Since I will not be preaching this week – and in honor of last week’s milestone of publishing the 150th Word and Spirit Guide – I am reprinting the Word and Spirit Guide that started it all back in February 2016! I pray this will be a blessing to you as you seek God this week.
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said?
- Why is this happening/being said?
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean for us?
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 does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
Reflection: Imagine that you are one of the two chicks in the picture above. Which one are you? Are you the chick safely nestled underneath the mother hen or are you the chick standing off to the side? Do you regularly experience the warmth, peace, and security of God, or do you like to wander off on your own, keeping God at a safe distance? How do you leave yourself exposed to the foxes of the world, that which seeks to destroy and devour you? What would it take for you to make your way to the place of safety under the shelter of the mother hen’s loving wings? Listen this week for God’s voice of love and peace, beckoning you to the shelter of his grace. What words of invitation does God speak to you?
Prayer Focus: Pray that God will gather in those of his children who are far away from him. Pray specifically for someone you know who is far away from God. Picture the different obstacles standing in between them and the loving wings of God. Imagine God searching for that person, removing the obstacles out of their way, one by one. Hear God’s call to them as the obstacles are cleared, and pray that their ears and eyes would be opened. Imagine their hearts warming and softening to God’s calls of grace and love. Then pray the same for yourself. Imagine the obstacles that stand between you and God being removed by grace. What are they? What might God do to destroy those obstacles? Which obstacles are within you and which block you from the outside? Experience God’s merciful grace as you ask him to make a pathway for you into the shadow of his wings.
Meditation Focus: Focus your mind on the phrase gather together. Picture Jesus with outstretched arms. Why are his arms outstretched? To whom are they outstretched? What risks did Jesus take to gather together his people? Why was it worth it? Picture yourself moving closer and closer to Jesus. Picture your family, your friends, your coworkers, your church family, and your neighbors moving closer to Jesus. Picture all of your fears, sins, and regrets melting away in the light of his loving embrace. God is gathering you together into his grace today. Be gathered. Be a gatherer.
Journaling Focus: Write about a time when you knew you were especially close to God. What was going on in your life? How did you know you were close to God? What obstacles or challenges had God removed or rescued you from in order for you to experience God’s grace and love? Then write about how you are experiencing closeness to God or separation from God now. How might you overcome obstacles to receiving grace now? How might you continue to stay close to God now?
Breath Prayer: Father, gather me (us) into you.