LIGHT: O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;it is too high, I cannot attain to it. Psalm 139:1-6
SEEDS: This pandemic, covid-19, has caused a disturbance in our lives. It is frustrating, inconvenient, even devastating for some of us. However, God has given us an opportunity. The dictionary tells us an opportunity is “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.” And the Bible tells us “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). I chose the two songs above because I am practicing two things each day, acknowledging God’s overwhelming POWER to change, to perfect and to love and that He is my source. I want to know that whatever I need, it comes from Him. That when I feel lack in any area of my life that should be a sign to me to go back to my Source.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself thinking multiple times a day, “Oh God, don’t let me waste this time!” At the end of the day I feel raw and worked, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want to be a mature child of God, and if this is what it takes to make it, I’m ready! Don’t get me wrong–there are days that I feel like I woke up and got slapped in the face with responsibilities and emotions I wasn’t ready for, and I end up putting my head down and mowing on until dinner. Those days happen. But for the most part, something about this worldwide staycation is opening my eyes to all the times I cling to something–anything–other than the One who can change and perfect me… the One who can truly love and correct me… the One who knows me inside out and still wants to be with me!… My Father who is stirring things up and bringing things to the surface–not to condemn me or taint my whole story with the yucky spots but to work through it and clear it away. I have been so encouraged by hearing how my friends and family have taken advantage of this time. It looks different for every person so there is no need to compare. It can only be hope-producing and life-giving to hear how people have listened to His voice and obeyed.
I have been encouraged by the Holy Spirit to reach out to people and share what He is saying, and I’ve found that it is so easy to be open with others when I have been open with God. It is easy to be vulnerable and share my experiences, good or bad, with others when I am settled in who I am in Christ. Starting my day with worship, taking a moment during my day to lift my eyes and say, “What do You want to do?,” when I humble myself and admit to my spouse or my children that I got it wrong and we seek the Lord together for forgiveness – those are things I can do to be open with the Lord. Those are the times when I get to fully experience His leadership in my life. When I get to “get in on” what He is doing. His ways are higher than our circumstances, higher than our emotions, higher than our bad attitudes. This act of obedience to Him not only encourages whoever we are checking on or serving but also encourages us! That is the way God works! He leaves no one out, and includes everyone who is willing in His blessing. Calling each one of us his children.
Contributor Grace Stockwell
DIGGING: I’m with Grace on this: “Lord, don’t let me miss the opportunities you are opening for me.” When I stop to consider that prayer, I realize that there are two crucial elements in seeing opportunities: One is being prepared to see them, and the other is being prepared to respond. Let’s look at one passage of scripture that speaks to us about preparedness.
Read Genesis 18:1-8 and make a list of what Abraham and Sarah prepared for the three strangers. Abraham was resting in the heat of the day, but when opportunity came he had provision to meet that opportunity. He had a willingness to respond to that opportunity.
How long do you think it took to prepare that meal? I wonder what manner of conversation the three “men” had with Abraham while the meal was being prepared. The hospitality portrayed here evidences the heart of God for the stranger, and it gives us a clue to the nature of our mission.
These three “men” came specifically to see Abraham. His hospitality and time spent with them opened another opportunity: the giving of promise. Read vs 9-15.
Notice how personal this interaction is and the underlying delight of the Lord in Abraham and Sarah as they grappled uniquely and individually with His word to them.
Our mission is also personal. As we look for opportunities to show hospitality, as we look for opportunities to build and deepen relationships, more opportunities to love, to care, and to bless in the name of the Lord will arise.
Let’s look at the last segment of this chapter. The culmination, if you will, of this strange occurance of strangers knocking. Read vs 16-33.
There’s much to unpack here, and many sermons have been preached on this instance of intercession by Abraham on behalf of the people of Sodom. Looking at it from the context of preparedness and responding to the will of God, what evidence is there that Abraham was willing and prepared to embrace his responsibility in the relationship to extend the borders of that relationship to include an entire city?
Are you prepared to be in a relationship with the Father that includes those He brings into your path? Why? Why not? What might be hindrances to your preparedness?
Contributor Dani Williams
CULTIVATING: Read 1 John 4:16-21 in several translations. Focus on vs 18: There is no fear in love. But perfect (teleios) love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect (teleioo) in love.
Let’s look at the word perfect (teleios and teleioo) and the word love (agape).
Teleios: having reached its end, complete, perfect, full grown.
Matthew 5:48: … be perfect as your father is perfect
Romans 12:2: … to prove what is the acceptable and perfect will of God
1 Corinthians 13:9-12: … but when the perfect comes what is in part disappears
Colossians 4:12: … that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured
James 1:4: … let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything
Teleioo: to bring to its conclusion, the final phase, to consummate; telescope that unfolds, extends one stage at a time to function at full strength/at capacity/with effectiveness
Luke 13:32: [Jesus] replied… ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’
John 4:34: … my food is do to the will of him who sent me and to finish his work
Acts 20:24: … my life is worth nothing to me. My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Phil 3:12: … not that I have already obtained all this or have arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
1 John 4:12: …if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us
Agape – divine love and goodwill
John 13:34-35: Love one another. As I have loved you…
John 15:9-13: … remain in my love
1 Corinthians 13:4-8b
Take some time to consider how God’s love is perfecting you and how your love of the Father (expressed in obedience) is being perfected.
1 Peter 1:22
Contributor Donna Hyatt
BEARING FRUIT: I want to encourage you to use this opportunity to lay everything on the table. Prayerfully consider what God is asking of you. What needs adding? Subtracting? Changing? Focusing? Journal your thoughts and findings.
Answer these questions each day. Inhale is for the morning and Exhale for the evening (I got this resource from Jess Connolly https://jessconnolly.com)
What is true about God?
What has He given me?
What has He invited me into?
What am I expecting today?
Where did I see God move today?
What did I learn today?
How is God using me?
Where am I allowing His grace to work?