Daily Devotions at home

Please think of these as DIY church.  The following are devotions for five days of the week and we hope this will help you during our quarantine time to enjoy the blessing of God’s word.  If ever you have any questions, please feel free to contact the church.

Weekly Schedule of Devotions

Monday

Psalm 47 (KJV) - YouTube

 

Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all you peoples;
    shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
    a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
    and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
    the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
    the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm.

God is king over the nations;
    God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
    he is highly exalted.

#1. Is it not the best God for us who bears within himself our good fortune and misfortune? . . . What would he be if he looked upon our misery merely from the outside, as we look upon the beggar in rags to whom we throw a penny? . . . God does not view your pain merely from the outside, but he feels it along with you yourself . . . and is kept incessantly busy effecting the removal of evil.   V. G. T. Fechner    

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Eternal God,

who are the light of the minds that know you,

the joy of the hearts that love you,

and the strength of the wills that serve you.

Grant us so to know you

that we may truly love you,

and so to love you

that we may fully serve you,

whom to serve is perfect freedom,

in Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday

Life in the Spirit Seminar - A New Life - YouTubeRomans 7:1-6

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends,[b] you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

#2. From Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love:

If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are, limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform. So, the big question is, how do we help our hearts to grow?

 

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Look, Lord,

on an empty vessel that needs to be filled.

In faith I am weak – strengthen me.

In love I am cold – warm me and make me fervent

so that my love may go out to my neighbor.

I doubt and am unable to trust you completely.

Lord, strengthen my faith and trust in you.

You are all the treasure I possess.

I am poor, you are rich,

and you came to have mercy on the poor.

I am a sinner, you are goodness.

From you I can receive goodness,

but I can give you nothing.

Therefore I shall stay with you. I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday

Who Is The “Wretched Man” Of Romans 7:14-25 – Thinking It Out ...

Romans 7:7-20 

What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived 10 and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

13 Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

The Inner Conflict

14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
 

 

#3 Mechthicld of Magdeburg (Germany c. 1212-1282),

Two Poems from The Flowering Light of the Godhead

            That Prayer has the Greatest Power

           
That prayer has the greatest power 
          Which you make with all your might.
It makes a bitter heart sweet,
A sad heart merry,
A poor heart rich,
A foolish heart wise,
A timid heart brave,
A sick heart well,
          A blind heart full of sight,
          A cold heart passionate.
It draws the great God down to the little heart.
It drives the thirsty soul up to the fullness of God.
          It brings two lovers together,
          God and the soul,

          In a wondrous place where they speak much of love.    

 

I Cannot Dance, O Lord

I cannot dance, O Lord,

Unless You lead me.

If You wish me to leap joyfully,

First You must dance and sing –

 

Then I will leap into Love –

And from Love into Knowledge,

And from Knowledge into fulfillment,

A harvest of sweet fulfillment beyond human sense.

There I will stay with you, circling

And circling

Forevermore.
 
 

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Father,

I abandon myself into your hands;

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you:

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me

and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you

with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord,

and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands

without reserve,

and with boundless confidence,

for you are my Father.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday

Luke 10:21-24

21 At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

 

#4. From Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

            Souls are like wax waiting for a seal. By themselves they have no special identity. Their destiny is to be softened and prepared in this life, by God’s will, to receive, at their death, the seal of their own degree of likeness to God in Christ.

            And this is what it means, among other things, to be judged by Christ.

            The wax that has melted in God’s will can easily receive the stamp of its identity, the truth of what it was meant to be. But the wax that is hard and dry and brittle and without love will not take the seal: for the hard seal, descending upon it, grinds it to powder.

            Therefore if you spend your life trying to escape from the heat of the fire that is meant to soften and prepare you to become your true self, and if you try to keep your substance from melting in the fire – as if your true identity were to be hard wax – the seal will fall upon you at last and crush you. You will not be able to take your own true nature and countenance, and you will be destroyed by the event that was meant to be your fulfillment.

09-24-2017 "Blessed Are the Eyes which See the Things You See ...Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits which you have given me,

for all the pains and insults

which you have borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,

may I know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly,

day by day.

I pray this with you:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday

Psalm 145:8-14

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his compassion is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your faithful shall bless you.
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
    and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,
    and raises up all who are bowed down.

 

 #5. From Francis de Sales, An Introduction to the Devout Life      
     One form of gentleness that we should all practice is towards ourselves. We should never get irritable with ourselves, fretting at our imperfections. It is entirely reasonable to be displeased and feel sorry when we have done something wrong, but we should refrain from being full of self-recrimination, fretful or spiteful to ourselves.           
     Some people make the great mistake of being angry because they have been angry, hurt because they have allowed themselves to be hurt, vexed because they have allowed themselves to be vexed. They think that they are getting rid of their anger, that the second remedies the first; but actually, they are trapped in a destructive cycle of emotion which will come to the surface in a fresh outburst of anger on a later occasion.
            Besides this, irritation and anger with ourselves tends to foster pride, and springs from no other source than self-love which is always disconcerted and upset at discovering that we are not perfect after all. We should regard our faults with calm, collected and firm displeasure. Just as a judge, when sentencing a criminal, functions much better when guided by reason, conducting the proceedings with tranquility, rather than allowing themselves to have an emotional or violent response to the case; so too we will correct ourselves better by a quiet persevering repentance than by an irritated, hasty and passionate one. Repentance generated by anger proceeds not in relation to our faults but is controlled by our inner compulsions. 
     When your heart has fallen, raise it up softly, gently, humbling yourself before God, acknowledging your fault, but without being surprised at your fall. Human infirmity is infirmity; human weakness is weak; and human frailty is frail. Own your fault before God and return to the way of virtue which you had forsaken, with great courage and confidence in the mercy of God.

Reflection – Psalm 148 [Praise the Lord Everyone and Everything]

 

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Lord, give us all the courage we need

to go the way you shepherd us,

that when you call

we may go with strength.

If you bid us come to you across the waters,

that we may not be frightened as we go.

And if you bid us climb the hill,

may we not notice that it is a hill,

mindful only of the happiness of your company.

You made us for yourself,

that we should travel with you

and see you at last in your unveiled beauty

in the abiding city,

where you are light and happiness

and endless home.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday

Hebrews 8:1b-3a

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
 
 
 
 
  1. From With and Without Christ by Sadhu Singh

            As some insects with their antennae feel their surroundings and distinguish between hurtful and useful things, so spiritual people, through their inner senses, avoid dangerous and destructive influences and enjoy God’s sweet and life-giving presence; they are constrained by their blissful experience to bear witness to God. As Tertullian has said: “Whenever the soul comes to itself and attains something of its natural soundness, it speaks of God”.

            Almost everyone has an inner capacity – to sense spiritual truths without knowing how they have attained them. As someone said: “They know, without knowing how.” For instance, Colburn [Zerah Colburn, ‘The Calculating Child’, born 1804], when six years old, was asked how many seconds there are in eleven years. In four seconds, he gave them the correct answer. When questioned as to how he had arrived at the answer, all he could say was that the answer had come to his mind. Just so God reveals spiritual realities to those who live according to his will.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns) St. Anselm’s Prayer

O Lord my God.

Teach my heart this day

where and how to find you.

You have made me and re-made me,

and you have bestowed on me

all the good things I possess,

and still I do not know you.

I have not yet done

that for which I was made.

Teach me to seek you,

for I cannot seek you

unless you teach me,

or find you

unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire;

let me desire you in my seeking.

Let me find you by loving you;

let me love you when I find you.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 8:1b-3a

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
 
 
 
 
  1. From With and Without Christ by Sadhu Singh

            As some insects with their antennae feel their surroundings and distinguish between hurtful and useful things, so spiritual people, through their inner senses, avoid dangerous and destructive influences and enjoy God’s sweet and life-giving presence; they are constrained by their blissful experience to bear witness to God. As Tertullian has said: “Whenever the soul comes to itself and attains something of its natural soundness, it speaks of God”.

            Almost everyone has an inner capacity – to sense spiritual truths without knowing how they have attained them. As someone said: “They know, without knowing how.” For instance, Colburn [Zerah Colburn, ‘The Calculating Child’, born 1804], when six years old, was asked how many seconds there are in eleven years. In four seconds, he gave them the correct answer. When questioned as to how he had arrived at the answer, all he could say was that the answer had come to his mind. Just so God reveals spiritual realities to those who live according to his will.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns) St. Anselm’s Prayer

O Lord my God.

Teach my heart this day

where and how to find you.

You have made me and re-made me,

and you have bestowed on me

all the good things I possess,

and still I do not know you.

I have not yet done

that for which I was made.

Teach me to seek you,

for I cannot seek you

unless you teach me,

or find you

unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire;

let me desire you in my seeking.

Let me find you by loving you;

let me love you when I find you.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 8:1b-3a

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
 
 
 
 
  1. From With and Without Christ by Sadhu Singh

            As some insects with their antennae feel their surroundings and distinguish between hurtful and useful things, so spiritual people, through their inner senses, avoid dangerous and destructive influences and enjoy God’s sweet and life-giving presence; they are constrained by their blissful experience to bear witness to God. As Tertullian has said: “Whenever the soul comes to itself and attains something of its natural soundness, it speaks of God”.

            Almost everyone has an inner capacity – to sense spiritual truths without knowing how they have attained them. As someone said: “They know, without knowing how.” For instance, Colburn [Zerah Colburn, ‘The Calculating Child’, born 1804], when six years old, was asked how many seconds there are in eleven years. In four seconds, he gave them the correct answer. When questioned as to how he had arrived at the answer, all he could say was that the answer had come to his mind. Just so God reveals spiritual realities to those who live according to his will.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns) St. Anselm’s Prayer

O Lord my God.

Teach my heart this day

where and how to find you.

You have made me and re-made me,

and you have bestowed on me

all the good things I possess,

and still I do not know you.

I have not yet done

that for which I was made.

Teach me to seek you,

for I cannot seek you

unless you teach me,

or find you

unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire;

let me desire you in my seeking.

Let me find you by loving you;

let me love you when I find you.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday

1 Peter 2:4-5

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

  1. From Prayer and Worship by Douglas V. Steere

There is no greater intimacy with another than that which is built through holding him or her up in prayer. The firm bond that existed between John Frederick Oberlin and his parish was laid every morning in the hour he devoted to prayer for his individual parishioners. We are told that as they went past his house at this hour in the morning, they did so in quiet, for they knew what was happening there.

            Ford Robinson’s Letters to His Friends reveals his constant use of this form of prayer for his Cambridge associates. He remarks in one letter that if he really would reach some need in his friend’s life, he would always prefer a half-hour’s silent petition for him to an hour’s conversation with [that friend].

            An unbeliever once mockingly begged Catherine of Sienna that she pray for his soul. She prayed by day and by night, and the power of renovation disarmed and brought him to his knees. I know of a Japanese girl whose father had found a whole chain of reverses too much for him to meet normally and who had taken the alcoholic shortcut. She prayed for him hour after hour until the time came when he yielded, gave up drink, committed his life to the center of Divine love he had experienced, and with the help and love of his devoted family he has continued a new way of life.

            Such prayer is only cooperation with God’s active love in besieging the life or new areas of the life of another, or of a situation. If you pray for something other than what is in keeping with that cooperation, you go against the grain, and if you remain in prayer and are sensitive, you will realize this and be drawn to revise it. As in all petitional prayer, the one who really prays must be ready to yield.

 
Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)
 

God our Father,

If I could trace back through the last two thousand years, marking out routes from Jesus himself and then through people whose faith has touched others and so, reached me, I would be astounded by the individuals I would encounter.

I give thanks, Father, for all those people over two thousand years who have inspired others and played their part in passing on to generation after generation

The living heritage of their faith. Especially I give thanks for those who lived their faith through difficulties and hardship and persecution. I pray, Father, that I may grow in your faith and love through good times.
 
I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday

Romans 8:10-11

10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

 

  1. From A Violent Grace by Michael Card

            In Gethsemane, Jesus is locked in combat with a human desire we all recognize: to avoid pain, to hold onto life, to win against death. In these dark night hours, while His best friends nod off, Jesus’ flesh and feelings are at war. “If it’s possible. . .,” He groans.

            Do you see what is at stake for us in that struggle? If Jesus’ human desire does not lose, we will never win. If he doesn’t suffer this temptation, we will never be able to overcome when we are tempted.

            Until Gethsemane, Jesus’ life has been one continual yes to the Father. And that doesn’t change this night in the garden. The only begotten Son is on a mission of love –  a mission He affirmed in that first assault in the desert – and the Father’s desire is for Jesus to finish the work he has been sent to do.

            Where does Jesus find the strength to overcome? I find the answer in seven perfect words: Not my will, but thine be done.

            When you think about it, every temptation we face gets its power from our desire to say yes to ourselves – to our own rights, wants, and needs – and no to God. The Bible’s word for that response is disobedience. It’s a pattern that began with Adam and Eve. Surely the serpent deceived them when he tempted them to taste the forbidden fruit, just as Satan often deceives us in our moment of testing. But the deception is just the bait. The trap is always sprung by a clear choice to disobey God – to say: “Not thy will, but mine be done.”

            At Gethsemane, although Satan has done his best to confuse and deceive Him, Jesus chooses painful obedience. If choice is one side of the coin to overcoming temptation, then cost is the other. To make a choice is to slay the alternative. “Life is in the blood,” declares the Law (Leviticus 17:11, 14; Deuteronomy 12:23), and every dark drop that trickles down Jesus’ cheek is proof of what the Savior is willing to pay for you and me. Not my will, but thine be done.

He is willing to lose all so that we can win all.

 

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

 

Lord, we come before you as we are.

We ask you to take away from us

all that makes us less than human.

Strengthen us with the power of your Spirit

that our attitude and outlook may develop,

and our “way of looking”

may become more like yours.

Help us to remain positive –

encouraging and appreciating one another,

looking upon people in the same way that you do.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
 
 
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
 

Thursday

Acts 5: 30-32

30 The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
 
  1. Ezekiel’s Wheel by Shelley Brenner

Once there were four rabbonim who were awakened by an angel who carried them off to the Seventh Vault of the Seventh heaven, where they were able to see the sacred wheel of Ezekiel. Now somewhere in the descent from paradise to earth, the first rabbi, from having seen such splendor, lost his mind and went frothing and foaming through the desert the rest of his days.

            The second rabbi was very cynical about the experience. He said, “Well, I only dreamed that I saw Ezekiel’s wheel. Nothing really happened. I imagined it all.”

            The third rabbi gave sermon after sermon on the intricacies of Ezekiel’s wheel. He analyzed how it was built and what it all meant. He was obsessed with the wheel, and in this way, he betrayed his faith.

            The fourth rabbi was a poet. He was inspired by the wheel. He took paper and reed, and sat by the window, and wrote song after song in praise of the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, all the stars in the sky. And he lived his life better than before.

            I tell the story because it reminds me of my family and the way each of us chose or was chosen to navigate through the world. In my family’s story, “Ezekiel’s Wheel and the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven” is a vision of the world as it should be, the perfect world that all of us have somewhere in our minds; a perfect world, with all its chaos and beauty.

            And the first rabbi in our family is my sister, who died last year. During her life she was troubled by chronic mental illness. She often said that it was painful to feel joy or excitement because soon it became just an uncomfortable over-stimulation. So, she shielded herself from the world with medication and excessive sleep or just isolation. Like the first rabbi, she lost her way.

            The second rabbi who denied he saw the wheel is my mother, who died in 1993. She too was given to isolation; she denied the world, as though it didn’t exist and the events in it didn’t really happen. She loved her house and made a fortress of it. Outsiders were not to be trusted. And I remember when I was seven years old, asking my mother if God existed and she answered very cynically: “We don’t know if he does, but we say he does, because if we said he doesn’t, and he does, he’d be very angry.” Like the second rabbi, she denied the world.

            The rabbi who gave sermons about the wheel is my father, whose way of being in the world is often as a giver of instructions, directions, criticisms, corrections. The family story goes that when he and my mother were newlyweds, he taught her how to wash dishes, because he didn’t think she did it the right way. And his way of teaching her was to have her rewash every dish she had already washed, with his supervision. Like the third rabbi, he gave lectures, unable to surrender himself to the poetry of life.

            So it was given to me, of the four in my family, to become, like the fourth rabbi, the storyteller: to simply behold the world, and praise it, and to give it away, over and over again.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Lord, we ask you to open our eyes

that we may value and appreciate all people,

recognizing what we have in common

rather than focusing

on what our differences might be.

Inspire us to distinguish

between what is important

and what is not,

and open our minds and hearts

that we may always be people of good will

who bring life and joy to others.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
 

Friday

Hebrews 5:8-10 

Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

 

  1. Do Not Worry? By Bill Gaultiere

“Do not worry… Do not worry… Do not worry…” The Psalmist repeats his counsel three times in Psalm 37. (vv 1, 7, 8) Just like Jesus did in Matthew 6. (vv 25, 31, 34)

“Do not worry.” This is not the empty reassurance of “Don’t worry. Be happy!” The Bible never advises denial of emotion. The Psalmist understands our emotional struggles and he shows us the way to work through them in prayers of lament so that we can experience God’s peace.

The wisdom of the Psalmist runs counter to the way of the world. God would not have us internalize or invalidate our real emotions. Neither would he tell us just to “get them out” by venting. Worry or any negative emotion are not something to “get rid of” — that’s self-rejection, if not self-hatred. Instead, the Spirit of Jesus wants us to open the hurting part of our self to receive his comfort and grace.

Emotions become “negative” when they are internalized or acted on in ways that harm yourself or others. Then they quickly become an energy drain.

Expressing our emotions to a trusted friend provides the empathy, validation, and comfort that strengthens us to be able to carry our burdens. (Galatians 6:2) Receiving and giving empathy are expressions of trusting faith in the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

The Psalmist’s therapeutic process also helps us to feel, understand, and pray through our worry and all our distressing emotions. (Psalm 139:23-24)

David’s prayer in Psalm 37 helps us offer all our negative emotions to our Good Shepherd, trusting in his care and submitting to his kingdom rule. No matter what emotions we feel, we can do what is good and right as we wait for God’s provision and guidance. Even in troubles and hurts and injustice we can delight in knowing the Lord!

Do not worry…
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
Do not worry… Do not worry… (Psalm 37:1-8)

“Trust in the Lord” includes the idea of verbalizing our emotions and needs to God and to safe people who help us connect to God. Bringing our emotions to a tender-hearted friend is how we learn not to ruminate with worry, react in anger, or spiral down into shame.

With this in mind, try praying Psalm 37 by substituting for the word “worry” whatever negative emotion(s) you are struggling with.

Feel your emotion. Imagine the situation giving rise to it. Then release it to the Lord by praying: “Do not fear… (or… hurry… envy… remain angry… be ambitious… be competitive… lust… be greedy… be ashamed… judge yourself or others… feel ashamed…). Trust in the Lord…”

This emotionally honest faith is delighting in the Lord and committing your way to him. As we do this, David says we come to shine like the rising sun!

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Lord, inspire me to give of my best

and make good use

of the talents you have given me.

Show me how to be positive in attitude,

appreciating and valuing others,

always being ready to encourage

and give praise.

Sometimes I draw conclusions about people

in terms of what I think

is meant by “success” and “failure”,

but the “failure” of one person

might count as a great “success”

of someone with other talents.

Lead me never to judge people

but to accept others as they are,

knowing that it is together,

each with our differences,

that we build up your Kingdom. I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
 

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
 
 

 Monday

Romans 10:8b-10

But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
    on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

 

 

Today’s Devotion

From Roberta C. Bondi, In Ordinary Time

Prayer is such an ordinary, everyday, mundane thing. Certainly, people who pray are no more saints than the rest of us. Rather, they are people who want to share a life with God, to love and be loved, to speak, to listen, to work and be at rest in the presence of God. Certainly, they are people who want the truth about themselves and about reality. They want to find the parts of themselves they would rather not acknowledge and bring them to God for love and healing. They want to learn how to be the loving, interiorly thriving people God created them to be. They aren’t particularly holy, though. Mostly, they are just simply stubborn, persistent people who know that every close personal relationship of love, including ours with God, involves a lot of risk taking, a lot of being in the dark, and a lot of persistence through times of boredom.      

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)  W.E DuBois

Lord of the springtime, Father of flower, field and fruit, smile on us in these earnest days when the work is heavy and the toil wearisome; lift up our hearts, O God, to the things worthwhile: sunshine and night, the dripping rain, the song of birds, books and music, and the voices of our friends. Lift up our hearts to these, O Father, and grant us your peace. I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.
 

 Tuesday

Acts 13:30-33

30 But God raised him from the dead; 31 and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’
 

Devotion

from Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Resdiscovered (abridged)

I have never doubted since then that in all circumstances, whatever one’s conditions may be, or the condition of the society one lives in, or the condition of the world, life is good, and that to gain from this experience of living what has to be gained, and to learn what has to be learnt, it is necessary to live out one’s life to the end until the moment comes for one’s release. Then, and only then, can one truly rejoice in that moment. There is no catastrophe, as it seems to me, that can befall human beings which is not an illumination, and no illumination which is not in some sense a catastrophe. It is in an age like ours, an age of great superficiality of thought, that people ask how, if God allows suffering, how can he be a loving God. It’s a very superficial thought, because suffering is part of the process whereby humans exist, and we can’t judge how that comes about, or what are its full consequences. All we can say is that it’s part of the experience of living, and like all other parts, it can shed light, or it can shed darkness. Suffering is an essential element in the Christian religion, as it is in life. After all, the cross itself is the supreme example. If Christ hadn’t suffered, do you imagine that anyone would have paid the slightest attention to the religion he founded? Not at all.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

St Augustine
 
Soul of Christ sanctify me.
Body of Christ save me.
Blood of Christ inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Separated from you let me never be.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me.
That with your saints I may be praising you forever and ever.

I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.

Wednesday

Romans 6:8-11

To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, for the carnal mind is hostile toward God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that lives in you.

Devotion

  1. from the writings of Francis Schaeffer

There is no mechanical solution to true spirituality or the Christian life. Anything that has the mark of the mechanical upon it is a mistake. It is not possible to say, read so many chapters of the Bible every day, and you will have this much sanctification. It is not possible to say, pray so long every day, and you will have a certain amount of sanctification. It is not possible to add the two together and to say, you will have this big a piece of sanctification . . . The Christian life, true spirituality, can never have a mechanical solution. The real solution is being cast up into the moment by moment communion, personal communion, with God himself; and letting God’s truth flow through me through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,

and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created

And you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful

by the light of the Holy Spirit,

grant that by the gift of the same Spirit

we may be always truly wise

and ever rejoice in his consolation.

Through Christ our Lord, I pray this:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.

Thursday

Hebrews 7:24-27

24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.
 
 

Devotion

  1. from the writings of Paul Tournier

I have seen many people who will go so far as to lie to themselves rather than admit that they are disappointed. They seem to be looking forward to the future, but in reality, their eyes were fixed on the past . . .Take for example, the case of a man who once was roused by the powerful inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Now he strives, by disciplining himself, to retain the old spontaneous ardor. But he fails. He reproaches himself for his luke-warmness, for the ineffectiveness, not only of his actions, but also of his prayers and resolutions. He reproaches himself for not having been able to preserve the ‘heavenly gift’, as the apostle urges. But in spiritual matters nothing is preserved, nothing can be saved up. This man is mistaking a psychological problem for a religious one. He refuses to recognize the law of adventure, which is that it dies as it achieves its object. The first requirement of religion is that we accept the laws of life. The spiritual life consists only in a series of new births. There must be new flowerings, new prophets, new adventures – always new adventures – if the heart of the human, albeit in fits and starts, is to go on beating.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

Lord Jesus, you told your friends not to worry about the future. You showed them

how to have the attitude of simple trust that young children have, so that they could place themselves into the caring hands of your Father. And so I ask for the power of your Spirit that I may remain positive throughout all that is ordinary in my daily life. I know that your touch can change people and situations, and so I ask you to join me in offering to our Father not only the good things of this day but also the suffering and sacrifices that I want to offer cheerfully and lovingly, and in a quiet and hidden way. And so may any difficulties and frustration and pain of this day be transformed in your presence for the benefit of other people. I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.

Friday

1 Peter 3:18-24

 

18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Devotion

  1. from Letter from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Christ kept himself from suffering till his hour had come, but when it did come, he met it as a free man, seized it, and mastered it. Christ, so the Scriptures tell us, bore the sufferings of all humanity in his own body as if they were his own – a thought beyond our own comprehension – accepting them of his own free will. We are certainly not Christ; we are not called on to redeem the world by our own deeds and sufferings, and we need not try to assume such an impossible burden. We are not lords, but instruments in the hand of the Lord of history; and we can share in other people’s sufferings only in a very limited degree.  We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his fellow humans, for whose sake Christ suffered.

Prayer (Begin with silent prayers of joys and concerns)

God our Father,

the qualities I see lived out so well in some people are a reflection of your own goodness, and I know that I have much to learn from other people who reflect your image and likeness in different ways. Inspire me to respect others fully as my equals, seeing and loving in them what you see and love in them. I pray this with the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.