Save me from hardheartedness
From evil and deceit
From mutiny and unbelief
Turn and return me
From wandering away
From petrifying slowly
Make my heart pure
Open to you
Wanting what you want
Make my heart true
Confident in you and your Word
Hearing and Doing
Make my heart noble
Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger
Rejoicing in your direction
Heart of my heart
Keep me soft and steadfast in your nail scarred hands
Extended quote by John R. Wimmer, Blessed Endurance
The words joyrejoice as they appear in James and First Peter do not mean what they seem at first glance. The rejoicing we find here is not a shallow, syrupy, or optimistic refusal to admit that problems exist; instead, it is the realistic recognition of struggle bolstered by the decision to rejoice in knowing that God is working to bring us through strife to greater spiritual depth. Yes, it may be tough if not impossible to rejoice when suffering, but such joy will not take the form of emotional jubilance or elation.
James proclaims that suffering may be considered as joy when the encounter produces the spiritual virtue of steadfastness. And steadfastness, when allowed to flower into fullness, produces the most attractive bloom of all qualities: Christian maturity.
Authentic Christian maturity, then, is a steadfastness that we attain not by denial. It is a quality that, like any other kind of maturity, accrues with age, hard work, and a lot of bruising experience. It is the ability to redirect our thoughts beyond immediate woes in order to realize the spiritual growth that results from tests of faith.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Fill the hearts of Your faithful
And kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy Your consolations.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen. ~ Traditional Catholic Prayer. I first encountered this prayer on a Walk to Emmaus retreat.
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord. Amen. ~ Prayer by Dimitri of Rostov. This is my favorite prayer to use during Advent.
Come, Holy Spirit;
send down from heaven’s height
your radiant light.
Come, lamp of every heart,
come, parent of the poor;
all gifts are yours.
Comforter beyond all comforting,
sweet unexpected guest,
Rest in hard labour,
coolness in heavy heat,
hurt souls’ relief.
Refill the secret hearts
of your faithful,
O most blessed light.
Without your holy power
nothing can bear your light,
nothing is free from sin.
Wash all that is filthy,
water all that is parched,
heal what is hurt within.
Bend all that is rigid,
warm all that has frozen hard,
lead back the lost.
Give to your faithful ones,
who come in simple trust,
your sevenfold mystery.
Give virtue its reward,
give, in the end, salvation
and joy that has no end. ~ This is a modern translation by the Church of England of an ancient prayer, Veni Sancte Spiritus. Common Worship: Daily Prayer (c) The Archbishops’ Council 2005 by Church House Publishing
Consider the Biblical stories of God as Fire. Here are a few:
Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
The pillar of fire leading God’s people through the darkness and across the wilderness to the promised land (Exodus 13-14)
God consuming the offering in the battle between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
God companioning and rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3)
God described as a Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 3)
John the Baptist’s prophecy that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3, Luke 3)
Jesus promises the Father would send the Holy Spirit (John 14-16)
The story of Pentecost in Acts 2
Consider our need to be filled continually with the power of the Holy Spirit.
May your life be set ablaze with the strength and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. – Lisa <><
We can be certain of one thing: transformation into God’s image and God’s purpose requires that we pass through God’s refining fire. Being made holy is not a one-time deal; it is an ongoing process that continues until we are fully reconciled with Christ at his second coming. During our lives, we experience intense trials that we can use to refine our spirits. The key idea to remember is that we pass “through” and do not remain in the fire. – Enuma Okoro,Silence and Other Invitations of Advent
God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil– for the devil is cold– then let us call upon the Lord and he will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for him but for our neighbor as well. And from the presence of warmth, the coldness of the hater of good will be driven away. – Seraphim of Sarov
Prayer: Holy Spirit, Come Again Plain text is for one voice. Italics text is for all voices.
Holy Spirit, come again as cleansing fire,
Burn away all that is false and fruitless Come Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come again as guiding fire,
Light the way through our wilderness Come Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come again as refining fire,
Purifying our words, our ways, and our hearts Come Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come again as prophetic fire,
Rouse us to courage and action Come Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come again as unifying fire,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven Come Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come again as empowering fire,
Dance atop all your people, no matter the label
Inspire your gifts in us
Send us to bless and change the world. Come Holy Spirit
We ask all this in the name of Jesus,
the One who promised to send you,
and who taught us to pray,
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
The angels, saints, siblings in Christ are praying for us and cheering us on in the faith as we make our way to be more and more like Jesus, as we make our way to heaven. The devil and demons are working hard to distract us and tempt us so we fall off the path.
Jim Forest sees this painting and thinks- that ladder is like the Beatitudes. We climb the Beatitudes, step by step, one after another. The Beatitudes are the natural progression of a faithful life.
(I got a stunt double to climb the ladder for me this week! One step for each Beatitude.)
5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
This is the first half of the Beatitudes. It seems the first two Beatitudes and the third and 4th Beatitudes are paired. The fifth and sixth are also paired, as are the seventh and eighth. (Like taking two steps at a time.)
First two are paired in recognizing our need of God. I recognize I am poor in spirit. I recognize I am a spiritual beggar. I cannot save myself. I am in need of salvation and God provides it. Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Blessed are those who mourn. As I begin to look at myself I get honest with my sin, my shame, my guilt, my mistakes. I get honest with the mess I’m in and recognize I need forgiveness. I need new life. The first two Beatitudes are about recognizing our need.
The second two Beatitudes are about recognizing our strengths. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. I recognize I am strong and I have gifts. I place it under the authority and discipline of God.
I recognize I have the Holy Spirit living in me, I have hungers, thirsts, passion, fire, appetites. I ask God to focus all of that good energy into righteousness- right relationship with God, with others, between others, with myself, and with creation. God focus that good energy so I don’t use it in ways that are weapons, in ways that don’t last, in ways that are false.
The first two steps are about bowing in humility to God. The next two steps are about standing in the truth of who God made me.
In the first two steps, I recognize I am dust and ashes. In the next two steps, I claim I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
The first four Beatitudes prepare us for the last four Beatitudes. There’s a great deal of internal work going on in the first four Beatitudes. The higher we climb, the more external this blessing becomes, the more action-oriented.
The first 4 prepare us so we’re in the right soul place to join Jesus in the adventure of saving the world. I am named blessed so that I can be a blessing.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
I remember back all the way to the first step when I needed mercy. In fact, there isn’t a time when I don’t need mercy. The Beatitude checks all the passion, fire, hungering and thirst strength to make sure I am not using it as a weapon. I am using it in a merciful way.
God is all-powerful. God is strong to save. Does God wield that as a weapon? No. God wields God’s power mercy-fully.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Checks our motivation. Is my motivation to have Jesus sitting on the throne of my heart, to see the world as Jesus sees it? (How’s the view from up there?
God, I want to want what you want. I want your motivation to be my motivation. “Pure in heart” is about having an undivided heart. A divided heart has one foot with Jesus and one for our selves. It’s like having two people trying to sit on the throne at the same time. It’s not going to happen.
If we’re really honest we can’t multitask. We can’t do two things at the same time with any kind of skill or accomplishment. We can’t serve 2 masters.
Do I want to build myself up or am I building up others, building the Kingdom? Jesus, I want to see you and join you and glorify you.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. As we step out in faith to be a blessing to others, we begin to see Jesus in the folks we are with. We see God right here, right now.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
How often do we pray for peace? We want peace of mind and heart, in our family, safety, security, calm, comfort.
Jesus is Jewish. When he’s thinking about peace he’s thinking about Shalom. Shalom is about the well-being of all creation. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the right relationship of everything.
When I do this, folks will see Jesus in me and say, “that must be a child of God.”
The well-being of persons, the earth, systems so they are just and fair, governments so they have the best interest of all people. It’s big picture. The higher we go, the more we can see.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The followers of Christ have been called to peace. … And they must not only have peace but also make it. And to that end, they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ, nothing is to be gained by such methods. … His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they overcome evil with good and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus is raising us up to be prophets. Jesus is raising us up to be like him in his power to heal and to be ready for the persecution when it comes.
There’s a long history of persecution and harassment for God’s children. Placing our trust in Christ and living a life that looks more and more like his stirs things up.
When you start practicing mercy, peacemaking, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, your life is going to look different and people are going to notice. Not all of that notice is going to be positive. This Beatitude is honest enough to admit it.
We climb the ladder of the Beatitudes. It’s all leading up to so loving Jesus and desiring to follow him, that I will risk persecution. The higher you go on the ladder, the more risk there is.
Closer and closer to Jesus. I want to see thinks as you see them. I want to do things as you do them. Closer and closer to heaven- your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In order to get to heaven, you have to die. In order to be fully a part of heaven on earth, you have to die to self and be raised to new life in Jesus Christ.
The higher we climb, the more we die to self.
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit- God, help me to die to trying to save myself and doing things in my own strength.
Blessed are those who Mourn- God, help me to die to sin and self-centeredness.
Blessed are the Meek- God, help me die to unbridled strength. I never want my power, talents, and strength to be used as a weapon.
Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness- God help me die to division, to prejudice, anything which keeps apart from one another.
Blessed are the Merciful- God, help me to die to revenge, resentment, and payback.
Blessed are the Pure in Heart- God, help me to die to trying to serve two masters. Be the leader of my life. Sit on the throne of my heart. Give me an undivided heart, a heart after your own heart.
Blessed are the Peacemakers- God, help me to die to evil, injustice, oppression. Help me to die to violence and hate. Help me to die to me and mine, us and them, because in your kingdom it is only us.
Blessed are the Persecuted- God, help me to die to approval, popularity, and safety. Help me to die to hiding my faith and risk aversion. God make me courageous in wherever you would lead me.
The main symbol of Christianity isn’t the star of Bethlehem or the empty tomb. It’s the cross- an instrument of injustice and mocking and torture and death.
If you’re going to be a Christian, be a Christian, fully alive in Christ. Christian literally means “a little Christ.” Everything that goes along with following Jesus. If you’re going to be a Christian, then be a Christ. Be the blessing.