September 25 – October 1, 2018

WORD

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  28God blessed humankind, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”

Genesis 1:1-2, 28a

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…

Reflection: 

As I write this, my grandfather is celebrating his 91st birthday.  He has lived a modest life, growing up in rural southwestern Kentucky, not finishing high school, and driving a gravel truck for most of his professional life (which I have always found amusing because his last name is Gravile – Gravile driving a gravel truck!).  I look at his life and see fruitfulness, even if he hasn’t lived the flashy life of wealth, power, and fame.  His most lasting mark has been made on his family: caring for his parents faithfully in their older years, a faithful marriage of over 65 years, the love of his two daughters who still see him as “daddy,” and his two grandsons whom he always had time for when they were growing up.  I hope he is around for many years to come, but one thing is certain – he has made the most out of the years he has been given.

God calls us to fruitfulness, because God is, at the foundation of God’s being, creative.  That fruitfulness is not always what our world would call fruitful.  God desires us to be fruitful in creative, life-promoting, and connectional ways.  And so we should ask these three questions of our lives: How am I using what God has given me to make things new?; How am I promoting life for myself, others, and the world?; and How am I working to strengthen my relationships with God, others, and the world?  These are the true measures of fruitfulness – not success, money, or power.

Consider what might be said about your life by those who know you best.  What legacy are you leaving?  Will your life be measured by God’s understanding of fruitfulness or society’s understanding of success?  God created us to multiply the grace God has given us and to fill the earth with God’s goodness and love.  When we don’t do this, the earth can grow formless and void.  Darkness increases upon the earth when we ignore this divine command toward fruitfulness.  Connectional, life-promoting creativity illuminates God’s purposes for the world.  So take a moment to deeply meditate on these three questions.  How is God answering them within you?

  • How am I using what God has given me to make things new?
  • How am I promoting life for myself, others, and the world?
  • How am I working to strengthen my relationships with God, others, and the world?

Be creative.  Promote life.  Stay connected.

 

Journaling Focus:

How have you experienced fruitfulness in your life?  Write about a time in which you knew God was working through you to bring something into being.  What did it feel like to be a part of God’s creative work in the world?  How are you being invited to continue that creative work?  God wants to use your life to bring glory to God and to bring healing, wholeness, and blessing to the world.  As you write consider how this might be made manifest in your present context.

Sacred Reading:

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: 

William Booth

Booth was an English Methodist who founded the Salvation Army in the 1860s.  The focus of the Army was addressing the needs of the poor, from the problems of substance abuse and alcoholism to the need for food, shelter, and employment.  Booth’s movement developed into its own religious denomination and organization.  The Salvation Army is still going strong today, often leading the way in humanitarian work within inner cities.  The fruitfulness of the Salvation Army started with one person’s obedience.  Who knows how God might use your life to bear such fruit!  Take a moment to read about Booth’s life and check out the work of the Salvation Army.

 

 

SPIRIT

Scripture Song:

Listen to the song, Lord, Reign in Me by the Vineyard praise band.  You can download the song here if you’d like.  As you listen to this song and sing along, pay close attention to the line “Over every thought, over every word, may my life reflect the beauty of my Lord.”  This is the key to true fruitfulness.  How might you live in such a way this week?  What is God communicating to you through this song?  What might you communicate to God through this song?

Prayer Focus: 

Pray for the redemption of the world.  This includes praying for the people within the world, but also for the creation itself.  Paul reminds us that “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).  Just as we were connected to the dust of the earth in the beginning of time, so our salvation will be shared with all elements of creation in the fullness of our redemption.  Ask God to restore the earth as we are restored.  Be a living prayer by caring for the environment around you.  God has trusted us with this home; now let us trust God to bring life and restoration to that home.

Meditation Focus: 

Look at the image above.  The trees are leaning over with the heaviness of the harvest.  Barrels are overflowing with fruit.  Some of the fruit is reaching so high into the sky that the harvesters have to use a ladder to reach it.  Ask God to produce such a harvest in you.  What weeds or dead branches must God clear away and prune from you in order to make your life more fruitful?  All of the fruit in the picture is of the same kind – apples.  But what different kinds of spiritual fruit does God desire to produce in you?  Is it love or patience?  Joy or kindness?  Self-control or peace?  God can produce many different fruits within the same life-garden.  Imagine God planting the seeds, watering and nourishing the ground, and tending to the soil of your soul.  Allow God to bring forth beautiful, flowering blessings in your life.

Examen:

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