Encouraging Words

Thursdays: The New Testament
Romans 15

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

As happened in last Monday’s reading from Isaiah when we caught the spirit of the prophet, so also today, the essence of Paul shines forth. Extravagant in his travels to begin churches where no one else has ever been, he yet finds time to pause, to write, to share with the Romans a letter that would come to be in your hands across the millennia.

Let yourself be encouraged along with his first readers. He quotes verses from the Torah, the Psalms, and Isaiah that express the point he makes in verse 4. Do with Paul’s letter what he does with the Hebrew Scriptures; find verses in this chapter that quicken you to all the joy of being called to intimacy with Christ in the Spirit.

Paul asks for prayers. We might forget that he, just as Jesus in his agony, needed the prayer of his disciples. Be open for the Spirit to bring to your mind those spiritual leaders who need your prayers.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Pleasing others, not ourselves v. 1
With one voice, glory to Thee v. 6
God of hope, fill us with joy. v. 13
What You are doing through me v. 18

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for the version for children and families.

This is the twelfth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.


Today’s Image courtesy of http://www.cardsdirect.com

Return to Basics

Wednesdays: The Psalms
Psalm 33

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Everyday reading of God’s Word offers you rest from outer activity and commitment, so that you can gather energy from your commitment to what is inward. A psalm in the middle of the work-week provides this moment of rest in a special way. Pause to look around you at a world that hastens to fulfill its own will, instead of God’s will. The world needs intercession; the Psalms are perfect for that.

Notice what the psalmist does today for his “coffee break.” Quickly and easily, he gets in touch with a contemplation of the whole world, catching the awesome power of Godly awareness, as did the writer of the opening chapters of Genesis. This pause for refreshment has the psalmist return to what is most basic in his life. May the psalm lift you to the same perspective and call forth new songs from your heart.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Earth full of Thy steadfast love v. 5
You fashioned the hearts of all. v. 15
My soul waiting for the Lord v. 20
Trusting in Thy holy name v. 21

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the twelfth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms,
one each week over the three-year cycle.

Today’s image courtesy of http://ccagwomen2women.com

Saul and Judas – David and Peter

Tuesdays: The Hebrew “Writings”

1 Samuel 26—28

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Once again, David restrains himself from killing Saul. Chapter 26, verse 13 is a foretaste of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Saul has lost all contact with his Lord, focusing obsessively on David, instead of a passionate centering upon God. In his desperate attempt to establish contact with the spiritual world, he sinks into the forbidden practice of seeking help from a medium. Samuel indeed comes forward by the power of God, much to the fright of the medium.

David too seeks allies in the enemy, instead of in the Lord. In his impetuosity, he is like Peter, as Saul is like Judas. Sense the difference between the two—the hope in David, the despair in Saul.

When God is silent, go deeper within, not searching outside of God for cheap answers. Accept no substitutes!

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
My life precious in Thy hands 26:24
Thou never turning from me 28:15
Obeying Thy inner Voice 28:15
Take all of me—all of me.

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the twelfth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Tuesdays are dedicated the Hebrew “Writings.”

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.keyway.ca

 

Pause for Personal Pouring

Mondays: The Prophets
Isaiah 26

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Isaiah rests from the intensity of previous prophecies. With the freshness and intimate approach of David, Isaiah pours at this chapter of personal expression. Just as the points of energy described in the week’s Alphabyte, “Loops,”so does Isaiah pause in the forward movement of speaking to the people on behalf of God , now speaking to God on behalf of the people, and simply, on behalf of himself.

Take your cue from Isaiah and allow him to be a “firestarter” for your own moment of prayer—a resting in the forward movement of your life to catch the upward surge of expression that the Spirit is stirring within you. As you find yourself awakened spiritually by special verses, go further in your expression and tell the Lord just how it is with you. Note the particular verse or verses that have started your fire. May the intimacy that Isaiah has with God be yours today.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Gates open: may I enter v. 2
Peace for those with steadfast mind v. 3
Thou, the everlasting rock v. 4
Lord, Thy name my soul’s desire v. 8

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for the version for children and families.

This is the twelfth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets; in this season, we continue reading Isaiah.

Image courtesy of http://hiswaynotmine.blogspot.com

Pressing for the Miracle

Sundays: The Gospels from the Lectionary
Matthew 15:21-28

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Perhaps Jesus has been looking for that time apart which he never was able to find, due to the pressure of the crowds to hear him, and the scribes and Pharisees to reject him. Jesus goes to the northern seacoast around Tyre and Sidon as a place of retreat by the sea. His reputation has gone before him. A pagan woman approaches Jesus and beseeches him to heal her daughter. Was the reason for his harsh response to the woman because Jesus did not want to give up on God’s chosen people? She refuses to take his remark personally, but rather presses on. She keeps to her purpose in coming to Jesus—to have her daughter healed. Jesus’ response to her faith brings joy to his heart, and healing to her daughter.

Is there anyone or anything distracting you from a relentless pursuit of your heart’s deepest desires in life? Does fear, pride, or lack of faith prevent you from pressing on for your miracle?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Mercy on those tormented v. 22
Kneeling before Thee, my Lord v. 25
Crumbs from Thy table enough v. 27
Let it be done as I pray. v. 28

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for the version for children and families.

This is the twelfth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.

Image courtesy of http://imgracemadewoman.wordpress.com

Last Words

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Deuteronomy 7:12—9:3

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

The last words of one about to die often have a powerful urgency about them. Such is the case for Moses and the entire Book of Deuteronomy. God has told Moses that he will not be permitted to enter the Promised Land because of the complaint Moses expressed to God about God’s compassion on his thirsty people in Numbers 20. Moses wants to be sure that future generations are extremely careful about their attitude to God and God’s ways.

Take to heart, therefore, these words of Moses; he does not speak lightly. Reflect upon the power of suggestion. Some things can either lead us to God, or drag us away, by the connection they have either with God or what is opposed to God.

Moses speaks his last words to God’s people—and to you and me. How do you know that these are not among the last words you shall ever hear?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Thy blessing upon my works 7:13
Set free by Thy outstretched arm 7:19
Only holiness within 7:26
Not by bread, but by Thy word 8:3

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for the version for children and families.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Today’s image courtesy of http://citylightbratislava.com

Three Responses

Fridays: The Gospels
Matthew 17:14-27

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


The night of the Last Supper, Jesus says through the Gospel of John, “Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” Apparently, the resurrection community around St. Matthew needed to hear the rebuke of Jesus about their lack of faith, the same condition placed at the beginning of the verse from St. John. Some manuscripts add verse 21 with Jesus saying, “But this kind of demon won’t leave unless you have prayed and fasted.”

Faith, prayer, fasting: the first is a gift; the next two are disciplines that loosen the way for the healing power of Christ. While there is mystery in how some people are healed and some are not, be sure there are positive check marks on the list of these three spiritual responses in your life.

Yesterday’s teaching of Paul about one’s behavior not being a stumbling block for another is exactly held by Jesus in verse 27.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Mercy, Lord, and Thy healing v. 15
By my faith, Thy healing comes v. 20
For Thee, naught impossible v. 20
Rising up from suffering v. 23

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for the version for children and families.

This is the eleventh of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We continue reading the Gospel of Matthew.

Image courtesy of http://althoughweareunworthy.blogspot.com