10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
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?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
This passage of Scripture is my favorite in the whole Bible. Here Paul states perfectly what our aim in life is. Knowing God through engaging daily with the living Christ and the Holy Spirit is the purpose of my life, my ministry, and these very Word and Spirit Guides. They are designed to relationally connect us with the God who wants to know us.
If we seek to know God, then we will want to know those whom God loves. This, of course, means the entire world – all of creation and every person and thing that fills it. This connection to others and to creation should inspire us to love and care for one another.
Look at the image above. Imagine that Jesus’s hand is underneath the pile of hands. There are many persons and people groups represented there – men and women, many colors, many backgrounds, and many stories. When we say “yes” to uniting with Christ, we also say “yes” to uniting with his people. They become our brothers and sisters, too.
Let’s aim to know Christ together, to know the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, and to worship God with our whole lives. As we do so, let’s remember that God is calling us to reach out to those who need to know God’s mercy, but who might feel far away from God. As Bishop Bryan reminded us at Annual Conference last week, let’s stretch – upward toward God and outward toward others.
All of us have had our lives changed by knowing someone. I can think of many people who shaped me through relationship: my great-grandfather, my college mentor, my wife and children. This week write about someone who has shaped you through your relationship with them. What was it about your relationship that made you who you are today? How might you shape the lives of others through relationship?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Cloud of Witnesses:
St. Therese of Lisieux – The little flower of Jesus
Listen to the song, Knowing You, Jesus. You can purchase the song here, if you’d like. As you listen, join in the singing as God leads you or simply receive its message in silence. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Take a sheet of paper and draw a series of five concentric circles, each one getting larger as you move out from the center. In the first circle, write the label “Family.” In the second circle, write the label “Friends.” Label the third “Work,” the fourth “Church,” and the fifth “World.” Now use this to guide your prayers this week, as you lift up those that you are relationally connected to in prayer. As you move from the smaller circle to the larger ones, name persons or people groups who fit in each category. Thank God for them, trust that they will be receptive to God, and listen to God’s prompts to action with each name mentioned.
What does it mean to share the sufferings of Christ Jesus? Who represents suffering in the world today? How does God expect us to respond to suffering in our own lives and in the world. Allow that word suffering to sit before your mind and heart this week. Sometimes we might be tempted to wish that Paul left out that part of this passage. But God wants to teach us something this week about the place of suffering. Hold suffering this week as God holds you, and discover something new from God.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How has God made Godself known to you?
- How has God invited you to know God more deeply?
- How has God been present in your relationships with others?
- How have you experienced suffering or the power of resurrection?
- How was God present in these experiences?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Sit down with someone and get to know them a little better. Remember to do a lot of listening! How might you show that person God’s love and character through your act of attending to them? Consider these words from William Barry and William Connolly in their book The Practice of Spiritual Direction: “Growth in a personal relationship requires that I pay attention to the other person. It also requires that I pay attention to what happens inside me when I am in the presence of the other and that I share my reactions with him or her” (p. 67).
Breath Prayer: LORD God, draw us near.