Community

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I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe. None of them were lost, except the one who was destined for destruction, so that scripture would be fulfilled. Now I’m coming to you and I say these things while I’m in the world so that they can share completely in my joy. I gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.

“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. ~John 17:11-24 (CEB)

“Jesus lived his life in community. From his childhood with Mary and Joseph to his calling and raveling with the disciples to his declaration that he and the Father were one, Jesus lived in community. A community of faith nurtured him (“Who do the crowds say that I am? [Luke 9:18]). It is unthinkable that we would try to live a faithful life without the gifts offered in a faithful community of Jesus. Jesus was known for valuing solitude since he retired to rest and pray, but living in community also marked his life.

Jesus makes a dramatic and revolutionary promise when he says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matt 18:20). This is a welcome promise to those who may wonder if God is present in their lives or their affairs. This a hopeful promise for those who sometimes feel alone and forsaken. This is an enormous assurance for those who face the unknown and need companionship and community.

We can be sure that Jesus keeps his promise and that when we gather in his name, he will be with us. We are often blessed by being in community. We receive encouragement, guidance, comfort, and hope by participating in a community. These gifts of community are available to us all, and we receive them more readily when we remember that Jesus meets us there.” From A Guide to Prayer for those who seek God, Rueben P. Job

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the community You have placed me in to nurture and grow my faith. I thank You for the encouragement, guidance, comfort and hope that I have received. I recognize that it might not always have been to my choosing but that You have used all situations to make me who I am today. Amen.

Piece by piece

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“Even when God intervenes mightily, such as melting a tumor within minutes or pouring miraculous spiritual comfort on breathtaking pain, healing is still a process, one that continues as long as you are alive to God’s presence. You can expect an awareness of God’s presence to break into your life many times. God continually invites you to yet another step toward wholeness.” ~From Ashes Transformed by Tilda Norberg

Step by step I have gathered back up the pieces of my life. Some heart breaks were not my fault. Some were. Enough time has passed that I have begun to appreciate how God has used all these pieces. Allowing His presence to illumine my brokenness has created a beautiful mosaic that I can now look on in wonder. If I continue to allow Him to work through my hurts and my sorrows He can restore to me a peace that goes beyond all my understanding. He is a God of restoring lives. I can’t put my life back together and find peace and joy… but He can. He has even been known to do a miracle or two.

Thank You Heavenly Father for the miracles You have created in my life. Thank You also for the times that You knew greater healing would come from working through the hurt and the pain. May I step out into this new day with the sure knowledge that every active step I take brings me closer to Your wholeness. Amen.

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Where could I go to get away from your spirit? Where could I go to escape your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there. If I went down to the grave, you would be there too! If I could fly on the wings of dawn, stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean— even there your hand would guide me; even there your strong hand would hold me tight! If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me; the light will become night around me.” even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you! Nighttime would shine bright as day, because darkness is the same as light to you! ~Psalm 139:7-12 (CEB)

“The indwelling Spirit of God is never a source of trouble and scruple, but a stabilizing power, a constant. If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there– when I am exultant and when I am depressed. Darkness is as light to you. The friendship of God is like that, and God asks the same faithfulness of us in return. It takes a brave and loving soul to understand and respond to this sturdy faithfulness of God, for there is nothing sentimental about it.” ~From The Fruits of the Spirit by Evelyn Underhill

In the chaos of life it comforts me to know that God is stable… even if my life here on earth isn’t. In my good times and in my bad God is always good and is always constant. His promise to me is to walk with me through this life never leaving my side.

Almighty God who made this earth that I now travel on, may I feel your presence as I go out this day. Help me to seek Your will in all I do. Help me to speak with Your love in all I say and do. Amen.

The bread and fish of life

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Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, …“Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ pay and give it to them to eat?”

He said to them, “How much bread do you have? Take a look.”

After checking, they said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish.” ~Mark 6:35-38 (CEB)

“We can never forecast the path God’s energy of rescue will take. It is never any use saying to God ‘I am getting desperate! Please answer my prayer by the next mail and please send a blank check.’ God will answer but not necessarily like that; more probably God will transform and use the unlikely looking material already in hand- the loaves and the tiny fishes- looking up to Heaven and blessing it and making it do after all. A priest was once asked if many miracles happened at Lourdes. He said, ‘Yes, many; but the greatest are not miracles of healing but the spiritual miracles, the transformation of those who pray desperately for cure of this or that and come back, not physically cured, but filled with peace and joy, surrendered to the Will of God, conformed to the Cross.” ~From The Light of Christ by Evelyn Underhill

Some days I do not like the word “transformation”. Those are the days that I want my prayers answered now. Other days I see the beauty in the process; the growth in the journey. On those days I can value the twists and turns of life. I can’t help but still dream of “blank checks” or “get out of jail free cards” but life has taught me to see that help does come more often at what I have already in hand. I just have to remember to “take a look”.

Thank You Lord, for the “loaves and the tiny fishes” in life. May I remember to value more the transforming power that You send me as I sort through my steps for this day. Help me to remember to listen to Your nudges for which path to take. Amen.

A great adventure

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Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” ~Matt. 28:16-20 (CEB)

“Many priests today are said to be abandoning prayer. One simple reason for this is that they have never experienced the power that prayer brings. Those who have once experienced that prayer is power will never again abandon prayer for the rest of their lives. Mahatma Gandhi put it well: ‘I am telling you my own experience,’ he said, ‘and that of my colleagues; we could go for days on end without food; we could not live a single minute without prayer.’ Or, as he said another time, ‘Given the type of life I am leading, if I ceased to pray I should go mad!’ If we ask God for so little it may well be because we feel the need for him so little. We are leading complacent, secure, well protected mediocre lives. We aren’t living dangerously enough; we aren’t living the way Jesus wanted us to live when he proclaimed the good news. The less we pray the less we are likely to life the risky, challenging life that the Gospels urge us to; the less of a challenge there is in our life, and the less we are likely to pray.” ~From Contact with God by Anthony de Mello

Sometimes I wonder… what if Jesus really meant what he said. If so than I am not living dangerously enough. There are no risks that I take no challenges that I have taken up for the good news. It would be easy to put Jesus in the box of “another good teacher”. That would be a safe place to put him. That would be the easy path to take.

Lead me on a wild adventure O Lord. May I never ask so little from You that I cease to live. Help me to see in this day how I can really live for You. Amen.

The spirit’s role

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And that all this assembly may now that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand. ~1 Sam. 17:47 (NRSV)

“The practical question is: Do I adequately acknowledge the Spirit’s role in the good actions I perform every day, or do I attribute them only to my own initiative and hard work? The scriptural model insists that if the action was good, the Spirit was present from the beginning to the end. Since I am a teacher of theology it is most important for me to acknowledge God’s role in this area. Do I see the desire in me to teach well for the love of God and others as coming from the Spirit? Do I recognize that the strength and insight to carry out the good desire well are also infused by the Spirit? At the end of the day, do I adequately acknowledge God’s role in my successes and give [God] appropriate thanks? In addition to my teaching, I must do the same review for my counseling, my committee work at the university, my writing, my prayer, my helping others in any way throughout the day. I have allowed grace to be present and operative in myself to the extent that I have tried to do my daily service for the love of God and others. To this extent the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus our Lord has been dominant over the pressures on me not to serve with love. To the extent that I have not served in love, I humbly admit my faults and as for a greater increase of grace to transform these areas. My reward for living in the Spirit is the habitual peace and joy I experience.” ~From In His Spirit by Richard J. Hauser

May all glory and honor be Yours O Lord. May I be infused with the Holy Spirit as I walk out into Your world this day in Your service to those I meet. May Your love over flow through me to all Your children. Amen.

Shook up

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After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence. ~Acts 4:31 (CEB)

“In all your experience of Christ, it is wisest for you to stay away from any set form, or pattern, or way. Instead, be wholly given up to the leading of the Holy Spirit. By following your spirit, every encounter you have with the Lord is one that is perfect. . .  no matter what the encounter is like.” ~From Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon

I get so locked into a schedule that I set for myself. How often have I missed out on God’s leading because I was focused on what I thought I should be doing?

Heavenly Father, help me this day to be led more by the Holy Spirit. Guide me in the direction that You would have me take for this day. Amen.

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