Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lightened Load



Daily reading: Matthew 11:20-30
April 30, 2015

Focus scripture: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

We can certainly pile a lot of expectations upon ourselves:  We over schedule our own lives and the lives of our children.  I know that I am guilty of this; I can’t count how many times I have said to my husband “when did you tell me you would be out of town this weekend for business?”
 
Clearly I wasn’t paying attention when he informed me the first time.  It seems like every fall we brace ourselves as we receive the numerous calendars that will inform us when our children are needed after school and on the weekends and then we have to synch that with our own calendars.

Our over scheduled lives leave little room for a break.  

Jesus beacons to us, “come to me if you are weary.”  He promises to lighten our load.  But he can’t do that if we don’t in the first place hand him our schedules. 
The first step is to be in prayer with God about the things you have going on.  What needs are pressing?  What activities bring you joy?  Do you have Sabbath time scheduled in?  Does the list make you feel sick to your stomach and go into panic mode?  

Prioritize your list.  Allow some things to be taken off (hear lightening your load).  Make sure that you have space built in so that when a need arises (hear opportunity that God is presenting to you) you are able to respond not from a place of weariness but from healthy renewal.

Prayer:  I place in your capable hands God, the things that drag me down.  Help me to find rest in your presence and guide me this day through my activities and interactions with others.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A new thing



Daily reading: Isaiah 43:1-21
April 29, 2015

Focus scripture: I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

I was recently at a retreat where I walked a lot.  There are beautiful paths in the desert landscape that brought a sense of calm to my life.  A friend wondered out loud to the group if we were able to walk the same path more frequently than a couple times a year, how would that be?  Would it become familiar like walking down the hallway of your house?  Would the newness wear off and not pull you in?
I have begun walking in the desert mountains to prepare for my pilgrimage walk for my sabbatical this summer.  While the walk is still somewhat new, I have found that it is never the same.  Different cacti are in bloom each week.  Rain or lack of rain changes the color of the rocks and the leaves on the plants.  Cloud cover or bright sun changes the experience:  As well as my mood. 
God didn’t create a static world for us to live in.  It is constantly changing.
God doesn’t want us to go through life on autopilot, expecting to experience the well worn path the same way each day.

We get stuck in churches expecting the faithfulness of those in the past to create the firm foundation for our present that often times becomes static. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?” (Isaiah 43:19) 

Open your eyes to the new thing God is doing in your life and in the life of your community.  

Prayer: God I praise you for creating something new.  For helping me to unclench my hands to the past and to open them up to receive what you have to offer to me today.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Multiplying



Daily reading: Mark 6:30-44
April 28, 2015

“And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.”

I often hear people say that they are going to do some extraordinary volunteer service when the time is right, after they have finished something else in their life, when they have more time.  I think it is probably more complicated than just a matter of needing more hours in the day.  I think it is ultimately a reflection of our priorities and the season that we are in life.

We see great need in our own neighborhood and think, well I only have one or two hours that I can give and we aren’t sure that is even enough or worth our small effort. I think that must have been how the disciples saw the hungry crowd that evening.  They only had five loaves and two fish.

But God was able to take what they had and meet a real need in the community that was forming around Jesus.  We all have small gifts to offer that help us experience God’s presence in our lives, we just have to be willing to give.
God asks us to trust that in whatever gift we give, even if it is really small, God can and will bless it and multiply it.  

Prayer:  God reveal to me the gifts I have to offer, even if they seem small and help me to trust that if I give them to you, you will bless and multiply my efforts. Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Provision



Daily reading: Psalm 23
April 27, 2015

The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.  Psalm 23:1

Psalm 23 is a song of God’s abundant care for us.  God provides the spiritual nourishment we need just like a good shepherd makes sure that his flock has good grass to feed on and fresh water to drink.  The good shepherd protects his flock so that even in the presence of enemies they have nothing to fear.
Do you depend daily upon God to feed you and sustain you?

Do you turn to God when you are faced with people or systems that seek to destroy you?

The most challenging piece of this scripture is believe it can be true, of being willing to depend completely upon God to navigate your way through life. 
Trust that God is good and wise and knows the best future for you.

Prayer:  God as I begin the work/school week guide my steps and words.  Help me to trust more fully in your goodness and spiritual provision in my life.  Amen.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spiritual Amnesia



Spiritual Amnesia by Pastor Leslie
Daily reading: Exodus 32:1-6
April 26, 2015

The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down from the mountain.  They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come on!  Make us gods who can lead us.  As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.” Exodus 32:1

In Exodus 24 the people swore an oath of allegiance to God.  Moses then goes up Mt. Sinai for 40 days and for 40 nights and while he is there the people regress.  They grow impatient and take matters into their own hands.

We do the same thing.  We get impatient when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the time frame we want them to be answered.  When God’s timing is not our timing, we wonder if God has forgotten us or is neglecting to answer us and so we create our own future.  We forge ahead and when all the decisions have been made and the opportunities taken, we then pause and ask God to bless us.  Things get out of whack when we don’t wait on God and we find ourselves in a place of spiritual amnesia.  We forget that our worth isn’t based upon our ability to produce something tangible and so we move ahead, we work 24/7 and we allow anxiety to seep back into our lives.

We forget the times when God answered our prayers or the prayers of our neighbors in the past.  We forget the times when we allowed God to work in our lives and how much easier that was, we forget.

And so not unlike the Hebrew people we create God in our own image that will support our decisions.  By Exodus 32 the anxiety has returned, Moses is taking too long on the mountain and so they convince Aaron that it would be better if they would just make a god for themselves.  They gather up all the gold they have, what they received in Egypt as they were escaping from slavery and make a golden calf.
They quote un quote purchased their own security by creating their own god to worship.

God provides for us the security we need in life, but in order to receive it we have to place God first, period.  Remember that God is a God of life, compassion, steadfast love, forgiveness and mercy.

Prayer:  God help me to place you first in my life.  Give me the faith to trust and depend upon you.  Amen.

Waiting

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