Discerning God’s Will (kairos)

(Photo credit here)

S (Scripture): Isaiah 11:
1 A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse;
a branch will sprout from his roots.
2 The Lord’s spirit will rest upon him,
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of planning and strength,
a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
3 He will delight in fearing the Lord.
He won’t judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay.
4 He will judge the needy with righteousness,
and decide with equity for those who suffer in the land.
He will strike the violent with the rod of his mouth; by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be the belt around his hips,
and faithfulness the belt around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
the calf and the young lion will feed together,
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow and the bear will graze.
Their young will lie down together, and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
8 A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole;
toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den.
9 They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.
The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, just as the water covers the sea.


(Photo credit here)

O (Observation):  God’s people, during the time of the prophet Isaiah, had little hope for themselves.  Neighboring forces were closing in on God’s people of Judah, and they felt abandoned by God.  Yet in this text, God reassures them that even though God was correcting them for their misdeeds, God was not abandoning them.  Much like children being scolded by their parents, God scolds Israel out of love and compassion for the people…that they might follow the path of mercy, grace, and justice.  That God’s people might follow God’s lead, and not simply serve their own base desires.  

So the image of the “stump of Jesse” is brought forth.   King David’s father, Jesse, was in a line of succession of God’s favor – not by anything Jesse had done, but by God’s divine blessing.  This blessing goes all the way back to Abraham, and God choosing to make a great people of Abraham’s lineage.  From Abraham to Jesse to David (Jesse’s son) to Jesus…God brings hope to God’s people.   

And in the end, even nature itself and all animals will become docile and plentiful.  Killing will be no more.   Danger will be no more.  And abundant life eternal will fill the earth.   

A (Application):  How badly do we wish to control our destiny?   We hold so tightly to our own worldviews that we would rather cause someone else harm, than let someone change our mind.   

What would this world like like if we would allow ourselves to follow God’s lead and not just our own?   Sounds good, but how do we do that?

I think God’s people in Isaiah’s time – just like us Christians today – have a hard time seeing God around us.   So what do we do?   

I like to use a tool called the “Circle” (pictured above).  The circle is a guide for us to use when we are discerning God’s  will for our lives.  This discernment is best done within a trusted group of fellow disciples.   Sometimes the words will be challenging; sometimes the words will be an invitation to listen more deeply to the grace God is already giving you.    You dwell on a moment in which you sense God knocking on the door and share that with the group – we call this a “kairos” moment.  You discuss this kairos together and share how the Scriptures or personal stories can further inform the kairos.

Once the kairos is discussed (which is basically discerning what God is saying to you) then you make a plan to act and be held accountable to the group (which is to discern what God wants you to do).   Again, this works best in the midst of a group of trusted disciples, where you can be vulnerable to sharing the kairos moments with others and trust that God is speaking through this group.   

Our tendency – like that of God’s people in the Isaiah text – is to move forward without fully contemplating what God was up to.  The prophet Isaiah was present to speak up on God’s behalf.  Now, we have the Spirit to help us discern.  And we can do this in groups that I have worked with called “huddles.”

I’ve been in groups like this and I’ve led them.  They work extremely well.   We cannot go this journey as disciples all alone.  Guidance and care from fellow disciples is critical.  Jesus gathered the 12 to lean on one another.  He led them so that they would lead others in figuring out how to respond to God’s calls.  

I see wisdom in discerning God’s will in groups, so that what guides us is not our own egos, but the Spirit of God.   

Let me know if you’d ever like to be in such a group.  I have led them online and in person.  Peace!

P (Prayer):  Lord, get us out of our own way, and let your will be done in our lives.  Amen.  

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Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

  S (Scripture): Jeremiah 36:25 The king (Jehoiakim) did not even listen to Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, who had urged him not to burn the scroll. 26 He also ordered Jerahmeel, who was one of the royal princes, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the scribe Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. However, the Lord hid them.
27 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah after Jehoiakim had burned the scroll containing what Jeremiah had spoken and Baruch had written down. 28 “Get another scroll and write on it everything that was written on the original scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned…”
32 Then Jeremiah got another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah. As Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on this scroll everything that had been on the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned in the fire. They also added on this scroll several other messages of the same kind.

O (Observation): King Jehoiakim didn’t like the words of condemnation written on the scroll that he eventually burned…the words foretold of the Babylonians coming and taking control of Jerusalem and the entire land of the Israelites.  

Was the king holding on because of pride?  Was he clinging to power and control?  Was he being brave in trying to take a stand?  

Seems like his pride was getting the better of him.  Seems like he was trying to hold on to a position of power, rather than power that comes from a Gospel movement.  

Taking a stand is okay when it is for the Gospel.   But when it is only out of pride or positional power…then perhaps that stand is for naught.  

A (Application):  How can one look at this text through the lens of “Give us this day our daily bread.”?  My devotions of late have me looking at the scriptures through the various petitions of The Lord’s Prayer. 

The idea of Daily Bread is much more than just food.  An expanded understanding of Daily Bread can include all that we need to be sustained in this life.  That includes provision of safety and anything else that God wishes to put forth.  

In today’s text, Jeremiah and Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe) are to be arrested, but for the time being, The Lord’s Provision comes in the form of hiding Jeremiah and Baruch.   

The king decides to burn the scroll that The Lord called Jeremiah to write out…but once again, The Lord provides.   They get another scroll, and The Lord’s Provision comes through again.  

No matter what the circumstances, The Lord will provide a way.   And even though people (including you and me) can get in the way, The Lord still finds a way to provide.  

That provision may not always be what we expect.  Imagine if you were the king.   What would provision look like?  Defeat!  Exile!  But then, for us sitting here in 2015, we know what eventually happens…God’s people are brought back from their Banylonian exile (another provision from the Lord).   And eventually, the stump of Jesse shoots forth to bring us the Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Good stuff.  God provides…just not always in a manner that we expect.  

P (Prayer): Lord, Provider, give us this day – and every day – our daily bread.  Amen. 

Give Is This Day Our Daily Bread

  S (Scripture): Jeremiah 36:25 The king (Jehoiakim) did not even listen to Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, who had urged him not to burn the scroll. 26 He also ordered Jerahmeel, who was one of the royal princes, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the scribe Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. However, the Lord hid them.
27 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah after Jehoiakim had burned the scroll containing what Jeremiah had spoken and Baruch had written down. 28 “Get another scroll and write on it everything that was written on the original scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned…”
32 Then Jeremiah got another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah. As Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on this scroll everything that had been on the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned in the fire. They also added on this scroll several other messages of the same kind.

O (Observation): King Jehoiakim didn’t like the words of condemnation written on the scroll that he eventually burned…the words foretold of the Babylonians coming and taking control of Jerusalem and the entire land of the Israelites.  

Was the king holding on because of pride?  Was he clinging to power and control?  Was he being brave in trying to take a stand?  

Seems like his pride was getting the better of him.  Seems like he was trying to hold on to a position of power, rather than power that comes from a Gospel movement.  

Taking a stand is okay when it is for the Gospel.   But when it is only out of pride or positional power…then perhaps that stand is for naught.  

A (Application):  How can one look at this text through the lens of “Give us this day our daily bread.”?  My devotions of late have me looking at the scriptures through the various petitions of The Lord’s Prayer. 

The idea of Daily Bread is much more than just food.  An expanded understanding of Daily Bread can include all that we need to be sustained in this life.  That includes provision of safety and anything else that God wishes to put forth.  

In today’s text, Jeremiah and Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe) are to be arrested, but for the time being, The Lord’s Provision comes in the form of hiding Jeremiah and Baruch.   

The king decides to burn the scroll that The Lord called Jeremiah to write out…but once again, The Lord provides.   They get another scroll, and The Lord’s Provision comes through again.  

No matter what the circumstances, The Lord will provide a way.   And even though people (including you and me) can get in the way, The Lord still finds a way to provide.  

That provision may not always be what we expect.  Imagine if you were the king.   What would provision look like?  Defeat!  Exile!  But then, for us sitting here in 2015, we know what eventually happens…God’s people are brought back from their Banylonian exile (another provision from the Lord).   And eventually, the stump of Jesse shoots forth to bring us the Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Good stuff.  God provides…just not always in a manner that we expect.  

P (Prayer): Lord, Provider, give us this day – and every day – our daily bread.  Amen.