Wednesday is Prayer Day

Gratitude Day 420

Wed., Mar. 11, 2020

1 Peter 4:1: Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. 

The Lord never ceases to amaze me.

Seriously. When I stay with God and keep myself with God, it is amazing how God comes to me.

But first … I must slow down long enough to see it. Realize it’s God. Stop and listen. Know God is with me.

This year, I decided to use The Message for reading daily scripture. This change has been A-MAZE-ING! I’m embarrassed to say that my version of The Message had collected dust while sitting on the bookshelf. This year, it’s getting a good workout and hopefully feeling a lot of love.

I’m reading 1 Peter right now. (You can be as well if you are following along in the read the New Testament in a year.) Yesterday I read the 4th chapter which began this way:

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him.

Stop. Just stop. Jesus. Went through. Everything. You’re going through. AND MORE?

That’s what it says. Just when we think there is no one who could have experienced this stuff you have done through, this shows up. There is someone who knows what you’re experienced. Who has experienced MORE than you have. Who knows your every emotion, feeling, worry and thought. Right there, just waiting to go through this valley with you.

Sometimes we say to each other, “I know what you’re going through.” When I hear this, I think to myself, “Do you REALLY know what it’s like to be in this person’s shoes?” Or are you just saying what sounds good? Right? Expected?

Here’s the deal. Even if someone has had a somewhat similar situation, they don’t know how you feel. Your reaction. Your disappointment. Your mixed-bag of emotions. Your heartache.

But Jesus, well, he does.

Today, slow down and share with Jesus whatever is heave on your heart. Whatever is weighting you down. Whatever is distracting you.

It’s really quite easy. Begin this way:

Jesus, here’s what is going on. I could use a little help. Help me think like you in this situation. Help me know that I’m not alone. That’s all. Thanks.

How do we deal with those parts of our lives that are difficult? Challenging? Distracting?

Learn to think like Jesus.

That’s all. Amen.

For words that comfort me when I’m distracted, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Even when you know everything that is going on in our lives, You still love to hear how we feel about what is going on in our lives. Thank you for being a safe place for us to go. Thanks for knowing how we feel. Teach us to think like You. Amen.

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Are You Listening?

Gratitude Day 389

Sat., Jan. 18, 2019

Matthew 13:9: Are you listening to this? Really listening?

This is how I closed my last e-mail: See you in a week or so.

So, hmmm … how did a week stretch into two weeks?

It just did.

I could tell you all the excuses I can find that are for real. Like, how it took us one-and-a-half days to get home because of bad weather in Chicago. Bad weather = an unexpected flight to Key West AND an overnight in Dallas. Or how about an hour after we finally got home, we held our last Christmas celebration. For real. In very Martha-like fashion, I pulled together a meal with a help from the local deli. Two long travel days ended with windshield time taking grandkids home and visiting family. Thank goodness Hubby Rick took last Sunday night off!

Yes, a week off means more time at work the following week. And unexpected distractions that well, took more of me than I care to admit. It was Wednesday before I finished up the vacation laundry. Seriously. I walked around laundry baskets for days before the last clean piece of clothing was finally put away.

In the midst of this, I made one little change that has made a difference in my spiritual life. As 2019 closed out, I shared a 2020 Bible Reading Plan which takes you through the entire New Testament in 2020. I tried to make it realistic by only including scripture passages for five days a week. A chapter a day for five days per week, and YOU can read the entire New Testament! (Plus a few bonus passages.)

Determined to follow my own plan, I packed the smallest Bible I have for vacation. Trying to take less baggage, you know. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to use a different translation than I normally do. For years, I have used the NIV translation in my personal devotions. Wanting to switch it up, I pulled out my copy of The Message written by Eugene Peterson. The Message is the Bible in contemporary language. It’s not so much a literal translation of the Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament). Rather, it’s a personal message written in words we can all relate to.

One of the first days, I used The Message, I ran across this in Matthew 13:

(Jesus says,) “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Yikes. I stopped dead in my tracks.

Matthew 13 includes a well-known parable in which Jesus tells about harvesting seed. Some seed falls on the road, which doesn’t take root. Some seed falls on the road, which is a metaphor for a person who hears God’s word and responds enthusiastically. But when the emotion wears off or something difficult happens, well, faith dies. Some seed gets enveloped by weeds. This person lets worry and wanting more strangle what is heard. Once again, faith falls to the wayside.

Finally, Jesus tells how some seed falls on the good earth and produces a huge harvest. This person takes the News they have heard and shares it with others.

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

Of course, we always see ourselves as the seed that falls on the good earth with a hearty harvest. It’s someone else whose faith doesn’t take root or turns away when something difficult happens in their life. Even if there are weeds in our life, well, we can name a lot of other people who have way bigger weeds than we do.

We focus on the seed. But …

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

I think of the Verizon guy who spent a couple years traveling around the U.S. asking people if they could hear him now. Today, the Verizon guy is no longer the Verizon guy. He’s the spokesperson for another cell phone company. I’m not sure why he jumped ship. My guess is some other company got his attention and he listened to them more than he listened to Verizon.

Who do YOU listen to?

If I was truly honest, I would admit that there are way too many other things in my life that I listen to … before I listen to God. Sure, every once in a while, I stop and listen. But too often, the clamoring noise of “the urgent” occupies me. Or the distractions that lure we away from what I know should be my focus wins out.

Today, I am committing this day to listening to God. Will my life be dramatically different at the end of the day? I have no clue. Will God speak to me in a profound way? Not so sure. What I do know is this:

I have spent way too much of my life listening to all the other voices in my life and ignoring the voice of God.

It’s time to take back listening. Listening to God. Whether I receive a profound message or even some little small message from God today, it’s time for me to use my two ears more than my one mouth. It’s time to really listen to God.

For new reminders out of a different translation of the Bible, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – I’m a little ashamed at how seldom I truly listen for You in my life. Forgive me for letting all the other noises drown you out way too often. Speak to me today. Quietly or loudly. In a still, small way or with a demanding voice. I pray I hear You in my life today. Amen.

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2020 Bible Reading Plan

Gratitude Day 383

Tues., Dec. 31, 2019

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.

Often, not having a plan is a plan to fail.

While we can have great intentions and grandiose ideas, unless we plan for achieving a goal, well, most often, it just remains a dream. A cool idea. Something we hope someday will become a priority.

At the beginning of 2018, I planned to read through all four gospels of the New Testament. My plan was very simple: read through a chapter a day until I finished all four gospels.

By last spring, I had accomplished the plan. While I didn’t have a target date by which to finish this, I kept plugging along until I had read all four accounts of Jesus’ life. I missed some days … but gave myself grace.

It was a wonderful experience.

So often in the last number of years, I read scripture because I was preparing a message. Or teaching a class. Or researching something. This time, I committed to read these four different stories about Jesus life purely for my benefit and enjoyment.

And I rediscovered things I had forgotten or quite honestly, didn’t observe in previous readings. A picture of who Jesus was, why he came to earth and his purpose in doing so became clear once again.

I enjoyed this experience so much; I plan to do it again in 2020. With a twist. This year, I want to plan to read through the entire New Testament. So, I put together a plan for myself.

Then, I realized: maybe, just maybe, someone else might like this plan. So, I’m making my 2020 Bible Reading Plan available for anyone who might want to read through the New Testament as well.

I also want to keep this plan realistic and doable. That’s why I incorporated these guidelines:

  • There are five readings a week, on Mondays through Fridays. No readings for Saturday and Sunday! This gives me an opportunity to make sure I am always caught up by Monday morning.
  • I LOVE to read through John’s Gospel during Lent. So, I planned it this way. I also like to keep Luke and Acts together because they were written by the same author. The problem child is Revelation. It’s at the end of the year, during Advent, which I am not sure I am thrilled about. But when is it best to read Revelation?
  • Using this lay-out, there were a few extra days than chapters of the New Testament. I purposely found Old Testament passages that fit into the church calendar at specific times of the year to fill out the calendar.
  • My experience is that I can read through a chapter of scripture in less than 10 minutes. PLEASE DON’T SPEED READ. Take your time. Savor each chapter. I like to have a journal where I write down things that caught my attention. Maybe a verse that especially is meaningful to me that day.

Honestly, I feel reading scripture is one way that my faith has grown significantly. As I read God’s word to God’s people, I discover more about who God is for me. Are there parts of the New Testament that are confusing and possibly contradict each other? Yes, if you see it this way. Another way to think about scripture is these are God-inspired words written at a very different time. They can speak to us today as well if we allow them to.

It is my plan to read through the New Testament in 2020. Here’s my plan so I will not fail. Please join me on this journey and together, let’s see what God is saying to us this next year. I invite you to share this plan with others. Together, let’s do this! Here is a downloadable PDF of my 2020 Bible Reading Plan:

For the opportunity to discover more about God and my relationship with God in 2020, I am grateful.

Holy God – I am so looking forward to letting the words of scripture light my path and life in 2020. Together, may we discover a deeper relationship with each other, inspired by words that help me know you more. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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