February 7 – February 13, 2017

THE FIRST WORD AND SPIRIT GUIDE WAS PUBLISHED A YEAR AGO ON FEBRUARY 8, 2016.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OVER THIS FIRST YEAR!  I PRAY THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO FIND A PLACE TO CONNECT TO AND COMMUNE WITH GOD AT THEWORDANDSPIRIT.ORG!

WORD

8I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  9Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

Psalm 32:8-9

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?

Thinking through Scripture:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

Sometimes I feel like the horse in the picture above.  I want to fight.  I want to rear up and buck the system.  I want to whinny, neigh, and bite.  I want to go my own path and do things my way.  It is those days that God must calm me without my cooperation, and I am thankful for his gracious, supernatural comfort and peace.

What is it that makes you want to act like a wild donkey of a person?  Obviously this is a common trait of humanity, so much so that the Psalmist could write of this situation and expect the audience to have an instant mental and emotional connection to the metaphor.  What causes you to forget your understanding or lose your temper?  How have such attitudes and actions caused destruction in your own life?

Often it is easy to blame others when we lose our cool and act like a wild animal.  “Well, they did this or that and provoked me,” we might say.  But perhaps we must look within ourselves for the wildness.  Perhaps we need to “stay near” God more intentionally.  To do this, God has provided us a “bit and bridle” of patient, merciful love.  God has given us the Word that speaks life into us and the Spirit to breathe the anointing of God within us.  This is why practices such as daily prayer, Scripture reading, meditation, worship, etc., are so important.  They act as a correction (we don’t like that word do we?) to our wild, spiritually untamed ways.

So next time you want to whinny, bite, or buck remember the calming, wise ways of God’s Word and Spirit.  Stop and pray for both yourself and the person or situation that has you bothered.  Read Scripture so that you can hear words from outside your own angry voice.  Worship God and thank God for all that is good and right in the world.  Let God adorn you with the glory and peace that comes when you trust him with your feral spirit.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, February 7 – 1 Kings 17
  • Wednesday, February 8 – 1 Kings 18
  • Thursday, February 9 – 1 Kings 19
  • Friday, February 10 – 1 Kings 20
  • Saturday, February 11 – 1 Kings 21
  • Sunday, February 12 – 1 Kings 22
  • Monday, February 13 –  2 Kings 1

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: …else it will not stay near you.

This week focus your prayer life not so much on needs, requests, etc.  Instead focus on prayer as communion with God.  We practice such prayer when we spend time with God for the sake of spending time with God.  We come to such prayer with no agendas and no expectations beyond meeting with God.  God desires such “unstructured” time with you.  Stay near to God this week because God desires to stay near to you.  Start your prayer time with a simple invitation: “Father God, I am here today to be with you…”  Let God take it from there!

Meditation Focus: I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Perhaps the thought of God always having a divine eye upon you is a frightening concept.  Will God look at me with judgment and wrath?  What does God think when God views my unfaithfulness?  It is difficult for some people to think of God looking at us as a loving parent gazes upon his or her child, because many have had painful experiences with parents.  For me this thought of God has been a pleasant one, but I know it is not for everyone.  For me, I think of the way I look at my daughters when I think of God’s eye upon me.  My eye is always upon them – even when we are not together!  In those times, my eye of my heart and mind are upon them.  But when we are together, I am watching them in wonder, awe, love, pride, and protection.  I do not look upon them with judgment or wrath.  Now, they do not always do what I ask or expect, but daily God is giving me the strength in those situations to treat them mercifully and with patient understanding – to treat them as God has treated me.

This week imagine something that gives you joy when you look at it or watch it, when your eye falls upon it.  Perhaps that is a person like a friend, spouse, child, or grandchild.  Perhaps it is an element of God’s creation like a night sky, a flower, or a beloved animal.  Whatever it is, visualize the look on your face when you enjoy gazing upon that special someone or something.  Now take that expression and transpose it onto your mental image of God (whatever form that mental image might take).  Then, picture yourself under the watchful eye of God.  In the eye of your mind and heart imagine God looking upon you with that gaze of joy.  Treasure that image and store it in the long-term memory of your soul.  Whenever you feel as though God must be looking at you in wrath and judgment, whenever you doubt the love and grace of God, call that image to mind.  God’s eye is upon you and that is a good and joyful thing!

Journaling Focus: I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go.

When we understand that God is watching over us in love, then we will come to realize that God is leading us into God’s good will.  But, how do you discern where God is leading?  Think of a time in which you have faced a difficult situation and have felt that God has instructed you.  What methods did God use to instruct and teach you?  What methods of instruction do you respond to and what methods seem to pass over your head and your heart?  How might you continue to learn from God?  What do you do when God seems to be correcting you?  Do you accept or fight such correction?  Why so?  Sit this week at the feet of Christ and open yourself to his teaching.  Such submission to God is difficult, but life-giving.

Breath Prayer: Father, break our stubbornness.

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