Illumined

Now children, listen to me: Happy are those who keep to my ways! Listen to instruction, and be wise; don’t avoid it. Happy are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorposts. Those who find me find life; they gain favor from the LORD. Those who offend me injure themselves; all those who hate me love death. ~Prov 8:32-36 (CEB)

“Faith is not belief in an afterlife based on today’s moral litmus test. To the contemplative “bad” and “good” make no matter. Each has capacity to become the other. Out of bad much good has come. It is often sin that unmasks us to ourselves and opens the way for growth. Mature virtue is tried virtue, not virtue unassailed. Great good, on the other hand, whatever its effects, has so often deteriorated into arrogance, into a righteousness that vitiates its own rightness. But both of them, both bad and good, lived in the light of God, blanch, are reduced to size in the face of the Life that transcends them.” ~From Illuminated Life by Joan Chittister

This selection from Illuminated Life reminds me not to be judgmental of others. It also reminds me to not be so harsh about my failures… or too prideful of my success.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for using my failures for Your glory. Help me to never think so highly of myself that I forget Who enables me to do good. Amen.

In the silence of the day

But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. ~Matt 6:6(CEB)

“Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and a place for God, and him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives- healing, teaching, and guiding- we need to set aside a time and space to give him our undivided attention. Jesus says, ‘Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is that secret place’ “~From Making All Things New by Henri J. M. Nouwen

What a difference I find in my day when I take the time to be with God. All things seem to line up better, even the bad moments. Keeping my times with God reminds me that I am not alone as I go through the life. Though others may seem to forsake me, quiet time with God helps to ease the rough edges this life seems to bring.

Heavenly Father, may I remember to not run from the silences filling them with noise and activity. Help me to center myself in the quiet so that in the silences of the day, I can feel Your Presence in me. Amen.

My prayer for you

This is why I kneel before the Father…  I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.
Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.
~ Ephesians 3:14, 16-21 CEB

Keeping it together

 

But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. ~Luke 21:18-19 (CEB)

“How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions?  How can we “keep it together” when we are constantly torn apart?

Jesus says:  “Not a hair of your head will be lost.  Your perseverance will win you your lives” (Luke 21:18-19).  We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves.  We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together.  We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord.  To say it differently:  When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Heavenly Father I thank You for the strength You daily give me to keep it all together. I know that because You love me that there is nothing I should fear. Give me courage just for this day. Amen.

When fear comes knocking

But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” ~ Matthew 14:27 (CEB)

Every season brings fresh reasons for fear. So each shift in my schedule, new venue I take on, new road I explore or change I go through is cause for my old enemy…  fear, to come knocking at my door.

Fear makes me doubt all that I know. It corrodes my confidence in God. Fear makes me second guess God and who I am in God. I catch spiritual amnesia forgetting what God has done for me and only seeing what He has done for others. Fear cripples and deafens my hearing until I can no longer hear God. Fear sucks the life out of my soul and dulls my faith.

Left unchecked fear will imprison my soul. Only prayer can release me. Jesus says, ““Do not fear. Only believe, and (you) will be saved.” (Luke 8:50) Only until fear is exposed can I be released from its hold on me. Faith counter acts fear and with faith I can hear Jesus say to me “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

Lord, Help me remember today that just because Fear comes knocking at my door does not mean that I have to open up the door much less invite it in for coffee. Keep fresh in my mind all the blessings you have bestowed on me. I thank You for Your loving grace. 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.

Sharing the news

Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.” ~John 4:39-42 (CEB)

Because the woman at the well shared what Jesus had done in her life the Samaritans were receptive to hear from Jesus. They had not been receptive to the word before. It is humbling to think that there may be someone out there waiting to hear a story of what God has done. Waiting to hear how Jesus can personally work in someone’s life.

I can think of personal stories that I have heard that have helped me along my way. But we can’t just ride into heaven on other peoples’ stories. At some point we have to make the story our own. We have to embrace the truths for ourselves. Once the story becomes ours then it is time to share it with someone else who like we once were, are waiting to hear good news.

Heavenly Father, please give me eyes to see those who need to hear the good news. Give me the courage to share that good news with them. Amen

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