Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (or patience). Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.-James 1:2-8, New International Version (NIV)
This is the day that the Lord has made. It is a gift from God. It is precious time to be cherished, appreciated, and enjoyed. Our word for the day on this 5th day in Lent is "patience." Collins English Dictionary defines patience (when used as a noun) as the ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.
Merriam-Webster defines patience as the ability to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people. A long time could be five seconds, five minutes and or five years for someone. But, the key is to know if what you are waiting for is worth the investment of your precious time. God invested in us and found (and continues to find) us worth the wait and stills awaits our "yes..."
According to the Apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus and proclaimer of God's word, this patience comes from the testing of our faith. Is your faith being tested today? Has it ever been tested? For me, it is interesting that in the word patience, we see the root patien where we get the english word patient (one who is capable of persevering) and from the word perserverance, we see the english word sever. We are capable of persevering suffering. We were built to endure great hardship. Courageous patience was not only for the lion; but, it is for you and me and as well!
In this season of Lent as we intentionally journey toward (trace the footsteps of Jesus via Scripture and reflect upon Jesus' redeeming love for humanity), it is my prayer that we consider the patience, perseverance and willful suffering of God. God in Christ was courageously patient with the disciples and with many others while he (God incarnate) walked on earth investing days, hours and years enclothed in flesh and enduring great suffering and shame to save humanity. Jesus is still patient with us. With whom will you reveal the patience of God today? Someone needs this kind of love today and it is in you and me awaiting great release. May we release it, even now. Thanks be to God.
Let us pray,
God, teach us how to wait for your leading and to find patience in You. Your timing is perfect and we trust You. We uplift before you every person in every place and thank You in advance for bowing Your spiritual ears to the hearts and cries of Your people. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
"And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat." - Mark 6:31, English Standard Version (ESV)
Today is a gift from God. What will you do with this precious gift? Our word for the day is "rest." I pray that each one of us uses some part of this day to rest and recover from the daily hustle and bustle of life, at least for a short while. May you/we have time to enjoy a good laugh, a great work-out, a delightful meal and or a warm refreshing drink (tea, hot water with lemon!). Whatever we do today, may we experience a refreshing of mind, body and spirit.
Enjoy worship and your time of renewal this weekend and know that you are one step closer to your goal. God is with us. God is with you. Thanks be to God...
Let us pray,
God, we love You and we thank You for a season to rest and refuel for the journey. Wherever you find us today, let us find rest in You. Help us to make every moment count as we seek to please You. May Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification (encouragement) according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." -Ephesians 4:29, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
May this blog post find you well. May it find you in good health and with your mind determined to stay the course with Christ. As we are on the Lenten Journey together, God is with us and God has given us every tool to reach the finish line. The word for today is "encourage." Yesterday, we talked about discouragement. But, today I would love for us to ponder the ways that we can encourage others.
The English word encourage is derived from two Old French terms, en which means "to make or put in" and corage (or courage which means to strengthen or hearten). In other words, as we encourage others we place strength/courage in them with our words and or actions. Who is God calling you to encourage today? What card can you send, conversation can you have, or call can you make to uplift the spirit of another? Can you pay for lunch for a friend, foe or a stranger? Look for ways to be the hands and feet of Christ as you encourage someone to experience "The God who is with us" today and forever. May your words come forth from the mouth of God and may God embolden your speech. Thanks be to God!
Let us pray,
God, we love and adore You. We thank You for this moment in time and for Your continued presence. Thank You for this day that You have created and for the ability to exist in it. You are awesome and we thank You for the encouragement that you give to Your creation. You have designed creation by the power of Your word. You wanted us. You love us and You sustain us. Help us to encourage others to hope in You. Heal the brokenhearted, comfort the grieving and rejoice with all who praise You this day. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
Today is the second day of Lent. We have just begun the journey toward Easter (Resurrection Day) and already we must answer the question, What in us must change so that God can completely get the glory in our lives?" Lent is not simply about what we must give up or lay aside during this forty day journey. Lent is about our discipleship, faith growth, self-disciplines, self-examination, repentance, and confessions in response to God's grace. So, I ask you as I ask myself--what in you/me must change?
Right now, I am meditating on the word discouragement. According to Merriam-Webster, discouragement means a feeling of lost hope or confidence. It is demoralization, despair, despondency, disheartenment, dispiritedness. It is a theme mentioned in our Lenten Bible Study and so I am considering how discouragement has affected my life. What about you? Are you your worst critic? What are some ways to reevaluate and or remove discouragement from your life?
According to our Scripture meditation, we must:
Let us pray,
Dear God, teach us how to give up/release and recover from the spirit of discouragement. Whatever causes us to believe any thing less than Your promises and words concerning us, we bind in Jesus' Name. Remind us of our worth and value in you. Remind us that we are Your investment and that the work that you have begun in us shall be performed in due season. Encourage souls today and all who may feel discouraged because of a circumstance or situation in life. You are the Most High God and with You we are able to do all things well according to Your will and good pleasure. We lift before You every person in every nation knowing that You are God and that there is nothing too hard for You. Heal, save, hear the confessions of, and deliver Your people in Jesus' Name. Amen.
"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Today is Ash Wednesday and the official first day of Lent. According to the Book of Worship, Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian Worship, and the Imposition of Ashes can be a powerful nonverbal and experiential way of participating in the call to repentance and reconciliation. It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Passion/Palm Sunday service and burn them ahead of time to produce the ashes for this service. Thankfully, we already have the ashes prepared. :-)
As we begin this Lenten journey together (this forty day countdown toward Resurrection Day minus Sundays) I would love for us to keep in mind our sermon series for the month of March, "Removing the Masks that bind us." The first mask is bitterness. What do you need to do to remove this mask? God will exchange beauty for our ashes...and our masks.
Let us pray,
Dear God, we love You and we wholly follow You. Teach us how to die daily to self and to live in Your perfect will. We pray for Your love peace, justice, grace and mercy to consume, renew and revive us so that we may perfectly reflect Your image. Help all to experience the fullness of Your love and saving grace. Keep us in Your care and meet us at the point of our need. Make us better in every way. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.