Today’s scripture: Isaiah 26:3. “Thou wilt keep in perfect peace [shalom] the one whose mind is stayed on thee.”
My thoughts (David Zier):
In yesterday’s sermon, Pastor Jeff used the Isaiah 26:3 passage to emphasize that those whose minds are “stayed on God” experience tranquility. Those who consistently focus on God, experience this perfect peace, this shalom. Contentment.
Of course Jesus is a good example of this in the Bible, as he is typically going to or returning from prayer in many of the New Testament Stories. But Jesus has his moments where that peace takes a back seat in the Garden of Gesthemane and when he is on the cross.
One of my best friends is a member at a local monastery. She is always seeking a deeper prayer life, and she is always feeding me with information, suggestions, and books. She always gives me a prayer book for Christmas that turns out to be my go to prayer book for the year. This year it is Prayer Seeds – A Gathering of Blessings, Reflections, and Poems for Spiritual Growth by Joyce Rupp. When I opened it and thumbed through the first few pages, I knew this what it. She told me that she had recently got the book and thought of me right away, so she got a copy for me too. I felt honored that she felt about me that way. I really needed it.
2018 was a wild and wacky year. Jeff and I lost two cats, and then adopted two new kittens at the end of the year. Jeff and I both lost our Moms. My Dad had a brain tumor and underwent a few surgeries at the end of 2018. Jeff’s Dad has had a few medical procedures. We each experienced deaths of aunts and uncles as well.
Now what was that again… The people whose minds are “stayed on God” experience tranquility? Prayer seeds….
In the sermon yesterday, Pastor Jeff asked and answered, “If you’re serious about wanting to live a life of tranquility, what do you have to do? You have to get serious about creating an intentional spiritual rhythm in your life, so the osmosis process of Isaiah 26:3 can occur in your life. So what will your spiritual rhythm look like in 2019?
Begin with some prayerful Self-Assessment – Where Am I? How Am I Doing?
Prayerfully consider the following questions and jot a few notes to yourself.
- How do I feel about my spiritual life right now and why do I feel that way?
- What’s going well?
- Where am I feeling most challenged or distressed?
- What do I want more of? What do I want less of?
- If I could hear my own eulogy, what would I want to hear? Am I on track?
- What do I sense God most wants for me right now?
With the foregoing thoughts in mind, begin to create your own Spiritual Action Plan for 2019.
My Spiritual Action Plan – My Intentional Spiritual Goals and Rhythm
Remember: Be realistic, especially if this is your first Spiritual Plan. You can build on it in years to come. Rome was not built in a day. View this as Phase 1. With each practice or goal you set, be sure to say how/when you will do it.
- What spiritual practices are most life-giving to me? What spiritual practices do I feel God calling me to stretch and grow into? (Examples: daily prayer and Bible meditation, participation in weekly group worship, finding a spiritual small group, listening to worship music as I drive to work, giving thanks for 5 simple things every day, making a service commitment, developing a breath prayer, tithing my income, etc. For more examples and think more deeply about this, take the Soul Care Survey found at http://lifejourney.church/soulcare or pick up a hard copy of the Survey at the Welcome Desk at church.)
- Given the foregoing, what will my spiritual rhythm be? In other words, what specific spiritual practices am I going to weave into the fabric of my life – when and how often?
- What additional life practices and goals do I feel called to commit to? These goals go beyond specific spiritual practices and address the growing edges in life God is calling us to tackle. Examples: Love rather than analyze God, replace anger with grace, work less hours, exercise, eat better, spend more time with loved ones, develop a new hobby or recreational outlet, embrace my job as service to God, be less materialistic, be less judgmental, forgive my greatest enemy, let go of self-interest, see Jesus in the faces of the people around me, make a career change, etc.
- Are the goals I’m setting responsive to my self-assessment above?
- Are the goals I’m setting realistically attainable this year? Am I stretching myself too far to fast? Am I stretching myself to little?
What Will Be My Form of Accountability
What steps will I take to remind myself and hold myself accountable for keeping my Spiritual Action Plan for 2019? Some possible options are:
- Promising myself to re-read my Plan weekly and prayerfully until it becomes second nature and habit.
- Sharing my Plan with a good spiritual friend and asking him/her to pray for me and to ask me, monthly or quarterly, whether I’m keeping my goals and rhythm. (This can be a verbal ask/response or an email ask/response.)
- Have occasional conversations in my Oasis Group or other spiritual small group to discuss and share our experiences with our Plans.
- Programming my Google calendar (or similar system) to prompt me with questions/reminders about my Rule of Life.
- Creating a Vision Board.
- Other creative ideas?
Note: Begin sketching out your Plan, but don’t finalize it yet. The sermons over the next few weeks will challenge us to think about specific areas of life that we often find challenging – things like relationships, finances, body care, mental blocks, etc. These sermons may help you identify areas for growth that you want to incorporate into your Spiritual Action Plan.
At the end of the New Year’s Sermon Series, we’ll have a chance to finalize our Plans, and those who wish will have an opportunity on a Sunday to participate in a prayer for God’s help in living into our Plans.
Thought/Question for the day: So where do you find yourself today? What are your plans to get “stayed” on God? Take some time with the questions. Pray with them. Here is a Link to the online Soul Care plan that may help gather your thoughts — soul care link.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.