Prayer for the Day

offer this prayer for you to pray for your day:

The night has passed, and the day lies open before me, I pray these things to You O Lord:

-That I might offer myself as a witness to your love to anyone I meet;

-That I may be patient with all those I encounter;

-That when I encounter difficulty in my day I will remember your love and stand strong;

-That I might be generous to at least one other person today;

-That I will love myself as a beautiful creation that You have made;

-That I will love others, even my enemies, as the beautiful creation that You have made;

-That I will find one moment to be in awe of Your creation.

I ask this humbly in the name of Christ our Lord.  

Pets

When I dislocated my hip playing football, my coach gave me a gift to keep me company, a pet tarantula.  He was an avid collector of exotic pets and I mentioned I really wanted a tarantula and so he gave me one of his pets.  I have to tell you, my mother hated it and it really didn’t take me long to be tired of the smell and the allure quickly disappeared.  My coach was very happy to get it back.

Some of us prefer dogs but really despise cats.  Some of us would never want to own dogs but are cat fantatics.  Some have pet birds, some love lizards and others even have pet pigs.  What makes a good pet?  It is all in the eye of the beholder.  Some pet lovers love the beauty of the animal, others seek the companionship and still others love to observe the behavior.  What unifies pet lovers is not the type of pet they have or why they have them but the love they have for their pets and the relationship  they have with them.  Scientists have proven that even fish and lizards provide real companionship and beneifts to the owners.

Pets help us in a small way to understand the complete and wonderful love God has for God’s creation.

Genesis 1:24-25

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Contrite Heart

I have to admit that there are many occasions when I have to call customer service and I am not the nicest of customers. What gets me most upset is when an agent seems to not care or is just reading from a script.  When a service representative comes across as genuine and contrite, my patience increases and I am more willing to forgive.  A contrite heart offers no excuses, it genuinely accepts the wrong doing and seeks forgiveness and to make amends.

Thus says the Lord:
Heaven is my throne
    and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
    and what is my resting place?
All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things are mine,
says the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look,
    to the humble and contrite in spirit,
    who trembles at my word. – Isaiah 66:1-2

God is very willing to forgive us.  God has shown over and over again that the very nature of the Holy is grace and peace and forgiveness.  What God asks, however, is a contrite heart.  A heart that is broken down to its core reveals itself for its very nature.  We are sinful creatures but God seeks to bring us back into a reconciled wholeness.  This happens when we seek not to make excuses or shift blame but stands fully in the light of our sin and open to the grace of a forgiving God.  

Start out your day asking forgiveness for the things you did in the past that you have not yet shared with your Creator and end the day with a prayer of thanks for the grace bestowed upon you that was paid by the blood of Christ.  

Routine

“I have to get back to church.”

This was the first thing someone said to me when I bumped into them at a grocery store.   They did not greet me with a “hello” or a “how is your summer?”  I could tell there was some guilt behind the words.  I assured her that I was not judging her but she indeed had been missed.  “The community is not the same without you.”

My words to her are true.  Every time someone is gone, they are missed.  We are not the same.  Every time we stay away or have something else to do, the community suffers.  We miss the energy of the many, we miss the relationship with that person and we miss the potential for deeper faith with her or him.

Persons who are missed also have the potential of missing out as well.  They might have missed an opportunity to be touched by the Holy Spirit.  They might have missed seeing a newborn baby for the first time.  They might have missed time with community that would be helpful at later times in their lives.

A few months ago someone gave me some ideas for sermons and told me that he thought we should do some of them in church because we haven’t really talked about those particular issues much.  I chuckled and asked him where he was when I did that exact series.  He said he was out of the routine of coming to church.  He then asked where to find the podcasts.  “I wish I would have been there, I needed to hear about that.”

A final and real statement from someone at a church (Not Flowing Grace): “We need to be better at sharing the joys and concerns about people.  I had no idea (name deleted) had cancer and was going through treatments. I would have liked to have helped.”  That same person had been prayed over in church and was continually shared during prayer time.

These illustrations are not made to provide guilt but to have us consider our routine, especially as many of us head back to the routine of a school year.  Where will God be in your routine?  Where will church be?  Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means you do anything and everything to have Christ be the center.  Will sports get in the way?  You job and career ambitions?  Will a desire to sleep in trump the need to be in fellowship on a Sunday morning with other believers? Will late night TV stop you from praying before bed because you are too tired?

Here is something you can do.  Add one thing to your calendar to do every day.  Prayer, scripture reading, write a note to someone in prison etc.  Add it to your calendar every day as a reminder that God should be part of our day, every day.  I have done that on our calendar and invite you to do the same.

By the way, for those of you I have not seen in church lately, you have been missed.  Hope to see you this Sunday!

Do Not Fear

The daily devotion from the Upper Room paralleled part of the message on Sunday so I share it as our devotion of the day.  May you find God’s blessings in reading it.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

– 1 John 4:18 (NRSV)

When I was a child my family did not attend church regularly. My primary exposure to preaching was through radio sermons that were mostly about fearing God’s condemnation. I started to attend church at age 12, and I was relieved to discover that the preaching there was much different. The focus was on God’s love for us and our love for others. But a part of me worried that our church might be watering down the Bible’s message.

Then one day I came across today’s quoted verse. I was overjoyed to discover that God does not want us to live in fear of condemnation. Such fearful love is incomplete, immature, imperfect. The loving message I heard at church is true.

I am now a pastor, and I encourage my church members not to fear the condemnation of God or of other people who claim we are not true Christians because our beliefs and practices differ from theirs. Paul’s message to the Romans in today’s reading reminds us, “It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?” As followers of Christ, we can know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Thanks be to God!

PRAYER OF THE DAY:  Gracious God, free us from fear, and help us to embrace the truth that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are justified by your grace. Amen.

Shared by Michael MacDonald from North Carolina.

Smile

I remember when I lived in LaCrosse, Wisconsin there was a man, who many thought was crazy at first, who stood on the corner and waved and smiled at everyone who drove by or walked by.  Eventually he had to sit but I recall that he did this for years.   A news station asked why he did it and he simply said because he wanted to make people happy.  People who were interviewed shared how it brightened their day.  Some said that at first they thought it was a bit strange and that he had an agenda but after driving by many times, the smiles and waves became contagious.  Maybe kindness and peace starts with a smile and a wave.

 

The following comes from explorefaith.org
sharing

The great thing about gratitude is that you can’t keep it to yourself. You have to find a way—a person—a strategy to express your thanks. Rather than seeking more for yourself, you live for others—which is exactly what God wants!

Robert Hansel
The Gospel of Thanks-living
Tip to Try                                                                              

Think of someone whom you’ll see today. Make an intention to have eye contact and smile.

Drought

We have not had to worry about drought in the Northern Illinois area.  However, many of us, even with all of the waters around us, are experiencing a spiritual drought.  There are a lot of reasons we go through the time of spiritual depletion.  The good news is there is always a way out.

…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:14

Spiritual Drought

Image courtesy of Audrey Bruno and Stone Creek Photography
When you are feeling dryness in your soul, go to a place where you can be in the presence of water—near a lake, a pond, the ocean, a water fountain, or take a walk in the rain. If you are unable to go to a large body of water, fill a large bowl with water and sit near it.

As you look at and hear the movement of the water, close your eyes and imagine that the water that is life-giving is being poured into your soul. Imagine how your soul’s scratchiness is soothed by the wetness that comes from God’s love. Take a moment to thank God for the gift and grace of water, and for the replenishment of moisture to your soul. As a final meditation, drink a glass of pure water very slowly and mindfully, with gratitude in your heart.

Renée Miller
When You’re Feeling Spiritually Dry

 

Adapted from explorefaith.org

Kindness

Whose shoes have you tied?

Kindness

Professor Rudolph Arnheim tells this story about his lasting gratitude for one such [small] kindness: “At a faculty reception, a British lady taught me how to tie my shoes with a double knot so that they keep tied more securely and still come apart in a jiffy,” he said. “Kneeling on the floor in the midst of the chattering sherry-sippers, she tied my shoes. I remember her twice a day ever since.”

Caren Goldman
Healing Words

gratitude_wheat

Image courtesy of Audrey Bruno and Stone Creek Photography.


Tip to Try

Who has shown a kindness to you that you did not expect?

 

From explorefaith.org

Barriers

When I was younger I used to think the barriers in my life were all caused by outside forces.  As I have gotten older and (a tad) wiser I have realized most of the barriers in my life were my own doing or were my responses to the outside forces in my life.  How I overcome challenges will decide how big the wall is in front of me.

I enjoyed this one from explorefaith.org

Barriers

Gratitude_till

Sometimes sadness sabotages our gratitude. It’s easy to become engulfed in the worries of the world or our own cares until we sink into patterns of expecting the worst and assuming negative outcomes—depressive thinking.

Linda Douty
Barriers to Gratitude

Tip to Try

“I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction: you have taken heed of my adversities.”
—Psalm 30:7

Know that God is with you, in both your joy and your sadness. Read the passage from Psalm 30 and hold it in your heart.

Simple Advice

I am continuing this week with simple suggestions that will help us live a more prayerful and thankful life.

Examen                                                                     Image Courtesy of Audrey Bruno and Stone Creek Photography

Image courtesy of Audrey Bruno and Stone Creek Photography

Our creative and emotional wiring is just as unique as a thumbprint, and simply coming to know the gifts and graces that God has given us can unleash a torrent of gratitude.  One of the most accurate aids to this discovery comes in the form of a daily journaling practice called the Examen.

It is a variation on an ancient practice, substituting positive questions for the usual negative ones. People who are puzzled about what lights their fire can get amazing clues after employing this practice for just a few weeks.

Linda Douty
A Thankful Life

 


Tip to Try

Each night before bed, review your day with an eye to that which brings you joy. Answer each of the questions below and note your response in a journal. What patterns do you notice after one week of following this Daily Examen?

  • What surprised me today?
  • What touched or moved me today?
  • What inspired me today?
  • What was “life-giving” to me today?
  • What felt “life-taking” to me today?
  • What did I learn about Christ and myself today?

Linda Douty
Getting from Sunday to Monday

From explorefaith.org