Starting from Scratch: a Retreat Meditation

Starting from Scratch: a Retreat Meditation

This past weekend I had the joyful opportunity to join with a lovely group of ladies from my church with the express purpose of experiencing our God on a deeper level. The group was comprised of women of all ages who were at different stages in their walk with God. Yet despite the differences, an amazing oneness prevailed. How like the Holy Spirit to join us in Christ and allow us to sense Him in and through each other!

On Friday evening, I had the privilege of sharing the opening meditation. If you were at that retreat, you may like to revisit our focus by reviewing the meditation. If you weren’t able to join us for whatever reason, please join us here now as we explore the rest we are called to in Christ, who is our Focus, our Ground Zero, our Foundation, our All!

Actually HE IS the Christian Life! Amen!

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Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

For years in my Christian walk, I asked God again and again for peace, love, forgiveness, power, ability, etc. I read all the Christian "how-to books" and listened to the Christian "how-to sermons" and messages...on Christian radio, in church, conferences and seminars...anywhere and everywhere. I began jumping on (and off) the latest "Christian bandwagon."

Then I came to the end of my trying. My health was breaking and I declared, "I give up!"  It was then that the Holy Spirit illumined my mind and heart to realize that all those things I sought were a PERSON who loved me...my Lord Jesus Christ!

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Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

For years in my Christian walk, I asked God again and again for peace, love, forgiveness, power, ability, etc. I read all the Christian "how-to books" and listened to the Christian "how-to sermons" and messages...on Christian radio, in church, conferences and seminars...anywhere and everywhere. I began jumping on (and off) the latest "Christian bandwagon."

Then I came to the end of my trying. My health was breaking and I declared, "I give up!"  It was then that the Holy Spirit illumined my mind and heart to realize that all those things I sought were a PERSON who loved me...my Lord Jesus Christ!

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Christ Himself, the Sum of All Things!

Christianity is a PERSON, not a procedure; the LORD, not a list! Not church attendance, not Christ- like qualities, not good works, not the Christian "to-do list" (which may vary depending on the group and "camp" you are in)...

spiritual disciplines
spiritual disciplines

Not evangelism, not mission trips, not a quality "quiet time," not Scripture memorization or Bible study...

Not spiritual disciplines, not prayer, not fasting, not obedience, not miracle-working faith...

Not ______________________ (you fill in the blank with your favorite supposed "godliness-producing external" activity).

No!

The LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Son of God!

He is God's AMEN and total sum of all things!

During the next week at A Branch in the Vine, we'll be sharing sections of devotionals by Henri Nouwen, Watchman Nee, and others that reveal the Treasure who indwells us by faith in His Stellar Self, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

treasure in earthen vessel
treasure in earthen vessel

...the glory of God..is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT

Stay tuned and be ready to reflect on our Lord Jesus, the Father's All in All.  May you begin to see those spiritual activities fall into perspective, and maybe some will even fall away, in light of all HE is...EVERYTHING and anything you will ever need!

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:9-10 NLT

May this become your equation for life:

JESUS + nothing = Everything*

*from the title of a book on Colossians by Tullian Tchividjian

The Rest of the Gospel: Will not Hunger (Chapter 16)

Chapter 16  Will Not Hunger Key Verse

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35 ESV

Key Question

How can we say that Jesus is our total sufficiency?

Read chapter 16 and answer the following questions:

1. What are some ways that your soul is still hungry?

2. What does it mean that Jesus is your total spirit sufficiency in these areas (from question #1)?

3. What is the implication for your life in saying that you have all of Jesus you’ll ever have?

4. What does the statement in Question #3 not mean?

5. Are there needs in your life that you think God isn’t meeting? What are they?

6. What dangers does doubting God’s sufficiency in these areas (Question #5) open you up to?

7. Are there any areas in your life in which you feel desperate at times for an answer? Has God always provided a temporal solution? If not, what might be the reason? What specifically does He want to teach you?

8. In what ways are you inclined to live in the past or future, instead of the present? What effect does this have on you? What does God invite you to do instead?

9. What does it mean that the answer is always a Person? Apply this to some specific problem area in your life. What is God calling you to?

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: Praying Week

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  Colossians 4:2

Many of you may know someone you would call a "prayer warrior"...someone who is passionate about praying for whomever and whatever is needed.  My Babci (Polish for Grandma) was a woman like that.  She was a sweet, humble, godly woman who always seemed to be in an attitude of prayer.

I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't always been able to identify with my dear Babci.  For much of my Christian life, prayer was a "spiritual discipline," a necessary habit to form...in other words, a chore -- one of many in my "to do list" form of Christian walk.

My prayer list (a.k.a. "ball and chain," when I finally was honest to admit it) was something I dreaded each day:

certain people and requests for each day, certain ones on particular days each week, and then monthly requests...ad infinitum, ad nauseum!

I HATED IT!  What a bondage prayer was to me!

Then the truth of the Indwelling Life of Christ began to break through in my life!  Life union with the Lover of my soul captured my mind and heart!  And everything began to change...including prayer.

I abandoned my prayer list and told the Lord,

I'm not praying until YOU show me what prayer really is!

I know, a bit risky!  Even somewhat sacrilegious?  But guess what?  God met me where I was.  Soon prayer began to well up from within, rather than be formulated by me in my head.

That was many years ago now.  I can use a prayer list now without feeling suffocated.  And I now experience the privilege of lifting up my praise, worship, and requests to the Throne of Grace and Mercy.

But I wonder about Paul.  As a devout Jew, he had had certain required prayers to say at specific times.  Did he too go through a freeing experience concerning prayer as he came to know the Risen, Living Lord?

What is obvious is that Paul had gotten it about prayer by the time he wrote the letter to the Colossians.  Throughout this short letter, Paul talks about prayer:

he himself prays; he exhorts to prayer; he asks for prayer; he tells about the prayer of another.

So this week at A Branch in the Vine is Praying Week.

As you read this week, make note of all the references to prayer, pray, praying in the book. [HINT:  they are in the first and last chapters]

Then focus on Paul's magnificent prayer in Colossians 1:9-12.  See if you can answer theses questions:

What is the heart of the prayer?  That is, the main request?  (Col 1:9) Why does Paul pray that?  That is, the reason/purpose for that request?  (Col 1:10) What will be the results?  What will that look like in everyday life?  (Col 1:10-12)

I'll see you in a few days...and above all, PRAY as you keep reading the spiritual feast found in the book of Colossians!