Truth To Sink Our Roots Into

These words penned by Jeremiah are like bedrock which can hold our roots of faith. They affirm our identity, sense of belonging and purpose. Give yourself the gift of a slow steep in these phrases. What affirmation do you most long to hear from God today?

Jeremiah 1:4-10 NLT

The LORD gave me this message:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
“O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said,
“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up and plant.”

Listening Prayer – An Experience of Lectio Divina

Listen In a comfortable, quiet place, slowly and carefully listen to or read the Bible passage. Notice any words or phrases or images that seem alive to you at the moment. Allow yourself to stop and hold them in your heart before God.

Meditate Repeat the words or phrases slowly to yourself. Or linger with the image. Allow them to interact with your inner world of memories, ideas or concerns. Ask yourself what meaning they may have for you.

Conversation Share what you are discovering with the words and/or images and how they touch your heart with Jesus. Ask Jesus what the Father is saying to you through this prayer time.

Contemplate When words or pictures are no longer needed, allow yourself to rest in God’s tender embrace. Feel the strength and tenderness of the Father’s love for you. Allow it to pour into your heart and fill you up. Linger here, resting in God’s compassionate care for you.

Cooperative Action Ask Jesus to show you what the Father wants to do from this prayerful listening time with you. If you desire it, ask him to cause that change to happen by the Spirit’s power and your cooperative action working together from this point.

print pdf

Belonging to God

Every thing we have is gift. Though we tirelessly try at times, our sense of belonging is given to us. Choice by choice we are invited to trust that we belong to God and that this God - Father, Son and Spirit - will actively guard us and keep us close.

John 17:6-19 (NLT)
“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture?
Journal about it. Where do you sense that emotion in your body? What does that emotion tell you about your need?

Reflect on your belonging to God. Where are you most aware of belonging to God? and least aware? Where or when do you long to belong to God?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

print pdf

 

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.

Safe Shelter

How might your prayer open the door to experiencing the safe shelter of God, regardless of circumstance?

God meets us in our prayer as we quiet our hearts and allow God's abiding presence to create a sense of safety within us. This may not happen instantaneously and our sometimes unconscious images of God keep us from trusting that God could actually be safe enough to be real and honest with. Yet God promises us his perfect peace as we set our minds on him and it is God's supernatural, mysterious power which brings this peace to us. Be patient with yourself as you learn to approach God in quiet confidence. Sometimes beginning our prayer with an image in our heart of a safe meeting place with God helps us find courage to begin to trust that possibility of safe shelter.

Psalm 36: 5-10 NLT

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
7     How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
9 For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling shimmered as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

Reflect on a time when the Lord showed unfailing love and faithfulness to you. Savor this experience in your prayer. Allow God to expand the vastness or depth of the experience by returning to it. You may want to journal or express your experience artistically with pencil, ink or color.

Is there a situation now which you would like to bring with you under the shelter of God’s wings? One of the pictures on the table may assist you in visualizing this request in your prayer and simply staying there with God.

Walking Hand in Hand

Walking hand in hand can evoke fond memories of a loved one, such as a special friend or trusted adult. There is a mutuality which unfolds as the pace is set by one and matched by the other, so that the movement occurs in graceful tandem.
Today's Psalm invites us to ponder the mutual companions of love and truth walking in tandem with us, all the while attending to us. It is God's perfect, unfailing love which enables us to be unafraid and unashamed of truth and courageous in it's presence. When you begin your prayer today, imagine love and truth as your faithful companions while you enter and dwell in God's presence. 

Psalm 89:14-18 (NLT)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
    Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.
Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
    for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.
    They exult in your righteousness.
You are their glorious strength.
    It pleases you to make us strong.
Yes, our protection comes from the Lord,
    and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.

For Prayer and Reflection:

Is there a word, a phrase, an image or something else that stood out to you as you listened? Try being there with Jesus for awhile.

What color comes to mind when you consider any or all of these phrases? Righteousness, justice, unfailing love, or truth. Try drawing and coloring a picture of them...is the Spirit expanding your knowing of Jesus in this?

Reflect on your experience(s) of "walking in the light of your presence, Lord". Journal your reflection.

A Shared Gaze

The mountains in our lives can seem like permanently immovable obstacles on our journey to live into the abundant life. Yet perhaps they are the very thing which prompts our gaze to shift. The mountains invite us to look up; to see them and to see beyond them.

Thankfully, there is One who is ever seeing us. whose loving gaze is always upon us. God sees us long before we see God. What might it be like meet God's gaze today and mutually share in it together? Even for a moment.

Slow down a task today, and consider God's gaze upon you as you are in it. Soak in God's pleasure.

Psalm 121 (NLT)
1 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
    The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

How do you experience the gaze of God? What does God see? Linger in the gaze of God.

What mountains stand before you this day? What helps you shift your gaze to God? And what shifts in you as you shift your gaze?

How have you experienced the protective shade of God?

Our Fight Song

Our fight song sounds much different from the popular methods of the world for we do not battle in the flesh. There is One who fights for us. As we learn to be still, pray, trust, speak truth, worship and dwell with God, we experience God doing battle on our behalf.

For many, this is a go-to Psalm for spiritual battle, oppression and contending prayer. Learn this song, and sing it often.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

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

Reflect on how or when have you experienced God fighting battle for you or sheltering you.

If you were to form this Psalm into a song, how would it sound? What elements, rhythm, tone, theme, melody, harmony, voice and/or form would you use? How would God’s voice to you sound within it?