When I fail.
For all the times I have failed, for all the times I have made mistakes. As a parent, I have failed my kids, gotten unnecessarily angry with them. As a husband, I have been lazy, and selfish. As a person, and as a leader all to often I have fallen short. Why because just like you I am a broken person. I am a sinner. I don't always make the best choices. I don't always do what's right. In all this in my weakness, If find strength in Him. In all that I am not, He is. If you ever find yourself falling short. You can find safety in Jesus.
Read: John 4:1-38
Journal: In this story, you find a woman broken, a woman who has fallen short. How does Jesus comfort her? How does He give her hope? Do you want to drink the water that He gives?
Pray: That you can have the refreshing that you need. Pray that God will make up the difference where you fail. Pray that God will help you to be who he knows that you can be.
2 Corinthians 12:9
The wonder of quiet.
The beauty of peace. I sit in my chair, my children are at school, my youngest in her room for quiet time. My dog sleeps on the couch across the room. What do I hear? The sound of soothing water falling in the back of my aquarium. I hear peace. Oh, how nice it is to stop and just breath for a moment. As a father of three young children, I relish these moments. These moments when I can sit and think, pray or read. These moments when things are calm in my life. These are the moments of stillness in which we can clear our minds and think of God. Enjoy these moments, don't let your phone or work thoughts ruin them. There is something extraordinary about finding moments of peace, moments to focus on God.
What can we learn from Jesus? Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16
Journal: Jesus had some pretty crazy years in ministry. You thought you were busy, He constantly had a crowd around Him. What did Jesus do for his prayer and growth time? What do you think it felt like for Jesus to be constantly surrounded by people? What would it have felt like when he snuck away? If Jesus needed to find peace do we?
Challenge: Today I want to challenge you to shut off your cell phone for at least 30 minutes, during that time Pray and read. Enjoy the moments away from the chaos of the world. If you want a suggestion, try reading Psalm 23.
Pray: Pray that God will bring you the peace and rest that you need.
Daylight Savings Time???
Daylight savings, what? Every year I think, who invented this torture. My life is busy enough, why do I need to loose time? They say that today is one of the most dangerous days of the year. People are tired. Less sleep. Less focus. We need more sleep, more rest, not less. In our fast paced society learning how to slow down and focus is an extremely valuable skill. The ability to manage one's time in order to slow down is a skill that helps us to function in peace. Why the world is zoned out, let's focus. Even in our tired overworked, lives we can have peace.
Stop, just stop. Right now as you sit here reading this. Stop. Take a minute. Pray. Lord slow me down. Give me the rest that you promise.
Now for the next thirty seconds just hit pause. listen to the silence around you. If there is not peace around you imagine a wall, a sound proof wall around you. Now focus.
Read: Matthew 8:23-27
Journal: How was Jesus able to sleep? What was the difference between Jesus peace and the disciple's storm? How can you find peace in the storm? Who is in control?
Pray: Ask Jesus to help you savor the moments, and to make peace in the moments of chaos.
Read: Matthew 11:28 Is it time to find rest in Jesus? To find a slow and peaceful place in Him?
Let's go even slower. The purpose of getting into God's word is to get to know God. You can't do that by skimming through. Some of the best moments in my life were times when I slowed things down. Moments of peaceful reflection. Do you remember speed dating? You would circulate through as many dates as possible spending just a few moments with each. The idea was that you would get to date a lot of people in a short amount of time, finding out quickly the ones you wanted to avoid and the people you would want to pursue more. The problem is a lasting relationship is not built in 3 minutes, its build slowly over time. Today let's not speed date with God. Let's slow down, and build a lasting relationship with Him.
Read slowly through Psalm 42. Then read it again, this time spend 5-10 minutes reading through it again. Meditate on what God is saying to you.
Journal: As you focus on this Psalm ask yourself again.
1. What does God want me to know?
2. What does God want me to feel?
3. What does God want me to do?
Pray: Today In your journal write out your prayer. Slowly think about what you are saying to God, what you are asking Him, and what you are praising Him for.
Slow down! Sometimes when we read, when we do devotions we read too fast. You will be reading something, your flipping pages, and next thing you know. You pause and say, "What did I just read?" Sometimes you may even read the same page or paragraph three times.
In today's world our minds are distracted, and sometimes what we have to do is slow down. This is a discipline that can take some practice.
As a runner, the advice I sometimes receive is not to run as fast as you can all the time. Run most of the time at about 80% or even slower. This way your muscles are not over exerting themselves all the time. Then as your heart and body get used to 80% so that it seems easy, you can speed up. Of course, once in a while, you have to run hard to push yourself forward. But this is not good to do all the time.
It's the same with reading scripture, sometimes we just need to slow down. This is what we are going to work on over the next few days.
Today time yourself. This will sound easy but it might surprise you.
Set your phone timer to 10 minutes.
For the next ten minutes read over Psalm 61. Read it slowly, think about what you are reading. If you have to read it multiple times. Read it as slow and as thoughtful as you can.
Journal: Spend the next 10 minutes asking yourself these three questions about Psalm 61.
1. What does God want me to know about this passage?
2. What does God want me to feel about this passage?
3. What does God want me to do about this passage?
Pray: Spend some time asking God to speak to you through this process of slowing down. Think on it in prayer.
Meek or weak?
One of the most interesting and unique concepts to Christianity is that of dependence. Much of the world religions teach that you have to do something to gain the end prize. Almost all, are a process of works. However, Christianity is different. You cannot gain the end prize of eternal life, and transformation if you do it on your own merits. This is beautifully illustrated in what Christians call the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:5 is the verse “Blessed are the meek”, this is a very interesting verse. In the cultural context of Ancient Israel, there was typically a view that to be blessed was to have things or to be in a position of height or power. Here Jesus is saying blessed are the meek. What does this mean? Meek as defined by dictionary.com
1. humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
2. overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
3. Obsolete. gentle; kind.
This paints a picture of a weak and broken spirit. This is close but not what Jesus was conveying. The word for meek in Greek carries a different meaning.
William Barcley describes it this way, “It is the regular word for an animal which has been domesticated, which has been trained to obey the word of command, which has learned to respond to the reins. It is the word for an animal which has learned to accept control…The moment we have stated that, we see that it needs a change. It is not so much the blessing of those who are self-controlled, for such complete self-control is beyond human capacity; rather, it is the blessing of those who are completely God-controlled, for only in his service do we ﬁnd our perfect freedom and, in doing his will, our peace.” The moment we have stated that, we see that it needs a change. It is not so much the blessing of those who are self-controlled, for such complete self-control is beyond human capacity; rather, it is the blessing of those who are completely God-controlled, for only in his service do we ﬁnd our perfect freedom and, in doing his will, our peace." The New Daily Study Bible.
As Christians, we are not to be pushovers, but to be completely controlled by God. For us to attain eternal life, we need to allow Jesus to control us. To take the reins. Is Jesus in control of your reins?
Read Matthew 5:1-16
Journal: What does this say about a Christian? How are you different then this? What can you do to become more like this?
Pray: Today as you pray ask that God will take control of your life. That he will make you controllable.
At your lowest?
Have you ever been down in the dumps? At your lowest? Yes for some that means that they have lost everything. I had a friend years ago who became addicted to a harsh drug, and it became his priority until one day he realized he had lost everything he loved, for something he thought he loved. He had lost his kids, his home, his wife and his career, all for temporary satisfaction. The worst part is, that every time he had an opportunity to escape that life, he would allow himself to give up and succumb to the draw of his addiction. It controlled him. He had literally lost everything.
For others at your lowest may not mean you are homeless or addicted to drugs. It may, in fact, mean you have everything, but realize that none of it has given you the happiness you thought it would. Perhaps at your lowest is that feeling when you realize you have nothing and are wretched in your heart. Although the story of the lost son that we have been reading all week seems to illustrate the first scenario. It really encompasses any of low. The reason being, that at your low, can be any point in your life when you have walked away from God and you no longer have him there to bring you comfort. At your lowest, is really being separated from the Father. The great news is that it does not matter what your low is, drugs, depression, riches without satisfaction.
Read: Luke 15:11-32
No matter the problem, the Father is standing on the front porch just watching for you. And when he sees you coming. He is so happy to see you, he doesn;t just wait for you to come, he runs to embrace you. He throws a party. He is happy you are home.
Journal: What do we see from the Father? What has he been doing while you were gone? Put yourself in the returning son's shoes, how does it feel to have the Father run to you, and embrace you? You are home, what does home mean to you?
Pray: Thank God today for waiting for you. Thank Him for what He has done, and all that He is willing to do for you. If you have not come home yet, Maybe now is the time to come home, the Father is waiting for you.
Revelation 3:20 says, " Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Re 3:20.
The Fathers View.
From the Father's eyes, what do you see? I remember being in college and an unruly young punk. I thought I knew everything. Until I was kicked out of school. Something I deserved? Yes. Something I needed? Probably. Something I agreed with? Maybe not. But then months later I was working as a boys dean in Australia. Sitting on the other side of the table. Rather than being kicked out I had to be a part of the disciplinary process to remove an unruly boarding student. It wasn't easy, but again the change in perspective opened my eyes. To go from being disciplined to disciplining was very different from me. All of a sudden I had to understand the schools perspective.
Read: Luke 15:11-32 again. Read it slowly. Ask God to open your eyes to the different perspectives.
Journal: What did the father feel when his son left? What did he think when his son was gone? What would the normal reaction toward the son be from you or from an average father? What was different about the father in the Story?
Pray: Simply ask God today, to help you see life while understanding that Fathers love.
Focus your eyes
Yesterday we looked at a perspective of the lost son. Today we will change our glasses. When I was 7 years old I remember looking at a shelf in Sears trying to read what the price tag said on a new toy that I wanted. It was strange. My eyes would not focus. The letters and numbers on the tag where fuzzy. They did not become clear until I moved closer to the tag. This was the first time I noticed something was wrong with my eyes. My mother took me to the eye doctor, and after a few tests, they determined that I was nearsighted. I would need to wear glasses. This was devastating, I didn't want to be the kid with glasses. When I put them on, however, everything changed. I could see. It was as if a fog had been lifted. Words that were once fuzzy, where clear. I could see! Sometimes we need to look at a passage in scripture several times to see all of the different angles in which God can speak to us. The parable that Jesus told of the lost son is one of great depth and beauty. There is so much we can learn from this story. One thing I want you to see is that it is also very good to read a passage over several times. Yesterday you read it in view of why the son left. Today I want you to focus your eyes on something else.
Read: Luke 15:11-32 Read it slower today. Focus on the feelings of the son.
Journal: Think about the Son and his journey, what did he feel like when he left home? What did he feel when he lost everything? Did he expect this to happen? What kind of emotions would he have gone through? When he thought about what to say to his father what feelings must he have had? What did he feel when the father welcomed him, and restored him?
Prayer: Today pray that God will help you to see your needs? Pray that God will give you a renewed hope in Him. Pray that God will forgive you for leaving him. Make Revelation 3:20 and Matthew 7:7 your prayer today.
Do we need more?
Are you trapped in the prodigal life? There are so many beautiful, deep thoughts that can come as one studies the parable of the lost "Prodigal" son. One that we often miss is the realization, that the things we think will provide us with happiness, end up being the very things that pull us away from happiness. This is a realization that comes true in the modern world with our "First World Problems are not really problems". We have so much. We have forgotten what problems are. We have so much, yet there is so much depression and anxiety around us. There are around 40 million Americans who struggle with some form of anxiety disorder, according to adaa.org that is nearly 18%. We strive to live out the American dream yet we are still so unsatisfied. All we want is more. This is what the lost son experienced.
Read: Luke 15:11-32
Journal: Why did he leave home? What did he think he would gain? How does this compare to your life? What will help you find true happiness?
Pray: Ask God to start you on a journey toward real fulfillment. Ask God to help you focus on others today rather than yourself. Pray for three people you can treat with an act of kindness today.
Two weeks ago we spent the week talking about setting goals and achieving them. Here are two Journals that could help you with them. I personally use the Performance planner and it works great. I have not used the Self Journal but it also looks like a good option.
The Self Journal
Zig Ziglar Performance Planner
Ryan Hodgins, pastor, coach. Married to a gorgeous wife. Father to three girls. I need this epic walk.
How often do we wonder, "Where am I going? or What is my purpose?" In our day to day life, in our inner walk, many of us are looking for a purpose. You may be here because you want answers. You may be here because you truly want an Epic Walk. For whatever your reason, I am glad you are here. Read on. Enjoy our daily homework and hopefully, you can find more purpose, and begin an Epic Walk.