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Archive for August, 2022

Unbelief

MEDITATION:

Written by James Smetham (1821-1889), an English painter and engraver.

I think that I can trace every scrap of sorrow in my life to simple unbelief. How could I be anything but quite happy if I believed always that all the past is forgiven, and all the present furnished with power, and all the future bright with hope because of the same abiding facts which do not change with my mood, do not stumble because I totter and stagger at the promise through unbelief, but stand firm and clear with their peaks of pearl cleaving the air of Eternity, and the bases of their hills rooted unfathomably in the Rock of God. Mont Blanc does not become a phantom or a mist because a climber grows dizzy on its side.

PRAYER:

Written by Whitney Hopler, a contemporary author and editor.

Father, I come to you today with faith so small I cannot see a way. I want to believe you are able to do more than I ever imagine. I want to walk by faith and not by sight. I know that you can do the impossible in my life and I am trusting in your promises. Thank you for being a God who sees and hears my every need. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Stunted Growth

MEDITATION:

Written by Kelly Minter, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from her book “Encountering God—Cultivating Habits of Faith Through the Spiritual Disciplines.”

Early this morning I took a walk around my neighborhood. Redbud trees line several of the streets, and they delight me so, especially when they bloom purple megaphones announcing to the world that spring is here. The strip of grass on the street side of my sidewalk isn’t wide enough for me to plant my own. Otherwise, I’d have a row of redbuds greeting you upon arrival. That skinny sidewalk strip of grass is the one downside to my street. Today on my walk I noticed a single languishing redbud in a row of thriving ones. The ones flanking it were several feet taller and vibrantly stretching upward; the flagging tree had a mere two branches growing mostly sideways. Cast in the shade of towering branches whose leaves blocked the sun, I realized the struggler was failing because it didn’t have the light it needed to thrive. Hmmm, I thought to myself, nature is hitting close to home today and trees aren’t supposed to meddle like that. When other activities and busyness crowd out the time I need to hear from God, my growth is stunted, spiritually and otherwise. After all, God’s Word is more glorious and penetrating than the sun, said the psalmist in Psalm 19. And when God’s light transforms our hearts, I like to think we bloom like redbuds.

PRAYER:

Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet.

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

For blue of stream and blue of sky;
For pleasant shade of branches high;
For fragrant air and cooling breeze;
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!.

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Truth Over Lies

MEDITATION:

Written by Betsy St. Amant, a contemporary writer and novelist.

Spoiler alert—not every thought we think is true. This seems obvious, but if you’re like me, you need constant reminders of that fact. Just because something pops in my head doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s accurate. I tend to fall into this a lot when it comes to anxiety. I think a thought, maybe something about my health, or I assume something that happens is a “sign” or a warning, and before I know it, my train of thought is careening out of control down the track…When we’re not in fellowship with the Holy Spirit because of unconfessed sin or are caught up in the lure of the world, we are much more prone to drifting into a negative, condemning head space. But what about those times we’re progressing positively along in our spiritual walk and still hear the lies? Remember, at the end of the day, Satan is our accuser…He loves to throw lies at us, leaving us to wallow in the confusion and self-condemnation that inevitably comes in his wake. Most of the time, his lies are as subtle as a whisper. But man, are they sticky!  As a fiction author, I often make time to read reviews and see what readers are saying about my latest novel. I could read twenty good reviews and one negative one, and guess which one I’m going to dwell on the most? The negative is what sticks.  When we listen to lies and believe them, we start to operate out of them and view everything around us through that lens. Then we spiral into creating self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, if I focus solely on that one bad review rather than on the good ones, I will start to believe the lie that I’m not a good writer. Then I’m more likely to be tempted to give up on the ministry of writing God has created me for. If I stop exercising the gift of writing, and stop learning and growing in my craft, then I eventually will become a poor writer, See how quickly lies can escalate and propel us into bad decisions?  You’re probably not an author reading your own reviews, but you have your Thing, whatever that may be. Your insecurity might nest in your career or in your role as a parent. Maybe you hear lies about your singing voice in the choir at church or about your ability at your job. Your lies might come in the form of guilt over not doing more or not being a good spouse or a good caretaker. Whatever it is, step back and asked yourself if those accusations are from the Lord. I can almost guarantee you they are not, because when the Holy Spirit convicts, He nudges us gently with truth and in love. Conviction is not the same as condemnation. Are you feeling convicted, or guilty? The Bible tells us the truth will set us free…It also says that Jesus Himself is the truth. When the lies come, ask yourself—what is truth? The only way to know is to come back to God’s Word. What does the Bible say about your situation? What does Scripture reveal about your thoughts? When we confront lies with the gospel, they tend to fade away. They can’t hold up to the piercing light of Truth. The world is eager today to assure us with vain, empty platitudes of “you’re enough.” But the truth is, we’re not enough. Without Christ, we are nothing and have nothing to offer. But in Him, we live and move and have our being! Only the gospel can truly realign our hearts and our thoughts. Not the well wishes from the world, not the false security of empty praise, and surely not the false doctrine that we are worthy of our own accord.

PRAYER:

Written by Max Lucado, a contemporary pastor and author.

Guide me today, Holy Spirit. Show me where you want me to go, whom you want me to talk to, what decision you want me to make. Help me discern your voice over my own and others’. Walk closely with me and whisper truth to me. Forgive me when I listen to my own desires and ignore what you are telling me. Amen.

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Contentment

MEDITATION:

Written by David Jeremiah, a contemporary pastor, speaker, and author.  This is an excerpt from his book “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Covetousness is subtle because it’s a condition within our own minds. It’s the invisible violation that no one else sees. You can have your act together on the outside, but inside you can be agonizing over, lusting after, and being consumed by the desire to have what someone else has. Coveting is a closeted spiritual crime that, if not checked, will eventually manifest itself externally. The writer of Hebrews told us how to replace coveting with contentment. The Greek word for contentment means “satisfied,” “adequate,” “competent,” or “sufficient.” The same term is used in 2 Corinthians 12:9, when God told Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you.”  Maybe you’re worried about this. You think to yourself, “I wasn’t born with contentment in my genes. I don’t feel satisfied with my life or even with my possessions. I often find myself wanting more.” Don’t let that bother you, because I have good news! According to Paul’s epistle to the church in Philippi, contentment is something we learn…Paul wasn’t born a saint. He didn’t come into the world with a vast reserve of contentment. Instead, he learned contentment through experience—including both comfort and hardship. He learned contentment by honestly evaluating the value of wealth versus the value of his connections to Christ. And he learned contentment through the continual influx and influence of God’s Spirit in his life. He seemed to be equally joyful staying in a friend’s villa or chained in a Roman cell. The same can be true for you.

PRAYER:

Written by Mary Southerland, a contemporary writer and speaker.

Father, I praise You today for all that You have done in my life. You are faithful even when I am faithless. Your love pursues me even when I am unlovable. Your forgiveness covers my sin and frees me from its penalty. I praise You for your love and faithfulness to me. Your presence in my life changes everything, empowering me to live each moment of every day, content in knowing You are in control. As I face today, Lord, remind me that no matter what happens, I can praise You! In Your Name, Amen.

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Abundant Harvest

MEDITATION:

Written by L.B. Cowman (1870-1960), an American writer. This is an excerpt from her book “Streams in the Desert.”

One day in early summer I walked past a beautiful meadow. The grass was as soft and thick and fine as an immense green Oriental rug. In one corner stood a fine old tree, a sanctuary for numberless wild birds; the crisp, sweet air was full of their happy songs. Two cows lay in the shade, the very picture of content. Down by the roadside the saucy dandelion mingled his gold with the royal purple of the wild violet. I leaned against the fence for a long time, feasting my hungry eyes, and thinking in my soul that God never made a fairer spot than my lovely meadow. The next day I passed that way again, and lo! the hand of the despoiler had been there. A plowman and his great plow, now standing idle in the furrow, had in a day wrought a terrible havoc. Instead of the green grass there was turned up to view the ugly, bare, brown earth; instead of the singing birds there were only a few hens industriously scratching for worms. Gone were the dandelion and the pretty violet. I said in my grief, “How could any one spoil a thing so fair?” Then my eyes were opened by some unseen hand, and I saw a vision, a vision of a field of ripe corn ready for the harvest. I could see the giant, heavily laden stalks in the autumn sun; I could almost hear the music of the wind as it would sweep across the golden tassels. And before I was aware, the brown earth took on a splendor it had not had the day before.  Oh, that we might always catch the vision of an abundant harvest, when the great Master Plowman comes, as He often does, and furrows through our very souls, uprooting and turning under that which we thought most fair, and leaving for our tortured gaze only the bare and the unbeautiful.

PRAYER:

Written by Julie Palmer, a contemporary singer, songwriter, and prayer ministry leader.

Father, please grow in us a harvest for the world. Come sow a seed of hope within our souls Lord, that we might yield goodness, patience, and kindness in abundance. Sow a seed of peace in our lives Lord, that we might bear the fruits of forgiveness, compassion, and righteousness. Come sow a seed of love in our hearts Lord, that others would reap the blessings of family, friendship, and community. May each seed of hope, peace, and love grow within us into a harvest that can be feasted on by all. Amen.

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A Present Kingdom

MEDITATION:

Written by DeLano Sheffield, a Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan and a diversity coach.

God may call you to do the same thing that you did yesterday. Awe does not need the sensational to occur in order to be awe. We only need the recognition of a present kingdom—a regularly present, not waiting till early Sunday morning, kingdom; a really large kingdom that is powerful enough that not even Hades can prevail against it or our finite minds either. We see the beginnings of Peter’s repentant (yet often impulsive even after salvation) heart in Luke 5:4-11. His actions and speech give us all the good preaching points of a heart turning to God: Peter’s turning things over to Jesus, falling to his knees, and recognition and knowledge that something was different about this carpenter where even the fish and the nets obey him. In our theological musings and three-point expositions, we miss the practicality and significance of the moment. This is not in the temple. It isn’t even on dry ground. What is ordinary in this moment and common for every person in the Gospels and in the time following is that the kingdom is so large that its king will not be relegated to certain places or practices. He flips everything on its head. He sent the perfect rule-keepers away sad. And he gathered and called frail children, flawed hearts, and weary souls to him. He made it clear—early in his work—that he had say over everything (carpentry, His father’s business, water, and wine etc.) And when we rub again the vastness of what God does in any economy that we think we have all figured out, he will show us that we will need to repent and turn our conclusions there also. God’s kingdom is massive.

William Beebe is given credit for a story about Teddy Roosevelt: At Sagamore Hill, after an evening of talk, the two would go out on the lawn and search the skies for a certain spot of star-like light near the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then Roosevelt would recite: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.” Then Roosevelt would grin and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.” How does catching fish translate to a fisherman at work telling a carpenter “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”? Peter realized that God is so great that he can point to a place in the water to catch a large amount of fish, and he realized just how small we are. When the boat started to sink Peter realized that he was drowning. Inevitably, you and I will go back to work tonight or tomorrow morning. It will be working in the home taking care of the household, or on an assembly line, teaching, managing, etc. And in the monotony of repetition, we will begin to think some form of our own “This is it. This is the best it can be.” But that is not the kingdom that we are turning toward. Is it really possible that “the earth is the Lord’s” includes your work tasks? Peter’s example reminds us to go where God calls us—primarily to learn just how small we are, and also the wonderful gift of how present God is also.

PRAYER:

Written by DeLano Sheffield, author of today’s meditation.

What is humankind that you think about us? Our strength, stature, and time is short and yet you have clearly shown us that our capacity is just short of the angels. Forgive me for thinking higher of myself than I am. And forgive me for thinking lower of myself also. And forgive me for agreeing with anyone else who thinks in either direction about me or others also. Your Son’s presence shows us that while he has every reason to think of himself higher, he did not consider equality with you as plunder. And we need your Son if we ever intend to see as well. In the bludgeoned, crucified, resurrected, reigning one’s name we pray; Jesus the Christ,  Amen.

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Good Things Take Time

MEDITATION:

Written by Veronica Neffinger, a contemporary author.

Did you ever realize how good things nearly always take time? As children, waiting can seem like agony. We don’t want to think about the hours that must slowly slip by until school lets out, until summer comes back around, or until our favorite uncle comes to visit again. As adults, our impatience is little lessened, albeit perhaps better concealed. In our culture of immediacy, having patience is even more difficult and out of reach. We are used to multitasking and packing each day with so much busyness that we seldom have time to hear our own voices. This impatience for results, for productivity, is, I believe, something that we, as Christians, must learn to surrender, will have to learn to surrender if we are going to keep growing. Have you ever noticed that good things nearly always come about because of a process; oftentimes, a long process? Conversely, it seems many bad things are those that happen in an instant: a car crash that turns your life upside down, a quick word hurled out in anger that breaks a relationship, a split-second decision to give in to peer pressure. Now, of course, not all split-second decisions lead to negative consequences, but there is a striking parallel here: As we are jumping from one thing to the next on a continual cycle of busyness, spiraling away from deep understanding and hovering on the periphery of thought, God is seeking to work against the entropy we have created, making the disparate parts of our life into something beautiful. God is very comfortable working slowly (or what appears as slowly to us). We all want this transformation God promises us in His Word, but are we willing to wait for it? After the moment of salvation, God desires to sanctify us–to make us holy–but this takes time and daily repentance, submission, and prayer, all things that themselves require us to be in for the long haul if we hope to see fruit. God does not take His sweet time making us more like Himself because He enjoys seeing our impatience; He is patient in perfecting us because, for any truth to truly take hold in us, takes time. Although we are creatures who have no problem proclaiming an opinion in an instant, we also recognize that dearly-held beliefs are not easily relinquished. In His infinite mercy, God takes upon Himself the process of gently wrestling our most dearly-held but harmful, selfish, and just plain false beliefs from the intense grip we have on them. Our stubbornness to begin the growing process is often a reason why we do not spring forward in our Christian life in leaps and bounds. But that is okay. God knows our frame, and His patience and lovingkindness never fails, even when ours does.

PRAYER:

Written by Lori Freeland, a contemporary author.

Lord, I can’t move. I can’t sit still or stand. I can’t breathe. I think I’m dying. Everything’s falling apart inside me and around me. I don’t know what to do.  Please wrap your arms around me and don’t ever let go. Slow my racing heart. Clear my spinning head. Calm my frantic lungs. I need Your patience to breathe through this moment and make it to the next. Thank you for being a God of the moment, a God who cares, a God able to guard my heart and mind. Amen.

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The Desert

MEDITATION:

Written by Os Hillman, a contemporary speaker, author, and consultant on faith at work.

The desert holds a special place in God’s Word. The Scriptures portray the desert as a place of inspiration and exaltation – a place where people met God in a powerful new way. King David wrote the 63rd Psalm while in exile in the Desert of Judah. He was hiding from his son Absalom, who wanted to replace him as king of Israel. For Joseph, a deep pit in the desert was the first stop on a 13-year journey through desolation and despair. That 13-year desert experience served to break Joseph’s self-will and self-confidence. It taught him that he could not control anything and that he needed to rely on God to manage the events in his life. Joseph’s desert trial prepared him by scorching the youthful pride and arrogance out of his young life so that when he was 30 years old he could rule Egypt at Pharaoh’s side in a spirit of humility and servanthood. Before becoming king of Israel, David was a shepherd. Part of his training for leadership involved hand-to-claw combat with the beasts of the wilderness, including the lion and the bear. Elijah learned the principles of spiritual leadership while in the wilderness of Gilead. And Jesus was tempted and tested for 40 days in the desert before He began to preach. Perhaps God has given you a dream, but now it seems that your dream has withered and died under the scorching desert sun. It seems that God has gone away and is not listening to your prayers. But I want you to know that your dream still lives. God is with you, even if you can’t see Him, hear Him or sense His presence. He is preparing you in the desert.

PRAYER:

Written by Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821),  the first native-born citizen of the US to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.  She founded the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage.

Unite me to Thyself,

O adorable Victim.

Life-giving heavenly Bread,

feed me,

sanctify me,

reign in me,

transform me to Thyself,

live in me;

let me live in Thee;

let me adore Thee in Thy life-giving Sacrament as my God,

listen to Thee as to my Master,

obey Thee as my King,

imitate Thee as my Model,

follow Thee as my Shepherd,

love Thee as my Father,

seek Thee as my Physician

who wilt heal all the maladies of my soul.

Be indeed my Way,

Truth and Life;

sustain me,

O heavenly Manna,

through the desert of this world,

till I shall behold Thee unveiled in Thy glory.  Amen.

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The Long View

MEDITATION:

Written by Padre Pio (1887-1968) an Italian Capuchin friar, priest, and mystic.

It helps, now and then, to step back, and take the long view. The Kingdom of Heaven is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We will plant the seeds that one day will grow, We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but everything is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future of our own. May that future be filled with grace, peace, and hope.

PRAYER:

Written by Wendy Blight, a contemporary author, Bible teacher, and speaker.

Dear Lord, I don’t know who or what will cross my path today. But I do know that You are my Rock and my Fortress. You are my Shield and my Strong Tower. Help me to anchor myself to You today. Teach me how to stand strong in You and choose only Your way today. Help me walk by Your truth and not my feelings. Help me to embrace anything that comes my way as an opportunity to see You at work and as an opportunity to point others to You. Thank You that You love me and nothing can ever take that away from me! Even if I fail today and fall short, You whisper Your unconditional love deep into my soul and remind me that Your mercies are new every morning. That truly amazes me, Lord. Thank You for meeting with me today. Would You wake me again tomorrow with the same sweet whisper of Your love? I can’t wait to meet with You again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Christian Vision

MEDITATION:

Written by Randy Frazee, a contemporary pastor, author, and teacher. This is an excerpt from his book “Believe 365.”

Can you remember the first time you donned a pair of polarized sunglasses? If you’re like me, you took them off and put them back on several times because you couldn’t believe the difference they made in what you saw. Cutting down on glare gives objects clarity and makes colors more vivid. As Christians, what we believe – or the internal lens of our mind—impacts how we live and who we become. For example: If you view God as personal and involved in your daily life, you will experience more joy. If you see people as God sees them (belief in humanity), you will become gentler toward others. If you believe that everything you are and own belongs to God (belief in stewardship), you will more naturally offer your time and resources to help others. Jesus desires to give us new internal lenses by transforming our minds. He does this as we firmly establish ourselves in what we believe. You [can] begin a journey of renewing your mind. As you meditate on what you believe, you will adopt a worldview that profoundly reduces glare and reveals clarity about how you should act to become more like Jesus. Soon others will notice the vivid difference. Hopefully, you will too!

PRAYER:

Written by Victoria Riollano, a contemporary author, speaker, and professor.

Dear Lord, I thank you for that you are omnipotent. You have all power and glory in your hands. I thank you that you hear my cries and that you know exactly what I need. Father, I thank you for helping me to see again. Help me to see your heart, your plan, and your goodness. Even when I don’t understand, help me to praise you beyond what my natural eyes can see. I trust you for every step. In Jesus name. Amen.

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