CONGRATULATIONS ON ALL WHO WENT THOUGHTFULLY THROUGH MARK! You’ve been a blessing to me, and to one another, and I see His promise fulfilled in you: If you abide in me, you will bear much fruit.
I am asking God to guide me on where we should travel next. Have you learned anything new during this time of sheltering about walking with Him and hearing from Him? For me, it has been a time where I have sensed more profoundly the presence of God, so I’ve asked Him why that is, for I want this sweetness to continue. I’m going to share a few of the things He has shown me and get your input too. I also long for your prayers. I’ve liked going through a book, for you aren’t just hearing from me, and it lightens my load. God has also given me a book idea during this time of Covid 19, something I’ve been waiting on Him for 18 months. Should I go through that with you? Perhaps! May He show me through His Spirit and your thoughts.
Let me tell you a bit about how He has been coming to me during this time of Covid 19 through this week — and perhaps it will inspire some thoughts in you as well oh how it is we hear from God, how it is we experience the presence of God!
First, and I know this is not true for all of you, He has slowed me down. No speaking, no traveling, no pickleball, no actual hospitality, so very little cooking! I have gotten some cupboards cleaned out that I’ve avoided — but mostly, I’ve pressed into Him, knowing this vital truth:
For some of you, whose jobs are considered essential, the pace has heated up instead of cooled down. I wonder what you have learned! This week, I want to meditate on how we hear from God, how we experience His presence. Next week I might share how He is leading me in writing for that in itself has been an adventure in hearing from God.
Highlight from Last Week:
It was wonderful to see how many “finished the course” so well. And you communicated to me you liked going through Mark slowly. You also liked doing a book. I’m praying and pondering and longing to hear from God for what is next. As you will see this week, I’m writing a new book and I’ve also a few other ideas — we could do another Keller, or Ravi Zacharias, or Mike Mason on Job, or Tozer. Tozer and Zacharias would be topical. Or something else. May the Lord give wisdom.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Can you share something God has shown you during this time of Covid 19? State it as clearly as possible, for yourself, and for us.
Monday: Nuggets of Gold from George Muller
I know the primary way we hear from God is through His Word. Do you remember what George Muller, famed for rescuing thousands of orphans in the 1800’s said?
The first and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.
Then Muller takes it a step further and explains how God’s Word can launch a dialogue with Him, can greatly empower your prayer life. For many hears Muller began his time with the Lord in prayer, and then turned to Scripture. It was when He reversed the order that his prayer time turned into a powerful and effectual dialogue. He’d meditate on each verse with the purpose of nurturing his soul, and then that spontaneously turned to “confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession.”Muller said this approach, with rare exceptions, led him to a “peaceful, if not happy state in the Lord.” (His whole reflection on this is a page long and worth reading:https://www.georgemuller.org/devotional/category/devotions
3. What does Muller say is our foremost duty, and what is the best way to accomplish it?
4. Now, try it with Psalm 1, doing exactly as Muller said, and write your prayer here that springs from a verse that stands out to you.
Tuesday: Accept the Word God Implants In Your Heart
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount shows two paths — and all were in His hearing, but one took His words to heart and built on the rock, and another did not, and built on the sand. James puts it like this:
This may take you a little time, but it will be worth it. I want you to think about a word from the Lord, perhaps from Mark, or perhaps from another passage that you obeyed with a fresh obedience during this time — if you did. I’ll give you a personal example.
I have more time to watch movies, and I, during sheltering time, would watch up to an hour each night when I felt too tired to read, but it’s still too early for me to go to sleep — my early bedtime is already quite crazy. (7:30 to 4:00) A few times I’ve started something that looks interesting, but then I get a check in my spirit. Even though I might have been curious as to how the story ended, I knew I had to stop watching. Memorizing 1 John has shown me that those who walk in the light get more light, and those who walk in the darkness spiral down into greater darkness — so I’ve been able to switch it off and find something edifying or simply pray, sing hymns, or go to sleep at 6:30 and wake very early. (This crazy sleeping schedule, I know, will not work when we return to the real world with meetings and hospitality in the evenings.)
3. Meditate on the above verse from James 1:21. Then pray it here.
4. If you were with us in Mark, pull out one or two verses that profoundly impacted you, and explain why. If you weren’t with us, share another passage that has impacted you during this time and give an illustration that may edify us all.
5. Some of the verses implanted in my heart from 1 John are the following. What do they say?
How might you pray them?
A. 1 John 1:6
B. 1 John 2:5
Wednesday: Keeping Ourselves from Idols
Research is showing that during this time of Covid 19 the use of pornography, drug-use, and over-eating are up. Depression, suicides, and marital discord have increased. Even the recent riots over the killing of George Floyd stem from idolatry. John ends his 1st letter with: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” That makes you realize the whole letter had to do with keeping ourselves from the idols that cause us to walk in the darkness, to hate our brother, and to veer from the truth.
6. Read James 4:4
A. What warning does verse 5 give?
B. What does it mean to you that God equates sin with adultery?
C. What siren calls from the world have called to you during Covid 19? Let us pray for one
another! Can you identify the lie of Satan in your siren call?
7. Meditate on James 4:5 and explain what this verse means.
One of my favorite quotes is from our own dear Rebecca about idolatry: “Intimacy with God is
like a stream, and I hate it when the rocks get in the way.”
I have asked the Lord, What part do I have in experiencing Your presence, if any? For I know His Spirit is like the wind, it blows where it will. Yet, I have been experiencing more of His presence. Yesterday, as I was sensing His anointing during writing, it made me weep, for I am so unworthy. I have been doing the things that the following passage from James urge us to do and which contains a promise, yet I will tell you I have not done them fully, only better than before Covid 19 — but I am experiencing more of His presence.
8. Read James 4:7 and find two commands and one promise. How do you resist the devil?
9. Read James 4:8a and state the command and the promise. How have you been drawing near to God? Has it increased during this time? Have you experienced more of His nearness?
Thursday: Out Of The Overflow of Our Hearts
What we put in our hearts is crucial. I’m doing a lot of solitary hiking in God’s creation and listening to sermons, books, and music. For the news, I listen to The World and Everything In It for I need a Christian worldview. I’d love to hear suggestions from you.
10. I have been watching some wonderful edifying things, such as the Ravi Zacharias memorial and Wings of Eagles (Eric Liddell) and I loved The English Game on Netflix. Do you have recommendations?
11. I have been reading some wonderful books like Unlikely Converts and Dark Clouds Deep Mercy — two winners with Christian Books this year that are wonderful. I’m listening to “What If It’s True” by Charles Martin, who usually writes wonderful fiction. How about you?
12. I have been singing “I Need Thee Every Hour” every day since studying Jacob and realizing, from a sermon by Martin Lloyd Jones, on how we need to ask God for His blessing, to “not let go until He blesses us.” I also heartily recommend that sermon. Here’s a link:https://www.mljtrust.org/sermons-online/genesis-32-24-25/the-man-who-wrestled-with-god/
What sermon, music, or audio book suggestions do you have?
Friday: Faith In His Goodness and Love
I was so struck by Jill’s comment on the fact that I knew I was forgiven for giving Steve morphine, against his wishes, at the end. She struggles with believing she is that loved, that forgiven, that washed clean. I admit — I am too at times. When I watch the lives of Eric Liddell I think: “Of course he felt Your pleasure — look at how he lived!” But the truth is, that kind of thinking is the default mode of works righteousness thinking. He delights in all His children. And it is vital we trust this or we will not press into Him when times are hard but will instead run to our idols.
To quote our own Rebecca again, who is facing the greatest storm of her life: “He [God] is happy when I trust in Him with bold confidence of His love and care for me.”
Meditate on the following, articulate the main thought, and pray it into your heart.
13. Psalm 103:10-14
14. Isaiah 62:5
15. John 17:23b
Saturday: Take-A-Way and Prayer for “What’s Next?”
16. What is your take-a-way this week?
17. Would you pray for wisdom on “What’s Next?”
18. Do you have any input for me?