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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Saints

MEDITATION:

Written by James C. Howell, a contemporary pastor and author. This is an excerpt from his book “Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs.”

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be…Saints do not possess an extra layer of muscle. They are not taller, and they do not sport superior IQs. They are not richer, and their parents are not more clever than yours or mine. They have no batlike perception that enables them to fly in the dark. They are flesh and blood, just like you and me, no stronger, no more intelligent. And that is the point. They simply offer themselves to God, knowing they are not the elite, fully cognizant that they are inadequate to the task, that their abilities are limited and fallible.

PRAYER:

This prayer is from the book “Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book” from Marquette University.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O Good Jesus, hear me.

Within your wounds hide me.

Permit me not to be separated from you.

From the wicked foe, defend me.

At the hour of my death, call me

and bid me come to you

That with your saints I may praise you Forever and ever. Amen.

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Formed and Seasoned

MEDITATION:

Written by Anthony de Mello (1931-1987), an Indian Jesuit priest, spiritual teacher, writer, and public speaker. This is an excerpt from his book “Contact with God.”

Here, then, is another reason why apostles withdraw to make a retreat: they need to be charged with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to those who watch and pray and wait patiently, those who have the courage to get away from everything and come to grips with themselves and with God in solitude and silence. No wonder every one of the great prophets, indeed Jesus himself, retired to the desert for prolonged periods of silence, praying, fasting, wrestling with the forces of evil. The desert is the furnace where the apostle and the prophet are forged. The desert, not the marketplace. The marketplace is where apostles function. The desert is where they are formed and seasoned and receive their commission and their message for the world, “their” gospel.

PRAYER:

Written by Mother Teresa (1910-1997), a nun and missionary who served the poor of Calcutta. This is an excerpt from her book “No Greater Love.”

We cannot find God in noise and agitation.

Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence.

The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence.

What is essential is not what we say

but what God tells us and what He tells others through us.

In silence He listens to us;

in silence He speaks to our souls.

In silence we are granted

the privilege of listening to His voice.

Silence of our eyes.

Silence of our ears.

Silence of our mouths.

Silence of our minds.

…in the silence of the heart

God will speak.

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Resting in Christ

MEDITATION:

Written by Lynette Kittle, a contemporary author.

Our family loves cross-country road trips, causing us to embark on numerous jaunts over the years, including a 7-day, 12-hour daily driving adventure from Western Ohio to Alaska. While crossing the 3,796 miles through the Midwest, Northwestern United States, and regions of Canada, even when closing my eyes at night I still felt the sensation of driving through the mountainous up-and-down route, ever cruising in our van camper even while asleep. However, especially in long and desolated stretches of highways, a sign indicating a designated rest area was a welcomed sight. Anticipating a safe, sheltered stop from the miles of driving, offering us an opportunity to stop, stretch our legs, walk around, and breathe in the fresh air, renewed our strength during the many miles of driving. Whereas rest areas along an extended road trip are necessary for our overall well-being and ability to continue on our route, so are rest stops needed along life’s pathway, too. Like on a long road trip, during life’s journey we may face difficult and tiring situations where the roads become bumpy, narrow, detoured, or even closed at times. Work-related stress, family tensions, worldwide pandemics, inflation, shortages, and more can cause us to want to go into crisis mode. Yet, God encourages us in Psalm 37:7 to, rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. And in Matthew 11:28, He calls us to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes we forget about His offer to be our rest in life. We overlook how when we are weary, He offers Himself as a safe and refreshing place to take a break when the road we’re traveling is taking a toll on us and wearing us out. He is our safe place to rest and find renewed strength to continue on our journey. Instead of constantly thinking about our situations, trying to figure out what to do next and how to resolve issues, we can stop, take a break, and let Jesus give us His rest along the way, trusting and believing He is working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). Because God doesn’t ever grow tired or weary, we can turn to Him knowing He’ll be there for us. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom” (Isaiah 40:28). Often in life, like on road trips, we think there isn’t any time to rest if we want to reach our destination. Instead of taking time to stop, take it easy, and put our feet up for a bit, we just keep pushing forward. In going forward, we often tire ourselves out, letting the miles rob us of the joy available during our travels, allowing it to steal our peace of mind, contentment, and more from our lives. But just like a rest area stop refreshes our minds, bodies, and emotions during a long trip, when we decide to rest in the Lord and lay our worries, concerns, fears, and doubts at His feet, we also find refreshment and renewal in body, soul, and spirit. As well, we begin to see God move on our behalf in new and remarkable ways. Instead of feeling like we have to push harder to our destination, we began to see how when we step back from trying to direct our journey, God steps in to work His ways and will in our circumstances. When we choose to stop and rest in Jesus, He brings relief from anxiety, along with the desire to control, redirect, and solve our situations. Like a much-needed roadside stop, His rest refreshes us so we can keep traveling the road of life.

PRAYER:

Written by Kristyn Mayden, a contemporary author.

Dear God, when we are anxious, restore peace for our souls and calm for our restless minds. Thank you for restoring peace for broken relationships, situations, and hearts where there is division. Restore peace to our homes, workplaces, schools, and the world. When we are at the end of our own strength and chaos is all around us, may your peace calm and cover us. Thank you for restoring peace to our spirits and reconciling our hearts back to You.

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MEDITATION:

Written by Howard L. Rice, a contemporary author, professor of Ministry, and Chaplain Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary. This is an excerpt from his book “Reformed Spirituality.”

Discipline in the Christian life is not a luxury. Without it we become confused, lose our way, compromise our principles, and discover that we are not the people we had intended to be. No one is so sturdy in the faith that the temptation to surrender bit by bit does not erode conviction. Days go by and we discover that, instead of growing in grace in these days, we have wasted them. These “means” to whose use we are tied…are a positive set of directions for the Christian life, often called the “means of grace.”…These means of grace are not a method of deserving God’s grace, but a pattern by which we enable ourselves to be receptive to grace and remove the barriers that God permits us to erect as the price of our freedom. These tools, or aids, are ways by which we open ourselves to God’s free grace. In using them, we shape our lives in order to become open to God’s presence. They give our Christian pilgrimage a definite shape, in an age in which there is a general sense of loss of direction and confusion about right and wrong, along with an accompanying sense of God’s absence.

PRAYER:

Written by Betty Scott Stam (1906-1934), an American Christian missionary to China, who was executed with her husband during the Chinese Civil War.

Lord, I give up my own plans and purposes, all my own desires, hopes and ambitions, and I accept Thy will for my life. I give up myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. I hand over to Thy keeping all of my friendships; all the people whom I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill me now and seal me with Thy Spirit. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, for to me to live is Christ. Amen.

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MEDITATION:

Written by Ken Boa, a contemporary teacher, writer, speaker, and founder of Reflections Ministries. This is an excerpt from his book “Handbook to Wisdom.”

When we contemplate the gracefulness of a flower or the grandeur of a tree, we properly respond with aesthetic admiration. Similarly, we respond to our pets with personal affection, and at times to other people with self-giving love. If nature is worthy of admiration, animals of affection, and human beings of sacrificial love, how then should we respond to the infinite and personal Author of all biological and spiritual life? The biblical answer is clear – God alone is worthy of worship. Blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever belong to the Creator and Redeemer. He has given us many precious and wonderful promises in Scripture about His principles, presence, provision, protection, plan, and preparation. And one of them is this: God is preparing a place for you and for me so that we can live with Him forever.

PRAYER:

Written by Ken Boa, the author of today’s meditation.

Lord Jesus, Your love and care for me is beyond my imagination. I can barely comprehend that You have prepared a special place for me in Your Father’s house. As I pause throughout the day, I will dream of the warmth and beauty of my heavenly home and with joy and excitement, I will anticipate the day when I shall meet You there and speak with You face to face. Amen.

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Truth In Prayer

MEDITATION:

Written by Marjorie Thompson, a contemporary author, teacher, and retreat leader. This is an excerpt from her book “Soul Feast.”

It takes practice to learn not to censor our prayer. But trying to keep secrets from God is like the three-year-old who covers her eyes and declares, “You can’t see me.” God sees into our hearts and more clearly than we do. Indeed, God is the one who prompts us to look at what we have swept under the rug of our repressions and rationalizations. The Spirit awakens us to what lies hidden within – sometimes gently, sometimes with a jolt, but always so God can work with our conscious consent to free us for growth.

PRAYER:

Written by Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), a Dominican friar and influential philosopher and theologian in the church.

Grant me grace, O merciful God, to desire ardently all that is pleasing to You, to examine it prudently, to acknowledge it truthfully, and to accomplish it perfectly, for the praise and glory of Your name. Amen.

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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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