Friday, July 31, 2015
Daily reading: Jonah 1:1-3
July 31, 2015
Focus scripture: So Jonah got up – to flee to Tarshish from the LORD! He went down to Jaffa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went aboard to go with them to Tarshish, away from the LORD. Jonah 1:3
Jonah is fine with being a prophet to his own people, not so much with his people’s enemies. So when God calls him to deliver a message to his enemies to the east, he goes to the ship yard and finds a ship heading to Tarshish, a Phoenician colony on the southwest coast of Spain some two thousand miles to the west. This way he can get far enough from God that God would not call on him anymore.
So instead of going to the hometown of the enemy Jonah takes off for a Mediterranean vacation in Tarshish. The voyage to Tarshish is not smooth sailing, and not just for Jonah if you have read on, but for many boats back in the day. They often where swamped with large waves and strong winds, this journey was not going to be an easy one. So in other words, Jonah’s flight is not on an easy path. It is not like option A is to go into a dangerous, brutal, barbaric city and option B is a smooth flight to a beach paradise. No option B has its own dangers and perils as well.
Yet Jonah does not hesitate to run and choose option B.
This passage begs the question of what we do when God calls us. Do we analyze and decide if it will fit into our calendar? Can we squeeze something in for God say next Tuesday afternoon?
Yet it is also so much more, what happens when we do not really agree when God calls us to do something because we don’t think it is something we should do? What sort of borders might God be calling you to cross in order to share the good news of God’s love and forgiveness?
Prayer: God help me to respond when you call me to respond to the needs in my own life, in the life of my family and greater community, and beyond. Amen.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Daily reading: Psalm 63
July 30, 2015
Focus scripture: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
Living the desert I can imagine being a land where there is no water.
In preparation for my pilgrimage hike in Scotland my family took many hikes into the desert. We walked past many dry river beds. I imagined what it would look like to have water coursing down the beds, splashing against the rocks.
We always take water with us. It is a great necessity.
As we walked we noticed how all of the native plants have protection in the form of spikes, thorns and needles to keep predators from accessing their storehouse of water.
In the desert preservation is key. Yet the psalmist speaks of being somewhere where there isn’t water. He seeks God and thirsts for God.
Take time today to be in prayer with God. Spend time reading Psalm 63. Write down the times in your life when you have felt the life giving water of God in your life (God’s presence).
Prayer: God I seek you, fill me today with your presence. Amen.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Daily reading: Exodus 18:13-26
July 29, 2014
Focus scripture: When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people he said, “What’s this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people are standing around you from morning until evening?” Exodus 18:14
What Moses didn’t understand is that by being the only one to settle disputes in his community, he wasn’t allowing anyone else to settle disputes.
He also didn’t understand until his father-in-law pointed it out to him that by saying yes to settling the disputes he was saying no to so many other opportunities in his day.
I find that rather than saying no, I try to cram more in. I get more busy and at the end of the week I am able to see that I really didn’t get more done, I just unknowingly said no to a lot of things I didn’t mean to say no to. Like time with my kids, or time for myself to unwind.
Find time this week to go over your calendar. What are you saying yes to and what are you saying no to? Are you making time to develop your relationship with God and with a community of faith?
Prayer: God help me to better balance my day so that I don’t take on my than I should. Amen.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Daily reading: Psalm 42
July 28, 2015
Focus scripture: Just like a deer that craves streams of water, my whole being craves you, God. My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God. Psalm 42:1-2a
What do you desire?
The psalmist proclaims in Psalm 42 “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
Our desires can be like a strong thirst that needs to be quenched. About a month ago my son and I were driving around to different shops and it was extremely hot outside. The afternoon temperature had reached 100 degrees and it was certainly hotter in our car.
As we left our final shop, I told him how thirsty I was and commented that once we got home I was going to drink a lot of water. It was all I could focus on. Cool, refreshing water.
Just like our desire for cool water on a hot day, the psalmist speaks of deeply desiring God. We were created to desire God and the things that God desires.
Take time today to think about the things that God desires for your life. Take time today to slowly read Psalm 42 and hear what words of wisdom it has for you today.
Prayer: God help me to desire the things you desire for me so that I can be more aware of your presence in my life. Amen.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Formation by Pastor Leslie
Daily reading: Romans 8:28-29
July 27, 2015
Focus scripture: We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would conformed to the image of his Son. Romans 8:29
God desires that our lives take a certain form. In 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 4 we read that the result of God’s work in our lives is that we are to “share the divine nature.”
We are all called to be conformed to the image of Christ.
And that is a process that takes time. Scripture gives us some insight into the process that we go through. We are not described as finished pottery already shaped, fired and glazed. No in Isaiah we read that we are the clay and God is our potter.
I have heard that in the pottery world that you are considered a beginner for at least 8 years: With the mess – to –finished ratio heavily being on the mess side at the beginning of learning.
If you don’t take the time to center your clay on itself and on the wheel then your piece will eventually wobble and eventually collapse. And you’ll have to start over.
God cannot force us to center ourselves upon the divine presence.
God cannot force us to live into loving our neighbor or practicing forgiveness.
Christian formation begins with an intentional move to center ourselves upon God.
Prayer: God I put you in the center of my life today. Help me to remain focused on you throughout my day. Amen.
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