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Sunday, September 29, 2019

God is enough

Opening Prayer: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

Scripture: Philippians 4:11-12

Journal: Is God enough for you?  What does it do in you when you truly believe that he is?  What does it do in you when you don’t truly believe it?  Where are you in that journey right now?

Reflection: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether I am well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12, NIV)
     God is enough.  He is everything we need.  Evidently Paul learned this, although it probably didn’t come easy.  Paul knew that circumstances didn’t determine his life, but God did.  And if God determines everything about our lives, then we don’t need circumstances to be pleasant, convenient, comfortable, or favorable.  That’s how Paul could write, “I have learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances.”  The Greek word used here (in Phil. 4:11) is autark─ôs, which means sufficient or enough.  Thus, we are only able to be truly content when we really believe that God is enough.  
     Unfortunately, we don’t always fully believe that.  In fact, sometimes we don’t even believe it a little bit.  And it has an enormous impact on how we live our lives.  If we do not really believe that God is enough, then we have to turn to ourselves, or to others, to fill in the gaps.  That’s where it gets really ugly.  We become anxious and angry and frustrated, or depressed and driven and demanding.  We become the very worst version of ourselves.  
     But if we can ever get to the point where we truly believe that God is enough, then we can rest in his enough-ness.  His enough-ness, and not that of ourselves or our circumstances, allows us to truly trust in him.  If God is really enough, then we don’t have to be.  And we do not have to demand that others be enough for us.  In fact, it frees us up to be able to love them, rather than manipulate love out of them.  If God is enough, then whatever others have to offer us—if anything—is enough because we are not depending on them for our sense of well-being.  If God is enough, then we have enough—however much or little that may be.  And if God is enough, then we are enough in him.  It is his love alone that determines our value and our worth.  We do not have to jockey and posture and perform for everyone.  Our identity is securely rooted in him; it is not tied to what we do, what we have, or how we look.  
     So I pray that, this very day, we will all get to know God’s enough-ness.  For until we get to know him, really know him, we never will know how enough he really is.


Closing Prayer: God, my shepherd!  I don’t need a thing. (Psalm 23:1, The Message)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Opening Prayer: O Lord, help me to empty myself of all that is not you.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 131:1

Journal: What is your soul occupied with these days?  How can you empty it that God might fill you?

Reflection: “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” (Psalm 131:1)  
     There are no two ways about it, the occupied soul is one that has no room for God.  And it doesn’t even matter how great and marvelous the things are which occupy it.  They are taking up space that was designed for God, space that was created to be filled by him alone.  These things are consuming precious time and energy and attention that needs to be given to the life of the Spirit within and around us.  
     Thus, an emptying is necessary.  Or, at the very least, a stilling and a quieting must take place.  If we want to dwell with God, if we want to enjoy his presence and hear his voice and be aware of his activity in our lives, we must begin the process of calming our souls.  This is likely to involve some silence and solitude and prayer.  It is likely to require a place that is out of the normal traffic flow of our lives, one without noise and frenzy and activity.  We must allow the turbulent waters of our soul to become still and quiet, so we might be able to see what is underneath.  So we might be able to hear the still, small voice of the Spirit as it speaks to us in our depths. 
     The only question is: Will we make the time and the space necessary for this to happen?  If not, we should never expect that our souls would be anything other than occupied


Closing Prayer: O Lord, forgive us when we become occupied, when we get too full of ourselves that we get a little too big for our britches.  Forgive us when we fall in love with our own observations and opinions and begin to take ourselves far too seriously.  Forgive us when we begin to think that we can handle things on our own, or make things happen for ourselves.  For when we do these things, we take up all the space and leave no room for you to move and to act.
     Humble us, O Lord, and make us like little children in the arms of their mother.  Not children who are needy and demanding, but weaned children who are still and calm, safe and secure—fully satisfied in you.  Content to just be held in your loving embrace.  For that is what our hearts—and yours—most deeply long for.  Amen.

Friday, September 20, 2019


Opening Prayer: Give us a God-listening heart, O God, that we may know you and your wisdom, rather than just the wisdom of this world.  Amen.

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

Journal: What is wisdom to you?  What is wisdom under the sun?  What is wisdom under heaven?  How do you tell the difference?

Reflection:  What is wisdom, really?  The answer to that question, I suppose, depends on who you ask.  At least that’s what the book of Ecclesiastes would lead us to believe.  Because in the book of Ecclesiastes there are two key phrases that need to have special attention paid to them: under the sun and under heaven.  Those two phrases are meant to guide us through the wisdom of the rest of the book.  Under the sun refers to seeing things from the world’s perspective, while under heaven challenges us to see all things from God’s point of view.  Thus, when we talk about wisdom under the sun, we come up with a much different definition and description than when we talk about it under heaven.     
     In our day, and in our culture, the wise seem to be those who can articulate their thoughts the most compellingly and sell them the most convincingly.  But is that really wisdom, or merely salesmanship?  Is the voice of wisdom the one that is loudest and strongest and most passionate—or even the most articulate?  Is the voice of wisdom the one that claims to know all, the one that claims to be wise?  Or is the voice of wisdom the one that is soft and quiet and gentle; the one that is humble and far less sure of itself?  After all, wasn’t it Socrates who said, “The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.”?
     I think we all have a desire to be seen as wise by those around us, maybe that’s why we so often raise our voices; in order to convince our world—and maybe even ourselves at times—that we actually know what we are talking about.  But is that true wisdom?  Something tells me that true wisdom doesn’t really care about being thought wise.
     So, in our quest for wisdom, we might be wise to pay careful attention to what voices we listen to.  Are they merely the loudest and strongest and most articulate?  Or are they the voices that ring with the Spirit of grace and the truth, the Spirit of love and peace and compassion?  Those are the voices that are under heaven rather than merely under the sun.


Closing Prayer: Give us wisdom from above, O God—wisdom under heaven—that we might know you and know how you want us to live.  Amen.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

have mercy

Opening Prayer: Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord: O Lord, hear my voice.  Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (Psalm 130:1-2, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 130:1-8

Journal: What is mercy to you?  How are crying out to God for mercy these days? 

Reflection: What is mercy, exactly?  It is a word we often use, but what does it really mean?  And what are we actually asking for when we ask someone to have mercy on us?  The blind man in Mark 10:47 begged Jesus for mercy.  And the tax collector of Luke 18:13 stood at a distance with his eyes downcast and beat his breast as he asked God to have mercy on him.  But what is mercy?
     The dictionary would tell us that mercy is compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power.  It is compassion, pity, or benevolence.  The cry for mercy is a cry for unmerited favor.  But those just seem like words on a page that fail to capture the true emotion and posture of someone begging for mercy.  For this request does not come lightly, it comes out of the depths.  It is what happens when we are desperate, powerless, or at the end of our rope.  We ask for mercy when it becomes evident that there is no other alternative, no other way out, or through.  For if there was another alternative, if there was some other way, surely we would try it.  
     The person begging for mercy is the one who has come to the end of himself, and is totally dependent on someone greater to enter in and act benevolently on his behalf.  Therefore, the cry for mercy is one that comes from a posture of total humility, dependence, and surrender.  You don’t beg for mercy if you have hope that somehow you might be able figure it out or muscle your way through on your own.  It involves a realization of both the gravity of our own situation, as well as our utter powerlessness to do anything about it.
     The beautiful thing is that when we do eventually cry out in desperation for God’s mercy, he responds, “Finally!  This is music to my ears.  I have been waiting and waiting for you to come to the end of yourself and turn to me.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  Now the real work can begin.”


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

Monday, September 9, 2019

do you want to get well?

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, all too often, if I’m really honest, I have to admit that I really do not want to get well.  Forgive me for that.  Give me the desire for all of the life and the love you created me for.  Help me to never be content to settle for less.  Amen.

Scripture: John 5:1-15

Journal: Do you want to get well?  What does that mean to you?  How is Jesus asking you that today?

Reflection: “Do you want to get well?”  What a question!  Easy to answer, perhaps; on the surface of things anyway.  But when we dig down to the real questions and issues and beliefs and doubts and patterns of our lives, it is not so easy after all.  That is probably why Jesus asks (notice I didn’t say asked) it.  What is your answer?
     If we really want to get well, then why do we keep living as if we don’t?  Why do we keep feeding the false narratives and dysfunctional patterns that we say we so desperately want to get rid of?  For the narratives and patterns that we feed are the ones that are going to grow.
     So maybe the question is not quite so simple after all, but incredibly profound.  Do you want to get well?  Do you?  Really?  If so, then Jesus gives you the power and ability to do so.  If you are willing to “Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk.”  What do you say?


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I would rather live in my brokenness and dysfunction than in your fullness and wholeness.  It baffles me that I would even consider that, but I do.  Help me to choose life today.  Help me to choose you.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

all or nothing

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you look at me and love me.  But that doesn’t stop you from demanding all from me.  Help me to have the courage and the strength to leave all else behind and follow you.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:17-23

Journal: What do you treasure these days more than you treasure Jesus?  What would it look like to leave that behind and follow him?  Will you?

Reflection: Lord Jesus, forgive me when I desire attention and admiration more than I desire you.  Forgive me when I seek approval and affirmation before I seek you.  Forgive me when I treasure the things of this world more than I treasure you.  Be my all, Lord Jesus, this day and every day.


Closing Prayer: Help me to hear your call upon my life this day, Lord Jesus, and respond with a resounding, “Yes!”