Devotional Thought of the Day:
Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful. 3 Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. 4 Please pray that I will make the message as clear as possible. Col. 4:2-4 CEV
736 Your life cannot be the repetition of actions which are all the same, because the next one should be more upright, more effective, more full of love than the last. Each day should mean new light, new enthusiasm—for Him!
God designed all finite things to be eventually boring because He designed our heart with an infinite hole in its center, a hole that cannot be filled even with the whole enormous but finite universe. There is a Black Hole in our heart analogous to the physical Black Holes in intergalactic space that can suck all the matter in the universe into themselves. This spiritual black hole is the restless heart that will not and cannot rest anywhere except in God, its home.
Gracious souls are never perfectly at ease except they are in a state of nearness to Christ; for when they are away from him they lose their peace. The nearer to him, the nearer to the perfect calm of heaven; the nearer to him, the fuller the heart is, not only of peace, but of life, and vigour, and joy, for these all depend on constant intercourse with Jesus.
There is a challenge in leading worship, and in leading a church. It is all to common to get in a rut, to try to do the same pattern of worship faithfully. But as St. Josemaria points out, we can’t just be repeating everything, over and over.
Please be careful, I am not advocating changing the church service every week, but to engage in it better every week, To be more effective and build the enthusiasm in the service. Not just an upbeat sense of enthusiasm, but an enthusiasm, a desire, a will that is focused in on being in the presence of Jesus. For in His presence, together, being cleansed by His blood, by being fed on His word, by being united together in Him, each week can be the same thing, done in a way that continually draws people closer.
This is the same for private life, as the black hole is filled with the presence of God, the only thing that can fill it. It is no different to say “never give up praying” as it would be to say, “never stop being aware of being in the presence of God” for both are the same thing.
The way to keep from getting into a rut in either your devotional life, or in church is to remember Who you are talking too, Who you are walking with, to realize what happens as you draw nearer to Him. Pray for your pastor and worship leader to help you realize that you are in God’s presence, not just in theirs! (They should be like waiters in a restaurant – you should know they were around, because of Who has been brought to your attention – but Who is brought to your attention is the focus, and the reason you are there!)
Let God fill you! Let God bring about your healing, as you realie He is forgiving and sanctifying you.
Sing, pray, listen, with the knowledge of His presence…
Church and private prayer will never be boring then… you will desire it more and more. And the day you don’t, just refocus on Jesus.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 89.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Luke 16:10 (NLT2)
507 You tried to belittle somebody else’s work by mumbling: “He has only done his duty.” And I said, “Does that seem so little to you?” The Lord gives us the happiness of Heaven for doing our duty: Euge serve bone et fidelis… intra in gaudium Domini tui— Well done good and faithful servant, enter into eternal joy! (1)
The things that challenge me the most in life are the most mundane. The times in life where I am supposed to go through the motions, the moments were the tasks are simply boring, where the actvity is bland..
How do i trudge through those days, eager for the oppostunity to do something new! And I am not the only one, and it is not just about taking out the trash, or cleaing the gutters, or more data entry, or mopping the bathroom floors after a toilet was clogged int he preschool restroom.
It happens in the church as well. For it takes persistence and patience to see a church impact its community, to become a community of faith that the community knows it is alive.
Maybe that is why the focus is on planting new, and the experts claim the best growth happens in new churches, and why we take our most dynamic and driven guys and send them for church planting training before we see that they can shepherd people?
And so in the church, we simply mimic the culture again. And give up on the hard work of doing that which is the fun, the flashy, and the presumed high rate of return!
But how do we do our job, how do we do our duty with zeal and a strong focus when it seems like we can do it, with the same effort it takes to snore? How do we stay with it, day in and day out? How do we stop ourselves from doing things in a simply rote manner?
Can we learn ot put all our effort, all our focus into the mundane?
The only way it is possible is to realize Who entrusts us with the work and spends the time with us, as we work. One who would wash our feet, the One who listens to our complains, to our whining, the One who patiently comforts and cleanses and heals us.
he is with us in the mundane, the boring and the bland, He is with us strengthening us, empowering us, helping us realize what we do is not done alone, and that it actually
Lord help us to see the normal everyday life as a gift we share with You. Help us to do it well, so well that others will give glory to You. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2209-2213). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit’s inner re-inforcement – that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled though all your being with God himself!
20 Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine – to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen! Ephesians 3:14-20 (Phillips NT)
77 You told me that to tie yourself to a plan of life, to a schedule, would be so monotonous! And I answered, “It is monotonous because you lack love.”
It is sometimes. Ver much so more than I would like to admit.
It doesn’t matter if it is a high powered contemporary service, or a organ blasting traditional service, or a small intimate worship time on a retreat.
Church services can be boring, even monotonous,
And while the pastor and those who music facilitates our praises can impede or encourage worship, there is one key that absolutely makes the difference in whether you find a church and the worship service.
I’ve seen couples where one is completely engaged in worship, one is actively engaged, and talks about church as the high point of their week. The spouse, however, was so disengaged that they eventually fell asleep.
What makes the difference in perception is the person.
St Josemaria says it well, it is monotonous because of the truth of this, you lack love.
And if you lack love, there are two options, you are unable to love God and others, or what is necessary to love him, you haven’t been immersed in the reality of HIs love for you. You haven’t had the opportunity, as St Paul desired for you, to explore the incredible dimensions of that love for you.
Not just know the love as a piece of data, because you can’t fully, it is so far beyond our comprehension, You need to be filled with that love, you need to be filled with God.
And that is the purpose of a church service, to help you explore that depth, and those who lead are simply guides on the journey. Guides who hopefully are still in awe of the same journey, pointing out this treasured point, and that, how this explores the heights, and that explores the depths.
For if you know how incredible God’s love is for you,
And when you do, the hunger to more will help you engage, to enter the service as a participant as we dance with God, rather than being an observer. For everyone has a part in worship, every voice has its role, a part in the service. It’s not just about the guys up there in robes, We are just there to point you to the love that God has for you, the incredible love that makes a difference in every aspect of your life.
So when you come into a church, expect something special, expect to hear you are loved, listen for it, rejoice in it, walk in it, even dance in it, and then love and adore the God who loves you.
The same service will never be the same.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 339-340). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought/Discussion Thought of the Day:
“Look, I am with you always, yes, until the end of time” Mt. 28:20 (NAB)
19 Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; 20 he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (TEV)
“Work with cheerfulness, with peace, with presence of God. In this way you will also do your task with common sense. You will carry it through to the end. Though tiredness is beating you down, you will finish it off well; and your works will be pleasing to God.” (1)
It doesn’t matter the job that we have, there are times where it can zap the life out of you. Sometimes it is because it is too routine, and the same old tasks begin to bore us and tire us and drain all our energy from us. Sometimes it is because our work is hard, our days are too long, and we become exhausted. ( I love the study that says we get more work done working 55 hours a week than 70 – well I love to think about it – even as I probably prove it all too accurate.)
As I enter my second week of work since returning from the mission field, I know I am going to be exhausted by the end of this week – and some of my normal routine will suffer. So as I am doing devotions today, I read the above quote by St. Josemaria – a man whose life makes mine seem sedate and peace-filled.
His words resonate with some recent experience, my mission trip in China where tiredness was itself overwhelmed by my awareness of God’s presence. Of course He is with us everywhere, in every moment of our lives, because of His work in calling us to faith, in the work of God in our baptisms, as we are united to Christ’s death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit is given residence in our lives.
But, when we get tired, and when we get bored, do we remember this? Or do we take the presence of God in our lives, and reduce it to some abstract, unconnected point of doctrine, some bit of trivial knowledge.
My friends, the ancient greeting of the church, “The Lord is with you”, must take root in our lives, it is the essential truth that makes a difference – that God has invested Himself in us, in His people, in our lives.
As we realize this, what happens is seen above, our lives become more focused, our vocations are lived out more completely. Not because of our diligence, not because of our… goodness. But because the presence of God changes what we do into something shared with Him.
Walk with God… revel in His mercy, His love, His will to restore us, to cleanse us, to be His people, and He, our Lord, our God, our Dad.
So bored at work? exhausted by the daily grind?
Pray, and realize you dwell in the presence of God.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2691-2693). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.