Sunday, February 8

Readings: Colossians 3:5-11; Matthew 7:13-14; 21-23

  1. Jesus invites his followers to enter the narrow gate leading to life. It sounds like Jesus expects thoughtful intentionality and deliberate choices in our follower-ship. The narrow gate and the wide way are metaphors that convey something about the course of life and daily experiences of that life. What do these word-pictures say to you? Pause now for a few moments to look over your day or your week. Where did you see yourself making life-giving choices? Where did you experience choices that drained life or led to a type of death?
  1. Paul describes a spiritual practice in Col.3:5-17 that has become a short-hand for the process of transformation into Christ-likeness: put off – put on. Paul employed a clothing metaphor to describe the process of spiritual formation and our participation in it. Sit for a moment with the clothing metaphor and let it enliven your imagination as you read Paul’s instructions.  Now, focusing on Col.3:5-11, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any specific heart attitudes or actions in yourself that is connected to the way of death (harmful, hurtful, or contrary to Christ’s character and kingdom life).
  1. Things like anger, slander, or lying are more symptomatic of deeper sin-roots or woundedness within a person. They are more like the hot lava spewing out of the volcano that comes from a deeper cauldron of boiling gases at the volcano’s core. We see the effects of sin but often avoid addressing what’s going on in the core. Remembering that there is no condemnation in Christ (Rom.8:1) invite the Holy Spirit to lead you deeper in, to core roots attached to any sin-habit you recognize in yourself.
  1. Honestly converse with God about the things you see about or within yourself. Abide in God’s loving presence who is always inviting you into freedom and genuine well-being. Attend to the things that God has revealed to you in prayer: make confession; ask for forgiveness; seek counsel; look to God for help, create ways to “put off” sin habits. Receive from God…the truth, the way, and the life.

Epiphany 4: Sunday, February 1

Readings: Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 6:25-34

We know Jesus’ words in Matthew so well, “Don’t be anxious about your life…” And yet, so often, we find ourselves sinking in anxiety or worry.  The Lord knows this, and desires to teach us about our worries and anxieties even as His Spirit transforms our hearts to trust more deeply in his goodness.  But it’s a process… and for some of us a daily one!

  1. Take a moment to review the past 24 hours with our God who deeply loves you.  Play the last 24 hours like a movie in your mind – who you talked to, what you did, what you experienced.  Ask the Lord to bring to mind moments where you might have been anxious or worried about something.  What was it about these things that made you feel anxious or worried?  Talk with the Lord about these things, asking him to teach you about your own heart.
  2. Paul encourages the Colossians to “set your mind on things that are above”, later describing these as “compassion, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness… and above all, love” (Col 3:2, 12-14).  He also encourages them to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” and to allow “the Word of Christ to dwell in you richly” (Col 3:15, 16).  Perhaps cultivation of these virtues are antidotes to worry and anxiety. 
  3. Ask the Lord how these things “from above, where Christ is” (Col 3:1) might be connected to the list of worries or anxieties you have had over the last 24 hours.  Maybe the Lord is leading you to deeper compassion or to revisit forgiveness for someone, or maybe he is asking you to claim again the promise that he will care for you.  Spend some time meditating on the truths he reveals to you in these scriptures, asking his Spirit to draw them more deeply into your heart.