Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Going All In (page 1 of 2)

June 23 — Other gods

This week we’re going to consider the idea of “going all in” for Christ and what that might look like for us. We’ll come at it from a few different angles — some small, some big — read some scripture, and try to think about it practically and sustainably. 

Today’s Bible Reading 

“When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭22:9-12‬ ‭

More Thoughts For Meditation 

Let’s try a thought experiment about sacrifice today. 

What is something that you routinely make sacrifices for? Maybe it’s family, maybe it’s work. I’m a musician and have made sacrifices for that. Let’s take music as an example. 

Learning how to play an instrument requires sacrifice. There are many moments where your friends are outside playing or going to parties and you’re staying at home practicing. That’s a sacrifice. You might even say that you are sacrificing your time on the altar to the music gods. That might be a stretch but let’s go with it.

As you get better and better at your instrument you might find yourself putting more than just your time on that altar. Maybe you sacrifice a relationship, maybe it’s a job promotion, maybe it’s having a family. 

Now, it doesn’t all have to be negative. It’s a wonderful thing to have a craft, discipline yourself in it, and excel. There’s no shame in that. 

But let’s keep going with this thought experiment even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Who are the gods we might say we’ve sacrificed to? Are they the music gods? I certainly have. The career gods? The “being good” gods? The “being right” gods? What are we willing to put on that altar? Or better yet, is there anything we can put on those altars that the other gods will say no to? I don’t think so. I think those gods will take anything and everything we put on the altar. They’re not like Abraham’s god. Abraham’s god says “no” in our scripture reading today. “Do not lay your hand on the boy”. That doesn’t sound like a music god or a career god to me. That sounds like a Good God, one that actually cares about us, a God that might actually love us, a God that is worth following, worth maybe even going all in for. 

Let’s not let this be a moment to feel shame about ourselves. Shame can be a god too. Jesus meets us where we’re at right now. We can be honest with ourselves without condemnation. That’s how good this God is. He’s inviting us to follow him, to keep following him, to not have it all perfect, but to have a willingness to change, to be changed, to be transformed daily, piece by piece, moment by moment, little drastic decision by little drastic decision. That might actually be what it means to go “all in.”

Suggestions For Action 

Reflect on your faith journey today. The fact that you’re reading this probably indicates that you’ve noticed how empty those other gods are and that there’s something different about Jesus. Rejoice in that! It’s a miracle! Reflect on some of those little drastic moments or risky decisions you’ve made for Christ. Maybe it was going to a Sunday meeting for the first time or leading a cell. Reflect on those moments of trust and worship. It’s OK if there have been peaks and valleys. It’s OK if you’re in a valley. Jesus is in your weakness too. Can you believe it? Be refreshed that you’re following a living God whose mercies are new daily. Rest in it. Trust in it. Trust that he’s going to continue the work he started in you. That’s another promise. And as you reflect on your journey you might come to the conclusion that you’re way more “all in” than you thought! 

June 22 — Weakness

This week we’re going to consider the idea of “going all in” for Christ and what that might look like for us. We’ll come at it from a few different angles — some small, some big — read some scripture, and try to think about it practically and sustainably.

Today’s Bible Reading 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬ ‭

More Thoughts For Meditation 

The story of Jesus in the Bible is a strange one. It doesn’t read like a triumphant Superhero movie. It’s actually much better. 

In this story the main character loses. He grows up poor, remains poor, makes some friends, does and says some interesting things, upsets a lot of people, ends up getting arrested, and dies a pretty nasty death. Then there’s that part about the resurrection which no one really seems to be able to make sense of in the story. Even some of Jesus’s closest friends can barely believe it and the Gospel of Matthew tells us that some who saw him resurrected still didn’t believe.

This is not a story of obvious power. This not a Superhero movie. It kind of sounds like a story of failure, of weakness.

In our scripture reading today Jesus says that his power is made perfect in weakness. I think he means it and that’s a powerful thought. Jesus is not saying that there will be no weakness, or that we should be ashamed of our weakness. No, it seems like he’s blessing our weakness. He’s inviting us into the weakness and through the weakness. He seems to be telling us that that is where he is. In weakness. He even invites us into death and then invites us to follow him THROUGH death and into eternal life. Jesus is showing us what “all in” means.

This is so much better than a Superhero movie where the hero “wins” by being stronger or smarter or better connected. This actually sounds like real life and it seems Paul gets it when he says “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly for my weaknesses.”

You almost get a certain sense of excitement from Paul here. As if he had a question: “Lord, what do I do with this weakness of mine? It’s messing me up, I can’t seem to get rid of it.” And Jesus replies: “Paul, don’t you remember? I went down into all weakness, even into death. I’m in your weakness. Remember the cross? I’m always with you. Keep following me, there’s so much more to it. You’ll see!”

There’s a place for our weakness, our failures, our doubts, our fears, our mistakes. Ours is not a doctrine of avoidance. The Christian actually has something to say about weakness: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Suggestions For Action 

The Christian icon is a man dying on a cross. It’s not an Easter Bunny or a Jolly Old Saint. It’s the real thing. It’s not just an effective philosophy or a recreational revelation. It doesn’t happen on our time or at our bidding. It’s dirty, woody, muddy, wet, dangerous, and transformational.

Spend a few moments today looking at a crucifix. Maybe you have one at home. Look at it and think of Jesus’s words: “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Repeat it a few times. What comes to mind? What are you feeling? Strength? Power? Weakness? Trust it. Trust that the Holy Spirit is doing something and be blessed.

June 21 — Forgiveness with a capital ‘F’

This week we’re going to consider the idea of “going all in” for Christ and what that might look like for us. We’ll come at it from a few different angles– some small, some big– read some scripture, and try to think about it practically and sustainably.

Today’s Bible Reading

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭103:10-12‬ ‭

More Thoughts For Meditation 

The Bible speaks a lot about sin. As you read and study scripture it’s pretty much impossible to avoid being confronted by sin. 

But the big picture of the Christian story might not be about sin, it might actually be about Forgiveness. Forgiveness with a capital “F”.

Have you ever experienced something you might call Forgiveness with a capital “F”? Have you ever done something so dumb and awful that you could hardly believe it was you who did it and yet were forgiven? Maybe by a loved one or a friend or a pastor? And it wasn’t that weak type of “don’t worry about it” forgiveness that isn’t really forgiveness, but it was real Forgiveness with a capital “F”. That kind of Forgiveness that says: “Yes, I am hurt but I know that wasn’t really you that did that and I Forgive you because I love you. Now, let’s start to rebuild!” You know that person means it because they’re not secretly keeping you under their heel, You can just feel it and it sets you free from your shame and guilt. And when you experience real Forgiveness like that you know how to Forgive others. That’s real power.

The Bible tells us that kind of Forgiveness comes from God. We are able to Forgive ourselves and others because we have been Forgiven. That Forgiveness is a gift, an invitation, a constant hope. That is radical. And it’s that radical idea that is at the heart of our scripture reading today. 

Sin and it’s consequences are real and can’t be overlooked, but there is a danger in obsessing over our sin. It’s too easy to get stuck in shame and guilt, it can leave us feeling hopeless and useless or we can spend our entire lives trying to somehow redeem ourselves. This is not from God.

Paul knows this too and says in Romans 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Be set free by the Spirit of life to Forgive! “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

Suggestions For Action 

Think of a time in your life where you experienced Forgiveness. Maybe it was something big or maybe it was something small that hit you hard. Remember it with joy. Forget the guilt. Let the Forgiveness wash over you. Believe that it came from God. Trust it, trust that it will come again. And trust that now you know how to give that gift, to Forgive with a capital “F”. 

Let us be people who are “all in” for Forgiveness. Let our Christianity not be one of constant judgment and condemnation but one of Forgiveness.

June 20 — Worship

This week we’re going to consider the idea of “going all in” for Christ and what that might look like for us. We’ll come at it from a few different angles — some small, some big — read some scripture, and try to think about it practically and sustainably. 

Today’s Bible Reading

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭

More Thoughts For Meditation 

Let’s spend a little time today thinking about worship. What is worship? That’s a good question. Let’s look at two aspects of what Paul writes in our scripture reading today. 

He starts by telling us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. There’s a lot to wrestle with here but maybe a simple way of looking at it is to ask ourselves what we arrange our lives around. What do we move things around for? What thing are we holding close, that prompt us to say no to other things? What do we arrange our schedules around?

This ties into the second aspect of Paul’s teaching: to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Again, lots to wrestle with here, but another simple way to consider it would be to ask ourselves what gets our attention. Who are we listening to? What are we reading about? What keeps popping up on our cell phones?

Cell phones are an interesting example. There are lots of studies now examining the way cell phones are literally changing our brains, one might even say renewing our minds. Many phones today keep track of how much screen time we use, how many minutes or hours we spend each day on our phones. They sometimes even break it down to specific activities like “reading and reference”, “productivity”, and “entertainment”. So we might ask ourselves what is getting our screen time.

We might be able to look at these two ideas as worship. What gets our attention and what are we arranging our schedules around? The answers to these questions might give us a little insight into what worship is and what we’re worshiping.

The intent here is not to shame ourselves but to help us put a finger on what worship is and how to actually do it. It might really be that simple, just show up. It’s the Lord’s work to transform you, so be free from your guilt and instead be filled with expectation of the work God is doing and will continue to do in you!

Suggestions For Action 

Here at Circle of Hope we have many opportunities to arrange our schedules and set our attention on the Lord. And many of us are doing it. Praise God! We set aside multiple times a week to gather and we offer many ways to set our attention towards following Jesus and using our screen time well. Be encouraged by this today. We’re learning to be “true and proper” worshipers together. Go into your cell or Sunday meeting this week encouraged and refreshed. Make it to the meetings and recognize the time and attention you’re giving to them. You’re a true and proper worshiper! You’re saying no to other things and yes to worship! That’s a miracle!

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