Weekly Devotionals

Here to Inspire and Encourage!

Devotionals for Graduate Students

Five Ways to Cultivate a Friendship with God: share it with a friend of yours.

  1. Remember that God has taken the big initiative in his calling you into your full humanity. This is the narrative of redemption, one significant act after another of calling us to return to him, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. Abraham was a friend of God and responded to his call. Love is primary; power is secondary with Yahweh: He invites us into faithful covenant friendship and partnership towards a new humanity, a better world.
  2. He offers us intimate counsel and advice in life along the path of wisdom and holiness. Obedience to his ways is integral to the friendship: Jesus said “If you love me, you will walk in my truth, step into my life and let me light the path ahead.” Grace is on offer for this process through the Holy Spirit. 
  3. Prayer is a two way communication with our loving Father. We listen and we speak in dialogue with the Creator. This is most effective when we practice gratitude and praise before we lay out our needs and requests. We can pray the Psalms which speak of every imaginable human emotion and situation. Their main trajectory is a fruitful life well-lived, authentically, one geared to honouring God. Often as we read and meditate on Scripture, something profound will dawn on us.
  4. Open your heart to his transforming love. Make him central to all you think and do. Know that he is good and has intentions to bless you as well as discipline you into good habits and virtues. Know that he cares about your significant relationships, that he is the God of comfort during loss, sorrow and hard times.
  5. Invite his presence into your daily studies, debates and discussions. This will enhance your creativity, energy and critical insight. Claim his promises to be for you and with you daily, to show you the way through your project. God is interested in your thesis proposal as well as you dissertation conclusion.

Psalm 92. 

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
    I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
    how profound your thoughts!
Senseless people do not know,
    fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
    and all evildoers flourish,
    they will be destroyed forever.

But you, Lord, are forever exalted.

October 1, 2021

The devotional theme for this week is reconciliation, appropriate to Canada’s newest holiday National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. Reconciliation involves honesty, humility and forgiveness as practiced, committed virtues. Dr. Ray Aldred’s talk to the GFCF forum last March hit a strong chord on this theme: 410 people have watched the video on YouTube since https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5eiR1F8XWE . We Canadians are in the sober process of reckoning with the sins and injustices of the past and present and moving towards making things right. Romans 5: 6-11 shows how God made the first move on reconciliation. He championed it.

  • Greater humility is associated with greater physical health, greater mental health (self-esteem, gratitude, forgiveness), academic performance, job performance, generosity and helpfulness. People experience more  positive romantic relationships, form and repair social bonds more readily, and are less anxious about death and more compassionate, experience less spiritual struggle. (Mark McMinn, The Science of  Virtue, 104). Mark is a professor of Positive Psychology who believes in the cultivation of the virtues for our overall wellbeing.
  • Forgiveness: Researchers at Duke Medical School observed the connection between forgiveness, pain and psychological distress appear to be mediated by anger, which suggests that forgiveness may help to reduce pain and distress. L. Gregory Jones,  an expert in this area of reconciliation, has written Embodying Forgiveness. People seem to recover from surgery faster and live longer as they practice forgiveness.

Three Axes of the Reconciliation Posture

  • Beliefs about the value of human life, the respect that is due to others, and what this will cost us, and how it places a demand on us.
  • Beliefs about what kind of life is worth living, the Noble/Good Life. This set of ideals permeates all our choices and actions.
  • The dignity we afford ourselves and others, which is based on how we understand our role and usefulness to society, and our place or calling within the larger scheme of things. 

In the quest for mature happiness, rich freedom, human flourishing, resilient identity and substantive meaning, amidst the suffering and tragedy of a broken world, the West is not without a response from its own philosophical, cultural, and spiritual tradition. Agape love posits a stance towards self and the world that is morally courageous and life-affirming, yes, even heroic, enhancing the common good and promoting the wellbeing of the community. It offers to reduce violence, promote justice and improve an individual’s mature responsibility for self and others—in line with a mature happiness that is virtue-, character- and principle-driven. It offers the motivation to do the good that one knows to be part of their better self—addressing our troubling current moral gap.

Here we come back to the compassion that must be formed in one’s heart, a compassion that comes out of a deep experience of solidarity, in which one realizes that the evil , sin and violence that one sees in the world and in the other, are deeply rooted in one’s own heart. Only when you want to confess this and want to rely on the merciful God who can bring good out of evil are you in a position to receive forgiveness and also to give it to other men and women who threaten you with violence. Precisely because Thomas Merton had discovered this nonviolent compassion in his solitude could he in a real sense be a monk, that is to say, one who unmasks through his criticism the illusions of a violent society and who wants to change the world in spirit and truth.   ~Henri Nouwen

October 6, 2021

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will not walk in darkness.” Darkness refers to moral/spiritual/identity confusion and misdirection. Jesus is larger, more real and more amazing than any human imagination could construct. That’s why these metaphors are so powerful—exploding in our minds like a supernova. The divine logos became flesh and built a whole new community and a whole new humanism rooted in agape love (Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual). He filled bios with his life (zoe) in such a way that believers could be like spontaneous  rivers of living water gushing forth to give spiritual life and hope to others. They see with fresh eyes at his dawn and they should awaken the world. 

Jesus, the energy behind the universe, offers to light up our very humanity, to offer sound and wise direction, improve our goals, purposes. This brings with it hope and clarity of mind and a sense of calling to accomplish the good. He also exposes, repels and disperses corruption, lies and dark motives in our hearts. In his light, we can see better, live better, be better. Corrupt people don’t want the lights on to reveal what they are doing in their back room deals and Ponzi schemes. They don’t want anyone to expose their propaganda, their cheating of the system (Pandora Papers). Deprived of such heavenly light, culture spirals into social decay.

Living in the light of Christ means to live in love, goodness and truth. It is full of colour, inspiration, creativity. Jesus is the nexus between heaven and earth, the presence of God among us. Lord we pray that you will search our hearts to expose the corners of darkness and despair. Wake us up spiritually by your light, your vision for our lives. Please light the way forward for us and lead us in those eternal paths that you speak about in Proverbs. Transform us daily  and shape us by your light and life. Enlighten our research and give us insight and the articulate grasp. Sharpen our minds. Make us a light to our colleagues and the students we teach. Make us signposts of your kingdom on earth.

As George Steiner in Real Presences might put it, this renews the covenant between word and world, heaven and earth. It is a wager on transcendence, on the presence of God in our lives, in our world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwYuKlbk6BQ&list=RDRwYuKlbk6BQ&start_radio=1 Amanda Cook, So Will I (a 100 billion X)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqOgyNfHl1U ‘IF’ by Rudyard Kipling read by Michael Cane

October 20, 2021 Strength in Weakness: Through prayer, God is available to us in our weakness and need for wisdom.

Psalm 28 Of David.

To you, Lord, I call;
    you are my Rock,
    do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
    I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
    as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
    toward your Most Holy Place.

Do not drag me away with the wicked,
    with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
    but harbor malice in their hearts.
Repay them for their deeds
    and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
    and bring back on them what they deserve.

Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord
    and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
    and never build them up again.

Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
    be their shepherd and carry them forever.

A Prayer to Start Your Day in Faith and Openness to God’s Grace

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