things I have learned lately

God’s plan for our good

God’s plan for our good   Jeremiah 29:11-14

Thinking through the passage

Only God knows what God is planning for us…

Neither our enemies nor our friends know what God is planning…

God is planning for our prosperity, not disaster.

God is planning to fulfill our hopes.

Because God is planning for our good, we should pray. He will answer.

We should seek God sincerely, because he is waiting for us to find him.

God is ready to fill our lives with an abundance of good things.

Praying God’s plan for our good

Lord, I know that you love me and are always looking out for my good. I know this in my head, but my heart is corrupt and assumes you want to punish me, hurt me, and deprive me of the good things of life. Help me, Lord. Heal my broken heart. Teach me to trust that you are eager to bless and not curse, give and not subtract, fulfill and not leave empty. Lord, transform my fears into faith. Amen.

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Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose,
hidden now in mystery;
Nature bursts with joyful promise,
ripe with what is yet to be.
In a wealth of rich invention,
still the work of art unfolds -
barely have we seen, and faintly,
what God’s great salvation holds.

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose
making Jesus seen and heard.
Every age of God’s creation
grasps new meanings from the Word.
Show us, Holy Spirit, show us
your new work begun today;
eyes and ears and hearts are open,
teach us what to do and say.

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose
all God’s children brought to birth,
freed from hunger, fear and evil
every corner of the earth.
And a million million voices
speak with joy the Saviour’s name;
every face reflects his image,
never any two the same.

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose
nothing shall be left to chance.
All that lives will be united
in the everlasting dance.
All fulfilled and all perfected,
each uniquely loved and known,
Christ in glory unimagined
once for all receives his own.

Words: Marnie Barrell. Tune: Beach Spring

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God’s Complete Knowledge and Care

God’s Complete Knowledge and Care             Psalm 139:1-24

Thinking through the passage

God knows me better than I know myself

You have examined me.

You see me at all times.

You know what I will say before I speak.

Your knowledge of me is too deep to understand.

Despite knowing me so well, you protect me with your power.

I could not escape you if I went up to heaven, because you are there.

I could not escape you if I died, because you are there.

I could not escape you in the east or the west, because you are there.

I could not escape you in darkness, because you see clearly in the dark.

Everywhere I might go, you are there to lead me and help me.

You created every part of me.

You monitored my growth in my mother’s womb.

You were familiar with every day of my life before I was born.

I praise you because all you do is strange and wonderful.

You amaze me.

I hate evil. I hate it in others and I hate it in me.

Take me away from evil and guide me in your ways.

Praying God’s complete knowledge and care

You amaze me, O Lord.

You know everything about me, but still love me and protect me.

I run and hide from you and you still help me.

Lord, I am afraid of evil. I am afraid of evil in others and in myself.

Protect me from evil in others and in myself.

Replace my fear with confidence in you.

Teach me to walk in your ways every day of my life.

Amen.

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An epiphany is a sudden realization of great truth

An epiphany is a sudden realization of great truth. I had one at breakfast on February 15, 2014. I recorded the epiphany in my journal immediately afterwards: “God loves me because this morning I drank a perfect glass of orange juice.”

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The Lord Appears to Samuel

I am working my way through scripture passages recommended in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits by Michael Harter, SJ for those participating in the first week of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.

The Lord Appears to Samuel      1 Samuel 3:1-10

Thinking through the passage

The Lord may be more or less active at any particular time. Allow that God may be on a different schedule than the routine you want.

Samuel wanted to be close to the Lord, so close that he slept in the sanctuary in the presence of a sacred symbol.

Maybe Eli was supposed to be sleeping in the sanctuary. Maybe Eli had grown tired and retired to the comfort of his room, leaving Samuel as his proxy.

The Lord called to Samuel in such words and manner that the boy mistook God for his master Eli.

Samuel did not recognize the Lord at first, but God kept calling to him.

Eli recognized that the Lord was calling Samuel before Samuel did. Sometimes a soul friend can discern our calling before we do. But even Eli required being roused from sleep three times before he understood that the Lord was at work.

Samuel went back to bed after Eli told him to reply to the Lord the next time he called. I wonder if he slept or lay on his pallet in wonder.

The Lord spoke simple words, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel replied in simple words, “Speak; your servant is listening.”

Praying the Lord’s appearance to Samuel

Lord, I still hear the story of Samuel’s call as if I am a boy at the beginning of life, but I know I have things in common with old Eli…

I am sorry for the ways in which I have grown tired and retired to the comfort of my room.

Help me to stay open to whatever you think best. Don’t let me decide I can’t when you know I can.

Lord, please call me plainly, whether I am waiting in your sanctuary, or wandering far from home.

Call me repeatedly, Lord, until I say yes to you.

Call me repeatedly until I recognize your voice or until those around me hear your voice and help me to understand, you are talking to me.

Lord, give me the grace to respond fully to your call.

Amen.

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Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

My prayer life and sense of God’s presence was strong during a silent retreat at the Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, Georgia from 13 February through 16 February 2014. Then I came home and kept very little of what I gained when I re-entered my daily routine. I kept thinking I just needed a few days to catch up after being gone, but two weeks have passed now. My daily routine crowds time for prayer and serious reflection out. I think daily prayer and reflection is important, so today I made a start of reading and praying Scripture (Luke 11:1-13). My plan is to keep working through passages recommended for the first week of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola in a little prayer book that I bought during my recent retreat – Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, Edited by Michael Harter, SJ. I am not sure how consistently I will publish my written work here, but I am sharing today’s.

Luke 11: 1-13           Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

Jesus prayed.

I certainly need to pray if Jesus prayed.

His disciples could see when Jesus finished praying. He was probably not praying aloud or his disciples could have learned to pray from hearing what he said, but his posture probably signaled when his prayer ended.

Model prayer:

Father: May your holy name be honored – Praise

May your kingdom come – Submit to God’s will

Give us day by day the food we need – Recognize God as source of life

Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who does us wrong – Confess wrong and forgive others

And do not bring us to hard testing – Ask for mercy… Be humble…

Note: Jesus seemed to assume our praying in community… the food WE need, OUR sins, WE forgive, do not bring US to hard testing.

Be persistent in prayer. Don’t ask once and stop. Keep seeking God’s help.

Jesus promises a benevolent response to those who pray because God is a good father who loves his children and cares for their well-being.

Praying Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

Father, it is so easy for me to be arrogant; to assume that my strength and judgment is sufficient. Easy until I fall and am broken by attempting to do alone what I cannot do without you and without your people.

Thank you for the role model of Jesus as a man of prayer. Teach me to pray every day. Keep me from being satisfied with what I know and what I can do and instead to seek your wisdom, your strength, and your generosity.

Glorious Father, We offer our praise to you.

Teach me to love as you love, so that I may live inside of your will every day.

Thank you for the gift of life and the resources of life. Make me eager to share them with my brothers and sisters.

Show me my sins. Make me conscious of my wrongdoing. And Lord, help me to be conscious of when I am offended and hurt by others. Help me to see my part. Help me to understand the part of others and to forgive without reservation.

Lord, please don’t teach me the limits of my abilities with hard testing.

Lord, help me to pray as persistently as I eat. May I learn to devote as much time to praying as I do to cooking and to find as much joy in praying as I do in eating.

Amen.

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