Week One: Growth
Ways to begin studying scripture in your daily life:
There are 150 Psalms – read one a day and reflect upon words of hope, lament, courage, and God’s presence and provision.
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the stories of Jesus’s birth, life, and teaching, death, and resurrection. Read a gospel a month beginning with Matthew.
Learn to interpret the message of truth correctly. It is vital to study more of the Bible’s overarching message and not just snippets here and there.
One way to approach the scriptures is to practice Lectio Divina (“divine reading”). It is a way to open up what God might be saying to you in scripture. Here are the steps: Read the passage 4 times by following these steps:
- Read – What word or phrase speaks to you?
- Meditate – What does your word or phrase mean to you?
- Pray – How is God calling you to act in response to this passage?
- Contemplate – Silently reflect.
Start a Lectio Divina text group: Get several of your friends together & pick passages for the week. Each day, text each other a word or phrase that speaks to you and why.
What does it take to move scripture from the page to your heart? One way is to choose a simple passage and commit it to memory. Psalm 23 or John 3:16-17 are two familiar passages to try. Memorizing scripture is a way to implant within our head and our hearts something to turn to in times of challenge. Find a favorite passage and commit it to memory.
Obtain a shoebox or photo box. Using colored paper, markers, ribbon, family photos, etc. decorate the box to represent your family and your faith journey. Write some favorite Bible verses of colorful strips of paper and place them in the box. (The Psalms with their praises are a good place to start). One a day – at mealtime – pull out a scripture and share aloud. Have older children and youth find the passage in the Bible. Thank God for the gifts of family, Jesus, and scripture.
Week 2: Worship
Ways to practice worship in your daily life:
- Worship is not limited to one hour each week. Psalm 96 invites us to express gratitude for God’s saving work “every single day.” The apostle Paul similarly urged Colossian Christians to “overflow with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7) and “be thankful people” (Colossians 3:12-17).” Each day and hour of our week can be a time of gratitude, an ongoing act of worship.
- The Greek root of the word “Eucharist” means “to give thanks.” Take a few minutes and read Luke 22:14-19. As you read, picture Jesus eating with his disciples, with the cross just ahead. On what realities do you think he focused to be able to “give thanks” at that moment? Look for ways where you can include the healing, strengthening power of gratitude in your prayers, even in hard times.
- There is so much to be grateful for, but we often fail to recognize it. Take time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. Walk outside and pick up a rock and place it in your pocket. Use it as a reminder to give thanks throughout the day. Write down instances when this rock was a reminder to give thanks.
- It can be easy to let the minutes and hours pass without taking time to stop and give thanks. Be intentional about noticing all the things, big and small, that you have to be grateful for. Set the timer on your phone to go off every hour during the day and take a moment and give thanks for what you are grateful for in that moment.
- Think about someone who has taught you something valuable. It may be a school teacher, a family member, someone at church. Take this opportunity to reflect on how their words and actions have changed you. Write a thank-you note or an email and send it to them.
-Let dinner be a time of worship, sharing the ways in which you have seen God at work in your day. Go around the table and let every person share a moment that they are thankful for, or a way in which they have seen God in their day. End with a prayer, thanking God for being present throughout your day.
Week 3: Service
Ways to practice service in your daily life:
Read Matthew 25:31-40. In Jesus’ story, those he said had helped him were surprised. “When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?” They saw need, not a chance for reward. What can help you learn to see in the faces of the people you meet, especially those who are outcast or hurting, the face of Jesus? When have you found the freedom and joy that comes from blessing others because you know God cares about them?
We all know that life gets messy, and in our hurry we might be overwhelmed with all that we have to do and cleaning becomes the furthest from our minds. Spend some time decluttering a space in an effort to allow to allow a little space to breathe. Maybe do a chore that isn’t yours, pick up trash around your neighborhood, or go through a closet and get rid of a few things.
None of us agree on everything, and there is always something that we can learn from someone else. John Wesley reminded us, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” Take the time to connect with someone who thinks differently than you on an issue- give of your time by listening to them. How can you show love to this person? Pray for God to open your heart and mind to show love.
Think of a time someone served you. How did their gift free you to attend to what you needed to do? How did it make you feel? Send them a thank you note for the gift they gave. When we reflect on how someone offered grace and love to us, it inspires us to live a life of service.
Call a charity of your choice and ask one of these questions: What is your greatest need right now? How can I volunteer my time? How can I pray for your team or your volunteers? Think about ways in which you can be in service in our community and commit to volunteering.
Serving others helps build relationships that honor and glorify God. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Gather your family for a late night drive out to the country. Find a place where the sky is dark and the stars shine through the darkness. Invite everyone to try and count the stars. Discuss the difference the stars make in the night sky. Imagine what the sky would look like without the stars. Share ideas about ways each of you can be lights in the darkness for God by serving others. Pray and ask God to help you.
Week 4: Give
Ways to practice living generously, giving cheerfully in your daily life
“For Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will be Also” Matthew 6:19-21
When the church starts to talk about money, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the church budget? Budgets are needed, they help us achieve mission and purpose. It is specific goals? Specific programs? Of course ministry needs financial support, but you knew that. As Christians, however, our first consideration must be discipleship. What does it mean to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ in relation to our financial resources? Jesus said, “Strive first for the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). Striving first for the kingdom of God includes engaging in giving as an act of devotion to God and as an act of discipline in our own Christian walk of discipleship.
- One way to deepen your discipleship through giving is to take the time to reorder your priorities. Ask yourself, “Am I living in accordance with the way of God’s kingdom”? Being good stewards should center upon God. Autumn is a good time to pause, reflect, and place God at the center of your life once more. Faithful Giving: What have you stored up that you don’t need? Go through a cabinet, a drawer, a book case, a closet. What is there that you no longer need that someone else could benefit from? Gather these things up and take them to a local charity.
- What might it look like for you to reorder your giving? One way to order your financial house is to use the 10-10-80 plan: give the first 10 percent of your income as first fruits to God; save the second 10 percent for your future; live off the remaining 80 percent. Whatever the percentage is that might work for your household, offering God the first fruits, not what is left, is a reordering of priorities that engages giving as devotion and discipleship. Faithful Giving: Read Matthew 6:19-24 and pray about who do you serve, God or wealth? (Remember, wealth in and of itself is value neutral, but Jesus said putting wealth at the emotional center of your life is not). What is your 10-10-80 plan?
- The story of the Widow’s offering (Mark 12:41 -44) is a story when Jesus notices a small gift from a big heart. Read the story and reflect on what is at the heart of this ‘heart’ story. The woman gave all she had. Most of us are not in the position of being able to sacrifice our entire paycheck because we have mortgages, taxes, fees, tuition, gas, property maintenance, retirement needs etc. Faithful Giving: There may be things we can sacrifice throughout our week that we never even realize. For example, a small pumpkin spice latte for $4.95 equals 22 meals through Feed My Starving Children, for $4.85. Jesus wants us to recognize that our money is an extension of who we are and what we value in life. What daily ‘need’ might you sacrifice as a way to honor and glorify God through helping others?
- Encourage your family to give thanks daily to God for your many blessings. Read Psalm 100. Create a Thanksgiving collage. Gather a piece of colored poster board, some magazines, a few markers and some glue or tape. Invite everyone to draw pictures and write words representing what they are thankful for on the poster board. Add some cut-outs from magazines, too. Consider leaving some blank spaces so family members can add onto it through the week. Write a verse or two of Psalm 100 on the poster board. Each day, take a moment to give thanks to God for all your blessings and celebrate every day.
Week 5: Sharing, Faith in Action
This Weeks Scripture: James 1:22-24 “But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.”
Ways to put your faith into action in your daily life
- The power of the Holy Spirit is with us and often can nudge us to reach out to someone in a time of need. Sometime today, ask God to bring to mind someone you know who needs a word of encouragement. Pull out your phone at that moment and send a text of encouragement to the first person that comes to mind, or send a card to the person who is on your heart. You might be surprised at what a profound impact it might make to them and to you.
- We live in a world of constant surplus. Take some time to de-clutter your house and donate used clothes, toys, kitchen items, canned food, etc to a local mission outreach. This will not only help you be able to put into perspective how blessed you are, but will also help bless someone else.
- Our local charities are always looking for donated items that will help others. Call Parker Task Force or SECOR to see what items they are in need of and drop it off at their locations. Schedule an appointment to come and check out their mission work and see the ways in which you might be able to volunteer your time to help those in need in our community.
- Get to know your neighbors. Is there a way in which you might be able to bless their lives by helping them out? See if there is a single mom, a widow/er, or an elderly couple that could use your help getting their yard or house ready for winter. Or maybe just take over some cookies and let them know that you care about them.
Take a walk around your neighborhood, or go to a popular trail in your community. Make sure that everyone in your family has a trash bag and pick up the trash that you see. See who can collect the most trash. As you are walking, pray for those who will be using the trail, that God will speak to them through the beauty of his creation, and give thanks that God has allowed you to serve others in this simple way.