July 23 Devotional

Opening Prayer: O Lord my God, give me an ever-deepening intimacy with you, and an ever-deepening trust in your unfailing love. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 2:19

Journal: What have you treasured and pondered lately? How often do you treasure and ponder God? Take a minute and ponder what he is doing in you - treasure it. It will have a significant effect on your day, as well as your life.

Reflection: What makes you the best version of yourself? For me I think it has a lot to do with these two words: treasuring and pondering. When I am taking time to ponder what God is doing within and around me, and to treasure whatever that may be - as well as, more importantly, treasuring the One who is doing these things - then I tend to be my very best self. The word used here for treasure in the Greek is syntereo, which means “to attend to with great care.” It gives the impression that you completely realize that you’re holding something of immense value in your hands (or in your heart), so you take the very best care of it you possibly can. You marvel at it, you behold its beauty, you gaze upon it, you are fully captured by it. And the word for ponder is symballo, which means “to bring together in one’s mind.” It is to think deeply about, to reflect upon, to consider the value and the implications of. The two really go hand-in-hand.

The saints and the poets throughout history have used different words and images to capture these two concepts, as well as to help us understand how to practice them. Julian of Norwich once wrote: “Truth sees God, and wisdom beholds God, and from these two comes the third, and that is a marvelous delight in God, which is love.” And A. W. Tozer wrote: “Faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.” Mother Teresa once said, “By contemplation the soul draws directly from the heart of God the graces which the active life must distribute.” And finally, author Marian Scheele once wrote, “When the soul is occupied by looking away from present trials into the face of Christ, and making this a regular and passionate occupation, this soul will become more tranquil and still, and therefore more able to reflect the Being it adores.”

My guess is that how well we are doing at treasuring and pondering will directly affect the quality and depth of our lives. Therefore the question becomes: “How am I doing at treasuring and pondering what God is up to within me and around me these days?” Which then begs the question, “What is God up to within me and around me these days?” Unless we make some time and space to consider these questions, and to treasure and ponder the answers, we will never really stand a chance of being the very best version of ourselves - the version that God dreamt us to be. 

And that doesn’t just carry implications for us, but implication for those God has called us to as well. We must be very good stewards of whatever God is doing in and around us because that very treasure is not only what God has given to nurture and feed our souls, but also the treasure he has given us to give away to those in our lives and world. I think that’s what Jesus was getting at when he said in Matthew: “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52)

So today, let us all treasure and ponder. Because as we treasure and ponder our great God we will find that we are the ones treasured and pondered by the One who loves us, treasures us, and delights in us more than we dare ask or imagine. Thanks be to God!   

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Dan and Shelly Owens live in Atlanta where Dan works with Sixty Feet. This organization focuses on ministry in Uganda in three categories: relief, rehabilitation or development. The Owens left Atlanta earlier this year and moved their family to Uganda. Pray today for all of them as they serve there.

The Cross Greek Christian Ministry is unique to the University of Tennessee and focuses on the fraternity and sorority community. The ministry is student led, but guided by a staff. Pray today for the students that lead this ministry as they prepare for the Fall semester.

Closing Prayer: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! - Psalm 8:1-9