Pay attention!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. ~Matt 5:13-16 (CEB)

One of the dangers of waiting is forgetting to let my light shine while I wait. I have never been one to wait patiently. It almost paralyzes me. I have had several reminders in the past few days that I have been hiding my light. Reading this passage from Bread for the Journey was just another reminder that not only am I to be patient but active in my time of waiting:

“How do we wait for God?  We wait with patience.  But patience does not mean passivity.   Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise.  It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.

The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.”  Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants.  Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Heavenly Father, help me to shine for You. May I continue to be active in my time of waiting, continually seeking the ways that I can serve You this day. May I pay attention to what is happening here in these moments and live them to the fullest. 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.

A God who woos

Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth. ~Matthew 5:5 (CEB)

My spiritual life is His affair; because, whatever I may think to the contrary, it is really produced by His steady attraction, and my humble and self-forgetful response to it. It is a case of being drawn, in His way and at His speed, to a place that He wants me to be. Not to the place I plan for myself.

When we allow ourselves to be wooed by God we find ourselves going places we never thought about going before. Anchored in him we find ourselves stronger than we ever thought we were, able to withstand the greatest storms. As long as we remember Who gave us this strength, Who called us from the depths, we will find that we are able to do all things…

Heavenly Father, I thank You for calling me, pulling me, steadily and constantly. May I never forget from Where my strength comes from. Amen.

Inner silence

Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God. ~Matthew 8:5 (CEB)

October can be so busy. I come to the end of it every time and wonder where it has gone off to. October 31st always finds me taking a deep sigh. Gone are the packed weekends. I even have these couple of weeks where I don’t feel so overly busy. Then Thanksgiving hits and I find myself running again.  At the end of such a busy time it seems good to remind myself of the need for silence… the inner kind of silence.

Inner silence is the absence of any sort of inward stirring thought or emotion, but it is complete alertness, openness to God. We must keep complete silence when we can, but never allow it to degenerate into simple contentment.

“Silence is the state in which all the powers of the soul and all the faculties of the body are completely at peace, quiet and recollected, perfectly alert yet free from any turmoil or agitation. A simile which we find in many writings of the Fathers is that of the waters of a pond. As long as there are ripples on the surface, nothing can be reflected properly, neither the trees nor the sky when the surface is quite still, the sky is perfectly reflected, the trees on the bank and everything is there as distinct as in reality.

Another simile of the same sort used by the Fathers is that of that as long as the mud which is at the bottom of a pond has not settled, the water is not clear and one can see nothing through it. These two analogies apply to the state of the human heart. ‘Blesses are the pure in heart for they shall see God’ As long as the mud is in motion in the water there is no clear vision through it, and again as long as the surface is covered with ripples there can be no adequate reflection of what surrounds the pond.

As long as the soul is not still there can be no vision, but when stillness has brought us into the presence of God, then another sort of silence, much more absolute, intervenes: the silence of a soul that is not only still and recollected but which is overawed in an act of worship by God’s presence; a silence in which, as Julian Norwich puts it, ‘Prayer oneth the soul to God’. ~From Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom

Heavenly Father, help me to quiet my soul this day so that I may reflect Your love to those around me. Settle the restlessness inside of me from too much activity. Quiet my heart so I may hear Your wisdom in the space. Amen.

 

Stop and remember

Jesus’ disciples had forgotten to bring any bread, so they had only one loaf with them in the boat. He gave them strict orders: “ Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.” The disciples discussed this among themselves, “He said this because we have no bread.” Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “ Why are you talking about the fact that you don’t have any bread? Don’t you grasp what has happened? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing? Don’t you have eyes? Why can’t you see? Don’t you have ears? Why can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke five loaves of bread for those five thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”
They answered, “Twelve.” “ And when I broke seven loaves of bread for those four thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”
They answered, “Seven.” Jesus said to them, “ And you still don’t understand?”
~ Mark 8:14-21 (CEB)

Sometimes I forget to stop and remember. I forget to slow down and understand. I forget to grasp the meaning that Jesus has for me. I forget to see. My eyes are not on Him.

When I don’t hold on to the truths that Jesus has shared with us I find anxiety and a restless heart robbing me of the peace that is promised when I place my trust in God. I stand there wondering why I am anxious… oh, I forgot to trust God again.

Life sometimes is too full. It holds so many opportunities with activities and distractions. When I find myself so busy is it any wonder that I grow anxious and lose my sense of peace and tranquility?

Heavenly Father, today I choose to remember that You alone are able to care for all that exists; I can trust my all from the smallest concern to the largest. Today I search out Your wisdom and love. I know that when I place my trust in You the gifts of peace, hope, calm and joy will be mine in abundance. Amen.

Every situation

If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. ~James 5:13-14 (CEB)

Every situation calls for some response. These verses in James remind us that we respond to every situation in some way that will bring God’s power and blessing to our present situation.

I need to remind myself daily that I do not have to bear any of my moments alone. God wants both my happy moments and my sad moments. He can bless my every moment.

Bless my every moment this day O Lord. Wow me with Your presence. Be my peace in the chaos, my joy in the quiet. Amen.

Adjusting

God, listen to my cry; pay attention to my prayer! ~Psalm 61:1 (NRSV)

Oh. It is that time of year again. Adjusting to new schedules. Am I coming or going… sometimes I am not sure. As I scramble to find our new norm some things get forgotten. Sadly one of the most vital things that can get shoved out is quiet time with God. Then I wonder why I feel lost and panicked.

But truly, this is one thing I can fix. God did not make me to feel anxious, but I have to choose time with Him so that I can find a quiet center for the day. No matter how busy the day looms ahead if I don’t want chaos to fill my heart I must start out the day in quiet with God.

I confess, O Lord, that I become so distracted by the busyness of the day that I can forget to pray as I should. Quiet and center my mind so that I may focus more intently on You. Hear my prayer that I offer for myself and for others as we adjust to our new norms. Guide our steps and fill our hearts so that we know that You are with us. Amen.

 

Prayer for the reader

Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. ~Matt 21:22 (NRSV)

Not just in the Psalms can prayers be found but throughout the Bible. They are beautiful and I love when I come across them in my Bible reading. Here is a prayer that I want to share with you. Paul has written this prayer to the Ephesians but we can claim this prayer for ourselves today.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~Eph3:14-21 (NRSV)

Heavenly Father, I embrace this prayer as my own today. Grant strength and power through you Holy Spirit. Allow Christ to dwell in my heart so that I may know that love that surpasses all knowledge. I pray for You to work in me to accomplish abundantly more than I can ever imagine for Your glory and honor. Amen.

Know that I am God

Be still, and know that I am God  ~Psalm 46:10a (ASV)

I have always been drawn to this verse. Maybe it is because I have such a hard time being still so I am drawn to the words “be still” like a magnet. Somehow even though I have a hard time sitting still my soul knows this is something I need in my everyday life, stillness. It is not enough to just carry this verse longingly in my heart. Being still isn’t the whole picture. The next phrase says, “and know I am God.” Do I take the time to know God and acknowledge Him? When I rush from one thing to another I crowd out that still small voice that tries to direct my steps. I need to learn to be quiet on the inside and stay in that peaceful state so that I can readily hear God’s voice.  Only when I spend time daily in the Word can I get to know Him enough to learn to hear that still small voice.

I love to compare scriptures. In the CEB version it says, “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!” Stated this way it is like a command from God to wake up and pay attention. God is like that. Sometimes His presence is quiet and subtle making me look up to see Him. Other times He does things to get my attention. The best description for this is to compare morning skies. Some mornings the light sneaks in with varying shades of soft colors gently changing from one to the other and growing in brightness. It is easy to overlook its beauty on this type of a morning unless I make it my practice to look up. Other mornings the sky is ablaze with reds and golds so bright it would be hard to miss the splendor splashed across the sky no matter how busy I am. God is like that in my life.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the quiet times when you Spirit whispers love to my heart guiding my steps. I also thank you for the times that you have blazed in, leaving no doubt and waking me up to Your presence in my life. Amen.

Real freedom

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”

Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”

So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. ~Luke 5:1-11 (CEB)

“We need to look for what we dismiss and what we disdain. Look at what we’ve spent our whole life avoiding. We don’t want to look unsuccessful. That’s our shadow. I can see why my father, Francis, intentionally countered the way the West was moving. He moved entirely into the shadow self and said, ‘Here is where I will rejoice.’ I will delight in nonpower, nonaggression, nondomination, nonpleasure, nonwealth and nonsuccess. He lived so close to the bottom of things that he could never fall very far. Now that is freedom! ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Almighty God, as You have sent Jesus to be for me the light and truth, send now Your spirit upon me to grant me grace and strength to follow in His footsteps this day. Amen.

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