Whether you’re just looking for answers to spiritual questions,
have begun (or re-started) your spiritual journey,
or have been on your faith walk for many years,
we’d like to help you continue to
wrestle with your questions, find answers, and grow.
Following are some resources to assist you in your spiritual growth.
Word for the Week
Scripture Text: Genesis 40
Have you ever felt forgotten?
Or maybe, been forgotten?
Genesis 40 ends with Joseph in jail, forgotten. He has been a faithful servant and a blessing to those around him. While they were in jail together, he encouraged the chief cupbearer of Pharaoh by interpreting the cupbearer’s dream. Then he asked the man to remember him when he is restored to Pharaoh’s side. However, the chapter ends with these disheartening words, “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember him, but forgot him.”
Anyone who has gone through difficult times knows what it is like to feel forgotten, having to wait, and wait, to be noticed and for things to get better. I think of those in our congregation who have been out of work for months waiting for their resume to be noticed amid the stack on potential employers’ desks. I think of those waiting for medical test results or an okay from their insurance company so treatment can begin. I think of those who feel they’ve been unfairly treated by a parent, friend, boss, or coach and are hoping against hope that somehow things will improve. In relationships, workplaces, school, and just about anywhere we go, there can be and likely will be times when we feel we are just hanging out there on our own, forgotten.
Joseph certainly felt that way. The next chapter begins with the words, “After two whole years…” That’s how long Joseph is going to have to wait before the basic storyline of his life will begin to improve, and that’s after who knows how long he’s been waiting already. Still, he’s going to make the most of where he is as he waits. He’s going to keep on serving, keep on blessing, those around him. And, he’s going to keep on hoping. As his words to those whose dreams he interprets indicate, he’s learned that every good gift, like that of interpreting dreams, comes from God. He’s learned he can trust God, the Giver of every good gift. He will trust God’s faithful love, even as the waiting gets so long.
Joseph has been forgotten and, yet, Joseph has not been forgotten. People have forgotten him, but God will never forget nor forsake him. This was true for Joseph and it is true for each of us. God is at work for good in our lives and world, even when we cannot see it, even when we do not feel it. God is good and faithful and can be trusted, even when the waiting is long. God will never forget nor forsake you. His eyes are upon you, indeed, he is with you, wherever you are. His love for you is sure. With the Psalmist, we can say, “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 33:20-22)
Dear Lord, thank you for loving me. Forgive me for not always believing that it is true, for imagining that I must live this life and face life’s challenges on my own. Forgive me for not trusting your promises and your faithful, loving presence. Reassure me and inspire me with faith by your Holy Spirit that I may venture forward into this day with confident joy, knowing that you are with me, working for good in, through, and for me, to the glory of your name and the good of others, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Suggested Verses for Memorization and Meditation:
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22
Some Things to Try:
- Read/recite this week’s suggested verses out loud and notice what catches your attention. Repeat this process, taking time to be still and listen. Ask God to shape your attitudes and guide your actions.
- Read this week’s passage in Genesis (out loud, if you can). Be silent for a few moments and talk with God about what stands out to you, what ideas or questions come to mind. Read it through again, then sit still and ask God what his word, direction, encouragement is for you.
- Confess and ask God for forgiveness and help to trust him as you consider situations in which you are especially tempted to:
- not trust God’s faithful presence and love.
- not trust God’s timing and provision.
- imagine you are alone, on your own, as you face life’s difficulties.
- Make a commitment regarding how you will practice remembering who God is and who you are because God loves you (daily prayer; regular worship attendance, joining a small group at church, etc.).
- As we continue our fall season at church:
- Pray about who God is leading you to invite to church. Ask God to bring someone(s) to mind and pray daily for them. And, of course, invite them!
- Be in prayer about how God can use you to encourage others in your circles of relationships to connect with God and Salem.
- Prayerfully experiment with asking people about their experiences with God, the church, and/or with spiritual things. Look for opportunities to share your experience and to encourage them to take next steps forward in their life of faith.
- Pray regularly (daily would be great!) that God would bless us as a congregation and enable us to experience the joy of leading many more people to life-giving faith in Christ and meaningful engagement in the life and ministries of Salem.
Further Suggested Readings:
- Amos 8:4-7
- Psalm 113
- 1 Timothy 2:1-7
- Luke 16:1-13
Copyright © 2019 Word for the Week a devotional resource of Salem Covenant Church
This devotional offering will typically be based on the Scripture text for the upcoming Sunday’s sermon. While the weekly devotionals will be titled a Word for the Week, that last word might more aptly be spelled “weak.” For all our necessary and sometimes unnecessary attempts to be anything but, acknowledging our weakness and our need for God’s help is crucial. As Adam and Eve learned, though there are a great many things we can do, becoming gods is not one of them. We are not immortal, nor as powerful, wise, and wonderful as we sometimes like to pretend. Like Adam and Eve when they stepped out of the Garden, we find ourselves living in an unimaginably immense universe, one full of forces and challenges that, for all of our incredible abilities, have the capacity to impede, overpower, even annihilate us. We are vulnerable.
The Cross Walk
Spiritual Disciplines for the Lenten Journey
Lent is the path along which Christians have walked in preparation for Easter through the centuries.
It is a pilgrimage that Christ’s followers take knowing that when our hearts and lives are more fully ready, the depth and power of Christ’s death and resurrection can be experienced and lived out more fully.
With this intention, all are invited to commit to walking differently for the next 40 days.
Choose one or more of these disciplines and allow them to reshape the Lenten season for you.
Inward and Personal Disciplines:
- Spend at least 30 minutes in solitude (alone and silent) each day.
- Read a book for inner growth.
- Keep a journal of prayers to God, personal reflections, thoughts based on Scripture readings, and/or questions, etc.
- Make a list of people with whom I need to be reconciled. Pray for them and let Jesus guide me in my thinking, feeling, and acting toward them.
- Choose to de-clutter some part of your life (a room, a relationship, a commitment, a plan, etc.). Clean out some things. Simplify some things.
- Other promptings:
Outward and Social Disciplines:
- Plan to visit a “shut-in” neighbor or church member weekly.
- Write a letter of affirmation and gratitude once a week to a person who has touched my life.
- Begin to recycle waste from my home and workplace.
- Give blood and recall the cross.
- Say “NO” to something that is a waste of money and time.
- Other outward and social promptings: _____________________________
As a way of being accountable, I will either:
- Share my intentions for Lent with my fellowship group, Bible study, or ministry team at its next meeting, or
- Share my plan with at least one other person and share with that person my experience of Lent during Holy Week.
Rooted Devotional Exercises
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.
Rooted: be still and be rooted in the Lord.
Open your heart to God: give God praise; invite God’s Spirit to cleanse and fill you.
Open God’s Word: invite God to transform and guide you as you listen to his Word.
Talk with God: share your heart and mind with God, giving thanks for his love.
Enter: look to the day ahead, thanking God for his presence, power, and guidance.
Dedicate: commit yourself to God.
Remember: thank God for three things that made you smile today.
Embrace: breathe deeply and let God embrace you with his presence and love.
Share: cast your anxieties on the Lord, entrusting your cares and concerns to him.
Thank: give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love and faithfulness.
PRAYER AND SHARE (around the table or whenever there is opportunity)
What was one high and one low from today?
Where have you seen God at work? What are you grateful to God for today?
What is something you learned today?
Take time to give thanks to God and pray together.
What is something that surprised you or made you wonder today?
(based on what we used on the Ecuador Mission Trip 2016)
Back to the Basics
Back to BASICS Devotional Guide
BE STILL: Be still before God. Breathe deeply. Be present to God, as God is present with you. (Psalm 46:10)
ADORE: Offer praise and thanksgiving to God. (Psalm 100)
SHARE: Talk with God about the people and things on your heart and mind. (Psalm 62:8)
INVITE: Ask God to speak to you as you look to the Scriptures and listen for his Word.(2 Timothy 3:14-17)
COMMIT: Dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to God and to living out God’s call in your life. (Romans 12:1-2)
A Way to Listen
Listening Prayerfully to the Scriptures – Lectio Divina
Let anyone with ears to hear listen! Mark 4:9
Lectio Divina is an ancient method of listening to the Word of God. For centuries, people of faith have used this method to prayerfully open their hearts and minds to God’s Word. It can be practiced individually and/or together with others in a group and is a great way to seek insights and applications from the Holy Scriptures.
Key to the experience is trusting Jesus at his word when he said, Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. (Luke 11: 9-10) With this in mind, when you open the Bible, ask God to speak to you and trust the Holy Spirit to help you hear God’s Word for you as you seek it. Before reading the Bible passage each time, pray for God to open your heart to the Scriptures.
Here is the basic format:
1. Read the passage; ask God to speak to you and then sit quietly before God for a minute; then share with God (and others, if you are in a group) a word or phrase that stood out to you.
2. Read the passage; ask God to speak to you and then sit quietly before God for a minute; then share with God (and others, if you are in a group) the images, feelings, and thoughts that struck you (Lord, I was struck by …; I felt…; I saw or heard …).
3. Read the passage; ask God to speak to you and then sit quietly before God for a minute; then share with God (and others, if you are in a group and feel comfortable sharing this) what you hear as God’s Word to you (Lord, I hear you telling me to …).
4. After the previous steps, you may want to read through the passage one more time and then sit quietly for another five to twenty minutes (this can be a time for centering prayer or other types of prayer).
Further ideas to deepen your experience:
- In either your first or second time reading through the passage, read it in the larger context in which the passage is situated.
- Before reading through the second time, take time to study the passage. For example, look at the footnotes related to it in a study Bible or read what a commentary has to say about the text.
A Way to Pray
Long ago, Jesus offered what we now call The Lord’s Prayer as a guide to his disciples in answer to the question of how to pray. Many have found it helpful both as a prayer that can be prayed briefly while saying the words thoughtfully and as an outline for longer times of prayer. What follows is a quick overview of how I use the Lord’s Prayer in my own time with God each day.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. (Praise and thanksgiving) I reflect on who God is, how great God is, and how thankful I am to God. Often I reflect on what affirming God as “Our Father” says about who I am, who is in my family, how I ought to act in general, and how I should relate to others in particular.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Petitions) I pray for God’s blessing; I pray for God’s rule as King to become a reality in fullness for all. I bring before God the various people, places, and things that are on my heart. I pray God’s good purpose be done in and through me, my family, our church, and beyond. I can pray no greater prayer for anyone or anything than this.
Give us this day our daily bread. (Petition for provision) I ask God to provide what I need and what we need. I acknowledge in faith that God does provide all I/we need and ask for help in receiving the nourishment offered, especially as I take time to listen to the Scriptures.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Confession) I confess my sins to God, including my struggle to forgive others who I feel have wronged me. I pray for those I am having a hard time with, for those I suspect may be having a hard time with me, and for our relationship together.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Prayer for guidance) I pray for guidance, away from and out of destructive pitfalls, and toward and along the life-giving pathways of God’s loving purpose.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (Praise and commitment) Although these words may not have been part of Jesus’ prayer as recorded in the Bible, many have found them meaningful through the years, myself included. As I conclude my prayer with these words, I am reminded that my aim, my hope and my confidence are in God and God’s purpose, power, and glory.
And this is the boldness we have in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we have obtained the requests made of him. 1 John 5:14-15