Growing in Resilience
Based on Isaiah 55
Bonus Reflection: Glory to You, based on Isaiah 55:6-9, NRSV
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Glory To You, O Lord Most High!
You await us with mercy
Mercy and abundant pardon
You are near
You are found
You send out your Word and it returns to you
A harvest of salvation and goodness
You send out your Word and it fulfills your desire
Joy and Peace for us and all creation
Glory To You, O Lord Most High!
Your thoughts are higher
Your ways are higher
Above and beyond
Grace upon grace
You alone are worthy of
our trust and devotion
our celebration and song
South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons
I. You Can Read the Bible by Steve Harper
One of the biggest mistakes we have made with the Bible is leaving the impression that only scholars can correctly interpret it. Everything is made so layered, nuanced, and complex that many folks instantly feel they lack the “training” and “horsepower” to make it through all the mazes.
So, they either stop trying or they become passive and wait for the “experts” to tell them what’s “right.” But the fact is, the Bible is intended to be understandable! The original languages do contain levels of insight, but their essential meanings are accessible to us all.
Here is a way to make it so in your personal reading and in your conversations with others. Take a passage, read it, and ask:
(1) What is the big idea?
(2) Why is it important?
(3) Where does it presently connect with my life–or–why is it not a part of me?
(4) Should it be part of me? If so, how can I continue (or begin) to put it into practice?
Most Bible passages will “bear fruit” when these questions are applied to them, either in private or in a group. And when you add to your own inductive study the additional resources of concordances, dictionaries, maps, and commentaries, you will find the messages of scripture influencing your life day after day.
II. SOAP The SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal is practiced by thousands of Christians. I first learned of it from Wayne Cordeiro, pastor New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, click here for the video on their website.
Here’s a brief summary of the process. S = Scripture
Read the Bible passage for the day. Copy the verse which catches your attention word for word in your journal.
O = Observation
Write a brief description of what is going on in the passage you read.
A = Application
Write about how your life will be different today because of what you have read.
• Lessons to be learned
• Examples to be followed or avoided
• Promises to be claimed and enjoyed
• A character trait of God revealed
P = Prayer
Write out a prayer for yourself and others based on what you read today.
This ancient prayer practice includes the following steps: lectio (“to read”) meditatio (“to reflect”) oratio (“to respond”)
and contemplatio (“to rest”).
Lectio Divina allows you to listen for God’s activity using scripture and to connect to God through the ancient Word while delving into a particular passage.
The practice of Lectio Divina focuses on formational reading of scripture, as opposed to informational reading. Formational reading invites the text to shape you, while informational reading invites you to understand the text. Though both types of reading can be useful on a spiritual journey, the art of Lectio Divina allows you to interact with God’s Word through meditating on a passage and listening for God’s leading.
My personal journey has been shaped by spending time in the Word using Lectio Divina. Through this practice, I have realized how scripture can speak to my life regardless of what I am facing. Lectio Divina has allowed me to see and hear God in new ways.
So, let’s get reading. Here are three simple reading plans to get you started. Each will take you through the New Testament in one year. It’s especially helpful to start with the New Testament if you are new to Bible reading.
2. New Testament Reading Plan- event order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which the events most likely happened. You’ll jump from chapter to chapter in different books in this plan. Is it scholarly perfect, no, but it is helpful for those of us who want a chronological approach to Jesus’ life and the lives of the first believers. (We aren’t getting caught in the perfectionism trap. If this sounds interesting, go for it.)
3. New Testament Reading Plan- mixed
This plan spreads the Gospel readings throughout the year with the other books mixed in between. Even though you skip around the New Testament in this plan, you will read a book at a time.
Click Here for more information on today’s featured image, South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans
1. How we relate to our money goes to the heart of our relationship with God
There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind, and the conversion of the purse. – Martin Luther
2. If you look for money to do what only God can do, money will fail you
Money cannot forgive your sins, bring you wholeness, nor save you
Money is not a Rock and a Refuge from the pain and trouble of this world
Money does not define you, nor make you valuable
3. Is money is good or evil?
Money is a powerful tool and gift of God. Like any gift, it can be twisted into something it was never meant to be: greed, envy, exploitation, materialism, hoarding… Like any gift, it can be received, nurtured, blessed, and multiplied for the greater good.
In the hands of [God’s] children, [money] is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. . . . By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless; we may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death! – John Wesley, The Use of Money
So it’s not about money. It’s about being in right relationship with money.
It is about using God-given spiritual practices to manage God’s powerful gift of money faithfully. There is no reason to fear or avoid speaking about money.
4. Where do we start? Wisdom is more valuable than money
Think of the consequence of money without wisdom
What is Wisdom? Accumulating knowledge is being smart, educated, informed. It is good to seek the help of experts and best practices, but it is not enough. Wisdom goes beyond accumulating knowledge to the use of knowledge. Wisdom takes into account experience, best practices, but goes beyond to seek and apply timeless Biblical truth and Divine Insight. Wisdom reveals what to do with what you have and why you do it.
Psalm 19:1-6, gaining God’s wisdom via nature
God reaches out to everyone, speaking to us. God wants to be in relationship with us through Jesus Christ, to lead us and guide us and give us wisdom. Yes, we consult experts. Yes, we use our God-given brains. Yes, we seek God’s will and wisdom.
Psalm 19:7-11, gaining God’s wisdom through God’s Word
God’s wisdom is
sure and reliable
right and correct
clear and clarifying
true and sound
more to be desired than gold
sweeter than honey
The wisdom that God’s Word provides
revives the soul
makes us wise if we have an open mind and a teachable spirit
causes our hearts to rejoice and be satisfied
enlightens, opens our understanding and perspective
brings answers, perspective, clarity
results in a healthy fear, awe, and holy reverence for God
results in appropriate humility before God
sustains and endures
warns, correcting us that we may live a rewarding life
In short, God’s wisdom puts us in right relationship with God, with others, with ourselves, with the earth, and with money. It’s why we can trust it, seek it, and surrender to it.
5. Ask God for Wisdom, that you may be in right relationship with money.
Do you pray and thank God for “daily bread,” trusting God as the source of your provision and asking God to provide? Do you seek God’s will when making a purchase or an investment or making an offering or for the courage to tithe?
Consider Solomon, a young man about to follow his father David in becoming king. God comes to him in a dream. “Ask what I should give you.” What would you ask for? Long life, love, wealth, power, peace, revenge, victory over your enemies…
Solomon asks for this Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:9)
Notice Solomon’s love and respect for God. He was a king yet humble. He refers to himself as God’s servant. Notice Solomon’s love of others. He understands his call as a leader is beyond his strength, skill, intelligence, and resources. He understands his responsibilities to the greater good.
God answers his prayer and God will answer you. Ask God for Wisdom, that you may be in right relationship with money.
Mighty God, grant me wisdom
Let the words of my mouth be acceptable to you
Let my every desire be acceptable to you
Let the resting place of my heart be acceptable to you
Open me to growth and guidance
Purify my reverence and awe for you
Sustain me and satisfy me
May the revival and sanctifying of my soul bring you delight and glory
I trust your Holy Word and Holy Wisdom to put me in right relationship with all things
With money, myself, my motivations, with others, with you
You alone are my Rock and my Redeemer
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.
Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible reading plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.
As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered?
I look forward to your comments. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <
Genesis 3:1-20; Romans 16:17-20
“Seed of Eve”
Genesis 22:1-18; John 3:16-17
“Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice”
Genesis 49:8-10; Revelation 5:1-5
“Lion of Judah”
Numbers 24:15-19; Matthew 2:1-2; 9-10
“Star of Jacob”
Deuteronomy 18:14-22; Hebrews 3:1-6
“Prophet Like Moses”
2 Samuel 7:1-17, Matthew 1:1; Revelation 22:16
“Son of David”
Psalm 2; Luke 1:35
“Messiah: Son of God and King”