Sisters, let’s do something different today. Let’s have a quiet time together.
First, let’s thank God for the gifts he gave us yesterday. I keep a gratitude journal and try to write in it every day. I have over 1850 entries right now. It really helps me keep the positive in perspective.
Father, I thank you so much for having more energy yesterday, after struggling with a urinary tract infection in days prior. I thank you for the rain that sluiced down upon my poor dry yard and flowers. Thank you for the lovely purple Mexican poppies facing me this morning. Thank you for the great talk I had with Jessica, and the adorable pictures she sent me of little Josiah. Thank you for Mitchell and Lorena coming over last night, and the laughs we shared, and the spiritual encouragement we gave each other, and for their friendship. (I’ll stop here in the interest of time.)
Now, tell God what you are grateful for…..
Next, let’s pray by breathing in the Spirit and breathing out sin. I heard someone mention this technique, and it is a great thing to do throughout the day. Everyone knows meditation is helpful. Classic meditation is focusing on your breaths. So let’s focus on taking spiritual breaths.
Breathe in the first fruit of the Spirit, which is love. Feel God’s amazing love for you, how much he cares about each detail of your life. Breathe out all of your animosity, the bad attitudes towards others, the resentments, and so on.
Breathe in God’s joy. Picture him in the heavens, rejoicing over all of his splendid creation. Picture him looking with joy at all the people who have given their lives to him and serve him. Now breathe out your angst. Breathe out the things that brings you down.
Breathe in peace. I envision a vast shining network of threads stretching over the earth, and God controls them all. He is the grand orchestrater. Nothing escapes his will. He will accomplish his purpose. Breathe out all of your inner turmoil. Put your worries in God’s hands.
Breathe in patience. Remember that God is long suffering with us, slow to anger. His patience is like a tempering force in the universe. Breathe out all your impatience, the frustration over the things you want to change.
Breathe in kindness. Feel God’s good will towards you. Remember the blessings he gives, even though you don’t deserve them. Breathe out the unkind thoughts you have towards others.
Breathe in goodness. God is light. In him there is no darkness at all. When you pray, you are surrounded by his goodness on every side. Breathe out anything that is rancid in your thoughts and character.
Breathe in faithfulness. If you are a disciple, God is totally committed to you. He will always do right be you. But God is also committed to each person, because they are his beloved creation that he watches over. Breathe out all your doubts and your wishi-washiness.
Breathe in gentleness. Know that God practices such restraint. We are his children and he treats us with a careful loving hand. Breathe out all of your harshness.
Breathe in self control. Feel God strengthening you to serve him in the right ways today. Breathe out all of your laziness and lack of commitment.
That was wonderful!! Now let’s petition God and go down our prayer lists. I’m including prayers for the REACH conference and the people who are traveling. I’m praying that my return to health will continue, and that I won’t have any complications. I am especially praying that we can find someone who can be our campus minister. If we found someone at REACH, that would be awesome!!
Next, let’s look at the Bible. I’ve been studying Malachi, and I’m almost done. Here is Malachi 4:1–
Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
This verse talks about a judgement day that is coming. This can be the fall of Jerusalem. It can also be the final judgement.
The thing that concerns me with this verse is that arrogance is put on the same scale as being a wicked evil doer whose fate is to be set on fire. Let’s watch ourselves. I just finished a quick read through Matthew, listing all the passages that dealt with sin. There really aren’t that many things Jesus condemned as sin. But a major one is pride. He talks about not doing things for show, to be seen. This verse sums up his attitude:
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matt 23:12
Let’s examine ourselves and think of how we exalt ourselves. Do we think we’re better than others? “No!” we proclaim. But as I thought about it more, I realize that I make a thousand little judgements through the day and look down on the way people dress and conduct their lives. There’s just something about trying to be my best for God that makes me look at others and decide they aren’t doing what they should do.
Reading Romans 14 helps me in this. Here are a few highlights: “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. . . Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. . . . You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”
There is much more I could say on this, but read it for yourself. We must somehow balance calling one another to righteousness with forbearance. We must be humble, because we are ALL SINNERS!!! I love what Guy Hammond, a minister who struggles with same sex attraction, says about this: “Love the sinner. Hate our own sin.”
Okay, moving on. This verse in Malachi echos a theme found elsewhere in the Bible. Look at Isaiah 5:24: “Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.”
And check out what John the Baptist said: “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matt 3:11-12
Yikes! John talks about a side of Jesus we don’t want to think about. It is a great reminder that Jesus isn’t all soft compassion and fluff. He also expects people to toe the line, and will help execute judgement on those who don’t.
There have been a lot of fires lately. Here is one in the Kern River Valley in California on June 24.
The fire was especially bad because the area is so dry. Notice the words God uses for those who will be burned up — stubble, straw, dry grass, chaff. All of these refer to dry, useless vegetation.
So what should be our goal? To be like the tree planted by water that always drinks in God! “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.” (Ps 1:2-3a) When we prayed earlier, didn’t you feel strengthened and enriched? Didn’t your brittle coarse attitudes fade away?
And this is what God says next in Malachi 4. “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.“
When we seek God, when we follow Jesus, we feel better. We are healed. We leap for joy!!
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, quoted part of this verse when he prophesied about his son:
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:78
Thank you, God, for these wonderful verses. Thank you that they give us direction in our lives. Thank you that so much peace and encouragement can be found in you. Thank you that you sent your son to give us hope and a way to be closer to you. Help us to be humble. Forgive us of our pride. Help us to be serious about sin. Help us to always come to you, the SOURCE. May we walk with strength and joy today. May all of this be always and only for your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.