Devotion

Devotion – To Understand – To Know

To Understand – To Know

Claire Wadsworth

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls ….

Jeremiah 6:16

Recently, I embarked on a transformative journey of silence at a Christian monastery—a wholly novel experience that has indelibly marked my soul. The serenity cultivated within those sacred walls has given me a profound tranquillity, diminishing the grip of stress and permeating my life with a newfound calmness. Even amidst the hustle and bustle of daily affairs, my mind now finds solace, echoing the timeless injunction of Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and know that I am God.” I feel as though I am more alert to details in the day, I am more mindful of nature and colours around me my senses are heightened. I gaze at the beautiful tropical fish, the majestic sea turtle, the tiniest ants, spectacular cumulus clouds and I consider my God who created all these for His pleasure.

Who is this God that He should be mindful of me? The scriptures say that God is Spirit (Spirit circle), love (Love sector) truth (Truth sector) and by Him all things were created, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities (Control sector). It is no wonder that when we invite Him into our Spirit circle and ask Him to take residence (Centre sector) that it affects every sector of our being, His omnipotent presence in every facet of existence. Through moments of profound surrender, such as the week of silent communion, He draws near, establishing Himself as the focal point of our being. In this sacred union, I discovered a deeper understanding of both God and self, relinquishing control of my thoughts, behaviour, and mood to His divine guidance.

The words of Jeremiah 6:16 have resonated deeply within me. Even after more than forty years journeying alongside God, I continue to glean wisdom from its timeless counsel. I daily inch closer towards embracing the age-old pathways, where the rhythm of existence finds its resonance in divine centrality.  In this pursuit, I discover a profound serenity enveloping my soul, a testament to the restorative power of a life firmly anchored in God. In this text the ancient paths refer to faith, devotion, and honour to the one true God of Israel. These pathways, rooted in the gospel of Christ, offer a sanctuary of rest amidst life’s chaos. Matthew 11:28-30 extends a divine invitation to participate in this transformational journey, a journey characterized by an earnest pursuit of spiritual nourishment. For me this state of rest means soaking in Scripture more, listening to Christian messages, podcasts, worship music. In moments of extended travel, instead of subjecting myself to the whims of radio programming, I now manage a personalized worship playlist. This intentional choice enables me to arrive at my destination in a greater state of peace. I try to go somewhere green or blue most days to watch and be mindful of creation and the Creator. I acknowledge that this is only one side of the triangle, me, and God. Yet, this journey is not solitary; it extends an invitation for communal engagement. As I walk along the ancient paths, I find myself more attuned to the needs of others, extending an invitation for them to participate in this journey of transformation. Scripture directs us in greater detail and guidance to God’s workings. It shows us that these ancient paths are still relevant today and are accessible and relevant to all. They are a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

  • I am wondering when was the last time you spent an hour, a day, a week in silence, no distractions, just listening to your Lord?
  • What does Jeremiah 6:16 speak to you?
  • What does it mean for you to walk in the good way?
  • How do you seek to deepen your understanding and intimacy with God?  

Devotion – Connection – A Pathway to our Heart

Connection – A Pathway to our Heart

Leone Drew

May you have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long, and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ….

Ephesians 3:18

Some truly amazing things happen in nature.  When a grain of pollen lands on the stigma of a flower, it does not instantly fertilize it and cause the fruit to grow.  A pathway is first required to deliver the pollen into the heart of the flower.  The pollen must stimulate the growth of a pollen tube before it is able to access the hidden, deeper parts of the flower.    

Something similar and equally wondrous happens in the life of an infant.  As parents delight in and love their child, establishing an environment of consistent tender care and safety, a pathway is created into the heart of the child.  At the deepest level the child receives their loving care and is nurtured and established by it.  Who they are and a sure knowledge of their intrinsic value develops and grows.  Sadly, if a child does not receive gentle care and love, the formation of that pathway to their heart can be disrupted and the process of developing healthy identity and functioning fails to be set in motion.  The heart is starved of its own value and truth.  

It is so easy to assume that everyone is capable of receiving love.  The wording of Paul’s verse in Ephesians, indicates that he understood our capacity to experience God’s love can be weak or limited.  Since infancy my heart was isolated and without connection, with devastating consequences. Until I received care from a CWF practitioner who knew how to connect with an isolated, undernourished heart, I was unable to comprehend that I could be loved, and my heart was empty of identity and value.  I needed God’s healing and power to comprehend His love, just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians. It is just so important to love and affirm our children and ask our Father that He might give to us all the capacity to receive and be nurtured by His endless, boundless love. 

How is your pollen tube?

Devotion – Praying Hands

Praying Hands

Dr. John Warlow

How do you practice the presence of God in everyday life, in a proactive way, God Through You (GTY)? I can find myself so often living reactively to whatever is going on around me. I want to keep my thoughts in my mind circle on Christ, and on wholistic God centred transformation. I try to keep mentally engaged in prayer, however it can be a challenge when either my mind is too tired or it is drifting, as I’m doing the washing up.  I’m grateful for prayerful meditation during the day, but currently, I am trying to move towards a posture of ongoing prayer as well. I want to engage my body as well as my mind.

This is what I have found to be helpful. This is a simple exercise to help us physically meditate on God. You have 5 fingers on each hand. Touch/wiggle your thumb to remind you of the first of the 5 “P’s” of God, the Person of God. Do the same for each finger for the remaining four “P’s” of God: His Presence, Placement of you, Purposes for you and Provisions for you. You can also focus especially on one of the five “P’s” for each of the five days of the week: the Person of God on Monday, His Presence on Tuesday and so on. If you want to go further, there are actually thirty-five aspects of God under these five “P’s” to physically meditate on! Have a look at the CURE for Life Book 1, “The Shape of the Cross” (page 145), and again in the CURE for Life Book 3, “The Shape of the Cross Illustrates Scripture” (page 32). May you grow in the wholistic practice of the presence of God, even when you are busy or tired, and want to draw near to your Heavenly Father.

Devotion – Group of Women with Noble Character

Group of Women with Noble Character

Four Chinese Sisters

Many years ago, when LW was teaching in China, students meet regularly in Transformational (T) groups. These comprised 6 people, and a facilitator, over the 2 years of the course. SAP groups hadn’t yet been developed back then. After the course finished this is what a group of graduates decided to do:

“After learning about the CWF, we realized the importance of meeting together, so four sisters of us decided to set up a prayer group. We called it the Group of Women with Noble Character (GWNC). On the first meeting, we discussed the function of the group and identified the expectations of each person from the group. We also emphasized the need to meet in safety, and meanwhile we reminded ourselves that there are phases and seasons we will go through on the journey together.
We get together 2-3 hours each week, first worshiping and then sharing ups and downs during the week, and spending the rest of our time praying together for our spiritual maturity, for our families and work. When an emergency happens to a sister, we will put aside our work at hand to go together immediately to the sister’s home. One time Sister Gao called and told us in tears that she felt so lonely and scared because her doctor just told her something was seriously wrong with her brain. We then held her together and prayed for her situation asking for HIS healing. It turned out her brain was fine! Sister Gao was so grateful to the group for being with her at “the darkest hour”.
GWNC is a safe place with love and genuine relationship, and in the group we can just be ourselves. It is both attractive and precious!
Dear friends, have you set up your own prayer and sharing groups yet? How could yours look?”

Devotion – Twelve Angles on Discerning Gods Will for Your Life

Twelve Angles on Discerning Gods Will for Your Life

  1. Submission and Surrender 

At the end of the day, it comes down less to ‘what is the correct choice or path to take’ but more ‘Am I fully surrendered to you Jesus?’ He who tries to save his life will lose it but he who loses it for the sake of the gospel will save it. We need to be surrendered if we want to hear His will. If we are half surrendered, half still me-focused, we want the power still. Full surrender means fully open to His ways.  Because on the new road, He knows we will need to trust Him more, and walk hand in hand with Him more closely still, for it all to work. How surrendered are you?

  1. What is your heart’s desire? (Ps 37: 3-7)

He will have planted a desire in your heart which is like the instinctive capacity migrating birds have to find home. He has given you the vision, the calling, for your life, and will see it through with you. Don’t be afraid to take time to clearly hear your heart’s purest desire, and with this sense where it leads you. What is Your hearts highest calling?

  1. Scripture: General and Rhema 

The way ahead will always be congruent with the general will of God as declared in scripture. Maybe care for the poor; feed my sheep; share the good news and so on. Then there will often be Rheema words from scripture which confirm a particular direction. Seek Him in His Word, and He will show you.

  1. Opportunity for Kingdom Growth

Does the opportunity in front of you make Kingdom sense? Does it give God more glory? Does it facilitate the growth and expansion of His Kingdom in greater ways than currently? Or is it something that would be of benefit more for you? How can you usher the Kingdom in?

  1. Wise Counsel 

Seek wisdom from those who know you well. Don’t make big decisions alone but put them in front of those who will seek His will with you, those who are for you and for Him. Spend a session with such people in prayer, just waiting on God. This has been immensely helpful for my family at several significant times, as those we sat with offered their impressions which added up beautifully to a full picture. Seek counsel and prayer.

  1. Fasting 

The spiritual disciplines are all important in seeking His face. Solitude, silence, submission and so on. And yet there is nothing that seems to grant us greater access to His Spirit than the discipline of fasting. There are many ways of doing this – length of time, types of abstinence, solo or with others, and so on. Ask Him what He would have from you.  

  1. Holy Spirit Leading 

Ask for the leading of the Holy Spirit. For these major decisions, intently seek His clear voice and guidance. I have experienced this ever so clearly at major decision points in life, including dreams, hearing His audible voice, confirmation by 7 people when I just asked for 3, and so on. He loves you, He is for you, He is on your side. He will not give you a snake when you ask for a fish. Ask Him to lead you.

  1. Faith vs Obedience 

This is an interesting one worth mentioning and holding in balance. At some stages of our spiritual walk He seems to want to test our obedience. At others He seems more interested in our faith. At one of the biggest decisions of my life it was the latter…not so much a sense of I should obey His call but more He was inviting me to step out in faith. Of course it involved the release of His gift of faith to me, but it interested me that it wasn’t just a step of pure obedience that was called for. And in His wisdom He built my faith up to live confidently in this new paradigm. What is He calling you to – a step of faith or a step of obedience? 

  1. Is there a God Gap?

God Gap meaning the way ahead is only possible if God is with me. If I can do it alone then really there is not much Kingdom challenge here. If the new path looks in a way like sitting on a sailing boat at sea, only able to move if or when the wind arises; if it involves rock climbing antigravity style under an overhang, then these are times I must have the wind of His Spirit, or be held up by His hands against gravity, to move at all. It is living in this God Gap where, in my view, Kingdom life is most challenging, enjoyable, and eternally fruitful. What is your God Gap here?

  1. Building on Life Experience 

Look back over your life. What were your most significant life events, your sense of God and His journey so far with you, maybe key life scriptures. What is your hearts desire? Journal these. As you look back, what step or steps does it seem to make the most sense that you would take now in the journey, as prepared or inadequate that you feel. When I did move to Asia, so often afterwards I would be in awe at how He had already built experiences and learning into my life so I could do well what was required of me.

David, at 15, had life experience in defending sheep. Goliath was simply one more step along that path. There was a God Gap, where he needed faith, and obedience, (and loads of courage I imagine) which subsequently led to an amazing array of Kingdom events for the rest of his life. 

What are some of the main areas across your life, likely they are preparation for what He is inviting you to walk forwards in to? What was that investment for, if not for this next step?

  1. Timing 

Is it the right thing but not yet the timing? I have also experienced this. The major call was right, but suspended for several years until it was truly the right time to take the new path. This allowed those around me to adjust to the idea so when it was the right time they were on board. It also allowed me to be located in one place where I was needed for that season, then released for the new.  Be patient, wait on Him, don’t move until it is the right time. For me  I never looked back. How about you?

  1. Peace that Passes Understanding 

When we have taken the decision and begin the action steps that affirm to ourselves and others that we are taking a new way, there may be opposition, criticism, or objection. But like Nehemiah, we need to continue in faith. More than likely, even though there may be some doubts, deeper than that, we will know His peace that passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Likely you have thoughts and experiences which have helped you too. Do draw on your past walk with Jesus to inform your present and future!

My prayer for you is that you find:

His good and perfect will for you at every fork in the road, 
His loving and gracious presence in your heart at every step, 
His encouragement when times are tough, and 
His affirmation of a life well lived when you move to glory.

Don’t settle for less.

David Nikles
January 2024