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September 8 Devotional

Opening Prayer: Lord, you know me better than I know myself. Your Spirit pervades every moment of my life. Thank you for the grace and love you shower on me. Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life. Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation, and closed myself off from you. Help me in the day to come, to recognize your presence in my life, to open myself to you, to let you work in me, to your greater glory. Amen. (The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius)

Scripture: Psalm 139:1-24

Journal: What comes alive in you as you read this Psalm today? How do you feel about the fact that God knows you inside and out? What about the fact that there is nowhere you can flee from his presence? How does the way God made you capture your heart with love and affection for him?

Reflection: I was sitting with some friends a few months ago talking about what it meant that we are created in the image of God. We looked at Psalm 139 and were taking in the beauty of God’s intricate and intentional design of each of us—not just our bodies, but our hearts, souls, minds, and spirits as well. We were realizing together that each one of us began as an idea in the mind and heart of God—a dream, if you will—that brought a smile to His face and joy to His heart. And as we talked about this incredible mystery, we began to wonder out loud why it is that if indeed we were dreamt into being by such a loving and imaginative Creator, why each one of us feels like it is such a distant reality, if a reality at all. Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are God’s masterpiece? Why is it so difficult to convince ourselves that each and every one of us is a uniquely beautiful expression of His power, love, and creativity? Why is it so much easier to believe that we are no good, nothing special, worthless? 

I read recently about a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that for centuries was believed to have been lost, but has now been discovered in Florence, Italy covered over by the painting of other artists. Currently experts are working—carefully yet diligently—to cut through the layers of paint that have been applied on top of the da Vinci throughout the centuries in an effort to get down to the original masterpiece; one that is the direct work of the hands of the master. Can you imagine? A masterpiece covered-over by years and years of other people’s splatterings? Can you imagine painting over the top of a da Vinci? Who would do such a thing? And why? 

But the more I thought about it, the less far-fetched it seemed. As a matter of fact, the more it sounded like exactly what happens to each of us every day if we aren’t paying careful attention. Each day we allow so many things—the comments, opinions, and impressions of others, as well as the woundedness, insecurity, and pain of our own hearts—to paint over the top of the beautiful masterpiece God has created us to be. His image within us—that was meant to be an expression of his heart and his character—has been tarnished and painted over time after time after time. So much so that many of us have completely lost touch with the fact that we were created in His image to begin with. What we need is a daily reminder, a daily work of recovery. One to help us remember that in spite of all the layers of whatever has accumulated upon us through the years, covering up the beautiful work of the Master’s hands, the truth remains that, at our core, we are still a fearfully and wonderfully made creation of the great Artist of all things. Now there’s something that is worthy of wonder.

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Tom Matthews serves as a translation consultant to Bible translation teams from multiple people groups in northern Tanzania and Kenya. Some of the groups are minimally reached for Christ and some are dominated by Islam. Pray today for Tom and Juanita as Tom begins work this month with DOOR (Deaf Opportunity Outreach). They are translating literally hundreds of biblical portions in order to equip Christ’s church for the deaf. Tom will be leading workshops for them.

Hope Resource Center is a multi-faceted Christian ministry addressing such matters as sexual purity and health, unplanned pregnancy, post-abortion stress and abstinence education. Pray today for Director Andrew Wood, the staff and volunteers.

Closing Prayer: Lord God, when you created each of us it was with a wow in your heart. Forgive us that we have made ourselves into so much less than that. It is hard for us to believe that we were ever worthy of being said wow over, but each of us is a work of Divine artistry—a masterpiece. Help us to recapture our wow. For your glory. Amen.