Come Boldly in 2014 – One: Genesis

Reading through the Bible chronologically with devotions from Come Boldly: Timeless Daily Encouragements on Prayer that pair with the Scripture readings.

Genesis 1-11; Job 1-9.    Come Boldly Page 55, 197, 288

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” ~ John 1:1-4

Genesis. A new page. A fresh start. The Grand Story, our story, begins with a Word. The Word spoke, and out of nothing, a world filled with wonder was created. Simply a Word was spoken and it all was. And in this fashion, the world was established, from light and darkness, to waters and fish, to grass and birds, etc. Speaking a Word and making it so. But then God does something unexpected. The One Who could have simply uttered a word of life into the clayed form breathes down His own mighty Breath and inspires a soul, breathing Life into man.

Take a deep breath. Breathe in and inspire the Breath you first breathed, oh soul of mine. Drink in His Spirit and utter back His praises with your next breath. You and I were created to praise Him. From beginning to end. 

Job. Wow, what can we say about Job? First thing that comes to mind is “glad I am not Job.” Few of us have been tested the way Job was.  But Job got it.  Our natural bent is to run from the testing, or fall away in faith, but Job stuck with God. “Though He slay me. Yet will I trust Thee.” Job 13:15. Though we may not be tested in the same ways Job was, we still have hard circumstances that can become opportunities for growing our faith. And that means holding on even when things aren’t going well at all for us.We must also realize that our enemy, the devil is actively opposing us in our walk of faith. He’s looking for ways to steal our belief, to cause us to doubt God’s trustworthiness. Also, the Book of Job reminds us that we are rarely aware of the cosmic forces that are in combat as we pray.

Lord, Just a nod, a simple word spoken over our lives, and it is done. Father, speak over our lives. Breathe Your Breath of Life into our ashen hearts into our lives and we will live. Let us use our next  breath to offer back to you the praise that You deserve. Teach us to trust, like Job, like other heroes of the faith such as Noah that You are reliable and well worth our trust. Help us to remember that “every breath is a second chance,” another opportunity to trust more. In the faithful Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”

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Come Boldly in 2014

Every year about this time, I begin wondering where God will take me next in the coming year. To be honest, some years more than others. This year, especially, I am anxious to see  what is in store for us as we meet with Him each day through String of Pearls blog and with the devotional readings from Come Boldly.

It’s not so much a sense of anxiousness but of eager anticipation, as I have longed this year for a real connectedness to seek His Face through prayer. Because it has been such a life-changing adventure, I will continue to read the Bible in a year as my daily reading time, but am adding a devotional on prayer called Come Boldly. The whole Bible is filled with examples of prayer and intimacy with God so it should fit nicely together each week. Then on Mondays, I will comment here on this blog with the Come Boldly devotions that correspond with the daily readings for the week.

In 2014, we (A String of Pearls Blog) are reading the Bible chronologically with a focus on intimacy with God through prayer. We also will be using a devotional entitled, Come Boldly: Timeless Daily Encouragements on Prayer to hone in on Scriptures dealing with prayer and the prayer life each week.

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Are you ready to shake things up a bit in your prayer life? Are you just wanting to get some regular quiet time with God in each day? Are you looking for a new vantage point to see your life? Come on this adventure with us! I can tell you with certainty that picking up His Word each day with an open heart to hear God will forever change you.

To read along with us each day, just click on the sidebar at the right to “Read Today’s Passage.” After you’ve read today’s readings, select the devotional(s) with the corresponding Scriptures from the index found in the back of Come Boldly. For example, the first week of the year, we will be reading in Genesis, so the corresponding devotionals will be the three devotionals with Scripture references from Genesis found in the index. The next week, because we are reading the Bible in chronological order, we will pick devotionals from the index with Job references.

I’ve really sensed this past year that God wants more of me and that He is making us ready. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Philippians 1:6) What lies ahead in 2014, we do not know, but let us be found in Him.

Hope to see you next Monday!

2013 SSMT2 Waves of mercy

His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.

~Luke 1:50, The Message

New mercies every morning, I awaken to His unfathomable kindness toward me. I am in awe of this huge God Who somehow cares about the details of my life. Lots of stuff going on right now, none really bad nor really awesome, but the days are busy for me–a little too busy, truth be told. I don’t seem to do anything well, and not a lot gets done. And so we’re two weeks into this new year of possibilities. I have a long resolutions list that I made, and my intent is to master a few of them, but take them on seriously one at a time. Best of intentions, but little progress. But the good news in all of it is that He knows our frame.

If I weren’t sure He’d be there tomorrow morning to catch me as I falter, I am not sure I’d care to try. I know His sure Hand that steadies my path and His encouraging words, “Get up and dust yourself off, and try again.” After all, what are resolutions for if they aren’t to measure how badly we fail? Just kidding. Sort of.

Surely, we will fail. We can’t but God can, and sweetly, that’s enough for this beautiful God Whom we serve. Just bend the neck low before Him, confess our feeble frame, and see His mercy fall over the heap of tired bones and make them new again, ready for another day.

 

Light of the World, Light of my Heart

Blessed Epiphany!

What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.

–John 1:4-5 The Message

I remember it like it was yesterday. Cold winter had set in, and I had decided it was finally time.

An embarrassing detail came up when I was asked to take a position in the church we’d attended for eight years. I hadn’t actually ever joined the church. It required more than I was willing to commit to and another confirmation, which I’d felt I’d taken care of properly many years before in the Methodist church. Honestly, I was a little miffed that the church didn’t recognize my profession of faith. After some deliberation and a bit of rebellion, I relented and decided to be confirmed on that cold Tuesday evening in January, the sixth day, Epiphany 1993.

I got to the church a little early and stood at the back of the sanctuary. Candles were lit everywhere to depict the day our church celebrated Jesus as Light of the World,–not just Light to the Jewish people, but Light to the Gentiles and the whole world, and that particular Epiphany night, the Light to my heart again. The bishop was coming and the ladies working altar guild were bustling around preparing the altar with perfect detail for Communion. The warm glow from the candles cast a beautiful light on the Cross that hung from the ceiling and a mysterious wavering shadow behind it. It was the perfect evening for an awakening (epiphany).

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My family was all a bit under the weather and couldn’t be there. I was okay with it until the bishop invited each of the confirmands to come to the altar, and he asked for family members to come and stand behind us. Everyone had their families there but me. I knelt down and told myself that it was a private moment anyway, and I didn’t need anybody but God and me to know. As quickly as I quieted my heart over being alone, I felt a hand softly touch my right shoulder.  I couldn’t turn around to look but I knew someone was there for me.  Finally, it was my turn. The bishop laid hands on me, and I felt a physical electricity go through me. I can’t explain it any better than that. I sensed God was pleased, maybe at my submission, my obedience, or maybe He was just pleased and was very present. I turned around and saw my sweet friend Liz, who’d been my witness, my touch on the shoulder. It tendered my heart so deeply. The vastness of the moment overwhelmed me, and I honestly couldn’t quite grasp how sweetly He’d shown me His love, His presence that night. Afterward, we took Communion together as a church family. I tasted the wine and the bread, and smiled to myself, thinking they’d bought good wine since the Bishop was visiting.  I later asked the Associate Rector and she said it was the same wine we always had. It definitely wasn’t. It was new wine to this prodigal. New Life. New Grace.

And almost twenty years later, I still don’t know totally what to make of that night. But I’m grateful. For a good God and a dear friend.

PS For old time’s sake, how about a sunday’s song?

2013 SSMT 1 – Starting the New Year Well

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New-Year-Resolutions

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

Well, here I am again staring at a new canvas. What will 2013 paint for us? God holds the paintbrush, and He is faithful.

Frankly, I’m a bit intimidated to start again here. I am taking on a lot of new things, and I am pretty sure I won’t be very good at all of it, but that is my struggle right now in several areas. Performance anxiety haunts me in several aspects of my life, and I’m tired. I’m tired of it keeping me from trying. I’m tired of caring too much what others think, and mostly, I’m kidding myself that it’s a secret that I’m not good at something in the first place. Hard to believe I’m in my fifties and haven’t figured that out yet, I know.

Anxiety is pride in its painted up form. It looks less innocuous when it’s called anxiety, more like a sickness than a sin. It’s what happens when I take the paintbrush and try to paint on my life canvas, instead of, like the verse says above, committing my work to Him, and letting Him plant firmly the brush in His Hands to unveil the next part of the picture.

I’m committing to 24 verses of memory work this year with the Living Proof Blog. Establishing my plan in His Word is the goal. No themes. Not a lot of order. Just showing up and waiting on Him twice a month. Simple and real. Would you like to join me on this journey? Join 5,000 other Siestas on this resolution for the new year here.