January 23 Devotional

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer: Lord God, give me open hands and not clenched fists as I walk with you and for you in the midst of this day - that I might be able to live with a true sense of freedom from the need to grasp desperately for love and value from those I come into contact with. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Scripture Reading for the Day: Revelation 21:1-7

Reading for Reflection: The years that lie behind you, with all their struggles and pains, will in time be remembered only as the way that led to your new life. But as long as the new life is not fully yours, your memories will continue to cause you pain. When you keep reliving painful events of the past, you can feel victimized by them. But there is a way of telling your story that does not create pain. Then, also, the need to tell your story will become less pressing. You will see that you are no longer there: the past is gone, the pain has left you, you no longer have to go back and relive it, you no longer depend on your past to identify yourself.

There are two ways of telling your story. One is to tell it compulsively and urgently, to keep returning to it because you see your present suffering as the result of your past experiences. But there is another way. You can tell your story from the place where it no longer dominates you. You can speak about it with a certain distance and see it as the way to your present freedom. The compulsion to tell your story is gone. From the perspective of the life you now live and the distance you now have, your past does not loom over you. It has lost its weight and can be remembered as God’s way of making you more compassionate and understanding toward others. (The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Paul G. is the International Director of Training for Christar and also serves as an Internet pastor. Pray today for a Christar relief project reaching people in Iraq displaced by Islamic militants.

Since 1996, the Mission of Hope has ministered to the people of various counties in Kentucky and Tennessee from which 80% of the residents no longer have jobs in the coal mining industry. In their first event in 1996 they were able to assist 150 children. Last year, because of the generosity of so many people, the Mission of Hope was able to help more than 17,000 children and their families with food, clothes, toys and hygiene items. Pray for all of the families that were reached during their Christmas outreach.

Closing Prayer: Keep me safe, O God, I’ve run for dear life to you. I say to God, “Be my Lord!” Without you, nothing makes sense. And these God-chosen lives all around - what splendid friends they make! Don’t just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale. I swear I’ll never treat god-names like brand-names. My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m I choice! You set me up with a house and yard. And then you made me your heir! The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I’ll stick with God; I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go. I’m happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed. You canceled my ticket to hell - that’s not my destination! Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way. (Psalm 16, The Message)