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God’s Perspective

MEDITATION:

Written by Pamela Keener, a contemporary writer, speaker, and ministry leader.

If God appeared to you today and said, “I will give you one gift to use as you see fit,” what would you choose? Power?  Wealth?  Good health?  Or would you choose something that is on God’s heart?  Wisdom and understanding? Each morning as I scroll through social media and flip through the news, I see so much division among our nation.  Political, religious, and economic division which separates us and calls us to take sides. Merriam-Webster defines division as: “the act or process of dividing” or “the condition or an instance of being divided in opinion or interest.” We all have our own opinions, don’t we? Opinions that have been formed from our life experiences and circumstances.  Ones that shape how we view these topics of division. So, when disagreements arise, I think the first thing we tend to do is choose a side to stand on and we often make decisions to argue with the intention of proving just how right our side is. We fuel the debate by listening only “to respond” and further our position.  Rarely do we listen with the intention of understanding or, better yet, trying to create a workable solution. And in our own minds, we are always right.  Our ways are always best and those who disagree are simply standing on the wrong side. Perhaps our thoughts are fueled by pride, an inflated ego, maybe even coming from a stance of self-righteousness or knowing best. Unfortunately, it’s not just in our interactions with those we encounter online or with passing acquaintances that this problem exists. This need to be right, to stand on the “winning side,” flows into our personal relationships as well.  It influences our marriages, our children’s lives, our friends, and our co-workers.  I wonder how things might change if we stepped back to view these conflicts from God’s perspective and not our own or if we chose to seek wisdom and understanding amidst these divisions instead of pursuing the need to be right.

The Bible is full of stories of people who chose this path of seeing God’s perspective to resolve their differences of opinion.  One of my favorites is the story of King Solomon. You’ll remember that Solomon was King David’s son and took over rule when David died.  With that greatness came a spirit of humility.  A spirit that sought peace and unity among God’s people, not one of division and strife. Solomon chose to pursue the things that were on God’s heart.   Out of a humble heart posture, we see Solomon ask for the gifts of wisdom and knowledge.  He could have asked for anything he wanted: wealth, being right, or even the defeat of his enemies. But he chose the better gifts. Wisdom and understanding.  As he asked for gifts that made God smile, God blessed him in other areas as well. You see, from wisdom comes a perspective that sees things differently.  It sees people as God sees them.  It speaks truth in love, not division.  Wisdom seeks understanding, not a need to be right.  And above all else, it seeks to lift God’s Kingdom here on Earth. Let’s choose to pray for God’s wisdom and understanding next time we feel called to draw a line in the sand and pick a side.  Let’s pray for eyes to see others as God sees them.  And let’s have a spirit of humility that pleases God as we speak His truth in love, not division.

PRAYER:

Written by Henry Culberson, a contemporary writer.

God, thank you for making me in Your image. Please help me to love what You love and hate what You hate and give me the wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Reuben P. Job (1928-2015), an American bishop of the United Methodist Church.

How can I be in two places at once? Recently, I found myself at a ball complex where both of my children were playing games at the same time. They played on fields that were not side-by-side but diagonally across the park from one another. As a mom, I could not justify sitting and watching one child play while missing the other. So, I stood in the middle. There in the middle, I could see both fields from a distance. I began alone, but very soon several friends whose children were not playing that night came and stood with me. When I was turned watching one child, a friend would fill me in on what was happening on the other field. When the games were over, I hadn’t seen every individual play of both games, but thanks to my friends, I was able to “see” both games.  As I reflect on that night, I remember how very comforting it was to have friends standing with me in the middle. And I now realize how important it is to have friends stand “in the middle” with us all the time. We need friends to help us “see” the games in life — especially when we aren’t able to focus on them ourselves.

We must bind ourselves together with other Christians in friendships that love, support and encourage us in our day-to-day struggles. Today, examine your relationships. Who stands in the middle with you? Take time to thank those friends who strengthen you. Do you stand in the middle with someone? Do you offer words of love and encouragement? Perhaps this is an area you can improve. As you examine, remember that no matter what, we all have the One who stands in the middle with each of us! Jesus is always in the middle of life with us. We are not alone! So today, take comfort in knowing He’s always with us in the middle of our circumstances, but also look for ways you can stand with others in the middle of their lives. Let’s be the friend others can count on to help them see the game of life.

PRAYER:

Written by Deborah Ard, the author of today’s meditation.

Dear Lord, thank You for sending me friends to stand in the middle of life with me. I especially thank You for always being with me. Guide and direct me as I strive to be a loving and supportive Christian friend to others. Help me be more like You in my words and actions toward others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Reuben P. Job (1928-2015), an American bishop of the United Methodist Church.

Most of us do not wait well. A checkout line at the grocery store, a registration line at school, a doctor’s appointment, or traffic can quickly make us impatient, uneasy, and irritable. We want things at once and do not like to wait. Further, our culture thrives on instant response from fast food to computers—we want everything fast…However, deep in our hearts, we know that many things cannot be hurried without endangering the results for which we wait. Friendship, character, personal transformation, pregnancy, ripened fruit, and sprouting seeds all take time. Each as its own schedule. Trying to hasten the process can lead to less than desirable results.

Jesus asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promised power to meet all that lay ahead of them as well as an advocate to teach them all that they needed to know. It must have been hard to wait. They were under suspicion by the authorities, they wanted to get on with their lives, and how did they know that waiting would make any difference? The disciples were obedient to the command of Jesus, though, and their obedience was rewarded with power and with a companion. That power and companion have been with Christians ever since. We claim the power of the Holy Spirit today to strengthen us for living fully, faithfully, and joyfully. We claim the companionship of Jesus Christ to guide, instruct, and sustain us day by day. Sometimes we wait for that power to become active or for that kind of companionship to blossom in our relationship with God in Christ. As we learn to earnestly seek and patiently wait—in God’s perfect timing—the gifts are given. Then we know it was worth the wait.

PRAYER:

Written by Benedict of Nursia (480-547), the father of Western monasticism and founder of the Rule of St. Benedict.

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you, through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Richard Rohr, a contemporary Franciscan friar, ecumenical teacher, and author. This is an excerpt from his book “Everything Belongs.”

One of Jesus’ favorite visual aids is a child. Every time the disciples get into head games, he puts a child in front of them. He says the only people who can recognize and be ready for what he’s talking about are the ones who come with the mind and heart of a child. It’s the same reality as the beginner’s mind. The older we get, the more we’ve been betrayed and hurt and disappointed, the more barriers we put up to beginner’s mind. It’s so hard to go back, to be vulnerable, to say to your soul, “I don’t know anything.”

PRAYER:

Written by Jack Emmott, a contemporary lawyer, mediator, author, and speaker.

God, in prayer we ask you to keep all hearts open and able to see the innocence of all innocents throughout the world.

God, in prayer may the children of the world know that we can see the beauty you created in them, their births, their lives.

God, in prayer please grant us the wisdom to recognize that when our hearts are open to the beauty, love, and innocence of Your children, we may find those same gifts from You within us.  Amen.

Being Exalted

MEDITATION:

Written by Saint Augustine (354-430), a theologian, philosopher, and Bishop of Hippo Regius in Roman North Africa. This is an excerpt from Sermon 96 in “Journey with the Fathers.”

Who would not wish to follow Christ to supreme happiness, perfect peace, and lasting security? We shall do well to follow him there, but we need to know the way. The Lord Jesus had not yet risen from the dead when he gave this invitation. His passion was still before him; he had still to endure the cross, to face outrages, reproaches, scourging; to be pierced by thorns, wounded, insulted, taunted, and put to death. The road seems rough, you draw back, you do not want to follow Christ. Follow him just the same. The road we made for ourselves is rough, but Christ has leveled it by passing over it himself.

Who does not desire to be exalted? Everyone enjoys a high position. But self-abasement is the step that leads to it. Why take strides that are too big for you—do you want to fall instead of going up? Begin with this step and you will find yourself climbing. The two disciples who said: “Lord, command that one of us shall sit at your right hand in your kingdom and the other at your left” had no wish to think about this step of self-abasement. They wanted to reach the top without noticing the step that led there. The Lord showed them the step, however, by his reply: “Can you drink the cup that I am to drink?”  You who aim at the highest exaltation, can you drink the cup of humiliation? He did not simply give the general command: “Let him renounce himself and follow me” but added: “Let him take up his cross and follow me.”

PRAYER:

Written by Janel Perez Eckles, a contemporary author and speaker.

Compassionate Father, so many people here are suffering. Only You know the depth and breadth of the burdens carried here. Grant me wisdom to know how I can be an instrument of Your peace, both tangibly and intangibly. Amen.

Beloved of the Lord

MEDITATION:

Written by Marjorie J. Thompson, a contemporary parish minister, author, teacher, and retreat leader.  This is an excerpt from her book “The Way to Forgiveness, Participant’s Book.”

We may see that to live as Jesus did is to experience what it means to be beloved sons and daughters of God. The more we know our belovedness, the more freely we may live by the measure of Jesus’ own example in the power of loving humility and transforming mercy. Here lie the spiritual roots of forgiveness and reconciliation. But the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation can be as difficult to embrace as the notion of our belovedness.

PRAYER:

Written by Francis Nuttall (1892-1983), an English calligrapher, artist, and bookbinder who was born in India of English parents.  This prayer is known as the prayer of the chalice.

Beloved, to Thee I raise my whole being,

a vessel emptied of self. Accept, O Lord,

this my emptiness, and so fill me with

Thy Self — Thy Light, Thy Love, Thy

Life — that these Thy precious Gifts

may radiate through me and over-

flow the chalice of my heart into

the hearts of all with whom I

come in contact this day,

revealing unto them

the beauty of

Thy joy

and

Wholeness

and

the

serenity

of Thy Peace

which nothing can destroy.

MEDITATION:

Written by Macrina Wiederkehr, a contemporary author and spiritual guide. This is an excerpt from her book “A Tree Full of Angels.”

Fairy tales and myths have often been used as vehicles to teach a truth that is too deep for ordinary words. Our invitation to become one with God is too deep for ordinary words. How do we talk about a call to be like God? The early Christians were much more concerned about being divinized than about keeping laws. Sadly, somewhere along our historical journey we got preoccupied with law and doing things that would keep us out of hell. We lost sight of our original union with God and the continuing call to be like God. In fact, we became so busy keeping out of hell that we forgot we were on the way to heaven. We started loving God for the gifts we would receive or the punishment we would avoid. But is that truly love? What about the wonder and possibility of being simply and utterly in love, the only reason being that once upon a time before a burning bush the One Who Is said, “I Am who Am!” The bush still burns. What about our love? How bright is the flame?

PRAYER:

Written by Timothy Keller, a contemporary American pastor, theologian, author, speaker, and Christian apologist.

Lord, help me to see when the enemy is trying to shroud my thoughts with darkness. Shine your light upon me and keep the flame for You burning in my heart. I’m thankful that Your light inside of me will shine brightly for others to see. Amen.

What is Joy?

MEDITATION:

Written by Dallas Willard (1935-2013), an American philosopher known for his writings on Spiritual Formation. This is an excerpt from his book: The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth.”

Joy is a positive outlook of hopefulness based upon a pervasive, overall sense of well-being. Joy, like love, has a “feeling” component that is pleasant. Yet joy, like love, is not a feeling. Joy maintains a positive posture in life that assumes that good will be supported and eventually triumph over any apparent obstacle. Therefore, joy is fully compatible with the experiences of pain, disappointment, or sorrow, because joyfulness always takes a wider view of circumstances and works with hope to expect good to prevail. Joy enables patience, faithfulness to commitments, and the all-important ability to defer instant gratification. Joy gives one the ability to say no, or perhaps a very firm “not yet,” to the immediacy of desire. Both responses are evidence of joy’s ability to overcome the tyranny of the urgent, since one is joyful with the present state of affairs, whatever that may be. The bearing of joy on the good life should be obvious. It is indispensable to steady contentment and perseverance in any task. Joy liberates from the demand or temptation of immediate satisfaction, which resists waiting for what is good or best. Accordingly, joy is the best platform from which to make any sound investment.

PRAYER:

Written by Rachel Wojo, a contemporary author and speaker.

Dear Father,

I come before you with focused heart.

How can I begin to express my gratitude

for your great love for me?

The depths of your love are so wide

And so deep… and so long

That I can only attempt to understand the vastness.

While my mind can’t comprehend Your greatness in entirety,

My heart’s desire is to follow Your lead.

Every step and every corner,

I surrender to Your plan, no matter where it leads.

While I haven’t always been so willing,

I’m renewing my vows to you, Lord.

I beg you to take me and use me as only you can.

No matter the time or place.

It truly is my joy to say

Your will. Your way.

Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Rachael Adams, a contemporary writer, speaker, and founder of The Love Offering.

I didn’t start going to church until I was a preteen. During one of the first church services I attended, I remember watching the people in the congregation worship, pray, and belt out an occasional amen. I was fascinated by these activities, but I was also perplexed, even a little uncomfortable. Not long after, I visited a women’s Bible study. I observed and listened in bewilderment at what sounded like a foreign language. I didn’t understand the Christian terms that seemed so familiar to everyone else in attendance. My lack of comprehension was evidenced by my failure to complete the study. Years later, I found that Bible study booklet in my bookcase. Flipping through its pages, I discovered the preteen me had only completed two of the days. Looking back, I see how patient God was with me. He slowly gave me opportunities to get to know Him as I was ready. I went to Vacation Bible Schools, youth groups, and Sunday morning services, but I don’t recall ever reading His Word regularly on my own until I had my son. Having a child jolted me awake from my spiritual slumber. I wanted to be a good steward of what God had entrusted to me. So, in the quiet of my newborn’s nursery, while rocking him to sleep, I began to have my first consistent quiet times with the Lord. I came before the Lord as a spiritual infant, opening my heart to Him as I opened the pages of His Word. As I did, it was as if He sat cradling and rocking me in His loving arms, just as I cradled my son. Around this time, a friend invited me to a Bible study. I hadn’t attended a group study since the one I attempted as a preteen, but, even though I still had to look at the table of contents to find each book of the Bible, I finished the study this time. Being surrounded by a community of women who could answer my questions and with whom I could discuss God’s Word was exactly what I needed. Eventually, our women’s Bible study group began attending Christian women’s conferences…A friend of mine and I were talking about how, while we enjoyed and valued reading about and listening to other people’s encounters with the Lord, we wanted to get to know Him for ourselves, not just through the secondhand accounts we had received up to that point…. So, each morning of the next year, I gathered my Bible, notebook, pen, and cup of coffee, and I sat with my Savior. To be honest, there were times when it was more of a discipline than a desire. Some days, I would sit dumbfounded, unsure how portions of the Scriptures applied to me. Other days, I would sit astounded at how every word seemed to be written just for me and my current situation. Over time, my motive shifted. Reading the Bible became less about how it pertained to me and more about getting to know God. Without fail, when I would show up, He would show up within those black, white, and sometimes red-lettered pages. Whether I needed hope, encouragement, or correction, I received my daily bread. Slowly but surely, what began as a religious ritual became a relationship. In our earthly relationships, the more time we spend with someone, the closer we feel to them. On the other hand, if we go days or even years without conversation or seeing them, they begin to feel distant. We drift away emotionally and don’t feel as connected as we once did. The same is true of the Lord. It takes intention and effort on our part to open the pages of His Word, but I have discovered that when I make being present with Him a priority, His presence is evident to me throughout the rest of my day. His words enter my mind when I need reminding, guiding, or correcting. His Word has never returned void. Now, not only do I want to spend time with Him, I want to become more like Him. Because, truthfully, the Bible isn’t just about receiving information—it is for our transformation.  While we want to increase our knowledge of Him, the true purpose is to apply what we learn—to not only be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word, so others may come to know, love, and seek to be like Him too.

PRAYER:

Written by Don Jongsma, a contemporary pastor and church planter.ritten by Max Lucado, a contemporary pastor and author.

Lord Jesus, you came to seek, to serve, and to save what was lost. We want to follow you, our leader. As we do, may we be useful in leading others to you. Amen.

A New Thing in You

MEDITATION:

Written by Emma Danzey, a contemporary author, ministry leader, and singer. This is an excerpt from her work “God Wants to Do a New Thing in You.”

Spring is blooming and the birds are tweeting their songs yet again. The vibrant colored azaleas and tulips begin to reappear. Trees that were once leafless and empty now start to blossom pink, white, and purple. The truth is that God wants to do a new thing in you. He wants to do a new thing within all of us. Just like nature around us is fully dependent on God to change and grow, we are too. As we admire the warmth of the sunlight and the gentle breeze, may what we see in nature be embraced in our own hearts. When we see these visible changes and transformations within nature, we know that every moment of every day, something is happening. The more seasons we have been through, the more common they can become, so we have to be intentional to watch what the Lord is doing and to worship Him in the midst of it. The same is true spiritually speaking. As we seek God, the Holy Spirit is doing a work within us that we may not always recognize, however over time, our thoughts and actions will show the fruit of our hearts. As we look at the work of Jesus, He brings death to life, He completes the old covenant and fulfills the new covenant, and He takes things that are broken and makes them whole. As we examine our own lives, how is Jesus continually sanctifying and making us new in Him each day? Are you being more patient with your spouse? Have you been quicker to listen and slower to speak lately? Are your words of negativity fading under the sound of encouragement? We cannot produce anything eternally good from our lives apart from the work of Christ. It is because of Him that anyone can become a new creation… When we spend time with Jesus reading His Word, praying, worshiping, listening, reflecting, witnessing, and gathering with other believers, we are being refined into His image. At the moment of salvation, we are forgiven and made new. However, on the journey of life, we go through our own “spiritual seasons” where our Father is shaping and molding us into who He desires for us to be. We can trust in Him and surrender to His love as we become like Jesus by releasing areas of sin in our lives. This all points us towards the future when the old heaven and earth will pass away and the Lord will make everything new again. 

PRAYER:

Written by Max Lucado, a contemporary pastor and author.

God, I’m so grateful you sent your Spirit to empower me. Thank you for speaking to me and working in me. Stay near to me and help me hear your voice. Amen.