Hard Shelled

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The commandment is a lamp and instruction a light; corrective teaching is the path of life. ~Proverbs 6:23

One day my dog was barking for all she was worth. I knew that bark. It was the type of bark that told me she had found some creature. When my son checked the situation out he found that it was a red eared glider, a turtle whose shell was at least 18 inches long, bigger than what we were used to seeing migrate out of the small lake in our subdivision.

Early spring is the time of year turtles are restless from their winter “hibernation”. This restlessness puts turtles in places they don’t belong. Sometimes it is just in the wrong back yard or in a neighborhood street. Sometimes their restlessness finds them on a busy highway which for many that try to cross means death. That spring restlessness drives them to be places that are not safe for turtles.

I can get restless like those turtles. Despite barking dogs, unknown territory and even dangerous circumstances I can feel driven to go places that I know I should not go. Against the instincts God has placed deep within me I can push past the natural boundaries He would have in place for me.

The good news is God’s word says, “I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep My eye on you” (Psalms 32:8) If I allow God’s word to penetrate deep within this hard shell of mine, I only have to listen to the guidance He has placed within me and I can find my way home, away from the busy highways which are sure death for me, back to the beautiful pond He has provided for me. I just need to listen to my God given instincts.

May I ever be listening for Your guidance that you have placed within me. May I nurture this knowledge everyday so that I can avoid the dangers of living. Amen.

The air I breathe

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The LORD God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. ~ Ezekiel37:5 (CEB)

There was a time in my life that I struggled just to breathe. I carried such burdens inside of me I felt that there was no more space left for my lungs to fill with air. My breathing actually felt shallow. Breathing is essential but unless there is something wrong we never pay attention to the act of breathing. The Bible speaks about the Holy Spirit being the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which means “breath.”

There is a song by Mercy Me, “Breathe”. At times when I was almost gasping for air I would say in my heart, “You are the air I breathe; You are the air I breathe”. This was my prayer when no other words would form. Ezekiel 37:9 says, “Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.” I feel that God has done that in my life. Every time I reached out to Him, He breathed life back into this dead heart bit by bit.

When I don’t have words to pray, Romans 8:36 assures me “In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans.” It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy. Lamentations 3:25 tells me “The Lord is good to those who hope in Him, to the person who seeks Him”, so I hope in God with my whole heart. Psalm 130:5 says, “I hope, LORD. My whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise.” What is God’s promise to me? “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1Co 3:16) As long as I let Him live in me I can have life because it is His breath that breathes through me. When it is God’s breath flowing through my lungs it is not a struggle to breathe.

Lord, You are the air I breathe. I thank You for your Holy Presence that lives in me. I thank You that You give me words every day to tuck deep in my heart. I would be lost without You. May I always be desperate for Your love. Amen.

Insights and possibilities

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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.

Together

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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