Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

April 20 — The new covenant in my blood

Today’s Bible readings

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” — Luke 22:19-20

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:34-5

More thoughts for meditation

We believe all who come to be part of Circle of Hope should have the opportunity to make a covenant as a further step of obedient, fullness-seeking discipleship. Making a covenant is saying, “I am with you. I want to express the same kind of public covenant love that Jesus expresses.”

By committing to a common covenant we are taking a practical step to live out the New Testament vision of Jesus-followers living together and acting as His body. We want to be connected as visible members of the church, as the scripture describes:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. — Ephesians 4:22-5

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. — Colossians 3: 13-15

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  — 1 Corinthians 12:24-27

Making a visible covenant is a way to live out these teachings from the Bible. Most of all, it is a way to respond to the call of Jesus to join in a new covenant with him, in His blood, a covenant centered on the new command to love as He loves.

Suggestions for action

Have you taken the cup Jesus offers you and made that covenant with him? Do you belong to him as He does to you? Have you become family?

Likewise, have you made a face-to-face covenant with people you can love like Jesus loves you. Do you belong to them like they belong to Jesus? Have you become family?

Consider how you answer the questions — not to judge, but to relate to Jesus.

April 19 — Sing for joy

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Revelation 6:7-17

The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

More thoughts for meditation

The old song we sing sometimes gives us a chance to say, “Even when the clouds are ‘rolled back as a scroll’ I will say, ‘It is well with my soul.’”  We need to sing. It takes some practice to express a heart of faith in a world that is full of sin and the results of sin! We need to learn how to join in the song of Revelation 5:13—“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

N.T. Wright has some good teaching about wrath and praise that will encourage us to express our joy no matter what our circumstances or fears:

“The wrath of the Lamb, of which Revelation speaks from time to time, is the anger of love against all that hurts and damages the beloved. The love of the Lamb is the great reality that undergirds the entire vision.

And it is that love which is revealed at Easter. Without Easter, Calvary is just another political execution of a failed Messiah. Without Easter, the world is trapped between the shoulder shrug of the cynic, the fantasy of the escapist, and the tanks of the tyrant. Without Easter, there is no reason to suppose that good will triumph over evil, that love will win over hatred, that life will win over death.

But with Easter we have hope; because hope depends on love; and love has become human and died, and is now alive forevermore, and holds the keys of Death and Hades. It is because of him that we know—we don’t just hope, we know—that God will wipe away all tears from all eyes.

And in that knowledge we find ourselves to be Sunday people, called to live in a world of Fridays. In that knowledge we know ourselves to be Easter people, called to minister in a world of Calvarys. In that knowledge we find that the hand that dries our tears passes the cloth to us, and bids us follow him, to go dry one another’s tears.

The Lamb calls us to follow him wherever he goes; into the dark places of the world, the dark places of our own hearts, the places where tears blot out the sunlight, the places where tyrants pave the grass over with concrete; and he bids us shine his morning light into the darkness, and share the ministry of wiping away the tears.

And as we worship, and adore, and follow the Lamb., we join, already, in the song of Revelation 5:11-14, the song that one day the trees and the mountains and the whales and the waterfalls—the whole world, reborn on Easter morning—will all sing with us.” —N.T. Wright in Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship.

Suggestions for action

Pray/Sing: You called me out of my hiding place and gave a place to stand in joy! I praise you!

In the face of the darkness of the world, the followers of Jesus sing; they use heart-language to worship their king, to announce their faith, and to throw back the dark. Take that line from Revelation 5 and sing for joy. Use the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” Or use the song that comes to your mind. Or make up your own tune using the words you need to use. Let your heart sing.

April 18– Scattered like seeds

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Mark 4:21-32

He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

More thoughts for meditation

The environment we create as a church is not necessarily a physical “place.” Our relationships, Spirit to spirit with Jesus, form an “environment” we carry with us. Likewise, the love that knits us together forms a spiritual “place.”

Ed Stetzer offers us encouragement to participate in the mysterious process of being the seed Jesus describes in Mark, as well as being the farm where further seeds can gain root in the kingdom of God.

[Church planters] “take Jesus’ commands to go into the world and make disciples and his admonitions for his followers who are ‘in the world,’ as marching orders to ‘plant seeds’ of prayer, love, kindness, good deeds and witness in all the circles where God allows them to roam free: home, work, neighborhood, social circles, kid’s school, and sports teams, etc. Rather than moving into those contexts with a goal of ‘attracting’ nonbelievers to a church service, these spiritual entrepreneurs see their job as living out the first question in those contexts: Who is Jesus?

The missional church is incarnational, not attractional, in its ecclesiology. By incarnational we mean it does not create sanctified spaces into which unbelievers must come to encounter the gospel. Rather, the missional church dissembles itself and seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to be Christ to those who don’t yet know him.” — Ed Stetzer in Planting Missional Churches

Suggestions for action

Pray: I am listening to your desire to grow us from seed to harvest. Scatter me like seeds of your truth and love.

To have joy in being a church planter takes more than following marching orders. How the seed of the kingdom of God sprouts and grows is always a miracle that we can’t control, even when we are devoted to planting seeds. Take a look at where you are “in the world” right now and let your imagination loose. Rejoice in all the ways you have been able to plant seeds. Find joy in all the opportunity you have to be an opportunity to meet God.

Then pray for your farm to sprout new seeds of faith, hope and love. Envision a joyful place where life in Christ grows deep: in your marriage, your family, your cell, your neighborhood, your workplace. How can Jesus seep into the cracks and crevices? — let the Lord show you.

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