Presence is Precious

Scripture Focus: Proverbs 20.24
A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
    How then can anyone understand their own way?

Colossians 3.15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Reflection: Presence is Precious
By John Tillman

In Tuesday’s post, we referred to “breath prayers” as preparing us for the “next discipline.” While we want to make clear that we don’t feel there is a hierarchy of disciplines, with one “better” than another, some of them do tend to lead to learning another. In that sense, a “next discipline” that naturally flows from breath prayers would be “practicing the presence of God.” 

That doesn’t mean it is easy or automatic. Practicing the presence of God doesn’t have a catchy name or an easy path to mastering it, but walking this path leads to a spiritual awareness and purposeful pattern of living, embodied prayer that transforms first the believer, then our world around us.

The presence of God is a precious thing in the pages of scripture. It was shown in a pillar of cloud and fire. It settled over a tent of meeting to speak to Moses. The presence of God does not mean we are sinless or perfect. Moses sinned. Aaron sinned. Joshua sinned. The presence of God is a gift of grace made available to those who seek it, recognizing it as the precious thing that it is. 

Moses, in the tent of meeting, tells God, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here…What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33.15-16) The presence of God distinguishes us as his people.

When we practice the presence of God, we are acknowledging that God no longer tabernacles in one tent to serve an unruly group of twelve clans. He no longer makes his home in a golden Temple to bless the rule of one nation. When we practice the presence of God we are resting and celebrating in the astounding truth that God’s Holy Spirit which filled Solomon’s Temple, now fills us. We are confessing that the Holy Spirit that fell on sinful Moses, sinful Samson, and sinful Saul, falls and dwells now upon us.

Practicing the presence of God means living as a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, making everywhere you set your feet holy ground. Whatever you do, do in his name, and if you cannot do it in his name, do not do it. Whatever you say, say in his name and if you cannot say it in his name, do not say it.

Tomorrow we will look at one of the practical tools of prayer that can help us to carry with us our own “tent of meeting.” We can carry God’s presence into every Zoom conference and Facetime with friends. And once social distancing is in the history books, we can carry God’s presence into the world as we have been commanded.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name. — Psalm 86.11

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 20 (Listen 3:19) 
Colossians 3 (Listen -3:09)

Read more about God Who Speaks
Christ makes his appeal to the world through us, so let us be appealing in the way we serve and in the way we speak.

Read more about Breathing Prayers
Repeating these prayers throughout one’s day keeps one’s mind connected to Christ, keeps one’s steps closer to his will, and readys one’s heart…

Christ’s Supremacy :: A Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Colossians 1.18
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Reflection: Christ’s Supremacy :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

What I often call “preacher stories” are stories, illustrations, and parables about modern faith that have been passed on and told in many versions by many preachers in many sermons.

One of my favorite “preacher stories” is about a new preacher at a church who keeps preaching the same sermon every Sunday. Eventually a church leader questions the pastor about it and requests a new topic for the following Sunday. The preacher responds, “When you start acting like you remember the first one, I can stop repeating it”

We all need repetition in our spiritual lives to reinforce the greatest truths of our faith. One of those truths is the supremacy of Christ. The supremacy of Christ may seem unassailable. How could we forget it? We all nod our heads and “amen” in agreement…

Yet in our actions and in our lives, we find many ways to place things before Christ. People, issues, politics, career—these things all push to the front of our minds and demand our supreme attention and commitment.

Pray this prayer over the weekend, and repeat as needed to proclaim in faith the supremacy of Christ over all in your life and subjugate everything else to him.

Christ’s Supremacy
We pray to Christ and proclaim his supremacy…

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…

Nothing we create can displace Christ.
No government can cast him out, for they exist within his creation.
No discovery can reveal anything that Christ did not create.
No achievement or success can accomplish more than Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf.

He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased…through him to reconcile to himself all things…making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

We confess to you our pride, our naked greed, our self-deception, our poverty of principles and possessions.

In humility, Christ, we accept from you…
Peace we are incapable of procuring,
Redemption beyond our means to purchase,
Rescue from darkness of our own making.

Help us to let go of anything which strives to take your place.
Make of us a body that serves, be our head which gives us purpose.
May we continue in faith…

…established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. — Psalm 108.3-4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 14 (Listen – 5:22)
Colossians 1 (Listen – 4:18)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 15 (Listen – 5:30), Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)
1 Kings 16 (Listen – 5:31), Colossians 3 (Listen – 3:09)

Thank You!
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Read more about Solus Christus
There has never been and will never be a clearer portrait of God than the person of Jesus himself.

Read more about Downgrading Grace
When we downgrade grace through faith, we chip away the cross of Christ, making it an additive to our life rather than the sole source of our life.