Reckoning With That Which Lasts

Painting a panoramic picture of those who trust in God, Jeremiah asks us to reckon with that which lasts. What are those things in our lives which are like a curse; chaff that is easily blown away? What provides an enduring anchor for our lives that not only gives us meaning but also holds us when life gets hard, ravaged and raw? Sit with these words long enough to allow wisdom and discernment to emerge for this season of your life. These words are not meant to keep us stuck in fear or shame but to guide us into the wisdom and freedom of a life anchored in God.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 TMG

“Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a specific word or phrase which was impressed upon your heart or mind as you listened to the text? Reflect on that and bring your reflection in your prayer.

What emotions were stirred in you in this time of listening? Gently notice them, name them, feel them and simply offer them as your prayer to God.

What longing does this passage stir in you? In the quiet, simply be with that longing between you and God.

Journal your prayer that flows out of your meditation and contemplation of this passage.

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Seen Through The Eyes Of Love

Psalm 139 invites us to relate to Hagar and later David's experience of God in the wilderness - that of being seen, known, understood and lavishly loved by God.  Seldom would we choose to go into the deserted wilderness of our own volition. Yet the wilderness is a place to go to hear God speak.
May the presence of God meet you today, where ever you are. Pause and allow yourself to experience God seeing you. Always, you are seen through the eyes of love.

Psalm 139:1-10 (NLT)
O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer.

Be still as you invite God to look at you, to see you. What does God see? How does it feel to be seen? Reflect on a place where you have felt so un-noticed or unseen. Invite Jesus into that memory with you. Journal what Jesus shows you or says to you.

Invite God the father, the mother, to place hands upon your head and bless you. What do you long to hear in the blessing? Savor what you hear.
 

How Do You Hear God's Voice?

The Lord's voice can become a powerful force in our lives - not in a fear inducing, paralyzing or threatening way - but in a gloriously transformative, healing and liberating way.
Can we imagine that learning to listen and hear God's voice could bring such depth of life, wholeness and peace?
Or be as simple as slowing and quieting enough to listen?
To pay attention?
Or to even believe that using our own voice can be one of the means to discern God's voice?
Pause again today, to listen...

Psalm 29NLT

Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings[a];
    honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
2 Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
    Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
    The God of glory thunders.
    The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
    the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
    he makes Mount Hermon[b] leap like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
    with bolts of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks[c]
    and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”
10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
    The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace.
Footnotes:
29:1 Hebrew you sons of God.
29:6 Hebrew Sirion, another name for Mount Hermon.
29:9 Or causes the deer to writhe in labor.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling affected you as you listened to the text? How did it affect you? Bring this into your prayer with Jesus.

This text is rich in metaphor and imagery. Does one metaphor in particular reflect a place or season of your spiritual journey now?
Does God have more to say to you about that season or place? Do you have more to talk over or say to God?

How does God’s voice come to you? Sound to you? How do you discern God’s voice from other voices?

Prepare to Receive

The Feast Days celebrated by the Hebrew people are of great significance. Each one, including the weekly Sabbath, involve careful and intentional preparation. The feasts themselves encompass all the senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste - which in turn embed deep memories within the body, mind and spirit of the participants. Yahweh has prepared us to remember. We are to remember that which we have received.

Jesus, our Rabbi, takes great care to instruct his disciples on the preparation of his last Passover Feast with them. What is the purpose of these preparations? Is there something more that he wants to give them? How might this text guide us in our own preparation to receive from Jesus? Are we willing to be blessed - to bend the knee to receive?

Mark 14:12-26 NLT
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with them for a while. Ask Jesus, is there more that Jesus says to you?

Place yourself in the story today. Where do you find yourself? Have a conversation with Jesus in that context. What do you say to him? What does he say to you?
 

Come as a Child

What would be the qualities of one's heart that would be like a child's? Is it the wonder that a child carries, the openness and innocence?

A child comes dependent on others for their care, their provision, for their basic needs to be met. In this story it may have been parents bringing their children to Jesus, seeing in Jesus One who would bless and nourish their children.

Even if you are one who wasn't brought to Jesus for his loving care, touch and blessing, you can bring yourself, the child that resides within, to Jesus to touch, hold and bless you.

Come. Come as a child to Jesus and receive God's loving care and blessing. Let him hold you for a while.

Who comes to mind that you might want to bring to Jesus for his touch and blessing? Bring them to him in your prayer. 

Mark 10:13-16
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • What word or verse stood out to you? How is Jesus speaking to you in that?
  • What voices or attitudes do you hear inside yourself, that tell you Jesus doesn't have time for you?
  • Can you allow your innocence and dependence to be seen, held, and blessed by Jesus?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when he explained about entering the Kingdom of heaven?

 

People of Hope

Hope is not "wishful thinking." In faith, hope is a reality that flows from God, is given by God, established and rooted in us as we believe in the One in whom we hope. Certainly there are times when our hope seems diminished because of human circumstances - these may be times where we are tempted to solve our own problems, or feel disappointment that God has not met our human expectations. These are the times when others can help us realign our focus on the only One who truly is our source of hope.

Abraham was given a promise of blessing, and that through him God would bless the nations. We hold this promise as well - that our lives are meant to be blessed and to be a blessing to others. Reflect on what being blessed means for you. Invite God to bless you today and to see how you might be a blessing to others!

Romans 4:18-25, 5:1-5, 15:13  NIV  
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”  The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,  but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.   

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.   

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For Refection and Prayer:
What word or phrase stood out to you as you read the text?
What thoughts have come to your attention as you have been listening/reading?
What promise(s) of God are you currently holding in hope?
How might our experience of suffering produce a deeper sense of hope?