July 13 Devotional

Opening Prayer: O God, what can we do of ourselves if you support us not but fall into sin and offend you? Leave us not, therefore, to ourselves, but strengthen us in the inward man, that so we may at all times and in all things renounce our evil inclinations, which are incessantly endeavoring to withdraw our hearts from you. Complete your conquest and make us all your own both now and forever. Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Scripture: Ezekiel 36:22-29

Journal: Where has your heart grown hard recently? What are the places your heart is tender? Where do you sense new life and a new spirit? Where is God at work within you these days?

Reflection: Our heart, the center of our being, has been distorted by sin and wounded by life experiences. In this condition, the light of God only made us turn away with feelings of guilt and shame. For this reason, God has to begin the lifelong process of recreating the heart so that we can have the freedom to receive His love fully and return it unconditionally. This transformation of the heart is both a prerequisite and an outcome of deepening intimacy with God. God foretold what He would do through the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:26-29).

As God heals our hearts, remolding us the way we were intended to be (a heart of flesh), we learn to trust His love and forgiveness, to open ourselves freely to Him, and to discern His presence. We begin to gain the ability to see and hear at a heart level. (Mansions of the Heart by R. Thomas Ashbrook) 

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

John and Kathy Lesondak are church planters who work across denominational lines in Slovakia to encourage and enable pastors in their work. John founded the Kosice Fine Arts Center in 2013. Kosice was a “Culture Capital City of Europe” for 2013 along with Marseilles, France. Pray today for John and Kathy and the opportunities that they are having to have meaningful conversations with members of their community about faith.

Old North Abbey is an Anglican church plant in Knoxville meets for worship on Sunday mornings in the Chapel at First Presbyterian Church, 620 State St. The church seeks to be a part of the community revitalization and restoration efforts as well as ministering to the deep needs of those living in that area. They have created Abbey Fields, a two acre urban farm dedicated to rebuilding vacant or blighted green spaces for agriculture use. Pray today for this church as they seek to reach their community.

Closing Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)