Am I Hearing You Right?

S: But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.” Mark 8:32-33 (MSG)

O: Doubt has crept in and it has brought confusion with it. Not able to comprehend the full scope of what God has planned, Peter speaks up from his perspective – believing what he desires, what he can see, is right – but his words don’t help. In fact, they are counterproductive to what Jesus is doing.

A: How many times have I spoken up without listening – really listening – to what You are saying, because I don’t like the direction it’s going? Because in my mind, from my perspective, I can see another way – a better way. Or at least it appears that way to me in the moment.

But it’s not Your way.

And Your way is always the best way.

Your way – Your plan – spans far beyond the recesses of my carnal mind. Only through Your Spirit might my own spirit be able to catch a glimpse of what is to come. And even then, I cannot see it in full. But there is still a surrendering of myself that is required – a letting go of my “better” plans and believing in Your “best” plans – even if I don’t like the sound of it.  Even if I know it’s going to hurt, I must believe that You are doing something through it – something greater than I might ever be able to know or see.

But I can know You. And I can see You.

Your Word is a reminder, a testimony of Your faithfulness and Your goodness:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14a

P: I believe in the BEST You have for all of us, God! Even in this time when doubt and confusion are clamoring to steal the show, Your glory shines! None can compare to Your majesty and Your sovereignty. Your plans are still for us – You’ve always been for us. You are faithful and good. You are love. You are God. And I love You so. Thanks for loving us first.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Take A Break? Now?

S: And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31 (ESV)

O: The apostles had just returned to You, Jesus, telling You all they had done and taught, and this was Your response. “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” I imagine the apostles were coming off a bit of a high, having seen people respond to the invitation of repentance. But what do we do when it doesn’t feel like we are winning? When we are doing the best we can, but it doesn’t feel like we are making any kind of headway?

Surely, the break and rest are even more important in those times.

A: I cannot imagine how or what our medical professionals and first responders around the world are enduring right now – racing against the clock to save as many people as possible. Trying desperately to do what they were made to do and yet lacking the resources to do more, to save more – not wanting to take any kind of break because every second matters. Every decision matters.

But they need rest, too, Jesus.

P: Holy Trinity, thank You for this invitation to rest. I pray for every single person warring against this global pandemic. I pray that in a situation that feels impossible, we would reach out to the One Who makes all things possible – the One Who makes life possible. I pray that somehow, in the weariness of our battle, we can steal away with You. May we find a desolate place to rest awhile in Your presence. In that secret place, Oh God, would You take away every burden we carry? Remove every distraction, every fear, every spirit of anxiety, every worry, and every seed of pride that says we can do this on our own? Remind us You are with us always! Might we all humble ourselves before You, God, seeking Your strength, Your wisdom, Your healing. Jesus, give us a renewed strength; Holy Spirit speak wisdom into our open ears. Give us insight on how to battle this invisible enemy, my King. Protect us all, Father. Give us rest, Jesus. Give us a safe place to find comfort and healing for our own heart, mind, and soul. May we each take a break with You that leaves us fully recharged, and ready to do what we were made for, especially in a time such as this. We acknowledge that You are still God, and You are still on the throne! We praise You alone, God! Thank You for hearing our prayers. For restoring our hope. For giving us rest.

Photo by menita–117288

The Invitation

S: Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different. Mark 6:12 (MSG)

O: I love how The Message captures this moment when Jesus sends out His disciples – rather than just say they went out and preached that others should repent, Peterson translates it, “with joyful urgency” and “radically different.” Something about that excites me. I think because it sounds more like an invitation; an invitation into something new – something better.

A: I know the secret to a radically different life.

It’s Jesus.

A life partnered with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest secret of all.

But it’s not meant to be a secret. It’s meant to be told, to be shared.

Others need to know!

That’s why the disciples preached with joyful urgency. The time was then – just as the time is now for us.

We, too, must preach about this incredible invitation for a radically different life with joyful urgency!

P: Lord, help me to tell others about You. Let my life be an exciting testimony about You – a living invitation to the more of life You have to offer.

Photo by Bru-nO–1161770

The Whole Truth

S: Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. Mark 5:33 (NIV) emphasis mine.

O: Funny how desperation brings about humility. Touching the hem of a stranger’s robe hoping it might be the freedom she’d been seeking, getting called out for it, and then sharing the whole truth about her story in front of the very ones who threw her aside – the ones who took advantage of her, neglected her, shamed her.

So desperate for healing, hope led her to You.

And when You asked her about it, she told you everything. The whole truth.

A: How many half truths have I told You, Jesus? How many times have I left out parts of my own story I didn’t want to acknowledge, think about, or admit because of how they made me feel? Parts that were too painful or shameful to swallow, so rather than give you the whole truth, I gave up the parts I was comfortable serving.

Slicing up the truth and handing over only what I could handle.

Disregarding the fact that You can handle all of it.

I don’t want to do that anymore, Jesus. I want to be healed completely. Made wholly well. When You ask me what happened, please give me the grace to be honest with myself and with You about the whole truth, even if it hurts or embarrasses me.

P: Jesus, I need You. I am wrecked by You. I need You to show me the bleeding places in my heart so I can be healed, so we can talk about the truth – the whole truth. Thank You for loving me even when I haven’t been completely honest about things. Thank You for waiting for me to catch up with what You already know. I love You. Thank You for the healing and freedom You offer every day. Please help me to keep reaching out for it – for You.

Photo by Oleg Magni

Brought to Light

S: For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Mark 4:22 (NLT)

O: I have often heard people quote this verse regarding lies or sneaky behavior – that the truth will eventually come to light, and the person’s true motive will be revealed. And while I think that’s true, that’s not what You are saying here – in this context – because in the previous verse you use a lamp on a stand to illustrate your point.

The truth is being brought out for people to see! The truth of Your Word – the Truth about God’s love – the Truth about YOU – is meant to be seen! And those who seek to discover it will find it! The truth is in plain sight for those who have eyes to see. And eyes to see come from a softened heart; one who wants to see, to understand.

“Then he added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given – and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.’” Mark 4:24-25 (NLT)

A: I want to understand! Not just for the sake of understanding, but to be transformed! I want to know the secret things of God so that it changes me, so that it changes how I interact with those around me. I want it to change me from the inside out. I want my understanding of Your love to become part of my DNA, so that somehow it becomes tangible acts of love that attract others to You.

Like the soft glow of a lamp on a stand. Warm and inviting. Revealing what is real. What is lasting.

Your Word.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35

P: God, open my mind to understanding more and more of Your Word. Give me deeper understanding. Let it penetrate my heart and change me. Transform my way of thinking, Lord. Give me eyes to see the Truth that is before me.

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai

Mess Me Up, Lord!

S: …The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word… Mark 3:14b (MSG)

O: This was always part of the plan; the apostles would be with You. They would spend each waking and sleeping moment in Your presence. They would walk with You, observe Your ways, watch how You did it, learn from You. They would eat with You, laugh with You, talk with You about what was on their mind, ask You questions, listen to Your response. I bet they told You old fishermen’s tales and jokes and I have a feeling You told some, too. They must have enjoyed just being with You – taking it all in. I imagine nothing else mattered much after being this close to You.

You have this way of doing that – messing us up by Your presence. Suddenly our plans don’t seem that important, our priorities shift, and our hearts are softened. Being with You makes us feel alive – makes us more aware of life. Your love, Your compassion, Your mercy and grace, they change us.

A: They key is to be with You. Always. This is where I still fall short. I still find parts of my life compartmentalized. Inconsistencies. But what I desire is for You to flood into every area of my life! I want my heart and mind to be awakened to Your 24/7 presence, Holy Spirit! I want to be with You, Jesus!

P: Mess me up, Lord! Make me fully aware of Your presence in every area of my life! Interrupt my day and my thoughts! Keep showing me. Keep teaching me. Keep speaking to me. I’m so grateful for Your presence! Thank You for Your goodness and love for me.

I love you, too, Daddy.

Photo by Free-Photos–242387

Call Me Out, Jesus

S: And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?” Mark 2: (ESV)

O: Without them uttering a word, You knew what they were thinking. Just as it says in Psalm 139:4, “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”

A: I want this kind of relationship with You, Jesus. Before a thought forms its way into words from my lips, would You challenge the thinking of my heart?

The work of my heart is never complete. My heart is like soil that needs tending – it cannot be neglected. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” I do not want my heart overwhelmed with weedy negative thoughts of doubt, fear, and anxiety – thoughts that stem from the questions like, “Are You really God? Can You really do what You say You can?…”

There are going to be times when these questions get stirred up – I think that is normal. But am I prepared to do the hard work in my heart WITH You to find the answers? Am I willing to have those conversations WITH You? To be that honest? I hope so, because this is the kind of relationship I want to have with you, Jesus.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1-4

P: Jesus, search me. Know me as Your Word says You do. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is my prayer, God. Thank You for hearing it.

Photo by TJENA–2204219

Hands That Heal

S: Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. Mark 1: 30-31 (NIV)

O: …they immediately told Jesus about her…so He went to her…took her hand and helped her up…the fever left her…

A/P: Lord Jesus, our loved ones are sick with fever and disease. Won’t You come? Take them by the hand, Jesus, and heal them. Let us turn our faith to You! Forgive us from our sins, Jesus. Help us to see that life only comes from You! You are the only cure from death. You are God alone! We love You, Father. We need You. Won’t You draw close?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face,
 and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Touch Your people, Lord. We need Your healing hand, Your heavenly wisdom and authority. Drive out this disease that’s running rampant! God, we need You to rescue us.

Heal our brothers and sisters.

Heal our land.

Heal our earth.

Come swiftly, Lord!

Photo by Lukas

A New Kind of Fisherman

S: Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make you a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” Mark 1:16-17 (MSG)

O: Fishing was their regular work. It’s easy to forget that. Sometimes we forget how Jesus took these ordinary men, doing their ordinary jobs, and used all of it for His glory. But he did.

And He still does it today.

A: The things about ourselves that we sometimes don’t see value in – our ordinariness, our failures, our mistakes, our day-to-day routines, even our jobs – He transforms by His blood into the greatest parts of our testimony. It all changes based on how we respond to His invitation to follow after Him.

We can’t for a moment disqualify what we bring to the table or try to figure out what it will look like in the end. Because the reality is every moment, every job, every interaction, all of it has been preparing us for the “new kind” He’s making out of it.

The “new kind” He’s making out of us.

“Come with me,” is the invitation to see it all unfold…

A beautiful unfolding indeed.

P: Thanks for inviting me into all that You are doing. I love watching it all unfold, knowing in the end, it will all reflect the beautiful radiance of Your love.

See, I told you!

S: He is not here; he is risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:6a (NIV)

O: Because I know how the story ends, I wonder how or why the disciples were surprised by Your resurrection. You told them it would happen!

And yet, how many times have You told me things about Yourself that I didn’t really get until I saw it for myself?

A: Over and over and over again I read in Your Word about Your goodness, Your faithfulness, Your authority, Your holiness, Your grace, Your mercy…Your love.

But I still forget.

Even though You, Holy Spirit, constantly remind me – always whispering the truth about Your character – I sometimes fail to really see it until I’m on the other side of it. Hindsight being 20/20.

But faith is believing without seeing.

Faith is an expectation. An expectation to see You move, and for others to see it, too.

And in that moment we begin to see, that moment when our eyes are opened and we see the fulfilment of Your Word – Your promise – it’s then that we say to those around us, “See, I told you!”

But only because You told us first.

P: God, thank You for Your Living Word! Jesus, I am so in love with You! I’m so grateful You tell us Who You are. When we discover Who You are, it changes everything – especially how we see. I love You.