Insights and possibilities

I will appoint shepherds with whom I’m pleased, and they will lead you with knowledge and understanding. ~Jer. 3:15 (CEB)

“Something happens to us when we consult one another in Christian community. In sharing our thoughts with others, surprisingly insights often emerge- opening our eyes to what we have not seen and our ears to what we have not heard. This can’t transform and liberate us beyond our own narrow expectations. Both the one experiencing a call and those helping that person may express God’s wisdom and grace in the process. . .

Although God calls each of us personally, as individuals we see only partially. Individual perception, reasoning, and understanding are always limited. Even a person who feels absolutely certain that a specific revelation comes from God may be mistaken as to how it is to be applied. Because God often reveals part of the picture to one person and another to discern God’s counsel, guidance, and direction, even if there is no apparent reason to do so. While circumstances sometimes require us to act without consulting others, the danger of arrogance and error in proceeding on our own can be great.” ~From Listening Hearts by Suzanne G. Farnham et al.

May I be held in the center of God’s will today and know the joy, freedom, and power of walking by faith and in faithfulness. Amen.

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Together

Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. ~Romans 12:3-5 (CEB)

“The source of all such coming together is surely Jesus himself. Community is ever his gift. It was the way from the start. He formed the table fellowship. He sent his followers our not alone but in the company of one another. When he came upon them after the Resurrection, he joined two on the road, encouraged a frightened crew huddled behind locked doors, fed a hungry band of them at dawn on the shores of Galilee. He initially had drawn persons together, and he continues to shape them as a body. When the Holy Spirit turned forth Pentecost, it settles not on one but on a whole assembly. . . .

In Christ Jesus we are formed into one people stretching through the ages of time. And in this sense, the community he creates is not only a gift. It is holy. That is, its source is not in us. It emanates from him Community sweeps forth and claims us from the realms of grace.” ~From Discovering Community by Stephen V. Doughty

Almighty God, You have called the church into being and have gathered us into one family. By the power of Your Holy Spirit help us to life in unity and peace with all of Your children. May our actions this day be fruit of our faith in Your kingdom. In the name of Christ. Amen.

The Trinity

The time came for the Festival of Dedication in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple, walking in the covered porch named for Solomon. The Jewish opposition circled around him and asked, “How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I have told you, but you don’t believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you don’t believe because you don’t belong to my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” ~John 10:22-30 (CEB)

“The advantage of believing in the reality of the Trinity is not that we get an ‘A’ from God for giving, ‘the right answer.’ Remember, to believe something is to act as if it is so. To believe that two plus two equals four is to behave accordingly when trying to find out how many dollars or apples are in the house. The advantage of believing it is not that we can pass tests in arithmetic; it is that we can deal much more successfully with reality. Just try dealing with it as if two plus two equaled six.

Hence, the advantage of believing in the Trinity is that we then live as if the Trinity is real: as if the cosmos environing us actually is, beyond all else, a self-sufficing community of unspeakably magnificent power. And, thus believing, our lives naturally integrate themselves, through our actions, into the reality of such a universe, just as with two plus two equals four. In faith we rest ourselves upon the reality of the Trinity in action- and it graciously meets us. For it is there. And our lives are then enmeshed in the true world of God.” ~from The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Almighty God, you have made Yourself known to me as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Make yourself known to me in such a way that I may understand Your will and purpose for my life today. I offer my prayers in the name and spirit of Christ. Amen.

To pray like a child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? ”

Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ~Matt. 18:1-5 (CEB)

I loved to listen to my children’s prayers when they were small…. Thank You God for my bed, my toys, my mom and dad… my house, my friends. It was always a great reminder of what all I take for granted. Jesus often referred to children when he wanted to remind us on how we should live. The trust of a child. The love of a child. The thankfulness of a child.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life together, explains the importance of thankfulness.  “In the Christian community thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?”

Almighty Father, Help me to remember this day to look at life through the eyes of a child. May I have the trust, the love and the thankfulness of a child. Amen.

Part of a community

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them. ~Matt.18:20 (CEB)

On Tuesdays I lead a study group. What I like most about this time together is not the subject material that we are discussing. It is the fact that we all come from different backgrounds and through our love for Christ we have come together to grow and learn. The variety of ages and life experiences brings much light to the different topics we tackle. There are insights that I could never have had on my own. There is much I have gained by being a participant in this group. This is a gift from God.

Because I am a child of God I find myself in a community that I might not have picked for myself. It is God chosen. In Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book Reaching Out he says, “The basis of Christian community is not the family tie, or social or economic equality, or shared oppression or complaint, or mutual attraction . . . but the divine call. The Christian community is not the result of human efforts. God has made us into his people by calling us out of ‘Egypt’ to the ‘New Land’, out of the desert to fertile ground, out of slavery to freedom, out of our sin to salvation. All these words and images give expression to the fact that the initiative belongs to God and that he is the source of our new life together.”

Part of my divine call is to realize that I am to be part of a community. A willing participant of that community.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the community You have given me to work in and be blessed by. I thank You for this space where I find Jesus on a regular basis. Thank You for this gift. May I let my light shine for Your glory in this community. Amen.

Community

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

“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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