Set my life aflame

You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo, and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me, before any one of them had yet happened. God, your plans are incomprehensible to me! Their total number is countless! If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand! If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you. ~Psalm 139:13-18 (CEB)

“My God, every fiber of my being vibrates at the touch of your grace- whereby I am given the privilege of being your child. My joy at your overwhelming gestures of love and the high privilege you extend to me of entering into your life invades my being with an acute sense of your ever- nearness. In response to this, my Lord, I offer praises to you.

Yet, my Lord, I am often cold toward you. I forget to love you for long periods of time- and this to my own harm and regret. Forgive me, Lord! Everloving God, set my life aflame with love for you only. O my God, I long to reflect your image through the world so that others might observe your doing in me and themselves be convinced that you love them also. Amen. ~Norman Shawchuck

Beyond my understanding

You surround me—front and back.

You put your hand on me.

That kind of knowledge is too much for me;

it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it. ~Psalm 139:5-6 (CEB)

“If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed fundamental, they are doubtless these two, -the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: The former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time neither of these is before the other; in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also ‘born of the Spirit;’ but in order of thinking, as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. We first conceive [God’s] wrath to be turned away, and then [God’s] Spirit to work in our hearts. ~From “sermon 45” by John Wesley

Almighty God, Thank you for the good work you do in me every day. I thank You for going before me, coming behind me and walking beside me everyday. Amen

Do you love me?

When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.”  He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. ~John 21:14-17 (CEB)

“Two millennia ago at an early morning breakfast by the Sea of Tiberius, Jesus had only one question for Peter: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Jesus did not ask him about his effectiveness, or his skill, or anything but his love. Three times Jesus asked, ‘Simon, do you love me?’ Peter struggled for an adequate response to that probing query. Finally, he blurted out, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Assured of his heart, Jesus gave Peter work to do: ‘Feed my lambs.’

The same question is asked of us. The same work is given to us.” ~From Prayer: Finding the Heat’s True Home by Richard J. Foster

Lord, creator of heaven and earth, you know my every thought. Yet you still call me to serve You. Guide my steps this day to not follow my own leading, but to turn to Yours instead. Help me feed Your sheep. Amen.

A new day

Thus says the Lord,

your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

 “For your sake I send to Babylon

and bring them all down as fugitives,

 even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.

I am the Lord, your Holy One,

the Creator of Israel, your King.”

Thus says the Lord,

 who makes a way in the sea,

a path in the mighty waters,

who brings forth chariot and horse,

army and warrior;

they lie down, they cannot rise,

 they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:

“Remember not the former things,

nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

 I will make a way in the wilderness

 and rivers in the desert.

The wild beasts will honor me,

 the jackals and the ostriches,

 for I give water in the wilderness,

rivers in the desert,

to give drink to my chosen people,

the people whom I formed for myself

 that they might declare my praise. Isaiah 43:14-21 (CEB)

“We often think of a new day as a point of new beginning. However, we know that new beginnings are available all the time. Life itself provides a constant opportunity to grow, and to grow is to become new, to have a new beginning. How is God calling you to begin anew today? Think for a moment about those areas in your life where new life is waiting to be born.

There is always opportunity for a new beginning in our relationship with God. Because God is infinite, unlimited possibilities for growth and starting anew exists. No matter how intimate the companionship we share with Jesus Christ today, there is room for growth and new beginnings.

While our relationships with others do not have the range or depth or opportunity for growth, there is nevertheless room for fresh beginnings with family, friends, colleagues, coworkers, neighbors, caregivers, and those strangers who serve us day by day in shop, gas station, and restaurant. We have in our possession the key to changing- making new- each of these relationships. What slight or radical change is God calling you to make in relationship with God and with those persons who cross your life path every day? Follow the prompting God gives and launch a new beginning in this new day.” ~Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, send the light of Your Son inot my life anew today. Let Your presence touch my mind and heart with Your mercy, grace, and truth. Direct my thoughts, speech, and steps to the end that I may walk in Your way today and always. In the name of Christ. Amen

Uncounsciously I seek Your grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9 (CEB)

“I have always marveled at how plants unconsciously seek the light and warmth of the sun and how persons unconsciously seek the light and warmth of God’s Love. As persons, we do this at the level both of our roots and of our fruits- at a level of both our being and our doing. When we become aware that our roots have been reaching for God all along and that God’s Love has been sustaining us throughout, we begin consciously and willingly turning inward toward God in prayer. This moment of prayerful turning marks a major conversion in our life and growth as persons.” ~From The Art of Passingover by Francis Dorff

Unconsciously I seek You O Lord. There is a place deep within my soul that longs for You. You are the Source of my life. I thank You for sustaining me while I was still unaware of what my heart was truly longing for. Continue to grow me ever closer to You. Amen.

In You I trust

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Psalm 25:1-3

“You are the object of all good, the apex of life, the depth of wisdom. Your servants’ greatest consolation is to hope in you above all things. I turn my eyes to you. In you, my God, Father of mercies, I place my trust. Bless my soul and make it holy with your heavenly blessing; let it become your holy dwelling, the place of your eternal glory. Let nothing be found in your temple that may offend the eyes of your majesty. According to the greatness of your goodness and your many mercies, look down on me and hear the prayer of your poor servant, exiled far off in the land of the shadow of death. Protect and keep the soul of your servant, traveling amid the many dangers of life. By your grace, direct him along the path of peace until he is back home in the land of everlasting brightness. Amen.” ~From The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Guided by the Shepherd

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1 (ESV)

“For a long time, I prayed the words, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit.’ I prayed these words in the morning for half an hour sitting quietly on my chair trying only to keep my mind focused on what I was saying. I prayed them during the many moments of the day when I was going here or there, and I even prayed them during my routine activities. The words stand in stark contrast to the reality of my life. I want many things; I see mostly busy roads and ugly shopping malls; and if there are any waters to walk along they are mostly polluted. But as I keep saying: ‘The Lord is my shepherd. . . .’ and allow God’s shepherding love to enter more fully into my heart, I become more fully aware that the busy roads, the ugly malls, and the polluted waterways are not telling the true story of who I am. I do not belong to the powers and principalities that rule the world but to the Good Shepherd who knows his own and is known by his own. In the presence of my Lord and Shepherd there truly is nothing I shall want. He will, indeed, give me the rest my heart desires and pull me out of the dark pits of my depression.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Good Shepherd who knows me and claims me as His own, I thank You for Your scriptures that helps me find words when I am at a loss for my own. Shepherd my steps as I move through my routine activities this day. Keep me focused on truth. Help me feel Your Holy Presence when my spirits droop so that I may find true rest for my soul. Amen.

Known and loved

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God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘ I am has sent me to you. ‘” ~Exodus 3:14 (CEB)

“I am! Here is the home of the spirit, where we can hear and say, ‘I am,’ a kingdom of persons, a life larger than life. When God says ‘I am,’ all nature replies ‘Thou art,’ according to Christopher Smart, the mad poet of the eighteenth century, but then Jesus says ‘I am’ and we too can say ‘I am,” I have learned, and God says ‘Thou art,’ as if to say

You are,

You are known,

And you are loved.

~From The Homing Spirit by John S. Dunne

Creator Lord, who is and was and always will be, to say You know my name astounds me. To say I am loved by You leaves me humbled. I am who I am because you touched my heart. Thank You for calling to me. Amen.

Named

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. ~Matt 4:18-22 (CEB)

“Jesus invited Peter and his brother, Andrew, to forsake their business in order to string along with him, and ‘immediately they left their nets and followed him’. Soon Jesus called two other brothers to follow him. ‘Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him’. The Gospel writers reveal a sense of immediacy accompanying Jesus’ call. They recognize a sense of timing. Jesus’ call to our lives is both immediate and timely.

Not only does Jesus call us to join ranks with him; he also names us. In recruiting Peter, Jesus said to him, ‘You Simon, . . . you are to be called . . . Peter’ (John 1:42). Gospel vignettes remind us that we must name Jesus for ourselves. Nathanael named Jesus ‘the Son of God. . . the King of Israel’ (John 1:49). In the early chapters of the Gospels, so many people are naming and being named. We too might allow Jesus to name us, to tell us who we really are. Naming someone defines the person, allows the person to take on an entirely new identity. When Jesus lays claim upon our lives, we are given a new name.

Why is all this naming necessary? For one thing, the ancients felt that a person had no distinct identity until he or she was named. This thought prevails among Native Americans today. I once named a young Native American man. The process of choosing the right name for this young man took two years, so carefully must the family discern who he will be- for the family and for the tribe. His name determines his destiny.

When john’s disciples broke ranks to follow after Jesus, he asked them, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They responded, ‘Where do you live?’ Jesus asked who, they responded where. There spirituality was unformed. They looked for grace in ‘things and places.” Jesus offered them grace in a living, loving relationship. Jesus still asks the ‘who’ questions- not merely ‘what’. ‘What are you?’ is a doing question with a doing reply: But ‘who” you are invites a being response. ‘Who’ inquiries into the soul of us. Who are you? What name has Jesus given you? What name have you given Jesus? ~Norman Shawchuck

Heavenly Father, You have called me out by name. You saw in me more than what I was. You call me by what I can be. I stand amazed at what You have claimed in me and I pray for the strength to live up to what I see through Your eyes. Amen.

You call me friend

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. ~John 15:15

“We talk about God in the third person. We teach about God. However, we don’t teach about our spouses or about good friends. We introduce them, not teach about them. Too often we relate to God as a myth or a theorem to be talked about and not as a friend.” ~Norman Shawchuck

O Lord, You are my closest friend from my youngest years. I remember talking to you from the time I was small. Yet I have to confess that though you are my dearest friend I find at times it hard to speak of You to others. Why do I fear to share something so precious? Why do I fear to share the reason for my light, my hope in dark times? I confess this to You O Lord, to ask of You strength and courage today to share with others what You have done for me. Open my mouth when I find it hard to speak, still my heart and quiet my mind so that I may simple tell others of the love You have shown me. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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