PUSH OUT INTO DEEP WATER
“Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.
When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”
Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the others boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.
Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all and followed him.” Luke 5: 1-11 (Message)
Prayer: O Lord, hear our prayers and having set us free from the bonds of sin, defend us from all evil; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen
THINK YOU DON’T KNOW THE BIBLE
“ Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation….Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!” Psalms 95:1, 6-7 (Message)
You may think you don’t know the Bible at all, but it’s more a part of you than you think. Think of when you attend a worship service and sing, Amazing Grace (John 1:16), A Mighty Fortress (Psalms 46) or The Lord Liveth and Blessed be a Rock (2 Samuel 22:47).
Or when you say part of the liturgy with these words, “Create in me a clean heart of God...” (Psalms 51:10),”Our Father who art in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9), and “Holy, Holy, Holy…” (Isaiah 57:15).
The pastor starts the sermon with, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14) or the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-10).
Take a few moments and think of all the words we hear and are addressed that are directly related to the Bible: “Peace be with you.”(John 20:19), “The Lord bless you.”(Numbers 6:24), “Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:15).
Think of this practice of hearing and speaking the scriptures as a lesson in faith, a Bible Study of the scripture through hymns and liturgy, a story from Genesis to Revelation, a small step in getting to know your Bible.
Prayer: Precious Lord, thank you for putting the scriptures in our hands that we may know your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.” 1 Timothy 4: 8-10 ( NLT )
Through- out the year we constantly are bombarded with TV commercials telling us to get fit, exercise and do physical workouts. Yet, rarely do you hear about getting our bodies fit and conditioned for our spiritual life.
Have you thought for participating in a Bible Study or are you already in a Bible Study?
God demands that we believe in him and calls us to be disciples, His faithful followers. He is asking us to love one another; pray for one another; feed, clothe, sit with one another; baptize, communion and study the scriptures with one another. God is asking us for our lives, to be one in Christ.
When we come together for a Bible Study, just as when be sit down privately to read God’s Word, the real goal is to grow in spirit, not just acquire knowledge of the scriptures. In Bible Study we study the scriptures, discuss how they relate to our world, how we learn from each other, share ourselves with others, pray with each other and love each other as Jesus loves us.
Can you commit yourself to a Bible Study? Can you take the time? Can you commit to the growth of your faith? Take a few moments, pray for guidance and see how exciting and self changing that study will be.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for guiding me to this devotion. Help me to find time to commit myself to a Bible Study of your word. Let me seek out others who study your word and together we can grow to know you better through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, now and forever. Amen
MEDITATING ON GOD’S WORD
“With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep thy statutes. I cry to thee; save me, that I may observe thy testimonies. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in thy words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night that I may meditate upon your promise. Hear my voice in thy steadfast love…”Psalms 119:145-149 (RSV)
Here I sit looking out at the beautiful calm waters of Lake Erie yet I’m trying to quiet a pained heart. Telling myself to take a deep breath, I grab my Bible, flip it open and meditate on what is on the page (God’s words to me.) Is it so hard? Why should I meditate on God’s word? How? When? What?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor, scholar and martyr during World War II, taught his friends and theological students about the necessity and joy of daily meditation on the Word of God. He suggested that meditation gives us order in our internal and external chaos. It is a source of peace, patience and joy, and is a source of health and strength. Meditation serves God by presenting God with a place of discipline, healing and contentment in our lives. God requires it, and we need meditation to help against ungodly haste and unrest that threatens our work for others. Lastly, it is necessary to carry on the proper devoted services daily.
If we read and meditate on the scriptures, we question and seek out answers to what God is saying to us. We listen and wait for answers. They will be given in God’s times. We should wonder and ponder upon the Word and even memorize the scriptures. Daily, try to center on the Word, even if only a word of scripture comes to mind.
Prayer: Lord, only you can help us as we try to calm our hearts through meditation. We thank you that we have the opportunity to meditate daily with you and your word. We are yours and yours alone. What a quieting effect you have on us? Praise be to God. Amen
BE ONE WITH GOD IN PRAYER
“Pray in the spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18-19 (NLT)
Just think of it, complete and perfect oneness with God. Aren’t the thoughts of that wonderful? Well, we can have that in our lives. We often think of carrying our crosses as “getting through” something but the Cross stands for an absolute identification with the “Then why ask? The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God. Prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God according to Oswald Chambers. He also says that if we pray because we want answers, we will get angry with God. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our anger shows a refusal to identify ourselves with our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove God answers prayer. We are here to be living monuments of God’s grace.
Narrow it down to your individual circumstance, are you so identified with the Lord’s life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that all things come from His hands? Is the external child in you, living in the Father’s house? Are the graces of Him ministering life working out through you in your home, in your business, in your domestic circle? Have you been wondering why you are going through the things you are? It is not that you have to go through them. It is because of the relationship into which the Son of God has come in His Father’s providence in your particular “sainthood”. Let Him have His way, keep in perfect union with Him.
Prayer: Lord, your life is to become our vital simple life. The way you worked and lived among men must be the way you live in us. You live in us, guiding us as we pray unceasingly. Thank you, Jesus. Praise be to God. Amen
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” I John 4: 16 (NLT)
Each year it appears that we are challenged by the media to celebrate each holiday; Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. The world focuses on giving rather than on Jesus--our gift of love from our Father. A dear friend gave us the answer to giving, “Why not give the gift that keeps on loving no matter what—God? What a gift! And the best part is it is free, no gift wrapping necessary.” My friend was right. The greatest gift is the gift of God. What is so awesome is that “God is love, and who ever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16.
Can we say we and others have everything we need, or look for the things that the world has to offer us? Maybe we would rather have cash instead of character. Maybe our credit cards are maximized and our righteousness minimized. Are we feeling smart but we aren’t wise? Have we been shopping in all the wrong places?
Mother Teresa said, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive him and to keep him as your vocation. It is not what we do but how much LOVE we put into it.”
The next holiday let us give the gift of God, the gift of Love in All we do, every word spoken, every action taken.
Prayer: My prayer for you is Paul’s prayer to the Philippians, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-12)
SHAKE EACH BRANCH
“Every branch that does not bear fruit he prunes, that is may bear more fruit.” John 15: 2b (RSV)
Martin Luther once said, “For some years now… I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what is meant.”
Not many of us will ever approach the time and energy that Luther devoted to reading and studying the Bible. However, all who do carry his love for the scripture and affirm with him that God’s word alone holds the key to life and salvation, want to “shake each branch” to discover its meaning for our lives.
We all have the best of intentions but our many commitments and busy lives interfere with our plans to set aside a special time each day for Bible reading and study of the scripture.
Commitment isn’t easy, even Luther found it difficult. Yet when he was in exile at Wartburg Castle he used his time for intensive Bible study and to translate the Bible into the common language of his country. He believed that all people were priest before God. Therefore, they should be able to read and study God’s scripture, equipping themselves with knowledge of the scripture so they could spread the word.
We, too, have access to the Bible are challenged and called upon to study the Word daily. With the Holy Spirits guidance and aid God’s Word will enrich your life and that of others.
Prayer: Almighty God, you bring people together to read and study you word, challenge us to daily “shake a branch” so we might grow to know you better. Keep us focused on the word. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen