Day 25: God’s Transforming Presence- Offering Christ to a Hurting World

40Days_Logo_day25

2 Corinthians 5: 16-17

So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

Paul knew at a visceral level the transforming power of Jesus Christ. The “old man” was a terrorist bent on destroying members of the Way. The “new man” was the most compelling ambassador for Christ in history.

For years, I carried the view of my Jewish father who renounced God after the Holocaust and bore deep resentments towards Christianity after experiencing much anti-Semitism. In high school I wrote a term paper about the hypocrisy of Christianity. I was known for my sharp and critical tongue. In college and in divinity school, I studied the psychological and sociological functions of the Christian faith with the aim of explaining it away. I disdained those with child-like faith. I even accused a Christian professor of the NT as being anti-Semitic.

Despite marrying Jay, a budding pastor, my struggles with Jesus continued for six more years. It was the brokenness of our marriage that finally drove me to my knees. I had a vision of Jesus on the cross, with the words, “Stop running, you who are heavy laden. Find rest in me.” Thus began a process of rebirth that continues to this day. I am becoming a “new creation” in Christ, Our marriage was also re-created, and within a year we were pregnant with our first child (previously I was afraid to be a mother). God helped my tongue become one that blessed rather than cursed others (James 3:10). He replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

We United Methodists face a Corinthian culture that is secular, indulgent, and success-driven. We, like Paul, encounter broken, desperate and devastated persons, yet there is the wisdom of our Wesleyan heritage and the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit to help others shed the “old life” and become the new creation. Let us step with Jesus into this ministry of transformation.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, we come to you with personal confessions of our own doubts and unbelief. Set us free to experience your transforming power and grace, and then to be agents of your transformational grace to others. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

The Rev. Christine Archer
Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY | Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 24: Missional Excellence

40Days_Logo_day24

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I wonder sometimes, if disciples of Jesus know and understand the importance of sharing the joy and thanksgiving of faith. In a world that is too often filled with gloom and doom, disciples need to bring the light of God’s love in Christ Jesus with joy and thanksgiving. After all, we are to witness and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus which is the Good News.

John 14:28, says in part, “If you love me you would have rejoiced …” I believe it is our responsibility as Christians to infuse and model for the world the joy and thanksgiving of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It seems to me the two, rejoicing and thanksgiving, go hand in hand. When there is joy and rejoicing there is thanksgiving, and when there is thanksgiving there is joy and rejoicing.

Recently, at the Pulaski District Training, Bishop Bill McAlilly shared a God story with us. You could literally feel the joy and thanksgiving in the sanctuary, along with the spoken, “Amen” and “Praise God” as Bishop McAlilly told his story. We need to tell our stories of faith, and give witness to the blessings of a life in Christ. We need to celebrate with joy all that God is doing in our lives and in the world around us.

May we remember that the Church is called to be faithful to God in Jesus Christ, rather than to be successful according to the standards of the world. Jesus told his disciples in Luke 15:7,“… there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” As we share our stories of faith, people will be drawn to Christ for redemption and salvation.

Prayer: Lord, help us to know and understand that “rejoicing and thanksgiving” is vital and important in expressing and witnessing to our faith. In the holy name of Jesus. AMEN.

The Rev. Ron Brown
Spiritual Formation Team- TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY | Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 20: Missional excellence

1.jpgRomans 10:8-10 (Read verses 8-11)
But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation.

Have you ever noticed how many of our favorite hymns are about trust? “Only trust him,” we warble contentedly. “Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus,” we advise in song. And what is more uplifting than standing in the great congregation, surrounded by family and friends, singing happily “Through it all, I’ve learned to trust in God?” But do we really? Trust in God?

Trust the God of Jesus Christ, Paul says. God is generous and God will save if only we trust. Paul seems pretty sure that this trust issue is a problem for Christians; so sure that he writes about it to the church at Rome – a church full of people Paul has never met! If we say that Jesus is Lord, Paul suggests, we ought to trust that the same God who ordered Jesus’ life will order ours. We might even believe that the same God who raised Jesus to transformational life in the Resurrection will transform us in the Resurrection life!

“Trust in God” is not just words, it’s a way of living in the world that says that we have placed ourselves in God’s hand. We place so much trust in people and things every day. Our employer will pay us for our work; our computers will not crash; drivers will obey traffic laws; the grocery store will have groceries. We put huge chunks of our lives in the hands of others. So why is it so hard to trust that God is faithful and will lead us to whole and healed lives through the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

As we take this walk with God, we need to slow down a little and think a lot. Think about how our response to God’s love in Jesus is shown in the lives we live as we trust God to help us order our lives as Jesus ordered his. Then we may truly sing with joy, “Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus.”

Prayer: Wondrous God, your love for us is faithful, no matter what. Help us in this season of prayer to give our hearts to Jesus’ way of living in the world. May this journey truly transform us as we learn to more completely trust in you. Amen.

The Rev. Lucinda Nelson
Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 19: Congregational excellence

1.jpgColossians 3:16
The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

We are given the assurance that, “where two or three are gathered” (Matt. 18:20), in the name of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of the Lord is there. One of the ways we can feel that most deeply is singing together.

Being a “Minister of Worship and Music,” I am, obviously, biased when it comes to the presence and prominence of music in the church. However, what you may not know is why I feel so strongly about it.

It is oftentimes difficult to explain the movement of the Holy Spirit to a non-believer, but it is easier to grasp this experience when in the presence of a singing community. Put simply, singing kindles the flames of the Spirit.

Music has the ability to speak to people in ways much deeper than mere words, and it helps us connect with the church through all ages—the past, present, and future. Singing old and new songs is more than a way of giving identity to our own generations; it unifies us with the Body of Christ in all ages and times.

What are you doing in your churches to encourage healthy congregational singing?

It may surprise you, but one of the most important things I have learned in this endeavor is to build and nurture trusting relationships. Within your churches, I would encourage you to ask, “How is it with your soul?”

But I would also add, “How is it with your song?”

Prayer: God, help me to “tune my heart to sing your grace,” and make me ever attentive to the needs of your people to proclaim their faith through singing. AMEN.

The Rev. Jackson Henry
Chairperson, Order of Deacons-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 18: Pastoral excellence

1.jpgLuke 24:36 
While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

I was tired, worn out, and stressed to the max! I was mostly annoyed at the inconvenience when I first got the call from my doctor to tell me that I had cancer. In my war-wearied state of total burn-out, I remember thinking that it might be nice if I actually had cancer, then maybe I could get away for a while.

My melt-down came when I was informed that surgery could not be scheduled for several weeks. I wanted the cancer out of my body immediately! I broke down into uncontrollable tears. I remember sitting at my computer, desperately trying to e-mail my Spiritual Director for prayer. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see through the tears. My whole body was racked with sobs. I could barely catch my breath.

At one point, as I wiped the tears away, I saw my dog, Gus, sitting on the floor beside me. He was looking up at me with the most compassionate eyes I had ever seen. Around my feet lay all of his favorite toys. I had been oblivious to his efforts to cheer me as he had fetched all of his toys from around the house. Gus was dangerously possessive of his toys. No one was ever allowed to touch any of his toys. If he caught you picking up one of his toys, he would pounce on you, growling his warnings to back off. In his concern for me, though, Gus was now sacrificially extending his love in the only way that he knew how. Some people may think this is a bit of a stretch, but I saw the eyes of Jesus reflected in Gus’ big, brown eyes as he looked up at me in that moment of sacrificial love.

When we extend sacrificial love to those in pain; when we are willing to give all that we have to help another bear their burdens; when we lay down our lives for others, it is then that we see the transformational power of God’s love at work. I am physically, spiritually, and emotionally whole today because of the sacrificial love extended to me through the many friends and family that became Jesus for me when I was broken and weary.

Prayer: Lord, help us to bring the authority of your love to our families, our churches, and to the world around us. As you call us to greater levels of excellence in ministry, may we learn to love well.

The Rev. Dr. Diana M. DeWitt
Chairperson, Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 17: God’s transforming presence – Offering Christ to a hurting world

1.jpgLuke 13: 10-13
Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you are set free from your sickness.” He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God.

“God’s will, done His way, and in His timing” is a powerful prayer for individuals and for the church. However, when Jesus healed the crippled woman on the Sabbath He offended the synagogue rulers. Jesus called them hypocrites because they showed less compassion for this woman of sacred worth than animals in their care.

Jesus’ simple prayer, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment,” was filled with the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The spirit that had been crippling her for eighteen years left her. She stood up straight and began praising God.

Healing of body, soul, and spirit causes us to praise the Lord who is the true source of all healing.

Since God’s healing, transforming power so dramatically changed this individual, can we also believe that the Lord will transform families, congregations, districts, and annual conferences? Our theme from John 14:12 certainly encourages us to pray for even greater things than these.

“God’s will, done His way.” Those are challenging words. God’s way is always better than any program, plan, or agenda that we could contrive.

Together let’s consciously submit our will to God and pray that we’ll be led by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we believe your transforming power and presence can change individuals and our churches and our annual conferences. Place your hand on our lives, set us free from any infirmity, and allow us to praise You wholeheartedly. AMEN

Margie Burger
Director of Prayer Ministries, Aldersgate Renewal Ministries

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 16: Missional excellence

1.jpgActs 2:42-47
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that we are called to do what the early church did. They fellowshipped and were obedient to the apostles’ teaching and participated in communion and prayer. Then, greater things began to happen.

The community began to notice the signs and wonders performed by the apostles. The new believers were generous in selling and sharing their possessions with glad and sincere hearts. They were living transformed lives and it was contagious.

We’ve heard a lot of questions about becoming vital congregations and about being disciples of Jesus Christ. But a better question to ask might be, “When did we stop being disciples and vital congregations?” As I reflected, Jesus softened my heart and encouraged me to return to the ways of the early church.

Over the years I have been able to identify others as missionaries (like school teachers) or evangelists (those that share Jesus). But I had been making excuses – that Jesus had called and gifted others, not me. Then, Jesus taught me that I am called and empowered to offer Him to others. Now I am intentional about not only meeting physical needs, but also sharing the Good News of Jesus through His transforming love.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for calling us to follow You. Empower us to share You with everyone we meet. Yes, Lord, GREATER THINGS are still to be done! In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.

Today may we look for the opportunities where God is already at work — and join Him!

Holly Neal
Lay Leader-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 15: Congregational excellence

1.jpgLuke 21: 1-3
Looking up, Jesus saw rich people throwing their gifts into the collection box for the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow throw in two small copper coins worth a penny. He said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than them all.

Some weeks back, the church I attend was damaged by either a tornado or, at least, severe straight-line winds. The fellowship hall had a tree fall on it causing damage to the walls, floors and both roofs, including the roof over the sanctuary. Trees littered the property and parking lot. Our brothers and sisters from UMCOR have been a constant presence giving whatever it takes to help others in need. They give not from their abundance, but they gave and continue giving all they can to God.

Amazingly, last year the church applied for a church extension grant to fix the leaking roof, fellowship hall and a few other items. Out of the chaos of the storm and disaster, God has blessed us with a new roof and repairs that we, otherwise, would not have been able to accomplish. Three days after the roof was completed, as it rained and rained, we all stood in the church thanking God for the sound of the awesome rain falling on that new roof.

So what is a healthy congregation? Could it be that a healthy congregation is one that not only withstands the storms of life, but one which thrives through the storms of life? A healthy congregation is one that is able to celebrate in the rain, when the safety net of God’s love and grace is firmly in place through surrendered servants who love the Lord with all their hearts, and who love their neighbors as themselves.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, giver of all good gifts, help us in this season of worry, doubt and mistrust to trust you as that faithful widow did so long ago. May we not only give out of our abundance, as so many of us often do, but to give our all to you as the widow who gave out of her poverty. Move us into your divine health. AMEN

Gerry Campbell
Lay Leader-Memphis Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 14: Pastoral excellence

1.jpgExodus 16:4
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction.

Years ago I remember reading about a Methodist missionary recounting a visit from a student. He had been reading the Bible and said, “It writes here that when Jesus will come again, he will come with a shout. What will Jesus shout?” Reflecting on his walk with Christ on the mission field he replied, “Christ will shout ENOUGH! Enough poverty….enough suffering…enough hunger…enough hatred… enough death. Enough.”

That word “enough” is one we struggle with in our culture. Voices bombard us daily saying we don’t have enough. We must buy one more electronic gadget so life can be easier. We must acquire more money to be comfortable. We need more work on the house so it will compete in the market. We need one more car to make life fun. “Enough” gets stretched further and further from our reach. When is enough?

God tried to teach the Hebrews in the wilderness that “enough” was a matter of trust in God’s love, provision, and grace. The Biblical narrative is full of illustrations of good people not getting that lesson. We see it all the way down to Jesus as he stood before the multitude. He kept telling the disciples that a few loaves would be enough.

This is a lesson the church continues to struggle with. We are filled with fear of the future. We are afraid there will not be enough time, energy, money, resources or whatever to take care of the “have to’s,” much less risk caring for those outside our circle. But Jesus patiently keeps saying, “Enough.” Jesus keeps suggesting that we look at our “have to’s,” again. Do they reflect, “I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself?” Enough! That shout transforms us because it shatters fear and releases us in trust to live the life Jesus called “Abundant.”

Prayer: Lord, Jesus, in your power and in your love, release us for “enough.” AMEN.

The Rev. LeNoir Culbertson
Murfreesboro District Superintendent-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 13: God’s transforming presence – offering Christ to a hurting world

40Days_Logo_day13John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 14:12 
I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.

In John’s gospel the “greater things” are rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ, “the Word become flesh…full of grace and truth.” We are created to “do the works” that Jesus did—preaching, teaching and healing—calling men and women to become disciples who make disciples. There is nothing more important, nothing more central, and nothing more urgent.

45% of the UM churches have not made a disciple in years. According the major study conducted before the 2012 General Conference, only 15% of our congregations are “vital.”

Jesus made disciples. We will never do thus until we repent of our disobedience and change. The first step to transformation is repentance.

Secondly, we are called to believe the gospel. In Jewish and Wesleyan teaching, belief is never separated from behavior. If we believe, we act in obedience. If we are not obedient and active, we do not believe.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit that was in Jesus and is now poured out on all who ask and seek and knock. This Spirit is the reason that we are able to do greater things. The third essential is to receive the Holy Spirit.

Our response is joyful, intentional obedience. This is Christian maturity.

Prayer: Forgiving God, I repent of my failure to make disciples. I am called to this. I believe there is nothing more important. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me for joyful obedience.

The Rev. Dr. Tom Albin
Dean of The Upper Room Ministries & Ecumenical Relations GBOD | The United Methodist Church

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 12: Missional excellence

1.jpgActs 2:42-45
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them.

In these verses we have the earliest recording of the practices of the Church in its beginnings. Whenever I hear folks lament over not singing the “old” hymns, or missing the “old” style of preaching and worship, I remind them of the events in Acts 2. Certainly, things evolve in time and context, but the bones of who we are as missioners and disciples still live in these words of scripture.

The words of the old hymn that says, “Give me that old time religion,” set before us a challenge to look at our lives and our churches and to assess whether we can sing those words with sincerity. If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, we would be devoted to Bible study, prayer, worship, and fellowship within the Body of Christ.

If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, we would be in awe of the many miracles and signs of the “greater things” about which Jesus spoke.

If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, there would be no poverty, no brokenness, no loneliness, and no lack, for we would give out of our own resources to make certain that no one had needs that were unmet.

If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, we would “be” Jesus to our families, our communities, our churches, and the world around us.

Prayer: O Lord, help us in our devotional and disciplined lives that we might not ever forget the essentials, that we might not major in the minors, and that we might not just become disciples, but that we might make disciples, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

The Rev. Sky Lowe-McCracken
Paducah District Superintendent-Memphis Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 10: Pastoral excellence

Luke 4:31-36 
1.jpg
Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people each Sabbath. They were amazed by his teaching because he delivered his message with authority. A man in the synagogue had the spirit of an unclean demon. He screamed, “Hey! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”

“Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” The demon threw the man down before them, then came out of him without harming him. They were all shaken and said to each other, “What kind of word is this, that he can command unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave?”

“They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority” (Luke 4:32). What did those gathered in the synagogue on that day hear, feel, or see that would spawn such a comment? Jesus’ authority was evidenced by the creative power he carried in his voice, his touch, and his actions. He had the power to make the deaf hear, the blind see, the captive to be set free. Jesus could “author” deep changes in a person, a group, or a world. That’s authority! On this day spoken of in Luke, chapter 4, Jesus loved a tormented man, and the result was that man gained a right mind. That’s power! That is authority of love!

Jesus’ love is a working love. It is powerful. It authors changes. I don’t have this kind of powerful love. I can, however, come under the authority of Jesus’ love for me and the world he created. I can be “refashioned” and “re-passioned” by Jesus love if I invite it to work on me instead of my working against it.

When I walk into a church that I am appointed to serve, there is not a chance of my love being of the ilk that creates changes of “Biblical proportions.” I don’t have that kind of “authority,” but I sure like to see Jesus’ authoritative love unleashed upon the people I serve and into the world that surrounds me. It is this powerful love that saved me, freed me, changed me and is re-creating me. All I can do is serve this Jesus who is so gracious as to have used His power on me…and then I can get to watch Jesus work!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, bring me under your authority. Mold me. Make me. Use me to your glory for the sake of this world you love….and are changing.

The Rev. Jay Archer
Cookeville District Superintendent-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 8: Missional excellence

1.jpgRomans 8.26-27
In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.

One of Jesus’ disciples asked of him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11.1). The Lord must always teach us to pray, “For we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8.26). Prayer is God’s gift that enables us to long for, seek, and call out to God. Through prayer we are able to answer that we are children of God, not slaves to fall back in fear. (Rom 8.14-15)

Without God helping us to pray, we are left in the world of our own making. But through prayer God teaches us to imagine, experience, and see possibilities beyond ourselves. Prayer is radical openness to God’s possibilities.

If we don’t pray with radical openness, we are limiting what God can accomplish in and through us, and we are limiting the reign of God’s grace and the fulfillment of the creation. Through radical openness in persistent prayer, we can begin to see God’s “greater things.”

Jesus embodied radical openness to God and thus the fullness of God’s mission to save the world. Prayer is the way we grow into Christ to see the missional and evangelistic possibilities before us.

If we allow God to cultivate the mind of Christ in us, then we are habitually in the mindset of mission with Christ.

We are habitually noticing God showing up in suffering, care, hope and transformation.

We are habitually seeing the neighbor as ourselves. And we are joining Christ in the work he is already doing among our neighbors and us.

Prayer: Lord, teach us and help us to pray so that we might not miss the opportunities to serve alongside you.

The Rev. John Collett
Nashville District Superintendent-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 7: Congregational excellence

1.jpgColossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Colossae folks first heard the gospel from Epaphras, a beloved co-worker of the apostle Paul. Ever since the Colossians had received and understood the message of God’s grace, fruit and growth had taken place. Paul gives thanks for this church, reminds them of their rescue through Christ, and now, in this passage, Paul’s words are offered as encouragement for even greater things.

Prayer: O Lord, help us put on Love like a beautiful garment to wear! Thank you for setting us free from sin by love for love! We understand that this gift we receive is the same gift to be given.

In all our congregations, our sisters and brothers in faith, may we remember and renew this awesome work of your grace on our behalf: your compassion for us, kindness to us, humility, gentleness and patience with us, your forgiveness of us and this incredible experience of your love through Christ Jesus.

Considering all that you have done for us, may we now with joy do the same, not only with each other, but with ALL! AMEN.

The Rev. Karen Barrineau
Clarksville District Superintendent-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 6: Pastoral excellence

Matthew 25:39-40
1.jpgWhen did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? Then the King will reply to them, “I assure you that when you have done it for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.”

It was 1998. My family’s life had taken a dramatic turn the summer of ’96 when I answered the call of God to become a pastor. Friendships were forming for my son in his new high school, and life was going well, though, as family adjustments were being made. We had slowly moved into our new family “normal.”

Then, my son came home from school one afternoon telling me that he had heard that a friend of his from his old school had been arrested for murder. He asked me to go visit him in Juvenile Detention. We were about to enter into a new world.

Murder was something one might see on TV or in the movies, but certainly was not a part of our lives. My son continued to press me to find time to go and visit his friend. Several weeks later, my son came to me with a letter that he had written. I wept as I read my 16-year-old son’s letter to his friend. He shared in the letter about the freedom that he could find in his heart and life through repenting of his sins and asking Jesus Christ to be His Lord and Savior.

One day, sitting outside the chaplain’s office at the prison, while reading to my son’s friend from Romans, chapter eight, I found myself overcome with deep emotion as I shared with him how much Jesus loved him. I began weeping, while feeling an indescribable love well up in my heart for this young man. I, then, realized that God was pouring out His love “through” me to him. We were both deeply moved that day by the power of God’s love at work in and through us.

Fifteen years later, while he still sits unjustly behind prison bars, I can honestly say that nothing has impacted me more deeply in life than the love that God deposited into our hearts that day. “Jesus loves us this I know, for the Bible tells us so!”

Is there anything greater than love? I think not. We read in I John that God is love. May we walk in no other authority than in the authority of God’s love!

Prayer: Lord, teach us how to love well. Give us your heart for others, so that we might serve with excellence the sheep of your pastures.

The Rev. Dr. Diana M. DeWitt
Chairperson, Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions