My Delight

Pause. Remember. Savor. Delight.

What might it be like to be the focus of someone's delight? Can you imagine being enjoyed simply for being you? no earning? no striving? no perfecting? Just being.

This text invites us to return our gaze upon the One who gazes upon us with all delight. Notice that gaze upon you afresh today.

Psalm 16 (NIV)

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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.

Ask God, "How are you delighting in me right now? What do you see in me that brings you such joy?" Journal what you hear or see.

In your prayer, picture your boundary lines. Where is God? Have a conversation about your needs with God. Where and how are you noticing God’s provision and care for you?

Reflect on your day, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind where you experienced the most joy. Where did you experience the least joy? Bring your reflections and ‘noticings’ into your prayer with God. Is there more that God wants to say to you through either or both experiences?

Who Authorizes You?

As a community. we were willing to gather in the dark this past Wednesday night to break bread together around the Word and candlelight. The electric power came on just as we were preparing to listen to the conversation in the Temple between the Jewish elite of priests, scholars, and leaders with Jesus and his friends. We were about to witness another form of power struggle: the struggle for power which comes from authority.

Rather than answering the question designed to trick and ensnare him, Jesus demonstrates the living credentials within him. Could he be modeling a way for us to count on his credentials, his authority, living alive within us - where we have all that we need in the moment rather than depending on what we know and control?

Mark 11:27-33 (MSG)

27-28 Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

29-30 Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I’ll present my credentials. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me.”

31-33 They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John; if we say ‘humans,’ we’ll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they said.

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word or phrase stood out to you as you listened to the text?
Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

How has Jesus shown you his credentials?

If you view your life as your story, how are you and Jesus authoring it together? How is he bringing about an inner authority within you? What helps you live in tandem with Jesus, with his credentials living within you?

Consider how your own areas of "I do not know" may be a gift. What does it evoke from within you? Bring them into dialogue with Jesus.

Welcoming the Child Among Us

We all long to be welcomed, to sense that our presence is wanted, valued and esteemed. Our core identity is formed in the safe embrace and in being truly seen and greeted by the loving eyes of parents and elders. This form of hospitality is the extension of God's hospitality towards us. One again, Jesus invites us to return to the basics, the essence of why he came - to welcome all his children, that they may find and make their home in him. Experience afresh, Jesus welcoming you home to him. When you are ready, he will show you how to notice and welcome the child in your midst. 

Mark 9:33-37 (NLT)
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?

How does Jesus call you to be a servant to everyone else?

Who are the "little children" in your life?

Think back to a time when you experienced a sincerely warm welcome. What made it so memorable for you?

Perhaps you want to be the child who is held in Jesus' arms. Meet him there in your prayer.

What do you want to say to Jesus in response to this text?

Compassionate Healing

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.   Isaiah 30:18-19

In the following deeply troubling story, Jesus displays his longing to be gracious and rises up to show compassion to a terrified and ostracized man living among the tombs. Jesus sees far beyond the shackles, chains, torment and despair. He recognizes and knows the true name of his beloved. He sees their essence and has great compassion on their longing for freedom. His ears are attentive to their cries. His perfect love - compassionate, true, and complete - is willing to heal their fears and restore their soul.

As you prepare to encounter Jesus in this story, ask him to open your eyes to see and your heart to know the tender compassion he has for you. Invite him to meet you where you really dwell.

Mark 5:1-20  NKJV  

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.  And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,  because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.  When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.  And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”  For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”  Then He asked him, “What is your name?”  And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”  Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.  Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains.  So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.”  And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.  So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.  And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

For Prayer and Reflection:
What did you hear or feel as you listened?  A word?  A phrase?  A sensation? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you noticed.
How have you experienced the compassionate healing of Jesus in the past? How does he show his compassion to you today?
What experiences have you had which seem like dwelling among the tombs? How has Jesus met you there?
Recall the "begging" prayers you have cried out to God. How has God answered them over time?