Discover Practices - Week of Oct. 20 - Loved by God through Scripture Study and Reflection

In this practice we allow God to speak to us through his written Word, found in the Bible.   We take time to experience His grace and promises, as He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.  Begin by praying for God to reveal himself to you in a fresh way.  If you have a study Bible or commentary refrain from reading the notes on the passage until you have reflected on it personally first.

 

Please read each day’s Scripture selection slowly 2 to 3 times.  Try reading it aloud once.  Consider which words or phrases capture your attention and why. 

 

Day 1

Read the Gospel of John 1:9-14 & 1 John 3:1-13.

How does it feel to be a child of God?

How does the love of your heavenly father reach out to you in these passages?

 

Day 2

Read Romans 5:1-8.

Reflect on the idea that God loves you now, even knowing the sins you will commit the rest of your life.    What is your response?

How does God’s unconditional love for you give you hope today?

 

Day 3

Read Luke 15:1-24

What point(s) is Jesus making in these parables?

How is God’s love for you being demonstrated in the parables?

How has God been reaching out to you with His love lately?  What does he want you to repent of so you can more fully receive His love in Jesus? 

 

Discover Practices - Week of Oct. 13 - Loved by God in Human Relationships

Day 1  - Call a friend and set aside some time to enjoy a walk together, share a meal together, or some other special activity with that friend.  Think about the special gifts that friend has that has come from God and how that friend is a blessing to you. 

 

Day 2 – Take time to visit someone who is in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.  Just share your time with them.  It will brighten their day more than you know.

 

Day 3 -  Spend some uninterrupted time with a family member – a sibling, parent, child, grandchild.  Focus on the uniqueness of that individual and how that family member is a special child of God.

  

Reflection day 1

I recently had an impromptu gathering with some retreat couples to have supper together at church on Wednesday night.  Although we get together monthly, there was something special about this group coming together at church.  God has really blessed me with these new friends.  Their faith and their commitment to each other in this group is really amazing.

Reflection day 2

I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with many of our founding Peace families over the years.  I have been able to visit one of them in a nursing facility.  It was hard to see her there, but the care advocate came out of me and when I visited, I made sure that her needs were being taken care of.  I know she enjoyed my visits because I heard from another, they knew I had visited.  I’m not sure who benefited more from the visits, her or me.  This generation, though aging and sometimes frail, have so much to give by way of their stories and the way the handle the struggles of the aging process. 

Reflection day 3

I am in an interesting stage in my life.  I am my sister’s caregiver as she is many years older than I, my children are grown adults, and I have a granddaughter.  What a range of people in my life.  I look at my sister and see such a sweet spirit about her.  She is the first to forgive if she’s done something wrong or even if she hasn’t.  She makes me laugh and I try to do the same with her.  I’m trying to bring quality life to someone who has had many rough spots in her life, but she’s been able to pull things together when she can rely on family to support her.  She is a real blessing to me and reminds me how important family is. 

 

Discover Practices - Week of Oct. 7 - Loved by God in Quiet Reflection

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Day 1

Determine a spot where you can you can spend a minimum of 5 minutes of quiet uninterrupted time of reflection.  Do everything that you can to get rid of all possible distractions (no screens, phones, kids, dogs, etc.) and get comfortable-- but not so comfortable that you will fall into “nap mode” too quickly.  Ask God to quiet your heart and let you experience His loving presence.

Reflect on your day and these words from God,  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:10–11, NIV)

·         How has God revealed himself and his love to you today?

·         What does it mean that God is with you?

·         What does it mean that He is your fortress?

 

Day 2

Go to your quiet spot.  Get rid of all distractions and get comfortable.  Try to spend 5 minutes more than you did on Day 1 in quiet reflection.    Ask God to quiet your heart and let you experience His loving presence.

 Reflect on your day and  the following words from God, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him . . .”  (Psalm 37:7)

·         How has God revealed himself and his love to you today?

·         What happened today that tried your patience?   How did God help you deal with it?

·         What else is happening in your life that requires you to patiently trust in God?

 

Day 3

Go to your quiet spot.  Get rid of all distractions and get comfortable.  Try to spend 5 minutes more than you did on Day 2 in quiet reflection.    Ask God to quiet your heart and let you experience His loving presence.

Reflect on your week and the following words from Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV)

·         How has God revealed himself and his love to you today?

·         What happened this week that was difficult or burdensome?  What is making you feel weary?

·         How is Jesus offering you rest for your soul, right now?

Reflection 1

Today was a great day for this practice. It was a hectic day of running from meeting to meeting. I had a short break in the late afternoon before an evening meeting followed by important phone calls and emails to attend to. I stopped to get a bite to eat and remembered the Discover practice for the week. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I just sat outside in the sun, took a few deep breaths and reflected. Immediately, I felt stress leaving as God seemed to be saying, “Here you go, take a moment and feel my goodness.” As I began to reflect on my day, I recalled several people sharing with me how God had been at work in their lives . I realized that God had been revealing his love to me by showing me how He had been at work through Peace church to bless others and draw them closer to himself. It put my hectic day into a wonderful perspective.

Reflection 2

Another day filled to the brim with meetings, people and unexpected distractions from my goals.  I tried to get home and eat some lunch two different times and did not make it.  We had Wednesday programs at Peace, so things for me did not end until after 7:30.  It was difficult to get my mind and heart settled for quiet reflection, but it was so good to force myself to do it. 

Lord,  I didn’t get everything done today that I planned to do, but your goodness was shining through every aspect of the day, especially the people that you put in my path.  I saw your love at work in their giving and service, and I felt your love in their supportive words and their partnership in ministry.  It was a good day, because you are good.  Amen.

 

Discover Practices - Week of Sept. 29 - Prayer

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Day 1

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (specifically verse 17)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

What does “pray without ceasing” mean to you? Did you have an adult in your life that prayed for you during your childhood? Did it make a difference? Who is someone that you could lift up in prayer?

Day 1 Challenge: Set aside 3 times today where you pray for someone in your life? It doesn’t have to be long. Pray from the heart and let God do the rest!

Bonus Challenge: Tell this person that you will be spending the day praying for them.

Day 2

Read Mark 11:24

24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Do you believe it? Reread that verse. It will be yours! It doesn’t say it might be yours. Do you pray with that focus? Do you believe that God is truly listening? What is something that is troubling you? Have you brought it to God with this belief in your head?

Day 2 Challenge: Find a quiet place where you can fully focus a few minutes in prayer. We all have pain and suffering in our life and the lives of those around you. What is something that you want to pray for? Is it your situations or others? Pray with the belief that God is going to answer that prayer.

Day 2 Bonus Challenge: Consider praying for this multiple times throughout the next few days. Afterwards, write down your thoughts. After a few days, go back and read your previous entries. Did your prayer get answered?

Day 3

Read Matthew 18:20.

20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Does your family pray together? What do your meals and bedtimes look like? Do you pray in the car? How much more powerful is it to know that those around you are lifting the same prayers up to God?

Day 3 Challenge: Go and include other people in a group prayer today. Share with them what you’d like to pray about and then lift up a combined prayer as a group. If it is a challenge to pray out loud, then consider being together but praying silently.

Day 3 Bonus Challenge: Who are people in your life that you want praying for you? Form a connection with someone who you can share your prayers with. Knowing that others are fighting for you, might just be what you need!

Day 1 Reflection

My wife is an amazing mom and person. She stays home and watches our son and some other children as well. We are expecting our fourth child and we are nearing the final stages before her due date. I’m feeling exhausted and I’m not the one who is carrying a child inside of me. I told her today that I would be taking moments out of my day to pray for her. I feel like it is one thing to do it, but it means so much more when you alert them of it. I’m excited to look back on today and ask her if she felt any more energy or excitement. I’m excited to hear who you prayed for as well. Feel free to comment! -Jordan Van Proosdy

Discover Practices - Week 2 -Music

Week of September 22 Loved by Christ through Music

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Day 1 Listen to “Highlands” (Song of Ascent) by Hillsong United

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWvYN2ehIzg

-          Let the words wash over you.  What words from the song speak of God’s love for you? Spend a few minutes reflecting.  

Day 2 Listen to “Highlands”  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWvYN2ehIzg

-          Reflect on the words of the chorus:

I will praise you on the mountain 

I will praise you when the mountain’s in my way 

You’re the summit where my feet are

So I will praise you in the valleys all the same

 -          How difficult is it to praise God when things are going well and then again when things aren’t going so well?

 Day 3 Listen to “Highlands”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWvYN2ehIzg

-          Reflect on this verse: 

For who could dare ascend that mountain

That valleyed hill called Calvary

But for the one I call Good Shepherd

Who like a lamb was slain for me

 -          What thoughts and feelings come to mind knowing that Jesus ascended the mountain of Calvary to die for your sins?

Enjoy the Discover Practices this week … and check back to read Lynette’s experiences of the week’s practices. Add your own comment by clicking on the title of the post and finding the comment box at the bottom.


Day 1 Reflection

As I was listening to Highlands this evening, I began to get this sense of understanding the security that comes in knowing God’s presence.  Whether standing on the summit or down in the valley – there’s the beauty of knowing that God’s love is sure – it’s steady – it doesn’t waver.  God’s presence does not depend on my mood – whether it was a good day or a disappointing day – He is sure and true and always waiting for me to reach out to Him – to talk with Him – to spend time with Him.  Makes me smile 😊 - Lynette

Day 2 Reflection

Seems to me that God invites us into this incredible journey of being part of His family where He promises to be with us.  Whether it’s mountaintops of awe and wonder or in the valleys of defeat and despair or somewhere in between – He promises us His PRESENCE.  But we have a choice – we can choose to accept His invitation or reject His invite and choose to follow our own passions and pursuits.  The more I learn of God’s character – the more I want Him and desire His presence in every single area of my life.  There is no greater joy than resting in “His pastures of grace”. The invitation is open to you – what is your response? - Lynette

Discover Practices - Week 1 - Creation


 Week of September 15 - Loved by Christ Outdoors          

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Day 1
Go to a favorite outdoor spot in the area (could be your back patio).  Take several minutes just to look around and make mental notes of at least 5 aspects of nature that demonstrate Jesus’ creativity and his gift of beauty.  Then say a prayer of thanksgiving (perhaps with eyes open) for these gifts of His creation.

Day 2
Read Psalm 136:1-9.  Then leave the devices behind and take a 10 walk (perhaps along the Chippewa River or in your neighborhood).   Every minute or so repeat the verse, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 

Day 3
Read Romans 1:20.  Then go to another favorite outdoor spot and spend 10 minutes answering the question:   What does what you see in nature tell you about the triune God?  Make a list.   

Enjoy the Discover Practices this week … and check back to read Pastor Mark’s experiences of the week’s practices. Add your own comment by clicking on the title of the post and finding the comment box at the bottom.

Day 1 Reflection - Creative Colors of Creation

Southeast of Eau Claire on county highway J on a spectacular evening at sunset… the creative colors of God’s creation were on amazing display: the blazing red-orange of the sun just above the horizon, the lush green of meadows after all of the rain we’ve been having, the yellow of soybean fields ready to be harvested, the scarlet of sumac leading the way for the fall display of color, and the various shades of pastels (red and orange) as wispy clouds reflected the sunset. I don’t always pay attention, but this evening was an opportunity to look and give thanks to the Lord of creation. - Pastor Mark

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Day 2 Reflection - God’s Love in Creation

Today I took a stroll around church grounds regularly echoing the phrase from Psalm 136: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.” The first verses of this psalm speak of this eternal love of God as evidenced by his creation. It occurs to me that I don’t usually connect creation with divine love. I more likely think of creation in terms of divine power, artistry, and providence. Yet today it struck me that the remarkable diversity of flowers, shrubs, and trees we have right here on the Peace campus (some of which I’ve never noticed before - see photograph), are evidence that God in his love wants to dazzle us with beauty and goodness, even to entertain us … all because he loves us. — Pastor Mark

Day 3 Reflection - God at the High Bridge

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Romans 1:20 teaches that God’s invisible qualities are revealed through his creation.  On a beautiful morning at the High Bridge, I saw God’s …

 Wildness:  God’s love flows like a swift river, not always doing what we expect, but still beautiful and with life-changing …

 Power:  like a river moving boulders and cutting through rock, God’s power continues to direct history and transform lives.

 Flux:  God’s blessings pour out into his world in ever changing and even spectacular ways.

 Maximizing:  the leaves of trees fill almost every space as they maximize the sunlight, providing a solid canopy of foliage along the river; so God would maximize our fruitfulness as we use our gifts in service.

 Variety:  God is clearly not content with sameness; the sheer variety of trees and shrubs pointing to God’s most important creativity … the diversity of individuals in terms of ethnicities, personalities, and strengths.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! - Pastor Mark