Distracting Others From God

The prophet, Jeremiah, has some incisive words for us which call us back to discernment. His words call us to be present to God who is both near and far. They call us out of hiding, distraction, and forgetfulness. They implore each of us to continue to listen for the voice of God which burns true in our hearts and softens us.

Jeremiah 23:23-29 (NLT)
Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time.

Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD.

“I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?

For Reflection and Prayer:
Listening with the “ear of your heart”, was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Gently repeat the word or phrase, giving it room to settle deeply in your heart.

Reflect on what you heard. Relish the words. You might choose to journal about what you heard.

Respond to what you heard and reflected on in your prayer with God. Is there a prayer of praise, thanksgiving or petition which rises within you?

Rest in God as you simply be with God in the quiet.

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Bearing Witness

The privilege of every Christian is to bear witness to the Light of Christ. We are called to look with our eyes for the Light in others and in the world around us.
There is Light which we cannot see yet we can discern through our other senses:
listening with our ears and heart;
    touching and being touched;
          tasting and savoring;
                smelling the scent of compassionate love, grace, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and gentleness.
                      knowing through the Holy Spirit dwelling within and quickening our spirits.

Let us continue to affirm the Light we notice to in one another...Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

John 1:1-9 (AMPC)
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [b]Himself.

2 He was present originally with God.

3 All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.

4 In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

5 And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].

6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 This man came to witness, that he might testify of the Light, that all men might believe in it [adhere to it, trust it, and rely upon it] through him.

8 He was not the Light himself, but came that he might bear witness regarding the Light.

9 There it was—the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.

For Prayer and Reflection:

What spoke to you as you listened to the text?

What feelings emerged in response? Bring them into conversation with Jesus.

How is the Light illuminating for you today?

 

 

Taking Refuge

While gathered to listen, pray and worship in our new ministry space, a bald-headed eagle, perched high on a branch beside the edge of Lake Idlewild, kept watch over us for the entire evening. She gave us a compelling visual of God's attentive gaze and loving protection, and under whose wings we find refuge. Pause and savor the images which the Holy Spirit brings to mind as you dwell in this portion of text from Psalm 18.

Psalm 18:30-36 (NIV)

30 As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
36 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

For Prayer and Reflection:

What word, phrase, image or sense stood out to you as you listened to the text? Ponder this with Jesus.

What are some ways you experience God as your saving help? What does this mean to you?

How would you like God to "broaden your path"? What is it that you need? What do you hope for? Bring this into your conversation and prayer with God.

Planted

In this next season, we will transition to praying with the Psalms. Coined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as the Prayer Book of the Bible, the Psalms guide us in relating to God through prayer. They aid us in knowing the character of God while helping us find our voice as we live in authentic relationship with God. No conversation seems 'out of bounds' in this book.

This weeks' Psalm has us planted by the streams of water. Come, join us there...

Psalm 1  (NIV)

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, a phrase, image, or feeling that shimmered as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Perhaps you want to draw or color your prayer.

In your prayer, picture yourself being planted by a stream. Notice your deepest desire as you are planted by the stream. What do you most want there?

When are you most aware of God watching over you? What feelings does that bring up for you? What does God see when God looks
upon you? Bring these ponderings into your prayer.