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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Impossible Bread


Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35                                                                                    


“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” John 6:9 NKJV

When Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread, he replies that 200 days’ wages would be necessary to feed such a crowd; it’s not realistic. Andrew finds a young boy with some barley loaves and fish. Barley, not wheat, is the type grain the poor use to make bread. These loaves are more like small flat wafers and the fish more like sardines, a modest meal for the boy. What a contrast between Philip’s estimation of the bread’s cost and the food in hand! The problem seems impossible.

Throughout the Bible, God does the impossible with less, the miraculous with little. Most of us seldom give sacrificially; seldom do we even give generously. Like feeding 20,000 people with a poor boy’s small lunch, Jesus takes our sparse offerings and multiplies them for the blessings of others. Consumerism stands on every corner luring us to spend money. What a contrast between how much we spend on a TV to watch the world’s news and what we give to share the Good News of Christ! With God, the impossible becomes possible! 

Miracle Worker, do a miracle within my heart! Show me true poverty that I might understand need. Multiply my time and talents and money for Your Glory! Lord, always give us this bread.”  Help me see Your possibilities! – dho

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Lent ~ Ash Wednesday

Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35




He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3


In spiritual preparation to begin His ministry and after fasting forty days in the wilderness, Jesus is tired, weak, and hungry. Satan tempts Jesus. With each of the three temptations, Jesus rebukes the offer quoting Scripture from Deuteronomy. Led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus shields Himself with God’s Holy Word. Spiritual warfare always desires to interrupt God’s plan.

As we begin our forty day journey to spiritual renewal, we, too, are surrounded by spiritual warfare, tempted to take short-cuts or feel important or avoid hardship. Sometimes in our weakness we choose temptation’s path only to become disappointed and disillusioned at its end. Jesus tells us, “I AM the bread of life.” Needing more than food to sustain us, we desperately need spiritual nourishment that can only come from Jesus. 

God Almighty, I kneel before You, resting my weariness, laying down my frail attempts to succeed by my own efforts. Mark me a sinner, one who has failed but is willing to try again. Renew my starving spirit; let my prayer be, Lord, always give us this bread.” 
– dho

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Miracle-Wonders

He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved - surprised to be loved2 Samuel 22:20 The Message

God of miracle-wonders,
God of well-thought-out-plans ~
His cloud-brightness burst through a grand
comet of fireworks. Then God thundered out
of heaven; the High God gave a great shout

I have seen You ~ the Light in my darkness. 
I have felt You ~ the Power in my weakness. 
I have heard You ~ the Voice in the chaos. 
I celebrate You! I praise You! 
I rest in the mountaintop refuge, safe. 

Love Most High, in all times You are my
shield of protection! You rescue me, touch me,
heal me, lead me forward. For such love, words
search but find no escape, captives of
mediocrity. God, make my life complete as I
place all the pieces before You. Hear the
prayers of my heart. Amen.
 
~ dho 


Scripture from 2 Samuel 22 (The Message)

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Divine Agenda

"The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to tell the people".  
John 4:28
"She put down her water jar. This very well may be
the heart of this beautiful story. Her water jar is her
own agenda. . . She walked away from that well with
Living Water because she was able to let go of her
own agenda . . . and go forth with God's agenda."
from Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels


How easy to go about our daily routines of gathering and doing! This woman went to the well to get water, a daily task. In going about her ordinary task, she encounters Jesus and is never the same again. Others, too, are changed because she tells her story. The author of “A Tree Full of Angels” paints a beautiful picture of finding more that expected in the ordinary task when we lay down our own agenda and go with God’s agenda! Living Water fills us up when we make room for Jesus.


Holy Father,
Help me put down my water jar - my agenda, my expectations, my plans, my desires. These get in the way of your Mighty Ways, your Divine Intentions for my life. 
In my own humanity, I fail to come to the altar without some remnant of thought or partial desire in my heart. In the deepest part of my soul, I long to worship You with pure intent. I thirst for Living Water.  Fill my cup . . . I lift it up . . .Quench this thirsting in my soul . . . Fill it up and make me whole. Find me on my knees, my soul in the circle of grace, listening for Your Agenda. Amen. ~ dho

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Woven Together

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. 
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do. 
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!…

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body 
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed…

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered! 
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:1-6,13-18, 23-24 NLT


Faithful Father,
What makes me think I can hide my doubts from You? How can I pretend to be strong when You know I am not? Why would You listen so intently to my prayers when You already know my needs? When am I ever alone?
You know all about me and love me still. I am never alone – You are all around me. You listen to the groans of my soul with mercy and tenderness. You are my strength; You make me bold, for I am nothing without You. LORD, even before I say a word, my heart’s desires, my anxious thoughts, my hurried spirit, my silent fears – all are known. You are too marvelous for me! 

You create magnificent designs, each one unique. Your thoughts are like threads of gold and silver and cotton and silk, in colors of every shade, while our moments are like remnants of fibers with varied hues and textures and patterns. Your thoughts and our moments are woven and spun into holy tapestries of love. With majesty and grace, You weave them together for glory-purposes that exceed my abilities to know or understand. God, examine me… lead me ~ in all things, at all times! Amen. ~dho

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Into Community

"Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs – but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup? (Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria, 1996), 57.

The Cloister walkway of Salisbury Cathedral

Paul writes: And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. 
Philemon 1:6 The Message

We are called into community through Christ. He asks us to reach beyond our boundaries of our commonality and touch others in His name. While our differences sometimes distinguish us from one another, we are one in Him. Oswald Chambers writes about becoming broken bread and poured out wine. Only through Grace can acts of goodness become broken bread and poured out wine. Circumstance does not create community, rather it reveals its strength, its motivations, its endurance, its depth, its hope. Christ calls believers into community ~ and our response reveals our true faith. I wonder, “Do people recognize Christ in my acts of goodness?” ~dho

* Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England; the largest cloister in Britain. Build between 1220-1258. Photo/dho@2023

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Abundant Grace

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 NKJV

Time after time, God has provided, and I know He continues to be with me. I don't have to look very far to know how richly blessed my life has been. Would I have chosen less tears or easier circumstances? Of course, my human heart wishes for simple and good, idealistic and benign paths, but a spiritual journey is challenging. The human mind questions God's answers and proposes contradictions. We are so finite that mystery escapes us, sometimes bewilders us. 

In between the what if's and inside the why not's, His Grace flows so abundantly that I find my soul secure and in pleasant places - one with the Father. So, I will wait for His plan to be revealed, Word by Word, prayer by prayer, moment by moment, opportunity by opportunity, person by person, possibility by possibility.

Father, my heart gives You the Glory for my good deeds. My offerings are simple compared to Yours - a prayer, a Scripture, a hope, a gesture - just tokens of kindness and love. You touch my soul with words written centuries ago. Oh, Lord, Your Grace pours over me like a gentle rain, refreshing and renewing. In the stillness of this moment, I accept the portion and cup You have assigned me. In my obedience, use me to reach beyond, around, and through circumstances to be a witness to Your Grace. Amen. 
dho


Friday, January 05, 2024

A Fresh Start


God's glory is on tour in the skies, . . .
Their words aren't heard,
their voices aren't recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. . .
That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.
The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes. . .
The decisions of GOD are accurate 
down to the nth degree.
There's more: GOD's Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool"
Clean the slate God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over Your work; . . .
These are the words in my mouth . . .
Accept them when I place them on the morning altar. . .
Psalm 19 The Message


Spirit of the Living God,
I long to discover the inner workings of the Father's Plan for me. In these times of waiting, grant my soul peace, my mind discernment, my heart patience. How I can feel Your presence and sense the power of Your Ways! 
Yet sometimes I can only watch You work. In these times, I must trust You. 
Prepare my heart with Your Desires. 
Prepare my mind with the wisdom I will need. 
Prepare my soul for the path You choose. 
Holy Spirit, whisper the mysterious and wonderful things the Father has for me. 
Praises for His Endless Love and Unmeasured Goodness - it overwhelms me day
and night! The applause of ten thousand angels is not enough! Jesus, hear this prayer! Amen. -dho