Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

from “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant & Chris Eaton (1992)

listen

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering.

Malachi 3:2-3

think

The process of purification is difficult. Refining anything takes time and a lot of energy. Cleaning what is dirty is not always easy. With each one of these examples, there is a process which means you need to start at the beginning to get a successful outcome.

While the Bible has all sorts of imagery that doesn’t always make sense, it seems like this verse helps to remind us that we are all in process and changing. In the process of refining, we separate what we need from what is no longer needed.

You may have picked up a habit or a frame of mind or even a friend that is not helping you move forward. This may be holding you back from being who you know God wants you to be. Now what? Where do you need to start separating what is no longer needed? How can you start the refining process today?

Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks

pray

Refiner of us all, thank you for sticking with me through my process of becoming. May this Advent push me forward as I prepare for your light, made flesh in this world. Amen.

go

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

from “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant & Chris Eaton (1992)

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Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

This is only the beginning.

God is up to something amazing in you.

Wait for it.

listen

“Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.”

Luke 21:34-36

think

The most basic trap consists of two things: (1) a container and (2) the bait. The trap works because the bait is so easy to see, while the container is hard to see at all.

Towards the end of Jesus’ teaching in the temple, Luke’s gospel reports that Jesus warned his hearers of a kind trap. It’s the kind of trap that would be a surprise to those who were drunk, hungover, and worried. He predicted that they would take the bait and be caught off guard by what would happen.

It may seem like the bait that is all around us is no big deal and harmless, when in actuality, it’s the bait that keeps us from seeing what is really happening. Instead of falling for the trap today, we can look for the real thing — God’s will and way. Even if it looks like we’re missing out, when we look for God in hope, we won’t miss what Jesus has done and is doing all around us.

Tasha Gibson

pray

All-Wise God, thank you for showing me the traps around me. Please help me keep my eyes on you instead. Through Christ our Lord, amen.

go

This is not the end.

God is up to something wonderful in the world.

Watch for it.

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Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

This is only the beginning.

God is up to something amazing in you.

Wait for it.

listen

Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near. I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until everything has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away."

Luke 21:29-33

think

Sometimes it is hard to know just how close we are to something. Tracking a package, a flight, or a phone’s location can often tell us where something is, but not always exactly when it will come to us. Unexpected things can happen that interrupt the path, delay the arrival, or change the destination altogether.

Jesus tells his hearers in the gospel according to Luke that trees are kind of like trackers. Just like trees track how soon summer will arrive, so too, Jesus says, things will happen to show that something else is changing too. Particularly, Jesus says that we can track the coming of the Kingdom of God by things we see.

We can’t get email notifications, text updates, or follow a dot on a map to tell us how close God’s Kingdom is to us today. However, we can believe that God’s Kingdom is coming to us and is near. Look out for God. God’s Kingdom, a Kingdom of love, may be closer than you think.

Tasha Gibson

pray

God of Grace, thank you that you, by the Spirit, are on the move in the world. Open my eyes that I might see you all around me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

go

This is not the end.

God is up to something wonderful in the world.

Watch for it.

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Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

We fully open our hearts to you, O God, as we give.

listen

Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny.

Mark 12:41-42

think

Before going to seminary, a new youth pastor back home said I could work with youth well. “What?” I said. She looked at me and told me to try. So I did. It didn’t seem like I did much, but the results were amazing.

We feel that what we are giving to God is so small. Perhaps that is what the poor widow felt as she approached the box. However, God loves what we give, and God takes what we give and transforms it to something mighty. Yes, the woman may have only given a penny, but Jesus highlighted that action which has been used for centuries to motivate folks to give.

So, my friends, there are times when we may feel that we cannot give at all. Perhaps it is fear, or perhaps we forget that God can take what we have, albeit small, and transform it to something huge – even changing the world.

Andy Hart

pray

God, what I have to give is so small. Please transform it to something big. Amen.

go

Someone once said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Go out today to make your life by giving.

Give love, give joy, give selflessly, give generously.

Give your all.

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Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

We fully open our hearts to you, O God, as we give.

listen

As he was teaching, he said, “Watch out for the legal experts. They like to walk around in long robes. They want to be greeted with honor in the markets. They long for places of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. They are the ones who cheat widows out of their homes, and to show off they say long prayers. They will be judged most harshly.”

Mark 12:38-40

think

Jesus was not talking about lawyers. Back then, the people with the most power would interpret the laws and instruct what those laws were. They had lots of power and wealth, and they loved to strut around. Their motivation for giving was self-serving. They may have given it all, but their price was high.

So, why do you give? Is it so other people will notice what you gave? I remember playing basketball in junior high. There was a difference between those who had a heart for the team and played accordingly and those who played for themselves.

I have to wonder if we are truly giving if there is an ounce of self in the action. It’s worth taking the time to pause when we act and reflect on this question, for whenever our motivation is self-promotion, we are not truly giving. It is great to give our all, but let’s focus on the one we are giving to as opposed to what we can get out of it and who is watching and noticing our giving.

Andy Hart

pray

Holy One, thank you for this day. Please give me a heart to give out of love and not for selfish gain. Amen.

n.

go

Someone once said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Go out today to make your life by giving.

Give love, give joy, give selflessly, give generously.

Give your all.

Read more

Pause- Listen-Think-Pray-Go

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust.
Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly, God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I think: The Lord is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.

Lamentations 3:22-24

think

This week is about sharing generously, but the writer in Lamentations proclaims that we are the receivers of God’s many gifts. God’s faithful love and never-ending compassion sustain our lives. They are new every morning and they’ll never run out!

God’s love and mercy, compassion, and kindness help me to trust in God’s great Enough. When I’ve reached the end of my rope, God’s compassion and mercy are renewed. When I'm mad or sad, God’s love and kindness hold me. And because these gifts never run out, there is enough for me to share them with others.

I can extend God’s compassion to the kid being bullied at school. I can extend God’s mercy to someone in need of my forgiveness. I can extend God’s kindness to a stranger.

There is enough of God’s faithful goodness for all of us. Thanks be to God!

Meredith Forssman

 

pray

Loving God, sometimes I question your mercy and love for me. It’s hard to believe that they will never run out. Thank you for renewing them each day! Help me to see and to share your gifts in my world. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.
Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.
Share with cheerfulness and with love.
For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust.
Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

Go out and share with your heart.

Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.

Share with cheerfulness and with love.

For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

think

Paul writes to the church in Corinth: “Be the best … you are the best.”

Being the best is an idea that we’re familiar with: we want to dominate on the soccer field, win a marching band competition, become the valedictorian, get the promotion at work. Our competitive society pushes us to be the best, and that can feel like a lot of pressure!

Paul isn’t pressuring the Christians in Corinth to excel in sports or music, in school or at work. He’s encouraging them to be excellent in holy things: in their faith, in their commitment, in love. Paul says they don’t have to do this out of their own strength, though. The grace needed to be the best in holy things comes from Jesus Christ, whose way of self-emptying love for the world invites us all to an abundant life.

Jesus’ grace makes us rich so that we have enough to share generously of ourselves and be excellent in faith and love.

Meredith Forssman

pray

God, in a world that constantly tells me I need to do all that I can with all that I am to be the best in all that I do, your grace is a drink of cool, fresh water! Give me lots of it, so that I can be excellent in the things that matter — in loving and sharing generously with the world. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.

Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.

Share with cheerfulness and with love.

For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust.
Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I think: The Lord is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.

Lamentations 3:22-24

think

This week is about sharing generously, but the writer in Lamentations proclaims that we are the receivers of God’s many gifts. God’s faithful love and never-ending compassion sustain our lives. They are new every morning and they’ll never run out!

God’s love and mercy, compassion and kindness help me to trust in God’s great Enough. When I’ve reached the end of my rope, God’s compassion and mercy are renewed. When I'm mad or sad, God’s love and kindness hold me. And because these gifts never run out, there is enough for me to share them with others.

I can extend God’s compassion to the kid being bullied at school. I can extend God’s mercy to someone in need of my forgiveness. I can extend God’s kindness to a stranger.

There is enough of God’s faithful goodness for all of us. Thanks be to God!

Meredith Forssman

 

pray

Loving God, sometimes I question your mercy and love for me. It’s hard to believe that they will never run out. Thank you for renewing them each day! Help me to see and to share your gifts in my world. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.

Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.

Share with cheerfulness and with love.

For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust. Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and your financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.

2 Corinthians 8:13-15

think

When Paul invites the church in Corinth to share resources with needy Christians, he reminds them of a formational story for the people of God: “As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little. This is the story of manna in the wilderness. It’s the story of God providing just enough for each day. It’s a story of abundance and equality. It’s a story of a people learning to trust in God’s holy Enough.

There are lots of stories out there that form our attitudes and ways of life.

One story goes like this: I worked hard for it, so it's mine to enjoy.

Another story: There are only so many pieces of the pie — if I give to every needy person, there won’t be enough left over for me.

There are lots of stories out there… What’s your story?

Meredith Forssman

pray

God, I hear you calling me to generosity and to trust. This conflicts with some of the stories that surround me every day. Hold me in this place of tension God, and remind me again and again that there is enough until this forms my way of life. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.
Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.
Share with cheerfulness and with love.
For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust.
Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

You changed my mourning into dancing. You took off my funeral clothes and dressed me up in joy so that my whole being might sing praises to you and never stop. Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

Psalm 30:11-12

think

The Psalmist wants to sing praises without end, because God has done something wonderful! That something wonderful is life — life that’s given, sustained, protected, and healed by God.

When I read these psalm verses, I feel like the praise is just gushing out in every direction. There are a lot of big words here: my WHOLE being might sing praises and NEVER stop … I will give thanks to you FOREVER! This is generous praise!

This is praise that doesn’t hold anything back. This is praise that fills one’s whole life — heart, mind, soul, and strength. This is generous praise!

It’s a praise that doesn’t stop to deliberate. It doesn’t think before breaking out into dancing. It’s not cynical. This is generous praise!

It’s a praise that is full of life and joy. It’s a praise that knows not to take these for granted. It’s praise that spills over for everyone to see. This is generous praise!

You too have received this wonderful life from God. Give God your generous praise!

Meredith Forssman

pray

God, may I sing praises to you with my whole being and never stop! You have given me this life. Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.

Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.

Share with cheerfulness and with love.

For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust.
Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

I’m giving you my opinion about this. It’s to your advantage to do this, since you not only started to do it last year but you wanted to do it too. Now finish the job as well so that you finish it with as much enthusiasm as you started, given what you can afford.

2 Corinthians 8:10-11

think

Paul is fundraising. He’s asking the church at Corinth to support a relief project for poor Christians. In this passage, Paul indicates that the Corinthians started out strong in their giving, but — if we’re reading between the lines — it seems like they’ve slacked a bit. Maybe their enthusiasm had started to wane. In any case, Paul writes to encourage them: “You started to give last year, and you were excited about it! Finish the job with that same enthusiasm!”

It can be hard to finish what we start. We might feel moved to give to a worthy cause, only to realize that the gift is going to really make our budgets too tight. Or we may just get bored putting an offering into the plate each week. This doesn’t only apply to our gifts of money, but to sharing our time and talents too. Sometimes it seems easier to back out.

But we live in a world that needs your gifts! Remember your excitement. Remember your enthusiasm. Keep those alive. Keep your commitment.

Meredith Forssman

pray

God, there are so many worthy causes out there that I would like to get involved in — through volunteering my time or through financial support. Help me to discern where to commit, and help me to be faithful to my commitments. And when I grow weary in giving, send me encouragers who remind me why I feel called to this opportunity. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.

Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.

Share with cheerfulness and with love.

For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust. Do I trust that there is enough to share? Enough for me and for you and for all of us? Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

When I was comfortable, I said, “I will never stumble.” Because it pleased you, Lord, you made me a strong mountain.

But then you hid your presence. I was terrified. I cried out to you, Lord. I begged my Lord for mercy.

Psalm 30:6-8

think

The Psalmist describes two extremes that we may face in life: on the one hand, comfortable prosperity, on the other hand, troubled despair.

Our logic might tell us that we’re more likely to be generous when things are going great than when everything has fallen to pieces; however, studies show that having “everything” or having “nothing” is not the key predictor for generosity. Instead, our generosity is more determined by our ability to relate with others and to empathize with them. Do we feel a connection with another person? Can we put ourselves in their shoes? If so, we will likely be more generous.

Having everything fall to pieces, being troubled and dismayed — that’s no fun. But it’s this kind of hard experience that prepares us to understand and empathize with others. And that, in turn, is the key to opening our hearts and lives to share generously of ourselves. That’s what psychology says — but it also sounds like God’s way of redeeming our painful experiences.

Meredith Forssman

pray

God, I don’t want to have to suffer, but I know that it is a part of life. Things won’t always be easy and comfortable. So when things get hard, help me to learn and reflect so that I will emerge on the other side with new strength, compassion, and empathy. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.

Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.

Share with cheerfulness and with love.

For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Read more

Pause- Listen-Pray-Go

pause

The root of generosity, as in most matters of faith, is trust.
Do I trust that there is enough to share?
Enough for me and for you and for all of us?
Do I trust in God's abundance?

listen

A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly.

2 Corinthians 8:12

think

As a teacher, Jesus was always trying to get his followers to move past the letter of the law and get to the heart of the matter. We see this in the way Jesus taught about the Sabbath, for example, Sabbath isn’t about following all the rules but instead about God’s life-giving rest for all creation. For Jesus, faith is about matching up what’s going on in our hearts with our actions. In Paul’s language, it’s the Spirit that gives life, not the letter (2 Corinthians 3:6).

In today's scripture, Paul encourages the church in Corinth to make good on their commitment to give an offering. He says that generosity is not about the amount that you give. “Just do what you can do, not what you can’t. What’s most important is the spirit behind the gift.”

Whether you have much to give today, or only very little, it’s enough. It’s your willingness to offer your gifts to God, to the church, and to the world that counts.

Meredith Forssman

pray

O God, some days I feel like my measly offering will never make a difference. Sometimes I think that no one would notice if I held back my talents and gifts. They seem so small in comparison to others. Free me from this worry to give willingly, generously, joyfully. Amen.

go

Go out and share with your heart.
Don’t share because you feel pressured. Don’t share with hesitation.
Share with cheerfulness and with love.
For you can trust in this: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.”

based on 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Devotion by Julie

Hello my most precious child! I hope today is a relaxing end of summer day. As I lay beside Tommy who doesn't feel good, I feel a great sense of responsibility. He hasn't taken naps in quite awhile but the last couple of days he has slept more than he's been awake. I hurt for him and I feel helpless to make it better. All I can do is snuggle him in close and let his body fight the battle it has to do. I think about God and how this is exactly what He does for me. When I am sad or afraid or hurting or are just overwhelmed by life, God is there. He allows me to work out whatever my issue is for the day without judgement or criticism. He is simply present with me. Amazing concept. I am thankful that I can say I have a Heavenly Father who is always there just when I need Him most. My prayer for you today is that you will close your eyes and feel His presence. He's not intrusive. He doesn't make you feel less than....no, He let's you feel loved. May God's blessings be upon you and may you always know his grace. Love and hugs!

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

from “The Summons” by John L. Bell & Graham Maule

listen

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him.

Luke 4:16-20

think

The scene is a little awkward – all eyes on Jesus after he has read this prophecy in regard to himself. Murmurs of “who does he think he is?” And yet, let’s ask: are we bold enough to proclaim even to ourselves that the Spirit of the Lord is on us, so that we too may be sent out to preach good news to the poor and to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is here? People may say, who do they think they are?! They’re too young/idealistic/uneducated/you-name-it to make any sort of difference in the world.

But the whisperers forget – it is the Spirit of the Lord who enables us to be messengers of the Good News and to participate in the healing of communities, people, relationships, and maybe even creation.

Katie Lloyd

 

pray

Holy Spirit, anoint me with your power that I may follow in the footsteps of Jesus and step out in faithfulness to tell others about the Kingdom of God. Help me to be a bearer of Good News, no matter the looks or murmurs that come my way. Amen.

go

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

from “The Summons” by John L. Bell & Graham Maule

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