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E.C.

Turning Toward Creation

faith

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Day One

John 15:5 CSB 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.

In Creation

Dear Lord — Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Great Redeemer.

As I turn toward you this morning, I am aware of both your blinding light and your intense warmth. Both fill me with respect and a sense of safety. I know I am where I am supposed to be.

A branch on your vine. In your garden.

Today, let me remember both the obligation and rewards of this placement. When unhelpful, toxic thoughts enter my being, thank you for letting them pass through without taking root. When I notice your sunlight on my face, thank you for gently helping me to turn more fully toward you.

Amen.

Sometimes the best looking stuff can be the most toxic. "I was only trying to help." Anyone?

Me, a lot, I think, if I am honest. And yet, like Judas when he tried to persuade Jesus to think that Mary was being wasteful...

What does my heart look like in those moments when I am "helping"? Often, if I am honest, I am full of fear or self serving feelings (that thing where I know what is best for someone, even before I have listened to them).

Day Two

Colossians 1:21 - 23 CSB 21Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds as expressed in your evil actions. 22But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him  —  23if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.

I Live in Creation

Dear Lord — Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Great Redeemer.

I notice that you created all things, through you and for you (Colossians 1:16).

You created me and now I live in your garden. In the world, but not of the world (John 17:14 - 15).

Today, I live in your garden. Grounded and steadfast in faith in you.

Amen.

That idea of living in the world but not of the world is a sticky one sometimes.

Maybe it is a mindset, a way of staying grounded and steadfast in faith in Jesus?

If, just for today, I prayed continuously, without ceasing, would I be able to discern better the border of the world and the garden of creation?

Day Three

Mark 10:21 - 22 CSB 21Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.Then come, follow me.” But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Exodus 16:3 - 4 CSB The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!” 4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.

He Loved Him and Said:

Dear Lord — Abba.

We live in a world full of things distributed higglety-pigglety throughout. I truly have no idea why I have what I have, why this neighbour has more of this, less of that. Why another neighbour has none.

Thank you for giving me my manna each day. Thank you for knowing what "enough" looks like for me, and for providing that.

Amen.

This enoughness is enough to make me feel crazy sometimes.

What is enough? Why do I have so much of some stuff and not enough of other stuff? Why do I see people without enough food, or shelter, or love in their lives?

I sometimes reflect on those weary people wandering in the wilderness in Exodus 16 — they were right to grumble. And in response, our Lord provided exactly enough for them.

I am not sure about this, but I have a good deal of faith that if we grumble for one of us, the Lord listens and provides. Let's grumble a bit for each other and see what happens?

Day Four

Psalm 104:14 - 15 CSB 14He causes grass to grow for the livestock and provides crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth 15wine that makes human hearts glad — making his face shine with oil — and bread that sustains human hearts.

Lord My God You are Very Great

Dear Lord — Creator of the Universe, Author of the Laws of the Universe.

You wear light like a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy (Psalm 104:2)

You cause springs to gush into valleys (Psalm 104:10). The birds live beside the springs (Psalm 104:12). You made the moon to mark the festivals (Psalm 104:19).

Spending time near the stuff you created is such an important part of being human. Of being part of your creation, of dwelling on the idea that we are made in your image.

Amen.

Noticing and indulging in all you have created is good for us.

When we allow ourselves to simply spend time dwelling in what you have created, we are closer to you.

Looking up at the moon and remembering that You, Lord, you made that moon. You made it so that we could mark the festivals. You gave us the water we drink. You give us our food.

Day Five

1John 1:1 - 4 CSB 1What was from the beginning,what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life —  2that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us  —  3what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

So Our Joy May Be Complete

Dear Lord — Creator of the Universe, Author of the Laws of the Universe.

We declare to you

So that you may also have fellowship with us.

So that our joy may be complete.

Amen.

How often do I actually declare to you?

What I have seen and heard and touched — How often do I take the time to declare to you what you have created?

Day Six

1John :15 - 17 CSB 15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

Do Not Love The World

Dear Lord — Creator of the Universe, Author of the Laws of the Universe.

We love you.

We love your creation. We love the things that are part of your creation.

Amen.

Sometimes it can feel so tiring when I am submerged in "the world".

I honestly think it's almost too much for my soul, for my brain, to try to play "whack a mole" against the "things of this world". Instead, I wonder, what about simply turning toward God, toward creation, and letting everything else fall away and slowly become unimportant?

Day Seven

Ephesians 1:9 - 10 CSB 9 He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ 10 as a plan for the right time Or the fulfillment of times  — to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.

As A Plan For The Right Time

Dear Lord — Creator of the Universe, Author of the Laws of the Universe.

When your child asks you for bread, you don't give him a stone. (Matthew 7:9) Right?

Sometimes your will is such a mystery to me. Remembering that it is a plan for the right time helps so much when I feel like I am wandering in the darkness. Thank you, Lord, for giving me bread as a plan at the right time.

Amen.

When I am confused by what the day has presented me, I try to remember that our Father in heaven is just that: a perfect father.

And I am his small toddler-like child. Maybe to Our Father's ears, I am asking to stay up all night. Or maybe it sounds like I am asking for ice cream for breakfast and cotton candy for lunch.

Sometimes it is helpful for me to remember that, just as sometimes a good and loving parent will listen carefully to what their child wants and still help to steer them away from that thing, Our Father also does this for us because there is a plan for the right time.

Day Eight

Colossians 1:15 - 17 CSB 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

By Him All Things Hold Together

Dear Lord — Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.

Thank you for holding all this together.

Amen.

I think sometimes it is easy to forget Who literally holds all this together.

Day Nine

Hebrews 1:2 - 4 CSB 2In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Superior to the Angels

Dear Lord — Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.

You are the radiance of God's glory. Thank you for sustaining all things.

Amen.

Praising, making sure we make explicit who it actually is that we worship, is something I at least need to remember to do more often.

Sometimes it takes my breath away as I say the words out loud: You are the radiance of God's glory.

Think about the last time you saw someone who looked radiant. And now realize that our Lord is radiance.

Day Ten

Proverbs 8:30 -31 CSB 30I was a skilled craftsman beside him. I was his delight every day, always rejoicing before him. 31I was rejoicing in his inhabited world, delighting in the children of Adam.

Wisdom and Creation

Dear Lord — Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.

Wisdom assisted You in your creative process. Lord, thank you for the gift of wisdom. Thank you for delighting in wisdom and allowing us the chance to access her.

Amen.

Knowing that wisdom was right there, before the first soil, before the mountains, when there were no watery depths (Proverbs 8:24 - 26) fills me with awe.

This Lord we worship, wisdom is right beside him, rejoicing.

Day Eleven

Job 38:3 - 7 CSB 3Get ready to answer me like a man; when I question you, you will inform me. 4Where were you when I established the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone 7while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

When You Question Me

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Prince of Peace.

You are most high. How do I have the audacity sometimes to question your power?

You are there when it's raining in my life. You are there, holding everything together, when I feel like I can't go on. You are the One who literally makes it rain and stops the rain. Thank you for being the creator of the universe who created me. Thank you for literally holding all this together.

Amen.

Can you even imagine being Job? Such a loyal, faithful, good person! And still, stuff happened. Even to Job. Stuff happens. Life happens — to all of us. And the whole time stuff is happening, God is holding it all together. He literally laid the cornerstone. He's got this.

Day Twelve

Job 38:31 - 35 CSB 31Can you fasten the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the belt of Orion? 32Can you bring out the constellations in their season and lead the Bear and her cubs? 33Do you know the laws of heaven? Can you impose its authority on earth? 34Can you command your voice to the clouds so that a flood of water covers you? 35Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you, “Here we are”?

They Report to You

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Prince of Peace.

Thank you for reminding me, in sometimes not so subtle ways, that you are the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings and I am your creation.

No, I do not know the laws of heaven. I don't know how to lead bears. No, of course I can't impose the authority of the laws of heaven on earth.

In the same way a secure toddler rests in their parents' strong loving arms, I am so glad that I can't send our lightning blots, so glad they don't report to me and say, "Here we are".

Amen.

Sometimes it can be so reassuring to be reminded that we are in good hands. We aren't driving this ship; we aren't in control. We have free will, sure, but ultimately, God's in control.

Day Thirteen

Romans 5:6 - 9 CSB For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. 7For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath.

You Died For Us

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Prince of Peace.

How can I even say, "Thank you for dying for me?"

Rarely will someone die for just one person. True enough. And yet you died for us, even as we were completely unaware of the need and ungrateful for the offer.

That is a lot to take in sometimes, and I ask that I be given the grace to sit in wonder at the depth of your love for us.

Amen.

I am in awe at the depth of the love our God has for us. Now. Always.

Day Fourteen

Genesis 1:1 - 4 CSB 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.

In the Beginning

Dear Lord — Creator.

You took darkness and chaos and made it beautiful

You looked down on the chaos, the darkness, the formless, empty mess and saw potential.

Thank you.

Amen.

Even when all we can see is dark grey skies and endless night, God sees potential. God knows that light will come and it will be good.

Day Fifteen

Genesis 2:2 - 3 CSB 2On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.

You Rested

Dear Lord — Creator.

You are the perfect role model for us.

You created. You completed your work and then you rested. You blessed the day you rested. You declared it holy because on it you rested.

Amen.

We need to work. We need to complete our work. And then the holiday begins. The holy day of rest that we need begins as soon as our work is complete. I want to live a life where I have that balance between creation and rest, work and holy resting time.

Day Sixteen

Genesis 2:8 - 10 CSB 8The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed. 9The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10A river went from Eden to water the garden.

You Planted a Garden

Dear Lord — Creator.

Thank you for creating a garden for us to live in, with everything we need.

This world we live in has everything we need to thrive. To work, create, and rest.

Amen.

I am so grateful when I can realize that this earth is a garden, given to us by God, with everything we need in it. We have all the stuff we need to create everything we need, including all the stuff we need to rest and have our holy days.

Day Seventeen

1 John 3:1 - 2 CSB 1See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children — and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him. 2Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed.

We are Your Children

Dear Lord — Abba.

I love so much that you are the kind of God who calls us his children.

Amen.

I am so grateful that our God is the perfect father God. Who we will be when we meet him face-to-face has not yet been revealed. But until that day, we are well cared for, adored children.

Day Eighteen

Jeremiah 2:13 CSB For my people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves —  cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.

We Will Not Abandon You

Dear Lord — Abba.

How often do I get close to you, only to suddenly back away, perhaps out of fear of your awesomeness, and dig my own cisterns?.

And how often do those cisterns crack and leak, spilling everywhere?

Thank you for always waiting patiently for me to return to you, broken cistern in hand, for you to mend it, wipe my tears, help me to take a drink from your fountain of living water?

Amen.

Our God is waiting so patiently for us to drink from the fountain of living water.

Day Nineteen

Ephesians 4:25 - 28 CSB 25Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.

Speak The Truth

Dear Lord — Abba.

What you ask of us is so utterly human.

You ask us to work so that we can have enough to share. You ask us to speak the truth — be angry — and take care of everything before the sun goes down.

Thank you that you are a Father who wants us to live in the light, forthright, honest, and unafraid.

Amen.

I think sometimes I get my Bible twisted and think that God wants me to be "nice" — But God clearly asks more from us than that. We are forthright, upstanding children who do get angry, honestly and clearly taking care of what angers us before the sun goes down. We work so that we can share with each other.

Day Twenty

Philippians 4:6

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We Will Not Worry

Dear Lord — Abba.

Through prayer and petition with thanksgiving.

Everything — everything we will present to you.

Amen.

It can seem overwhelming to realize that worrying is something we are actually not allowed to do as Christians. It can seem so "caring" to worry about our children, our family, our friends. And actually, it's just the opposite.

Day Twentyone

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Our Light Will Shine

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for allowing our good works to shine ahead of us.

We know we are saved by grace, but being saved is just a part of our relationship. Thank you for filling our hearts with ideas for how to work for you, for our neighbours, for this creation you have created.

Amen.

Good works are a gift from God. Sure, we're saved by grace, but that is just the beginning of our relationship.

Day Twentytwo

Psalms 19:14 CSB

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heard be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

My Rock

Dear Lord — Great Redeemer.

What a weighted relationship this is, Lord.

I sit here, adored by you. You adore me. You know everyhair on my head. You knit me in my mother's womb. You know me, care for me, adore me.

And you are my rock. You are the Redeemer. You are the Creator of the Universe.

May my words always be acceptable to you.

Amen.

How is it so difficult to understand that we ought to at least try to say, think, and do things that you might find favor with? How is it even a thing that we sometimes (I know I do!) whine and complain to you? I know — we are the children in this relationship and you patiently wait for us to better understand. But with that grace, maybe let us try a little harder to fathom who it is we are actually in a realtionship with?

Day Twentythree

Psalms 139:13 - 14 CSB

13 For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise you because I have been remarkable and wonderously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.

You Know Me

Dear Lord — Creator, Abba.

You know me so well. You made me so well.

You took such care with me, with all of us. This creation, it's all wondrous.

Thank you for taking such care, for being the God you are.

Amen.

We are so blessed to have been created with such care by a God whose works are wondrous.

Day Twentyfour

Deuteronomy 6:12 CSB

12 ...be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Unforgetable

Dear Lord — King of Kings.

How powerful you are. And how gentle with us.

I find it unimaginable sometimes, as a parent myself, that you really are this strong and caring.

Thank you for helping me to never forget you and what you have done for us, what you will continue to do for us. And that what you ask of us is so important and doable.

Amen.

When I commune with God the Father through Jesus, I am often in awe of the love and strength and gentleness and power. That combination defies human language, I think. It defies human expression. One day we will meet Him face-to-face and we will understand it. Until then, we really do need an element of pure obedience sometimes. There is no way we can fully understand a Father who loves his creation so much and is so powerful. And yet it is true. Let our hearts be as aligned as possible with His will.

Day Twentyfive

Deuteronomy 6:12 CSB

21Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

Vengance is Yours

Dear Lord — King of Kings.

You are a good father. Vengance is yours, not mine..

So thank you for helping me feed my enemy and give him something to drink.

Amen.

Holding the idea that God is both the best parent that ever existed with the fact that He also created the universe is challenging. But then, leaning into that image of the most gentle and most powerful Creator, I can relax and simply do my one job of loving my neighbour.

Day Twentysix

1 Timothy 6:20 - 21 CSB

20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent and empty speech and contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge. 21By professing it, some people have departed from the faith.

Knowledge

Dear Lord — King of Kings.

You are the Alpha and the Omega. You never change.

Amen.

Reading the entire chapter of 1 Timothy 6 reminds me of that wisdom that You never change. I don't fully understand the way this chapter is written — I struggle with it. I can see how people could twist these words and encourage very poor people to stay poor while rich people enjoy abundance. I struggle wondering why you would write this chapter in this way, which might cause people to stumble. But what I do know is that You never change. You are perfect. You are Love. The arc of Your story is not for us to horde what we have, but the contrary. Share generously is the theme. And for poor people, certainly, serve generously. Be careful with knowledge and love wisdom.

Day Twentyseven

1 John 2:3 - 5, 15 - 17, 28 - 29 CSB

3This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him:The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked. ... 15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. ... 28So now, little children, remain in him so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.If you know that he is righteous, you know this as well: Everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

WWJD

Dear Lord — Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor.

Thank you for giving me the perfect role model.

Amen.

Why did that saying WWJD get co-opted? It's literally all we need to do — especially when we are feeling lost. On those days where we aren't sure if we know God, when we aren't sure if we "love the world" when we aren't sure if we will be ashamed before God when we meet face-to-face. We have a perfect role model. No, we'll never be able to perfectly emmulate Jesus — but that is such a stumbling block. Whenever we are unsure, we know it is time to stop, read the Gospels a bit, and contemplate in all seriousness — what did Jesus do? What would Jesus do in this moment. And if, knowing the answer, we do not follow, we need to repent — literally turn back toward God — and keep going.

Day Twentyeight

Luke 6:43 - 45 CSB

43 “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

Fruit

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for this warning. Remain in You. Remain in You and fruits of the spirit grow in our hearts and spill from our mouths.

Amen.

This morning feels tired and afraid. I suppose that feeling a farmer, or soldier, or athlete feels after a grueling stint. I am most familiar with the athlete's heart — so that feeling, post euphoria, when your whole body is spent. Empty, like you have just poured everything out and have nothing left. And so I meditate on these words now: I am a branch on a Vine and have perhaps just gone through that stage where all my resources were focused on producing a flower that will turn into a fruit. And I am exhausted. And I know that when I remain in God, remain in Jesus, rest in His word, the fruit will be good.

Day Twentynine

1 John 3:18 - 24 CSB

18Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth. 19This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things. 21Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight. 23Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us. 24The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us.

You Are Greater Than Our Hearts

Dear Lord — Abba.

Action. You require us to love one another, not tell one another that we love them. Thank you for being stronger than my heart, for reminding me to love, not talk about love.

Amen.

The challenge of loving and remaining in truth is really enough to ask of us. It is our one commandment. It's enough. Remain in love. Remain in truth.

Day Thirty

James 1:2 - 8 CSB

2Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 5Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God — who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly — and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask in faith without doubting.1:6 Or without divided loyalties For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, 8being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.

You Fortify Us With Wisdom

Dear Lord — Abba, Wonderful Counselor.

Thank you for your unchanging, perfect, patient way. Thank you for your steady, unfailing strong and gentle light. Thank you for keeping your arms open for me to turn toward, even when I am so ashamed and weak that the idea of turning to you to ask for wisdom feels like the last thing I might be able to do. Thank you for being a God, an all-powerful God who is so gentle and patient that I can easily ask you for wisdom as I turn toward you (again).

Amen.

Today I was deeply struck by the quick reminder that we can ask our Abba in heaven for wisdom if we lack wisdom...if, perhaps, during a tribulation, we find ourselves utterly lost. Which, let's be honest, happens often with me :) And how often do I then flounder, feeling like I should be able to "figure things out" or know what to do? There is no shame - none - in asking Abba for wisdom - seeking Him first.

Day Thirtyone

Malachi 3:7 CSB

7“Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Armies. Yet you ask, “How can we return?”

How Can We Return To You?

Dear Lord — Abba, Wonderful Counselor.

You clearly ask us to give one tenth of what we have to Your work, which you clearly define as the stuff that is not "of the world" We need to give to those who are fatherless (or maybe wew could say rootedless, without a loving and nurturing family structure) those who are widows (or, again, outside society's rootedness, structure, nurturing) the hired workers, the immigrants and refugees.

Thank you for your clarity.

Amen.

This morning I have been struck by how very clear the Bible is sometimes :). During this devotional series, I have been reading the entire chapter that the verses I share and meditate on are in. Sometimes I go into Logos and clarify words or find the historical context a verse appears in. What I am noticing is that the Bible is both a deep book of Wisdom and also quite clear. We need to be giving a full tenth of what we have to those who are oppressed. We need to rely fully on God and not on any kind of sorcery or idolatry (literally, rely on God). We need to be true to our word. Yes, that is really, really, really hard to do.

Day Thirtytwo

Psalm 121 CSB

The Lord Our Protector A song of ascents. 1I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? 2My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. 4Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. 5The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. 6The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night. 7The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. 8The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever.

Lord Our Protector

Dear Lord — Abba, Prince of Peace.

Thank you for protecting us. Thank you for not allowing my foot to slip, thank you for not sleeping.

Amen.

The very thought that God neither sleeps nor allows my foot to slip. That He protects us - all the time. I only want to get closer now - to better and more fully trust Him.

Day Thirtythree

2 Corinthians7:24 CSB

24I do not mean that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in your faith.

Free Will

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Prince of Peace.

Thank you for creating us, the universe, everything. And thank you for allowing us the opportuinity to grow our own faith, in partnership with our friends.

Thank you for staying by our side as we figure this out, in our own way, in our own time.

Amen.

This morning my heart wants God to just tell me what to do! I read this chapter over and over again, looking up the Hebrew, reading different translations, confused. As I meditated on the words, my heart shifted. None of us is perfect, there is no one way to follow Christ faithfully. It's what makes our faith so beautiful and sometimes frustrating and confusing. That CS Lewis essay comes to mind: Where he goes to church and notices all sorts of people sitting among him — that odd grocer, etc. Let's be workers with eachother for their joy.

Day Thirtyfour

Matthew 17:20 CSB

20 “Because of your little faith,” he told them. “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith First

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Prince of Peace.

Thank you for so patiently teaching us what we need in order to be fully mature Christians.

Amen.

"The more conscious I am of the work God has yet to do in me, the less critical I am about what He has yet to do in you." — Andy Stanley My devotional this morning began with this quote. The more we turn toward you, the more we both realize what we need to do to grow and the less we need to micromanage those around us. We can joyfully partner with them but let go of the micromanaging.

Day Thirtyfive

1 Corinthians 9:24 - 26 CSB

24Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. 26So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.

Self Control for Freedom

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Wonderful Counselor.

Thank you for patiently giving us examples of how we can life free and disciplined.

Amen.

It's a thing I find really challenging sometimes: This idea that we have freedom in Christ and we need discipline. The analogy to running is so helpful for me at least because it's true: running is one of the freest feelings and also, in order to get to that freedom, you need to train hard and have quite a lot of self control and discipline.

Day Forty

Proverbs 16:9 CSB

A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

Heart & Soul

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for collaborating with us.

Amen.

I mean that — "Thank you for collaborating with us" but honestly, some days I feel so tired, weak, and helpless that I wish we had a God who would just tell us exactly what to do and how. The responsibility of being made in His image, of having a God that happily delegates to us, of needing to be in close relationship with Him sometimes feels like a burden... And then I remember Jesus. It's not easy, but the gift of having a God who cares enough to help us grow is overwhlemingly good.

Day Fortyone

Proverbs 16:18 CSB

18Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

Pride goeth before the fall

Dear Lord — King of Kings, Creator.

You create the equation that leads to close relationship with you.

Amen.

Honestly, It's not an easy equation to follow. As soon as I am successful, I can easily turn to pride. Too much pride, and "boom!" down I fall. Ouch. I get up, brush myself off, turn back to God — and begin again...

Day Fortytwo

Matthew 5:10 CSB

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Persecution?

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for providing us with all we need for a close relationship with you.

Amen.

I can't see verses like this without being reminded of the need for a close relationship with God. Yes, blessed are the persecuted...but no, being a martyr is not healthy. That balance, that edge, is defined in a healthy close relationship with God. We are loved, we are made in God's image. Jesus is a perfect template when we are confused about next steps to take.

Day Fortythree

Isaiah25:4b CSB

As the shade of a cloud cools the heat of the day, so he will silence the song of the violent.

Powerful but not Violent

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for showing us perfect use of power without violence.

Amen.

We just finished studying other near eastern ancient cosmologies (a really really quick overview) but what was really apparent was the power in our God without violence. Certainly, this is a deep and perhaps controversial topic, but in my view, we have a God who shows us again and again how to be powerful without violence.

Day Fortyfour

James 1:2 - 4 CSB

2Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Endurance

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for caring enough to allow me to grow.

Amen.

This is such a challenging one. I mean - in no way should we be false martyrs, with a kind of "woe is I" fasle modesty / false humilty. I guess the key word is "false" isn't it? We know, if we search our hearts, whether we are growing closer to you and your warmth, love, light and generosity. We know.

Day Fortyfive

1 Corinthians 13:4 CSB

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,

###You are Love ###

Dear Lord — Abba, Creator.

You are patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant.

Amen.

Our God is literally Love.

Day Fortysix

Romans 12:12 CSB

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.

Persecution?

Dear Lord — Prince of Peace.

Thank you for giving us the steps to take.

Amen.

Sometimes it can be so challenging to know what steps to take. And then, well, I mean her we go — we have exactly the steps to take.

Day Fortyseven

Matthew 3:16 - 17 CSB

16When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him,3:16 Other mss omit for him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him.And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

Overwhelming Love

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you. Just thank you for creating us in your image, for wanting to partner with us, collaborate with us. Thank you for providing us with all we need to rise up to the level of responsibility and obligation that you require from us.

Amen.

Wow. I have been sitting all day today in the awareness that God is love, God created us in His image, and God wants to partner with us to create a world where heaven and earth unite. The responsibility this requires feels a bit overwhelming. And yet, full circle: We have God, literally GOD by our side, gently whispering encouragement in our ears. We can do this.

Day Fortyeight

Daniel 7:13 - 14 CSB

13I continued watching in the night visions, and suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. 14He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

What Power Looks Like

Dear Lord — Prince of Peace.

Thank you. Thank you for giving us visions, messengers, and so many reasons to believe.

Amen.

Daniel chapter 7 is a weird chapter. But in context, and seen through the lens of ancient Hebrew literature, it's gorgeous. Jesus came, He has dominion, we should serve him. It's a kind of service that brings joy and freedom. Beauty out of chaos.

Day Fortynine

Psalms 46:10 CSB

“Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”

Endurance

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for remaining. You are our refuge and our strength. You break the bow and shatter the spear. You burn the shields with fire.

Amen.

How clear is this? God will be exalted among the nations. God will be exalted in the earth. Stop fighting and know God.

Day Fifty

1 Samuel 10:9 - 16 CSB

9When Saul turned to leave Samuel, God turned to him another heart and all the signs came about that day. 10When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully on him, and he prophesied along with them. 11Everyone who knew him previously and saw him prophesy with the prophets asked each other, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12Then a man who was from there asked, “And who is their father?” As a result, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” became a popular saying. 13Then Saul finished prophesying and went to the high place. 14Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where did you go?” “To look for the donkeys,” Saul answered. “When we saw they weren’t there, we went to Samuel.” 15“Tell me,” Saul’s uncle asked, “what did Samuel say to you?” 16Saul told him, “He assured us the donkeys had been found.” However, Saul did not tell him what Samuel had said about the matter of kingship.

###You Change Us ###

Dear Lord — Abba, Creator.

You change our hearts and we still cannot believe.

Amen.

This chapter in 1 Samuel has been on my heart. There is, like a lot of Bible readings, both a chance for great hope and a lot of despair or sadness. Saul's heart was changed by God. People thought he had become a prophet. And still, still, when Saul's uncle asked him what had happened, he said nothing about the kingship. I wonder, had he been able to be the confident king that God perhaps hoped for, the kind of king that would be deeply humble to God but also rise to the blessing and lead his people to God...I wonder.

Day Fiftyone

Hebrews 12:14 CSB

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Be Holy

Dear Lord — Prince of Peace.

Thank you for reminding us, exhorting us, to live in peace with everyone.

Amen.

Living in peace with everyone requires peacemaking, which requires God.

Day Fiftytwo

John 14:26 CSB

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

You Will Teach Us

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you. Thank you for teaching us through your holy spirit.

Amen.

God will teach us and then remind us when we forget. I need to know this.

Day Fiftythree

Luke 16:13 - 15 CSB

13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

What God Loves

Dear Lord — King of Kings.

Thank you for reminding me what you love...and what you do not love.

Amen.

God knows our hearts.

Day Fiftyfour

1 Peter 5:6 - 9 CSB

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. 8Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

Your Mighty Hand

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for your mighty hand, under which I can humble myself.

Amen.

I will cast all my cares on him because he cares about me. I will be alert and sober-minded so I can resist that lion of an adversary.

Day Fiftyfive

1 Peter 5:10 - 11 CSB

10The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. 11To him be dominion forever. Amen.

You Will Restore

Dear Lord — King of Kings.

Thank you for restoring, establishing, strengthening, and supporting me.

Amen.

I love knowing that we all suffer a little — and that God restores, establishes, strengthens, and supports us.

Day Fiftysix

Genesis 3:10 - 12 Dr. Tim Mackie's translation from The Bible Classroom

9And Yahweh said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I the keeper of my brother?” 10And he said, “What have you done? The voice of the shed-blood of your brother is crying out to me from the ground. 11And now, you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive the shed-blood of your brother from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer in the land.”

You Love Us

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you forloving us. So much that we know that you never abandon us, never loose hope in us.

Amen.

Reading through God's response to Cain is such an excellent lesson in powerful love. God doesn't carelessly let Cain off the hook - nor does he rage at Cain, punishing him violently. He stays with Cain, allows Cain the chance to stand upright and confess. He still stays with Cain when Cain doesn't do that, and tells him, stright, what he has done and what the consequence will be. But never does God "lose it" or walk away. Honestly, this has me enthralled. This is our God.

Day Fiftyseven

Job 1:6 - 11 CSB

6One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7The Lord asked Satan, “Where have you come from?” “From roaming through the earth,” Satan answered him, “and walking around on it.” 8Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” 9Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Haven’t you placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But stretch out your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Suffering

Dear Lord — Creator of the Universe.

Thank you for your wisdom books and thank you for allowing us a glimpse at your wisdom.

Amen.

Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs confound me. Of all of them, Job has always been a favorite. I love reading about Job's faith — it's not blind, it's not calm. I have always been drawn to how Job relates to God — he calls out, he laments, he ultimately asks God to come down and explain himself...which God does. And although the explanation God gives is obscure — this happened because...you can't understand? It's in a way satsifying. We really do not know the entire workings of creation. We do not know everything and so our ultimate faith in God should not be based on "good days" or "bad days" .

Day Fiftyeight

Matthew 17:17 — 21 CSB

17Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed. 19Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 “Because of your little faith,” Jesus told them. “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 21 “However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”

Faith, Prayer, Fasting

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for giving us our marching orders.

Amen.

We know what we need to do. God is explicit.

Day Fiftynine

John 8:6 — 11 CSB

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. 7When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. 10When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11“No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

Without Sin

Dear Lord — King of Kings.

Thank you reminding us that in you we walk in the light — which means that we see clearly and that all our sin is exposed.

Amen.

This chapter in John fills me with awe — we have this opportunity to continue in Jesus' word and when we do, we might walk in the light, and be free. Free to perhaps have the insight to see sin before we fall for it? Reflecting this morning, I read "light" in the sense that it illuminates our shadows for us so that we might do the right thing with clarity.

Day Sixty

John 13:12 — 16 CSB

12When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. 16 “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

What Love Looks Like

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for showing us clearly what love looks like.

Amen.

Later in this chapter, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be known by their love. I think this example clearly shows us an example of what love looks like.

Day Sixtyone

Phillipians 1:27 - 28 CSB

27Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, 28not being frightened in any way by your opponents.

Live in One Spirit

Dear Lord — Prince of Peace.

Thank you for reminding us to live as one.

Amen.

This first chapter of Phillipians is challenging — why Paul says certain things I feel like I need to understand more deeply. But this conclusion is solid: live as one. One soul, one spirit, one accord.

Day Sixtytwo

Acts 3:17 — 19 CSB

17“And now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. 18In this way God fulfilled what he had predicted through all the prophets — that his Messiah would suffer. 19Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out,

We Repent, We Turn Toward You

Dear Lord — Abba.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to stay in relationship with you, turn toward you.

Amen.

Reading through Peter and John's account of helping a man walk again, and then their reminding everyone to turn toward God, has me remembering that we have a God who has His arms outstretched to us continuously — imagine that.

Day Sixtythree

Exodus 34:5 — 7 CSB

5The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed his name, “the Lord.” 6The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord  — the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Who is Our God?

Dear Lord — Abba.

_ Even in seasons where I find knowing you to be challenging, you tell me who you are and you are so, so clear. Thank you. I am so grateful that you put it on people's hearts to learn about you._

Amen.

My life took quite a turn. I needed to pause my daily devotion and quickly had such gratitude for the decision I made to simply number my entries, not date them :) In the interim, I have taken several courses through the BibleProject Classroom, including many where I have learned who Yahweh says He is. Not in a way that is prescriptive, but rather in a way that has allowed me to contemplate this God we believe in. I am very grateful. Life throws us curveballs, but God is steady throughout. Stay faithful.