Wednesday, March 30, 2011

power to contain - 3/30/11

Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-19
"...that you might be strengthened with power..."

Observation:
This prayer is about power. Paul prays that the church might be strengthened with power.
The source of the power is the Holy Spirit. The placement of the power is in our inner being. The result of the power is that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.

I normally think of power as something that is used to do things. It is oriented towards action or activity. It is usually associated with motion. We think of power as the power to do. Paul thinks of power as the ability to contain.

In Japan this morning a fight is going on to contain an enormous amount of nuclear energy inside crippled reactors. Their prayer (and mine!) is that the facility would have the strength to contain an enormous power. I think that image helps me to understand what's going on here. Paul is praying that my body and soul would be strengthened because there is an unimaginable power at work within me though the living Christ.

A second thought comes to me this morning related to this power. It is not the power to do, but the power to know. Paul's prayer here is related to our ability to have a corporate understanding of the love of God. And as we are filled with an understanding of this love - that we may be filled with the fullness of God.

Application:
The Holy Spirit wants to unite the Church through an understanding and application of love. I only have a limited glimpse of the love of Christ. I have my experience and my study and I see Christ from a single perspective. I need you - the body of Christ in all of your glorious understandings of the love of Christ. I need to live outside my own sheltered view and learn from others in the body of Christ.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I unite with my brothers in sisters in Christ around the world. I thank you for our vast diffferences and I thank you for the incredible power that unites us. We need that power because the power of disunification is strong. We feel it's pull every day. Strengthen your church with power so that we may remain united...that you would dwell in our hearts...and that we would work together to understand the marvel and complexity of your immense love for us. May we be filled with the full measure of the fullness of you. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The importance of being Earnest - Journal for 3/29/11

Scripture: Psalm 63:1-4
"earnestly I seek you."

Observation:
There are times when pursuing God comes easy. I've had those. It is a joy to wake early and meet the Lord. To pour the coffee and spend what seems to be a leisurely hour in the Word and prayer. The thoughts pour forth from the pages and my praise seems effortless and grand. Those are mountaintop experiences to be savored.

But they're not all like that. David writes this Psalm from the desert. I have been there too. Nothing comes easy. I wake late and am distracted by everything. As hard as I claw, the words will not release themselves from the page and I am left empty and unfulfilled. These are the days when my soul thirsts for God. I go to the water, but when I arrive it seems to a mirage rather than an oasis.

It is at these times that David wants to teach us to seek the Lord earnestly. To seek earnestly (Hebrew: sahar) is a seldom used word in the Old Testament. When it is used it is primarily used of seeking God in a time of trial. That certainly fits here. There is probably no connection but I can't help but think that sahar and Sahara are so similar. We seek the Lord in the desert.

Application:
My seeking of the Lord needs to be earnest whether I am in the desert or the rain forest. Actually, this discipline of reading and commenting through the blog is helpful. I've never been very good at journaling, but I am enjoying this. It is more of a easy experience. Check back in a few weeks and we'll see how things are going.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I seek you. I'm not in a desert, but I'm not in a rain forest either. Teach me to follow you and to seek you regardless of how I feel and what my circumstances are like. Create in me a desire to find you and to pursue you relentlessly. Help me Lord to put aside all the things that distract me from a full-out pursuit of you. Amen.

Glorify the Lord with me - Journal for 3/28/11

Scripture: Psalm 34:1-3
"Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together."

Observation:
David moves from the first person singular in verses 1 and 2 to the plural in verse 3. Worship can do that. Every day I spend time in worship before the Lord, but that's mostly by myself. But there is something about private worship that creates a hunger for corporate worship. For me, worship is not just a solo sport.
I love to enter into praise and worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I'll be honest, it's hard on Sundays when I preach. It's a discipline to have to turn my mind from what I will speak to what I should be hearing.

Yesterday, however, was a phenomenal worship experience. Somewhere in the second service I just heard the Lord speak to me through an image and a simple sentence. I stopped singing and just listened and reflected on what the Lord was telling me. I don't think that would have happened on my own. It was in the context of corporate worship. Your voices carried me when my voice was silent.

Application:
For me this is a very personal verse. This verse reference is inscribed on the inside of my wedding band along with Moe's initials. It is our prayer that as husband and wife we will glorify the Lord together. For 29 years we have been doing just that. It has been at all times. It has been on our lips. It has been when were were afflicted and when we were rejoicing. Praise to the God of our strength and refuge has been part of our daily experience. I'm so grateful for the privilege of coming to the Lord in prayer. But even more grateful to have a partner in marriage who understands the value of a common spiritual faith that is integral to everything we do. I'm also very, very grateful for the body of believers with whom I have the privlege of worship every week. Something marvelous happens when we worship and pray together.

So what will be my personal application of this passage? I will plan to be part of the Vespers service on Sunday evening. For me personally, it's the most meaningful worship service of the month.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I am simply grateful. I don't come asking for anything. I just want you to know how valuable you are to me. And I am so grateful for the gift of Moe, with whom I get to share this life. I am also overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of Meadow Creek Church. Thank you for allowing me to enter into this fellowship and to worship you, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Unity through Glory - Journal for 3/27/11

Scripture: John 17:23

Observation:
Jesus is praying that his disciples would share in the same unity that he has with the Father. It isn't a partial unity. It isn't a developing unity. It is a complete unity. Jesus isn't just hoping that we'll all just get along. Rather, his prayer is for a complete and mature unity.

Unity is based on Christ's unity with the Father. In verse 11 he makes a dramatic link between unity and glory. Here's how I see this at work (and is the thrust of my message on 3/26...some day I'll figure out how to link my sermons here.) 
  • Christ humbled himself and served others.
  • This glorified the Father.
  • The Father noted the humiliation and glorified him.
  • Their unity was preserved through Christ's humiliation because they chose to glorify one another.

Application:
This isn't hard to see where it's going. Want unity? Choose to glorify (honor) one another. When we humble ourselves and honor one another two things happen. God glorifies us and a watching world finally recognizes that God is truly at work in the church. When the church gives up it's squabbles over trivialities and begins to honor one another, Jesus said that the world will know Christ and his mission.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I choose to glorify you. I acknowledge that you are the master and I am your servant. You must increase and I must decrease. As I show your glory today would you bring me into greater unity with you? Today, Lord, I choose to honor others and to find ways to serve them. Help me to be patient and to listen. Help me to love with Jesus' love and to bear the fruit of honor. In the name of Jesus, the glorified One. Amen.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Lord is God - Journal for 3/24/11

Scripture: Psalm 95:1-7
"For the Lord is the great God."

Observation:
The Lord is our Shepherd. He is the One who created everything that has been made. All of creation sings his praise, and we are the loudest voice of that great choir.

Worship seems to be a very noisy practice. It is full of shouting, music, and song. It is the thunder on the mountains and the roaring of the seas. It is the sound of all nature giving praise to him.

In response to God's marvelous care for us, his sheep, we come and kneel before him in silence. Silence is another sound of worship. It is the true connection of the heart of the worshipper with the heart of the maker.
The psalmist uses both "God" and "Lord" as the names of God. The Lord (YHWH) is the Hebrew name that God chose to sign his covenants with his people. It refers to the caring, gracious, compassionate and loving attributes of his character. God (elohim) is the name God uses to refer to his majestic strength, particularly in creation.

In the combination of names here we see that the God, who is strong enough to deliver from any danger or peril is also the Lord, who is full of love and compassion for his covenant people.

Application:
I can know that the Lord hears and cares for me when I pray. I also have the confidence that he is the strong and mighty God who is the maker of heaven and earth. The one who cares is the one who is able to deliver.
How does this affect my prayer life?

It gives me great confidence that I don't come into the presence of a mighty God who is to be feared, but I come to one who knows me, loves me, and calls me his child. I am able to cry "Abba, Father" and he listens. But he doesn't have compassion only. He has the ability to make a difference in my life and circumstances.
It reminds me of the famous picture of the resolute desk in the oval office. John Jr. is playing under the feet of the most powerful ruler on the planet, but he is absolutely loved and adored. He is safe and confident because the man at the desk is simply "dad".


Strength and Safety

Prayer:

"Abba, Father" today I long to simply be safe in your presence. I am confident to come into your arms today because I know your love for me is infinitely greater than anything I have ever experienced. Thank you for being my shepherd and caring for me so well. I bless you and walk in your delight today. Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Knowing Christ - Journal for 3/22/11

Scripture: Philippians 3:7-11
"I want to know Christ!"

Observation:

As Paul relates his extraordinary qualifications he compares their value against the privilege of knowing Christ. Christ wins! To go even further, Paul says that those things are like rubbish (trash and recycling) compared to the sheer joy of knowing Christ.

His only desire is to be found in Christ with a righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. The phrase in Christ is a unique phrase in the NT. As believers we possess unimaginable blessings because of our relationship to Christ as being in him. In him we have all that we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).

I love verse 10 where Paul says that his purpose in life is to know Christ. That is my passion as well. Of all the titles that I have (pastor, husband, father, friend, etc.) the one I treasure most is follower of Jesus Christ. I live my life to know him. Note: I'm not complete here and Paul wasnt either (check out Phil 3:12) but I press on towards that goal.

Application:

Knowing Christ is more than an intellectual exercise. I have a library of thousands of books that teach me about Christ. But only one that teaches me to know Christ. If you could take all of my resources, please leave me a copy of the Scriptures. From them I am learning to know Christ.

I have a BA and a Masters (and nearly a doctorate) to list as "profit". I would trade it all in a heartbeat if I could know Christ and share in his life and sufferings. I must continually discipline myself to direct my learning towards knowing Christ rather than knowing about Christ. I don't want to teach something that I don't live. I want to live the life Christ has for me and lead people to know Christ in the same way.

Yesterday I had the stitches removed from a minor hand surgery (to fix a "trigger finger"). Successful! But I now have a small, inch-long scar in my palm. I use my left hand for everything. Primarily, it is my writing hand. Figuratively, I can look at my hand as a symbol of my "profit": my education, my profession, and my experience. Or now I can put the pen aside and look at the scar that reminds me that I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I want to know him.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I count up my profits and compare them to the value of knowing you. Christ wins! Forgive me for holding on to things that have little or no value and treasuring them above you. Create in me a desire to know you. I won't settle for all the world's knowledge about you. I want to know you and share in your life and even in your sufferings. As I follow you today, walk with me as you walked with your followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) and teach me about you. May my heart burn within me as I hear you speak of your amazing love for me. Today I want to know you and love you more and be found in Christ with a righteousness that comes through faith - not by works. In the name of the One I long to know more fully, Amen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

God's waiting room - journal for 3/21/11

Scripture:
 “I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; ” (Lamentations 3:24–25, NIV)

Observation:
The author tells us that his "self-talk" is intentionally focused on truth about who the Lord is. It is all too human to dwell on our problems, isn't it? As I read the verses prior to this text (to gain perspective on the context) I note that in verse 19 the author is remembering his affliction and his wandering. As a result (v 20) his soul is downcast. How true! When we focus on our problems they grow in size. When we focus on the Lord and his promises, they shrink.

The Lord is my portion. This phrase is used only a few times in the OT. It refers to the Levites, who were the only one of the twelve tribes who did not possess any land in Israel. They were the priests who relied on the tithes of the people to provide for their needs. They were dependent on God to provide first to the land, then to the land-owners, and then to the priests and their families. Through this they learned to depend on God and to wait for him.

Waiting is among the hardest things I have to do. There are things that I would love to see happen here and now. And even though I ask God for them, the response seems to be "wait". These verses are an encouragment to continue to hang in there, continue to pray, and continue to watch for God to show up and work.

The Lord is good to those who hope in him. Because I know this to be true it is easier to wait. David had to wait for God to fulfill his promises (Psalm 37:7). Moses had to wait 40 years to see the promised land (and then only from a distance). Paul had to wait for God to remove a thorn from his flesh (and he apparently never did). It is good to wait for the Lord. He blesses those who wait.

The real blessing of waiting is not that when the answer finally comes, it is a greater reason for celebration. It is the things that God teaches during the waiting process. While I persevere and while I depend on God I grow more patient, more understanding. My heart grows softer towards God and towards others. God is developing character within me when I endure hardship.

Application:
By this time, then, I should be an expert in patience and a saint in endurance. I wish that were true. Although I have a great environment for growth while I wait I too frequently waste a golden opportunity. God is teaching me through these verses to look above my circumstances and obstacles and look instead towards God - to find my delight in him and to wait for him.

Yesterday's personal devotions from Psalm 121 (yes, I'm still reading the Revised Common Lectionary on Sundays) tell me to look above the plain of the battlefield and raise my eyes to the hills. That's where my help comes from. It comes from the Lord, the one who made the heavens and the earth.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, lift my eyes to you. At those moments when I want to look at the problems that I face, teach me instead to look into your eyes. Give me patience to endure and to wait for you to come and help. Forgive me for taking too much on myself and for moving ahead of you at times. Come today and lead. You have laid out in advance of today the good deeds that I should walk in. Allow me to see them and to walk in the path that you have for me. Amen.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hope and Power – Journal for 3/19/11


Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-23
‎17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Observation:
Paul is giving thanks and praying for his friends in Ephesus. He begins with thanksgiving. That's a natural place to begin prayer. Thanksgiving is looking back at what God has done in the lives of people and in the course of history. When we start with thanksgiving we acknowledge that God has heard our prayers, seen our need, and responded in glorious ways.

Paul's prayer then moves to asking God for specific things on behalf of the Ephesian church. Grammatically the request is that God might open their eyes to see two things: their hope and God's power.

Paul is not asking that they recieve more hope and power. His conviction is that they have the hope that they need, but they aren't aware of it. Similarly, they have all the power they could ever ask for, but they are not experiencing it fully.

Application:
1) I should follow Paul's pattern and give God thanks before I ask for things I don't have yet. In other words, I should look at what I do have and recognize where it comes from. I am incredibly blessed, but like 9 of the 10 lepers whom Christ healed, I walk away healed and complete, but unthankful.

2) There are things that I already possess, but don't live like I have them. Why do I live so hopeless and powerless when I have access to God's hope and God's power? I am going to ask God to open my eyes to see what I have in Christ.

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I come to thank you for my blessings. I have a safe and warm home that is filled with the laughter and life of a fabulous family. I have meaningful work that fits my passions and brings joy. I live in abundance and freedom in this land. I have friends and health and choices in nearly everything.

I pray today for those who may not be experiencing those blessings. As I watch the news tonight that is filled with pictures of devastation in Japan and the beginnings of military action in Libya I pray for those people. They are precious to you. They are uniquely created by you and share the image of God in themselves. They are low on hope and long to see the power of God.

Dear God, please bring them hope of life. Bring them an opportunity to experience a new life with Christ at the center. Free them from tyranny and fear. Cause them to prosper. As they grieve what they have lost and as they anticipate what is to come, may they be filled with the hope to imagine a better future and may they be filled with the power of God to see it happen in their day. In the name of Jesus Christ, my hope and my power.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Highly esteemed - journal entry for 3/18/11

Scripture: 
Daniel 10:8-11 "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you."

Observation:
This is a rather odd passage in a sometimes confusing book. Daniel has seen a great vision from the Lord. The Lord sent an angel to assist and to explain the vision, but the angel had been delayed due to a battle with a one of Satan's most mighty demons. Odd indeed.

But on arrival, he helps Daniel to overcome his fear and awe with comforting words. "Daniel, you are thought of highly by the Lord." I can't help but hear similar words coming from the heavens at the baptism of Christ. "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am pleased." (Matthew 3:17)

Application:
God is pleased with his faithful children and esteems them highly. Too often I see only my own faults, my faithlessness, my sin. I don't trust myself to believe that God might see something different. He just might see me as his child in whom he is pleased . But its not about me. As I identify with Christ, he takes off my spirit of despair and robes me in a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3) and clothes me in a garment of salvtion (Isaiah 61:10).

I identify with Daniel in his initial fear and awe. I would fall to my face as well and fear for my life if I ever saw an angel sent from God. But I would also hope that I heard comforting words of grace and love. My confidence in prayer comes not from my own abilities or inherent goodness. My confidence in prayer is based on how God sees me. He sees in me the image of his own Son and he delights in me.

Prayer:
Today, Lord I put on the robe of your salvation. As I wrap myself in the person of Jesus Christ I look to you in awe. I am stunned that you might see in me something worthy of esteem. I recognize that it is nothing in me that merits this. I am only a simple man in whom Christ dwells through faith. Be pleased with me today. As I seek to know and follow Christ today allow me to see the good deeds that you have laid out in advance for me to discover and walk in. Allow me to sense the indwelling presence of the living Christ, in whom you are pleased, and to walk in his paths today. As you sent the angel to Daniel. And as you sent Daniel to the Persians. So you are sending me today to love my family, my neighbors, my church, and my community. Thank you for hearing my words and coming in response to them. In the name of Jesus, in whom is all of your delight and pleasure, Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Face to Face - Journal for 3/17/11

Scripture: Exodus 33:7-11
"...‎The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. "

Observation:
How amazing is it that God is willing to speak to his people face to face? This fact about Moses' prayer life is so notable that it is referenced three other times in Scripture ‎(Numbers 12:8; Deut 5:4; Deut 34:10). Imagine for a moment how incredible it would be to enter into the presence of the Lord, to look into his eyes, and talk, and listen. We are told that what we say represents only a fraction of the meaning. Far more is communicated non-verbally. In looking at the responsibility that Moses faced - leading a rebellious mob through the desert for 40 years, I now understand how valuable this time must have been for him. He not only heard God speak, but he watched his face and his motions for non-verbal clues that others would have missed. I believe that he understood the heart of God because of his face to face communication and his relationship to God as his friend.

‎Pānı̂m, translated "face" is also the most common word in the OT for “presence.” In Exodus 33:14-15 it is used in this way and could be translated, "My face (or presence) will go with you, and I will give you rest." Moses replies, "If your face (presence) doesn't go with us, do not send us up from here." Obviously, "presence" is a more natural and correct translation, but it does shed light on this play on words from the same chapter. Because Moses spent time face to face with God, the presence of God was with the people.

Application:
If I am to follow God and lead his people I must learn to pray "face to face" with God.  In a face to face conversation there is no room to hide. There is no place for shallow conversations about trivialities. But at the same time, I do not need to be concerned about inadequacy or measuring up. I am complete in Christ Jesus, who has called me his friend (John 15:15). Therefore, I can enter boldly into his presence (a translation of the Hebrew word "face").

Prayer:
Today, Lord, I come into your presence face to face to talk with you as a friend. This is not something that I take lightly. Indeed, I have no right or authority to address you that way. But I come at your invitation through Christ, my Savior. Meet me today and walk through this day wtih me. Laugh with me when we see things that seem humorous to us. Cry with me over the nation of Japan and the tragic loss of life and livelihood. Today, Lord, I am not content to simply hear your words. I want to see your face and to sense your love, your joy, your tears, and your grace. Speak tenderly to me (Isa. 40:2) and remind me again of the glories of my salvation. I choose this day to walk with you as a man and his friend. I ask this in the name of Jesus, my friend. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Journal from 3/16/11

Scripture: John 16:22-24

Observation:
Jesus has my best interests in mind. He wants me to experience unbelievable joy in life. This is now a time of grief, but he promises that joy will come. It will came for the disciples after they saw his resurrection. It happens for mewhen Icome face to face with the living Christ. But living with Christ is only part of that joy. An essential element in this text is the joy of answered prayer. I love it when God answers prayer. Over and over again I have watched God answer very specific prayers. I have witnessed my brother-in-law pass from death to life through prayer (and the work of some pretty creatively skilled doctors). I have seen neighbors drop their petty conflicts because of prayer. I have seen God intervene in my own life time and time again. He listens and he loves and he responds. Why don't I seek him more? My prayer is that God will reignite my first love for him through prayer in these 40 days between now and Easter. My prayer is that God will relight our church's first love in the same time.

Application:
Verse 24 tells me that I may be low on joy because I am low on receiving. I may be low on receiving because I am low on asking. I may be low on asking because "until now, I haven't asked for anything in his name." I do fall into patterns (or seasons) of prayerlessness. I am long on seeking him in worship and praise, but too often I am short on the ASKing. During this 40 Day Discovery I will turn to God and ask him for things I don't ordinarily ask. I am hoping that God will make me a dangerous pray-er. I'll be looking to learn from the models of prayer in these daily verses as well as in John 17.

Prayer:
Today, Lord I ask that you will use the disciplines of these 40 days to reignite my passion for prayer. Would you use these verses to draw me to you? Please enlarge my heart and my understanding and increase my faith. I long to see you work in new and fresh ways in my life and in the life of my church. Specifically today encourage me to be bold to ask you for things in your name and according to your will. If there are things in my life that are prohibiting your answers, then I ask you to remove them. In the name of Jesus, the supreme joy-giver, Amen.

Daily Devotionals for the 40 Day Discovery

Each day you will find a Scripture passage, a quote on prayer and space for you to write your reflections on the Word and your own conversations with Christ.  Our daily study will span the breadth of the Scriptures in order to glean insights into how people prayed. Our goal is to ask how Christ might pray for the people and events unique to you in your situation.  Each day’s devotional, reflection, and prayer should take approximately 15 minutes.  Try to spend that much time over the course of the 40 days.  I think you’ll like the new habit of hearing from the Lord and speaking back to him.  You may be surprised at how God uses these verses in your life over the weeks to come.

Scripture
Every day you will read a short passage from the Scriptures that provides some illustrations, examples, or teaching on prayer.  As you read the larger daily passage ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a specific verse or phrase.  Write it out in your journal.  It may seem strange since you already have your Bible open.  But somehow God will speak to you when you slow your mind to the speed of the pen.  Learn to listen to the heart of Christ as he speaks directly to your heart.

Observation
This is the part where you get to do some research on the passage.  Who is praying?  What were the circumstances?  What did they say?  How did God respond?  Why do you think they prayed that way?  Etc.  Your goal here is to quickly get a handle on the verse that you’ve written.  Why do you think that verse was included in the Bible?  Don’t try to get too personal just yet.  Simply try to understand the verse in its original context.  Feel free to have some Bible Study resources on hand and use them if you find them helpful.

Application
This is where you get to the personal stuff in the text – developing a dangerous prayer life.  What is God saying to you through the text?  Is there an attitude you should adopt?  An action that you need to take?  A truth that you need to consider?  A prayer that you need to pray? A thought that you want to meditate on?  In short, how does God want to direct your prayers? Think through some of the responses that the Holy Spirit directs to your mind here and jot them down.

Prayer
Take your thoughts from the text and write a brief prayer.  It might be a prayer of thanksgiving, a prayer of confession, a prayer of dedication, or a prayer in which you ask for God’s help.  It’s your prayer based on what God is telling you through the text.  Be personal and be honest.  God longs to engage in conversation with you!  What is his heart longing to tell you?  What is your heart longing to tell him?

Schedule of Texts (hover over the veses to read or click to jump to biblia.com - highly recommended!!)

3/16/11                John 16:22-24
3/17/11                Exodus 33:7-11
3/18/11                Daniel 10:8-11
3/19/11                Ephesians 1:15-23
3/20/11                John 17:3
3/21/11                Lamentations 3:24-25
3/22/11                Philippians 3:7-11
3/23/11                Ephesians 1:15-19
3/24/11                Psalm 95:1-7
3/25/11                Colossians 1:9-10
3/26/11                Matthew 6:25-34
3/27/11                John 17:23
3/28/11                Psalm 63:1-4
3/29/11                Psalm 34:1-3
3/30/11                Ephesians 3:14-19
3/31/11                Romans 15:30-32
4/01/11                2 John 4-6
4/02/11                Philippians 2:1-11
4/03/11                John 17:11
4/04/11                Psalm 27:4-8
4/05/11                Psalm 5:11-12
4/06/11                Psalm 91:14-16
4/07/11                1 John 5:18-20
4/08/11                Proverbs 18:10
4/09/11                Revelation 7:9-14
4/10/11                John 17:17
4/11/11                John 15:1-4
4/12/11                Romans 10:8-11
4/13/11                Colossians 4:2-6
4/14/11                Psalm 19:7-8
4/15/11                Psalm 19:9-11
4/16/11                Psalm 119:9-16
4/17/11                John 17:18-19
4/18/11                Luke 10:2
4/19/11                Matthew 28:16-20
4/20/11                Isaiah 6:1-8
4/21/11                Luke 11:9-10
4/22/11                Psalm 24:1-10
4/23/11                Psalm 67:1-7
4/24/11                John 17:3

How to get the most out of the 40 Day Discovery

Winter in Minnesota gets to be long – especially at this time of year. Over the months of diminished daylight and sometimes we lose momentum on our spiritual growth. We start the New Year with high hopes and great expectations. We promise ourselves that this year will be different. Sometimes, though, we need a little extra motivation. Whether to add a new discipline or recharge our batteries, this discovery has something for you.

The value of a corporate journey like this is that we get to hear Christ over an extended period of time together.  There is great synergy when we are all learning to listen to Christ together.  We will hear the same theme together on Sunday that individuals are hearing personally throughout the week.  We will share together through new relationships with one another and learn from one another.  As we focus our thoughts on a single theme, God will speak to us profoundly. His dangerous prayers are contagious and we will find ourselves learning to pray like he prayed!

Your participation is completely voluntary.  You may engage in any or all of the following parts of the spiritual discovery.  No one will check on your progress.  We are not going to track participation of individuals.  We are not going to lay guilt on you if you don’t choose to participate fully.  Simply put, what follows is a suggestion for you to gain the most value from our journey together. 

1.      Engage in weekly worship and actively listen to messages on the theme.
2.      Start to pray for five friends whom you will invite to worship on Easter Sunday.
3.      Practice the discipline of daily devotional and prayer times using this guidebook for your personal journal.
4.      Join a 40-Day Life Group and share your insights into what God is teaching you. Learn some new ways to pray together and see how God answers.
5.      Let the power of God’s Word renew and transform you during your journey as you memorize suggested portions of Scripture.
6.      Participate in Vespers on April 3.

Welcome to the 40 Day Spiritual Discovery

 

I am very excited for us to pursue this journey together. This 40-Day Spiritual Discovery is designed to energize our walks with Christ and revive a collective sense of renewal and direction. It is both a personal discovery as well as a church-wide emphasis. Your personal participation will contribute significantly to the overall success of this journey. Similarly, joining in on the group portions of this 40 day Discover will strengthen what you do on your own.

Our theme, Developing a Dangerous Prayer Life is an invitation from the Lord himself to every individual heart, marriage, home, and family.  Over the next weeks leading up to Easter we will listen in on Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was a dangerous time for him – just prior to his crucifixion. As he pours out his heart we will learn about the things that mattered to him. We’ll find ourselves at the heart of these conversations with the Father. These are dangerous times and we need to learn to pray like Christ. We’ll learn to listen to the Shepherd’s voice and, I believe, come to love him more in the coming weeks.

I wonder how God will shape your prayers in these coming days. I’m looking forward to sharing these moments with you. I am glad you are joining us for this discovery and I pray it will be a season of great encouragement to your heart.

In the days to come, I will be posting my own journal reflections for each of the 40 days. If you want to follow along, email me and I'll send you the verses for each day. I'll also be posting these on the Meadow Creek Church website once we get that blog up and running.

Feel free to respond with your own reflections or just dialog with your fellow travelers on this 40 day discovery. My prayer is that God will open our minds to new discoveries, our hearts to new affections, and our prayers to new levels of passion and effectiveness.

Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day – more than just green beer.


 

"Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere."


 

Mythbusters would have a field day with St. Patrick's Day legends.

  • Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Busted
  • Patrick used the shamrock as a symbol to teach the Trinity. Plausible
  • Patrick was a humble missionary of enormous courage who regularly referred to himself as "a sinner". Confirmed


 

Whether Patrick was the first missionary to Ireland or not, paganism was still dominant when he arrived. "I dwell among gentiles," he wrote, "in the midst of pagan barbarians, worshipers of idols, and of unclean things." His foes were real and their power substantial. However, he claimed the power of Christ and the resurrection and brought a message of hope and peace, forgiveness and joy to the people of the emerald isle.

"I am," he says, "greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who never had the knowledge of God and worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God."

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Amen.