3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. 6Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.
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…
Our God is a covenant God. What does this mean? It means that God enters into a relationship of faithfulness with us and with our faith communities. God does not rule as an authoritarian despot over us, but as a mutual partner in the journey of faith and kingdom. We see this in Scripture when we read about our relationship with God in familial terms and in phrases such as “co-workers with Christ,” “co-heirs with Christ,” and “participants in the divine nature.” Our covenant extends beyond just our relationship with God to our relationship with one another and with the Church around the world.
When we join the United Methodist Church, we make a covenant based on our covenant with God. We promise to uphold one another, encourage one another, and be a family of faith to one another. We also make covenant promises to the church body on a local and conference level. We pledge our support in five specific areas: prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
We will begin exploring this covenant together this Sunday. First and foremost, this covenant is grounded in our covenant with God. Secondly, this covenant makes demands upon us. These are loving, grace-filled demands, but we must take these responsibilities seriously. Thirdly, we are called to keep our covenant even when others do not. God is always faithful to us and we are called to be faithful to God and to one another no matter what.
Take some time this week to reflect on what it means to be in covenant with God and what it means to be a part of a covenant people. How is God calling you to be faithful in prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness?
Write out your covenant with God in your own words. Find personally meaningful words and statements of affirmation that speak to your relationship with God. If you are having trouble beginning, simply start out by completing this statement: “I believe ___________.” Then reflect on how you might specifically live out those beliefs.
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:
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius was a 16th-century Spanish priest who had vivid experiences of God in prayer and who taught the world to pray using all of our senses. The spiritual exercises of Ignatius continue to guide and inspire Christians around the globe. Clink the link to read about his life or explore his own writings and the writings of those who continue to apply his methods 500 years later.
Listen to the song, Creed by Rich Mullins (or the cover version performed by Third Day and Brandon Heath). You can purchase the song here or here if you’d like. As you listen, reflect on how the words (inspired by the Apostles’ Creed) form your identity in God. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
What does “seeking God” mean to you? What would that look like in your life? This week spend some time seeking God in prayer. Make intentional room in your prayer practices to spend time with God for the sake of spending time with God. How might you see God, hear God, and feel God in your prayers? Perhaps take a break from beginning your prayers with talking and begin instead by listening. Seek God, for Jesus says that those who seek will find.
Look at the image above. Upon the sand a heart has been drawn with several footprints beside it. In the creation narrative of Genesis 2, the LORD God creates humanity (‘adam in Hebrew) out of the dirt of the earth (‘adamah in Hebrew). Later in Scripture, in renewing the covenant God made with humanity, God promises to write the law upon our hearts. For me this image connects to this idea – a heart being carved in the dust by one whose footprints are seen (evidence of that person’s presence and activity), while their “person” remains unseen. I am reminded of a story I heard from my spiritual director. A rabbi is asked why the Scriptures say that God wrote upon our hearts instead of in our hearts. The rabbi replies that this was done so that when our hearts break, the words of God will fall into them. Know that God has written a covenant of love upon your heart this day. Spend some time in silent meditation on this image. How is God writing on your heart today? What message is being written there?
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 demonstrated faithfulness to you?
- How has God called out to you?
- How have you demonstrated faithfulness to God?
- How have you answered God’s call to you this week?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Consider a person or persons with whom you have made a covenant in life, either formally or informally (i.e., spouse, children, friends, coworkers, etc.). How might you honor that covenant this week in action? What might you do to affirm your covenant with them? How might you treat them the way God would treat them? As you reflect on these questions and find inspiration, act on your insights. Live actively in covenant with God and others this week!
Breath Prayer: LORD God, we honor you.