Category Archives: Devotional reading

My Treasure

I have a little rock, smaller than the palm of my hand and shaped like a perfect heart. On a summer day while taking a walk with my grandfather, he noticed it on the ground and gave it to me. That was almost fifty years ago, and after moving sixteen times and a lot of life, I still have that little rock. It is one of my greatest treasures.

Heart shaped rockJesus spoke of treasure. He had been telling his followers that the things we worry about – the material things like clothes and food, where we live and how much is in our “storehouses” – have already been provided by the Father. He encouraged them to look at the beauty of the lilies of the field and the helpless birds fed by their Creator. No greater provision could have been made for them.

Your treasure becomes what drives you. Your treasure determines how you spend your time and money and energy. Your treasure dominates your thoughts and consumes your passion. Your treasure defines your soul.
Jesus had just told the parable of the rich fool. This man had planned and hoarded and saved. He had become the rich owner of many storehouses and was proud of his hard work and accumulated abundance. One night – he died. He had a great wealth of the world’s temporary treasure all put away in a “safe” place, and a poverty of eternal treasure stored away in heaven.

I have been trying to remember last year’s Christmas gifts – those I received and those I gave. I remember being tired while shopping. I remember trying to find some bargains to save money. I remember making sure everyone got the same amount spent on them and trying to find just the right little treasure for each person. I remember opening presents after church on Christmas Eve. I cannot remember what those gifts were. How illusive the world’s treasure is!

Jesus has told us to make sure our treasure is in heaven, to make sure that what is important is eternal, to make sure that what is precious to us is of God. Christ has told us that what we cherish must be spiritual, must last past the few years of our lives, and must live on in the souls of those we have served. Our spiritual footprints should help others who journey behind us to find the way to Christ. Then our treasure is forever safely kept by God.

There is an old Creole proverb that says, “Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Jesus said your heart, all of who you are determines what you treasure. Jesus warns us, we cannot serve two masters. We will choose to give our hearts to the world’s temporary treasure or God’s eternal treasure.
While you ponder and wait this Advent be honest about who you love and what you love. Take the time of this season to store up that eternal treasure, that real treasure so rare and precious it cannot be bought. It can be found in unexpected places and unexpected people as we serve in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “your heart and your treasure will be in the same place.”

Reflection – What does my heart truly treasure?
Monica Boudreaux

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Paradox

All that is hidden and all that is plain I have come to know through Wisdom. Within her is a spirit that is intelligent, unique, manifold, subtle, active, incisive, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, dependable, unperturbed, all seeing…. She pervades and permeates all things, she is the untarnished mirror of God’s active power. She is one, and makes all things new, and in each generation passes into holy souls. — Wisdom 7:21-27

The history of spirituality tells us that we must learn to accept paradoxes, or we will never truly love anything, or see it correctly. (Normal thought would say you are either human or divine, but you can’t imagine being both until you meet Jesus!) Seeming contradictions are not impediments to the spiritual life, they are an integral part of it. They don’t encourage you to abandon your critical faculties, but to sharpen them. Please trust me on that.

Ikona_SofiyaPremBozhiyaGRMThe above passage personifying Wisdom (Sophia), is an insightful description of how one sees things paradoxically and contemplatively. Interestingly enough, Scripture calls this subtle seeing “she,” which in a patriarchal culture is a way of saying “alternative.” Alan Watts says that the loss of paradoxical thinking is the great blindness of our civilization, which is what many of us believe happened when we repressed the feminine side of our lives as the inferior side. It was a loss of subtlety, discrimination, and capacity for complementarity.

Each of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possess the patience of good relationships. “Untarnished mirrors,” as Wisdom says, receive the whole picture, which is always the darkness, the light, and the subtle shadings of light that make shape, form, color, and texture beautiful. You cannot see in total light or total darkness. You must have variances of light to see.

Richard Rhor
Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

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Out of Fuel

In 1991 an Air Canada flight ran into big trouble. Passengers were enjoying an in-flight movie on the Boeing 767 when the jumbo jet’s massive engines abruptly stopped. At first only those without earphones on noticed anything. However, soon it was apparent the jet was in trouble. The pilot came on the speaker system and announced that Flight 143 would be making an emergency landing. The 69 people on board were trapped in an agonizingly slow but inescapable descent to earth.

For a minute that seemed like an eternity, a desperate silence filled the cabin. That silence morphed into fear and gave way to screams as the landing neared. All the latest technology could not keep the jumbo jet in the air. What had happened was this: the electronic digital fuel gauge was out of order. The flight crew had depended on the figures given them by the refueling crew before takeoff. But someone on the refueling crew had confused pounds with kilograms. Therefore, eight hundred miles short of its destination, the jet simply ran out of fuel and was forced to make an emergency landing. Fortunately no one was injured.

A multimillion dollar airplane, headed in the right direction, but running out of fuel. That’s what’s happening to a lot of people today. They have everything in life and one day they wake up out of fuel.

KnowJesusDon’t let that happen to you. Jesus tells us that the power for successful living comes from God. It is the promised gift that Jesus offers us. “Peace be with you,” he says. “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives you. Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.”

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St. Patrick

St_Patrick1St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.

To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.

HAPPY ST. PATICK’S DAY

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Peacemakers

 

March 8 — Day 4

Philippians 4:7-9

Jacob's Ladder7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

There were two old men who dwelt together for many years and who never quarreled. Then one said to the other: “Let us pick a quarrel with each other like other men do.” “I do not know how quarrels arise,” answered his companion. So the other said to him: “Look, I will put a brick down here between us and I will say ‘This is mine.’ Then you can say ‘No it is not, it is mine.’ Then we will be able to have a quarrel.” So they placed the brick between them and the first one said: “This is mine.” His companion answered him: “This is not so, for it is mine.” To this, the first one said: “If it is so and the brick is yours, then take it and go your way.” And so they were not able to have a quarrel.

—-Sayings of the Desert

Prayer Starter — Lord help me to be a peacemaker above all else.

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Pride

Pride is the first of the seven deadly sins. One falls into pride when one lacks trust in God and his mercy and becomes arrogant, hypocritical, and self-centered. Reinhold Neibuhr, who has been referred to as the twentieth-century theologian of sin, summed up humanity’s basic sin our unwillingness to acknowledge our creatureliness, our self-elevation in one word, PRIDE. Neibuhr described the four types of pride:

1. The pride of power wants power to gain security for self or to maintain a power position considered to be secure.

2. Intellectual pride rises from human knowledge that pretends to be ultimate knowledge. It presumes to be final truth.

3. Moral pride claims that its standards for virtue test and measure all righteousness. Niebuhr observed that most evil is done by “good” people who do not know that they are not good.

4. Spiritual pride is self-glorification. It claims that “self’s righteousness” conforms to God’s righteousness.

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GOD MOMENTS

 We’ve all had them.  Those special moments frozen in time.  Those moments that will be remembered when we are very old and sit daydreaming about life.  They are gifts of God to cherish into eternity.

Everything is more sharply focused in that instant, time stands still, the rest of the world disappears.  For this one tiny piece of life, everything is more precious, and God grants a brief interlude in the usual business of living.

The very last time I saw my grandmother, we shared a long, speechless look that no words could capture.  In that look, we relived a lifetime of love.  In that first second that I looked into the tiny face of our newborn son, the awesomeness of God, the Creator of life, was so real to me I could almost feel His physical presence in that room.  Touching moments.  Funny moments,   Heart-breaking moments.  Eternal moments.

Jesus must have had such moments while He was here among us.  The look of love on John’s face as he baptized him.  The look of shame on the face of the woman caught in adultery.  The look of hatred on the face of the Pharisees.  The look of heartbreak on Mary’s face as she watched her boy die.  The look of joy on the face of Peter when he saw his Savior alive again.

If we are not careful, we will let these special times slip by unnoticed.  They can never be recalled.  Once passed, they are lost in an eternity of seconds, minutes, hours, days.  Learn to recognize when you are part of something much larger than yourself.  Take notice of “God moments” in your life.

 

PRAYER:  Father – Thank you for the special moments in life that are from you.  Help me to live each one to the fullest.

Monica Boudreaux

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Life in the Storm

Mark 6:45-51

             Sometimes it seems that our lives are a series of storms.  We try to live with stormy marriages, stormy relationships with our children, stormy connections with extended family, stormy job situations, and stormy financial conditions.  On and on, the storms rage in our lives.  We find ourselves tossed about, overrun, confused and frightened.  We desperately try to hold back the waves and still the vicious winds in our lives.  Finally, with a sense of helplessness, we realize that we can’t control the storm.

One night, Jesus’ disciples found themselves at the mercy of the violent winds and churning waves of the Sea of Galilee.  Just as they were about to abandon hope of controlling their small boat, they say Jesus walking on the sea toward them!  Talk about confused and frightened!  They thought they must be seeing a ghost!  But Jesus spoke to the disciples over the roar of the storm and said, “Cheer up!  I’m here, don’t be afraid.”  He gave them hope, and then he stilled the storm for them!

Jesus walks on the stormy seas of our lives even today.  Just as it seems we are about to be overcome by the hurt, the stress, the fear of our own personal storm, we can see Jesus as He calls out to us, “Cheer up!  I’m here, don’t be afraid.”  Just as He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee for Peter and the other disciples, He will still your storm as well.  Jesus is the answer to your problems – whatever they are.  He still speaks to His people, cheers them, and gives them hope.  He will still walk on the troubled sea of your life and rescue you from the storm.

PRAYER:  Father – Help me depend on you when I face one of life’s storms.  Thank you for your great faithfulness to me.

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The Legend of the Touchstone

According to an ancient legend, if you could find a touchstone on the coast of the Black Sea and hold it in your hand, everything you touched would be healed and restore life and vitality. You would recognize the touchstone from ordinary stones by its warmth. Ordinary stones would feel cold and empty, but when you picked up the touchstone, it would turn warm in your hand and you would feel your life being restored.

There once a man who sold everything he had and went to the coast of the Black Sea in search of this elusive touchstone. He began immediately to walk along the shoreline picking up one stone after another in his diligent and intentional search for the touchstone. He was consumed with this dream. He wanted desperately to find this miraculous stone, find his youth, vitality and abundant life again. However, after several days had gone by, he suddenly realized that he was picking up the same stones again and again. So he devised a plan. Pick up a stone, if it’s cold throw it into the Sea. This he did for weeks and months.

Then one morning, he went out to continue his routine search for the touchstone. He picked up a stone; it was cold, so he threw it into the Sea. He picked up another stone … cold! He threw it into the Sea. He picked up another stone. It turned warm in his hands, BUTbefore he realized what he was doing … he threw it into the Sea. Because of his habits, the routine of searching and lack of expecting anything different, his habits took over and what he wanted more than anything passed by and was lost forever.

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Psalm 23

Psalm 23

 

The Lord is my Good Shepherd

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

These words imply that I live in an unpredictable, frightening, and even cruel world where bad things can happen to me.

These words imply that in this life I will need a shepherd.

I will need God to come and find me when I have lost my way.

I will need God to comfort me when my grief is too great to bear.

I will need God to encourage me when I am devastated.

I will need God to protect me from others and from myself.

I will need God to know my name when I feel all alone.

I SHALL NOT WANT

Because the Lord is my shepherd – I shall lack for nothing.

Because the Lord is my shepherd – I have everything that I need.

Because the Lord is my shepherd – His grace fills in the empty spaces in my life:

·          The dreams that never came true –

·          The goals that were never achieved –

·          The people I have lost and never stop missing –

·          Those times when not one other person can understand the ache in my soul.

HE MAKES ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES

I instinctively retreat outside to feel His presence.

My soul craves the colors of the sky and the trees and the flowers.

The company of his creation calms my spirit.

HE LEADS ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS

As water keeps my body alive, God leads me to that which sustains my life and my soul.

He stills the chaos in my life as Christ stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee.

God’s stillness makes the world livable and melts away my anxious fears.

HE RESTORES MY SOUL

When I am so busy that I neglect my soul – God restores me.

When I am so beaten up by the world that my soul feels lost – God restores me.

When I selfishly repress the spirit God has given me – God restores me.

When my soul is so diminished by my own sin that it seems it is almost gone, by His grace and through my confession and repentance – God restores me.

 

 

HE GUIDES ME IN STRAIGHT PATHS FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE

I learn to trust the path that God shows me

Even if I wander in a round about way, He will bring me back to that straight path, and I will end up going in the right direction.

As I walk my path in trust; others may be drawn to Him as they witness His faithfulness to me.

God’s name will be glorified.

THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHAWDOW OF DEATH

I know this shadow.

I fear death, but the remedy to this fear is that I am never alone, especially at death.

Knowing death is so hard for me; God shared it and experienced it for himself in the worst way.

When I lose someone I love, this valley is one I must walk through.

It is not meant to be my permanent home, and I dishonor God’s plan to go through the shadow when I refuse to walk with Him.

Even if I am crushed by life, I cannot stay in this seductive shadow where it is hard to leave, but impossible to live.

I walk through the valley with the Shepherd.

I WILL FEAR NO EVIL

This means evil is a reality.

This means that I will face it.

Because I am a Christian I am not exempt, actually I may be even more confronted with evil.

The promise is that God is real and He is with me.

He is on my side and that makes all the difference.

I am protected from evil.

Light always overcomes darkness.

Good always overcomes bad.

I have nothing to fear – God is with me.

THY ROD AND THY STAFF, THEY COMFORT ME

The shepherd’s staff of God helps, supports, and disciplines me.

It gives me strength and help when I fall, and corrects my path when I stray.

The rod and staff holds me accountable and reminds me that some behaviors dishonor God’s spirit and are toxic to my soul.

It comforts me to have the surety that I am supported so that my soul is not diminished, and God is not dishonored.

The shepherd’s rod gives me assurance that God does provide justice in the world and that ultimately evil does not win.

 

 

THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES

In contrast to the people around me who have disappointed me, turned against me, even tried to destroy me, You, Father, prepare a feast of blessing and love and joy for me.

Your banquet of blessings is so much more nourishing than anything negative my enemies prepare for me, that I can move on in my life strengthened by your abundance, not weakened by cruelty or disappointment.

THOU ANNOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL

As ancient kings were identified as the ones chosen and set apart to serve your people by the anointing with oil, so have you anointed me to serve you.

By accepting your anointing, I also must accept the responsibility that comes with such a special gift.

Help me to live up to the calling you have blessed me with.

Remind me of my task when the world distracts me.

Remind me of my joy when I am discouraged.

Remind me of your presence when I feel alone.

Let me put my hand on my head and touch again the oil of your anointing when my responsibility to serve you overwhelms my soul.

MY CUP RUNNETH OVER

My basic response to your grace is gratitude.

My thankfulness for God’s blessing is rooted in the sense that life is a gift and that all good things come from God.

For all the blessings you pour in my cup, Father, I thank you, even for those gifts I never recognize.

I thank you because life is often hard – you have blessed me with all I need, you have restored my soul over and over, you have guided my path, you have held my hand and walked me through dark valleys, you have protected and corrected me, you have prepared a feast of blessings to nourish my soul and you have called me to know and serve you.  Truly the cup of my heart cannot hold all these gifts.

SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE

Because you are shepherding my life, I will feel good about living.

I will recognize your goodness everywhere – in your creation, in your protection and blessings, in your provision.

Every place I turn, I will see your goodness.

Because you are shepherding my life I will recognize your mercy everywhere in your forgiveness, in your discipline, in my unearned love from you.

Every place I turn, I will see your mercy.

Because you are shepherding my life, I will leave behind me goodness and mercy.

It will follow me

·          as I stop wanting and start giving

·          as I take care of your world

·          as I accept your stillness

·          as you restore my soul

·          as I travel along the straight path

·          as I live out my calling to your work

·          as I trust you to protect me from evil and enemies and the dark, shadowy valleys of life

·          as I acknowledge your abundant blessings…

I will leave behind me a trail of YOUR goodness and mercy.

You will bless others through me and the shepherd will be glorified.

AND I SHALL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER

God’s promise to me is not immunity from this world full of struggles with hurtful people or fear or my own spiritual battles – even death.

God’s promise to me is a home – HIS HOME FOREVER!

No wandering aimlessly, no loneliness, no solitary battles, no unfulfilled needs…

He shares with me His Home – where there is:

·          No want

·          Green pastures

·          Still waters

·          Restoration

·          Straight paths

·          Light

·          Courage

·          Protection

·          Correction

·          Comfort

·          Abundant blessing

·          Calling

·          And…PRESENCE

The presence of the Holy, Almighty God – My Creator, My Savior, My Sustainer

My HOME…

FOREVER

 

(Some thoughts for Psalms 23 from reading Harold Kuschner)

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