Follow along with daily scripture readings and insights that will enhance your faith journey.
Follow along with daily scripture readings and insights that will enhance your faith journey.
"Friendless and Alone?"
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it… Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” Genesis 2:15, 18
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me…
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?…
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
Psalm 139:5, 8-10
I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. John 13:34
MONDAY 1.28.19 – Intentional times of being alone with God
Read: Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, John 6:15
Reflect: Jesus loved people, yet he regularly sought solitude as a way to refocus and cultivate his walk with God. For some of us, a fear of being alone can grow so strong that we nearly panic if we find ourselves alone. We may almost fixatedly seek to be with others, perhaps even in settings or situations that do not match our stated values. It’s a useful spiritual practice to learn to value solitude, intentional or unintentional, and grow stronger through it.
• “The experience of solitude varies widely from taking advantage of the little solitudes in our days to setting aside planned times of retreat to step out of our daily patterns in order to enter into the silence of God…. Solitude is more a state of mind and heart than it is a place.” * Where, both in daily routines and in more deliberate ways, are you able to experience solitude? Do you fear those times, live through them passively, or value the opportunity for spiritual growth they give you?
• The gospel passages often associated prayer with Jesus’ times of solitude. Of course, he also prayed when around people (e.g. John 11:41-42). But we see that he often found solitude conducive to prayer. In what ways do you find prayer different when you are alone than when you are with others? What strengths can you see in each kind of prayer setting?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me not to shun times of solitude, or to waste them in wishing I were not alone. Teach me how to use those moments, whether minutes or days, into times to draw closer to you. Amen.
* Quoted from https://renovare.org/about/ideas/spiritual-disciplines, a service of the Renovare Institute, founded by Richard Foster, the author of the classic book Celebration of Discipline.
TUESDAY 1.29.19 – When trying to “do it alone” is destructive
Read: Exodus 18:14-18
Reflect: Task: lead a throng of ex-slaves safely through the Sinai desert. They hadn’t learned to work out even minor conflicts—their slave masters had run everything. Few of them had developed even basic leadership skills, or had reason to give leadership any thought. Moses found himself trying in person to iron out every little problem the people had. But his father-in-law wisely told him, “What you are doing isn’t good…. You can’t do it alone.”
• It was good that Moses took his role as leader seriously. “The people come to me to inquire of God,” he said. But his father-in-law was God’s instrument to remind him that he wasn’t called to be a solo act, handling everything himself. What tasks do you carry alone right now? Look prayerfully at what parts of them you could share with others.
• We often carry an emotional burden about challenges in our workplace, family or church, even though there is nothing specific we could do to fix the situation. Or we may be able to affect one part of the problem, but convince ourselves that we alone must figure out the full solution. Have you ever tried to carry “the weight of the world” on your shoulders alone? How can you recognize people God may have sent to lighten your load?
Pray: God, I can’t do your job. Deliver me from the temptation to try to be what you, and only you, can be—the ruler of the universe. Remind me not to try to “do it all alone.” Amen.
WEDNESDAY 1.30.19 – Our deep need for connectedness
Read: Genesis 2:18, Ecclesiastes 4:7-12, John 14:18-19
Reflect: News reports, and mission partners in various parts of Africa, have showed us the plight of more than 100 million orphans and vulnerable children due to the AIDS epidemic. Genesis 2 stated a human truth: it isn’t good for us to be all alone. And Jesus, in a land where poor health and Roman violence left many children orphaned, used that image to promise his followers that, whatever befell their human connections, he would never leave them as orphans. Through the Holy Spirit, he would always be with them.
• Sometimes seen as bitter and cynical, the wisdom teacher of Ecclesiastes warmly valued human friendship. “Two are better than one,” he wrote. They “can help each other, can keep each other warm and safe.” * Then he added that “a three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap,” which “may imply that three companions are even better than two.” * In what ways have you found value in doing things with another person or two, rather than all alone?
• In John 14, Jesus gave his followers a glimpse into the mysteries of God. He preceded the verses we read today by promising to send “another Companion” (Greek paraclete, which meant companion, helper, advocate and comforter, and referred to the Holy Spirit). Then he said, “I will come to you”—in other words, the Spirit’s presence was his presence. When have you sensed Jesus’ comfort, protection or uplift without a visible presence giving it to you?
Pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for keeping your promise not to leave me as an orphan. Teach me how to claim you as my Companion and Comforter, even when my circumstances seem the hardest. Amen.
* Brent A. Strawn, study notes on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013,
p. 1061 OT.
THURSDAY 1.31.19 – God calls us to provide community for those who are alone
Read: James 1:26-27
Reflect: True devotion to God, James said, doesn’t show itself in grand words, whether they are lofty or angry. Our devotion shows most truly as we actively care for and help those who have to face the world alone. That can be as simple as extending friendship and human warmth to those whose circumstances leave them alone, or as demanding as becoming foster or adoptive parents (for information on Fostering or Adopting in Iowa, go to www.iowafosterandadoption.org) ordinary Christians suffered from social and legal persecution. But life in those conditions was even harder for orphans and widows, who had no family and no legal standing at all to protect them. Which, James asked, would help them more—a biting, angry tirade against the tyrants, or a tangible act of love and assistance? How can we apply the principle behind his words to situations we face today?
• “Orphans and widows in the Old Testament symbolize the most unfortunate members of society (see Exod. 22:22-24).” * If James were writing today, who might he list in his letter as among the most unfortunate members of society? As you think about those people, is your heart moved with compassion, or do you find it uncomfortable and try to put them out of your mind?
Pray: Lord God, I’m devoted to you—after all, I read the GPS. Give me the insight and the courage to find tangible ways to live out that devotion, serving you by serving others who are alone and hurting. Amen.
* Patrick J. Hartin, study notes on James 1:27 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 456 NT.
FRIDAY 2.01.19 – God knows and loves you, inside and out
Read: Psalm 139:1-12
Reflect: Have you ever had moments when you feared God had given up on you? Or maybe had a time when you tried to run away from God? The psalmist said that, no matter where we go, God goes there with us. But this sweeping poem didn’t merely assert God’s presence—it also told believers that God’s presence is a good thing, because God will always guide, strengthen and support us.
• Suppose all of the promises in this psalm were shaped into a “commercial” for God. Would you believe them? Would you want to have a God who watched over you so faithfully and patiently? Which parts of your life, of yourself, do you keep the most hidden? God knows all about them—and looks on you with compassion and love anyway. Talk trustingly to God about those hidden things today—and listen inwardly for God’s response.
• Jesus began the Lord’s Prayer (which we say each week in worship) with “Our Father who is in heaven.” “Heaven” translates the Greek word ouranōs, which meant, not a place far away, but “air” or “sky.” Jesus was not saying God is far away, but around us, above us, wherever we go—the same idea as verses 7-12 in today’s reading. What helps you experience God’s presence? What spiritual difference does that make for you?
Pray: Dear Jesus, at my worst, I feel like hiding from you. At my best, I want you to stay with me all the time—and that’s exactly what you’ve promised to do. Amen.
SATURDAY 2.02.19 – You’re never alone when God is with you
Psalm 27:7-10, 68:3-6, John 16:32
Reflect: Every time we baptize a child, the pastor tells the parents that God’s design is that they model God’s love and goodness for their child. In this broken world, in Bible times and still today, human parents, friends and spouses sometimes fall sadly short of living out God’s design. But Scripture said that, even if our human relationships let us down, we do need to fear being alone and friendless. We can always depend, if we will, on God’s loving presence with us.
• Part of our faith heritage, starting with Methodism’s founder John Wesley, is a profound sense of calling and mission. We believe God calls us to be God’s voice, hands and feet, in a hurting world. God’s work, the psalms said, is to provide a family for orphans, a sustaining relationship for widows, and companionship for all who might be lonely. How can you join in God’s work (and, in the process, build better relationships for yourself)? Do you know anyone who may not be an “orphan” or “widow” in the concrete sense of the term, but who you could uplift by extending God’s love and care?
Pray: O God, the psalmist said you are “Father of orphans and defender of widows.” Thank you for always being with me. Give me eyes to see others who are hurting, and use me to bless them with your love and caring. Amen.
Family Activity: At times, everyone fears feeling alone or unloved. As a family, share ideas about how you can work with God to bring comfort and care to others. Discuss each person’s unique gifts and abilities. How can those be used to comfort others? How can those same gifts be combined with those of other family members to care and help? Use construction paper to create the symbol of a heart. On it, write or draw the gifts of each person. Also write or draw about how they can be used to comfort people who are sad or lonely. Pray together, asking God to help guide you to use your ideas and gifts. Thank God for giving them to you. Display your family’s “heart” as a reminder to comfort others this year.
"Fear of the Other"
January 20, 2019 – Unafraid – Living with Courage and Hope
“Fear of the Other”
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:1 and 14
“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you.” Matthew 5:43-44
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen.
I John 4:18a and 19
MONDAY 1.21.19 – Should I fear anyone?
Read: Psalm 27:1-5
Reflect: Within the confines of time, the promises of Psalm 27 do not always come true. But our God is eternal, not bound by time, so we need not fear—anyone or anything. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, at the funeral of four girls killed in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, “Like the everchanging cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of the summers and the piercing chill of its winters. But through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope.” *
• Israelites who prayed and sang this psalm saw Babylon destroy Jerusalem, saw Rome overpower their land—yet they still trusted. Christians saw Jesus crucified, the apostles Paul and Peter martyred by Rome, prayed the psalm in dim Roman catacombs—yet they still trusted. What difficulties test your trust, and seek to make you afraid? How can you trust that in the end God will always keep the promise to set you up high, safe on a rock?
• Verse 4 said, “I have asked one thing from the Lord… to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, seeing the Lord’s beauty.” In his beloved book Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence wrote to God, “Thou knowest well that it is not thy gifts that I desire… but Thyself.” What draws you to adore and yearn for God with anything like that kind of intensity?
Pray: Lord Jesus, grow in me an ever-deepening trust in your eternal presence and power, and your great heart of love. Amen.
* “Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” in James M. Washington, ed. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1986, p. 222.
TUESDAY 1.22.19 – God doesn’t play favorites
Read: Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:14-19
Reflect: We often think of Old Testament Israel as exclusive and narrow toward non-Israelites. But here we read, “Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself.” Israel’s faith stressed God’s concern for all people, especially those who needed help. In theory (though too often not in practice—e.g. Isaiah 58:2-10), Israel was a nation in which everyone was responsible to seek the well-being of all.
• God told Israel to remember their history as poor immigrants when they were a settled people into whose land others might immigrate. What does this suggest about how God sees people of all nations and races? As God’s follower, how can you live out that same spirit in your attitudes and actions today?
• All over the world, in virtually every nation and culture, those who are “different,” who are
“outsiders,” face prejudice because of ethnicity, poverty, lack of education or many other markers of “otherness.” When have you seen people who are “other” treated that way, or been treated that way yourself? How can you make things better rather than worse when such ugly actions happen?
Pray: Lord of all, when difference offends me, or when prejudice enrages me, remind me that you came to change my heart. Help me, like you, to meet evil with good. Amen.
WEDNESDAY 1.23.19 – “Love your enemies”
Read: Matthew 5:43-48
Reflect: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his last Christmas Eve sermon on December 24, 1967. It included these words: “Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return…. This is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘Love your enemies.’ And I’m happy that he didn’t say, ‘Like your enemies,’ because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like…. I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself… every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear.” *
• Jesus (and Dr. King) knew that one of the most common ways we deal with fear is to turn it into hate toward those we fear. But following the teaching of Jesus, Dr. King said there’s a better option. To those he called “our most bitter opponents,” Dr. King declared, “We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you…. be assured that… we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory…. the truth crushed to earth will rise again.” ** How can you more and more live into the God-given spirit of agape toward whatever frightening people and forces you face, big or small?
Pray: O God, make me an instrument of your peace. Grow in me confidence in the long-term power of love, the world-changing power that makes me a follower of Jesus. Amen.
* “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” in James M. Washington, ed. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1986, p. 256.
** Ibid., pp. 256, 257.
THURSDAY 1.24.19 – Jesus saw people, not “enemies”
Read: Luke 9:51-56, John 4:4-10
Reflect: Just knowing Jesus was going to Jerusalem led a Samaritan village to refuse to allow him to stay in their village. Jews hated Samaritans, a mixed race born of Assyria’s policy of wiping out the identity of conquered peoples (2 Kings 17:24). Samaritans hated Jews, who snubbed their offer to help rebuild the Temple (Ezra 4:1-4). Each side’s fear of the other had hardened for 700 years. The Samaritan woman was astonished that Jesus would ask for something as simple as a drink of water—yet Jesus reached out to Samaritans, again and again, rather than fearing or avoiding them.
• In Luke 9, the Samaritan villagers were rude and unwelcoming. James and John reacted as we are often tempted to. “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to consume them?” they asked. But Jesus said no. Have you ever been in a position either to fan the flames of hatred higher, or to lower the temperature and move toward peace? Which course did you choose? How did things work out?
• What risks of misunderstanding, damage to reputation, rejection or rudeness existed for Jesus when he chose to engage the Samaritan woman in conversation at Jacob’s Well? What made him willing to take those risks in order to offer “living water” to a member of a different and despised race, and a disgraced woman at that? What does his model teach us about fearing people who are different?
Pray: Lord Jesus, it’s true that “hurt people hurt people.” But you refused the path of fear and anger even when snubbed. Transform my heart to be more like yours each day. Amen.
FRIDAY 1.25.19 – The apostles preached the gospel to “enemies”
Read: Acts 8:5, 25; 10:9-28
Reflect: Jesus’ example made a difference, and Acts reported that the apostles preached in many Samaritan villages. But even after what happened at Pentecost, Peter still felt the reluctance he’d learned all his life about mixing closely with Gentiles, especially Romans. God had to propel him dramatically, using a startling vision, to break down some of those inner barriers. (This is a great story—if you have time, read the whole thing in Acts 10:1–11:18.)
• Peter’s vision struck him so hard because, like all devout Jews, he carefully followed the laws (especially in Leviticus 11) which forbade eating “unclean” meat. Those laws were not about kitchen hygiene, but about an approach to ceremonial “cleanness” before God. Entering a Gentile dwelling also brought ceremonial impurity (cf. John 18:28). What made Peter’s mission “clean”? Are there any places or people you avoid because you fear they might make you “unclean”?
• Even after his vision came three times, Peter didn’t fully get the point. Verses 27-28 of the story suggest that meeting a large group of Gentiles eager to hear the gospel was his “aha!” moment. Have you ever had a particular contact or experience that broke through some prejudice of yours, and opened your eyes to God’s inclusive mission in the world?
Pray: Lord God, it feels so natural, in so many ways, for me to divide the human family into “us” and “them.” Teach me what you taught Peter—that in your eyes, there is only “us.” Amen.
SATURDAY 1.26.19 – No fear in love
Read: Galatians 3:26-28, 1 John 4:18-21
At the foundation of all Christian faith is the trust that God loves us, that God created human beings out of love and for love. This was (and is) quite extraordinary. Egyptians, Canaanites, Greeks or Romans—none of them believed their gods loved them. But Christians believe Jesus embodied that belief, and showed us how it shapes life for the better. And that belief makes a real difference in how we relate to all other people, those who are close to us and those who are “other.” Paul told the Galatians that in Jesus ethnic, economic/social and gender distinctions all lost their power to divide us and cause fear and separation.
• Why would perfect love drive out fear? Have you ever experienced a situation in which as love developed for another person, fear of that person decreased and disappeared? 1 John 4:20 got blunt, and may make us uncomfortable: “If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar.” To what extent do you agree that hate for human beings rules out genuine love for God? Why would that be the case? Can you think of practical steps that move you in the direction of caring about “others,” about people that you may see as dangerous enemies, as deserving of fear and distrust rather than of love?
Pray: Lord Jesus, sometimes I find your ways appealing. Sometimes I find them hard. I need your grace to guide and energize me to more and more see everyone as a person you love, even the ones who frustrate or scare me. Amen.
Family Activity: Jesus served and shared God’s love with others in many ways. Martin Luther King, Jr. followed in the footsteps of Jesus and sought to do the same. How does your family work together to share God’s love with others? Select a way to serve others together. Ask an older child or youth to research some volunteer opportunities in your area. Consider brainstorming about some less-structured ways you can serve others with God’s love, such as helping others in your neighbor or at school. At a family gathering, ask the child or youth to present these opportunities to the rest of the family. Pray for God’s guidance as you discuss the possibilities. Choose one or two ways your family can share God’s love with others.
Read: 1 Peter 5:6-10
Reflect: Early Christians faced hostility, ostracism and often persecution. They might be beaten, imprisoned or even executed. Peter wrote a stirring call to those people. As they lived in conditions guaranteed to make people anxious, he urged them to bring all their anxieties to God in trusting prayer. Peter and those early Christians looked beyond the boundaries of this life. They trusted that all earthly struggles are only “for a little while,” while God’s restoration of us to the kind of life humans are meant to live is an eternal reality.
• What does it mean for you to cast all your anxiety on God? In what ways have you learned to trust that God cares for you? In what parts of life, if any, is it still hard for you to trust that? Read John 21:15-19 to see why Peter could say with such confidence that God will restore you, and make you steadfast, strong and firm. Are there failures from which you want God to restore you? Are there areas in which you wish to be more steadfast or strong? Ask God in prayer to work with you to make restoration and strength a reality for you in 2019.
Pray: Lord Jesus, keep me clear-headed, keep me alert. Let me use those qualities to let you carry my anxieties, rather than trying to carry them myself. Amen.
Family Activity: For this activity, you will need a Bible, a sheet of blank wrapping paper or newsprint to cover a doorway in your home, a marker and some tape. Gather together and have someone read Isaiah 41:10 aloud. Discuss why at times it is difficult to be brave, strong and full of faith. Write down everyone’s fears, obstacles and roadblocks on the large piece of paper. When everyone has responded, tape the paper to the doorway. Join together to break through the paper covered in fears and barriers and walk through to the other side. Pray together and ask God to help you remember that God is always you, even through the unsure and scary times.
Read: Philippians 4:4-7
Reflect: We surely understand peace, don’t we? The apostle Paul’s statement that God’s peace “exceeds all understanding” may make more sense when we realize that he sent this letter from a dank, dreary Roman prison cell (cf. Philippians 1:12-14). Even there, he had God’s peace. And he shared a key he’d found for living in God’s peace: to take anything that might worry him and give it to God in prayer.
• Paul advised, “Don’t be anxious about anything.” Almost as if he heard us saying, “How?” he added, “rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks” (verse 6). What are some things that trigger ugly, anxiety-producing thoughts in you? How can you incorporate Paul’s wisdom about taking those things to God in prayer more fully into your daily life?
• Paul, at peace even in prison, did not say, “I sure was lucky to be born with a peaceful temperament.” Instead, in Philippians 4:11, he said, “I have learned how to be content in any circumstance.” Under what conditions, good or bad, do you find it a struggle to remain in God’s peace? What experiences or examples have helped you learn to make choices or take actions that lead you toward accepting God’s gift of peace?
Pray: Lord Jesus, I want to turn my worries into prayers. I lay before you all the things that worry me today, and I open my heart to your gifts of peace and contentment. Amen.
Read: John 14:25-27
Reflect: Describing Jesus’ last night before the cross, John wrote the ominous words, “When Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night” (John 13:30). But the darkness didn’t overcome Jesus, the light of the world. With evil people plotting and Easter’s light only visible by faith, Jesus told his followers that he was leaving them his peace. His peace rested on the Holy Spirit’s presence with them, “not as the world gives.” If they could grasp it firmly, they could find Jesus’ peace even at times of great fear.
• The “fight or flight” response to danger seems to be hard-wired into our brains. Do you believe Jesus promised to wipe that out, or can he just give us a better way to deal with it when something triggers it? Are there places of dark fear and anxiety in your life today? How can Christ’s love and care free your heart and mind to live in the peace he came to give you?
• Scholar William Barclay wrote, “The peace which the world offers us is the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and from refusing to face things. The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace of conquest. No experience of life can ever take it from us and no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can ever make it less. It is independent of outward circumstances.” 1 In what ways have you experienced the difference between the peace Jesus gives and the types of peace the world offers?
Pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for offering me a peace that isn’t temporary, that nothing can take away from me. Now please help me to live into that peace more each day. Amen.
1 William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John—Volume 2, Chapters 8–21, (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 171.
Read: Matthew 6:25-27
Reflect: Today’s passage may feel radical at first, utterly against simple common sense. That must have been even more of a challenge for Jesus’ first hearers. “Jesus’ audience would have been ordinary peasant people who had to worry about their next meal all the time, yet Jesus tells them not to worry about anything. He asks them instead to view the world with new eyes, in order to see all around them evidence of God’s care and provision.”1
• Worry generally focuses our energy and attention either on the past (‘I wish…”) or on the future (“What if…”). Jesus called us into the present, the only “time” we can directly affect and use to meet with God. Practice pausing your worries and concerns, and sensing God’s presence with you. Keep doing this (whether you call it “meditating,” “going to your ‘happy place’” or some other name you choose) until you are able to ‘be’ with God anytime, day or night—in the present moment.
• Jesus also made the practical point that worry seldom does any good (verse 27). Can you think of things you spent a lot of time and energy worrying about that never happened? How does worry differ from wise foresight or precautions? What are some more effective, sustainable approaches to life’s challenges than worry?
Pray: Lord Jesus, you modeled a life of peace and trust. Help me to keep learning how to live a life in which my energy can focus on your purposes rather than my fears. Amen.
1 Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 6:25-34 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 17 NT.
Read: Isaiah 41:8-10, 13
Reflect: Through Isaiah the prophet, God pledged to strengthen and help any descendant of Abraham willing to join in God’s redemptive mission for the world. Later, the apostle Paul, who counted on God’s strength for his life mission, extended Isaiah’s promise to all Christ followers. “If you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants,” he wrote (Galatians 3:29).
• Through the prophet, God offered freedom from fear, and strength and help for our spiritual journey. What are some of the main ways that you go about accessing the promised strength and help? At the start of the year, it’s worth learning or reviewing some of the major spiritual practices many Christians use to connect with God’s power. Click here for a concise list of them.
• Many scholars believe chapter 40 on in the book of Isaiah spoke to Israelites living through the bitter experience of defeat and exile in Babylon. Few things could make people feel more powerless. What situations are you facing that leave you feeling powerless and afraid? Read today’s passage again, and put your name in place of “Israel,” “Jacob” and “Abraham.” As you do, ask God to speak courage to your heart.
Pray: Lord God, I wish all the bad in our world would just go away right now—but it won’t. But you promise that you can and will ultimately make it all come out right. Give me courage to do my part in working with you. Amen.
Whether you’re just starting to explore the Christian faith, or you’re a long-time Christian, we want to do everything we can to help you on your journey to know, love and serve God. The GPS (Grow, Pray, Study) Guide provides Scripture and insights to enhance your journey.