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Do Not Be Afraid

MEDITATION:

Written by Norman Shawchuck, a contemporary teacher, University consultant, and author. He has worked and taught in Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, and Israel.

Fear kills a mind and soul by slowly obliterating the visions we hold for our lives. That we should not fall prey to fear is a constant theme in the scriptures. God does not want us to succumb to the chilling and killing aspects of fear; God encourages people not to be afraid of the circumstances in which they find themselves. It seems that one of God’s favorite themes is “Do not be afraid” or “Do not fear.” Perhaps God repeats this theme so often because we so often fear circumstances that confront us in our lives and ministries. God is not suggesting that we will not confront fearful realities in our lives. God is simply promising not to abandon us to fearful circumstances but to go with us through the dark night of fear, danger, and uncertainty.

Fear, left to eat away at us, finally brings us to a “little-death.” We must not deny our fear or avoid dealing with the fearful moment. In scripture, God never suggests an escapist attitude as an antidote for fear. The many “do not be afraid” promises in scripture do not suggest that we shun the fearful prospects in which we find ourselves, but God consistently promises to be with us in the dark and ominous moment.

PRAYER:

Today’s prayer is from Psalm 3, David’s prayer for deliverance.

Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

MEDITATION:

Written by Sharon Betters, Executive Director of MARKINC Ministries.

Since 1994 I have wished I could jump over Mother’s Day.  It’s supposed to be a day of honor, remembering our mothers, being remembered by our children. But in May, 1994 remembering only brought deeper sadness and longing for what was. That was the first Mother’s Day I experienced without our youngest child, Mark. Mark was born on May 11, 1977. He died in a car accident on July 6, 1993. The year of 1994 was a year of dreading every morning and every night. Mother’s Day and his birthday all at the same time seemed more than I could bear. Over twenty years later, I still weep over missing Mark even though I have found purpose and joy as well. My sadness embraces others on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day…a day that brings great joy to the first-time mommy and great grief to the woman who cannot conceive. A day of satisfaction for the mother whose children are living by faith, a day of deep pain to the mother whose child not only rejects her faith but also her mom. A day of fun for the mommy whose children bring her breakfast in bed. A day of deep loneliness for the mommy who will never see her child again on this earth. A day of contentment for the mom who looks down the church pew at her husband and beautiful children. A day of isolation for the woman who will never bear children or sits in church with her children – alone. A day of “sinful pride” for the mother who thinks she raised perfect children, a day of shame for the mother who wishes she could start all over again.  A day of refusing to think about all the mistakes we made as mothers, a day of remembering all the mistakes we made as mothers. A day of glee when children honor us, a day of hoping our children will honor us, even though they know better than anyone all the mistakes we made. A day for the grieving mother to remember all the things she didn’t do and all the things she wished she hadn’t done.  Mother’s Day is a tough, hard day for so many. And pity the man who doesn’t give the right gift or the child whose gift doesn’t equal the need in his mother to be remembered. Yes, a hard day for some, a spectacular day for others. For me, this is a day of choices that are more easily made than they were in 1994. It’s a day I miss my son but no more than I typically miss him. And it’s a day I thank God for the blessings of sixteen years with Mark.

PRAYER:

This is a Mother’s day prayer by an unknown author.

Dear Lord, I approach you to give thanks to all mothers who so generously and freely give love, comfort, and guidance to their children every day. I ask you, Lord, to give them strength to carry on doing their work. Give them patience and let them see that they are loved, appreciated, and respected. I thank you for the sacrifice each mother makes every day. And I pray you to bless them and through them with your Grace. I pray this in your mighty name, Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Alan W. Jones, a contemporary Episcopal priest, lecturer, author, and Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. This is an excerpt from his book “Soul Making.”

For those who profess and call themselves Christians, the lens through which everything else is interpreted is a person: Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. Just as the lover never plumbs the mystery of the beloved, so we do not exhaust the mystery of Jesus. This, at first, seems a strange claim. But it is no less extraordinary that contemporary “messiahs, saviors, and gurus” possess the consciousness of modern men and women…A walk on a Saturday evening through the streets of a busy city reveals what models, exemplars, and paradigms are operating in the lives of the people. We cannot do without a paradigm to help us live. As a believer, I keep bumping into Jesus. I wander away, and there he is, perhaps in the eyes of someone on the street. There is no escape for me. Nor do I want there to be.

PRAYER:

This prayer is a collect, a short general prayer used in Christian liturgy from the Church of England.

Holy God,

faithful and unchanging:

enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,

and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,

that we may truly worship you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Brennan Manning (1934-2013), an American author, laicized priest, and public speaker. This is an excerpt from his book “Abba’s Child.”

Living in the awareness of the risen Jesus is not a trivial pursuit for the bored and lonely or a defense mechanism enabling us to cope with stress and sorrow of life. It is the key that unlocks the door to grasping the meaning of existence. All day and every day we are being reshaped into the image of Christ. Everything that happens to us is designed to this end. Nothing that exists can exist beyond the pale of His presence, nothing is irrelevant to it, nothing is without significance to it. 

PRAYER:

Written by Francis of Assisi (c1181-1226), an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Claire, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. 

God, all powerful, most holy, most high and supreme; FATHER: holy and righteous; Lord: king of heaven and earth; we thank you for yourself, because by your holy will and through your only Son and the Holy Spirit you created all things, spiritual and material. You made us in your image and likeness and placed us in paradise, and we, through our transgression fell away.

We give you thanks because, as you created us through your Son, so by the holy love with which you loved us you willed your Son to be born true God and true man of the glorious and holy Virgin Mary, and through his cross and blood and death it was your will to set us free from our captivity. Also we thank you because that same Son of yours will come again in the glory of his majesty to condemn those who refused to repent and acknowledge you; and to say to all who did acknowledge, worship and serve you in repentance: Come, you whom my Father has blessed, receive the kingdom prepared for you since the world began.

And because we are all wretched sinners, unworthy to speak your name, therefore let Jesus Christ himself, our Lord and your beloved Son in whom you are well pleased, give thanks to you for everything, together with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, as it pleases you and pleases him. He always satisfies you in everything, and through him you have done so much for us. Alleluia!

MEDITATION:

Written by Debbie McDaniel, a contemporary writer.

In John 16 we find Jesus speaking to his disciples of events that would soon unfold. They needed to hear His words of encouragement and Truth more than ever, for He knew the darkness of the hour still to come. He taught them about the power of praying in His name. He told them how they would soon be scattered, but that those who belong to Him would never be alone. For God is always there, close. He reminded them that they should not be surprised at the tension they would feel in an unbelieving world.  “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace (security, safety, undisturbed, blessed state). In the world, you have tribulation (trouble, oppression, pressure, affliction), but take courage (be of good cheer, take heart), I have overcome (carried off the victory, conquered) the world.” John 16:33 

Words that have such meaning, that hold such power still today. These were some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before his journey to the cross. Last words always contain rich meaning. These are important for us to hold onto today. He reminds us that only in Him can true peace be found. He reminds us that in spite of the struggles we will face in this life, we never walk alone, for He is with us. He will never abandon us in our trials or leave us to work it all out on our own. He reminds us to take courage. He reminds us He has overcome. He has won the victory, and through Christ, we too are more than conquerors. Jesus never called us to embrace the world and all it offers. But He calls us to follow Him, to be salt and light, and to walk in love. It’s a whole new day ahead. And He has plans for you, for me, to make a difference in these days, in the life of another soul, for His purposes. To be a friend. To encourage. To offer care and show compassion in a world that is broken. Praying that His huge grace, wisdom, and strength cover us today. And that in Him, we will find freedom from worry, letting go of the stress that clings too tightly, the pressing needs of tomorrow, and struggles we battle today, and fully embrace His peace. Take courage my friends…For He’s the Overcomer. And we are never alone. Peace.

PRAYER:

Written by Thomas A Kempis (1380-1471), the author of “The Imitation of Christ,” one of the most popular and best-known Christian books on devotion. 

Grant me Your grace, O most merciful Jesus, that it may be with me, and work with me, and remain with me to the very end. Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to You. Let Your will be mine. Let my will always follow Yours and agree perfectly with it. Let my will be one with Yours in willing and in not willing and let me be unable to will or not will anything but what You will or do not will. Grant that I may die to all things in this world, and for Your sake love to be despised and unknown in this life. Give me above all desires the desire to rest in You, and in You let my heart have peace. You are true peace of heart. You alone are its rest. Without You all things are difficult and troubled. In this peace, the selfsame that is in You, the Most High, the everlasting Good, I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Chuck Swindoll, a contemporary pastor, author, and radio personality. This is an excerpt from his book “Living the Proverbs.”

You may have heard the expression “green with envy” or envy referred to as “the green-eyed monster.” In the Bible, however, envy had the Hebrews seeing red. The Hebrew word translated “envy” and “jealousy” is quanah, which means “to be intensely red.” This word vividly pictures someone seething with red-faced anger as a surge of blood flushes one’s skin, signaling a rush of fierce emotion. To demonstrate the grim irony of language, zeal and ardor and envy all come from a common linguistic root. The same emotion that “enrages a man” (Proverbs 6:34) also floods him with passionate zeal to defend his country or adore his wife and children. The Bible most often uses quanah in the negative sense. Every instance in the book of Proverbs warns against coveting the wealth and possessions evil people gain through dishonest means: “Do not envy a man of violence” (3:31); “Do not let your heart envy sinners” (23:17); “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them” (24:1); “Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked” (24:19). I find these warnings extremely significant, although this source of envy shouldn’t surprise us. A favorite unguarded mind game so many folks play is to imagine how stimulating it would be to throw restraint to the winds, to live without the inconvenience of ethics, do anything, go anywhere, and let it all hang out. Let’s face facts: sin has its sensual and seasonal pleasures. They may be short-lived and passing, but they’re certainly not dull and boring! English and Hebrew assign different colors to the monster called “envy,” but they acknowledge the same ultimate outcome of this destructive emotion. Envy leads to sin, and sin leads to shame, an emotion represented by the color red. When the Russians were caught spying in England, Margaret Thatcher said, “They were caught red-handed, and now they are red-faced.” So it is with those who indulge the temptation of envy. So, beware the green of envy. It will eventually have everyone seeing red.

PRAYER:

Written by Shelby Turner, a contemporary speaker and author.

Lord, I lay my heart and my desires before you. Search my heart, know my thoughts and see if there is any grievous way in me. Show me where envy has caused me to pursue more over pursuing you. Realign my heart with your will for my life!  I want to be content in you! I want to think about serving others and bowing low as often as you did. Today, show me how to give of myself to those around me as I am at work, at home and everywhere in between. I recommit this part of my life to you, Lord. My belongings, my success and my reputation are no longer the most important things to me. You are the most important thing. Help me to live like I mean it! Amen. 

Patience In Prayer

MEDITATION:

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

I once thought that after I prayed that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer to pass. He taught me a better way and showed that my self-effort always hindered His working and that when I prayed and definitely believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise, and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still and do nothing but trust the Lord, and the temptation to take the battle into our own hands is often tremendous. We all know how impossible it is to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not, but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working. Spiritual forces cannot work while earthly forces are active. It takes God time to answer prayer. We often fail to give God a chance in this respect. It takes time for God to paint a rose. It takes time for God to grow an oak. It takes time for God to make bread from wheat fields. He takes the earth. He pulverizes. He softens. He enriches. He wets with showers and dews. He warms with life. He gives the blade, the stock, the amber grain, and then at last the bread for the hungry.  All this takes time. Therefore, we sow, and till, and wait, and trust, until all God’s purpose has been wrought out. We give God a chance in this matter of time. We need to learn this same lesson in our prayer life. It takes God time to answer prayer.

PRAYER:

Written by Lori Freeland, a contemporary author.

Lord, I miss the way we used to be. It’s my fault, I know. I haven’t had the patience to rest at your feet and meditate on your Word. I’ve been too impatient to wait on your will. I’ve gotten used to making things happen right now instead of waiting on you to guide my steps.  Bring me back to those days when I hungered for your plans. Give me the patience to linger in your presence. Pause my racing thoughts and self-imposed time limits. Thank you for being the only one who can truly take away my urge to do life by myself. Thank you for showing me that putting you first is what’s best for me.   Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by James C. Fenhagen, an Episcopal rector, author, theological educator, seminary president, and lecturer. This is an excerpt from his book “Invitation to Holiness.” 

We are called to share in the ministry of Jesus Christ in and through the world. In the Sacrament of Baptism this call is incarnated, giving us both a clear identity in the world and a sense of purpose about what our lives are ultimately for. Sharing in the ministry of Jesus Christ involves living in the world as an expression of the holiness we see in him—a holiness expressed through his compassion, his concern for justice (righteousness), and through his healing and reconciling presence in the world. The relationship he offers to us—when entered into with seriousness—results in those qualities we see in him being expressed through us, sometimes even despite ourselves. We cannot, therefore, limit this expression to a particular profession or a particular role or a particular job.

PRAYER:

Written by Ken Boa, a contemporary teacher, writer, speaker, and President of Reflections Ministries.

Dear Lord, I ask for the grace to be winsome and attractive to others who wish to know You better. May they sense the fragrance of Christ in me and see increasing evidence of the fruit of Your Holy Spirit in my life. I know this is only possible as I pursue You and apprentice myself to Jesus by following Him wherever He leads. Show me the people You want to touch through me, and grant me the willingness to love and serve them with no hidden agendas or manipulative expectations. I wish to impart what You have so freely given me to the people You have called me to bless. May I become a conduit of Your love and grace and never an end in myself. I know that as I give myself to others, I will discover the true satisfaction and spiritual wealth that You encourage me to pursue. Amen.

Dwell In Humility

MEDITATION:

Written by John Woolman (1720-1772), an American merchant, journalist, Quaker preacher, and early abolitionist in the colonial era. This is an excerpt from the book “The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman.”

Dwell in humility and take heed that no views of outward gain get too deep hold of you, that so your eyes being single to the Lord you may be preserved in the way of safety. Where people let loose their minds after the love of outward things and are more engaged in pursuing the profits and seeking the friendships of the world than to be inwardly acquainted with the way of true peace, such walk in a vain shadow while the true comfort of life is wanting. Their examples are often hurtful to others, and their treasures thus collected do many times prove dangerous snares to their children. But where people are sincerely devoted to follow Christ and dwell under the influence of his Holy Spirit, their stability and firmness through a divine blessing is at times like dew on the tender plants around them, and the weightiness of their spirits secretly works on the minds of others; and in this condition, through the spreading influence of divine love they feel a care over the flock and way is opened for maintaining good order in the Society. And though we meet with opposition from another spirit, yet as there is a dwelling in meekness, feeling our spirits subject and moving only in the gentle, peaceable wisdom, the inward reward of quietness will be greater than all our difficulties. Where the pure life is kept to and meetings of discipline are held in the authority of it, we find by experience that they are comfortable and tend to the health of the body.

PRAYER:

Written by Leonora Wilson, a contemporary author and nun.

Jesus, you are my example and my strength. Please help me to love you with indomitable love, fidelity, and courage. Replace my pride with humility so that I may never judge or condemn others. Amen.

MEDITATION:

Written by Greg Laurie, a contemporary pastor and author.

Remember what it was like when you first learned how to drive a car? You were so excited, but then you got behind the wheel and realized there were so many things to remember. When you’re coming to a turn, for example, you have to remember to signal your turn. Then you have to remember to turn the signal off afterward. But once you’ve driven for a while, you don’t even think about these things because you’ve developed a conditioned reflex. A conditioned reflex is something we’ve learned to do. On the other hand, a natural reflex is something we feel immediately without being told that we should feel it. For instance, if I put my hand close to a fire, I’ll immediately pull it back because it’s hot and hurts. That’s a natural reflex. Now let’s apply this to worry. We need to develop a conditioned reflex and get into the habit of turning to God when we feel worried. When trouble comes our way, and it will, our first inclination—our natural reflex, if you will—is to worry. We need to teach ourselves to pray instead. The moment you start to panic, turn your panic into prayer. Turn your worry into worship. Turn to God immediately. That is what the apostle Paul was saying when he wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). We pray about the big things, but let’s not forget about the little things. Little problems can turn into big problems, especially if we neglect them. Maybe you’ve thought, “I can handle this, and it will never be a problem for me.” But then one day you realize it’s a big problem. Little things turn into big things. So, the next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead.

PRAYER:

This prayer is a traditional Celtic prayer of peace.

Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm; still me, Lord, keep me from harm.

Let all the tumult within me cease, enfold me, Lord, in your peace.

Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm; still me, Lord, keep me from harm.

Let all the tumult within me cease, Lord, enfold me in your peace.