Sunday, February 24, 2019

open the door

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, this very day you stand at the door of my heart and knock.  The question is, will I hear your knock, open the door, and let you in?  For if I will, you promise to come in and be with me, and I with you.  And that is really what my heart is most deeply longing for.  Give me the grace and the courage and the strength to open the door for you today.  Amen.

Scripture: Revelation 3:19-20

Journal: What would it look like for you to open the door for Jesus today?  What would it mean in your life?  How would it change you?  How would it change what you are going through?  Will you open the door and let Jesus come in?

Reflection: All too often I am looking for resolution rather than communion.  I am wanting Jesus to fix it rather than enter into it.  I am looking for a way out or a way through instead of looking for him.  Maybe that is why I don’t open the door.  Maybe I am so busy putting my head down and trying to muscle through, or racking my brain trying to find a way out, that I never respond to the knock and simply open the door so Jesus can come in and be with me in the midst of the chaos.  That is his invitation.  He doesn’t promise to resolve, or to help us avoid or escape, but only to be present with us in whatever we may be going through.  But we have to open the door.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Come on in, Lord Jesus.  Come into my heart and my life this day and embrace me with your love and your presence.  Come in, Lord Jesus!  Amen.


Monday, February 18, 2019

lie down

Opening Prayer: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. . . . (Psalm 23:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 23:1-2

Journal: How does the Lord need to make you lie down these days?  Will you?  Why are you resistant?

Reflection: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. . . .” (Psalm 23:1-2)

In the midst of the frenzy of activity, he makes me lie down.
In the midst of my anxiety and insecurity, he makes me lie down.
In the midst of my earning and proving, he makes me lie down.
In the midst of me trying to do it by myself, he makes me lie down.
In the midst of the pressure and performing, he makes me lie down.
In the midst of trying to figure it all out, he makes me lie down.
In the midst of trying to please and impress everyone, he makes me lie down.
O Lord, make me lie down, body and soul, this day.  Amen.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, make me lie down, body and soul, this day.  Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

perfect

Opening Prayer: Only you, Lord Jesus, can make me into who you created me to be.  Make me that today.  Please.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

Journal:  What are the words of Jesus doing in you today?  What do you think he wants them to do in you?

Reflection: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  

When will we ever learn?  We cannot do this on our own.  It is impossible.  That’s the whole point Jesus is trying to make here.  We cannot should and ought our way into perfection.  We cannot muscle or white-knuckle our way to holiness. It is not a question of effort and willpower, but of love and grace and mercy.  We cannot transform ourselves, we can only be transformed.  And we can only be transformed by the One who dreamt us into being.  It is up to God, not up to us.  He is the only one who can make us into the men and women he created us to be.  The call to holiness, therefore, is not an invitation to a life of endless guilt, frustration, and failure, but an invitation to simply be who we were made to be.  It is not an invitation to do a lot of stuff, it is an invitation to fall in love.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the way I complicate things.  Forgive me when I think that holiness is just about me, when it is really all about you.  Help me just to fall more deeply in love with you today, and everything else will take care of itself.  Amen.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

stretch out your hands

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when you call us to follow you, you do not give us the discretion to pick and choose when that is convenient or comfortable.  In fact, you often lead us to places that we would rather not go.  Give us the strength and the faith and courage to follow you, all the way, wherever you may lead us.  Amen.  

Scripture: John 21:18-19

Journal: What do these verses do within you?  What do they stir up?  How are you drawn to them?  How are you resistant to them?  What is God saying to you today?

Reflection:  Following Jesus is an acquired taste.  It is not something that comes naturally, but something we learn how to do over time.  Thus, the older we get, and the longer we follow him, the more willing we become to let him do the leading—all of the leading.  
     I think that’s what Jesus is saying here to Simon Peter: “The older you get, the more you will learn what following me is really all about.  It is not about you, it is about me.  It has little to do with dressing yourself and going where you want and more to do with stretching out your hands and someone else dressing you and leading you where you do not want to go.  It has little to do with your actions and your plans and your initiatives, and more to do with mine.  As a matter of fact, the older you get the more you will realize that following me is really about one thing—absolute surrender.  Your only job is to stretch out your hands.  I will do the rest.  I will do the dressing.  I will do the leading.  You just follow me.  And the more you do, the more it will become the deepest desire of your heart.  You will make the shift from your plans at any cost to my plans whatever the cost.
     So start today.  Try it.  Practice surrender.  Simply stretch out your hands—your empty, open, vulnerable hands.  I will take over from there.  I will dress you.  I will lead you.  I will guide you.  I will be the one to determine the content and the direction of your life, not you.  All you have to do is be totally dependent on me.  Rely on me for all things, not your own gifts and abilities.  It is a scary posture for sure, but it is what following me is really all about.” 

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Lord Jesus, show me what it means today to truly follow you.  Give me the grace and the courage to do so.  Amen.   

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

find rest

Opening Prayer: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 62:1-12

Journal: What keeps you from finding rest in God alone?  What is at the root of that?  How can you get past that and begin to experience the rest that God intended for you?

Reflection: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”  
     I don’t know about you, but finding rest comes hard for me.  Maybe it is the constant need I feel to try and prove myself.  Or maybe it is the deep sense of anxiety that consumes my heart and soul on a regular basis.  Or maybe it is a combination of a lot of things.  Whatever the reason, the presence of an abiding rest and peace within me is a bit of an elusive creature: hard to find and, once found, hard to keep.
     Maybe it was that way for King David as well.  In fact, maybe that’s the reason he wrote this prayer in the first place.  Maybe it was through repeating these very words—over and over and over again—that he hoped, someday, to arrive at the rest and the peace his heart and soul were most deeply longing for.  
     And maybe it could be the same for me.  Maybe if I plant these words deep in the soil of my soul, they will, one day, grow into something beautiful and substantial.  Maybe they can help me to really believe that God is both strong and loving.  And maybe that belief can lead me to the place of genuine trust in him.  And maybe, just maybe, that trust will one day allow my heart and soul to find their rest in him.  A man can dream, right?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, help this prayer take root deep within me, that it might become more and more the reality of my life.  Amen.  

Thursday, February 7, 2019

empty nets

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, how come I usually only trust you as a last resort; when my own plans and efforts have not produced the results I’d hoped they would?  Help me to learn how to trust you first, rather than after I have worked hard all night and caught nothing.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 5:1-11

Journal: Where in your life do you feel like “you have worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything?”  What would it look like to simply trust Jesus in that area?

Reflection: “But Master, we have worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:5)  What a haunting phrase.  I mean, it is such an easy trap to fall into, right?  After all, isn’t it a part of our DNA to do it on our own?  To take matters into our own hands, and make it happen—whatever it may be.  We got this, right?  Wrong!  In the end all we have to show for our efforts is a bunch of empty nets and a worn out body and soul.  Ever been there?  I sure have.  And I’m sure I will be there again in the not too distant future.  When will I ever learn?  My own efforts—however heroic they may be—apart from Jesus, will always net me absolutely nothing.  And maybe that very realization is the beginning of learning what it means to trust Jesus in a whole new way.  It certainly was for Simon Peter and his fishing buddies.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me how to trust you, not me.  Amen.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

abounding

Opening Prayer: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Amen. (Philippians 1:9-11, NIV)

Scripture: Philippians 1:9-11

Journal: What is your heart full of these days?  How does that show itself in your life?  What would it look like if your heart was abounding with the love of Jesus?

Reflection: “And this is my prayer: that your love would abound more and more.”  What a great prayer!  Paul is praying that we would be so full of Jesus, and his love, that there would be no room for anything else.  Just imagine if you were so full of the love of Jesus that it simply flowed from your heart and life at all times—every thought, every act, every word.  Imagine how different life would be.  Instead of being full of myself and my worries and my insecurities, I would be full of peace and patience and kindness and gentleness and self-control—and love.  Lord Jesus, please make it be so!  Let your love abound in me, today and every day.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, fill me so full of you, so full of your love, that there is no room for anything else—no anxiety or insecurity, no comparison or competition, no impatience or frustration, no shame or condemnation.  Fill me to overflowing, Lord Jesus, with your life and your Spirit.  Then I will be more and more like you.  Amen.