My part

He said to them, “ I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “ Take this and share it among yourselves. I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “ This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you. ~Luke 22:15-20 (CEB)

“When we invite friends for a meal, we do much more than offer them food for their bodies.  We offer friendship, fellowship, good conversation, intimacy, and closeness.   When we say:  ‘Help yourself … take some more … don’t be shy … have another glass,’ we offer our guests not only our food and our drink but also ourselves.  A spiritual bond grows, and we become food and drink for one another other.

In the most complete and perfect way, this happens when Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as food and drink.  By offering us his Body and Blood, Jesus offers us the most intimate communion possible.  It is a divine communion.” From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Although Christ’s death, burial and resurrection swung open the gates of heaven for us, we must be willing to do our part. We must pick up our own personal cross and choose the will of our Father over that of our own- several hundred times each day.

The only way I can do this is to have Jesus inside, alive, powerful, loving and acting through me. This great sacrament is fully revealed not through the intake of bread and wine but through the outflow of Christ through me.

In Jesus’ name I claim the power promised to those who believe. I choose to live, love and act this day as if I have Jesus in my heart. Amen.

Lest I forget

Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.~Deut 8:11-18 (CEB)

It is so much easier to call out to God when life is rocky, much easier to remember that He is my source of strength when I am feeling so weak. But when my path is clear I forget who fought those battles for me so that I can live in grace. I forget who provides the food for my table, the warmth for my house, a place to put my head or the clothes that I wear. I forget who has given me that security I am now feeling.

When I forget who has provided that calm my eyes look away. I begin to think that it was by my mighty strength and my glorious abilities that got me where I am. But my strength and abilities only last so long and if I don’t look quickly back to their source I lose all power from within.

Lord, help me to take care to not forget the source of the very air I breathe when I come into Your promises. It is by Your strength and power that I am who I am, Your beloved child of God. May I never forget. Amen.

Little by little

If you say to yourself, “These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?” do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the LORD your God will send the pestilence against them, until even the survivors and the fugitives are destroyed. Have no dread of them, for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to make a quick end of them, otherwise the wild animals would become too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will give them over to you, and throw them into great panic, until they are destroyed. ~Duet 7:17-23

Sometimes it feels that God is not answering our prayers. Or it feels like the situation is more than we can do. I like these verses from Deuteronomy because it reminds me that even though my trials may seem great I just need to remember the signs and wonders God has already done in my life. Just as he has been there for me in the past, He continues to be working for my good. (Jer. 29:11) Little by little God is already making changes, even if I can’t see them. The timing is slow so that when I come into the promises He has made me I will be ready to stand up under this new life and not crumble.

God is doing the hard work. He is clearing a way before me. I only need to be ready to step into that promise land once He has my path cleared.

Heavenly Father, there are some days that it is hard to remember Your promises. I take my eyes off you, see my present circumstances and soon am overwhelmed again. Today I recall to mind the signs and wonders that You have already done in my life. Today I will hold my head up high and watch You do the work. Amen.

Drawn out

 

 

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate. ~Romans 8:31-39 (CEB)

I have been reading in Deuteronomy the last couple of days. Deuteronomy can get bogged down with details and repetitions sometimes, but if I fade out too much I can overlook some powerful scriptures. For example, “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” ~Duet 7:7-9

So it is not by anything that I have done, or anything I could ever do that God has drawn me out and loved me. He freely gave His love to me, not because I was anything special. In Romans Chapter 8:31-39 Paul comes at this topic from a different direction than being chosen by God. Instead he talks about how once we belong to God we can never do anything to be separated from that love.

Not by anything I have done did God choose to love me. Not by anything I could ever do would God choose to stop loving me….

So what should I fear?

Heavenly Father, sometimes I find myself lost in “what others think”. Help me to remember this day that the only thing that matters is that You love me. Help me not to get swept away or distracted by what other people think of me. May my eyes be only on You and Your will for my life. Amen.

A mustard seed

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. ~Luke 17:5-6 (NRSV)

Have you ever thought about what it means to have faith like a mustard seed? I have always been fascinated with that parable since I was a child but I haven’t before now really ferreted out just what it means to have “mustard seed faith”.

So many times people continue to act on the terms of what they really believe, not in the terms of what they profess to believe. Just because you say with your mouth that you believe in something but if in your heart you do not believe your actions soon will go where your heart has been all along. With only minor adjustments here and there, we always live up to what we feel in our heart but rarely do we live up to what we profess.

The only way we can grow in genuine faith is to put into practice what little faith we have. We have to have faith to begin to grow in faith. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Roman 1:17) So faith as tiny as a mustard seed is all we need to grow into more faith. The reason that the kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed is because it grows in us and around us.

So “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” ~Proverbs 4:23 (NRSV)

Heavenly Father, take this small seed of faith that I have planted in my heart. Please water it and encourage it to grow. Feed my heart and give me strength so that I may bloom for You. Amen

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.

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