July 8 Devotional

Opening Prayer: Help us not, O Lord, spend our time and our energy working for that which is not bread and ultimately does not satisfy. But help us, O God, to come to you and eat what is good, that our souls might delight in the richest of fare. Through Jesus. Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-5

Journal: What are spending your “labor” on these days? Is it satisfying you? What does God’s invitation to “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare” do within you? How will you feast on him today?

Reflection: We stand in the midst of nourishment and we starve. We dwell in the land of plenty, yet we persist in going hungry. Not only do we dwell in the land of plenty; we have the capacity to be filled with the utter fullness of God (Ephesians. 3:16-19). In the light of such possibility, what happens? Why do we drag our hearts? Lock up our souls? Why do we limp? Why do we straddle issues? Why do we live feebly, so dimly? Why aren’t we saints?

Each of us could come up with individual answers to all these questions, but I want to suggest here a common cause. The reason we live life so dimly and with such divided hearts is that we have never really learned how to be present with quality to God, to self, to others, to experiences and events, to all created things. We have never learned to gather up the crumbs of whatever appears in our path at every moment. We meet all of these lovely gifts only half there. Presence is what we are all starving for. Real Presence! We are too busy to be present, too blind to see the nourishment and salvation in the crumbs of life, the experiences of each moment. Yet the secret of daily life is this: There are no leftovers.

There is nothing - no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain - that cannot be harvested and used for nourishment on our journey to God.

What I am suggesting here is that everything in your life is a stepping-stone to holiness if only you recognize that you do have within you the grace to be present to each moment. Your presence is an energy that you can choose to give or not give. Every experience, every thought, every word, every person in your life is a part of a larger picture of your growth. That’s why I call them crumbs. They are not the whole loaf, but they can be nourishing if you give them your real presence. Let everything energize you. Let everything bless you. Even your limping can bless you. (A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Darlene Johnson has been a member of MTW’s church-planting team in Nagoya, Japan, since 2000. She teaches conversational English and evangelistic Bible studies and is involved in choral and instrumental music ministry. Pray today for several outreach activities that Darlene is involved with, including a group meeting for worship in a cafe in Nagoya, an art club for children and English classes for women.

The Love Kitchen serves Knoxville’s homeless, helpless, hopeless, hungry, and homebound by providing food and clothing. Many CSPC members volunteer there every week preparing and distributing meals. Twin sisters, Ellen and Helen, founded this kitchen. Sadly, Ellen Turner died in April. Pray today for Helen and all of the Turner family as well as the volunteers who are keeping The Love Kitchen going during this time of sorrow. Pray also for the Come Serve With Us CSPC volunteers who are working at The Love Kitchen on July 13, 23 and 30. To find out more, go here.

Closing Prayer: Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts, Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men, from the best bliss that earth imparts, we turn unfilled to Thee again. Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood; Thou savest those that on Thee call; to them that seek Thee Thou art good, to them that find Thee all in all. We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread, and long to feast upon Thee still; we drink of Thee, the Fountainhead, and thirst our souls from Thee to fill. Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, wherever our changeful lot is cast; glad when Thy gracious smile we see, Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast. O Jesus, ever with us stay, make all our moments calm and bright; chase the dark night of sin away, shed over the world Thy holy light. - St. Bernard of Clairvaux