Monday August 23, 2021
Today is Monday, August 23 and this week we begin a new format for the First 15 incorporating divine reading and prayer. We are exploring the concept of restoration and how it relates to the biblical story.
As I enter a time of prayer, I pause and become still. I calm my thoughts and silence my mind. I breathe deeply and slowly, and center myself upon the presence of God.
Pause and Pray
Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my heart and mind as I digest God’s Word in the holy scriptures. God, teach me to listen for your voice. Help me to understand what you are saying in my life. I am listening. Speak to me in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord.
The Bible is a living document and God uses the words of the text to communicate to me. When I pray the scriptures, God’s Holy Spirit speaks directly to me. I read the text slowly and prayerfully, listening for the special message God has prepared for me today. I celebrate the hope of restoration found in the words of Psalm 51.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:1
Pause and Pray
God is a God of restoration. God is always about the work of healing what is broken, reclaiming what is lost, and restoring what is damaged. The Old Testament prophet Joel explains how God breaks into my world in special ways to bring about a new salvation. Despite people’s sin, God does not want to punish and destroy, just the opposite. In a great reversal, God wants to bring blessing and restoration. God will replenish the cracked, dry earth. The land will benefit from gentle rains and produce abundant food to nourish the inhabitants.
Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. Joel 2:21-24
God knows everything about me. God is aware of the many challenges and difficulties of my past and wants to bring restoration. There are parts of me that yearn for God’s renewing touch. There are places in my life that need God’s presence. There are circumstances in my life that crave God’s strength and sustenance. I am not afraid; instead I will be glad and rejoice. In places where I am dry, I will be refreshed. In places where there is scarcity, I will find abundance. What once was broken, lost or destroyed will be restored. God is a God of love, compassion and mercy and God has the power to repair and improve all things, even me. God can restore my circumstances, my relationships and my heart.
Ask: How do I compare myself to the restoration of the land that Joel describes?
Pause and Pray
God of Compassion, I am not afraid. I am glad and rejoice because you have done great things for me. I offer you all the dry, broken and hungry places within me and ask for your healing touch that satisfies and renews. I return to the scripture passage and read it again slowly. Open the ears of my heart to hear the word you want to speak to me today.
Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. Joel 2: 21-24
Ask: What word or phrase strikes me when I read this passage? What might God be speaking to me as I ponder this word or phrase in my heart?
Is God revealing words that point to the state of my life’s circumstances or my soul? A barren land where the pastures have become dry, empty and lifeless like a dustbowl. Trees and vines that have stopped producing fruit. A lack of rain and hot sun causing cracks in hard soil. God brings life to the lifeless and restores what is broken to beautiful splendor. Living water is soaked up by the dry cracked earth of my heart and the landscape of my soul springs to life. My fruit will be abundant. I give thanks for the harvest God will bring about within me.
Pause and Pray
God of Blessing, I ask you to send living water into my heart and my life. I pray for the refreshment of my soul that only Jesus can provide. I invite you into my circumstances and ask you to restore every part of me that is lost or broken. Amen.
Jesus says, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
As I leave this time of prayer and go throughout my day, I have renewed hope. I ask God to show me people who need refreshment, restoration and healing. Enable me to love them in the name of Jesus with words and actions. Amen.
The First 15
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