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Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Opening Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you pursue me.  Thank you that your goodness and your unfailing love will never stop coming after me until I am held safe in your loving arms.

Scripture: Psalm 23:6

Journal: How have goodness and love been following you lately?  Where and how have you been aware of God’s relentless pursuit of you lately?

Reflection: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,” say the words of the ancient prayer.  And even as I utter those words something within me comes alive.  For somehow, throughout the course of my days and my years, I have convinced myself otherwise.  Somehow I have convinced myself that it is I who am constantly in pursuit of him, the elusive God, rather than he being in pursuit of me.
     And a careful examination of these words show just how wonderful this pursuit really is.  Goodness is a hallmark of our God, as well as a hallmark of his very good creation.  Thus, the goodness that pursues me is the very good-ness (Genesis 1:31) of his creation intent for me.  Not only is the One who pursues me very good, but the one he intended and designed me to be is also very good.  His very good desire is that he restore me to my very good-ness.  To remake me into the fearful and wonderful creation that he intended me to be.
     The other thing that is a hallmark of our God is his unfailing love.  The Hebrew word is hesed.  It is the word for love that highlights the eternal nature of God’s love.  It is forever, it is unchanging, it is not going anywhere.  Nothing can stop it.  It is a pursuit that will not rest until it captures completely heart of the one being pursued. 
     And finally, there is the word follow, which is not nearly strong enough to describe the picture being painted here.  The Hebrew word is radaph, which is most often translated pursue.  It is used 143 times in the Old Testament, mostly in reference to armies pursuing their enemies.  And on one occasion (1 Samuel 26:20) it is even translated hunt, as a hunter would stalk his prey.  That is the kind of following we are talking about.  It is not a casual, haphazard type of thing, but a relentless pursuit.  God relentlessly pursues me with his goodness and his unfailing love “all the days of my life.”  Thus, my relationship with him is not dependent on my feeble pursuit of him, but on his relentless pursuit of me.  It is not so much about finding him, as it is about being found by him.  It is dependent on him, not on me.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to be open and attentive to your relentless pursuit of me, whatever that may look like.

Monday, July 29, 2019

fill me

Opening Prayer: Fill me, O Lord, and then I will be full.

Scripture: John 17:26

Journal: What is filling your heart and soul these days?  How do those things find their way out into your life?  What would it look like if you were full of the love of Jesus? 

Reflection: It is your love, Lord Jesus, that I long to be filled with.  It is your love that I long to have flow in and through my life.  Unfortunately, I am so full of other things—things that make me so much less than who you created me to be.  So fill me, Lord Jesus, so full of your love that there is no room for anything else.


Closing Prayer: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me not to hang so tightly to the ways I have always done things, that I fail to recognize when you are offering me a new and more fruitful way.  Keep my stubbornness from blinding me from who you want me to be and what you want me to do.  Amen.

Scripture: John 21:1-6

Journal: Where are you hanging on to your way of doing things, in spite of the fact that Jesus might be asking you to do things a new way? 

Reflection: Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
     Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
     He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
     “No,” they answered.
      He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:1-6, NIV)

     I can be pretty stubborn at times.  I can keep my head down and plod right along without even noticing that I might have been toiling all night and still have empty nets.  I guess I figure that if I keep doing the same old things, the way I have always done them, that eventually it will work out.  It might never occur to me that I need to do something different, to change my ways.  It seems like I remember someone very wise once saying something about the definition of insanity being to continue to do the same old things over and over and expect to get a different outcome.  Thank you Albert Einstein.  Well, call me crazy I suppose, because I tend to do that a lot.  I fail to recognize—or refuse to acknowledge—that my way just isn’t working.  After all, who is a better expert on my life than me?
     I guess that’s why this passage haunts me a little bit.  The disciples did the exact same thing.  They worked and worked and worked, all night long, and caught absolutely nothing. The only difference is that when someone made a suggestion that they might want to try another way, at least they listened.  They didn’t even recognize it was Jesus until after they had taken his advice and caught a massive amount of fish.  And it wasn’t the first time this had happened.  But give them some credit.  They weren’t so hard-headed that they refused to acknowledge that their way just wasn’t working, and were willing to embrace a new way of doing things.
     I need to follow their example.  For it is quite possible that I get so busy toiling all night long that I, like the disciples, fail to recognize that Jesus is standing on the shore telling me to throw my nets over the other side of the boat.  It is quite possible that when someone brings up the possibility of doing things in a little different way, that it might actually be Jesus trying to open me up to the possibility of a new way of seeing or being or doing.
     The beautiful thing is that even if I do not always recognize Jesus, he always recognizes me.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to recognize you today, however you might come to me, and whatever you might ask of me.  For only then can I experience the life and the fullness you offer.  Amen.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

taken hold of

Opening Prayer: Take hold of me, Lord Jesus, by your grace and your love, that I might take hold of the life that you have made me for.  Help me to settle for nothing less.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 3:12-14

Journal: What does it mean that Jesus has taken hold of you?  What have you been taken hold of for?  What is the life for which Jesus has taken hold of you?

Reflection: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Phil. 3:12, NIV)
     At times I can misguidedly convince myself that my relationship with God is dependent upon my ability to hold on to him, when the truth of the matter is that he is the one who has a hold on me, and he will never let me go.  Thus, it is the strength on his grip, and not my own, that is the key.  The simple and beautiful fact is that Jesus has grabbed hold of me by the power of his grace.  He has seized me with the power of his great affection.  He has firmly grasped me with his righteous right hand, and he will not let me go.
     But Paul doesn’t stop there.  He goes on to remind us that we can’t just sit idly by.  We must then take hold as well.  We must take hold of the life for which we have been taken hold of.  We have been seized by the power of grace and now must respond to the very grace we have been seized by.  It is a response of love: Therefore, I forget what is behind, I strain toward what is ahead, and I press on toward the goal to which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have taken hold of me and will never let me go.  May my life be an expression of gratitude for having been seized by the power of your great affection.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Opening Prayer: Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3

Journal: Where do you really believe life comes from?  Be honest.  What would your life say as far as what you believe about where life comes from?  What do you spend most of your time and effort pursuing?  Is it bringing you the kind of life you hoped it would?  Is it bringing you the kind of life God offers you?  How will you come and eat and drink of God? How will you listen to him and give ear to what he says, that your soul may live?

Reflection: It seems to me that we spend so much of our lives trying to manufacture and produce a result that can only come about organically.  We invest so much time and energy trying to create, or defend, or maintain a way of being that can only be given to us by a hand far greater than our own.  The life of the Spirit cannot be controlled or manipulated; it cannot be taken by force.  It can only be received.  But that has never stopped us from pursuing and trying to find life on our own.  We do it all the time.  Where do we really believe life comes from anyway? 

     The reality is that real life—true life, abundant life—comes only from God.  Everything else is just a cheap imitation.  He is the giver of life and we are the receivers.  Oh sure, there are certain things we can do to ensure that the soil of our souls is fertile and receptive to whatever God may want to plant within us, but the growth of it is all up to him.  The fruitfulness—as opposed to productivity—of our hearts and souls and lives is up to God.  It happens at his discretion and his control, not our own.  All we can do is heed the words of Isaiah 55 and come, listen, give ear, and hear.  The rest is up to him.


Closing Prayer: “Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.” (Isaiah 55:1-3, The Message)

Monday, July 22, 2019


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to truly believe that your grace really is sufficient.  Help me to truly believe that your power really is made perfect in my weakness.  Help me to not be afraid to risk doing the things that are beyond my power to do, in order that your power might be on display for all to see.  And I can only do this, Lord Jesus, if you give me the strength and the courage to do so.  Lord Jesus, give me the power to be weak.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Journal: How do you deal with your areas of weakness?  Have you ever viewed them as an opportunity for God’s power to be revealed?  How can you allow your weaknesses to be an avenue for God to manifest his power?

Reflection: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
     I don’t know about you, but I go to great lengths to try and hide my weaknesses.  I even go so far as to try and never operate outside my areas of strength.  I do this, I suppose, because my goal in life is for everyone to think the best of me.  The problem is that when I live my life trying to make everyone think the best of me, I leave one significant thing out—God!  I forget that this life is not about me at all, but about him.
     Paul got that.  I guess that’s why he could make this outlandish statement about gladly boasting about his weaknesses.  I mean, who does that?  Someone who cares more about God’s glory that his own, that’s who.  Someone who realizes that God’s power is on full display when we are completely out of the way.  Someone who understands that we actually block people’s view of God when we are trying to get them to look at us.  Someone who realizes that when he is operating out of his own strength, he is actually keeping God’s power from being made perfect.
     O Lord, help me to be more like Paul.  Help me to embrace and celebrate my weaknesses, because they are opportunities for you to show your power.  For when I try to hide my weaknesses, I am actually hiding—or denying—the sufficiency of your grace.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, help me to be more like Paul.  Help me to embrace and celebrate my weaknesses, because they are opportunities for you to show your power.  For when I try to hide my weaknesses, I am actually hiding—or denying—the sufficiency of your grace.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that I belong to you, and that your desire is for me.  Although it is hard for me to believe at times, that does not change the fact that it is true.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Scripture: Song of Songs 7:10

Journal: How does the desire for belonging take shape in your life?  What would it mean to have your need for belonging fully met in Jesus?

Reflection: It is crazy how much time and energy and effort I expend trying to belong, when all of the belonging I could ever hope for—and more—is already mine in Jesus.  It is like I am working and working, trying to achieve something that I have already been given. 


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O Lord, when I run to the world to get something that only you can give me.  Thank you that I belong to you.

Friday, July 19, 2019

true self

Opening Prayer: For you, O God, created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:13-18, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 139:13-18

Journal: How do you think God sees you?  How do you think he thinks about you?  How do the words of Psalm 139 speak to that?  What captures your heart in these verses?  Why?

Reflection: Life batters and shapes us in all sorts of ways before it's done, but those original selves which we were born with and which I believe we continue in some measure to be no matter what are selves which still echo with the holiness of their origin. I believe that what Genesis suggests is that this original self, with the print of God's thumb still upon it, is the most essential part of who we are and is buried deep in all of us as a source of wisdom and strength and healing which we can draw upon or, with our terrible freedom, not draw upon as we choose. I think that among other things all real art comes from that deepest self—painting, writing music, dance, all of it that in some way nourishes the spirit and enriches the understanding. I think that our truest prayers come from there too, the often unspoken, unbidden prayers that can rise out of the lives of unbelievers as well as believers whether they recognize them as prayers or not. And I think that from there also come our best dreams and our times of gladdest playing and taking it easy and all those moments when we find ourselves being better or stronger or braver or wiser than we are.  —Telling Secrets by Frederick Buechner


Closing Prayer: For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You as I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable! Even when I wake up, I am still near to You. (Psalm 139:13-18, The Voice)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

God's kiss

Opening Prayer: O Lord, kiss me with the kisses of your mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.  

Scripture: Song of Songs 1:2

Journal: When was the last time you received God’s kiss?  What did it do within you?  Will you receive it again today? 

Reflection: The soul that has received the kiss of the Savior—and continues to receive his kiss—is a grateful, joyful, captured soul.  It does not complain or criticize or worry because it has been—and is continually being—filled to overflowing with the unfailing love of God.  It has truly been—and is continuing to be—seized by the power of the Great Affection.


Closing Prayer: How I long to finally graduate from being led by fear and insecurity, to being led by your love and your Spirit alone—no shadows, only light.  Help that, Lord Jesus, not only to be my hope, but my reality.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

my grace

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, in the end all any of us really need is your grace.  Oh we might convince ourselves that we need so much more than that, but when it comes right down to it, your grace is all we need.  Help us to live as if that were true.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Journal: Is God’s grace sufficient for you right now?  Honestly?  Why or why not?

Reflection: My grace is sufficient for you.  No, really, it is!  So stop trying to earn my love and favor.  Stop trying to make it on your own.  Stop beating yourself up and wearing yourself out.  Stop trying to arrange your life in such a way that you won’t need me quite so much.  My grace really is sufficient for you.  It is all you need. 


Closing Prayer: Help me to let your grace be enough for me today, Lord Jesus.  For if I really believe your grace is enough, it changes everything.  It totally changes the way I live my life.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

the tale of two men

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me when I get too full of myself.  For when I do that there is no room for you.  Give me the strength and the courage to humble myself before you today, that there would be plenty of space within me for you to move and to work and to act.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 18:9-14

Journal: What about this passage stirs your heart?  What disturbs you?  Which man can you relate to most?  Why?

Reflection: Once upon a time there were two men; one who thought he had it all together, and the other who was painfully aware that he did not.  One who was pretty sure that he was God’s gift to humanity, and the other who was pretty sure humanity didn’t even know his name.  One who was constantly seeking the spotlight, and the other who was content in the shadows.  One who was ever climbing upward, and the other who was well acquainted with the downward path.  One who was so in love with his own observations and opinions that he couldn’t wait to share his “wisdom” with anyone and everyone in his path, and the other who was fully aware that the only thing he really knew was that he did not know.  One who thought he knew how to pray, and the other who realized he didn’t even know what prayer really was.  One who was so full of himself that there was not any room for anyone or anything else, and the other who was so empty that there was plenty of room for God and others.  One who was destined to be humbled, and the other who humbled himself.  Which one would you rather be, one or the other?


Closing Prayer: God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to choose the path of humility today, whatever that may look like.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 18:1-4

Journal: How will you choose humility today?  Concretely, what will that look like?

Reflection: Humility is, by its very nature, something that must be chosen.  It is a direction we must be determined to go.  It is a choice we all must make.  Humility is when we choose down instead of up, small instead of big, hidden instead of seen, others instead of self.  It is something we must do to ourselves (by God’s grace and strength), not merely something that is done unto us.  We may, indeed, be humbled by the events and circumstances of our lives, but whether or not that produces humility is really up to us.
     It has long been said that “it takes a whole lot of humiliation to get just a little bit of humility.”  But humiliation does not always lead to humility.  In fact, it often leads to anger and resentment and bitterness.  It is what we do with the humiliation that makes humility a possibility.  That’s why Jesus says, “Humble yourselves.”  The only question is: How will we do that today?


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you made yourself nothing for us.  May we do the same for you this day.  Amen.

Monday, July 1, 2019

the river

Opening Prayer: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day. (Psalm 46:4-5

Scripture: Revelation 22:1-5

Journal: What would it look like for you to come to the river today?  What is your soul really thirsty for?

Reflection: The first thing she did, after she had taken in her surroundings, was to step toward the river which gushed out from under the altar.  It drew her irresistibly.  She stooped down when she got to the bank and dabbled her fingers in the crystal water.  It was icy cold, but it sent a shock of ecstasy tingling through her body, and without further delay she put off the white linen robe she was wearing and stepped into one of the rocky pools.  Never had she experienced anything so delicious and exhilarating.  It was like immersing herself in a stream of bubbling life.  When at last she again stepped out of the pool she was immediately dry and tingling from head to foot with a sense of perfect well-being.
     As she stood on the mossy bank by the pool she happened to glance down and noticed for the first time that her feet were no longer the crooked, ugly things which they always had been, but were “straight feet,” perfectly formed, shining white against the soft green grass.
     Then she remembered the healing stream of which the Shepherd had spoken, which gushed out of the ground on the High Places.  Stepping straight back into the pool with a shock of sweetest pleasure and putting her head beneath the clear waters, she splashed them about her face.  Then she found a little pool among the rocks, still and clear as a mirror.  Kneeling down, she looked into its unruffled surface and saw her face quite clearly.  It was true, the ugly, twisted mouth had vanished and the face she saw reflected back by the water was as relaxed and perfect as the face of a little child. (Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard)


Closing Prayer: Come!  Come!  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)