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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

life from death

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you always bring life out of death.  Amen.

Scripture: John 12:24

Journal: What needs to die in me during this season, in order for something beautiful to be born?

Reflection:

“Unless a kernel of wheat
falls to the ground and dies,
it remains only a single seed. 
But if it dies it produces
many seeds.” (John 12:24)

The main question
that Lent tends to ask us
is this: What needs to die
in me during this season,
in order for something
beautiful to be born?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Jesus, please do not allow the fear of something dying to keep me from the joy of something new being born.  Amen.

Monday, March 1, 2021

crucified with Christ

Opening Prayer: Give me the courage and the strength and the grace, Lord Jesus, to be crucified with you, so that I no longer live, but you live in me.  It is the only way to true life.  Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 2:20

Journal: What does it mean for you to be crucified with Christ?  What does that look like?

Reflection: To be crucified with Christ means that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  It means that my life is no longer about my own preferences, but about his preferences.  It means that life is no longer about my own direction, but about his direction.  It means that life is no longer about my own dreams, but about his dreams for me.  It means that life is no longer about me, but about him.  To be crucified with Christ means to surrender complete and total control to him alone; I no longer live, but Christ lives in and through me.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for being so resistant to being crucified with you, or being crucified at all, for that matter.  Lord, have mercy!  Amen.

 

Friday, February 19, 2021

unseen

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you are always at work, even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.  Help me to trust the unseen things you are doing in me, knowing that they are the things that are eternal.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Journal: What is God doing within you these days?  How is he using the circumstances of your life to achieve for you and eternal glory?  How will you keep your eyes fixed on the unseen rather than the seen?

Reflection: In the spiritual life, it is the unseen that is important, not the seen.  It is what God is doing under the surface, in and through us, that matters the most.  The things that look hard and bad on the surface, are quite often the things that are the best in the long run, for they “are achieving for us an eternal glory” that we cannot yet see.  They are producing unseen qualities deep in our hearts and souls that will, at some point, make themselves visible.  They are making us more like Jesus.  Those are the things that are eternal.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Help me to trust you, Lord Jesus, no matter what.  Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

perspective

Opening Prayer: Remind me this day, O Lord, that this life is about you, not about me.  The quicker I can learn that truth, the better.  Lord, have mercy!  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 103:14-16

Journal: How do these verses help you keep things in proper perspective?

Reflection: It’s amazing how quickly things can get out of perspective when we actually start believing that this life is about us, rather than about Him.  That’s why we need a constant reminder that we are dust.  Not we are like dust, but we are dust.  We are like a flower in a field that is here one day and gone the next.  And, to add insult to injury, our place remembers us no more.  Ouch!  That realization is not meant to demean or discourage us, but to set us free.  It is meant to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.  God is the only One who is from everlasting to everlasting.  This life is about his kingdom and his glory, not our own.  And the sooner we can realize that, the better. 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, help me to stop always making things about me.  Please!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

uncovering my iniquity

Opening Prayer: When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord”—and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

Scripture: Psalm 32:3-5

Journal:  How is God’s hand heavy upon you these days?  How are you living falsely?  How have you twisted or distorted God’s truth?  How does living falsely wear you out and run you down?  What would it look like to undercover your iniquity?  What is the result?

Reflection: Iniquity is the perversion of God’s good and perfect intentions for my own benefit.  It is twisting his truth to meet my needs.  The reason I typically try so hard to cover up my iniquity is because I am determined to hide my falseness.  And when I do that, it takes its toll on me.  It is not until I am willing to bring my falseness and manipulation and distortion of God’s good and beautiful truth out into the open that I ever have any hope of living at peace with both him and myself.  That’s because God is actually willing to forgive the iniquity of my sin.  And that’s something worth rejoicing about!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that you forgive the iniquity of my sin.  Wash me clean this day and help me to rejoice in your forgiveness.  Amen.

Monday, February 1, 2021

unconditional trust

Opening Prayer: Help me to trust you, O God, regardless of what is going on in my life.  Regardless of what suffering comes my way.  For you are God and I am not.  Have mercy on me!  Amen.

Scripture: Revelation 2:8-11

Journal: What does your level of trust in the Lord usually depend on?  What would it look like to trust him no matter what?

Reflection:  It’s amazing how much my trust in God is conditioned upon my own ease and comfort.  The minute things get hard I’m like, “What the heck!”  But trust in God cannot be conditional, or it is not trust in God at all, but only trust in our own circumstances.  In the hard times, our faithfulness, and our confidence in God’s goodness, is put to the test.  It shows what we are really made of.  It shows who, or what, we really trust.  Do we really trust in God, or are we simply using him to serve our own purposes?  Is life about him, or is life about us?

If we live in constant fear of what we might suffer, or in constant bitterness over what we already have suffered, the answer is readily apparent.  Our trust in God is totally conditional.  Thus, we don’t really trust him at all.

Help us, O God, to trust you in all things—no matter what.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Help us to remain faithful to you, O God, even when things are not going our way.  For you are always faithful to us.  Amen. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

first love

Opening Prayer:  Capture my heart, Lord Jesus, and seize my affections.  Be first in my heart and my life, this day and every day.  Amen.

Scripture: Revelation 2:1-7

Journal: Where is the romance in your life these days?  Who, or what, has your deepest affections?  How would you describe your relationship with Jesus these days?  What does he want it to be?

Reflection:  Our affections can tell us a lot if we pay attention to them.  Whoever, or whatever, has our heart is the person, or the thing, that determines most of our behavior.  Because you can’t behave your way into love, you can only love your way into behavior.  Jesus, first and foremost, does not want your activity, he wants your affection.  He knows that if he has your affection, everything else will fall into place.  It is how we are wired.  The person, or the thing, you are most deeply in love with, and passionate about, will determine how you go about your days and how you live your life.

So, let me ask you, where is the romance in your life these days?  Who, or what, possesses your deepest affections?  Who, or what, is first; not in the sense of chronology, but priority?  What do you spend most of your energy thinking and dreaming about?  Who is the one you desire to spend most of your time with?  Who, or what, gives you the most life and energy?  If you pay careful attention to these questions, it can tell you a lot about your life, as well as your loves.  You see, the thing about your affections is that they will always land somewhere.  They are always seeking an object, whether you know it or not.  Therefore, you need to be careful that their landing spot is worthy of them.

Jesus told the church at Ephesus, “You have abandoned your first love. (Rev. 2:4) You have allowed other people and other things to distract you and take your heart away from your first love—me.  Others have become more important to you.  And when you get your affections out of order, chaos ensues.  Come back to me.  Let your hearts be seized once again by the power of my Great Affection.  Because everyone and everything else is a poor substitute for the love you were made for.”

Most of us did not set out to abandon our first love, it was a slow, steady drift.  We got so distracted and consumed with the people and the things around us that before we knew it the tides had carried us miles and miles down the beach.  Other people and other things had slowly become more important than the One who made us to live in his passionate and intimate love.  Therefore, we must learn to pay attention to our loves, particularly to our First Love.  We must make time and space for the great affection of Jesus to capture and consume us again and again.  We must be thoughtful and intentional about cultivating our romance with Jesus, the Lover of our Souls.  Otherwise, we might end up just like the church at Ephesus, fueled by a dull sense of duty and obligation, rather than ignited and consumed with the passionate love of Jesus.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, be my first love.  Always my first love.  Amen.