come and find me every day.  For without your love and your constant pursuit of me, I would have no hope.  Thank you for your grace and mercy and love.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 15:1-32

Journal: Where do you find yourself in these stories?  Why?  How in touch are you with your own sense of being lost?  How does that affect your life and your attitude?  How does that affect your sense of being loved?

Reflection: Apparently a recognition of our own lostness is a necessary precondition to our being able to fully understand the depths of God’s great love for us; and to be bearers and sharers of that love in the world.  Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and the scribes, who were constantly grumbling about the way he kept company with the lost and the fringe of society.  So he responds by telling a series of stories, each with a definite life of its own, but collectively meant to lead his audience down a bit of a funnel until they arrive at his desired destination.
     The stories begin with one hundred sheep, then proceed to ten coins, and then to two sons; finally sharpening the focus on one of them.  In the end, Jesus leaves us with one angry son, who completely misses out on experiencing the love of his father because he doesn’t recognize his own lostness.  For only those who realize that they are hopelessly lost can ever experience the joy and delight of finally being found.  We can never fully understand the depths of God’s great love and affection until we come to terms with the fact that we are totally and completely underserving of it.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~Thomas Merton

Saturday, October 29, 2016

good fruit

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to abide in you this day.  Help me to live in you, deeply connected to you in a way that brings about good fruit in my life.  For apart from you nothing good can grow in me.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 6:43-45

Journal:  What fruit, good and bad, do you see growing on the branches of your life?  What does that tell you about the state of your soul?  How will you make space for God to grow his good fruit in you?

Reflection: I must be spiritually bipolar or something.  While I do see the good fruit of God’s Spirit growing in my life, I also see things that are not so good growing on the very same branches.  How is that even possible?  How can love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow right alongside impatience, frustration, anxiety, insecurity, and fear?  It is an ever present tension in the life of faith; one that Jesus is obviously addressing in these very verses.  And the thing he is trying to get the Pharisees to see is that there is a disconnect between their hearts and their behavior, between their fruit and their roots. A tree’s fruit will always give you an idea about its roots.  It all has to do with staying connected to the Source of life.  If bad fruit is growing on our branches, it is because somewhere, deep down in our hearts and souls, we have disconnected from God and connected to some source other than God that cannot possibly produce the fruit in us that he desires.  The fruit is only a symptom of a much larger issue.
     The life of faith is all about connection.  It is about staying connected to God.  It is about cultivating a life that is growing from the True Source.  It is about eliminating the bad fruit by cutting it off at its roots and, instead, allowing God to grow his good fruit in us.  It is an ongoing process.  Eugene Peterson puts it this way: “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.”  Therefore, my fruit should tell me something significant about my roots.  If I have wormy apples, what does it tell me about my spiritual life and health?  And how do I connect (or abide) with the True Vine in order that only good fruit populates the space on my branches?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord God, source of life and truth, grow your good fruit in my heart and soul and life today.  Amen.

Friday, October 28, 2016

loved

Opening Prayer: Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.  Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts. (Psalm 36:5-10, NLT)

Scripture: Psalm 36:5-10

Journal: What is your experience of God’s love these days?  How would you describe it?  How is his love revealing itself to you?  How is it revealing itself through you?

Reflection:

                        Love (III)
                        by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
            Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
            From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
            If I lacked anything.

“A guest," I answered, “worthy to be here”:           
            Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
            I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
            “Who made the eyes but I?"

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
            Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not," says Love, “who bore the blame?”
            “My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down," says Love, “and taste my meat.”
            So I did sit and eat.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
     How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, to eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. (The Message)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

poiēma

Opening Prayer: Help us, Lord Jesus, to see ourselves as you see us, so that we might know ourselves as the works of art—the divine expressions of your character and your being—that we really are.  For when we can see ourselves rightly, through your eyes, then we can glorify you fully.  Amen.

Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-10

Journal: How do you think God feels about you?  What makes you say that?  What does it mean to you that you are his workmanship?  How do you express that in your life?

Reflection: How does it make you feel to know that God sees you as his workmanship, his masterpiece?  The Greek word used here is poiēma.  Thus, we are God’s poem, his work of art, an expression of his divine love, care, and creativity.  We are something so wonderful and so unique that mere prose is not adequate enough to communicate it.  Only poetry can even begin to capture the awesome wonder of what he did when he breathed you into being.  You were made in order to reflect and express the beauty and the goodness of his character to the world in a way that no one else can or will.  What a high and holy calling.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to reflect your power, love, and creativity in all we do; this day and every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

focus

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when I focus on my problems and my fears and my insecurities they just seem to grow bigger and bigger, but when I focus on you if changes everything.  Help me to keep my eyes focused on you today, so that you would grow far bigger in me than any of my worries.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

Journal: What are the things weighing heavy on you these days?  What are the things causing you to be worried and upset?  How are they keeping you from focusing on Jesus?  What does it look like to be rule by the one thing rather than the many things today?

Reflection: Focus is everything in the spiritual life.  It is so easy to get distracted, just ask Martha.  It seems that the more we focus on the problems, or the challenges, or the obstacles, or the enormous amount of things to do, the more overwhelmed and frustrated we become.  The “many things” dominate us.  They cause us to live our lives worried and upset, or, in the Greek, torn in two with many cares.
     The truth is that only one care really matters.  If we can train our hearts and minds to focus first on Jesus, if we can sit at his feet and listen to what he says rather than be dragged around by the many things pulling on our hearts and minds, then that changes everything.  That puts everything else in proper perspective.  That allows us to look past the chaos on the surface and instead be ruled by the peace and presence of Christ deep in our hearts and souls.  Then we are not dominated by trying to keep all of our plates spinning, but are able to be centered on him instead.  The question is, “Will I focus on the plates, or will I focus on the point?”

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the courage and the discipline to sit at your feet today and listen to what you say.  Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2016

burn

Opening Prayer: Lord, you alone can keep our lamps burning bright, but we must take special care to make time and space for you in order that we may have enough oil to keep our lamps burning over the long haul.  Keep us spiritually awake, O Lord.  Help us to live a lives of attention and intention when it comes to our lives with you.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13

Journal: How is the oil level for your lamp these days?  What does it take to keep your spiritual flame burning?  How will you intentionally make time and space to ensure that you have oil for your lamp?

Reflection:

O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center! Since
Now you are not oppressive,
Now consummate! if it be your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
That tastes of eternal life
And pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.

O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
The deep caverns of feeling,
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their Beloved.

How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly You swell my heart with love.

~Saint John of the Cross

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Keep your fire burning deep within me, O God, that I might always burn with love for Thee.  Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

seen

Opening Prayer: Then run, faithful souls, happy and tireless, keep up with your beloved who marches with giant strides from one end of heaven to the other.  Nothing is hidden from His eyes.  He walks alike over the smallest blade of grass, the tallest cedars, grains of sand or rocky mountains.  Wherever you go He has gone before.  Only follow Him and you will find Him everywhere. (The Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jean-Pierre De Caussade)

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Journal: How do you think Jesus sees you?  What does he see when he looks into your heart.  Is it possible that he really knows you and yet really loves you?  What does that do within you?

Reflection: Being truly known is one of our deepest longings and also one of our greatest fears.  We long to be know, yet at the same time we realize that if anyone really knew us, they might actually reject us.  If someone saw what was really going on inside of us, they might not like what they see.  That must have been the tension going on in Nathanael’s heart as Jesus said to him, “When you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
     The word Jesus uses here (eidō) is much more than just a casual seeing of the outer appearance of someone; it is seeing into them.  The word can also be translated to perceive or discern.  It is a type of seeing that not only knows he is sitting under the fig tree, but also knows what is going on in his heart at the time.  And, as a result of this interaction, Nathanael is both nervously curious and provocatively intrigued.  Something about the way Jesus spoke to him let him know that Jesus really knew him, and also loved and accepted him.  To be totally know and yet totally loved is the deepest desire of all of our hearts.
     Jesus was identifying and calling out the very best in Nathanael, and Nathanael rose to it.  From this moment on his life would never be the same.  He had been seen by the eyes of love.  And maybe that’s what really loving someone is all about to begin with: seeing them, acknowledging their existence and their presence, and calling the very best parts of them to life.  It is what Jesus longs to do in you.  And it is also what he longs for you to do in the lives of those to whom he has given you.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord Jesus, I look at you, and my eyes are fixed on your eyes.  Your eyes penetrate the eternal mystery of the divine and see the glory of God.  They are also the eyes that saw Simon, Andrew, Nathanael, and Levi, the eyes that saw the woman with the hemorrhage, the widow of Nain, the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the hungry crowd, the eyes that saw the sad, rich ruler, the fearful disciples on the lake, and the sorrowful women at the tomb.  Your eyes, O Lord, see in one glance the inexhaustible love of God and the seemingly endless agony of all people who have lost faith in that love and are like sheep without a shepherd.
     As I look into your eyes, they frighten me because they pierce like flames of fire my innermost being, but they console me as well, because these flames are purifying and healing.  Your eyes are so severe yet so loving, so unmasking yet so protecting, so penetrating yet so caressing, so profound yet so intimate, so distant yet so inviting.
     I gradually realize that I want to be seen by you, to dwell under your caring gaze, and to grow strong and gentle in your sight.  Lord, let me see what you see—the love of God and the suffering of people—so that my eyes may become more and more like yours, eyes that can heal wounded hearts. (The Road to Daybreak by Henri Nouwen)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

true

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you’re on to me.  You see through my game.  You see how my words say one thing and my inner life says another.  Make them one, Lord Jesus.  Make me true through and through.  Work your work deep within me, so that my life will be an accurate expression on the state of my heart and soul.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 23:13-28

Journal: What is your inner reality these days?  Where are your inconsistencies and contradictions?  How well does your inner reality match your outward message?  What woes do you need to heed today?

Reflection: The Scribes and Pharisees were an interesting bunch.  They paid a lot of attention to outward appearances, yet were filled with inconsistencies and contradictions within.  The word Jesus used for them was hypocrite.  The hypokritēs (Greek) were the actors on a stage, playing a role.  And the Scribes and Pharisees had made an art of it.  Jesus, however, saw right through their masks and facades.  He saw their core reality.  And what he saw was not a pretty sight, so he began to expose them for the frauds they were.  He began to peel away the layers in order to show them (and others) the true state of their hearts and souls.
     But lest we be too hard of the poor Scribes and Pharisees, we must also admit that oftentimes our inner reality does not line up with our outward message either.  And when that is the case, we are no better than they.  Jesus wants our lives and our message to be one.  He wants us to be true through and through.  He wants us to live lives of integrity, which means that we must start on the inside, allowing God to do his work in us.  We must make space and time to be seized by the power of his Great Affection, so that our hearts and souls are captured by his love in such a way that it works its way out into our lives.  For woe to us when our lives do not reflect the message our lips proclaim.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, if you have any woes for me today, by your grace and your mercy let me know what they are.  For I long to live a life that is true and whole and complete in you, not one that says one thing and does another.  Make me more like you.  Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

hard

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive us when we choose easy over hard.  You never did that.  Help us to have the courage and the faith to enter the hard way, whatever that may look like for us today.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 7:13-14

Journal: Where are you choosing easy over hard these days?  Where are you embracing the hard way?  Are you trusting that the hard way is the way to life?

Reflection: Easy or hard?  Which would you choose?  Which do you choose?  It doesn’t seem like much of a choice does it?  I mean, who wouldn’t choose easy, given the choice, right?  That is unless hard leads to something good and beautiful; something that easy could never offer.  Which would seem to be the case here.  But we can’t just be convinced that hard is the better way, we must be willing to enter that hard way as well.  That is the way to life.  Unfortunately, we are addicted to easy, which is much to our demise.  For the easy way—be it the way of salvation or the way of the spiritual life in general—never leads to life.  The most difficult experiences of this life are always the ones that produce something really good and fruitful deep within us.  The hard way is the path that, once chosen and entered into, makes you who you are.  It is the way of becoming.  Hard is not to be avoided at all costs, but to be embraced and met head on.  Without the hard way our lives will never amount to much of anything of eternal value.  So let’s embrace those parts of life that are particularly hard at the moment, knowing that through them something good and beautiful is being grown in us that could happen no other way.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Dear Father, you know how I have resented the problems in my life, and you know how I have resisted the things that have caused me pain that I can’t change. You know that I’ve asked you many times for an explanation that has never come.
     Today, I want to stop fighting you over things I don’t understand. Forgive me. I want to begin the path of peace. So I ask you for help. Help me to change the things that I can, and help me to accept the things that cannot be changed. Help me, Jesus, to trust in your loving care when things don’t make sense. Help me to trust that you are a good God and that you have my best interest at heart.
     Today, I make an unconditional surrender of all my life to your loving care and control. Please give me your strength and wisdom and peace and purpose. I want to make peace with God by faith so that I can have the peace of God through you, Jesus Christ. Amen. ~Rick Warren

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

lower

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to understand that greatness comes not from ascending, but descending.  Help us to follow you on this downward path to servanthood and humility today.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 23:1-12

Journal: How do these verses speak to what is going on in your life and heart today?  Where and how are you trying to rise?  Where and how are you humbling yourself?  What is the result of each?

Reflection:

     lower

there is a freedom
in descending
in letting go of
climbing and jockeying
and entering the spaciousness
of becoming nothing

for when we are able
to reach these misty lowlands
somehow everything
we most deeply long for
becomes a possibility

purity and clarity
fill our vision
and call us beyond ourselves
into a grander narrative
one where i disappears
as we emerges

o take me to that place
lead me to that land
for i will not find it
on my own
i keep trying to rise
when the only way
to arrive at this
glorious destination
is to bow

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive us for all the ways we will try to rise today; for all of the ways we will try to elevate our status.  Help us to remember that the way to greatness in your kingdom is the way of serving.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

first

Opening Prayer: O Lord, help me to love you this day with all of my heart and all of my soul and all of my mind and all of my strength.  And after I do that, O God, help me to love my neighbor as myself.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 22:34-40

Journal: Who or what is your first love right now?  How will you love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind today?

Reflection: First and second.  The order is important.  If we get it backwards everything goes haywire, but maybe not at first.  Most often it is a slow, subtle slide.  When we are not putting the first love first we start expecting and demanding way more out of the people and things in our world than they were ever intended—or are able—to give.  Then, instead of loving them, we start extorting love out of them.  We become demanding and controlling and manipulative, and that is not love.  They are actually the warning signs that we have our affections out of order.  For the second love can be only a reflection of the first.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, my God, help me to love you first: before my loved ones, before my friends, before my job, before my ministry, before my achievements, before my circumstances, before my comfort, before my needs, and before myself.  For only then can I love the way you designed me to love.  Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

clean

Opening Prayer: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:10-11)

Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14

Journal: What does this parable do in you?  Who can you relate to most?  Why?  Why the big deal over the wedding clothes?

Reflection: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!” the book of Revelation tells us.  And an incredible invitation it is!  So incredible, in fact, that it is actually hard to get our minds around it.  And not only have we been invited to this—the party of all parties—but God himself has even given us clothes to wear.  He has provided us with his very own robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10); fine linen, bright and clean that has been given to us to wear. (Revelation 19:8)
     A number of years ago, when I was working for Young Life, I was in the high school cafeteria with a few of our Young Life leaders visiting our friends as they ate lunch.  We would typically meet there a couple of times a week and spread out all over the cafeteria, hanging out with kids during their break.  On this particular day I overheard a commotion a few tables away and looked up to see that one of the kids who came regularly to our Young Life club on Thursday nights had somehow managed to dump her entire tray on food into her lap.  I don’t really remember what they were having for lunch that day, but I do remember that it was a total mess.  A tray full of food was all over her pants and she was on the verge of tears.
     Quickly her Young Life leader, in a moment of grace and wisdom, sprang into action.  She grabbed her friend and whisked her off to the restroom as she said, “Quick, let’s go change pants.  You take mine and I’ll wear yours.”  Which is exactly what they did.  Within minutes the teenage girl emerged from the restroom looking like nothing had ever happened, while her Young Life leader came out wearing the pants that were completely covered in mess and grime.
     It is exactly what God did for us in Christ.  Maybe that’s why he gets so upset with the man in the story who refused to wear the wedding clothes that were provided for him.  After all, those clothes came at an enormous price.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations. (The Message)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

last

Opening Prayer: Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live  
     in the depths but see thee in the heights; hemmed in
     by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
     that the way down is the way up,
     that to be low is to be high,
     that the broken heart is the healed heart,
     that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit
     that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
     that to have nothing is to possess all,
     that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
     that to give is to receive,
     that the valley is the place of vision.      
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest
     wells. And the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
     thy life in my death,
     thy joy in my sorrow,
     thy grace in my sin
     thy riches in my poverty,
     thy glory in my valley.
(The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions ed. by Arthur Bennett)

Scripture: Matthew 20:1-16

Journal: How does the parable for today disturb or disrupt you?  How does it offer you hope?  Who can you relate to most in the story?  Why?  How are you like the ones who grumbled against the landowner?  How does this story speak to that?

Reflection: Not only is comparison the thief of joy, but it is also the destroyer of gratitude. Just look at the laborers in the parable who were picked first, for example.  They were fine with everything until the pay was handed out and they compared what they received to what the ones who were picked last received.  Then everything went south.  Why is that?
     They were probably pleased with themselves when they were chosen first by the landowner to go out and work in his vineyard.  Everyone likes to be chosen first, right?  At that point the comparison was favorable.  But when the ones chosen last got the same pay as the ones chosen first, even though they got the wage that was agreed upon, then there was a problem.  Then they were no longer first, they were just one of the crowd.  And one of the crowd who actually had to work more hours than anyone else at that.  All of the sudden it didn’t feel so good any more.
     Why couldn’t they just celebrate the good fortune of their fellow workers?  Because it wasn’t about the vineyard, or the master, or the work anymore, it was all about them.  When our vision shrinks down to the smallest possible view, everything gets distorted.  It’s almost like Jesus is saying, “When you’re trying to be first, in whatever arena it may be—be it a job, or a game, or a line, or even driving in traffic—you will always become the worst version of yourself.  But when you seek to become last, or least, then you are able to love.  Which is what this life is all about.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O God, help me avoid pandering to accolades and applause, and willingly disappear into you instead.  (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)

Friday, October 14, 2016

reordering

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me not to seek to be first today, whatever that may look like in my life.  But help me to seek to be last, for then I will be great in your kingdom.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 19:23-30

Journal: How do these verses intersect with your life today?  What is God trying to say through them?  What kind of reordering is God trying to do in you?

Reflection: It is impossible for a camel to make itself small enough to fit through the eye of a needle.  And why would it even want to in the first place?  That is unless there was some eternal value in becoming small, or last, or least.  Then that would change everything, right?  But how could that happen?  What could possibly be the redeeming value of being last?  That’s where Jesus comes in.  He enters the picture and starts turning life, and the status quo, upside down.  That’s because he knows that there is something about being rich that makes us big, too big maybe.  There is something about trying to be first and great and large that runs contrary to what God really wants to do in us.  As a matter of fact, he tells us that the last will actually be first in his kingdom.  For his kingdom is not about making ourselves big and great and first, but making him big and great and first.  We do this by raising him up, not ourselves.  And then it expresses itself in our lives by raising others up, by letting them ahead of us, because of his great love and affection.  I mean, how on earth can we ever hope to enter the narrow way if we are too big?  That would be like a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, reorder my mind and my heart and make them like your own, so that I might think the way you think and feel the way you feel; in order that I might love the way you love and walk the way you walk.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

still

Opening Prayer: You, O God, are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
     There is a river whose streams make glad your city, O God, the holy habitation of the Most High. You, O God, are in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; you will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; you utter your voice and the earth melts. You, O Lord of hosts, are with us; you, O God of Jacob, are our fortress.
     Come, let us behold your works, O Lord, how you have brought desolations on the earth. You make wars cease to the end of the earth; you break the bow and shatter the spear; you burn the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God.” you say to us. “For I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth!”  O God, Lord of hosts, you are with us; you, O God of Jacob, are our fortress. (Psalm 46:1-11)

Scripture: Psalm 46:10

Journal: What is the current state of stillness in your life?  What role do you think God wants it to play?  How will you be still today and know that he is God?

Reflection: Why do we spend our lives striving to be something we would never want to be, if we only knew what we wanted? Why do we waste our time doing things, which, if we only stopped to think about them, are the opposite of what we were made for? (No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: (Repeat each phrase and pause for 60 seconds to reflect before moving on to the next)
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know that I.
Be still and know that.
Be still and know.
Be still and.
Be still.
Be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

to love as he loves

Opening Prayer: Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! (Psalm 36:5-10)

Scripture: Galatians 5:6

Journal: How well is the love of God expressing itself in and through your life these days?  What does that look like?

Reflection: If we want to be witnesses like Jesus, our only concern should be to be as alive with the love of God as Jesus was. (Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

If we are to love others at all, we must make up our minds to love them well. (No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton)

What is important is how well we love. (Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us, this day, to love as you love.  For your kingdom and your glory.  Amen.

Monday, October 10, 2016

touch

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, your touch offers us healing and hope.  Thank you that you long to touch us in some deep way this very day.  Help us to be open and receptive to that.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 19:13-15

Journal: Do you know that God longs to place his hands on you this day?  Will you be still and quiet for long enough to let that happen?

Reflection:  I love how Jesus just couldn’t keep his hands off of those whom he loved.  Not only was it the children who received his tender touch, but also the leper and the deaf mute and the blind man and sick girl and so many others.  And everyone he touched, he transformed.  Jesus longs to do the same with each of us.  He longs to get his hands on us.  He longs to touch us deeply and tenderly this very day.  The only question is will we be still and quiet long enough to allow that to happen?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, we long for your touch this day.  We need it desperately.  Touch the places within us that are in need of healing and wholeness, that we might be transformed, in order to become agents of your healing touch in our world.  Amen.