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Archive for January, 2022

The Holy Pattern

MEDITATION:

Written by James E. Loder (1931-2001), American professor of Christian Education and author.

The pattern should be clear. When serenity comes up out of anxiety, joy out of depression, hope out of hopelessness; when good is returned for evil, forgiveness replaces retaliation, and courage triumphs over fear; then we recognize the movement of something beyond the personality and mental health. Such profound manifestations of the human spirit are the faces of the fourth dimension, which I have called the Holy.

PRAYER:

Written by Aaron Brown, a contemporary writer, teacher, and visual artist.

Heavenly Father, I remember the days when people once hugged one another. I remember the days of visiting loved ones and sitting close. Those days feel like a long time ago. Now, people spout hateful messages online. Those who once spoke of love now speak of hate all in the name of politics. People war against each other based on political parties and political ideas. Pleasant words have been replaced with crass debate. We seem to have forgotten how to love one another. Maybe we have lost sight of you. Maybe we don’t even love ourselves. Please remind us how to love you. Please remind us how to love ourselves. Show us once again how to love one another as we love ourselves. Teach us the correct way to behave in person or online when talking about politics or anything. Make us believe that love is possible in all scenarios. Let us recognize and remember the benefits of caring for others, and how you bless us according to our good deeds. Amen.

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Time With God

MEDITATION:

Written by John North, a contemporary Australian pastor and team leader at Ambassadors for Christ International.

Jesus’ plan for you, when He died for you, was to refocus your life onto His perfect priorities and purposes for you! You can either live for yourself or you can live for God. Living for ourselves comes naturally to us. We can dress it up with religious language and actions, but still self is at the heart of our natural life. If you are going to live for God, it will not be natural. You will need to consciously decide each day: “My life is for God and today I will put Him before myself—His desires, His purposes, His pleasure, His plans before my desires and purposes and pleasures and plans.” Jesus died and rose for you, and now He is calling you to live for Him. He will enable you to do what He calls you to do. In fact, He will do it through you! But He will not choose for you. You must choose to live for Him and not for yourself. Pause right now to express your heart to Him.

PRAYER:

Written by John Cook, a contemporary seminary professor.

Almighty and merciful God, in whose hands are our times, look with compassion we pray on your world in distress. Comfort those who suffer, strengthen those who are weary, grant your peace to those whose thoughts are troubled, and embolden your people to be a light of hope throughout the world; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Immeasurable Love

MEDITATION:

Written by Julian of Norwich (1343-1413), an English mystic, Benedictine nun, and the first great female writer in the English Language. This is an excerpt from her book “Revelations of Divine Love.”

Just as our flesh is covered by clothing, and our blood is covered by our flesh, so are we, soul and body, covered and enclosed by the goodness of God. Yet, the clothing and the flesh will pass away, but the goodness of God will always remain and will remain closer to us than our own flesh. God only desires that our soul clings to him with all of its strength, in particular, that it cling to his goodness. For of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon his goodness that pleases him most and brings the most profit to our soul. For we are so preciously loved by God that we cannot even comprehend it. No created being can ever know how much and how sweetly and tenderly God loves them. It is only with the help of his grace that we are able to persevere in spiritual contemplation with endless wonder at his high, surpassing, immeasurable love which our LORD in his goodness has for us. Therefore, we may ask from our Lover to have all of him that we desire. For it is our nature to long for him and it is his nature to long for us. In this life we can never stop loving him.

PRAYER:

Written by Daryl DeKlerk, a contemporary pastor and author.

Majestic Lord, I receive your salvation in Jesus Christ. Thank you for all the goodness you’ve poured into my life. Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Amen.

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The Light of the World

MEDITATION:

Written by Clarence L. Haynes, Jr., a contemporary Bible teacher and speaker. This is an excerpt from his work “Is the Gospel Offensive or Are You?”

When you carry the name of Christ and shine light, the world is watching. Remember a city on a hill cannot be hidden. What I want you to pay close attention to is the thing that reflects light the most and makes your light shine the brightest. It is your good deeds. How you live and act can be the greatest testimony and witness for Jesus. Yet there must be a correlation between the message that comes out of your mouth and the actions that come from your life. When these things don’t line up, then the messenger gets in the way of the message. You become the offense instead of the gospel. Some go so far as to call this persecution when in reality people are responding to our bad behavior that does not reflect Jesus or his character. When this happens people cannot hear the message because you have gotten in the way. Since they can’t hear the message, they are not rejecting the message they are rejecting you. I know this is sobering and may even sting a little, but if we are honest with ourselves it is the truth. It is our responsibility to make sure that we are not the ones who are getting in the way of people hearing the true message of the gospel. If they reject the message that is their choice. We just need to make sure we are not in the way of them being able to hear the message.

PRAYER:

Today’s prayer is from the Saram Primer, a book of prayers and Christian worship resources from the 1500s, collected at the Salisbury Cathedral.

Almighty God,

fountain of eternal light,

send forth your truth into our hearts,

and pour on us the glory of your brightness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Loving Your Neighbor

MEDITATION:

Written by Laura Georgakakos, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from her book “Grace Notes.”

At a red light recently, as I handed out money to a homeless man, he surprised me by announcing as he approached, “My name is James.” In that quick interval before the light turned green, he reached for the money in my outstretched hand, but even more eagerly for the hand itself, for a human connection. I’m a person. Wait before you zoom away—I have a name. I want to be known.

Several houses down our street lives a little girl. I have only ever known her by the sound of her voice. She is usually playing outside and she is usually screaming. That seems to be the way she relieves tension and declares herself to a world too busy for her. Bloodcurdling screams as she rides her bike, as she chases her brother, as she waits for her parents to get home from work. Sometimes I pray for her. Other times I resent her interrupting my work. I sit in my office angrily clenching my jaw as I write about the love of God. Yesterday, I returned home from a walk, she was playing in front of my house. Face to face for the first time with this tiny creature, and she spoke in a quiet voice, almost accusing, “Do you know my name?” I was taken aback by the question and ashamed to realize I did not know her name. “It’s Gabriella,” she informed me. You pray for me from afar. Do you even know who I am? Would you spare any of your precious time for me?

Sometimes I go through the Christian motions forgetting the point. I rush past the needy people in my path on my way to serving God in a larger or “official” capacity. My eye is on the far horizon, on my “important” duties while a child is lonely at my feet. As Christians, we gear up for the grand gesture while over and over He asks that we love one another. I was surprised to discover how oven “Love your neighbor” is repeated in the Bible. Christ asks us to slow down and regard the person in front of us, to look them in the eye, to find out their name, who they are, what they need. He asks us to listen. C. S. Lewis said, “The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did.” This is the real and immediate assignment for every one of us—to live out the love of Christ moment by moment, in our backyard, in a ballroom, in a sanctuary on a soccer field, on a street corner. One cup of cold water at a time.

PRAYER:

Written by Laura Georgakakos, the author of today’s meditation.

Father, may we make You visible, make You known to those around us. May we serve Your purposes in this world. For Your honor.  Amen.  

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Fellowship

MEDITATION:

Written by John Ortberg, a contemporary pastor, author, and speaker. This is an excerpt from his work “Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living.”

We have been invited into a fellowship of love. This is why Jesus says, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  In the Bible, a person’s name generally stands for his or her character and identity. To gather in Jesus’ name means to relate to other people with the same spirit of servanthood, submission, and delight that characterizes Jesus in the Trinity. Whenever that happens, Jesus says, he can’t just stand idly by. He is always a part of it, basking in it, cheering it on. A community of loving people is God’s signature. This is why the experience of authentic community is so life-giving. We are taking our place in fellowship with Life himself. When I am in isolation, I feel lonely. When I am in community, I experience what might be called “fullness of heart.” The human heart is forever empty if it is closed in upon itself. In community—the divine community especially—a heart comes alive. To experience community is to know the joy of belonging, the delight at being known and loved, the opportunity for giving and growing, and the safety of finding a true home.

PRAYER:

Written by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ((1929-1968), a minister and activist for the American civil rights movement.  

Ever-present God, you called us to be in relationship with one another and promised to dwell wherever two or three are gathered. In our community, we are many different people; we come from many different places, have many different cultures. Open our hearts that we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion and the treasures of diversity among us. We pray in faith. Amen.

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Management by Force

MEDITATION:

Written by Os Hillman, a contemporary author and leader on faith and work.  This is from his daily devotional “TGIF Today God is First.”

Moses and the people had been traveling for days without water. The people were thirsty. They were complaining and grumbling about their plight, and Moses became the object of their complaining. Moses sought the Lord for wisdom on how to handle the situation. The Lord instructed him to speak to the rock and water would flow. This would be a sign that God was still in control, that Moses was still the leader, and that God was their provider. When it came time to speak to the rock, Moses’ disgust with the people became so great that instead of speaking to the rock, he angrily addressed the people and then struck the rock twice. The water came out, in spite of Moses’ disobedience. But the Lord was not pleased with Moses. This was a time for Moses to operate at a higher level. No longer was he called to touch things with his staff to perform miracles; it was a time for him to speak to the problem. His very words would have changed the situation. Moses’ staff represented two things-his physical work as a shepherd of sheep and his spiritual work as a shepherd of the people. God was calling him to move into a new dimension of using his staff. Up to now, Moses had always been commanded by God to touch something to perform the miracle. Now it was time to speak God’s word to the problem. However, Moses made the mistake many of us make. He used his instrument with force to accomplish something for God. He took something God wanted to be used in a righteous manner and used it in an unrighteous manner. He used force to solve the problem. This disobedience cost Moses his right to see the Promised Land.

Have you ever been tempted to use your power, skill, and ability to force a situation to happen, perhaps even out of anger? God is calling us to use prayer to move the face of mountains. The force of our ability is not satisfactory. God is calling each of us to a new dimension of walking with Him. Pray that God will give you the grace to wait on Him and not take matters into your own hands. Then you will not be in jeopardy of failing to move into the Promised Land in your life.

PRAYER:

Written by Betsy de Cruz, a contemporary author.

Lord, I praise you for your great love for me and your power that works on my behalf. Help me to trust you today. I lay down my worries at your feet, and I ask that you help me to surrender control to you. I trust you, the great and powerful God who goes before me. Be glorified in my life today. Help me to keep a quiet heart and to live with an attitude of surrender. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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MEDITATION:

Written by A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), an American pastor, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor.  This is an excerpt from “Tozer on Christian Leadership.”

Surely Bible-reading Christians should be the last persons on earth to give way to hysteria. They are redeemed from their past offenses, kept in their present circumstances by the power of an all-powerful God, and their future is safe in His hands. God has promised to support them in the flood, protect them in the fire, feed them in famine, shield them against their enemies, hide them in His safe chambers until the indignation is past and receive them at last into eternal tabernacles. If we are called upon to suffer, we may be perfectly sure that we shall be rewarded for every pain and blessed for every tear. Underneath will be the Everlasting Arms and within will be the deep assurance that all is well with our souls. Nothing can separate us from the love of God-not death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature. This is a big old world, and it is full of the habitations of darkness, but nowhere in its vast expanse is there one thing of which a real Christian need be afraid. Surely a fear-ridden Christian has never examined his or her defenses. 

PRAYER:

Written by A. W. Tozer, the author of today’s meditation.

Lord, I’ll go today in the power of your awesome promises. I’ll rest in your strong assurances. I’ll face this ‘big old world’ and its ‘habitations of darkness’ in complete peace as I trust You completely today. Amen.

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Seeing Everything Else

MEDITATION:

Written by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), a British writer and theologian. This is an excerpt from his book, “Miracles.” 

Let us suppose we possess parts of a novel or a symphony. Someone now brings us a newly discovered piece of manuscript and says, ‘This is the missing part of the work. This is the chapter on which the whole plot of the novel really turned. This is the main theme of the symphony’. Our business would be to see whether the new passage, if admitted to the central place which the discoverer claimed for it, did actually illuminate all the parts we had already seen and ‘pull them together’. Nor should we be likely to go very far wrong. The new passage, if spurious, however attractive it looked at the first glance, would become harder and harder to reconcile with the rest of the work the longer we considered the matter. But if it were genuine then at every fresh hearing of the music or every fresh reading of the book, we should find it settling down, making itself more at home and eliciting significance from all sorts of details in the whole work which we had hitherto neglected. Even though the new central chapter or main theme contained great difficulties in itself, we should still think it genuine provided that it continually removed difficulties elsewhere. Something like this we must do with the doctrine of the Incarnation. Here, instead of a symphony or a novel, we have the whole mass of our knowledge. The credibility will depend on the extent to which the doctrine, if accepted, can illuminate and integrate that whole mass. It is much less important that the doctrine itself should be fully comprehensible. We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact, we cannot) but because we can see everything else.

PRAYER:

Written by Mary Lou Kownacki, a contemporary poet, author, and director of Monasteries of the Heart and Benetvision Publishing.

The Incarnation is no mystery, Jesus. You make it easy to understand. Because you walked our earth we are to see the face of the Divine in every person we meet: the friend who betrayed the family gathered for a meal the welfare mother the man on death row the clerk in the store the teenage thug on the corner those my government calls enemy and trains me to kill. Every time I love, the mystery of the Incarnation happens. Every time I love, I birth you on earth, Jesus. I fall on my knees and beg you, Jesus, deepen my living of the Incarnation.  Amen.

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Doubting God’s Goodness

MEDITATION:

Written by Charles F. Stanley, a contemporary pastor and founder of In Touch Ministries.

Living in this fallen world can make us question God’s goodness. We might wonder why He doesn’t always fix our problems and give us what we want. For example, when Eve listened to the serpent’s lies, she began to doubt that the Lord had made the right choice in forbidding her to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why would He deprive her of wisdom and the enjoyment of such desirable food? Our thoughts are similar to Eve’s when we don’t agree with the Lord about what’s best for us. From a human perspective, “good” refers to that which is enjoyable, comfortable, or profitable. But God has a much higher standard and is always working to achieve His purpose—developing Christlike character in His children. Behind every restriction or commandment from the Lord is His loving care for His followers. He knows the consequences of sin and wants to deter us from choices that will wreck our lives.  Eve and her husband Adam both learned through disobedience that God knows what’s best.  We have the opportunity each day to discover His goodness by listening to His voice, obeying His commands, and trusting His wisdom. Whatever comes our way, we can know that He is working for both our temporal and eternal good.

PRAYER:

Written by Michael Perry (1942-1996), a British clergyman and hymn writer. This prayer is based on Psalm 145.

God our Father,

gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and rich in mercy:

we thank you that you keep your promises,

and love all that you have made;

you uphold those who fall,

and lift up those who are bowed low;

you open your hand

and satisfy the desires of your people

who fear you,

you hear our cry and save us.

Therefore, we proclaim your goodness:

let every creature praise your holy name,

forever and ever. Amen.

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