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March 3 Devotional

Opening Prayer: Lord God, open my ears to hear you this day. And cause me to truly listen to what you have to say, even if it is a difficult and challenging thing to hear. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 3:1-11

Journal: What do you think God wants to say to you today? Are you willing or unwilling to listen? Is there something difficult or disruptive that he needs to address within you? Are you willing to receive it? Are there places in your life right now where you are hard headed or stubborn hearted

Reflection: The journey through Lent is a difficult one. It involves coming face to face with things we would rather not see, and hearing truths we would rather not hear. It is like someone showing us a picture of ourselves that is exceedingly unflattering; and, unfortunately, there is no delete button to hit so we can wipe it all away.

I don’t know about you, but I am not usually good at hearing the hard truth about myself. In fact, I go to great lengths to avoid it, and to try to make sure that no one will be able to uncover it either. Sometimes I do this by going on offense; spending my time and energy making my case, trying to convince myself and my world that the truth about me is not so ugly after all. And sometimes I do this by going on defense; trying to avoid or escape or deny the truth by rationalizing, comparing, medicating, or running away into extreme activity or busyness. One of my “go to” strategies when I have hard, unpleasant truth about myself that I need to face is to race off into my world to manipulate affirmation out of anyone and everyone I meet. It is pathetic really.

But God loves us much too much to allow us to get away with that for long. At some point he comes into our life - or world - and speaks with such clarity that the truth simply becomes unavoidable. But God’s intent in this process is always love, making us into the people he dreamt for us to be. Anything less that his creation intent for us will not do. So he comes and he speaks. And, if we are wise and courageous, we will listen and heed. Because the hard things that he might have to say will always lead us to what we most deeply desire - freedom, joy, and peace. And the very taste of those things will be as sweet as honey in our mouths. Thanks be to God!

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

J & F live and work in one of the poorest and most heavily populated states in their country. They are seeking to make a difference in this state in both physical and spiritual realms. They have launched a micro-finance business that is creating self-sustaining means of support for churches and church plants as well as continuing to provide funds for the installation of hand pumps to provide clean water to needy areas of the state. Pray today for J & F while they are in Knoxville attending this week’s Global Mission Conference. Make sure to meet them and ask how you can pray for them.

YOKE mentors middle school children by building friendships with Christian adults through clubs, camps, and Kid Time (hanging out with kids in their world). Currently YOKE reaches out to nearly 20,000 students at 26 middle schools located in Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, and Knox counties. Regina Edmonds of the YOKE staff is our guest at this week’s Global Mission Conference. Be sure to meet her and ask how you can pray for this ministry.

Closing Prayer: You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness. You sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for you. I tasted and now I burn with longing for your peace. - St. Augustine