Weekly Spiritual Readings

May 27, 2016



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Through prayer, we can ask God for daily guidance and wisdom to know which paths are right for us. From God we can receive the kind of wisdom that goes beyond human reasoning. Centering our lives in daily prayer helps us find the way, guiding us toward joyful living and an eternal home.

God is present and at work, steadily and unceasingly.

No prayer request is too big or too small for God; all things are possible with God.

Although we may not understand what God is doing in our lives, God is always faithful and wants what is best for us.

God’s ear is already attuned to our needs. God is ready to assist us, whatever the problem, even before we call. Thanks be to God for hearing and caring for all of us!

God is a friend who walks in when the world walks out.

Lord, I want to be a God-pleaser in all I do today, not a man-pleaser.

"God will heal your broken heart, if you will give Him all the pieces."

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Get Going! by JJ Ollerenshaw
Joshua 1:2a – Moses my servant is dead. Get going. (MSG)
Joshua needed a prod. He had been Moses' assistant, and now it was up to him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. But Joshua was hesitating. Doubting. Was he the right man to do this? Would the people follow him? Was he able to do the job? But God told him, "Get going." So Joshua stepped out.
Haven't we all been there? We're not sure if this is what God wants us to do. We hesitate. Moses himself had been in the same predicament years before: "Me? Why me?" Surely, God must mean someone else. He argued with God. But God said, "Get going!"
When we're faced with an opportunity to serve, we can all think of reasons why this must be a mistake: we don't have the time, we don't have the knowledge, the resources, equipment. We're too young, too old. What if …? And of course, someone else could do a far better job. Perhaps we haven't heard God correctly. Better wait.
Some years ago, I took a spiritual gifts class at my church. When the result of the survey was "leadership", I doubted that it was true. I did it again. And again. I tweaked the answers here and there. But it always came out the same. When I was asked to lead a Bible study group, I did the very same thing as Moses. Me? Not me! I love Bible study. But leading? No, there must be some mistake. But God was prodding me. Get going! Several years later, I find that this is my place. God knew what He was doing after all.
God doesn't just lead us into a situation and then let go. He promised Joshua that He'd be beside him and before him. God is always beside us. He strengthens and encourages us with His Word. He sends others along at just the right moment. God is always ahead of us. He already knows the outcome. He had a plan for us before we were even born. Every one of us was made to fulfill a different purpose. He builds on what went on in our lives before. He puts us in the environment and into situations that will train us for His purpose. He gives us the gifts and abilities required for the job. He equips us and provides everything that we need when we need it. But it's up to us to trust Him and take that first step.
Can you feel God prodding? Get going! Speak! Tell them! Make it! Do it! Go! Don't be afraid. Don't get discouraged. He is always with us.
What are you waiting for? Get going!
Prayer: Lord, sometimes it seems unlikely that You could use us to be Your hands and feet in this world. You created us to serve You by serving others and to bring You glory by doing that. But we have trouble understanding why You would choose us. Help us to step out, just like Joshua, Moses, and countless others through the centuries. Prod us, Lord! Help us to get going! In Jesus' name, we pray this. Amen.

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Perfect Peace by John Stuart
Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. (NIV 2011)
We're all looking for peace in our lives: peace and quiet in order to rest; peace in our households in order to get along; peace at our work, so we can be effective as teams; peace in our neighborhood, so we can sleep at night; peace in our church, so we can minister to the larger community; peace in our souls, so we can be renewed and re-strengthened by God.
The Hebrew word for peace is "shalom", which is a complete peace. The "perfect peace" that Isaiah refers to in today's verse, "shalom shalom", is even greater than that — it's a divinely gifted peace which blesses the body with health, the mind with clarity, the heart with strength, and the spirit with holiness. It's what God meant us to experience when He first created us as human beings.
As Christians, we look for that perfect peace in Jesus. He forgives us of our failures, restores us to God's favour, and reshapes our lives so that we can serve God faithfully, cheerfully, and wisely. It's a wonderful gift and something we should always aspire to.
Today, in the midst of yet another busy day, let's seek God's perfect peace by embracing His presence and placing our faith, hopes, and lives in His loving hands.
Questions for personal reflection: Where do I currently need God's perfect peace in my life? How may I seek this blessing from Christ?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all need peace in our lives. We call You the Prince of Peace, so we pray that You will allow us this precious gift in our lives, our homes, our schools, our workplaces, and our communities. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.

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Finding The Way by Judith Welch
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (NKJV)
Recently, I received an invitation to one of those milestone birthday parties for a friend. However, my excitement regarding attending was dampened by the fact that the party was to be held in a home in a new subdivision of our city. I had never been there before, and my record for finding places with which I am unfamiliar is not stellar.
On the day of the party, I looked at the map and saw that all the streets were curved and winding around the perimeter of a lake. So I drove very slowly looking for the three street names that would lead me to my destination. It was then that I noticed all the beautiful homes in various styles with park-like landscaping. I was tempted to explore their beauty, but knowing how easy it is for me to get lost, I stuck to my path. I arrived at the party a little bit late, where I found that three people were on the lookout for me. With an abundance of teasing, I was welcomed inside.
Later as I was on my way home, I thought that this experience had been a lesson in life's journey. Even in unknown territory, we know the way that we should go: Jesus said that He is the way. He even gave us directions: to follow Him. But life's pathway is often curved and winding. Unexpectedly, we encounter new roads that promise beauty and adventure, and we are so tempted to follow them. If we make that first wrong turn, we are lost.
What a blessing it is to know that the Lord Jesus is our compass, our true north, and if we get lost, we can return to Him. He will be on the lookout for us, and He will welcome us back into the fold.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the many words in Scripture that guide us on our way each day. Help us to resist those enticing pathways that lead us astray and separate us from You. Watch out for us, we pray, so that one day, we, too, will be welcomed into our heavenly home. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.

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On Board by Sally I. Kennedy
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
We had been in the midst of a tropical depression. Lots of gray, soggy clouds were sitting there not going anywhere. Day after day the rains kept coming. Different from the flash floods that sometimes come when the rainwaters steadily rise creating deep, dangerous puddles in driveways and streets.
In other parts of the country there had been heavy rains and flooding. Rivers would swell. Whole towns were covered with water when the quickly rising waters spilled over the banks. Many homes and businesses were destroyed and washed away.
Troubles have a way of piling up and flooding our lives when they are not dealt with. Ordinary day in, day out things get to be more of a hassle than when it’s business-as-usual. Life looks cloudy and gray, then dark, and the ‘waters’ begin to rise. We can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. No sun, no birds chirping. Anxiety edges in. Worrying is not good and never helps or changes anything, yet sometimes it is hard for my head to get that through to my heart, especially in the middle of a personal ‘tropical depression’.
As it takes time for the ground to absorb the extra water during bouts of flash floods, so it takes time for our troubles to be resolved and dissipate. Here’s some good news. The ark floated on the rising waters, and we can, too.
It is thought that Noah’s Ark landed on Mr. Ararat, one of the highest mountain peaks in the world. When the floodwaters are rising all around you, check to make sure you’re on board with the Lord, on His “ark”. Not only will you not be swept away and drowned, you will land on higher ground. That’s good news.

 
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"The Flat Tire" Author Unknown
My tire had a staple in it. Of all times for this to happen -- a flat tire. But when is a good time for a flat tire? Not when you are wearing a suit and you have been traveling for nearly five hours and, adding to this bleak picture, nightfall is approaching.
Wait; did I mention that I was on a country road? Okay, now you have the picture. There was only one thing to do: call AAA. Yeah, right. The cell phone I bought for security and protection in moments like this isn't in range to call anyone. "No Service" it says. No kidding!
I sat for a few minutes moaning and complaining. It's a male thing. Then I began emptying my trunk so that I could get at the tire and tools needed to get the job done. I carry a large plastic container filled with what I call "just-in-case-stuff." When I am training or speaking, I love to have props with me. I hate leaving anything home so I bring everything ...just in case.
Cars buzz by me. A few beep sarcastically. I hear the horn saying "ha ha!" I say, "You'll get yours!" Darkness begins to settle in. It's becoming a bit difficult to see. The tire is on the passenger side, thank God, away from all the traffic, but making it difficult to benefit from the headlights of passing cars.
Suddenly a car pulls off the road behind me. In the blinding light I see a male figure approaching me. "Hey, do you need any help?" "Well, it certainly isn't easy doing this with a white dress shirt and suit on," I said. Then he steps into the light. I literally was frightened.
This young guy was dressed in black. Nearly everything imaginable was pierced and tattooed. His hair was cropped and poorly cut. He had leather bracelets with spikes on each wrist. "How about I give you a hand?" he said. "Well, I don't know . . . I think I can . . . " "Come on, it will only take me a few minutes." He took right over. While watching him I happened to look back at his car and noticed for the first time someone sitting in the passenger seat. That concerned me.
I suddenly felt outnumbered. Thoughts of carjackings and robberies flashed through my mind. I really just wanted to get this over and survive it.
Then, without warning, it began to pour. The night sky had hidden the approaching clouds. It hit like a waterfall and made it impossible to finish the tire change. "Look, my friend, just stop what you're doing.
I appreciate all your help. You better get going. I'll finish after the rain stops," I said.
"Let me help you put your stuff back in the trunk. It will get ruined,"
he insisted. "Then get in my car. We'll wait with you," he insisted.
"No, really. I'll take care of everything," I said.
"You can't get in your car with the jack up like that. It will fall. Come on. Get in," he said as he grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the car. Crack! Boom! Lightning and thunder roared like a freight train. I literally jumped in his car. "Oh, God, protect me!" I thought to myself.
Wet and tired I settled into the back seat. Suddenly a small frail voice came from the front seat of the car. "Are you all right?" she said as she turned around to face me. "Yes, I am," I replied with much relief seeing the old woman there. It must be his Mom.
"My name is Beatrice and this is my neighbor Jeff," she said. "He insisted on stopping when he saw you struggling with the tire." "I am grateful for his help," I said. "Me, too!" she said with a laugh. "Jeff takes me to visit my husband. We had to place him in a nursing home and it's about 30 minutes away from where we live. So, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we have a date." She laughed and shook her head.
"We're the remake of the Odd Couple," Jeff said as he joined in laughing."
"Jeff, that's incredible what you do for her. I would never have guessed, well, ah, you know I . . ." I stumbled with the words.
"I know. People who look like me don't do nice things," he said. Silence. I really felt uncomfortable. I never believed that I judged people by the way they dressed. I was angry with myself for being so stupid.
"Jeff is a great kid. I'm not the only one he helps. He's a volunteer at our church. He also works with the kids in the learning center at the low income housing unit in our town," said Beatrice.
"I'm a tutor" Jeff said quietly as he stared at my car. Silence again played a part now in a moment of reflection rather than the uncomfortable feeling that I had insulted someone. He was right. What he wore on the outside was a reflection of the world as he saw it. What he wore on the inside was the spirit of giving, caring and loving the world he wanted to see.
The rain stopped and Jeff and I changed the tire. I tried to offer him money and of course he refused it. As we shook hands I began to apologize for my stupidity.
He said, "I experience that same reaction often. I actually thought about changing the way I look. But then I saw this as an opportunity to make a point. So I'll leave you with the same question I ask everyone who takes time to know me. If Jesus returned tomorrow and walked among us again, would you recognize Him by what He wore or by what He did?
"But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'"1 Samuel 16:7


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Expectations
In order to arrive at possessing everything, desire to possess nothing. --St. John of the Cross
Expectations can cause havoc in our daily living. We all have a basic right to be treated with dignity and respect, but that doesn't mean life will always go our way. The twists and turns of life often carry us up rivers of disappointment to shores we never chose to visit.
Facing life as fully involved travelers, without expectations about outcomes, is perhaps the brightest way to travel. Making plans without setting up for certain outcomes makes us flexible people who learn to go with the flow. It has been said that there is a direct proportion between our level of expectation and the amount of stress we have in our lives. Trusting the results to a larger plan allows us to relax and enjoy the adventure of the journey.
As we grow closer to our Higher Power, we find we can let go. We are more peaceful and confident, less frantic and controlling. Trusting that our Higher Power will protect us, no matter what we encounter on our journey, helps us face the future with a calm and loving heart.
Today let me relax into life and let go of my expectations. --Body, Mind, and Spirit


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Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
When you step out of your routine be sure to be in the flow of the Spirit. You will definitely be out of your comfort zone, but refuse to enter the danger zone. You will need to be more aware spiritually than ever. Take the time to consider your surroundings and position and let Me direct every step, says the Lord. Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Re-set. There are areas of your life that lack control, and you need to get back to a place of optimum safety and security in every area of life--spiritually, physically and in your soul. Find yourself on solid ground by setting your will to always do that which is of greatest benefit to you and those around you, says the Lord. Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.

Carefully consider and evaluate your thoughts and actions. You can make this determination by what you say and do. Make sure that everything emanates from your relationship with Me, says the Lord. These are times that require your undivided attention in following My ways. Psalms 18:21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

Take time to re-evaluate your life. Take stock to see what is really important to your well-being on every level. But, remember to put first things first, and that would be your spiritual wellness. I am doing a particular work in this season to prepare My people, says the Lord, to be dedicated to My kingdom and consecrated to do and to be all that I have called you to. This is not a work according to man's doctrine or end-time scenarios. This is a true spiritual work that will begin and end with your vital connection with Me. Psalms 10:17 LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.

There is a spiritual storm coming, says the Lord. There will be shaking, sifting, and scattering. Expect the seeds you have sown to bring forth a harvest, whether good or bad. Many who have deceived and exploited others, will be deceived and exploited. This storm is necessary to awaken those who have fallen asleep or become complacent. My people who are already awake must stay awake spiritually to avoid destruction. Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

Examine yourself to see where you need to make adjustments. Your standard is My word, says the Lord. And, you must not only read and hear spiritual truth; you must become an example of what you know is right and good. Walk in the light. Live in the Spirit. James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

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The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
I will have you, My people, believe My word. I would have you position yourself by faith to receive the revelation of who I am and what I am doing on your behalf in this specific season. For, in this season light is extremely important. Light will reveal the path that you are about to walk on. Live in the light and walk in the light. Allow My light to manifest in your life, and let it shine upon those things that need to be brought to your attention for consideration, says the Lord.

I would have you to remember My goodness, for I have watched over you even when you felt alone, even when you felt desperate, even when you felt forgotten, even when you have been without. I have never left you. I have never forsaken you. I have been with you all of these days from the very first day you gave yourself to Me, and I have watched over you. It is true that I have allowed you to walk through some hard circumstances, but do you not know that they are making you stronger? And, do you not know that they are giving you the right to exercise the authority that I have given you? And, do you not know that they cause you to cling to Me? Your destiny is already written and it is one of victory, not failure. So, walk with Me in trust and love. Victory is assured. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Dare to believe you can be what I said you can be, says the Lord.

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Love Author Unknown
Be kind rather than be cruel
Get close rather than run away
See good rather than what is bad
Adore rather than deface
Be patient rather than give up
Be grateful rather than sad
Forgive rather than hold on to resentment
Let go rather than cling to things
Support rather than gossip
Be optimistic rather than be negative
Commit rather than put off
Help rather than wait
Understand rather than judge
Openness rather than prejudice
Willingness rather than stubbornness
Sympathize rather than reject
Warmth rather than coldness
See rather than ignore
Realize rather than fantasize
Praise rather than scold
Compassion rather than indifference
Laugh rather than be perfect
Cry rather than shut down
Give rather than receive
Do this unto others without expectation
knowing "that you love one another
as God has loved you." John 13:34
"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love
dwelleth in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

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I Behold The Christ In You by Frank B. Whitney
I behold the Christ in you,
Here the life of God I see;
I can see a great peace too,
I can see you whole and free.
I behold the Christ in you.
I can see this as you walk;
I see this in all you do,
I can see this as you talk.
I behold God's love expressed,
I can see you filled with power;
I can see you ever blessed,
See Christ in you hour by hour.
I behold the Christ in you,
I can see that perfect One;
Led by God in all you do,
I can see God's work is done."


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Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

James 1:19 – My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Jesus looked at [the disciples] carefully and said, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.” - Matthew 19:26

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! - 2 Corinthians 5:17

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:5-6

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord , you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

I cried out, "I'm slipping!" and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19

My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth! He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalm 121:2,3,8

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased" (Hebrews 13:15-16).

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

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Know He Will Lead by Kerry Clarensau
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3).
These verses speak of God leading us to times of rest. How wonderful is that?
Earlier in my life, I mistakenly thought He would only lead me to acts of service. Most of the time, I felt guilty when I took time for thoughtful activities. While I loved those quiet, restful moments, productivity seemed more important. Just think of all I missed out on! Thankfully, God helped me to understand that lying down in green pastures and drinking in quiet waters is necessary for a healthy soul.
Do you recognize the quiet places He brings your way? Do you appreciate those still moments when He wants to refresh your soul? Do you drink them in for all they are worth? Or are you like me and distractedly pass them by, thinking they are too idle for any real value?
I pray you let Him guide you to these times of refreshing. Every day God wants us to recognize and embrace a rhythm of rest and activity. How we respond to Him in the quiet moments establishes our strength and the fruitfulness in the activities of the day. Psalm 23 clearly tells us that He refreshes us and guides us to the “right paths.” As we follow Him from those quiet places, or lives bring honor to His name and rest for our souls.
Experiencing Rest: Read Psalm 23:1-3 in several translations. Pick the one that speaks most clearly to you and memorize it. Make a fresh commitment to recognize and enjoy the green pastures and quiet waters. Ask the Lord to help you receive the rest, perspective, and insight He wants to bring you.


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Loving God, thank You for all that You've given us, for the beauty that surrounds us, for the endless, limitless possibilities of our lives, and for supporting us so generously with Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Read Through The Bible
Psalm 16
1 Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. 2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; 3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. 4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. 5 The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. 7 I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

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Dear Jesus, after busy days I need to rest in your love. Heal my tired and aching body. Like meeting a dear friend may your Spirit enliven me with the delight of your presence. Amen.


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