Searching for God

Today’s Prayer

O God, in all ages you have imparted yourself to man and set alight the fire of faith in his heart, grant to me the faith which comes from search. Cleanse my life from all that negates and  crushes faith, and fill it with the purity and honest that foster it. Cleanse me from the evil which makes unbelief its friend, and drive it far from me, so that, being willing in all things to do your will, I man know the truth which shall set me free. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.- Samuel M. Shoemaker

Today’s Scripture Reading

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:  “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.

This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.  -Jeremiah 29:4-14, NLT

Today’s Reflective Reading

God’s message to the Israelites exiled in Babylon is clear, “Plant, nurture your families, live, work, and thrive in Babylon- but do not forget you are my people, that I am your God, and that I have plans for you!”. God warns them to not get ensnared and lured in by the false prophets telling lies in the name of God. Instead they are to look for God wholeheartedly.

Our challenge is not much different. We are to search for God and follow his leading in our lives here in the 21st century. There are many attractive lies, some that even sound kind of “christian like”, we must earnestly seek the wisdom to discern what is God’s voice and what isn’t. Then we can enjoy plans and hope that God has for us.

All that I am, all that I have

Today’s Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus,

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, popularity, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to those voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life. -Henri J. M. Nouwen

Today’s Scripture Reading

Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

 Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”

 Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.”

John 21: 17-22, MSG

Today’s Reflective Reading

I am growing in the awareness that God wants my whole life, not just part of it. It is not enough to give just so much time and attention to God and keep the rest for myself. It is not enough to pray often and deeply and then move from there to my own projects.

As I try to understand why I am still so restless, anxious, and tense, it occurs to me that I have not yet given everything to God. I especially see this in my greediness for time. I am very concerned to have enough hours to develop my ideas, finish my projects, fulfill my desires. Thus, my life is in fact divided into two parts, a part for God and a part for myself. Thus divided, my life cannot be peaceful.

To return to God means to return to God with all that I am and all that I have. I cannot return to God with just half of my being. As I reflected this morning again on the story of the prodigal son and tried to experience myself in the embrace of the father, I suddenly felt a certain resistance to being embraced so fully and totally. I experienced not only a desire to be embraced, but also a fear of losing my independence. I realized that God’s love is a jealous love. God wants not just a part of me, but all of me. Only when I surrender myself completely to God’s parental love can I expect to be free from endless distractions, ready to hear the voice of love, and able to recognize my own unique call.

It’s going to be a very long road. Every time I pray I feel the struggle. It is the struggle of letting God be the God of my whole being. It is the struggle of letting God be the God of my whole being. It is the struggle to trust that true freedom lies hidden in total surrender to God’s love.  – The Road to Daybreak by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Visible image of the invisible God

Today’s Payer

Come, Lord Jesus!

You are my righteiousness. You are my goodness, the cause and the reason for goodness. You are my life and the light of life. You are my love and all my loing. You are the most noble language I can ever utter, my words and all their meaning, my wisdom, my truth and the better part of myself. Amen. -Walter Wangerin Jr.

Today’s Scripture Reading

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 1: 15-23, NIV

Today’s Reflective Reading

Christ is the human face of God. Jesus is the autobiography of God. In Christ, God was spelling himself out, expressing himself. Jesus was the audible, visible Word who expressed the heart of the inaudible, invisible God. -F. Dale Brunner


Today’s Prayer

Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, ” Speak, for thy servant heareth.”. Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking voice. Amen

-A.W. Tozer

Today’s Scripture Reading

The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli’s direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.

Then God called out, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Yes? I’m here.” Then he ran to Eli saying, “I heard you call. Here I am.”

Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” And so he did.

God called again, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel got up and went to Eli, “I heard you call. Here I am.”

Again Eli said, “Son, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” (This all happened before Samuel knew God for himself. It was before the revelation of God had been given to him personally.)

God called again, “Samuel!”—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.”

That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed.

 Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.”  

-1 Samuel 3:1-10, MSG

Today’s Reflective Reading

God speaks into our personal lives, if he speaks anywhere at all, and if we were not blind as bats we could hear him. -Frederick Buechner

Overwhelmed by Faith

Today’s Prayer

O Lord, help me to really believe. Help me to really believe that your heart for me is good. Help me to really believe that nothing can separate me from your love.Help me to really believe that you will do what you say you will do. Help me to take you at your word. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Today’s Scripture Reading

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. 

By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.

 By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice.

By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. Hebrews 11: 1-6, MSG

Today’s Reflective Reading

Christians are used to talking about faith as if it were a possession. We spark of “having faith”, or sometimes, “Keeping Faith”, and the last thing we want to do is “lose our faith”. Thus, by holding on to faith we assume that we have another tool with which to pursue our goals in life. The Bible, however, rarely speaks of faiths as if it were something we own. It is more typical of the Bible to describe faith as something that owns us.

Actually, faith is quite similar to another virtue called love. We usually don’t say a person has love for somebody else; rather, we say that someone is in love. The difference is more than semantics. By claiming that we are in love we admit that we have been overwhelmed by a great commitment to another person. Sometimes it hits us at first sight, and at other times it develops slowly, but at not time could we claim to be in perfect control of the love. Mores honestly, we know that love has the power to control us.

Similarly, faith in God is a wonderful commitment. It may come slowly or in a moment, but once it truly gets hold of us it changes just about everything. –Extravagant Mercy by M. Craig Barnes

Preparing for Sunday: The Church Empowered by the Spirit

Today’s Prayer

Father, you alone know what lies before me this day, grant that in every hour of it I may stay close to you. Let me today embark on no undertaking that is not in line with your will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice which your will may demand. Suggest, direct, control every movement of my mind; for my Lord Christ’s sake. Amen. -John Baillie

Today’s Scripture Reading

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

John 14:15-21, NLT

Today’s Reflective Reading

“The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.” -Francis Chan

Preparing for Sunday: Breath of God

Prayer for Today

O Loving God, who breathed me into being, breathe your Divine Breath in me again this day- that I might be filled with your life and guided by the wins of your Spirit. For the sake of you Son. Amen.

Today’s Scripture Reading

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!  Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20: 19-23

Today’s Reflective Reading

Even to the last visible moment and beyond, Jesus continues to feed the soon-to-be-shepherds. He feeds them with renewal when he comes to the disciples behind their locked doors that Easter night and breathes on them the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word ruach means “spirit” as well as “breath” and “wind”. With this breathing of the Spirit, Jesus renews and empowers them to fulfill the great mandate to love and lift the burdens from others. –Feed my Shepherds by Flora Slosson Wuellner

Preparing for Sunday: The Holy Spirit

Today’s Prayer

Holy Spirit, fill me with your wisdom and power as I go through my day. Remind me of your love, and give me the ability to love others with the love of Christ every where that my day takes me. Amen.

Today’s Scripture Reading 

I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you.

 “When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.

 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’ John 16:4-15, MSG

Today’s Reflective Reading

Holiness, as taught in the Scriptures, is not based upon knowledge on our part. Rather, it is based upon the resurrected Christ in-dwelling us and changing us into His likeness. -A.W. Tozer

A Taste for God

Today’s Prayer

L ate have I loved you, o Beauty, so ancient and so new, late have I loved you! And behold, you were within me and I was outside, and there I sought for you, and in my deformity I rushed headlong into the well-formed things that you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. -St. Augustine

Today’s Scripture Reading

Bend an ear, God; answer me.
    I’m one miserable wretch!
Keep me safe—haven’t I lived a good life?
    Help your servant—I’m depending on you!
You’re my God; have mercy on me.
    I count on you from morning to night.
Give your servant a happy life;
    I put myself in your hands!
You’re well-known as good and forgiving,
    bighearted to all who ask for help.
Pay attention, God, to my prayer;
    bend down and listen to my cry for help.
Every time I’m in trouble I call on you,
    confident that you’ll answer.

There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord,
    and nothing to compare with your works.
All the nations you made are on their way,
    ready to give honor to you, O Lord,
Ready to put your beauty on display,
    parading your greatness,
And the great things you do—
    God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!

 Train me, God, to walk straight;
    then I’ll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
    then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
    I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
You’ve always been great toward me—what love!
    You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads!
    A gang of thugs is after me—
    and they don’t care a thing about you.
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
    not easily angered, immense in love,
    and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness,
    give your servant the strength to go on,
    save your dear, dear child!
Make a show of how much you love me
    so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
    put me back on my feet.  Psalm 86, MSG

Today’s Reflective Reading

O Begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first will afterward be pleasant. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way: else you will be a trifler all your days -John Wesley

Obeying God

Today’s Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, to hate what is offensive to you. Do not allow me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of my ears; but to discern a true judgement between things visible and spiritual and above all things, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Your will.

-Thomas A. Kempis

Today’s Scripture

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Today’s Reflective Reading

Watch the things you shrug your shoulders over, and you will know why you do not go on spiritually. First g0- at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you. – Oswald Chambers