February 18, 2019

I always find it almost funny how it seems many people go back to work on Monday exhausted from a busy weekend. It’s like many have to go back to work just to get some rest, kind of like coming home from vacation early so you can rest up. Participating in worship on Sunday should ignite us and not exhaust us. It should be that time when we leave energized to go out and do what God has called us to do on Monday morning. If that hasn’t been your experience then maybe it’s my fault or maybe you need to come to worship more often and with the right heart preparation, expecting God to work in your life!! So today, on this cold Monday morning, go out there it get it done for His Glory!!

I want to spend the next few weeks hopefully reflecting and expounding on the previous day’s message just a little. I don’t want to preach the message again but I want to try to clarify the main idea and see if it doesn’t help all of us during this 90 Days of Prayer. Starting yesterday we began a series from Mark Batterson’s book called “Whisper.” We didn’t start with chapter one but we are picking up on what he calls the Seven Love Languages, or the seven ways that God can speak into our lives. Yesterday we started with the foundation and the key of keys which is scripture. We need God’s word to come into our lives and help us grow in that intimate relationship with God himself. I mentioned towards the end something that Mark referred to called Lectio divina. Lectio divina is an ancient Benedictine practice, and it's one way to discern the voice of God. It involves four steps, or stages: reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating. I want to expand a little on those four ideas today.

Reading is taking the first bite. Unfortunately, that's where most people stop. You may think when you read God’s word that you have fulfilled your spiritual duty for the day. You have done more than many. You might even say “Preacher, I read through the bible every year” and you say that with a sense of pride and accomplishment. And don’t get me wrong, reading through the bible is a good thing. But are you really hearing the voice of God as you simply read? Is He speaking to you by simply reading words on a page? We talked about what the word “Bibliolatry” means; treating the Bible as an end in itself instead of a means to an end. Reading the bible is not the point. Intimacy with God in such a way that he transforms our lives is.  

The second step, meditation, is chewing on words and phrases. Instead of dissecting the Word, we let the Word dissect us. Now we aren’t talking about sitting cross-legged with our hands in the air and chanting like some of you envision when you read the word meditation. It just means to think over, reflect, or consider. It means taking some time to really think about what you are reading. How many times have you just whipped through your bible reading for the day and you can barely remember what you even read? What good does that do? If you find yourself just reading without thinking about what you are reading I would suggest maybe you should read less and think more.

The third step, prayer, is savoring the Word. When was the last time you read the Bible for pure enjoyment? Its prayer that turns discipline into desire; "have to" becomes "get to." We know what prayer is or at least I hope we do. This is the part where we find ourselves looking forward to our time of reading and spending time with God. We find ourselves actively longing for it when we miss that time. Does that describe your walk with God? Do you long for the time you spend with Him? Or is it just another task you do because you know you need to and because it’s good for you? This is an area where a lot of us have a long ways to go.

And the fourth step, contemplation, is digesting the Word and absorbing its nutrients. That's how the Word gets from our head into our heart. Contemplation may seem a lot like meditation and if you look up the words they are often used as synonyms for each other. But when contemplation is used here it goes beyond just simple meditation or thinking to a much deeper look at God’s word. A couple of words used in the definition help a little here: purpose or intention, prospect or expectation. This is really that final step (before doing) where the word begins to come to life through very deep thinking. Some of you again may be saying “Preacher, you have me confused with someone else, I have never had a deep thought in my life” (ha) but this is something that takes time and concentration and commitment. It doesn’t just happen by sitting down and opening your bible. But let me encourage you in saying that He is totally worth the effort. A deep intimate relationship with the God of creation is the most amazing thing we can possibly ever experience. So hang in there and keep working!!

Don’t forget we have a couple of big events coming up this week. This coming Sunday, February 24th, we have our second Prayer Walk/Drive. We will be moving over into the neighborhoods south of White Settlement Road. If you missed our first one last month you missed a blessing. We will meet at the church in the Welcome Center at 4:00pm and we will be done no later than 5:30pm. I know for my group we simply drove around our area and alternated praying for homes and streets and people we saw. I was very moved as I considered the people living there and “the lost” suddenly had homes and cars and faces. I am still praying for those people.

And this coming Saturday, February 23rd, we have our second Day of Fasting and Prayer! Now if you took our 90 Days of Prayer commitments seriously then you have already been fasting once a week and this will be no big deal. But for many I know you have great angst at the idea of giving up food for a day. Yes you can give up media or something else but my preference is that we all abstain from FOOD this Saturday. I have to smile a little at all the questions I have received about how long do I have to fast. Some want sun-up to sundown, others want to just fast from lunch, and some want a certain number of hours of fasting that of course start counting when they go to sleep the night before. Let me just say that I don’t care how you choose to fast, just do it. For me, I plan to fast from the last meal on Friday to whenever I eat on Sunday morning but I know that seems crazy to some of you. And like one of you mentioned, giving up food is easier for me (and you know I LOVE to eat) than giving up something else like my phone. But the point here is to sacrifice and to pray. It really is that simple. Now I want to ask a couple of favors for me (I know, how dare me ask for me); One, would you let me know via a reply to this blog or by calling the church office that you will be joining me in Fasting and Praying this Saturday? And Two, would you pray for your pastor this Saturday? I need those prayers more than you might imagine. I will be praying for you, for as many by name as God brings to my mind.

Last Word: I want to say Happy Birthday to a couple of Pastor Buddies of mine who you know because they have both come and preached at FBCWS in the past. Earl Powell and Doug Riggs both have birthdays this week! May God Bless them!!

I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?