Our Daily Text has grown this past year to several thousand daily readers. We have received countless feedback about the power that centering ourselves on the Word every morning has on us, and our Sower in Chief, J. D. Walt, has faithfully been writing reflections on Scripture that are at once provocative and encouraging. While we took the time during Advent to get ahead of our game, we started afresh with entries from some of our team members. Here are seven entries from this past week that we hope encourages you to pursue the holy love of God and your neighbor. Notice that the last entry is the beginning of a new series on the book of James by J. D. Walt. Check dailytext.seedbed.com daily for entries, or sign up and get the sent directly to your inbox.
“This one challenges me to the very core. I get the ‘trials of many kinds’ part, but I don’t yet grasp the ‘pure joy’ part. I think this could be the year. At least I’m praying for this kind of breakthrough in my life and faith. And I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to pray for me in this way.”
“Psalm 139 is about a chase. It’s about running, but being hemmed in by a relentless grace. It’s about being profoundly known, no matter how much you’d like to stay hidden. It’s about how the Lord knows no darkness, and about how he made us and loved us before the beginning. All of us. Even me, and even you.
Honestly, I’m terrified to be humbled this way. I think David was scared, too. So I guess this coming year I’ll have to let his submission be my guide. He let himself be caught. Then he took the Father’s hand and was led in the everlasting way.”
“I think most of us have a tendency to carry our burdens ourselves. We do this in various ways but fundamentally it comes down to the very stories that give us our identity. If your identity is firmly rooted in love, then you will bear all things in love. Christ is, of course, the most beautiful example of this: he bore our very sins because of love. But for many people, including myself, our identities are more like a parfait of stories: the good, the bad, the ugly. Love is there because we are loved by Him if we are found in Him. But we are also found in other stories: shame, regret, fear, anger, anxiety, isolation, insecurity, frustration, etc.”
“Knowing and believing this to be true is one thing; living joyfully in the experience of it is something else entirely. So how do we get there? Of all people, the Wesleyans have communal practices that awaken the heart to these divine stirrings—intimate “bands” of brothers or sisters who will help us do life together. Don’t each of us need just a few folks who know us totally, will love us anyway, and will hold us accountable to our vow to grow ever deeper in our experience of the love of Jesus and the restoring power of the Holy Spirit? If you don’t have this type of a band then ask Jesus (who knows you and everyone around you really well) to help set you up with this group. You may be surprised to find that others nearby are yearning for the same type of spiritual friendships.”
“First, notice that his exhortation is to rejoice, to be gentle, not anxious, and to continue praying while offering thanksgiving. Then there’s a long list of virtues to think about: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy. These certainly aren’t the first things I think about or do when I’m dealing with adversity or facing a crisis. Our human tendency is to gossip, profane, lie, get defensive, offer counter-attacks, despair, etc. You get the idea. The habits suggested by Paul are remarkably counterintuitive. But what would happen to the witness of the church if this was always our first reaction??
“Commit yourselves to Christ as his servants. Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him. Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ. Let us therefore, go to Christ, and pray…”
“James is not writing to some advanced class of Christians. He’s giving us real Christianity, not as a doctrinal treatise, but as basic discipleship. James offers us faith with works, mercy with justice, grace with truth and love with conviction. These are not dichotomies we hold in tension. They are realities we hold in union.”