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New Year Devo // Week 4

Posted by on Jan 26, 2020

New Year Devo // Week 4

WEEK 4 / Jan. 26-31

“Jesus’ Proclamation”

Read Luke 4:16-21

As you imagine this scene and hear the words Jesus declares about his purpose and mission, what stands out for you?

What are some of the feelings the hearers of this proclamation might have experienced in this moment?

As you follow Jesus into this new year, in what ways might you be a part of his plan to:

  • Proclaim good news to the poor?
  • Proclaim liberty to the captives?
  • Give recovery of sight to the blind?
  • Set at liberty those who are oppressed?
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor?

Read Mark 1:16-20 

Imagine you are one of those called by Jesus to “follow me”.

  • What do you feel as you hear his words addressed to you?
  • What draws you to follow Jesus?
  • What fears arise within you?

End your prayer time by bringing all these feelings and thoughts to God. Entrust this new year to him. Reaffirm your need for his Spirit and strength to guide and help you as you follow him. Recommit to depend on him as you step out into the uncharted waters of the future. 

Keep your eyes on him as you pray this prayer of commitment and intention: 

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,

exalted for you, or brought low for you;

let me be full,

let me be empty,

let me have all things,

let me have nothing:

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours. So be it.

And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

(John Wesley’s “Covenant Prayer”)

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New Year Devo // Week 3

Posted by on Jan 19, 2020

New Year Devo // Week 3

WEEK 3 / Jan. 19-25

“Jesus’ Temptation”

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Imagine you are looking on from afar…

  • What do you notice about Jesus before Satan comes to tempt him, during the temptation and after the temptation?

When the temptations are over, imagine yourself going over and speaking to Jesus. Journal your interaction with Jesus. What do you say, and why? How does Jesus respond to you?

Close with pondering the words of this poem:

“Stones into Bread” (by Malcolm Guite)

The Fountain thirsts, the Bread is hungry here

The Light is dark, the Word without a voice.

When darkness speaks it seems so light and clear.

Now He must dare, with us, to make a choice.

In a distended belly’s cruel curve

He feels the famine of the ones who lose

He starves for those whom we have forced to starve

He chooses now for those who cannot choose.

He is the staff and sustenance of life

He lives for all from one Sustaining Word

His love still breaks and pierces like a knife

The stony ground of hearts that never shared,

God gives through Him what Satan never could;

The broken bread that is our only food.

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New Year Devo // Week 2

Posted by on Jan 12, 2020

New Year Devo // Week 2

WEEK 2 / Jan. 12-18

“Jesus’ Baptism”

Read Matthew 3:13-17

Read through this passage, keeping in mind the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus, who as a child grew up as one who was conceived out of wedlock.

Ponder these questions with the Lord in prayer, journaling your responses:

  • What must it have been like to grow up among the whispers, condemnation and ridicule of others?
  • What do you think God’s words, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased, “ meant to Jesus?
  • How do you think they made him feel?
  • What are the words you long to hear from God? Spend some time listening for the still small voice of God.

Pondering where your God may lead you in this coming year, pray this prayer as a reminder of God’s purposes for you:

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. I shall do good, I shall do His work.

                                                (Cardinal Newman)

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New Year Devo // Intro + Week 1

Posted by on Jan 5, 2020

New Year Devo // Intro + Week 1

INTRODUCTION:

“START WITH JESUS”

Four weeks to reconnect and reset our relationship with Christ

Welcome to a new year!

The fresh hope of potential, growth, success… there’s something special about a chance for a clean start. Anything and everything seems, at the very least, possible. This is why almost half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year. The problem is that when we find ourselves setting goals, we aim too low… or to a height we can never realistically achieve… or maybe in the wrong direction altogether. 

So that’s why, at the very beginning of 2020, I invite you to start with Jesus by embracing the spirit of new beginnings together with Christ’s offer of abundant life. I’ve created four devotionals for each of the four weeks of January (with adaptations from Larry Warner’s book Journey with Jesus – a modern interpretation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius). These devotionals are designed to be experienced near the beginning of the week (Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday preferably) to give adequate time to process and live out these invitations. They will be posted here each Sunday around noon for the week ahead. The devotionals themselves are only designed to take 20-30 minutes, so there’s lots of room to fill in the week with your usual devotional practices on other days.

There’s also a beautifully designed web version of all four devotional, done by our church’s stellar Communications Director, Amanda Buda. It can be accessed HERE.

As you stand looking at the New Year and a fresh start, we hope you’ll join us in saying yes to Jesus’ invitation to “come, follow me.”

On the journey with you! 

Justin

Devotional Instructions:

Find a time to sit down for thirty minutes or so in a comfortable, quiet, undistracted place – preferably in the early part of each week. Have your Bible and journal handy as you prepare for each week’s devotional. 

Start your time with a few, calm breadths to still your heart and mind. Ask God to help you focus on Him.

As you meditate on these various passages of Scripture, focusing on the life of Christ, be aware of what draws you to Christ, challenges you, amazes you or gives you pause. Take time to journal about and ponder these internal movements.

Feel free to use the audio accompaniment as a guide, as well. Each week’s devotionals includes a recorded version of the readings, prompts, and prayers – with moments of space in between for your own reflection.

Evening Reflection Questions:

In addition to these four weekly devotions, consider asking these questions of the Lord at the end of each day. Take a few moments of silence, offering these questions before God and noticing what He brings to mind…

  • How and when did you experience Immanuel (God with you) today?
  • When were you aware of your love for Jesus today?
  • When did you “follow Jesus” in your relationships, circumstances, reactive and proactive responses, and actions?

* Tips for “Imaginative Reading” 

Many of these devotionals center around a passage of Scripture that you’re encouraged to meditate on and read “imaginatively”. What that entails is taking the time to read the passage very slowly, and maybe a few times over, imagining the scene unfold before you. This is a Spirit-infused, God-directed use of your imagination that gives you the ability to experientially enter into the stories, symbolism and images of the Bible. How might it look like as a movie? What details can you see in your mind’s eye? What are the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds you observe? You may consider placing yourself in the narrative as a character in the story or simply a bystander observing. Feel the freedom to be playful and creative in this exercise. Don’t worry about “doing it right”, just go with the Spirit’s direction and be open to how God leads you.

WEEK 1 / Jan. 5-11

As the new year passes and 2020 comes into view, spend a few minutes thanking God for His presence in your life throughout the last year. Pray through this simple reminder and allow God to help you reflect on His faithfulness and goodness…

Who has listened to our joys indescribable and our groans unspeakable?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who has provided food, shelter, friendship, work and rest?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who has healed the afflictions among us?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who has brought friends back together and mended families torn apart?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who has forgiven us for sin unseen and brought liberation from addiction?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who has been our rock when the ground around us has given way?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who tenderly carried us through times of unbearable hardship and loss?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who knows those deep pains in our hearts of which even we are not aware?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who stores our tears in a bottle, tears shed in secret?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Who else was with us, in our joy and grief, in our victories and defeats, through everything this past year?

Only you Lord Jesus.

Amen.

“Jesus’ Childhood”

Read Luke 2:41-52

Spend time imagining Jesus at the following ages: infant to two years, three to five years, and six to twelve years. Try to appreciate his development, his vulnerability and his challenges at each stage.

Conclude your time thanking God for sending Jesus, and thanking Jesus for choosing to come to earth, clothed in flesh of an infant who had to grow and develop like the rest of us.

As you look out into this new, uncertain year ahead, bring this prayer before the Lord…

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

                                                (Thomas Merton)

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New Beginnings

Posted by on Jul 18, 2019

New Beginnings

Have you ever felt grief over the past? Do you sometimes long for things to be back to the way they were? In this sermon, I walk us through some of these feelings as the Israelites experienced them in Ezra 3:10-13. It’s a dramatic passage highlighting the tension between joy and loss. Even as we may experience sorrow about the past, God desires us to embrace the new things He is doing in our lives. Are you ready?

“New Beginnings”

The sermon outline is below. Click HERE for the full manuscript.

The Outline

Sermon Text: Ezra 3:10-13

1.    God Brings New Beginnings (v. 10-11)

a.    Ezra 1:2-3

b.    Zechariah 4:10

2.    New Beginnings Bring Goodbyes (v. 11-12)

3.    New Beginnings Bring Hope (v. 13)

a.    John 2:19-21

b.    John 4:21-23

c.     Revelation 21:3-5

d.    Isaiah 43:18-19

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