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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

the point

Opening Prayer: Jesus, be the point today.  Period.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

Journal: How do you try to constantly make things about you?  What is the result?  How does it get in God’s way?  What would it look like today if Jesus was the point?  Will you let him be?

Reflection: Why on earth would God choose to reveal himself to a bunch of lowly shepherds, rather than to kings and dignitaries?  Maybe because shepherds would realize that they were not the point, and the others would not.  You see, the quickest way to get in the way of what God is doing is to try and make it all about you.  In fact, that’s exactly what King Herod did; and everyone saw the ugly result.  But the lowly shepherds knew better; they knew that nothing was about them.  Thus, they were the ones entrusted with the incredible news of the new born king. 
     When are we ever going to get it through our heads that we are not the point?  For when we finally stop trying to be the point, we will find that life is a lot less frustrating.  

Prayer

Closing Prayer: please remind me, Lord Jesus, that it’s not about me, today and every day.  Amen.


Monday, December 30, 2019

why to shepherds

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to pay attention to all of the ways, and all of the places, you will be born into this world—and this heart—today.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

Journal: Why do you think the birth of Jesus was first revealed to shepherds?  How might you become more attentive and receptive to however, wherever, and whenever God might choose to reveal himself?  What is currently hindering that?

Reflection:

          why to shepherds

why to shepherds 
and not to kings

was there something about your coming
that was only able to be perceived
by those who were aware of their own need
those not jockeying or posturing or climbing
those not too busy or too consumed or too caught up
in their own spinning

the preoccupied had no room for you
no eye to see the shining star
no ear to hear the heavenly host
no feet that hurried to the manger

not a lot has changed 
in two thousand years
the lowly are still more attentive
the humble more open
the empty more willing to receive 

when you come today
(and you will come)
will i even notice
or will i continue to 
be swept up in a frenzy of activity
unable to see the star 
shining in the night sky
unable to hear the heavenly anthem
echoing in the world 
within and around

oh to be content 
to be a shepherd
rather than constantly trying
to be a king

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Whatever it takes, Lord Jesus, to make me more attentive to, aware of, and receptive to your coming, that is what I want.  Help me not to get so full of myself that there is no room for you.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

a new thing

Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you that you are always at work within and around us, whether we can perceive it or not.  Help us to pay careful attention today, so that we do not miss what you are up to.  Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19

Journal: What new thing is God doing in you these days?  What is he doing new within you?  What is he doing new around you?  How is he inviting you into that?

Reflection: See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." ~Isaiah 43:19

God: I am doing a new thing, something deep in your heart and soul.  Something so deep that you may not even be able to perceive it yet, but it is there.  I am waking something up in you.  I am coming alive in you in some brand new way.  All you have to do is pay attention, be open, make room for it to grow and take root, and then fully receive it.  I will do the rest.  What do you think about that?

Me: Yes, please!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Be born in us anew today, O Lord, that we might become more and more the people you long for us to be.  Amen.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

i have and i will

Opening Prayer: For all that has been—Thanks.  For all that shall be—Yes. ~Dag Hammarskold

Scripture: Isaiah 42:5-7

Journal: How does it make you feel to know that God has already called you in righteousness?  What does that produce within you?  How does it make you feel to know that he will take hold of your hand, keep you and make you to be?  What does that produce in you?  How does that help you to live life today?

Reflection: I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  I will keep you and will make you to be. . .” (Isaiah 42:6)
     “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness.  It is something I have already done.  I, the Lord, Jehovah, the Eternal One, the Maker of the heavens and the earth, have already called you my very own.  In the same way I called the light into the darkness, and in the same way I called the light Day and the darkness Night, so I have already called you.  I have given you a name and an identity that can never be taken away.  It is who you really are.  You are mine and I love you.  Never, ever, forget that.  Live in the freedom and truth of that love every day.  
     But the beautiful thing is that it doesn’t stop there, for there are also things that I will do.  I will take hold of your hand, you are not alone.  I will lead and guide you.  I will walk with you and be intimately close to you.  I will also keep you.  I will protect you and provide for you and take care of you.  And finally, I will make you to be.  You do not have to make yourself to be, I will make you to be.  I will make you to be who you really are—the uniquely beautiful work of my limitless love and wild imagination.  
     So live your life in full knowledge and joyful expectation of these things.”

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, O God, that I am yours.  Thank you that you have spoken me into being in righteousness, that I have a true name and a true identity and a true calling in you that can never be taken away.  Help me to live my life, this day, in the full assurance of that truth and in joyful anticipation of that future.  Amen.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

yes

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you are always yes in Christ Jesus.  May the yes of my soul meet the yes of your heart and produce the fruit of the kingdom within and around me.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:20-22

Journal: How does it make you feel to hear that God is yes rather than no?  Where do you find his yes deep within you?  Where have you heard it or been captured by it recently?  

Reflection: God is yes.  What a different story from the one many of us grew up hearing; how God was mostly—if not completely—no.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  God is yes, and all of the promises of God are yes in Jesus.  Thus, when the yes of God combines with the yes that he buried deep within our souls (the image of the God in whom we were made), something incredibly special happens—an amen pours forth.  Who God is and who we are come mysteriously and marvelously together.  We have union with God in Christ.  It is God’s deepest desire for us.
     If we will search deep within our hearts for that yes, we will find him, and be found by him.  We will become more and more the people he created us to be.  His yes and our yes will be in complete harmony.  When we search his Word each day, his yes will find us, and our yes will well up in our hearts.  It is his pursuit of us.  It is the place where we come alive.  So search you heart, and his Word, today for his yes—and yours.  Amen and amen!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: For all that has been—Thanks.  For all that shall be—Yes. ~Dag Hammarskold


Friday, December 20, 2019

becoming versus settling

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you came to earth to hasten my becoming.  Forgive me when I am content to settle for less than that.  Amen.

Scripture: John 1:10-13

Journal: What word best describes your life these days, becoming or settling?  Why?  What does becoming look like for you these days?  How is God calling you to become?

Reflection: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor a human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10-13)
     It is so easy to get lulled to sleep in this life—to get so busy surviving and maintaining and managing—that we forget that the chief end of us all is that of becoming.  In the fury and the flurry of daily living, we lose track of the radical nature of the gospel call and end up settling for far less than what God desires for us.  He wants us continually becoming.  Life with Jesus is always about becoming, not about settling.
     Jesus doesn’t want us to simply accept life as it is, but to strain toward and reach out for all that it can become.  I am not talking about earning or achieving or striving, I am talking about simply becoming more and more who and what we were created to be—children of God.  When we truly believe that we are God’s beloved children, and fully receive the gift of his great love and affection, we will begin to become more like him.  Our lives will be an expression of the very life of God welling up within us and then expressing itself through us.  That’s what becoming is all about.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Jesus, do not let me get lulled to sleep by life.  Help me never to settle for less, when you want so much more.  Wake me up to your love and affection, so that I can be captured by it completely and, thus, become all that you dreamt me to be.  Amen.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

joseph

Opening Prayer: Remind me, O God, that this life is not about me, but about you.  Help me to be who and what you want me to be today—no more, no less.  Amen. 

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

Journal: How is God asking you to be more like Joseph today?

Reflection:  You’ve got to love Joseph.  Lesser men would have buckled under the social, spiritual, and emotional strain of all that God was asking him to believe and to do, but not him.  He did not flinch, but remained true to who he was and to who God was asking him to be.  
     He loved and cared for his wife, in spite of the social and religious stigma attached to her being pregnant before they were married.  He listened to, believed, and obeyed his God, rather than being swayed and coerced by the voices and opinions of those around him.  In fact, even in the midst of being pressured by friends and family to take matters into his own hands, he, instead, did all that the angel of the Lord had commanded.
     And perhaps most remarkably of all, he was willing to play a seemingly minor (yet significant) role in God’s unfolding story of redemption.  I mean, who does that?  Who in their right mind is willing to be a background character in the powerful play?  Joseph, that’s who.
     I have so much to learn from him—one of the main things being that this life is not about me, but about God. It is about Jesus coming in and through me into his world.  I am not the main character, even in my own story.  For even my own story is not about me, but about him.  He occupies center stage.  I am but a minor character in his unfolding drama, not vice versa.  Maybe it’s time I started living like it—like Joseph did.  

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, be the center of my life, this day and every day.  Help my whole life to revolve around you, and not vice versa.  Amen. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

scarcity and abundance

Opening Prayer: Jesus, thank you that you came to show us how to live out of abundance rather than scarcity.  Teach us how to do that.  Amen.

Scripture: John 10:10

Journal: How are you living out of scarcity rather than abundance these days?  What does that look like?  How is Jesus calling you to more than that?  How does he want you to live in abundance?  Why do you think you continue to live in scarcity?

Reflection: It’s amazing how easy it is to fall into the trap of seeing (and living) life in terms of scarcity rather than abundance.  Scarcity has to do with the notion that there is only so much (love, significance, affirmation, notoriety, money, etc.) to go around, so you better grab yours or someone else will.  Thus, it creates a lot of anxiety and insecurity and uncertainty and pressure within us.  We are constantly jockeying and posturing and measuring and comparing and performing, in order to get our share.  Which makes it impossible to love and appreciate and celebrate each other, since others are threats and competitors rather than brothers and sisters.  The Enemy loves this kind of thinking.  In fact, he majors in it.  It does exactly what he has come to do—it kills and destroys.
     Jesus, however, talked about abundance.  In fact, he came that we might have life that is abundant.  He came to show us that there more than enough love and affection and significance to go around.  His love is unlimited, it is super-abundant, and it is eternal.  It will never run out or dry up.  There is no expiration date.  And when I really start to believe that, I can really live, and I can really love the way he created me to.
     So this very day, Jesus wants me to live in, and out of, the abundance of his love.  The only question is: Will I?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Jesus, give me the abundant life that you created for me, and help me to be a vehicle of that abundance to others.  Amen.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

magnify

Opening Prayer: My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble estate of his servant.

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56

Journal: What is your life magnifying these days?  Who are you making great?  What would it look like to make God great in your life and work and ministry?  How will you magnify him today?

Reflection: Mary got it.  She just got it.  She understood that, as hard as it probably was to remember sometimes, this life was not about her, but about God.  You can see it in her response to the angel.  You get a deep sense of it as you consider the full implications of exactly what the angel was telling her.  And you definitely see it—and hear it—in her prayer.
     “My soul magnifies the Lord.  My soul makes him great, enlarges him, draws all of the attention to him.”  That is what the human soul was created to do.  The sole purpose of our lives is to make God great, to magnify him, to enlarge him, to continually proclaim and reveal his greatness.  Everything else is merely distraction.
     How will you magnify him today?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, O God, that during this season we celebrate your coming into the world through Mary.  And now it is our turn to be the means through which you enter the world again and again.  Help us to magnify you.  Amen.

Monday, December 16, 2019

overshadowed

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, that Mary said yes to being overshadowed.  I pray that I will be brave enough and willing enough to do the same.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

Journal: How are you drawn to the idea of being overshadowed by the power of the Most High?  How are you resistant to it?  What is God inviting you to?  What is your response to his invitation?

Reflection: The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35)
     What an absolutely beautiful phrase: The power of the Most High will overshadow you!  It is the essence of the spiritual life; Mary shows us that.  The angel comes to her and says that the power of the Most High God will overshadow her, and her response is simply, “I am the Lord’s servant.  Let it be to me as you have said.”  She recognizes that her life is not about her, but about God.  He is the one writing the story, and a far bigger story than she can possibly imagine.  A story in which he is the focal point—his holiness, his character, his love—and she is simply the willing recipient.  We would do well to follow her lead.  
     For some reason, we continually try to make it all about us.  We are deeply resistant to the idea of being overshadowed.  And the world in which we live reinforces that resistance.  Our world encourages us to never let anyone or anything overshadow us.  Be heard!  Be seen!  Demand that those around you take notice of you!  Yet the life of the Spirit encourages the direct opposite of this.  Be last.  Be lowest.  Be least.  That is the life Jesus calls us to.  That is the life in which the work of the Spirit is on full display.
     Mary was willing to be overshadowed.  The Greek word used here is episkiaz┼Ź, which means to cast shade upon, or to be enveloped in a haze of brilliance.  It is the same word used to describe what happened at the Transfiguration when the disciples were enveloped by the cloud (Luke 9:34).  Simply put, Mary was willing to disappear into God, to be completely enveloped by him.  She was willing to give up all rights and expectations and demands for herself because, ultimately, she was the Lord’s servant—his desire, his life, and his glory was what really mattered.
     What about me?  Is it the same for me?  Am I willing to be overshadowed by the power of the Most High?  Am I willing to live the overshadowed life?  Am I willing to disappear into God, that he may live his life in and through me?  Thanks be to God that Mary was willing to be overshadowed.  I pray that I will be as well.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Yes, Father!  Yes!  And always Yes!  ~Francis de Sales

Sunday, December 15, 2019

how can i be sure

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that you are faithful and true.  Thank you that we do not have to worry over and over again if we can trust you—we can.  Help us to do so again today.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 1:5-25

Journal: Where in your life are you asking the question: “How can I be sure of this?”  Where is God saying to you: “How can you not be?”  How is he asking you to trust him these days?  Will you?

Reflection: Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18)
     It’s a good question.  After all, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were most likely well over sixty when this visitation took place.  They were both significantly past their child bearing years, so how was this even possible?  In the original language, Zechariah basically referred to himself as elderly, while, wisely, being a little kinder in the description of his wife as advanced in years.  His mama didn’t raise no fool.
     So the question (“How can I be sure of this?”) is a good one.  But a better question is: “How can you not be?”  After all, it’s an angel we’re talking about here.  That didn’t happen every day.  As a matter of fact, it hadn’t happened for over four hundred years.  So remarkable was the encounter that the scriptures described Zechariah as startled and gripped with fear.  It definitely got his full attention.  And yet, Zechariah was still slow to believe all that the angel told him.  I wonder why?  I mean, if a visit from an angel can’t convince you that God is at work, what will it take? 
     But if we are really honest, we all have to admit that Zechariah’s question is the one that lives in the depths of each of our hearts.  Even after God has proven himself trustworthy over and over again throughout the course of our lives, we still tend to doubt.  We still wonder how we can be sure that this time he will show himself to be faithful once again.
     Where is this question dwelling in your heart these days?  Where is God asking you to trust him and you are still having a hard time doing so?  How does his faithfulness in the past give you the assurance that you can trust him yet again?  Will you? 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Help us to really trust you, O Lord, this day and every day.  Amen.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

the snort

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you are constantly at work, redeeming our pain.  Thank you that one day it will be no more.  Help us to live our lives today in full knowledge of that reality.  Amen.

Scripture: John 11:32-44

Journal: How does God feel about your pain?  How is he with you in your pain?  How is he at work redeeming it?  How is he for you in your pain?  What does the knowledge of that do within you?

Reflection: All groans are not created equal; John 11:33-38 is prime evidence of that.  In John 11, Jesus finds himself in the hometown of his dear friend Lazarus.  It has been four days since his death and Jesus, and Lazarus’ sisters, are on the way to his tomb.  As expected, there is a lot of grief and sadness and mourning and pain.  And twice, as the story unfolds, we see that Jesus is deeply moved in spirit and troubled by what he sees.  
     The word used here for deeply moved (translated groan in the KJV), both in verse 33 and verse 38 of John 11, is embrimaomai.  It means to snort with anger or indignation.  It is a completely different word than the one (also translated groan) used in Romans 8:22 and Mark 7:34 (stenaz┼Ź), which describes a more compassionate “groaning with.”  The word used in John 11 clearly has a bit of an angry edge to it.  I suppose that’s why Eugene Peterson (in The Message) translates John 11:33, “a deep anger welled up within him.” 
     Which raises a great question: Who or what, exactly, was Jesus angry at?  Some say that Jesus was angry at Mary for her lack of belief, but I don’t buy that for a second.  That is simply not the Jesus that I know.  A Jesus that is angry at us when we grieve the loss of a loved one is not the Jesus I see in the gospels.  In fact, Jesus was heartbroken for Mary and Martha, which is why he wept.  His anger is not at them, but at the brokenness of this fallen world.  He was not angry at Mary, he was angry for Mary, which is a whole different type of anger altogether.  This was an anger over the fact that this was not the way the it was intended to be.  And I really like that.
     That type of anger assures me that God is constantly at work making everything right once again.  He is not just sitting idly by as we wallow around in our pain.  It also shows us that he is not just with us in our suffering (which is huge in and of itself), but he is actually working for us.  Thus, each of us can rest assured that at some point he will redeem all of the pain and all of the suffering and all of the brokenness we have experienced over the course of our lifetimes.  That’s why he says to Martha: “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  Death and suffering and brokenness and decay and pain do not have the final word, life does.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, O God, that death is not the end of the story, but life is.  Help me to really believe that as I navigate this fallen and broken world.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

he sighed

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, O Lord, when I think you don’t care about my pain.  The fact is that nothing could be further from the truth.  You do care—deeply.  My pain and brokenness breaks your heart and causes you to groan.  For only a brokenhearted God could know how I feel when I am broken and alone.  And only a brokenhearted God would care enough to come and enter into my brokenness, and even take it on himself, so that I might be healed.  Thank you that you are a God who cares and a God who heals.  Come and heal us all this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 7:31-37

Journal: What is causing your heart and soul to groan these days?  Why?  How are you longing for Jesus to show up in the midst of that?  When Jesus looks deeply into your heart and soul, what causes him to sigh, or to groan?

Reflection:  There is so much I love about this story!  I love that there were some people who cared enough to bring their friend to Jesus.  I love that these people were so certain that Jesus could do something to help, or to heal, their friend that they begged him to place his hands on the man.  I love that somehow they thought that if Jesus just touched him, then something magical would happen.  They were right.
     And I love that Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd.  For far too long, and in the worst possible way, this man had been the center of attention everywhere he went—and not the kind of attention that is normally seen as positive.  He had been the object of points and stares and whispers.  The target of shame and disgust and scorn.  He had been seen through the eyes of judgment, the eyes of disdain, and the eyes of pity.  And now Jesus simply wanted him focused on the Eyes of Love, so he took him aside, away from the crowd.  There is a lesson to be learned here: If you want to have an intimate and healing encounter with Jesus, it is most likely to happen away from the crowd.  Our problem is that typically we play to the crowd far more than we focus on Jesus.
     I love that Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, and then spit and touched the man’s tongue.  Jesus identified the very areas that had brought this dear man so much pain and brokenness and ridicule, and put his hands right on those very places.  That’s how Jesus works.  He gets his healing hands of love and he places them directly on our most wounded, broken areas.
     But it is what comes next that I love the most: Jesus looked up to heaven and then he sighed.  “Okay, so what’s the big deal?” you might ask.  “So he sighed, so what?  What’s so significant about that?”  Well, I’ll tell you what is so significant about it, it wasn’t just any ordinary sigh.  This was not a bored sigh, or an indifferent sigh, or even a delighted sigh.  It was actually more of a groan, the kind of groan that is talked about in Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 5.  A groan as in the pains of childbirth.  This wasn’t any old sigh, it was a groan that came up from the core of Jesus’ being.  It was a groan of sadness and pain and frustration; a groan that bemoaned the fact that life was not intended to be this way.  It was a groan that recognized the deep brokenness and pain of God’s once beautiful, completely whole creation.  It was the groan of a God who is heartbroken over our brokenness—a God who groans right along with us, until the day when everything will be made whole and new.
     Now that’s a God I can get excited about.  No wonder the people responded the way they did: They were overwhelmed with amazement and said, “He has done everything well.  He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: I stand amazed, Lord Jesus, that you care enough about my pain to groan.  I stand amazed that you care enough about my pain to reach out your healing hands of love and touch the most broken places in my heart and life.  Touch me with those hands today, that I might offer your healing touch to others in my life and world who desperately need to know you care.  Amen.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

no pain, no gain

Opening Prayer: If pain and suffering and brokenness and sadness are what it takes to make me more like you, O God, then so be it.  Just give me the courage and the strength and the grace and the wisdom to not run away from them, but to embrace them and receive them, and whatever you are doing within me as a result.  Just have mercy on me, O Lord, and that will be enough.  Amen.

Scripture: Romans 8:18-27

Journal: How does your pain offer God space to deepen and expand and arouse and grow your soul?  How has that happened recently?  How will you try to embrace your pain, and what God is doing through it, rather than trying to avoid it?  

Reflection: Simone Weil once said: “There are two things that pierce the human heart.  One is beauty.  The other is affliction.”  If you are like me, you are ready, willing, and able to sign up for the beauty part right here and right now, but not so sure you are up for the affliction part.  I mean, what kind of person would wish, or welcome, pain upon themselves, right? 
     Somehow we need to get over the notion that pain is some kind of cosmic accident that is always bad and should be avoided at all costs.  This way of thinking hinders our growth and maturity in significant ways, because pain always has intent.  God subjected us to this kind of a life in order that we might be liberated from bondage to decay and be brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  Pain has purpose.  Somehow it is through affliction that we come to know real love, and it is through bondage that we come to know true freedom.  God uses our pain and sadness to deepen and widen us, so that we might be able to receive even more of him.  Thus, avoiding pain is avoiding God, and embracing pain is embracing what God is trying to do in and then through us.
     The crazy thing is that God actually uses our pain and our unmet longing to arouse and expand us within.  Just listen to the words of Eugene Peterson: “All around us we observe a pregnant creation.  The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.  But it is not only around us; it is within us.  The Spirit of God is arousing us within.  We’re also feeling the birth pangs.  These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.  That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than it diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (The Message
     So help us, O God, to stop running.  Give us the grace and the courage to stop trying to avoid and escape pain and suffering and brokenness at every opportunity.  Help us to actually embrace it, so that we will receive the gifts that it has to offer—becoming more like you in the process.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Help us, O God, to stop running.  Give us the grace and the courage to stop trying to avoid and escape pain and suffering and brokenness at every opportunity.  Help us to actually embrace it, so that we will receive the gifts that it has to offer—becoming more like you in the process.  Amen.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

voices

Opening Prayer: Lord God, help us listen to your voice, for your words offer life and healing and wholeness.  Amen.

Scripture: Proverbs 4:20-22

Journal: What voices are the loudest within you these days?  What are these voices saying?  What are they producing in you?  Are they from God?  What does God want to say to you today?  How would listening to his words, and believing the truth, affect the way you live?  Which voices will determine your life today?  

Reflection: So much of life is determined by the voices we listen to.  If we listen to the voices of fear and anxiety and insecurity, then we are always in turmoil and chaos.  Never at peace or at rest, at least not for very long anyway.  We live our lives at the mercy of the opinions and attitudes and responses of others.  Thus, our well-being is determined by opinions and surroundings and circumstances.  We are blown to and fro by the winds.  
     If we listen to the voices of shame and condemnation and self-contempt, we are likely to live out of a deep sense of sadness and depression and despair, which beats us up and wears us down and robs us of the energy and the life that God desires for his people.
     But if we listen to the Voice of Love, we are given a whole new set of possibilities.  When we pay attention to the Voice of the One who loves us like no other, the One whose great affection is wilder and more passionate than we dare dream about, then we are able to live in the joy and the freedom of people who have nothing to prove and nothing to lose.  If we pay attention to that voice—to His Voice—then the lesser voices will eventually lose their power over us.  That is how true and lasting change takes place.
     So, my son, my daughter, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them in your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole being.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I allow other voices to determine my life, rather than yours.  For when I live at the mercy of the lies, I can never know the truth which sets me free.  Amen.