November 22 – November 28, 2016

WORD

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near.  Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Romans 13:11-14

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.

I dare you to look at the image above for ten seconds without yawning!  While searching for yawning pictures, I must have yawned four or five times.  Just typing the word yawning made me yawn!  Yawning is contagious; when someone else gets droopy eyed and wide-mouthed in our presence we can begin to feel the urge of slumber coming upon us.

Advent (the season of which this is the first Sunday) is a time to wake from our spiritual slumber and remember the great gift God gave to the world in Jesus Christ.  Too often, we as Christians (and the Church as a whole) yawn our way through life.  God is calling to us in Advent to “WAKE UP!”  The yawn of that lion easily becomes a roar when redirected and transformed by the grace and energy of the Holy Spirit.  How have you slumbered through your faith this year?  How might God wake you up now and move you from a yawn to a roar?

The incarnation of the Son of God – the movement of God toward us through the life of the One who came and set up camp among us (John 1:14) – should inspire us to an active, hope-filled faith.  God came to us specifically to love us and bring us to Godself.  That is reason to stop yawning and to start roaring in praise.  How transformative it would be if the world daily came in contact with vibrant displays of faithful love and mercy from the followers of the one who came to the world to save it.  Wake up and be sent out in the anointing of the Holy Spirit this Advent season as you rededicate yourself to the person, teaching, work, and mission of Jesus Christ.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, November 22 – Ecclesiastes 10
  • Wednesday, November 23 – Ecclesiastes 11
  • Thursday, November 24 – Ecclesiastes 12
  • Friday, November 25 – Ruth 1
  • Saturday, November 26 – Ruth 2
  • Sunday, November 27 – Ruth 3
  • Monday, November 28 –  Ruth 4

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Let us then lay aside the works of darkness.

Though the calendar still says November, this is actually the beginning of the Church Year.  The Church Year begins in Advent and ends with Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday of Pentecost, which was last Sunday).  The ending of one time period and the beginning of another is a good time to reflect and take stock of where you are spiritually.  Are there any works of darkness still present in your life?  Ask God to search you, convict you of your sins, and forgive you in divine mercy.  Trust God to transform you so that your repentance might be active and effective.  Pray that this will be a year of renewed faithfulness and obedience to God’s will and word.  May this be a year of light as God guides you in steadfast love and shapes you into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Meditation Focus: You know what time it is…

In keeping with the theme above, I encourage you to participate in the Christian practice of the examen.  The examen is a characteristic practice of the Ignatian (Jesuit) tradition.  Since we are at this turning point of the Christian year, embrace this practice that encourages us to look back and find God’s activity in our day.  You can carry this practice with you throughout the year.

In practicing the examen, find a quiet moment at the end of your day.  Ask Jesus to appear in your imagination as he guides you through your day that you have just completed.  Go to the places you have gone and meet the people you have met.  Consider your activities, attitudes, and investments of time and energy throughout the day.  Ask Jesus to reveal to you the answers to these questions as you go in your mind from place to place and face to face:

  1. Where have I been faithful to you today?
  2. Where have I missed your will today?
  3. Where have you made yourself known to me today?
  4. To whom have you called me today in love and compassion?
  5. Where are you leading me?

Simply end your time of examen with a prayer of thanksgiving and a prayer for peaceful rest.

Journaling Focus: For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.

Salvation is so much more than simply freedom from death and hell and entrance into an eternal rest with God.  Though this is an extremely important facet of salvation, salvation is also active in this life.  As Wesleyans, we believe that salvation includes transformation in this lifetime – from darkness to light, from being ruled by the flesh to being ruled by the Spirit, from old to new.  How do you understand salvation as it has already unfolded in your life?  How do you understand salvation as being presently active in your life?  How do you understand salvation as a future reality to anticipate?  How has your understanding of salvation evolved over time?  Paul writes at various times of having been saved, of being saved, and of a salvation that will one day be.  Take some time to write this week about how you have been saved, how you are saved now, and how you will be saved.  Embrace salvation in its fullness!

Breath Prayer: Father, wake us up!

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