G.R.I.E.F.   – Godly Repentance In Every Failure

Read:

Scripture for reflection: Acts 27

Reflect:

“The angel told me, “Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must present your case to the emperor. God has granted safety to everyone who is sailing with you.” Acts 27:24

We are living in very stormy times – a world that is on the brink of a world war with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the midst of a pandemic. Like Charlie Brown, we cry out, “Good grief!” as we wonder what the future holds.  A world plunged into darkness by war and the pandemic is in great need for a tsunami of joy – to hear “Joy to the world! The Lord has come!”  Indeed, the good news is that Jesus has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of Christ’s love. In times like these, we need to pray for the complete knowledge of God’s will and for spiritual wisdom and understanding.1 

When the apostle Paul was on the way to Rome, his ship was caught in a terrible storm that raged for days and there seemed to be no hope of survival. In the face of despair, Paul shared with his fellow companions that an angel had told him not to be afraid for it was God’s will for him to present his case to the emperor and so all of them would be saved. With a spirit of thanksgiving, he broke some bread and encouraged all of them to eat. When morning came, the ship was shipwrecked but everyone was able to escape safely to shore.2 

The war in Ukraine and the pandemic are but urgent clarion calls to repentance – to open our eyes to the invisible war against evil and the spiritual infection of sin in all of our hearts. We will all suffer grief in this dark world sooner or later. But we can choose our response to grief – with worldly sorrow or godly repentance. Worldly sorrow drives us to despair and hopelessness.  Godly repentance leads us to joy and confident hope. Godly repentance draws us to the truth that blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.3 We are brought to the end of ourselves so that we will rely only on God who raises the dead instead of relying on ourselves.4 And the spirit of poverty opens the door into the kingdom of heaven.5

The failures of fickle, flawed and fearful leaders are but mirrors of the failures, flaws and fears in our hearts.  All of us need to come to g.r.i.e.f. – godly repentance in every failure – to learn lessons from our failures and turn them into stepping stones of faith. And centering prayer is the best response to grief to turn to God – not to change our circumstances, but to change our hearts that we may be the salt and light in the world.

Julian of Norwich wrote that we are created for joy and the more we see (and know our failures), the more by grace we shall long to be filled full of endless joy. Even though we will constantly fail, we have the hope, according to Richard Rohr, that everything can be mended, healed, and restored for failure is not the final word.6 

A simple way to practice godly repentance in failure is to learn to be still  and to rest in our Shepherd of Love. In silence, we observe and witness our thoughts and feelings such as fear, anger, doubts, and a myriad of other negative emotions and beliefs with a nonjudgmental spirit of  acceptance. Suppressing such thoughts and feelings will turn them into inner storms that will shipwreck our peace of mind. Observing and accepting them in silence is the best way to bring these thoughts captive to Christ.7

We will fail time and time again to keep away the “monkey thoughts” from our minds but this is the secret of success in Christian meditation – each time we fail to be still we succeed because the awareness of our failure becomes the expression of our intention and our desire to make Jesus our Lord. When we try to be a master of meditation, we will be mastered by our “monkey thoughts.” However, when we seek to be mastered by Christ through meditation, Christ will be the master of our wandering thoughts and the Holy Spirit will fill our wondering hearts with more love for God.

The goal of Christian meditation is to invite the Holy Spirit to renew our cluttered minds with the will of God and to recharge our hardened hearts with the love of God. In silence we listen and delight in God’s promises by keeping our eyes on the Cross of Christ. This will help us to walk by the Spirit in times of success as well as times of failure. Only then can we be a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness.8

When our lives are firmly anchored in the will of God, our hearts will not be divided and we will not be blown and tossed by the storms of life. We will not react to the negative circumstances of life out of anger or fear but we will painstakingly learn to respond with love and in faith.  We will then not fear failure nor seek success in the eyes of the world but we will grow in faithfulness to seek the will of God. True success is living a life of confident hope that is rooted in the righteousness of Christ, the joy of salvation in the Spirit, and the everlasting love of God. God’s answers to the woes of our world are blowing in the wind. We are called to radiate God’s love, joy and peace as children of God and to declare:

“This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!”9

Respond:

Lord, I surrender my fear of failure to You. Lead me in godly repentance in every failure that I face.

Reframe:

  1.  What are the fears that are keeping me from seeking God’s will?
  2. How can I see God’s plans and promises in the failures of my  life?
  3. How can I know God more deeply so that I can trust Him with my future?

Song Of Praise:

This Is My Father’s World

Notes:

  1. Colossians 1:9-13
  2. Acts 27
  3.  Matthew 5:4
  4. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
  5. Matthew 5:3
  6. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations, 23rd February 2022
  7. 2 Corinthians 10:5
  8.  Romans 2:19
  9.  This Is My Father’s World, Amy Grant

Imperfect Faith, Perfect Faithfulness

Read:

Scripture for reflection: Genesis Chapter 15

Reflect:

“Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” Genesis 15:1

We live in a crazy and chaotic world that is full of unpredictable changes. We are fearful of change but change is the catalyst to grow our faith and our love for God. The story of Abraham reveals  the humbling truth that our faith is imperfect but God’s faithfulness is perfect. His promises of everlasting love and faithfulness are rooted in the honor of His name.1 Abraham was called by God to leave his father’s family and relatives in Haran at the age of seventy five years to  journey to Canaan. God had promised Abraham that he would be famous and be a blessing to all the families of the earth.2 This promise of God  has been fulfilled for Abraham is the father of faith of the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians. And the history of the Jewish nation which began with the story of Abraham culminated in the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ:

“He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For He made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”3

The ups and downs of the Jewish people provide us with a glimpse of God’s wonderful Story Of Salvation – God will not abandon the people He has chosen as His own because this would dishonor His great name.4 We have been infected by sin and live in a fallen world that is under the dominion of evil. The biblical stories are a dramatic revelation of the incredible plan of God to redeem mankind from sin, to renew the earth and to restore the kingdom of God on earth.

 God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.5 This is seen in the story of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis, chapter 15. Abraham was asked to make a sacrifice comprising of a heifer, goat, ram, turtledove and a pigeon when he asked God for a confirmation that God will be giving him the land of Canaan. While waiting for God to consume the sacrifice, he fell into a deep sleep and encountered a terrifying darkness. He was given a peek into the future of the Jews – a story of oppression as slaves for 400 years in a foreign land. They would only return to the Promised Land after four generations. God then confirmed the covenant through a smoking firepot and a flaming pot passing between the halves of the carcasses.6 This is to remind us that God is God of the past, present and future.

Earlier, Abraham had successfully rescued Lot from King Kedorlaomer and his allies. Perhaps he was struggling with fears of retribution from King Kedorlaomer when the Lord spoke to him in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”7

The life of Abraham is the story of a flawed and fallible human being with an imperfect faith seeking to trust the perfect faithfulness of God. God knows how weak and fragile our human faith can be. God is always waiting to turn our fears and doubts into faith and convictions. When life seems impossible, we can turn to God with a faith as small as a mustard seed to find strength and endurance in the storms of life.

Impossible situations are times to experience the joy and peace of a faith rooted in the perfect faithfulness of God. It is in such times that we see the fruit of our faithful practice of spiritual disciplines to be still in the presence of God.8 Trials and tribulations become opportunities for great joy as we grow in endurance and wisdom.9

Jesus came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. We are the true children of Abraham and heirs of God’s kingdom when we belong to Christ.10  Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” to remind us of our vision and mission as the children of God’s Promise. Through success and sorrow, in our struggles and the storms of life, we are to remember that God’s faithfulness is perfect.

God’s promises are forever. The chaos in the world beckons us to be still and to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. We are tempted to feel that God is absent or that God has forgotten. But God scatters the proud and pull strong rulers from their thrones. He honors the humble and feeds the hungry.11  In times of uncertainty, we have the confident hope that the Holy Spirit is leading us into the unknown future when Jesus is enthroned in our hearts as our Servant King.

We are not called to be successful but to journey through life with growing trust in the perfect faithfulness of God’s everlasting love. It is our failures that awaken us to our need for God’s provision, pardon and protection so that we can be God’s faithful and loving  ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us live our lives in a way that proves we belong to God and are living in His kingdom for His glory12 as we declare:

“Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”13

Respond:

Lord, my faith is weak and imperfect. Help me to live as Your child of Promise by putting my trust in Your perfect faithfulness.

Reframe:

  1. What fears do I encounter when I am successful in life?
  2. What doubts do I face in times of suffering and sorrow?
  3. How can I practice being still in God’s presence so that Christ will be my anchor in the storms of life?

Song of Praise

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

SDG

Notes:

  1. Psalms 138:2, NLT
  2. Genesis 12:1-3
  3. Luke 1:54-55, NLT
  4. 1 Samuel 12:22
  5. Isaiah 55:8
  6. Genesis 15: 7-17
  7. Genesis 14:14-15:1
  8. Psalms 46:10
  9. James 1:2-4
  10. Galatians 3:29, NLT
  11.  Luke 1:51-53
  12. 1 Thessalonians 2:12. GW
  13.  Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Thomas O. Chisholm

Changing Our Life Story

Lectio:

Scripture for Reflection: Genesis 21:8-21

Meditatio:

“But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, ‘Hagar, what’s wrong?” Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” Genesis 21:17, NLT

Our life stories are complex, complicated and contradictory – filled with misunderstandings, conflicts and unforgiveness because of our human failings and sinful human nature. But God is our loving Heavenly Father who is all powerful, all knowing and all loving. And He is patiently waiting for us to turn to Christ so that we can rewrite the stories of our foibles, failings and failures, into glorious testimonies of His mercy and grace, with the power of the Holy Spirit,

When Hagar was pregnant with Ishmael, she  ran away after she was abused by Sarah. At that time, she received the assurance from an angel that God had heard her distress and that she will have more descendants than she could count.1 It was like the promise that God had given to Abraham:

“Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”2 

But fourteen years later, after the birth of Isaac, Hagar found herself and Ishmael facing death in the wilderness. Sarah’s anger had been aroused when she saw Ishmael teasing Isaac and told Abraham to get rid of  Hagar and Ishmael. Although Abraham was upset, he complied with Sarah’s demands after he was assured by God that Ishmael’s descendants will become a nation too.3 By faith, he provided Hagar with food and water and sent her and Ishmael into the wilderness.

After wandering aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba, Hagar ran out of water and burst into tears in despair as she could not watch Ishmael die from dehydration. But God heard Ishmael crying and sent an angel to comfort them and remind Hagar of God’s earlier promise to her years ago:

“Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”4

Her eyes were then opened to see a well full of water and they went on to live in the wilderness of Paran. The story of Hagar and Ishmael is more than a historical story of Abraham’s family. It is a sacred story to show us the perfect faithfulness of our Heavenly Father whose love is endless. God is our Divine Story teller of Love. He weaves our human fears, failings, and failures together with our lust, greed, pride, anger, and envy into beautiful narratives of His amazing mercy and grace.

 Just as God heard the cry of Ishmael, we can cry out to God with a childlike dependence on the infinite power of God. Then like Hagar, we need to hear God asking us, “What’s wrong?” and confront our doubts and fears that keep us from seeing the wonderful promises and providence of God’s faithful love.

Our human stories may be futile, foolish and fragmented but every one of our stories has a place in the beautiful and wonderful tapestry of God’s eternal love. The story of Hagar and Sarah is a demonstration of the difference between living in fear as a slave of sin and living by faith as a child of God.

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul described the births of Ishmael and Isaac as representing two ways to be in relationship with God. We can live by the law and be slaves of sin like Ishmael. Or we can live by grace and be like Isaac, the children of promise, who may be ridiculed by those who are slaves of sin:

“And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.”5 

The good news of the gospel is that through faith in Jesus Christ, we are reborn – not with a physical birth from human passion or plan but a birth that comes from God.6 And as we live in the light of God’s love, we can change our life story – from stories of anger and abandonment to a story of faith in the total dependence on the amazing grace of God. We can then be transformed – from living as human beings seeking a spiritual experience to being a child of God living in the kingdom of heaven for the glory of God in the here and now.

As we seek to live in the kingdom of heaven, we will face obstacles, opposition and oppression, like the Jews in Egypt, But our struggles and sorrows are the compost for the seed of God’s love to grow roots of faith in our hearts. For God hears our cries and collects our tears:

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”7 

Our insignificant and futile life stories are but the inspiring stories of God’s mercy and love when our tears are turned into springs of Living Water by the grace of God to nourish the roots of faith in a spiritually dry and thirsty world:

“By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight”8

Oratio:

Abba Father,  thank You for drawing me to Your throne of grace through my fears. Help me to rewrite my life story into a living testimony of Your resurrection power by being a pencil in Your Hands through the Holy Spirit.

Contemplatio: Changing my life story

  1.  How do the stories in the bible convict, correct, challenge and comfort me?
  2. What are the parts in my life story that need to be changed?  
  3. What are the stones in my heart that keep me from joy and peace?
  4. What baby steps in my walk with God do I need to take to change my life story?

Song of Praise

By Faith

SDG

Notes:

  1. Genesis 16 
  2. Genesis 15:5
  3. Genesis 21:11-12
  4. Genesis 21:17
  5. Galatians 4:28-29
  6. John1:13. 
  7. Psalms 56:8
  8.  By Faith, Keith Getty

Tasting Fear To Find Life

Lectio:

Scripture for reflection: Exodus 14:5-15

Meditatio:

“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.” Exodus 14:13, NLT

The whole world has tasted the common fear of the Covid-19 virus – it has filled us with the fear of death and the fear of the collapse of our hospital services. Countries are grappling with measures to control the pandemic and such measures are causing financial and emotional distress.  Fear is the root of much of the suffering in the Covid-19 pandemic. We are caught between our fears of the pandemic and our fears of economic collapse. We are like the the Jews who were caught between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea – to be slaughtered by the Egyptian army or to face death by drowning in the Red Sea.

The history of the Jews from their deliverance in Egypt to their exile in Babylon is a graphic picture of discipleship. Following Christ is not a linear journey from salvation to sanctification. It is not about getting to heaven but journeying with Christ through the ups and downs of life. And the first step of the journey is to recognize the insanity, foolishness and futility of trying to find happiness in life by seeking pleasure, suppressing our fears and running away from our troubles. The harsh reality of life is that our dreams and hearts will be broken, sooner or later, in a fallen world infected by sin and evil.  

The stories in the bible are not to fill our minds with knowledge. They are to equip us to face and overcome fear. They are sacred stories of God’s S.O.S. – the wonderful Story of Salvation.  These stories are to illumine our minds with the truth of God’s amazing grace as we see how God rescued the Jews time and time again from their lustful desires . The heroes and villains in the biblical stories reveal the strengths and weaknesses of human nature as well as the potential for good and evil that is present in all our hearts. We are all stories in the end. We have the freedom to choose how we want our stories to end – a comic or tragic tale of our desire to glorify ourselves – “I did it my way” – or the story of our faith in the mercy and grace of God to glorify God as we seek God’s way for our lives.

Our response to fear reveals what is deep within our hearts. Is fear leading us to flee from pain and suffering or is faith moving us to see God at work in our pain and suffering? In the pandemic, the taste of fear can drive us to give up our freedoms and to find refuge in human solutions such as lock-downs and vaccinations.  Or we can seek the freedom of living in the kingdom of heaven in the here and now.

When fears are buried or hidden, they enslave us. It is critical that we identify the fears that keep us in slavery in the Egypt of our lives, especially the fear of loss and suffering. We need to face such fears with the promise of God – “do not be afraid.” We can choose to stand on God’s promises to give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.1

Only then will we be able to mourn when our dreams and hearts are broken. We will mourn the loss of our control over life as we face and feel our fears. It is only when we do so that grief becomes a blessing for it draws us to an intimacy with God that wealth and pleasure can never provide. We have the blessed assurance that those who mourn shall be comforted.2 It is only when we mourn that we can experience the promise that we will be filled with the comfort of our Heavenly Father. 3

Grief is never from God – it is the consequence of the hardness of our human hearts when we cling tightly to the idols of our comfortable and hedonistic lives. We are tempted to drown our fears through things such as alcohol, gambling, sex, computer games, the social media and virtual worlds like the Metaverse. But the best way to taste fear is to stand still and put on the armour of God,4  as we watch the Holy Spirit drown our fears in the Red Sea of God’s agape love.

Fear reminds us that we are living in slavery to sin. We can let fear open our eyes to our spiritual poverty – that our hearts are cluttered with the things of this world and we are Being Under Satan’s Yoke when we are B.U.S.Y. Fear can be a stepping stone to faith that draws us to hear Jesus, our gentle Saviour calling us:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”5

Our fears reveal the lust for power that is deep within our hearts. We need to wait on God by resting in Christ so that the Holy Spirit can transform our lust for power into the power of love. Our fears are to help us to come to the end of ourselves and to see and to live out the truth that God’s amazing grace is all we need and that God’s power is greatest when we are weak.6  We do not need to get rid of our fears but we can turn them into fears that are full of the wonder of God’s amazing grace by trusting in God as we stand upon His Word:

“When the enemy surrounds and my heart grows faint within
When the darkness overwhelms and my fears are pressing in
I will trust in You, O Lord, in the silence I will wait
I will stand upon Your Word”7

Oratio:

Lord, grant me the serenity to taste my fears and help me to stand by faith to watch You drown them in the Red Sea of Your mercy and grace.

Contemplatio:

  1. How can I taste my fears so that they can inspire me to wait on God?
  2. How am I meditating on God’s Word so that my mind can be illuminated with the truths of God?
  3. How can I declutter my heart so that my heart can be ignited with the fire of love?

Song of Praise

My Soul Will Wait (Psalms 62)

SDG

Notes:

  1. Isaiah 61:3
  2. Matthew 5:4
  3. 2 Cor 1:3-4
  4. Ephesians 6:10-17
  5. Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
  6. 2  Corinthians 12:9
  7. My Soul Will Wait (Psalms 62)

Freedom From Fear

Lectio:

Scripture for reflection:  Psalms 91:1-8

Meditatio:

“Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.” Psalms 91:5-6 NLT

We are fearfully and wonderfully made – hard wired with the fear response to react to any dangerous or life threatening situations. This is the “reptilian” part of our brains that is programmed to process with super speed negative emotions such as fear, so that our bodies can react instantly to fight, flee, freeze or to appease.1 This is not an “evolutionary design flaw” – we need fear to survive in a fallen and evil world. And we need the fear of the Lord which is the foundation of true wisdom.2

We are not to be fearless but to respond with wisdom to fear less – by feeling every anxious response less. This is why we have so many scripture passages in the bible telling us, “do not be afraid.” Living in a godless and broken world, there will be terrors of the night, arrows flying in the day, disease that stalks in darkness and disasters that strike at midday.  It is only when we live in the shelter of the Most High that we will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.3We need to hear Jesus calling us, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”4

When the apostle Peter was thrown into prison by King Herod and chained between soldiers, he fell asleep and thought he was dreaming when an angel came to set him free.5 Like Jesus, he was sleeping in the midst of a storm!6 He had the peace that is beyond all human understanding.7 This was a peace that the world cannot give.8  It was a peace that came from resting in a real, personal and intimate relationship with God.

Fear enslaves as it drives us to hide from God like Adam and Eve did.9 Jesus came to set us free from being fearful slaves and to be God’s beloved children. We need the spirit of repentance to have an awakened mind to see that we are great and desperate sinners who need to turn back to God who loves us just as we are. God does not want any sacrifices or anything from us except a heart that delights and desires His Presence. 10

The discipline of spiritual practices is not a work we have to do to earn God’s love – it is the expression of our heartfelt intention to seek an intimacy with our Heavenly Father. Spiritual discipline is the simple way to hear, see, touch and taste the love languages of God. Just as we get a suntan by basking in the sun, we are to get a “Son-tan” as we experience God’s love, joy and peace, when we spend time waiting on God through meditation, prayer, devotional reading and partaking of the Holy Communion. We are to smell like the sheep of our Shepherd of Love as we exude the aroma of Christ’s patience, goodness and kindness with minds rewired to see heaven everyday in every person. We are to be exhibits of faithfulness, patience and self control as the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of the indwelling Christ.11

Heaven is the house of God’s love and not simply a place in the afterlife. Jesus invites us to this house right in the midst of our anxious world. The voice of God’s messengers, through angels and saints calls on us not to be afraid by living in the house of love.12  And to experience heaven in our daily lives we need the spirit of poverty – blessed are the poor in heart for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.13

The first step into the Kingdom of Heaven is the recognition of our powerlessness and our need for the grace of God. It is waking up to the sin of lust and to confess our addiction to the need to be control of our lives. When we do so, we will surrender our will to God – not in fearful obedience but as the joyful response to God’s call to open our minds and hearts to the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit. Like the alcoholics taking the first step of the Twelve Steps programme through admitting their powerlessness over alcohol, we need to confess that we are sinners who need a power greater than ourselves, the Holy Spirit, to be saved as well as to sin less and fear less.

Facing our powerlessness is not an expression of helplessness but seeing the truth that we need a supernatural power to transform our superfast fear responses into the steadfast faith of resting in the shadow of the Almighty. It is a response of repentance to God’s invitation of intimacy with the indwelling Christ so that our minds may be illuminated and our hearts ignited with the fire of God’s love. We are hardwired with fear to survive danger in an evil world but Jesus came to rewire our minds to bring God’s love to earth and deepen the roots of faith in our hearts.  Jesus came to set us free from fear so that we can shine with the light of God’s love in a world darkened by fear:

“Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me

Oratio:

Lord, help to face my fears with Your Holy Spirit so that I can use them to rewire my mind and to rest in the indwelling Christ who is in me. 

Contemplatio: A Rewired Mind

  1. What are the fears that keep me from the Kingdom of Heaven?
  • How am I resting in the Shadow of the Almighty to face these fears?
  • How can I rewire my fear responses into stepping stones to build my faith?

Song of Praise

Shine Jesus Shine

SDG

Notes:

  1. Dr. Pippa Grange in her book, “Fear Less” wrote:  “Your incredible, extremely complex  brain has what you could call an evolutionary design flaw.” She described how (and why) our brains create fear. But we are not a product of evolution but a loving creation of God.
  2. Psalms 111:10, NLT
  3. Psalms 91:1-6, NLT
  4. Matthew 11:28, NLT
  5. Acts 12:6-17
  6. Matthew 8:24, Mark 4:38, Luke 8:22
  7. Philippians 4:7
  8. John 14:37
  9.  Genesis 3:8
  10.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, pg 111
  11.  Romans 5:1
  12.  Inspired by Henri Nouwen Daily Reflection on 25th January 2022:

“Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid.” The voice uttering these words sounds all through history as the voice of God’s messengers, be they angels or saints. It is the voice that announces a whole new way of being, a being in the house of love, the house of the Lord. . . . The house of love is not simply a place in the afterlife, a place in heaven beyond this world. Jesus offers us this house right in the midst of our anxious world.”

13. Matthew 5:3

Pilgrims In The Wilderness

Lectio:

Isaiah 40: 1-10

Meditatio:

“O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem, Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming.” Isaiah 40:9, NLT

As we struggle through the climate of fear in the pandemic, each one of us will respond to our trials and problems differently – some may see the pandemic as a judgment from God while some are drawn more closely to God. The best antidote to the fear of Covid-19 is the good news that the Kingdom of God is at hand:

‘Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”1

Our Heavenly Father yearns to comfort us and to assure us that our sad days are gone for our sins have been pardoned. 2 We are invited to journey to the Kingdom of God that is deep in our hearts. Like the Jews, we have to go through a time in the spiritual wilderness to purify our hearts. The 40 years in the wilderness of the Jews was not a punishment but a time of training and preparation – to teach the Jews to practice the Presence of God so that they can experience the Power of God and be witnesses of the reign of God in the Promised Land.

Jesus himself was led by the Spirit after his baptism into the wilderness where he was tried and tempted by Satan.3 It is in the wilderness of our spiritual journey that we can examine and expose the sinful desires, ulterior motives and hidden agendas in our deceitful hearts. For example, Psalms 91 has many promises that give us much comfort  when we face times of dangers and apocalyptic crises like the Covid 19 pandemic. However, we need to remember that Satan used Psalms 91:11-12 to tempt Jesus to jump off the temple.4 This will help us to be vigilant and aware of our human inclination to seek God’s providence and protection in worldly terms. It is only when we have an intimate relationship with God that we can overcome the temptation to seek miracles in our lives to strengthen our faith.

Jesus spent much time in solitude in the wilderness as he communed with God, his Heavenly Father.5 When our heart’s desire is to know “how do I want to live so that the Holy Spirit can have more of me?” we will be led to the discipline of solitude to meditate on God’s Word.  The social distancing measures in the pandemic are in fact golden opportunities for the practice of solitude. At the same time, we need to be careful of becoming isolated and disconnected with a one sided spirituality focused only on solitude.6

We need a community of fellow pilgrims to journey through the wilderness of our hearts. Without a community, those who seek solitude runs the risk of “perishing in the bottomless pit of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.” However, without solitude, we will “flee from ourselves by taking refuge in community and misusing it to indulge in empty talk and distractions.”7 Without solitude, community leads to co-dependency and without community, solitude leads to self-righteousness. Covid-19 is a blessing if it leads us to form communities of compassion through a balanced rhythm of spiritual practices.

All of us will encounter trials, testing and temptations in life. We can see such times as challenges to say “yes” to God rather than times of fighting the devil. In such times we are to remember that we are pilgrims in the wilderness, called to be voices in the wilderness, like John the Baptist, who called the people to repentance for the Kingdom of heaven was at hand.8 We are to be messengers of comfort and joy and to declare the glory God.

As voices in the wilderness we are to invite others to join us in the journey from death to life – the exodus from Egypt to the Promised land. As a palliative physician I have the vicarious privilege of seeing many miracles of the triumphant crossing from this physical life to eternal life. At the same time, I have seen so much suffering that arises from the denial and fear of death.

Jesus died and rose from the dead to set us free from the fear of death.9  The corona virus may in fact be a voice in wilderness calling us to seek Christ rather than happiness. For it is only when we seek God alone, that we will gain happiness.10 It is only in the love of God that we will find true meaning in life. The world in darkness need to hear the song of the pilgrims in the wilderness – to prepare the way for Christ to touch the hearts of those whom God is calling to Himself:

“O Christians, you bring good tidings;
get up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people
the coming of their King.
Like the flow’rs of the field they perish;
like grass our works decay.
The pow’r and pomp of nations
shall pass like a dream away.”

Oratia:

Lord, help me to be Your faithful voice in the wilderness to declare that Your Kingdom of Heaven has come.

Meditatio:  Wilderness

How is the Holy Spirit leading me to cultivate a rhythm of spiritual practices?

How can I encourage others to journey with me as pilgrims in the wilderness?

Song of Praise

There’s A Voice In The Wilderness Crying

Notes:

  1. Isaiah 40:3-5 NLT
  2. Isaiah 40:1, NLT
  3. Matthew 4:1 NLT
  4. Matthew 4:5-7
  5. Luke 4:42 NLT
  6. Ruth Haley Barton, in her book, Sacred Rhythms, noted that we need a rule of life to address the question, “How do I want to live so that I can be who I can be?” She drew attention to the need for a balanced effective rhythm of spiritual practices and the danger of a one sided spirituality. 
  7. Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes the point that the Christian community is not a spiritual sanatorium and that many people seek community because they are afraid of loneliness. (Life Together, The Day Alone)
  8. Matthew 3:1-2 NLT
  9. Hebrews 2:10-15
  10. Dietrich Bonhoeffer shares the following insight:  

     “For may it not be the case that it Is none other than God who sends us these hours of emptiness and dryness, so that we might once again expect everything from God’s Word? “Seek God, not happiness” – that is the fundamental rule of all meditation. If you seek God alone, you will gain happiness – that is the promise of all meditation. (Life Together, The Day Alone)

A Sense Of Wonder

Lectio:

Scripture reading:  Luke 2:8-20

Meditatio:

“Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” Luke 2:9

The world has been turned upside down by the corona virus but nothing will change until our stony hearts are changed into fleshy hearts. Our stony hearts can only be changed when our hedonistic minds are blown away by God. We need a sense of wonder to seek and to live a life of A.W.E – a life of:

Attention to the heart of Jesus by

Waiting on God in silence and

Examining our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Each of us will feel the touch of God in different ways  –  some of us through serving others, some through worship and devotional practices, some through a charismatic encounter with the Holy Spirit, some through great suffering, and some through deep silence. But what is most important is our witness of God’s power and presence in a world enveloped in darkness by sin and evil.

God guided the wise men from the East to the Christ Child by a shining star1 but chose the lowly shepherds to reveal the sights and sounds of heaven with the choirs of angels. This is more than a sentimental Christmas story. It is a story that reaffirmed my need for a shepherd’s heart of humility and reverence – to spend time waiting on the Lord and watching for God’s presence in the mundane activities of my life.

The shepherds were not distracted nor daunted by their spectacular experience of heaven but went to look for the child in the manger and to share with Mary what the angels had told them. And she must have been much edified as she kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.2 

The story of the shepherds is to bring us to Jesus who is our Shepherd of Love.3 We are like sheep who have gone astray.4 We need the grace of God to see that we are spiritually blind and have lost the way. We need wondering hearts to replace our wandering hearts. We need a mind blowing experience like the shepherds – seeing and hearing choirs of angels praising God, while they were watching their sheep – for the love of God to be born in our hearts.

In a world darkened by fear of the tiny Covid-19 virus, we desperately need to hear once again the good news of great joy that the angel gave to the shepherds when Christ was born – to see and ponder on the wonder of God’s love becoming incarnate in a baby lying in a manger.

The A.I.  of spiritual formation is the Attitude of humility and the Intention of desire.  We need humility and desire to embark on the journey, like the wise men from the east and the shepherds to the manger, to seek the Christ Child in our hearts.  This is a journey of the inner way – from experiencing life with our minds to being one with Christ in our hearts. Our brains need by changed by our hearts so that our brains can change our actions. This is the primary objective of the practice of silence – to bring our minds into our hearts.

“Heartfelt silence” has been described as one of the most powerful forms of worship that can leave a person awestruck with God’s glory.5 The practice of silence in the Christian tradition is not to empty our minds of our thoughts but to make room in our hearts for the mind of Christ. This is the best way to keep ourselves from becoming G.O.A.T.s  – trying to be the Greatest Of All Time.  Only then can we be S.H.E.E.P – Seeing Heaven Everyday in Every Person. We will live with a sense of wonder as the Lord our Shepherd provides, cares and leads us to find rest in God’s loving embrace. When we turn back to God and rest in Him, we will live joyful lives that are filled with awe as we declare:

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!”

Oratio:

Lord, help me to look for the wonders of Your love in the small and simple events of my life.

Contemplatio:

How does the fear of the Lord prepare my heart for the big and spectacular wonder of God’s Power?

How am I looking for the small and simple wonders of God’s Presence in my daily life?

Song of Praise

How Great Thou Art

SDG

Notes:

  1. Matthew 2:1-11

2. Luke 2:19

3. Psalms 23:1

4.  Isaiah 53:6

  5. Larry  Randolph shared the view that every part of our being has a spiritual bandwidth. When our hearts are in tune with inner silence before the Creator, every aspect of our body quietly speaks. Our cells, minds, and hearts all talk – as they cry out to God without intelligible words.  (The Physics of Heaven, page 104)

The Miracle Of Love

Lectio:

Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38

Meditatio

“She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant. The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:29-30 GW

With the appearance of the Omicron virus there seems to be no end to fear in the Covid-19 pandemic. We are in dire need for the vaccine of God’s agape love – it is only perfect love that cast out all fear. Omicron is but another messenger to open the eyes of the world to see how the sins of greed, lust, and pride have led to worship of the idols of money, sex, and power. When our hearts are hardened, we cannot listen to the sweet sound of God’s amazing grace. We cannot comprehend the fear of the Lord nor hear God’s whispers of love. It is only by the grace of God that we can move from a faith that is based on the wrath of God to a faith rooted in the love of God – to live in the light of God’s blessing and not under the shadow of the curse.1

Mary was startled and confused when the angel Gabriel greeted her and said, “You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.”2 The virgin birth is a story to invoke in us a sense of awe and wonder of God’s mysterious ways and to invite us to seek the Kingdom of Heaven in the here and now. Where God reigns, there is healing as well as abundance, love and servant leadership rather than illness, poverty, lust and dictatorship.

The virgin birth is the miracle of love seen in the birth of the Christ child. Nothing is impossible for God who is the creator of the world3 and who knits us together in the womb.4 However, it was extremely difficult for Mary to find herself pregnant before she was married. Imagine the gossip and ridicule she had to face. And she could have been stoned to death for adultery. She needed to hear the angel Gabriel telling her not to be afraid.

The story of the virgin birth is to awaken us to the reality of angels, miracles and the spiritual dimension of life. It also draws our attention to the important truth that divine love is all about relationships – love is more than sexual love.  In our fallen world we have confused sex with love and  blind to the truth that sex is the gift of God. Sex without love is pure lust.  Sex with love is a foretaste of divine love. And love need not be expressed only through sex. Love is not a feeling but the commitment to care that can be shared without sex.  Joseph did not consummate his marital relationship with Mary until after the birth of Jesus.5 His love for Mary was seen in his commitment to partner her in the immaculate pregnancy by marrying and caring for her.

God’s ways are not our ways6  and the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.7 The genealogy of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew 8  listed women who were widows and prostitutes and even an adulteress.  Tamar was a widow who seduced Judah, her father in law, by pretending to be a prostitute and gave birth to Perez and Zerah. Rahab was a Gentile prostitute who married Salmon and became the mother of Boaz. Ruth was a Gentile widow who married Boaz and gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David.  Bathsheba committed adultery with David and later gave birth to Solomon. These stories are illustrations of our human foibles and weaknesses. Through them we see the wisdom and grace of God which transforms perfectly imperfect sinners into imperfectly perfect saints.

 God’s wisdom is hidden in mystery but is revealed in the birth of Jesus through a virgin. Love came down at Christmas and this is the most important message of Christmas – the birth of a desire and intention to live in God’s loving embrace in a human being. Christmas is God’s invitation to embark on the journey of spiritual transformation. It is a journey that begins when we pay attention to our desire for God’s presence so that our desire will be the motivating force to maintain a rhythm of spiritual practices to keep our hearts and minds open to the Holy Spirit.9  And it begins, like the birth of Jesus, in our spiritual poverty – when we see how powerless we are over our sinful desires, ulterior motives and hidden agendas. It is only by the grace of God that we are reborn spiritually through the power of the Holy Spirit.10

Mary provides us with an example to follow when she responded to the angel Gabriel, “Let it be to me according to your word.”11We are enslaved by our fear of suffering and death and addicted to the pursuit of pleasure. We are set free only when we live beyond ourselves by taking attention off our selves – to die to self and to be reborn again as a child of God.

Epiphany is the revelation of the miracle of love in the birth of Christ, our Emmanuel, who shares our joys and our pains. It is a time to celebrate faith, hope, and love in the promises of God for He has given us  the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with agape love.12 It is a time to seek the habits of spiritual disciplines with the  intention to cultivate the mindset, “I am no longer my own but thine.” This is the covenant prayer instituted by John Wesley for the Methodist Watch Night service at the end of the year.13

Spiritual disciplines are to help us express our desire and longing for the love of God and to journey into the unknown to seek our Divine Lover. Our focus is not on how God is going to meet our needs but how we can glorify God in our joys as well as sorrows. The miracle of love is the depths of love and heights of joy that we can find in the moments of eternity as we pay attention to the deepest desire of our hearts and awaken our deepest longing to be God’s beloved:

“I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.”

Oratio:

Lord, may Your love be born in my heart. Purify the desires of my heart so that I will be intentional in my devotional practices to seek You.

Contemplatio:

  1. How badly do I want an intimate and close relationship with God more than a comfortable, problem-free life?
  2. Do I crave the praises of men more than a desire to glorify God?
  3. Have I felt the deepest longing of my heart to live my life as God wants me to live?
  4. Are my prayers centered on my wants and needs rather than on praise and thanksgiving?

Song of Praise:

I Am Thine O Lord.

SDG

Notes:

  1. Nouwen Meditation: Live Under the Blessing, January 6th, 2022
  2. Luke 1:28
  3. Genesis 1
  4. Psalms 139:15
  5. Matthew 1:25
  6. Isaiah 55:8
  7. 1 Corinthians 1:18-28
  8. Matthew 1:1-16
  9. An important insight gleaned from Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms.
  10. John 3:5-8
  11. Luke 1:38
  12. Romans 5:5
  13. John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

The Voice Of Silence

Lectio:

Scripture reading: Luke 1:5-25

Meditatio:

“But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. “ Luke 1:13, NLT

During Advent in 2019, I suddenly lost my voice when I had a severe attack of laryngitis. The ENT specialist found a small ulcer on my vocal cord and gave me strict orders not to talk at all for 2 weeks – she was God’s “commanding angel” pushing me into a journey of silence in the season of Advent. It marked the gestation of my book, Living In God’s Loving Embrace, which was published in 2020.1

 I was reminded of  Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, who was struck by the fear of the Lord when the angel Gabriel appeared to him while he was on duty serving God in the Temple. He was shaken and overwhelmed with fear but was reassured by the angel Gabriel: “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.“2 

Zechariah then asked for a sign and was told by the angel Gabriel that he would be silent and unable to speak until the child was born. The silencing of Zechariah was not a punishment but the sign that God is working in the womb of Elizabeth to form the voice in the wilderness through John the Baptist.3

On the eve of the new year 2022, it dawned on me that to be a voice in the wilderness like John the Baptist, I need to listen to the voice of silence through the discipline of centering prayer. Listening to the voice of silence is the simple practice of radical discipleship of learning to let go of our thoughts so that there will be room in our hearts for the mind of Christ. It is learning to be still in the presence of the Lord4 and to wait patiently for the Spirit to renew our minds and to change our hearts.5  

The discipline of silence is the preparation for life in God’s Kingdom of Heaven – to live in God’s loving embrace in our mundane lives.  Jesus came to set us free from the years of pain and troubles when we are living by the law and in fear of the wrath of God.6   Radical discipleship is following Christ through the practice of silence to  live a God centred faith. The cheap grace of a self centred Christian faith leads to radical disillusionment.  The discipline of silence is not a magical ritual to secure blessings but the expression of a heartfelt desire for a transforming relationship with the Risen Christ and a total dependence on the Holy Spirit in a life devoted to glorifying God.

The most important truth we need to cling to is: “The Lord is in His Holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”7 We are to be still to know God. In the silence in the morning, we wait for the Holy Spirit to fill up the “love tank” of our hearts.9. In the evening we wait for Christ to wash our feet.10  The voice of silence is the gentle whisper of God’s love and the fruit of silence is faith, love and peace.11 The good news is that God loves us because He has created us to be His masterpieces.12 He is waiting patiently to give us His grace to transform our lives so that we can be channels of His love and grace.

Oratio:

Lord, I need to hear Your voice of silence in our noisy world.  Grant me patience and perseverance to wait in silence. May my practice of silence bear the fruit of love and deepen my roots of faith.

Contemplatio:

  1. What new thing is God showing me in the new year to help me listen to the voice of silence?
  2. How can I let go of my thoughts and let the mind of Christ into my heart?
  3. How have the silent moments in my daily life helped me to walk more closely with the Spirit?
  4. How have I heard God’s whispers of love in the voice of silence?

Song of Praise:

Be Still In The Presence Of The Lord

 SDG

Notes:

  1. A fuller account is found in my book, Living In God’s Loving Embrace.
  2. Luke 1:13
  3. Mark 1:4
  4. Psalms 37:7
  5. Romans 12:2
  6. Psalms 90 – Moses reminds us that God sees our secret sins and we live under the wrath of God – our best years are filled with pain and trouble. This is to draw us to the cross of Christ.
  7. Habbakuk 2:20
  8. Psalms 46:10
  9. Romans 5:5
  10. John 13:1-11
  11. From Mother Teresa’s Simple Path – the fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.
  12. Ephesians 2:10, NLT

A Future Pregnant With Hope

Lectio:

Scripture for reflection: Matthew 1:18-25

Meditatio:

“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20

An unplanned pregnancy can be a messy problem for an unmarried couple or an unexpected miracle in God’s Hands. We can only imagine the struggles of Joseph with the demons of confusion, doubts, and fears when Mary told him that she was pregnant. It took much courage and faith for Joseph to do God’s will – to take Mary as his wife instead of leaving her to be a single mother. By doing so, he earned his place in history as the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The Christmas stories of Joseph and Mary are more than historical autobiographies – they are the beautiful and wonderful sacred and metaphorical stories to open our eyes to the movements of the grace of God in our lives.

Joseph became the greatest husband in all history by hearing the voice of the angel in his dream and obeying God’s will for his life. The heart of Christmas is our response to God’s invitation to have Christ born in our hearts. It is our “spiritual biography”1 and not our autobiography that is eternal. Spiritual biography is discovering the story of God’s grace in our lives. It is the journey to explore the glimpses of grace and the moments of transformation in our lives through contemplation on the way of the cross.

A few weeks before Christmas this year, I journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death with a loved one who was dangerously ill with the coronavirus in the ICU. I was touched by God’s amazing grace as I witnessed the miracle of healing in our family member. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.2 It gave me a foretaste and a hunger for heaven in the here and now. On Christmas day this year, one of the songs in the worship service was “Christmas Isn’t Christmas” and it brought to mind the Christmas Eve cantata service I attended in 1986 during which the pastor made the point that Christmas is not Christmas unless it is Christmas in our hearts.  Christmas is a time to remember that it is only Christmas when there is room in our hearts for Jesus.

In 1986, this message had struck a chord in me as a few months before Christmas in 1986, we were shocked by the diagnosis of cancer in our sister in law who later passed away in July 1987.  But it was so difficult to live out this truth when life got better after the storms of life have passed. In his Christmas message this year, Bishop Robert Solomon made the insightful observation that it is not Jesus who pass us by – we are the ones who have passed by the moments of grace when there is no room in our hearts for Christ.  Over the past 2 years, the practice of silence provided me with a discipline to give my heart to Jesus by presenting my body as a living sacrifice to God.3 

In the face of an unknown and unexpected future we need, like Joseph, to hear God’s message – “do not be afraid.”  Jesus did not come to give us a ticket to heaven but to empower us to bring heaven to earth – to bring joy to the world. Our faith in Jesus is the beacon of hope in a world of despair. To keep the flame of hope alive in our hearts we need to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. But the virtual world of the Internet, through social media, computer games and innovations like the Metaverse, draws us further and further away from the physical reality of God’s Universe as well as the spiritual reality of life.

We are tempted to spend our time in the virtual world created by humans instead of embarking on the adventure to seek our Divine Lover who is waiting patiently for us in the depths of our hearts. We are called to journey into the silence of the heart of God –  to be still in the holy presence of God.4  The church victorious is the church at rest.5  Practising silence is the simple way to open our hearts and minds to the Spirit of God – to be in touch with the angels of God in the spiritual world. This is so much more edifying than spending time interacting with virtual friends in the social media or the avatars of our human imagination in the virtual world of the Internet.

Covid 19 is the Cyrus of the 21st century – humbling the nations6 and drawing us to seek a future pregnant with hope in the silent and holy night when the Christ Child was born. The good news is that Jesus has given us the beatitudes as the keys to the kingdom of heaven.7 Let us embark the journey to have Christmas in our hearts each day in 2022 as we listen for God’s messages to “fear not” so that our fears can become the “footprints of grace” as we step out in faith to live out the beatitudes. The season of  Christmastide is a time to begin living a life that is totally invested in God. Let us not keep Jesus in the manger or in the tomb in our hearts. Let us seek the grace of God to become the Body of Christ and a temple for the Holy Spirit.

Oratio:

Lord, it is so easy to be distracted in our modern world. Help me to hear the voices of Your angels so that I may have an obedient and humble heart like Joseph.

Contemplatio:

What is God calling me to do in the new year?

What are the fears that I need to overcome?

How can I listen for “angel voices” each day?

Song of Praise:

There is a Hope8

SDG

Notes:

  1. “Spiritual biography” has been described by Kathleen Dowling Singh in her book, “The Grace In Living,”  as the process of learning “to trust and have confidence in the exquisite, indestructible attraction of our love for the sacred and the sacred’s love for us.” It is looking at our struggles, pain and sorrow beyond self – from heaven’s perspective – to recollect the movements of the grace and presence of God. For the  Christian,  it is the journey of sanctification – to die to self, to be reborn ,and to become a new creation of God.
  2. Psalms 139:14
  3.  Romans 12:1
  4. Psalms 37:7
  5. The Church’s One Foundation
  6.  Isaiah 45:1
  7. Matthew 5:3-10
  8.  Stuart Townend – There Is A Hope