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Friday, July 31, 2020

drink

Opening Prayer: How priceless is your unfailing love, O Lord!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:7-9) Thank you!  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 36:7-9

Journal: Will you come and feast on the abundance of his house today?  Will you drink from his river of delights?  How?

Reflection: “You can lead a horse to water,” the old saying goes, “but you can’t make him drink.”  Which is so true, especially when it comes to the life of the Spirit.  God can offer us the opportunity to drink from his river of delights until he’s blue in the face, but until we choose to come and drink, it does us no good.  He will not force his living waters down our throats, nor will he unleash its flow from within us against our will.  He waits for us to come.  The ball, so to speak, is in our court.
     It is in prayer where this unleashing takes place.  It is by prayer that we come and through prayer that we drink.  And not just any kind of prayer, but the still and silent prayer of the seeking heart.  The prayer of listening, rather than speaking.  The prayer of being, rather than doing.  The prayer of silence, rather than words.  Some might even call it contemplation.  It is the kind of prayer in which we simply come before him and drink from the wells of his unfailing love and delight.  Prayer in which we allow ourselves to be seized by the power of his great affection.  Prayer in which we sit with him at his table and feast on the abundance of his presence.
     So come and drink.  The only thing holding you back, is you. 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you that your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Thank you that your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and your justice like the great deep. (Psalm 36:5-6) Help me to come and drink of your great love this day.  Amen.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

settling

Opening Prayer: Why do we settle for less, O Lord?  Why are we content with a life that is so much less than the love and the fullness you desire for us?  Help us, this day, to settle no longer.  Give us the strength and the grace and the courage to totally open ourselves up to you, and to all you have to offer us.  Amen.

Scripture: Jeremiah 2:13

Journal: What is your life like these days?  What words would you use to describe it?  What is your life with God like?  What keeps you from fully experiencing him?  What are the broken wells you typically drink from?  In what ways are you settling for less than the life and the love he offers you?  Why?

Reflection: Why do we settle for less?  Do you ever wonder about that?  If, indeed, God’s love is better than a fine wine, which is rich and full and robust and intoxicating, why do we spend so much of our lives consuming things that pale in comparison?  Why do we continually drink of the “wells” of this world that do nothing more than dull our palates to the things of God?  Why are we so reluctant to give up that which does not (and cannot) satisfy, in order to drink of the things that do?
     The truth is that God wants more for us than we even want for ourselves.  He desperately wants us to know the kisses of his mouth. (Song of Songs 1:2) He longs for us to feast on the abundance of his house and drink from his river of delights. (Psalm 36:8) He yearns for us to know the abundance of his love and his care and his Spirit. (John 10:10) He desires us to know the love that surpasses knowledge and to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:19) He longs to lead us into the desert and speak tenderly to us, to allure us with his great love and affection. (Hosea 2:14) All of this so that we might finally be willing to leave behind our broken cisterns and spend our lives in intimate union with him.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: No more, O God!  Help me to settle no more.  Help me not to settle for some half-assed, watered down version of life and faith that falls so far short of the life you want for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

full

Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that you made me for fullness.  Help me to never settle for anything less than that.  Amen.

Scripture: Ephesians 3:19

Journal: What is your honest knee jerk reaction to the notion that God wants to give you more of himself?  Is there any resistance to the idea?  Why?  How does God want to give you more of himself these days?  What is he asking of you?

Reflection: If I am totally honest, I have to admit that although I am really drawn to the idea of being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, it is also a little scary.  There is, sadly enough, some resistance in me.  There is a part of me that immediately asks the question, “What is it going to cost me?”  Is that not incredibly sad?  The God who dreamt me into being offers to fill me with all of his fullness and I am worried about what I will lose.  Unbelievable!
     The truth is that although we all want more of God, in some ways we are afraid for ask for it.  I think that’s because more of God always means less of me.  And if I am being brutally honest, I am often content to settle for less of God , if it means that I can retain a little more of me.  And I am sure that it breaks God’s heart.  Why in the world would I settle for less, when he made me for so much more?  Yet I do.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord, forgive me when my thinking gets so screwed up that I resist the fullness you want to offer me, in order to retain my own independence.  Forgive me when I get so afraid of what I might lose, that I resist the very thing that will give me the life and the love I most deeply long for.  Have mercy on me, O Lord.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to open myself up to all of the fullness you long to give me.  Amen.

Monday, July 27, 2020

the thief

Opening Prayer: Help us to hear your voice this day, O Good Shepherd, so that we might know you and follow you.  For you are the only one who can give us the life and the love we most deeply long for.  Amen.

Scripture: John 10:10

Journal: How is your joy these days?  What about your faith?  And how about your peace?  Is there a “thief” trying to steal and kill and destroy them?  Is he succeeding?  How will you fight against him?  How will you open yourself up to the abundant life and love the Good Shepherd wants for you instead?

Reflection: A successful thief doesn’t draw attention to himself.  If he did, he would be identified and apprehended.  That’s why he prefers to live in the shadows and to come when we are asleep or preoccupied.  He loves to sneak in the back door; a frontal assault is not usually his most effective means of accomplishing his task.  If he can steal and kill and destroy without our even knowing it, so much the better.  Then he can come and go as he pleases.  He can even convince us that it is we who are at fault, we who have somehow lost or misplaced that which is most valuable to us.
     Therefore, it is up to us to be alert and to pay attention, not only to our doors and windows, but also to the things we hold most dear.  Because this thief, in particular, has come to steal our joy, to kill our faith, and to destroy our peace.  Thus, if our joy, or our faith, or our peace has gone missing, it is likely a result of his doings.  And, thus, we need to guard against his attacks.  
     Luckily, we are not on our own in this battle, the Good Shepherd is with us.  He will defend us and fight for us and provide for us, for he has come that we might have life in abundance.  He longs for us to follow him and to listen to his voice, rather than being led astray by the voice of the thief or the stranger.  For only his voice will lead us where our hearts most deeply long to go.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you came to give us abundant life, and if we are not experiencing that abundance, it is likely the result of the thief in our midst.  For he has come only to steal and kill and destroy.  Help us to be aware of his strategies and attentive to his attacks, so that we might never allow him to steal our joy, kill our faith, or destroy our peace.  Amen.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

becoming less

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, O Lord, when I try to make myself something, instead of making myself nothing, so that you can be everything.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: What do the words “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” mean to you?  What is that supposed to look like?  What are you pursuing these days, becoming more or becoming less?  How does that determine your ability to still and quiet your soul?  How is the image of a weaned child with its mother meant to speak into that?  What does God want that to look like in your life today?

Reflection: “My heart is not lifted up, O Lord, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”(Psalm 131:1)
     The truth be known, most of us do concern ourselves with great matters.  In fact, we pursue them.  We like to be right in the middle of the action.  We have a need to leave our mark, air our opinions, show our wisdom.  It is what gives us value and worth.
     The only problem is that that’s not the way the life of the Spirit was meant to be lived.  Life with Jesus is not a life in which we are constantly trying to make a splash, to achieve great things, to make a name for ourselves.  In fact, Jesus did quite the opposite, and calls us to do the same: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself and made himself nothing,.” (Philippians 2:5-7)
     King David knew this also, that’s why he did not concern himself with great matters or things too wonderful for him.  He knew the value of humility.  He knew that true spiritual leadership was best exercised by becoming less and making yourself nothing, not by becoming more and constantly trying to make yourself something—which is counter-intuitive in the world in which we live.  In life with Jesus, less is more and small is big and last is first and poor is rich and weak is strong and low is high.  The path to spiritual greatness comes through humbling ourselves.  Thus, humility, or becoming less, is not just something to be embraced, but something to be pursued.
     That’s why the word David uses in Psalm 131:1 that is most often translated “concern myself with” or “occupy myself with” is halak in the Hebrew, which literally means to walk.  Therefore, probably a better translation of what David is saying is that “I don’t walk after, or pursue, great things or things too wonderful for me.” Which sounds like a small thing, but is really anything but that.  In fact, it is a subtle, yet monumental shift.  No longer is becoming less merely something I have to embrace, as the circumstances of life do their work on me, but it is actually something I am called to actively pursue, just like Jesus did.
     Thus, the height of the spiritual journey is not about discovering who we are (although that’s important), or even becoming who we are (which is significant as well), but about making ourselves nothing for Jesus.  Life with Jesus, like John the Baptist told us, is about becoming less that he might become all.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Show me, this day, O Lord, what it looks like to become less, that you might become all.  Amen.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

taken hold of

Opening Prayer: O Lord, because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (Psalm 63:3-5)

Scripture: Philippians 3:12

Journal: In what ways has God taken hold of you these days?  How has that made it easier to take hold of him?

Reflection: “Not that I’ve already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Phil. 3:12, NIV) 
     In the spiritual life, being taken hold of always precedes taking hold.  Life with Jesus is not merely about duty and obligation—it is not a weary habit or a dull routine—but about being seized by the Divine Embrace and being enraptured by a Heavenly Kiss, one so passionate and so tender that it takes hold of us and reorders all of our affections. 
     For it is not until His extravagant love takes hold of us that we have any real hope of holding onto him.  Thus, it is not so much about our grip on him, but his grip on us.  Therefore, after we have been taken hold of it becomes easier and more natural for us to take hold of Christ, for we can do no other.  Our hearts simply won’t allow it. 
     Or, as Emilie Griffin so beautifully put it: “The Lord seizes us suddenly with a quick burst of affection.  His power flows to us.  He sweeps us up.  Everything else stands still for a kiss that is passionate, tender, demanding.  In anticipation of this kiss, whole lives are altered and overturned.  In the aftermath of this kiss, destinies and ambitions and careers are discarded like old pairs of gloves.”
     Thus, our holding onto him is only a response to him having already taken hold of us.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Because of your great love, O Lord, “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)  Thank you for that.  Amen.

Friday, July 24, 2020

first

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to allow myself to be loved by you first, so that I will actually be able to genuinely love others.  For if I try to love others first, then things will go terribly wrong.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 John 4:18-19

Journal: Are you making time and space and energy in your life to let God convince you of his great love?  If not, how is this affecting your ability to love?  What does “We love because he first loved us” really mean to you?  How will you practice it?

Reflection: Order is everything in the spiritual life, especially when it comes to our loves.  Our tendency is to love in order to be loved, rather than loving because we have already been loved.  And the impact of getting that backwards is enormous.  For when we turn “We love because he first loved us” into “Love me please, O people, so I will know that I’m worth loving,” true love is no longer a possibility, only a dysfunctional feeding frenzy of needy manipulation.  Thus, if we ever hope to be good at loving others, then we must, first, know what it means to be fully and freely loved by God.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, your love is the source of all goodness and life and beauty.  May I never try to love others without first being fully and deeply loved by you.  Amen.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

selves

Opening Prayer: Show me, Lord Jesus, who you created me to be, for only then will I be able to stop living under the burden and the deception of all that is false.  It is your truth that sets me free.  Show me the truth about myself today, no matter how beautiful it is.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 5:1-20

Journal: What is God saying to you through the scriptures today?  How are you like Legion?  How are you many?  How does Jesus long to heal you and make you whole?  What are the false selves you see within you?  What does Jesus say is the truest thing about you?  How will you live in his truth today?

Reflection: Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”  He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” (Mark 5:9)
     I’ve never been quite sure what to do with this encounter, it is so odd and so wonderful.  But the older I have gotten, the more beautiful Jesus’ question has become, and the less strange the man’s response.  For Jesus knows that one of the deepest questions of the human heart is, “Who am I?”  That, in essence, is what he’s really asking this man.  To which the man basically responds, “I have no idea.  I am so many selves that I couldn’t possibly pick one.  In fact, will the real me please stand up!”  Which, if we are honest, we all really struggle with as well.
     We are all such a hodgepodge.  We are all such a complex mixture of thoughts and feelings and experiences and personality traits that sometimes it’s really hard to know exactly who we are.  It is hard for us to tell what about us is real and true, and what is not.  It is difficult to discern what is a part of how we were made and what is a result of us somehow trying to make ourselves.  It can be really confusing.  Maybe that’s why the man was in so much agony and distress; he had no idea who he really was. 
     In the time of Jesus, a legion consisted of roughly 6,000 Roman soldiers, so when this man gave Jesus his name, he was certainly not lying.  He was, indeed, many.  Thus, it is not an easy question for him to answer.  Nor is it an easy question for us.  For although we might not feel like there are 6,000 selves battling to become the real one, we do have quite a few to choose from.  We are full of selves as well.
     Some of these selves are created as the culture around us tries to squeeze us into its mold, as it tries to form our thoughts, feelings, and opinions based on its own ways of thinking and being.  This is a very subtle process—a seduction, if you will.  In fact, for the most part, we do not even realize it’s going on.  The culture around us specializes in a manufactured self, telling us that we can be whatever, or whoever, we want to be.  We, not God, are the artists, and our job is to create ourselves, to put ourselves on the map, to make a name for ourselves.  The only problem is that any self that is manufactured can only be false.  It is a self that is fabricated to win the approval of those around us.    
     Unfortunately, the church often comes along and makes matters even worse by trying to impose a self upon us.  Far too often the church’s agenda is, “How can we make them into who we think they should be?” rather than, “How do we enable and encourage them to become their truest selves in Jesus?”  The Pharisee were masters at this, and it does much more harm than good because legalism squelches life, rather than producing it.  Imposing a self on someone merely creates another, albeit more religious, false self.     
     Then along comes Jesus, the only one who can tells us who we really are.  Jesus alone holds the key to the true self.  He made us fearfully and wonderfully, and came to restore us to our creation intent, just take a look at Legion after his encounter with Jesus. (Mark 5:15) Jesus restored him to his original design, and he can do the same with each of us.  He came to remind you and me of who God dreamt us to be, and to help us become that person.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, only you can show me who I really am.  Please do so.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

activity versus receptivity

Opening Prayer: Show me your ways. O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)

Scripture: Psalm 25:4-5

Journal: Which word best describes your life, activity or receptivity?  How do you shift from doing, for doing’s sake, to doing only what God directs you and leads you to do?

Reflection: The life of the Spirit is not one of incessant activity, but of receptivity.  We don’t merely charge off in a direction and hope that God comes along for the ride, we actually start by stopping.  We ask God, as David did, for his wisdom and direction and guidance, then we listen for his answer.  Only then do we spring into action.  Otherwise it is just activity for activity’s sake; which does no good for anyone.
     “When we pray without listening,” Eugene Peterson writes, “we pray out of context.”  That is because it all starts with God, not with us.  Ours is to maintain a stance of humble receptivity, to continually realize that, apart from God’s leadership and guidance, we don’t really know what to do.  Thus, the first movement of the spiritual journey, Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us, is to “cast ourselves at his feet” and to “kneel before the Lord, our maker.”  Only when we start there do we have any real hope of living the life God most wants us to live.  

Prayer

Closing Prayer: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. (Psalm 25:9)

Monday, July 20, 2020

one or many

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, so many things and so many people vie for my attention and my affection every day, yet only one is essential.  Help me to focus on you first, and then let everyone and everything else fall in place behind.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

Journal:  What are the many things that are worrying you today?  How is that distracting you from the one thing?  What does Jesus want you to hear today?

Reflection: One of the greatest temptations of the spiritual life is to pay attention to the many things rather than the one thing.  That is because the many things are often good things, in and of themselves, they are just not the best thing.  And we are so easily distracted, it seems, by the urgent, at the expense of the important.
     That is why we must make time and space each day to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what he has to say.  That is why we must start by stopping; in order to remind ourselves of what is important and what is merely urgent, what is essential and what is tangential, what is focal and what is peripheral.  It is the only way we will really have a chance of living the life God most deeply wants to live in and through us.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, why do I allow myself to get so worried and distracted by the many things, when only one thing really matters—you.  Help me to choose the one thing today—to sit at your feet and listen to what you have to say.  Amen.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

don't settle

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I settle for less than the life and the love you desire for me.  Help me to learn what it means to truly follow you, and then help me to do it, regardless of the cost.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:21

Journal: Where in your life are you content to settle for less than what God wants for you?  What will it take for you to fully follow Jesus in that area?

Reflection: Jesus looked at the man and loved him.  “One thing you still lack,” he said.  “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”
     “I know that may sound demanding, and maybe even harsh, but it is what will bring you to life inside.  I made you for so much more than the life you are experiencing.  I long to give you more than the life, and the lesser loves and treasures, you are settling for.  Raise your aspirations.  Stop just trying to slide by on the minimum requirement.  Stop just trying to feel better.  Stop running to broken wells that cannot satisfy.  I love you far too much to allow you to settle for less than all the life and the fullness and the love I made you for.  Come, follow me.”  

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, show me where I am settling for less.  Show me where and how I am just trying to get by.  Show me the things, or the people, that I am putting before you, and give me the grace and the strength and the courage to let them go so I can truly follow you.  Amen.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

while he was still a long way off

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, that you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Help me to fully receive, and to live in, that love today.  (Psalm 103:8)

Scripture: Luke 15:20

Journal: Do you really believe that God loves you unconditionally?  How do you try to earn God’s love?  How does freely receiving God’s love allow you to unconditionally love others?

Reflection: “While he was still a long way off.”  While he was still a long way off, he was seen by the eyes of love.  While he was still a long way off, the heart of the Father leaped within him.  While he was still a long way off, the Father left the house and ran out to embrace, and to kiss, his son.  All of that happened while he was still a long way off.  He didn’t even have a chance to give the Father his speech.
     What is it about us that feels the need to put conditions on unconditional love? Even the son did it: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”  Luckily his sonship was not dependent upon his worthiness.  And you know what?  Neither is ours.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Thank you, Heavenly Father, that you love us even while we are still a long way off.  I, for one, have not yet arrived.  I still get it all wrong far too often.  My life is still a mess at times.  Thank you that all of that doesn’t keep you from loving me, running to me, wrapping your arms around me, and kissing me.  I certainly do not deserve it.  It is all grace.  I thank you for that.  Amen.

Friday, July 17, 2020

contentment

Opening Prayer: Help me, Lord Jesus, to learn how to be content whatever the circumstances.  Help me to have a heart filled with peace and gratitude.  For only then will I be able to live fully and freely, the way you created me to.  Amen. 

Scripture: Philippians 4:11-13

Journal: How content are you?  How tied is your level of contentment to your moods, feelings, or circumstances?  How do you grow in true contentment?

Reflection: Paul said, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  Wait, what?  For most of us, contentment is dependent upon our circumstances, so how is it possible to be content whatever the circumstances?  The answer: Only in Christ.
     Contentment means to be satisfied with what one has and free from the need of external aid or circumstances.  Paul is saying that, no matter what his circumstances or situation, he is a soul at rest.  He is not a victim or a helpless bystander.  He has learned to live his life, rather than allowing his life to live him. 
     And he says he has learned to be content.  It was not something that came naturally.  The word for learned in the Greek is manthanĊ.  It means to direct the mind in such a way that it produces a desired result.  Thus, contentment is a discipline, it is something that is learned through practice and experience.  In other words, Paul had to train himself to be content, through consistently choosing to be content, in Christ, through any and every circumstance.
     We would be wise to follow his lead.  For we do not have to allow our circumstances to have free reign over our thoughts and feelings.  In fact, if we do that we are in for one hell of a ride.  No, we must choose to be content, in Christ, regardless of the circumstances.  For only then will we be able to live and love freely, the way God desires us to.  

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Teach me, Lord Jesus, how to be content in you this day.  For I cannot do it on my own.  Amen.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

seeing

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, only when I see myself as you see me, can I ever hope to see others as you see them.  Please give me the grace to do both.  Amen. 

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Journal: When Jesus sees into your heart, what does he say?  What beauty and truth does he call forth?  How does that help you to see others in the same way?

Reflection: Being truly seen by Jesus frees us to truly see others and not project our own fears and insecurities and issues and dysfunctions onto them.  Once we are seen by Jesus, we go about our days and our lives with our eyes and our hearts open; looking beyond the surface of things and of people and seeing into the depths, making us able to draw out and call forth that which is most true and most beautiful about them.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Show me your ways. O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

do you love me?

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to love you with all that I have, all that I do, and all that I am.  And as a result of that love, help me to continually be about the work of feeding your lambs.  May my life and my ministry always be a result of the overflow of your life and your love welling up from deep within me.  Amen.

Scripture: John 21:15-19

Journal: What is God saying to you through the scriptures today? Tell Jesus the answer to his question, “Do you love me?”  Tell him why you love him.  Tell him what you love about him.  Then listen to him as he tells you to feed his lambs.  What does that look like?  Who, specifically, is he asking you to feed and how does he want you to go about it?  Who will you invite to join you in doing that?

Reflection: There is a definite order to life and ministry.  And if we get it backwards the whole thing goes awry.  Thus, the first question each of us, like Simon Peter, must answer is “Do you love me?  Do you really love me?  More than anyone or anything else?  You are my beloved, am I yours?”  After all, it is the first and greatest commandment.  If we don’t love Jesus first, we have no real hope of being able to love others.  The second love can only be a reflection of the first.
     It is only after we honestly answer “Yes, you know I love you Lord,” to the first part that we can then proceed to the second: “Feed my lambs.”  For if we do not love Jesus first, we will not feed his lambs, we will feed on his lambs.  We will devour them in a feeding frenzy of need and insecurity.  Our unmet desire for love and acceptance will get in the way and keep us from being able to love and serve anyone but ourselves.
     The first movement of life and ministry must always be towards Jesus.  As Evelyn Underhill so beautifully reminds us: “What you are like (in ministry), is going to depend on your secret life of prayer; on the steady orientation of your souls to the Reality of God.  Called upon to practise in their fullness the two great commandments, you can only hope to get the second one right, if you are completely controlled by the first.  And that will depend on the quality of your secret inner life.  We must spend time and strength in deepening and increasing our own love of God: for it is only through adoration and attention that we make our personal discoveries about Him.  How are you going to show these souls, who need it so dreadfully, the joy and delightfulness of God and surrender to God, unless you have it yourselves?”

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to always love you first.  For if I do not love you first, then I can’t really love others at all.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

why are you crying?

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, come into my life today and fill it with your life and hope and love.  Speak to me in ways I need to be spoken to, comfort me in ways I need to be comforted, and heal me in ways that I need to be healed.  Raise me to new life this day, O Risen Lord.  Amen.

Scripture: John 20:10-18

Journal: What is God saying to you through the scriptures today?  What does the resurrected Jesus want to say to you today?  How might the resurrected Jesus want to come to you in a way that is bigger and more glorious than you have yet experienced?  How is he showing up in the midst of your tears?

Reflection: In her tears, sadness, and confusion Mary didn’t recognize that it was Jesus standing in front of her—that is until he spoke her name.  And at the sound of her name she came alive inside, turning toward him in surprise and delight. 
     Stand outside the tomb with Mary today.  Imagine her sorrow and her desperation, her confusion and her tears.  How are you feeling those same things in your life right now?  Imagine Jesus asking you, “Why are you crying?”  What is your answer?  Imagine Jesus coming to you in the midst of that pain.  Imagine him saying your name.  What do you want to say to him?  What does he want to say to you?  How is he asking you to stop clinging to a small version of him, so that you might embrace a larger, more glorious one?  Who else do you know that needs to have the resurrected Jesus meet them in the midst of their tears?  Take them to Jesus today in prayer.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you come to us in the midst of our tears, whatever they may be.  Come to me this day with words of life and hope and healing.  For the sake of your name and your kingdom, I pray.  Amen.

Monday, July 13, 2020

seen

Opening Prayer: O Lord, how I long to see you and to be seen by you.  How I long to see the One who sees me, knows me, and loves me.  See me this day and allow me to see you, the One who sees me.  Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 16:1-14

Journal: How do you long to be seen by God today?  What does he see?  What does it do in you to see the One who sees you?

Reflection: Hagar was on the run.  Life was not going well at all.  She was young and she was pregnant and she was alone.  She had been cruelly mistreated by her mistress, Sarai, and was so miserable and so desperate that she had run away.  She had no idea where she was going, but knew that anything would be better than the affliction and oppression and browbeating (‘anah in the Hebrew) she was receiving at the hands of Sarai. 
     So when the angel of the Lord found her near a spring in the desert, he asked her the million dollar question: “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”  It was a question that the angel surely knew the answer to, but one that Hagar needed to know the answer to as well.  For in the midst of her pain and loneliness and desperation and confusion, she needed to fully realize that she was not alone.  God was with her.  God, the Living One, had seen her.  He had seen her plight and had seen her mistreatment and had seen the desperate state of her heart.  “I see you, Hagar.  I see both where you have come from and where you are going, and I am with you.  Do not fear.  Do not be discouraged.  Do not be dismayed.  I see you, and I will take care of you.  I am your God and I love you more than you could ever imagine.”
     And you have to love Hagar’s response.  “You are the God who sees me.  I have now seen the One who sees me.”  Somehow in being seen, Hagar had seen the One who sees her, knows her and loves her.  And, somehow, seeing the One who sees her had changed everything.
     God sees you too.  He sees your life and he sees your heart.  He sees what you are going through, whatever that may be.  He sees your joys, he sees your pains, and he sees your sorrows.  You are not alone.  And in being seen by him, he wants you to see him, the One who sees.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that you are the God who sees me.  And that I have now seen by the One who sees me.  Amen.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

one

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you prayed that we would know the oneness and the love and the joy that you and the Father and the Spirit know.  It is more than we could ask for or imagine.  Lead us into that kind of oneness.  Amen.

Scripture: John 17:1-26

Journal: What is God saying to you through the scriptures today?   What might it mean to live fully and freely in the life of the Trinity?  What does true community look like?  Where do you see it?  In what ways do you long for more of it?  How will you pursue that? 

Reflect: Unity is so important.  Why else would Jesus pray so adamantly for it?  It is a part of God’s very nature.  Yes, God is three, but he is also one.  And that oneness is meant to offer us, and those around us, a picture of how life was intended to be.  When we live in vibrant, loving community, we reflect the beauty and the glory of the Three-in-One God.  We participate in his Divine nature.  We testify to his goodness and his righteousness and invite the world around us to taste it for themselves: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8) Thus, life in community is an invitation to enter into the joy and gladness and delight of the life that God has within himself.  What an invitation!
     “What might it mean to live fully and freely in the life of the Trinity, knowing and loving God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they know and love each other?” asks R. Thomas Ashbrook.  It might mean that we are finally able to love each other fully and freely, because we have finally been fully and freely loved.  It might mean that our relationships with one another become marked by self-giving and self-sacrifice, rather than by self-centeredness and self-consumption.  It might mean that we begin to really listen to one another and be present to one another and pay attention to one another.  It might mean that we create safe space for one another— space filled with belonging and acceptance and love.  It might mean that we finally become free enough and brave enough to come out of hiding and be real and honest and vulnerable with each other without the fear of being judged or fixed or criticized.  It might mean that it creates a place in which each of us is able to lean into the desire to be more than we currently are.  A place where God’s love is so visible and so tangible that people just can’t stay away.  I think Jesus would like that.
     Pray for unity and oneness today.  Pray for deep, rich, loving, genuine community.  Pray that our relationships with each other would be a testimony to those around us about what God is really like.  Ask God to show you if there is anyone you are not in harmony with at the moment.  Ask him what it might look like to seek reconciliation or forgiveness.  Ask God to show you what you can do to live more in loving community with those around you.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell together in unity.  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robes.  It’s as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.  Amen. (Psalm 133:1-3)