You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Discipleship’ category.

Prayer for this Lord’s Day
Come, Holy Spirit.
You are the sacred breath, through which we have life.
You are the blessed wind, one divine driving force by which we are refreshed and Invigorated.
As the mists of the morning that obscure the road ahead are dispelled by the warmth and brightness of the sun,
So clear away all our confusion and doubt… Dispel all false notions and evil intentions.
Oh, empower me and all who seek your strength and comfort, to do your will.
Blessed are those who early seek your guidance.
May the Father and the Son, our Lord Jesus, minister to us through You, Spirit of God, today and every day. Amen.

Prayer based on and excerpted from Day 4 of “This Day, A Wesleyan Way of Prayer” by Laurence Hull Stuckey.

Titus 3:1-8  The Message (MSG)

He Put Our Lives Together

 1-2Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous.

3-8It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone.

Have you thought about what is happening in your life lately? Do you sometimes feel, like I do, that you need a good bath? When we began our faith walk, repenting of our sins, and putting our trust and faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the Lord gave us a good bath… He washed us clean by His Spirit. But in our daily living, we can often feel as Teresa of Ávila felt, “Oh, my God and Lord, how everything is ruined by the vain habits we fall into and the way everyone else follows them! Our faith is so dead that we desire what we see more than what faith tells us about–even though what we see is that people who pursue these things end up with nothing but misfortune!”

She wrote, “… the Lord has blessed us with wonderful capacities to help us along the way! Reason tells the soul how mistaken it is in thinking that these earthly pleasures are of the slightest value in comparison with what it is seeking. Faith instructs the soul in what it must do to find true satisfaction. Memory reminds it how all of those pleasures come to an end, and how all those who once engaged in those pleasures–who seemed to find such enjoyment in them!–are now dead and buried. .. The will inclines the soul to love God, the One in whom it has seen so many acts and signs of love. In particular, the will shows the soul how this True Lover never leaves it, but goes with it everywhere and gives it life and being. Then the understanding comes forward and makes the soul realize that, for however many years it may live, it can never hope to have a better friend.” (Interior Castle)

Peter emphasized in 2 Peter, chapter 1, that everything that goes into a life that pleases God has been given to us, miraculously, by the Lord Jesus, as we get to know Him personally and intimately. The truth is that nothing that we can do by our own effort will please the Lord. He has given us faith, even though it may seem much smaller than a grain of mustard seed, and on that basic faith He wants to build and complement with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness and generous love. With these things growing and developing in our lives, we will become mature in Christ, we will get our “faith life” back! We will find joy, hope and God’s grace on the wide-open way of living in the Kingdom of God, and walking into His eternal Kingdom one day.

In recent months I have been gradually working my way through a devotional resource from Renovaré, “Devotional Classics” Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups, edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith. This week I am about halfway through the book, and have read, re-read and meditated over the excerpts from The Imitation of Christ, a classic work from the 14th century, by Thomas a Kempis, author or editor.

In this excerpt, the editors have chosen 14 steps to deal with temptation. I’d like to share the bulk of this devotional with the readers of The Breathing Space.

1. Be on the Watch

As long as we live in the world we cannot escape temptations and tribulations. as it is written in Job, “Our life on this earth is warfare.” For this reason we must be careful and concerned about our own temptations. We must be watchful in prayer let the devil be given an opportunity to deceive us. For the devil never sleeps but “goes about seeking whom he may devour.” Remember, no one is so holy that he or she does not have to deal with temptations. We can never be free of them.

2. The Usefulness of Temptations

And yet, temptations can be useful to us even though they seem to cause us nothing but pain. They are useful because they can make us humble, they can cleanse us, and they can teach us. Use these times of temptation and tribulation to grow spiritually, to make progress in your spiritual life. Those who do not deal with temptations successfully, all to the wayside.

3. The Source of Temptations: Why We Can’t Run Away

No one is completely free of temptations because the source of temptations is in ourselves. WE were born in sinful desire. When oe temptations passes, another is on its way. WE will always have temptations because we are sinners who lost our original innocence in the Garden. . . We cannot win this battle by running away alone; the key to victory is true humility and patience; in them we overcome the enemy.

If we merely turn away from temptation outwardly and do not strike at its root, we will make very little progress. In fact, you may find that the temptations will return more quickly and powerfully, and you will feel even worse. Little by little, through patient endurance of spirit, with the help of God, you will win a better victory than by your own determination.

4. Temptations Reveal Who We Are

The beginning of all evil temptations is an unstable mind and a small trust in God. Just as a ship without a helm is tossed about by the waves, so a person who lacks resolution and certainty is tossed about by temptations. Temptation reveals our instability and our lack of trust in God; temptations reveal who we are. This is why we must pay attention to them.

5. How Temptations Enter and Overcome Us

We will do better in dealing with temptations if we keep an eye on them in the very beginning. Temptations are more easily overcome if they are never allowed to enter our minds. Meet them at the door as soon as they knock, and do not let them in. One simple thought can enter the mind and start the process.

The process works like this: First, the thought is allowed to enter into our minds. Second, the imagination is sparked by the thought. Third, we feel a sense of pleasure at the fantasy, and we entertain it. Fourth and finally, we engage in the evil action, assenting to its urges. This is how, little by little, temptations gain entrance and overcome us if they are not resisted at the beginning. The longer we let them overcome us, the weaker we become, and the stronger the enemy against us.

6. Never Despair: God is with You

We must not despair when we are tempted but, instead, seek God more fervently, asking for his help in this time of tribulation. Remember St. Paul’s words of assurance, “God will ake a way of escape from every temptation so that we may be able to bear it.” Let us, therefore, humble ourselves before God, and take shelter beneath his hand. God will lift up all who have a humble spirit, and save them in all trials and tribulations.

Patience is necessary in this life because so much of life is fraught with adversity. No matter how hard we try, our lives will never be without strife and grief. Thus, we should not strive for a peace that is without temptation, or for a life that never feels adversity. Peace is not found by escaping temptations, but by being tried by them. We will have discovered peace when we have been tried and come through the trial of temptation.

7. The Pain of Temptation

“But,” you may say, “what about those who find such pleasure and delight when they give in to temptation?” To be sure, there is pleasure for them, but how long does it last? It is like smoke – it vanishes quickly. Soon even the memory of the joy is gone. They will never find rest and they will live in bitterness and weariness and fear.

The very thing they think will bring them joy will bring them sorrow,t hat which they think will bring them pleasure will bring them only pain. Because of their blindness and numbness they may never see or feel how miserable they are. They may not even know that their soul is slowly dying.

8. The Way to True Delight

But if you want to have true delight, here is the way: have contempt for all worldly things and all lower delights, and rich consolation will, in turn, be given to you. In proportion as you withdraw yourself from the love of these things, so you will find consolations form God much more sweet and potent.

At first this will be difficult. Long-standing habits will resist, but they will be vanquished in time, by a better habit – if you persevere! The flesh will cry out, but it will be restrained by the Spirit. The devil will try to stir you up and provoke you, but he will run away the moment you begin to pray. And above all, try to engage in useful work. In doing so, the devil is prevented from having access to you.

9. Lay the Axe to the Root

If we made an effort to stand firmly adn courageously in the struggle, doubtless we should see the help of our Lord from heaven, for he is ready to help those who trust in his grace. He gives us occasions to fight so that we may win. If our spiritual progress relies only on outward observances, our devotion will not last long. Let us lay the axe to the root, so that being purged of unruly passions, we may have peace of mind… If we would exercise a little self-discipline at the beginning, then we would later be able to do everything easily and joyfully.

10. Defeating Old Habits

It is hard to give up old habits, but it is even harder to go against one’s own will. Yet, if you cannot overcome small, trivial things, when will you overcome difficult ones? Fight the urge when it starts and break off bad habits, lest perhaps, little by little they lead you into greater trouble.

11. The Temptation to Gossip

I wonder why we are so eager to chatter and gossip with each other, since we seldom return to the quiet of our own hearts without a damaged conscience? The reason is that by idle chit-chat we seek comfort from one another and we hope to enlighten our distracted hearts. And, to make matters worse, wc chatter most freely about our favorite topics, about what we would like to have, or about those things we especially dislike!

What a mistake! This outward comfort is no small detriment to the inner comfort that comes from God. Therefore, we must watch and pray that we o not waste time. If it is proper to speak, speak of what will benefit others spiritually.

12. Putting Troubles to Use

Sometimes it is good for us to have troubles and hardships, for they often call us back to our own hearts. Once there, we know ourselves to be strangers in this world, and we know that we may not believe in anything that it has to offer. Sometimes it is good that we put up with people speaking against us, and sometimes it is good that we be thought of as bad and flawed, even when we do good things and have good intentions. Such troubles are often aids to humility, and they protect us from pride. Indeed, we are sometimes better at seeking god when people have nothing but bad things to say about us and when they refuse to give us credit for the good things we have done! That being the case, we should so root ourselves in God that we do not need to look for comfort anywhere else.

13. Our Need for God

When a person of good will is troubled or tempted or vexed by evil thoughts, then he better understands his need for God, without whom he can do nothing good at all. In such a state, he is sad and he sighs and prays because of the miseries he suffers; then, he is tired of living any longer and he wishes to die, so that he may be set free to be with Christ. When all that happens, he knows for certain that perfect security and full peace cannot exist in this world.

14. Four Sources of Peace

Finally, I want to teach you the way of peace and true lierty. There are four things you must do:

  1. Strive to do another’s will rather than your own.
  2. Choose always to have less than more.
  3. Seek the lower places in life, dying to the need to be recognized and important.
  4. Always and in everything, desire for the will of God may be completely fulfilled in you. The person who tries this will be treading the frontiers of peace and rest.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

The Message (MSG)

 11-12These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.

13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

Several days ago I dug out a little box of Christian encouragement cards that an old friend gave to me a few years ago. It’s been a while since I used these as part of my daily reflection / devotional time, but as always, the message on the card each day touches me in places where I need God’s touch. Yesterday’s card said:

God does not work on our time table, but God’s timing is always perfect. Reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past, and you will find the strength you need today. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love for a thousand generations.” Deut. 7:9

This message from the Spirit was just what I needed… The thought of reflecting on God’s faithfulness in order to find strength for today continues to come up in my mind and spirit…  I realize more and more as the years pass, that strength for each day is a gift from God, from a faithful God. When we are young, we take strength for granted, we assume that physical, mental and emotional strength we feel will always be available. But after living for years, and experiencing life’s punches, life’s ups and downs, I realize that the strength I need comes only from the Lord. I no longer take it for granted, but I seek the Lord’s help, I reflect on His faithfulness.

Part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, of living as a member of the Kingdom of God, of the Lord’s church, is to reflect on God’s faithfulness, not only to ourselves, but to others. Distress and the difficulties of life should drive us to the Lord. Reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness in such times should turn us around, get us back on the “way of salvation.” We will be “more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ll (you’ve) come out of this with purity of heart.” (2 Cor. 7:11-13; The Message)

That’s what I want in my life… God’s strength and purity of heart. I want to be more alive today, more human, more reverent. I want to not only experience His presence, but experience His strength that will enable me to become more like Jesus.

Reflect on His faithfulness to you and you too will find strength for today.


Breathing Space recommends…Discovering Christianity

Discovering Christianity is a free course for people of all ages who are  wanting to know more about Jesus, are new to Christianity, or who have been away from God and recently made a decision to reconnect with God and His Church. This course offers great practical keys to living life in relationship with Jesus. Discovering Christianity is a six session course that will help you grow in your faith and lay a foundation to take you forward in all that God has for you.

Discovering Christianity… >>>>>


Cynthia on Twitter

August 2020