Sacred Scripture – what’s the point?

My poor, neglected blog…I wonder if I can remember how to do this.

I have been mostly on track with my resolution to read through the entire Bible in 2017. I fell off the wagon a few times when life got a little busier than my schedule could compensate for, and I am still playing catch up, but if my calculations are correct, I should be finishing the New Testament in a couple weeks, and the Old Testament by the end of December.

This is a first for me on several levels. One, I have never kept a New Year’s Resolution any deeper than the resolution not to have any resolutions. Two, I have been a baptized Christian, attended Bible School, Christian School, and attended church faithfully since I was six years old; I have read a lot of Scripture, done countless Bible studies, even memorized large portions of Scripture, but have not ever read through the entire Bible, until this year. It is SO COOL to see the big picture. All those passages that I have committed to memory take on a whole new level of understanding when read in the context of the whole story of salvation. If you have not done this, I highly encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to memorize portions of Scripture. You will be amazed at the times those words that you have put to memory will come to mind in a season of need.

So…what is the point of reading and memorizing Scripture?

There are several (Biblical) reasons why reading and memorizing Scripture is beneficial.  I will list the first few that came to my mind, and if you have others, I would love to see some discussion here at New Things…leave me a comment, and let’s chat!

Psalm 119:11 I treasure you word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Romans 1:16 says that Scripture is God’s power that leads every believer to salvation.

Hebrews 4:12 states that Scripture is active and powerful; sharper than a double-edged sword, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:11 reassures us that God’s Word does not return to Him void (or wasted, or empty), but accomplishes all that He desires, and will prosper according to His intentions.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 instructs us that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God; it is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, to make us competent, and equip us for every good work.

Sacred Scripture is God’s recorded voice. It is His words, given to us, His creation, for the sake of a relationship!  The very thought!  The same God who created this world and everything in it wants a relationship with me!

He speaks His words to me in these Scriptures…warning, comforting, and reminding me of His loving will for me, His own beloved child.

Seeking God through Sacred Scripture in faith, hope, and love is part of prayer. We are much more familiar with the prayer that WE speak to God, but can easily forget that prayer is a two way street.  He is speaking to us as well…prayer is both speaking and listening…just like any healthy relationship.

How would you feel if your best friend monopolized all your conversations with all the details of her life, her drama, her joys, sorrows, and various issues, but never gave you the chance to get a word in edgewise? It would get old.  Isn’t that what we do to God?  No wonder He seems so quiet sometimes, huh?

Reading and learning Sacred Scripture is our loving response to the God of the Universe who stepped down from His glory for the sake of a conversation with His creation. Seeking Him and His will through His Word is our response to His initiation of a relationship with Him. It is us affirming that what He has to say to us is important, and in obedience, we enter into His Presence by opening the door, His Word.

It is no surprise, then, that Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1), and also “the Door” (John 10).

We enter into the Presence of God through Christ (Hebrews 10), who boldly stated that His very words are spirit and life (John 6:63). When we treasure God’s Word in our hearts, it becomes active and powerful in us and discerns our innermost thoughts and intentions of our heart. Jesus, the Word,  is God’s power in us, leading us to eternal life with Him. When we treasure Him in our hearts, He will accomplish everything that God wills in our lives, and none of it will not return void–or empty–or wasted to the Father.

Jesus gave us an example of how to rightly use Sacred Scripture to overcome temptation. Rich Mullins referred to this as “quoting Deuteronomy to the devil”. When Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, he responded with Sacred Scripture. We can too! When we are tempted to doubt the love of God, we can pull up a defense of the love of God from His very words to us in Sacred Scripture. When fearful circumstances arise, and we are tempted to fret, we can answer with confidence, “The Lord is my helper!” and be assured that His Word is true…because He cannot lie. We can actually use Scripture to retrain our brain, did you know that? In fact, we are INSTRUCTED to do so.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

When our minds are renewed, we can understand what God wants from us.

How do we renew our minds? How can we hide God’s Word in our hearts? This is what I have been asked to share, and hope to so in the coming weeks. I believe the first step is the simplest, ask Him to plant and grow His Word. As you seek Him, He promises to be found. Make yourself available and ready to hear and obey what He tells you in His Word.

A disclaimer here: ATTENTION! Reading and memorizing God’s Word will do you NO GOOD if you are not willing to do what He tells you in it.

If you are not ready to obey His Word, memorizing it will only make you headsmart…(and probably obnoxious to others) and you will miss the mark of storing it in your heart by 18 inches.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have not hidden from us, but have revealed yourself and your will to us through your Holy Scriptures.  Thank you that they are a lamp for our our feet and a light for our journey.  Teach us to read and obey what you have spoken to us. Comfort us in our sorrows with the consolations contained there and help us to speak forth your Word at appropriate times to build up your body, the Church here on earth. Most of all, Lord, we ask that your Word will guide us into doing your will. May we be doers of your word, and not hearers only as James instructed. In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we ask, for your glory only. Amen.

Advertisements

Evolution of a Prayer Journal

I’ve been spending more time in my prayer journal this week.  It’s a lot of the same stuff I talked about in previous posts, but now, since discovering the bullet journaling phenomena, I am moving everything over to a composition notebook, for the sake of more effective archival and retrieval.  Also, it is sometimes very difficult to put my thoughts into verbal words, as my mind is prone to wander about and fixate on the next shiny thing that grabs my attention.  Having a lined journal will allow me to wrangle those thoughts all into a hopefully cohesive and coherent prayer, from my heart to God’s…and one day, will be a good way to remember His goodness to me.

Since I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home wife and Grammie, I have extra time in my day for prayer.  I may not always have this opportunity to spend this kind of time in the presence of God, so I want to show my gratitude by doing it well, redeeming the time, so to speak.


From the time I wake, until the time I go to sleep, I want to be in a habit of keeping company with my Lord.  There are several ways I accomplish this, one of which is memorized prayers.  When I wake up and ideally, before my first sip of coffee, I want to give my day to Jesus.  “Good morning, Lord!  I love you.  What do you want to tell me today?”  I put on the coffee, and continue in worship:  “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.”  It’s here that I often see the first thing He wants me to do today…maybe dishes that didn’t get put away the night before, or a load of laundry that needs to be put on…Sometimes I just take mental note, other times, I may jump right in and get it going while the coffee is brewing…but when that coffee is ready…I’m all about the waking up!  I pour a big cuppa, add my favorite sweetener and stir it all up and take it to my prayer spot.  Here, I keep my Bible, my journal(s), special pens/pencils, religious reading material that I’m working through, and prayer aids, such as chaplets and/or rosary.  I say my morning prayers, then make a mental note of the prayers I pray weekly…I have different areas of specific prayers that I have divided up into my seven day week.  This way, I feel I give adequate time and attention to the things I am praying for.  I don’t try to journal much during this time, but just sit and wake up using the prayers and/or prompts that I already have written out.  This gives me time to set my heart and mind on things above, and I find my day goes so much more smoothly this way.  When the parish bells chime at noon, it is a reminder to pray the Angelus.  I don’t have it memorized yet, so I put it in my prayer journal at midday.  I also am developing the habit of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  It plays on our local Catholic radio station every day at 3pm.  I love to sing along, and almost have it memorized.


I have been using the CAST model of prayer for just over a year.  There are things I LOVE about having it in a binder, and there are things that are not working for me.  I am hopeful that keeping a composition notebook with a good index will help me keep the things I love and fix those things that didn’t work.  For the time being, I’m maintaining the one, creating another, and using them both in different ways…and I keep a separate journal for planning my days.  I’m wondering if this will continue, or if I will decide to combine them all somewhere down the road.  We’ll see.  For now, it’s nice just to have some semblance of an organized plan.

You can see in my photo, I try to pray for a lot of different things…these are things that are on my heart often, some days I pray for more than one area, whether I’m on that day or not.  This is just a prayer prompt for those days when I don’t know what to pray.  Eventually, I will have collections and prayers for each category, but for now, it’s just a prompt.  I am also in the process of getting to know the saints, and have given some of my favorites a permanent place in my prayer routine.  I love the thought that I have prayer support from that cloud of witnesses that surround us.  (Hebrews 12)   Isn’t the Body of Christ wonderful?  When we are in Him, and He in us, even physical death cannot sever us from His body, which is the Church.

About that rock wall at the foot of the cross:  I told my sister that some days I feel like the young girl on “Secret Life of Bees” (and if you haven’t seen it, go now, borrow, rent or purchase a copy and watch one of my all-time favorite movies ever).  She is a sensitive soul, and feels her sorrows deeply.  When she is heavy and burdened, she runs to a rock wall on her family’s property, and leaves her sorrows there.  How I need a rock wall…like the wailing wall in Jerusalem…but alas, we are apartment dwellers, :). So, I have the next best thing, a pile of rocks where I can leave my own anxieties, burdens, and sorrows.  It fits with my CAST verses, and now I have them in a handy journal.  I like the thought of seeing them reduced to one little rock in a pile that has been cast off…and somehow, I feel lighter, even just looking at the pile of burdens that I am not carrying anymore.

Well, that’s it for today.  Would love to see your prayer journals and hear how you organize your prayer time.  Blessings.

This Week’s Musing

I want my spiritual nourishment to be just as important as my physical.  What if, every time I was bored, instead of snacking on food, I was grazing in the Word of God?  How would it be to hunger and thirst for spiritual communion as I do for breakfast…or my first cup of coffee?  What would my prayer life look like if it was as routinely anticipated and prepared as my caffeine intake?  Do I ever skip morning coffee?  Not without serious consequences.  Why don’t I see the spiritual consequences of skipping my prayer, devotion and Bible reading with the same attitude?

Let My Heart Be The House

There are steadfast hearts that still beat strong
In the valley of their torment
There are hearts with walls built all around
Misfortune and pain to prevent
There are mended  hearts in the aftermath
of healing from sorrow and pain
But let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
Let my will to yours comply
Your plans that are good, meet the hopes that I had
As you set to purify.
I cannot fulfill my hopes and dreams
By trying to dodge Your plan
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

I keep in my heart that’s become your abode
Soothing balm for the traumas of strife
Wonderful words filled with healing and hope
Oh your wonderful words of life!
I ponder these words and lean closer to hear
Whispers of your infinite plan
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

I know there are deep seated habits in there
And flashbacks of long ago frights
That cannot coexist with the love and the grace
That dwell in immaculate light
And so I present, with complete confidence
This heart, to redeem for your own
Make it into a house that becomes your abode
For the sake of your will alone

Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
Make my will to yours comply
Take the good, take the bad, take the weak and the strong
Wise, foolish – purify
Let me take my seat at your nail scarred feet
As you take up your domain
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign

L Hedges
6-2015

To Remember is to Pray

Several years ago, I was part of an active and spiritually rewarding Bible study with a sweet group of ladies.  The leader of this Bible study was a gifted teacher, and excellent example of a godly woman.  She had some beautiful insights and many of the things I learned in that study have stuck with me, and become Ebenezers of sorts.

One such lesson was from our study in Romans chapter 1:

Romans 1:First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers…

This passage reminds me of a couple other passages, because of the use of the words all, always, without ceasing, etc.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Philippians 1:I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

First of all, this passage from Philippians is a beautiful prayer to adopt and pray for your own fellow brothers and sisters.  What a rich blessing these sentiments of deep faith, hope and love hold for the one(s) being prayed over.  I will be copying this one down in my prayer journal to pray on a regular basis.

Second, and the reason for the title of my post today, is this question that was asked in our Bible Study.  How could Paul truthfully say that in all his remembrances, and always in every prayer, he was praying this for those he loved?  Was it an exaggeration?  I don’t believe it was, as you can see, he swore to it by God as His witness… but if not, how could he make such a bold statement?  The answer is simple, and is tied to Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians:  to pray without ceasing.  We can (and we should) train our minds to turn thoughts into prayers.  So that every remembrance becomes a prayer, and to remember is to pray.

 

Another peek inside

  

Monday’s Supplications:

On Mondays, I pray for my own marriage and family, as well as those of my siblings, children, and dear friends.  Inside my orange pocket, I keep post it notes with names written on them.  It helps me to hold them while I pray, and say each name aloud as I lift them to the Father.

I ask the Lord each day to strengthen me with His Spirit, and specifically, on Mondays, I ask Him to give me a spirit of humility and meekness.  Before adding this to my prayers, I had no idea the struggle that my spirit would engage in as a result…because if you want to be filled with meekness and humility, you have to be emptied first of pride and selfish ambition.  For strong personalities such as mine this is a painful emptying.  It requires me to submit my ideas of what is black and white, right and wrong, fair and just to the One who defines it all…not easy for me, beneficial, yes…easy?  No, not so much.

I am trying to incorporate praying the rosary more, and offering up the intentions of the day while I meditate on the Joyful Mysteries.  I don’t yet have the mysteries memorized, so I keep a post it note on my Monday page to help me stay on track. Often, I will put on a youtube video and pray along, but in the event that I am praying on my own, in the quiet, without noise, I find post it notes to be a wonderful prayer aid.

Commit

CAST  your burden on the Lordand he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

CAST your anxieties upon the Lord, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

I’m working on my prayer journal, and have come up with a simple(r) acronym that takes up less space in the binder than my previous ACT before you ASK routine did.

Commit
Adore/Affirm
Supplication/Satisfaction
Trust

There are a lot of C words that could be used for the first letter of my acronym, I’ve pondered on them all week, and they all are credible.  But ultimately, I chose the word Commit, because of these instructions of Sacred Scripture:
Ps 37:5, Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.
Prov 16:3   Commit your work to the Lordand your plans will be established.  

The dictionary defines the word as so:  (dictionary.com)

verb (used with object), committed, committing.
1.  to give in trust or charge; consign.
2.  to consign for preservation:

to commit ideas to writing; to commit a poem to memory.
3.  to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question; express(one’s intention, feeling, etc.):

Asked if he was a candidate, he refused to commit himself.
4.  to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge:

to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action.
5.  to entrust, especially for safekeeping; commend:

to commit one’s soul to God.
My definition of commit:  When I say that I am committed to God, it means that I give myself wholly to Him, pledging my heart, mind, and being, obligating myself to be used in His plan as He sees fit, trusting Him to keep me and provide what I need to best be used by Him.This word requires the operation of all the other c words that I considered:
  • Clear consciencePs 139:23 – I pray that the Lord would search me, know me, test me, and show me areas where I have failed to live up to His righteous standard.  I found several guides to making an examination of conscience, and I’ve heard of something called “examen” that I fully intend to look further into.  I made a page in my prayer journal for my examination of conscience.  This is how I do it now, and it seems to be working.
  • Conviction/convincingHe always answers.  Often, even before I ask for His help, I will be reminded in my spirit of  a sin that needs to be confessed, or a habit or part of my personality that needs to be addressed, or I’ll get an insight into an area that He’s at work in, that I’m making progress in, but could do better.  I really like the word “convince” better than “convict”, it brings to mind a mental picture of God’s Holy Spirit reasoning with mine, and bringing me to agreement with His views, instead of the mental picture of a lawbreaker being convicted and sentenced.  Both are accurate, and theologically sound, and believe me, I have heard that gavel slam down in my own convicted spirit more times than I can count, but I also have received the tender reasoning of the Holy Spirit, that quiets the debate in my rebellious spirit, and willingly submits to seeing it His way.  I much prefer the latter, don’t you?
  • Contrition/confession/cleansing – I use Psalm 51 as a prayer guide for this part of my routine.  If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so…often…especially if you struggle with guilt and shame from sins of your past, or areas where you struggle to gain victory.  It is a beautiful prayer of agreement with God about how He sees sin.  It is a prayer of contrition, repentance, and forgiveness.  It ends with a petition for the ability to praise Him, and teach His ways to others.  This can only happen through a cleansed and consecrated heart.
  • Consecration – this is the act of setting something aside for a specific or particular use.  When we “consecrate” something, we make it “holy”, or we sanctify it.  When we give ourselves to God, He makes us holy, and sets us apart for a specific purpose in His kingdom.  I have a couple favorite prayers I use for giving myself to God.  Some days, I don’t feel I have much to offer, and am reminded that whatever I have or don’t have, I am His, and if he wants to use me wounded and broken, I’m His.  If I’ve experienced his healing hand, or a renewed sense of purpose, it’s for Him, as I have obligated myself to His service.  Alone in my own thoughts, or actively engaged in my parish or community…I belong to Him…it’s up to Him, I’m just the vessel.  Now that He has cleansed me, I ask Him to pour Himself through me.  I pray that others will see Him in me, first in my vocation at home and with my family, and then to my parish family, and neighborhood friends and acquaintances.

I’ve found the secret to casting my burdens, cares, anxieties, and fears on the Lord begins with the recognition that I need Him, I am loved and called by Him, and that I belong to Him.  When I give myself fully to the Lord, to be used as He sees fit, He is faithful to sustain me, just as He promised.