Every situation

If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. ~James 5:13-14 (CEB)

Every situation calls for some response. These verses in James remind us that we respond to every situation in some way that will bring God’s power and blessing to our present situation.

I need to remind myself daily that I do not have to bear any of my moments alone. God wants both my happy moments and my sad moments. He can bless my every moment.

Bless my every moment this day O Lord. Wow me with Your presence. Be my peace in the chaos, my joy in the quiet. Amen.

Prayers from scriptures

In my distress I cried out to the LORD; I called to my God for help. God heard my voice from his temple; I called to him for help, and my call reached his ears. ~Psalm 18:6 (CEB)

Have you ever read Lamentations? What about Job for that matter! There is nothing enjoyable or pretty about these books in the Bible. I don’t normally peruse these scriptures unless I am being forced to for a particular reason. But sometimes there are jewels hidden in the things we don’t want to deal with. In the midst of the Israelite’s deep sorrow, among the verses telling of their ultimate destruction there are sparks of hope:

My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the LORD.” The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth, to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it, to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope), to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot, when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High, when one’s case is subverted —does the Lord not see it? ~Lamentations 3:17-36 (RSV)

So among the ashes of someone else’s story, I too can be reminded that there is hope for me. One nice thing about scriptures like these is when I do not have the words to express myself, sometimes I find them already spoken. I don’t have to search for them inside of me; I just have to claim the ones I have read.

I called on your name, O lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!” You came near when I called on you; you said, “Do not fear!” You have taken up my cause O Lord, you have redeemed my life. (Lam 3:55-58) Amen.

Anchored in love

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. ~Matthew 10:19-20 (RSV)

When I am anxious about some upcoming event I have a tendency to over prepare. If I find myself needing to defend myself, I wonder how to respond.  Turmoil causes me to lose confidence and creates a debilitating self-conscious.

In Matthew 10 I find words from Jesus telling me to not worry about what I should say and to trust that when a moment arises that He will send the words and the wisdom that I will need. It is not the words I seek to express myself that are important but that I remain deeply anchored in Jesus’ love, secure about being a child of God and remembering that I am here for His ultimate plans. When my heart is connected to Jesus, I can be assured that I will have the words when I need to speak.

Anxiousness is a sign of distrust. If I can trust God to be there for me in all my moments, than I will not over prepare. Over preparing does not make the situation any better. Over preparing makes me rely on myself. When I rely on self it just tends to cause me to lose my confidence because I have taken my sights off God. What a good reminder that as long as I put God’s words in my heart I will find the wisdom I need when I need it. Security is never in self. Security is found through Jesus.

Heavenly Father, help me to keep my eyes on You as I go about the work that needs to be done today. May I find through Jesus the confidence I need to face this and every day. Amen.

Looking for the face of God

With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best– as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. Matthew 6:9-15 (Message)

Some final tough words on forgiveness for my heart when it feels that it has just has the right to hold on to that wrong for a little while longer because you know, “I have a right to be mad!”

“It may be infinitely less evil to murder a man then to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excluded, that kills the image, the idea of the hatred.” ~From Creation in Christ by George McDonaold

When I want to hold on to my “rightful hurt feelings”, it is sobering to remember that I do so much more harm to myself for holding on to hurts no matter how justified it might seem. Harboring such hurt makes it hard to find God’s face and therefore I feel even more alone. This anger though justified just isn’t worth my isolation from God. I want to feel His mercies toward me so I must extend mercy to others. And so I move on.

Heavenly Father, I don’t want to be separated from you any longer. Help me to wade through this junk and move on. It is time. Amen.

To forgive

Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins. ~Matthew 6:9-15 (CEB)

The initial steps of forgiveness are hard for me because first I “feel”. It takes time for me to find words for what I am feeling. But I have to take that time to sort through what I am feeling or the words will never form. Sorrow just can’t be pushed away as if it doesn’t exist. It must be taken out and sorted through. If that time is not given to sort through my pain the pain turns into a deep deep sorrow with no name and no hope.

“Forgiveness can be the great cleansing action that allows one to begin again. Retribution or restitution is not enough. They serve as payback but they do not allow for the deep scouring that is necessary to truly start anew. The ancient Israelites knew the principle well for they instituted the practice of the Sabbath year. Each seventh year was set aside so that all could begin over again: fields lay and all debts were forgiven. This crucial period of rest was seen as necessary for the harmonious functioning of society and the fertility of the land. The earth can be depleted, our societies become imbalanced and unjust. Similarly, as individuals and as families we require a time of absolution so that we might truly begin again and become fertile fields that yield a rich harvest.

The prayer most identified with Christianity, the one taught to us by Jesus himself, incorporates the crucial insight that forgiveness is a key ingredient as we live into the promised kingdom.” ~From The Time Between by Wendy M Wright.

Forgiveness. It is what I must do to be strong and healthy so that I am able to continue on this journey called life. If I am unable to forgive others how can I begin to ask forgiveness for the wrongs I do? I cannot expect from others what I am not willing to do myself.

Lord, when my heart is breaking from real or perceived hurts, help me to take the time to sort through and find the truth. Help me to put words to the feelings I have. Give me the strength that I do not possess on my own, to forgive unconditionally. Amen.

Looking for a new dawn

Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. Colossians 3:12

Sometimes mercy is much easier to extend than forgiveness. When we refuse to let go the hurts we have received they begins to hold us captive. Our thinking becomes consumed with thoughts of the injury. We now are really victims not from the hurts we received but because unforgiveness has become our jailer. We are imprisoned by the hatred and malice we clutch in our hearts.

Forgiveness is not easy or even a swift process. When wrongs have been committed the last thing one wants, or even should do is claim that the transgression should be overlooked. It is so tempting to want to pretend that the hurt never even happened but the unavoidable feelings of betrayal, rage, hate, self-blame, flight, and fight bubble up from within. Until attention is given to the source of the pain healing cannot begin. The injury must be named and acknowledged that it happened to you, the pain must be allowed to work for you, the wrong must be named so that power and strength can return.

When pain has been acknowledged, claimed and overcome forgiveness can then come as a free act. When forgives comes we can look again with new eyes and a fresh heart. It’s not that we aren’t now wiser or that we haven’t learned from our experience but a new day dawns and hope returns.

Give me a new heart this day Lord, open my eyes to a new dawn. Part the clouds of my heart and let the sun shine in. Amen.

Mercy as sacrafice

As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard it, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 13 Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.” ~Matthew 9:10-13 (CEB)

Following the way of forgiveness prepares us to go one step further. Something more is asked of us by Jesus: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13 [NAB]).

This “something more” is compassion. Once we grasp the depth of God’s merciful love for us, he wants us to express that same compassion for others. This is the balm that softens the scars of sinfulness and suffering. As we show mercy to others, so they will extend the blessing to us in turn.

Ask yourself some revealing questions; Do I sense the presence of the suffering Christ in others? Do I share their pain? Am I aware of their vulnerability? Do I know that the need for mercy is often hidden under a mask of self-sufficiency, coldness, and indifference? ~From Divine Guidance by Susan Muto and Adrian Van Kaam

May the sacrifices I bring you this day, be mercy triggered by compassion. May the love I bring hold no judgment or condemnation. May the blessings I bring be given freely, not with strings attached. Amen.

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