Tuesday with John Wesley

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On this Tuesday of Holy Week, I call your attention John Wesley. He was a great preacher and founder of the Methodist movement. John Wesley had but one goal, and it was to bring the message of the grace of God to all people. He was an Oxford Don and an Anglican priest who gave his long and productive life to that cause. I will share some quotes from Mr. Wesley that communicate his calling.



Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,Wesley Preaching.jpg

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

 

Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.

Give me one hundred preachers (Christians)who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.

Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.

I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.

When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.

Our main doctrines, which include all the rest, are three: That of repentance, of faith, and of holiness. The first of these we account, as it were, the porch of religion; the next, the door; the third, religion itself.

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A PRAYER FROM JOHN WESLEY

O merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you;

but what our blessed Savior has done for us.

Don’t consider what we have made of ourselves,

but what He is making of us for you our God.

O that Christ may be “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption”

to every one of our souls.

May His precious blood cleanse us from all our sins,

and your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls.

May He crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts,

and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth.

Amen.

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Monday from the Desert

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On this Monday of Holy Week, I call your attention to those Monks who chose to escape the temptation and hardships that beset them when they lived in the cities. Their escape to the desert was the way that they chose to pursue the calling as Christians. I have chosen a few quotes that will set the stage for their way of life. Read and pray on these and God will lead you in the right direction.


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Someone asked Abba Anthony, “What must one do in order to please God?” The old man replied, “Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes, whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.”

~~~Anthony of Egypt



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A brother questioned Abba Poemen saying, ‘I have committed a great sin and I want to do penance for three years.’ The old man said to him, ‘That is a lot.’ The brother said, ‘For one year?’ The old man said again, ‘That is a lot.’ Those who were present said, ‘For forty days?’ He said again, ‘That is a lot.’ He added, ‘I myself say that if a man repents with his whole heart and does not intend to commit the sin any more, God will accept him after only three days.’

~~~Abba Poemen



For quite some time I have been learning great lessons from the men and women of the desert monastic movement. Their commitment to living a Christ honoring life was given number one priority in their lives. Many of them abandoned influence, wealth, and families to live for Christ. They were the mentors of numerous leaders of early Christianity. Their attitudes and actions drew people to them for inspiration. I have shared some quotes from their teaching today. I will expand on those in the words that follow.

In our first saying we see the age-old question, “What must I do to please God?” That is the most important request that anyone can make. Anthony’s reply is simple. He is saying that it all has to do with focus. He says to begin with your personal life. The Christian must always have God before him. Too many believers make it habit to compartmentalize their lives. When we have a box for God, a box for work and separate boxes for each part of life, we lose sight of what should be our primary focus.  Christians should always have God in front of their eyes and all else will come into focus. Anthony then turns his attention to the scripture and tells us that we should look for its testimony. The Holy Scriptures are given to us by God as a guide for life and work. We should consult with them and live in them for everything we do. Anthony’s next stop is where we live. If we establish stability of place, we will not spend our lives searching for the next adventure or excitement of life. Focus on God, Holy Scriptures and stability of place, and God will bring you great peace and salvation.

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Abba Poeman warns us against excessive guilt and self-loathing. Many people suffer through much in life because they never forgive themselves for some grievance that they have committed. Somehow, they always feel a sense of guilt and never really accept the grace of God. Such an attitude leads to self-loathing and ultimately to destructive behavior. The monk communicates to the brother that God will accept the repentant heart without excessive penance. The message is that we do not earn God’s forgiveness, it is given to the penitent heart. When Christians accept and live out that truth, they are free.

During Holy Week we journey towards the cross. It is a cross of suffering and salvation. Abba Anthony gives us some ways that we can focus our lives. Abba Poeman offers us a way that we can accept forgiveness and move on with life. These two concepts will perhaps give you a vision of how to apply Christ’s suffering and salvation to your life. 

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PRAYER

Lord, As I experience Holy Week lead me to prepare my heart to receive the sacrifice of Jesus with a penitent heart. Let me keep my focus toward Him and His grace.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – HARVEST

Harvest- to reap or gather in the results a previous work or action or to remove for use.

(Oxford Dictionary)



The word harvest readily suggests the fall season and the time of gathering the produce of the land and celebrating the blessings of the season. I think of pumpkins, corn and other vegetables that are symbolic of the harvest season. Harvest surely means those things but so much more. Harvest is used to refer to the spiritual gathering of people in the name of Jesus. He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” That plentiful harvest he was referring to was all the people who are waiting to hear a word from God. We are the workers of that harvest. How do we harvest? Let us look at a few possibilities.

It is possible that the best way to prepare to harvest others is to sow proper seeds in our own lives. In the Lenten season we are called to take a careful look at who we are and where we are going. Are we ready to face God the way we are right now? If not, what needs to be changed? What less than savory elements do we have to remove from our lives? These sorts of question are the ones that lead to a profoundly good harvest. I hope you will take them to heart.

To be a worker in the harvest we must offer ourselves freely to the work. Each day we look for opportunities to tell the story of Jesus. His story changes lives. We spread the joy and peace that comes with being a follower of Jesus the Messiah. People are looking for peace and tranquility in all sorts of directions today. They seek it in leaders that they follow and in fanciful religious theories. The story of Jesus is true and simple. It needs to be told, and we are the ones to tell it. You can be the voice of Jesus.

We must remember that the harvest is plentiful because all people seek a pathway to God. The world hungers to find the path. The Jesus path is simple because it is paved by love. Love presents enormous possibilities. The message of Jesus is above all else is a message of love and grace- love enough to die on the cross and grace enough to offer the love to all. The possibilities are infinite, because the love is infinite The harvest is endless when the love is endless.

Harvest is a powerful word because it is the act that brings both physical and spiritual life to the world. We must continue to observe the harvest, and God will continue to send the opportunities necessary.

His love, his grace will always be available to everyone.





Quotes Banner

Before the fruits of prosperity can come, the storms of life need to first bring the required rains of testing, which mixes with the seeds of wisdom to produce a mature harvest.

~~~Lincoln Patz

What are you planting today to harvest tomorrow?

~~~Lailah Gifty Akita

Raindrops and teardrops have two things in common. Both fall freely, and yield abundance. The former leads to abundant harvest and the latter, abundant mercy.

~~~Martin Uzochukwu Ugwu

We reap the fruit of the seeds we sow. Every good deed, every bad deed—they are the means of planting seeds that will reward us one day with a merited harvest from life’s garden.

~~~Richelle E. Goodrich

AS I watch’d the ploughman ploughing,

Or the sower sowing in the fields, or the harvester harvesting,

I saw there too, O life and death, your analogies;

Life, life is the tillage, and Death is the harvest according

~~~Walt Whitman

Sowing seeds in all areas of your life is an ongoing never-ending process sow seeds every day and sow twice as much seeds during your seasons of harvest

~~~James D Wilson

Harvest is real, but be wise to sow what you will love to reap in the new year, because your day of harvest is fast approaching.

~~~Bamigboye Olurotimi

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

~~~Robert Louis Stevenson

What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.

~~~Meister Eckhart

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

~~~William Blake

Many are needed to plant and water what has been planted now that the faith has spread so far and there are so many people… No matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what is planted is the faith of Peter and unless he agrees to his teachings.

~~~Thomas Becket

Racism and injustice and violence sweep our world, bringing a tragic harvest of heartache and death.

~~~Billy Graham



Scripture BannerWhile the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease.

~~~Genesis 8:22

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

~~~Matthew 9:37

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

~~~2 Corinthians 9:10

Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.

~~~Leviticus 26:5

Indeed, the Lord will give what is good,

And our land will yield its produce.

~~~Psalm 85:12

And sow fields and plant vineyards,

And gather a fruitful harvest.

~~~Psalm 107:37

‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.

~~~Leviticus 19:9

The sluggard does not plow after the autumn,

So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

~~~Proverbs 20:4

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

~~~Matthew 9:37-38

Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest,

So honor is not fitting for a fool.

~~~Proverbs 26:1Prayer Banner

LORD, Teach me to plant the good seeds in my life. These are the seeds that will produce a harvest that would be productive and godly. Strengthen and guide me to cultivate the spiritual seeds that you have gifted to me. Help me to remove the obstacles that interfere with my goal of living a godly life. Give me the gift of discernment so that I might have an abundant harvest.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – GRACE

Grace – The free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in the Salvation of sinners and bestowing of blessing. The divine regenerating, inspiriting, and strengthening influence of God. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



Grace has many meanings and nuances, but the one that really counts is this one. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. We all need that ticket punched. The late Adrian Rogers, a Southern Baptist pastor of some stature, said, “Grace is God’s acceptance of us. Faith is our acceptance of God accepting us.” That is true, but I see grace as far more. The grace God gives us is in his control, not ours to claim under some preset rule.

John Wesley speaks of the prevenient grace of God that is bestowed on all of us. Such grace is not a grace that has to be accepted but grace that is poured out by God on all his creation. Some people limit this grace to small children or people of limited understanding. I am convinced that it goes much further than that. God’s grace is upon us in our time of strife and rebellion. It is ridiculously hard to reject the loving grace of a loving God. How does that grace work?

It protects us in our frailties and weaknesses. We all have areas of our lives that are targeted by the adversary or the evil presence in the world. God’s grace is with us when we need the strength to resist what are our less than pure natural tendencies. It is like God being our guide in a foreign land. He is with us to make sure we do not lose our way. We all need grace when our strength fails us. The gracious hand of God taps us on the shoulder and assures us we are not alone. What can seem hopeless is suddenly achievable because of his presence.

Grace surrounds us when we feel abandoned. Into every life there are times of desperation and despair. These are times that we feel very much alone. We do not feel attacked but just abandoned. Our lives are not surrounded by temptations but just a void of emptiness. Into that void can walk the grace of God that lets us know we are never alone. God does not abandon his creation.

His loving grace is patient when we rebel. Not even one of God’s creation can honestly say that we have not said no to God at least once. When we stray of our own free will, God’s grace is still with us. God does not sit waiting for us to say yes or no. He is always there. His grace is like a person yelling to the top of their lungs to get our attention in a noisy place. They will not give up until we see them.

So it is with God when we stray. He keeps on calling and offering until we hear Him.



Quotes BannerReligion in its humility restores man to his only dignity, the courage to live by grace.

~~~George Santayana

It has been great journey from where I have started to where I am today. I am really blessed with God’s grace.

~~~Dhanush

Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.

~~~Friedrich von Schiller

God appoints our graces to be nurses to other men’s weaknesses.

~~~Henry Ward Beecher

For his heart was in his work, and the heart giveth grace unto every art.

~~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

An error gracefully acknowledged is a victory won.

~~~Caroline L. Gascoigne

The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.

~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

~~~Anne Lamott

Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.

~~~Jonathan Edwards

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.

~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer



Scripture BannerBut to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

~~~ Ephesians 4:7

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

~~~John 1:14

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

~~~ John 1:16

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

my whole life long.

~~~ Psalm 23:6

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,

whose trust is the Lord.

~~~Jeremiah 17:7

However, I consider my life 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.

~~~Acts 20:24

But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

~~~James 4:6

But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it.

~~~James 1:14

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

~~~Ephesians 4:7

Prayer BannerLORD, Without your grace we are hopelessly lost. Our lives are a shattered mess of missed intentions and goals. It is with your divine grace that we come together to be the creation that you intended. Today we ask you to bestow the grace necessary for the day.

Amen

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Life in the Storm

 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded.

~~~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.

Monica BoudreauxPrayer Banner

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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This Week – FAIR

Fair- Of character, reputation, conduct: free from moral stain, unsullied, spotless. Of a person, action argument, etc.: just, unbiased, equitable, impartial; legitimate, in accordance with the rules or standards.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Early in my life I was taught that I must be fair with all people. I have yet to meet someone who does not want life to be fair. We want things to be fair for us first and then, of course, everyone else. I can still hear the school yard echo, “No fair!” looming over the playground. Fair defined as equal treatment is what I want to muse about today. Let us look at some ways that we can learn what it is to be fair and how to react to unfairness.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the word fair is equitable. We all feel that we deserve equitable treatment at work, in our relationships and in our business dealings. Everyone wants to feel that they are of equal value to the next person. Discomfort arises in us when we feel we are being ignored or in some way neglected. We want to be valued by others, and we feel that is the way to be fair.

There is a Crown Royal distillery billboard that reads, “Live generously and life will treat you royally.” That is what can happen if we are overtly fair to all that we encounter. We learn the art of generosity, because we are always intentionally and freely doing the absolute best for others. Such fair generosity brings a reward of liberty from always speculating what is fair.

Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates, reminds us that, “Life is not fair; get used to it.” That is particularly important point coming from a man who gives away billions of dollars a year. Life is not always fair, but it is our responsibility to make it so. Our behavior is a key to creating fairness around and within ourselves. I have always believed that life is about as fair as you make it. I do, however, wish that the unfair were sometimes in my favor.

As followers of Christ, we are called to be scrupulously fair to all persons we meet. That is our role as the salt and light of the earth. There are times when we are tempted to level that playing field. We are the authors of fairness, and we bring it to the rest of the world because we are the recipients of the generosity of Jesus when he redeemed us.

This week be fair, go the second mile, share from the heart, and help bring true fairness to the world.





Quotes Banner

We don’t need to be good. But let’s try to be fair.

~~~Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.

~~~Victor Hugo

Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.

~~~Rick Riordan

In the end we are always rewarded for our good will, our patience, fair-mindedness, and gentleness with what is strange.

~~~Friedrich Nietzsche

You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself.

~~~Vera Nazarian

God hates violence. He has ordained that all men fairly possess their property, not seize it.

 ~~~Euripides

As for doing good that is one of the professions which is full. Moreover, I have tried it fairly and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agree with my constitution.

~~~Henry David Thoreau

Life is not fair; get used to it.

~~~Bill Gates

Fairness is not an attitude. It’s a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.

~~~Brit Hume

It is always wise, as it is also fair, to test a man by the standards of his own day, and not by those of another.

~~~Odell Shepard

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

~~~Eleanor Roosevelt

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

~~~Oscar Wilde

I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?

~~~Bill Watterson

Scripture BannerHe judges the world with righteousness;

   he judges the peoples with equity.

~~~ Psalm 9:8

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all.

~~~Ecclesiastes 9:11

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,

   but an accurate weight is his delight.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace;

   but wisdom is with the humble.

The integrity of the upright guides them,

   but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

~~~ Proverbs 11:1-3

You shall not render an unjust judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.

~~~ Leviticus 19:15

Speak out, judge righteously,

   defend the rights of the poor and needy.

~~~ Proverbs 31:9

Happy are those who observe justice,

   who do righteousness at all times.

~~~Psalm 106:3

Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

~~~Colossians 4:1

If a king judges the poor with equity,

   his throne will be established for ever.

~~~Proverbs 29:14

But let justice roll down like waters,

   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

~~~Amos 5:24

Honest balances and scales are the Lord’s;

   all the weights in the bag are his work.

~~~ Proverbs 16:11Prayer Banner

LORD, Our great longing in life is to be treated with fairness. Teach us that the road to fairness is to treat all as we want to be treated. Keep us honest and truthful in all our ways so that we might be fair to all we meet. We pray that you would give us the wisdom to be fair in all our dealings.

Amen

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Wise Become Foolish

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The 40 Days of Lent

Day Seventeen



Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,

and again,

‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

   that they are futile.’

~~~1 Corinthians 3:18-20Prayer Banner

Lord, Many of us spend a great deal of time trying to fool ourselves about our behavior. We submit ourselves to you and ask that you show us the way we must go. Grant us the grace to move forward and live a life that is wise and true and brings glory to you.

Amen

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Declare the Glory

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The 40 Days of Lent

Day Sixteen



The heavens are telling the glory of God;

   and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,

   and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

   their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

   and their words to the end of the world.

~~~Psalm 19:1-4

Prayer BannerLord, You are the light of the world. You have promised to bring light into our darkened world, and we claim that promise this day. Let your light shine brightly in all the places of our lives so that me may rejoice in your glory.

Amen

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Holy Ground

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The 40 Days of Lent

Day Fifteen



‘Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: “I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, “Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.

~~~Acts 7:30-33

Prayer BannerLord, You are the light of the world. You have promised to bring light into our darkened world, and we claim that promise this day. Let your light shine brightly in all the places of our lives so that me may rejoice in your glory.

Amen

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The Living Stone

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The 40 Days of Lent

Day Fourteen



Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

~~~1 Peter 2:4-5

Prayer BannerLord, Open my eyes so that I may see beyond my mortal nature. Help me to recognize the works of the living stone in this world. The living stone goes places and does things I could never do. My Lenten prayer is that I can recognize the living stone in the affairs of the world.

Amen

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