Friday, August 23, 2019

MY BAG OF POTATOES

“When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  (Mark 11:25 NLT)

One of my teachers had each one of us bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to class. For every person we'd refuse to forgive in our life, we were told to choose a potato, write on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of our bags, as you can imagine, were quite heavy.

We were then told to carry this bag with us everywhere for one week, putting it beside our bed at night, on the car seat when riding, next to our desk at school.

The hassle of lugging this around with us made it clear what a weight we were carrying spiritually, and how we had to pay attention to it all the time so we wouldn't forget, and keep leaving it in embarrassing places.

Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty slime. This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity!

Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person, and while that's true, it clearly is also a gift for ourselves!

-- Unknown  (from a subscriber in Wisconsin)


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Thursday, August 22, 2019

ALLOWING GOD’S WORD TO FILL YOUR LIFE

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”  (Colossians 3:16 NRSV)

God has communicated to men and women through His Word -- the Bible. The Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct. Through the Scriptures you can get to know God better, understand His desire for your life, and discover new truths about living for Him. God commands believers to let His Word dwell richly in them. So it is necessary to give yourself wholeheartedly to allowing God’s Word to fill your life. God places great emphasis on the act of meditating on His Word because effective meditation leads to understanding and personal application. Meditation and application will not only help you get into the Bible, but will also allow the Bible to get into you.

-- from “Growing Strong in God’s Family: A Course in Personal Discipleship to Strengthen Your Walk with God”


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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

THE ACT OF WORSHIP

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.”  (Psalm 100 NKJV)

The act of worship rehearses in the present the end that lies ahead. Heaven is introduced into the present. It also, of course, conserves the past and so acts as a stabilizing force, but its dynamic function is anticipation: a community planning its future in the light of its character.

-- Eugene Peterson in “Reversed Thunder”


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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

KNOWING THE SHEPHERD

“The Lord is my shepherd…”  (Psalm 23:1)

A famous actor was an after dinner speaker at a big fund raising function; and apparently he was well known for his voice because when he stood up to speak, he invited his audience to choose a poem for him to recite. There was a long silence until an older preacher raised his hand and asked for Psalm 23.

The actor was slightly taken aback, but agreed to read the Psalm provided the preacher recite it after him; which the old man reluctantly agreed to do. So the actor recited Psalm 23 and received a standing ovation.

Then the preacher recited the Psalm, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Upon seeing this reaction from the crowd, the actor went over to the older preacher and said to the guests “Do you know the difference between his version and mine? I know the 23rd Psalm; but this man knows the Shepherd.”

The difference between the two men in that story is that one knew about the Lord and the other knew the Lord. The reason why the old preacher’s recitation of the psalm moved people more than the actor’s is that it was obvious to them that the old preacher was not simply going through the motions but was actually familiar with the Shepherd of whom he spoke.

-- Author Unknown


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Monday, August 19, 2019

IN THE STILLNESS


“Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10a)

The ancient desert dwellers of our early Christian communities tell us that the surest way into the heart of God is to be still. In being still we learn to be attentive to the vast and hidden stillness that permeates all things.

So I invite you to begin by becoming attentive to that stillness as well. Seek it first in your own home. Go at night into the darkened room of your sleeping child and breathe with the moist, quick risings of a child's breath. Rise in the thin light of a new day. Do not turn on the lamp or the television or the coffee maker, but stand by an east window and let the dawn's fingers creep up over the fingers of your own hand.

Listen next for stillness as you venture out of doors. Hear it in the splintering of fall leaves as you cross a grassy knoll between paths in the park. Find it in the first cape of snow draped over the eaves of your house.

Turn finally to your own heart. The same stillness is there as well. At the core, buried beneath the turbulence of emotions rubbed raw by life's labor, is the same stillness discovered in the slow-moving sap of an autumn tree. In that primordial stillness beats the heart of God.

There is correspondence between our hearts and God's. They have imprinted on them the same unimaginable hope, sealed with a promise. The hope is for fullness, for completion, for being one with each other. What that will look like is hidden from us. The end and fullness of all things is known only to God. But we have glimpses of it.

-- Wendy M. Wright in “The Vigil: Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ's Coming” (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 1992)


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