Friday, September 28, 2018

with

Opening Prayer: God is our refuge and our strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Scripture: Psalm 46:1-11

Journal: How aware of God’s presence are you on a minute by minute basis?  What disrupts that awareness?  What nurtures it?

Reflection: I am with you—always.  There is no time, and no season, when I am not with you.  I am with you in good times and bad, in joy and in pain.  I am with you night and day, in darkness and in light.  I am with you in growth and in struggle.  And I am even with you when things are dull and mundane and ordinary.  No matter what happens, I will never leave you—ever.  I will never forsake you.  I will never abandon you.  I am with you always.  The only question is: Are you always with me?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O God, thank you for the promise that, regardless of the mood, or the season, or the circumstances, you are always with me.  Help me to always be with you.  Amen.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

narrative

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help us to see that beneath every behavior lies a narrative—a story that drives that behavior which we have convinced ourselves is true.  Thank you, Lord Jesus that you came to deconstruct the narratives within us that are false and replace them with ones that are true.  After all, it is the truth that sets us free.  Help us to live in your truth, Lord Jesus, and not in the false stories we have been telling ourselves for far too long.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

Journal: What are the narratives that lie under this story?  What story do you think Martha was telling herself?  What was she believing that caused her to react and respond the way that she did?  Has is her story your own?  What is the truth Jesus is trying to convey?

Reflection:

narrative

beneath 
every behavior
lies a goal

and beneath
every goal
lies a belief

and beneath 
every belief
lies a narrative

a story 
that fuels us
that sets our feet
in motion

a story
we tell ourselves
that makes us
believe certain 
things are true

the problem is
that often they
are not

come Lord Jesus
way, truth, and life
and tell us 
the real story
the truth 
that will set us free

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see that if I am not free, it is because I am believing something that is not true.  Help me to know the truth which sets me free.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

transformed

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, change me—from the inside out.  Make me a new person, a new creation.  Help me to leave to life of the flesh behind that I might become more and more the beautiful creation you dreamt of in the beginning.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Journal: How has God been transforming your life recently?  In the past year?  What specific things can you point to?

Reflection: Christ said: “Deny thyself,” and in spite of that, Peter denied his Lord.  When Christ warned him: ”Thou shalt deny me,” and he insisted that he never would, Peter showed how little he understood what there was in himself.  But when I read his epistle and hear him say: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of God and of glory resteth upon you,” then I say that it is not the old Peter, but that is the very Spirit of Christ breathing and speaking within him.
     I read again how he says: “Hereunto ye are called, to suffer, even as Christ suffered.”  I understand what a change had come over Peter.  Instead of denying Christ, he found joy and pleasure in having self denied and crucified and given up to the death.  And therefore it is in the Acts, we read that, when he was called before the Council, he could boldly say: “We must obey Christ rather than men,” and that he could return with the other disciples and rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s name. (Absolute Surrender and Other Addresses by Andrew Murray)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I am controlled by fear, rather than being controlled by love.  Help me to be so captured by my love for you that I am willing and able to bear anything for your will and your glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

repentance

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Scripture: Luke 22:54-62

Journal: Where and how is Jesus calling you to repentance these days?

Reflection: Peter denied his Lord thrice, and then the Lord looked upon him.  And that look of Jesus broke the heart of Peter, and all at once there opened up before him the terrible sin that he had committed, the terrible failure that had come, and the depth into which he had fallen, and “Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
     Oh!  Who can tell what that repentance must have been?  During the following hours of that night, and the next day, the Sabbath—oh, in what hopeless despair and shame he must have spent that day!

            My Lord is gone, my hope is gone, and I denied my Lord.  After that life of love, after that 
Blessed fellowship of three years, I denied my Lord.  God have mercy upon me!

     I do not think we can realize into what depth of humiliation Peter sank then.  But that was the turning point and the change: and on the first day of the week Christ was seen of Peter, and in the evening he met him with the others.  Later on at the Lake of galilee he asked him: “Lovest thou me?” until Peter was made sad by the thought that the Lord reminded him of having denied him thrice.  Then, Peter said in sorrow, but in uprightness: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” (Absolute Surrender and Other Addresses by Andrew Murray)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

Monday, September 24, 2018

deny

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me always to choose you, instead of me.  Help me to start today.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 22:24-34

Journal: What is your response to the scriptures today?  Where and how is God asking you to deny yourself?  In what ways might you be denying him?

Reflection: Notice how Christ uses the word deny twice.  He said to Peter the first time, “Deny self”; he said to Peter the second time, Thou wilt deny me.”  There is no choice for us; we must either deny self or deny Christ.  There are two great powers fighting each other—the self-nature in the power of sin, and Christ in the power of God.  Either of these must rule within us. (Absolute Surrender and Other Addresses by Andrew Murray)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me when I choose ease or comfort or fear over choosing you.  Help me to die to self that I might live for you.  Amen.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

word

Opening Prayer: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)

Scripture: Proverbs 4:20-22

Journal: Where and how has God’s word been sweet and life-giving to you lately?  What is he saying to you today?

Reflection: All his words contain supernatural mysteries and are full of heavenly sweetness, if only they have a diligent reader (one who knows how to suck honey out of a rock, and oil out of the hardest stone). —Bernard of Clairvaux

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Your word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.  Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.  If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.  I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. (Psalm 119:89-93)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

detachment

Opening Prayer: To you alone, O Lord, do I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. (Psalm 25:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 62:1-8

Journal: What are you demanding from friends or family that only God is able to give?  What would it look like if you let go of that demand and trusted God to be the one to fully meet that need for you?  How would you be better able to love?

Reflection: Because we have been clinging to friends for support, we have left ourselves open for defeat and dismay.  The detached love of Christian friends is other than that.  I love you, I say, but I do not need you to tell me who I am.  For the Lord Himself does that, when He whispers His love in my ear every day.  Every day He creates me anew and sharpens my identity by grace.  From him comes strength.  He gives me my confidence, my self-assurance.  He awakens my sense of destiny.  Because of Him, I know the future stretches ahead, and he is calling me to find it.  And even when I walk together with Him, even when I can’t see my hand in front of me, I am sure.  And you, my friend, may walk together with us—with my Lord and with me.  And we will share our love generously with you.  But I will not lean on any human being for God-support.  When God sends his grace through another person, I will remember God first for that.  I will praise God first for that.  I will cherish the friend who was my channel of grace.  But I will not, dare not, make a god of her or him.  I will not lean too hard on my friends.  I know their frailties and I know my own.   (Clinging by Emilie Griffin) 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope comes from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.  (Psalm 62:5-6, ESV)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

continuing on

Opening Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to always live life by the power of your Spirit, not by the works of my flesh.  Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 3:1-3

Journal: How are you “continuing on” in the life of the Spirit these days?  Where and how are you tempted to revert back to the ways of the “flesh?”

Reflection: I hardly know a more solemn warning in God’s Word than that which we find in the third chapter of Galatians, where Paul asked: “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
     Do you understand what that means?  A terrible danger in Christian work, just as in a Christian life that begun with much prayer, begun in the Holy Spirit, is that it may be gradually shunted off on to the lines of the flesh; and the word comes: “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”  In the time of our first perplexity and helplessness, we prayed much to God, and God answered and God blessed, and our organization became perfected, and our band of workers became large: but gradually the organization and the work and the rush have so taken possession of us that the power of the Spirit, in which we began when we were a small company, has almost been lost.  Oh, I pray, note it well!  It was with a new prayer and fasting, with more prayer and fasting, that the company of disciples (in Acts 13:1-4) carried out the command of the Holy Ghost.  “My soul, wait thou only upon God.”  That is our highest and most important work.  The Holy Spirit comes in answer to believing prayer. (Absolute Surrender and Other Addresses by Andrew Murray)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.   Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.   Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.  Amen. —St. Augustine


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

nothing

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to always remember your example, that the way to becoming something is by making ourselves nothing—for you.  Give us the grace and the courage to do as you did.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 2:5-11

Journal: ow are you trying to make yourself something these days?  What would it look like to make yourself nothing for Jesus?  Will you?

Reflection:

     irony

it is indeed
a sad irony
that i spend
most of my days
believing i’m nothing
but desperately trying
to become something

while God says
i am something 
who constantly needs
to make himself nothing

yet the only way
i can make myself nothing
is to truly believe
that You say
i am something

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to follow you by making myself nothing, that you might be seen as the Ultimate Something.  Amen.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

overflow

Opening Prayer: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.  (Psalm 23:1-3, ESV)

Scripture: Psalm 23:5

Journal: What is your cup doing these days?  What is the state of your soul?  How, and to where, is the Good Shepherd trying to lead you?

Reflection: Those who are wise will see their lives as more like a reservoir than a canal.  The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then pours forth the overflow without loss to itself.  They know that a curse is on those who allow their own property to degenerate.  And if you think my opinion worthless then listen to the one who is wiser than I.  “Fools,” said Solomon, “come out with all their feelings at once but the wise subdue and restrain them.”  Today there are many in the Church who act like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare.  So urgent is the charity of those through whom the streams of heavenly doctrine flow to us that they want to pour it forth before they have been filled.  They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves.
     I am convinced that no degree of charity that leads to salvation may be preferred to that suggested by the Wise One, “Have pity on your own soul, pleasing God.”  Listen to what a prudent and vigilant charity advises.  “This does not mean that to give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves.  It is a question of balancing.”
     The reservoir resembles the fountain that runs to form a stream or spreads to form a pool only when its own waters are brimming over.  The reservoir is not ashamed to be no more lavish than the spring that fills it.  He who is the primal Fountain of Life, full in himself and filled with himself, gushed forth and danced into the secret places of the heavens about him, to fill them all with his favors.  And having endowed these remotest heights and recesses, he burst upon our earth, saving humans and beasts through his munificence, multiplying his mercies everywhere.  When he had first filled up the secret places, his teeming mercies billowed over.  They poured upon the earth and drenched it, to multiply its riches.  You must imitate this process.  First be filled and then control the outpouring.  The charity that is benign and prudent does not flow outward until it abounds within. (On the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5, ESV)

Friday, September 7, 2018

silence

Opening Prayer: For God alone my soul waits in silence. (Psalm 62:1, ESV)

Scripture: Psalm 62:1-6

Journal: What role does silence play in your spiritual journey?  How might the practice of silence nurture the life of God within you?  When, where, and how will you incorporate some silence into your life?

Reflection:

     silence

there is a pattern
woven into the 
fabric of creation

first silence
then God speaks
and finally
things are set 
into motion

why then
do we so often
start with action
rather than silence

action taken
without silence
is action taken
out of context

words spoken
without silence
are words spoken
out of context

for God alone
my soul waits
in silence

may that be true 
of me today 
O Lord

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5, ESV)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

blessed are you

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, forgive me for always trying to be something, when you have called me to become nothing.  Ironically, the only way I can ever hope to become nothing, is to believe that you alone make me something.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12

Journal: What do you hear God saying to you today?

Reflection: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3-12, ESV)


Blessed are those who are not full of themselves, for then there is room within them for the kingdom of God.  Blessed are those who groan over things not being as they were intended to be, for one day they will be made whole again.  Blessed are those who do not need to draw attention to themselves, for, with no need to compare or compete, they make this world a better place.  Blessed are those who long to be more like Jesus, for he is the only one who can fill them up.  Blessed are those whose hearts go out to those around them, for, because of that, God’s heart goes out to them.  Blessed are those who remain untainted by the world around them, for, with less to distort their vision, they will have a clearer view of God.  Blessed are those who bring harmony to all of creation, for they resemble their heavenly Father.  Blessed are those the world puts down because they are so full of light, for their very lives constantly convict those walking in darkness.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Lord Jesus, by your grace and mercy, help me to look more and more like you each day.  In your name, and by your power, we pray.  Amen.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

ever-present

Opening Prayer: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear though earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 46:1-11

Journal: How aware of God’s presence and help are you on a daily basis?  How can you become more aware?

Reflection: It is such a beautiful thing that God is ever-present to us.  Thus, we never have to live in fear, even if the earth gives way or the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.  Regardless of what happens to us, around us, or even within us, God is always right there.  He is with us in ways we cannot even imagine.  How incredibly comforting that is!  I can't imagine any other way that we could possibly be still and know he is God apart from that wonderful truth.
     Our problem, however, does not come with God being ever-present to us, but with us being ever-present to him.  That is our challenge.  For if he is present to us, but we are not present to him, what good does that really do?  How can that give us any sense of peace, or comfort, or even help?  Don't get me wrong, God is not dependent on us in any way, shape, or form, in order to move and to act, but he wants more for us than that.  For if we are not aware of him moving and acting, then we have missed a great gift.  In fact, we are still at the mercy of our surroundings, or emotions, our moods, and our circumstances.  If, however, we are ever-present to him, as he is ever-present to us, that changes everything.
     In order for us to live life the way He intended it to be lived, we must learn how to be ever-present to God.  And maybe the words of this ancient prayer offer us just the help we need.  "God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble." If we plant these twelve words in our hearts, and repeat them over and over again with our mouths and in our minds (the scriptures call this meditation), they can function as a sweet companion throughout the day, helping us to be constantly connected and aware of the God we so often forget.  Give it a try today and tell me how it goes.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless. Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless. (Psalm 46:1-3, The Voice)