Monday, June 24
Theme for the week:
Love the Lord With All Your Soul

Psalm 42:1-11

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick
~ Proverbs 13:12 

• In Christ, I will live, even though I die; and by believing in Jesus, I will never die. My hope is built on nothing less.

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Pondering Point

Read Psalm 42.

A soul can often get disturbed when one’s hopes are dashed or squashed. There is even a proverb (13:12) in the Bible acknowledging that hope deferred makes a person sick.

But not all hopes are equal. We hope for all kinds of things – from good weather to long life. Christian writer John Eldredge draws a distinction between hopes of a casual nature (I hope the stoplight stays green), significant importance (I hope her pregnancy goes full term) and crucial categories (I hope that God can forgive me).

While suffering through a time of struggle, the writer of this psalm is reminding himself (and us) to put one’s hope in God. When you trust in God, times of suffering can still be met with hope and even praise for God – even when lesser hopes have left you disappointed. Maybe this is the lesson that led hymn-writer Edward Mote to pen:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

~ Edward Mote

Is your soul sick? Are you disturbed within? Take a page out of the psalm writer’s book and put your hope in God. Do so, and praise will yet arise. As the Apostle Paul declares in Romans 5:5, hope in God does not disappoint.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God,
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me. Amen.

Tuesday, June 25
God’s Mission

John 11:17-44

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

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Pondering Point

Read John 11:17-44.

The fact that Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead did not keep him from weeping over the emotional impact experienced by Mary and others in mourning. Such love from Jesus inspires and produces in others a love in return. Not long after this event, Mary herself will express such love-in-return by washing Jesus’ feet -- with her hair no less. Hopefully such love of Jesus inspires love in you as well.

God’s mission is driven by love and compassion; As the mission’s primary developer, Jesus too is driven by love and compassion, acting to release people from sin and sickness, from demonic oppression and ultimately from enslavement to sin and death; He is driven to give life and love: “I am the resurrection and the life,” proclaims Jesus, and “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” Compassion is what moves him to act this day. Compassion is what moves Jesus to teach and heal day after day as he moved from town to town (See Matthew 9:35-36). It is what still moves Him today. That compassion also led him to call for extending this ministry of compassion through others like you and me:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because
they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the
workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send
out workers into his harvest field.
~ Matthew 9:36-38
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Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are still moved by compassion. At your request I pray, Lord of the harvest, bring in and send out workers for the harvest -- at home and abroad, locally and globally, young and old, male and female, lay people and professionals. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Wednesday, June 26
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

Matthew 6:7-8

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
~ Jesus

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Pondering Point

God is not impressed by our scope of words or length of prayers. No, the sincerity of our words and the heart behind our prayers – this is what our Father is looking for. As Jesus said, God already knows what you need. A better question is: Do you know what you need? For instance, do you know that you need time away with God? Do you know how to care for your soul? The Lord God does know what you need, so why don’t you ask Him to reveal it to you.

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Prayer

Father God, use Your Word, Your Spirit, and Your people to reveal how to care for my soul, nurture my soul and put myself in a position to thrive under Your leadership. May my hope rest in nothing and no one but You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, June 27
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

3 John 1:2

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

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Pondering Point

As we learn to pray scripture, this is one of the easier ones at first blush. But take a deeper look. The movement of the prayer goes from an already healthy soul to a desire for an additionally healthy body (and mind and heart). Note the order and use it to move into a prayer life for self and others.

Review the week

What causes things to not go well with you? When you get disturbed, what or who do I turn to? God? or something else like food, TV, social media, friends, or exercise? Maybe another person?

Repent (if necessary)

If necessary, repent of turning to others “idol” or “gods” rather than letting God, the Holy Comforter, be your source of consolation.

Return (as necessary)

Come to God as the Holy Comforter (a title for the Spirit of God) and ask for Him to direct your paths in ways that lead you not into temptation but into God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

Friday, June 28
Discipleship Point and Prayer

What is a healthy soul? It is one permeated with humility. It is a soul free of pride. Pride is a soul pollutant. Pride prevents the soul from communing with God - the One who gives life and wholeness to the soul. Pride keeps the soul from communing with other souls and stops relationships that give richness to life. When the soul is humble, it can soar. It can stand in awe of God and see clearly the miracles of His grace. The humble soul is free to be grateful and free to give praise. When the soul is humble, it can hear clearly the voice of God and understand His will.

p.163, Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

Lord God, grant me a healthy soul.

Discipleship Point about Loving God with Your Soul

Learning to pray unceasingly. A common description for prayer uses the thought of “conversation with God.” Most people’s idea of prayer focuses primarily on one side of such a conversation, talking to God or at God. The listening side – God communicating to us – is a less acknowledged part of prayer “conversation.” Consider this short definition from Ralph Martin instead: Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God (Fulfillment of All Desire, p. 121).

Such a definition can help us follow the Apostle Paul’s teaching to Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and Pray in the Spirit at all times (Ephesians 6:18).

Let’s pray for that now.

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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, I desire to keep paying attention to You that I may pray in the Spirit at all times, becoming unceasing in my life of prayer. In Jesus’ name ask this continual conversation to flow...

Saturday, June 29
Scripture's Story for the Week

Luke 15:11-31

Parable of the Lost Son(s)
or the Parable of the Loving Father

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Some of you might already know this parable and even memorized it at some level. But read it again – through the lens of where the prodigal Son turns for comfort or security rather than his father. Then note how the father in the story is already prepared to comfort his long lost Son at first sight. That is the heart, the spirit, the soul of God the Father. Too bad is wasn’t the heart and soul and spirit of the older brother. Is comforting others central to who you are?

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, I want to reflect the heart, the spirit, and the soul seen in the Father in Jesus’ parable. Make me to be like You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, June 30
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

1 Thessaloians 5:23-24

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 

Don’t miss this: God is the faithful One, the one to keep our whole spirit, soul and body blameless. God makes us right, and through His Spirit makes us holy like Jesus, remaking us, despite our sins, into His image.

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Prayer for the Day

Grace and peace are mine in abundance!
Thank you Jesus! Thank you Father!. Thank You Spirit!
Amen! I praise and worship You! Amen.

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