Read Through the Bible – Week 17

prayer-page

I hope that you’ve been blessed as you’ve been reading through the Bible with us! Please know that many other people are sharing your journey through the pages of God’s Word. If you’ve just discovered this site, welcome! The ExploraStory Cafe has been created to be a place where we read and reflect upon God’s Word, where we learn more about God’s plans for our lives, and where we are equipped and empowered for ministry.

This week, I was struck by the words: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and it is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

We’ve had a lot of rain in the last few weeks.

The herbs and flowers that my wife planted just a few weeks ago are growing like crazy. The trees are lush and green. The grass on my lawn is growing so quickly that I need to catch the clippings in a bag every time I mow it. And, of course, the weeds are growing just as quickly – sometimes, too quickly.

We all have times of abundant growth in our spiritual lives.

We have times when we drink deeply from the well of God’s love. We have times in our lives when we feel abundantly blessed – and almost like we’re planted beside a stream. Madame Guyon, a 17th-Century French mystic, once wrote in her short book entitled, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ: “Rest quietly before the Lord. Let this simple, quiet rest in Him always be your preparation for everything. You must¬† keep this in mind: Your only purpose is to be filled to overflowing with the divine presence of Jesus Christ and, deep within you, to be prepared to receive from Him what He chooses to bestow upon you.

But Madame Guyon also writes: “The fact that you will have spiritual dry spells is not the issue. The important question is: What will you do in a time of spiritual dryness?

Perhaps, you have days when it’s hard to spend time reading the Bible and praying. I was reminded in last week’s reading from Jeremiah that there will surely be times of drought and times “when the heat comes” in every Christian life. But I was also reminded that, in those times, I can draw upon moments when I’ve felt God’s presence. I can be sustained by the waters that have moistened my roots in times of abundance. Madame Guyon tells us: “Wait upon the Lord in a spirit of humility [in periods of dryness]. Come before God quietly and peacefully, recalling your mind to His presence even though His presence may evade you.

Here are next week’s readings:

Sunday: 2 Corinthians 1-3 – Monday: Exodus 13-16 – Tuesday: 2 Samuel 1-4 – Wednesday: Psalms 48-50 – Thursday: Job 33-34 – Friday: Jeremiah 22-26 – Saturday: Mark 13-14

Blessings!

God’s Whispering in Your Ear!

praying pic

Many Christians (and churches) are struggling these days.

Christ calls us into ministry in the waters of Holy Baptism and sends us into the world as His representatives. The Bible plainly tells us that the Holy Spirit blesses us with spiritual gifts that we need – and assures us that, when we’re engaged in ministry, Christ journeys with us and opens doors.

But translating Christ’s “call to action” into concrete ministries isn’t always easy, is it?

It’s easy to talk about Christians being called onto the “front lines” of the battle. It’s easy to say that Christians need to get outside of their buildings and more deeply engage with people in their community. Many churches are trying to create long-term strategies for doing ministry in a world where it’s not always easy to know what the future will bring. And that’s what this week’s message,¬† “God’s Whispering in Your Ear!”, is all about.

Jesus says, “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light. What you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops!” (Matthew 10:27)

Ministry begins when God’s people pray, and when God’s people listen and talk with each other about what God’s been whispering into their ears. What does God whisper in your ears when you pray about people in your community who are struggling with illnesses and loneliness? What does God whisper into your ears when you pray about people in your community whose lives are being destroyed by opioid addictions? What does God whisper into your ears when you pray about little children in your community who were being offered a free breakfast when they arrived at school, but who have lost that daily meal during the summer? What does God whisper into your ears when you pray about young people who are being bullied, about children who need Sunday School teachers, about men and women who are being abused in their own homes, and about people in your own community who don’t have enough money to purchase medicines that they need in order to remain healthy?

God’s still using folks who are prayerfully listening to people in their community, and who are seeking God’s guidance and direction. Ministry begins when the people of God talk with people in their community, fall to their knees in prayer, and open their ears to hear what God has to say.

We live in a time when opportunities for doing ministry are immense! And, as we look for a path forward in ministry, we must continue to be people who are engaged in prayer and the daily reading of Holy Scripture. We cannot speak about what we have not heard! We cannot proclaim from the housetops what we’ve not heard whispered into our ears by the Living God!

And so, if you’re looking for a path forward in ministry – as either an individual or as a church – stop for a moment and pray. We are not called to build ministries and churches around our own agendas and good ideas. We are called, instead, to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who has promised to journey with us (and to open doors before us) as we seek to fulfill His plan for our lives and for our ministries in practical ways.

Blessings!