Bring some Spirit-filled peace into your hectic schedule every weekday morning with this new Daily Devotional.
- Start your day with God
- Renew your spirit
- Refocus your faith
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'And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.'
We have three core principles for St Cuthbert’s Oratory. The first is that we walk in the way of God. If we imagine life as a road leading from birth to death, we have an invitation to follow God’s highway of holiness or build our own road through the landscapes of our life. As with any road along which we travel, we cannot help notice the landscape we pass through. We can also stop at any point, turn about and return from where we came, or keep moving forward, regardless of obstacles that are not of our own making.
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravensbring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”
“Why St Cuthbert’s Oratory?” is a question often asked of me. The simplest answer is that it’s what God has guided us to. A longer one is that it affords a home of prayer where we are able to practise the principles that provide the foundation for our Christian walk of faith and call into the contemplative life.
'Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.'
Research shows happiness doesn’t increase with earnings above £75,000. Certainly the lower one is below that threshold, unhappiness may increase. Yet money never buys happiness. The real art to living is finding contentment. This means knowing who I am and what I like to do.
'Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honour the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts.'
Growing up I had a loose relationship with the truth. I developed the habit of telling whatever story I thought stood the best chance of keeping me out of trouble. Lying became second nature. I also assumed most people behaved in a similar way and didn’t necessarily believe what they said either. I failed to hold myself or others with much respect. It was becoming a Christian that radically changed me and my approach. I had to let go of my instinctive lying and learn to navigate life with nothing but the truth.
'Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbours or speak evil of their friends.'
The tongue is the most challenging piece of our anatomy to control (James 3:2-12). Small it may be, yet its influence is profound. This is true when speaking to ourselves as much as when we speak to others. For how I address myself influences my mood and my self-esteem.
'Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.'
The word “blame” comes from the Latin meaning to blaspheme. I would certainly not want to blaspheme, or speak in opposition to God. Yet, here I discover that the way I live my life matters and blasphemy is reflected in my actions, not simply my words. The psalmist captures the fact that blameless lives are about the way we live, the actions we take and the words we use to communicate with God, ourselves and others.
'Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?'
Many years ago I made the mistake of compartmentalising my life. In the congregational gathering I was worshipping. In my quiet time I was praying. The rest of the time I was working and playing. It took quite some work to turn my knowledge that God was present in all of life into an experiential reality. Here the psalmist reminds us that to be present with God is the primary goal for God’s followers.
'The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.'
When it comes to speaking of the goodness of God, I must first experience something of the characteristics of God. We learn the character of God by looking at Jesus, God’s self-revelation in human and divine form. Jesus revealed God’s compassion for humanity (Matthew 9:36). He experienced the very real sorrow, sadness and distress of the vast sea of humanity that surrounded him throughout his ministry.
'Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.'
Many prefer to keep God away from daily life. To them, God is an object of religious interest or personal belief but not for our teeming streets and cities. Society wants a clear line of demarcation between doing God and doing life. Alastair Campbell, senior advisor to Tony Blair, interrupted an interview to announce that “We don’t do God”. More recently when Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to the TUC conference, concern was expressed across the media that he was ‘playing away from home’ in suggesting God, politics, business and industry have anything in common. Yet, if God is God, regardless of personal preferences, he is engaged in all of life.
'I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.'
When in something of a ‘blue’ mood, I find it difficult to summon the energy or cast my imagination to consider the glorious majesty of God. My failure to do so takes not one jot of glory away from God. It merely obstructs my ability to encounter him in the feelings that surround my immediate circumstances. Such feelings, moods, are the normal experiences we all have at times, some with a far greater intensity than others. While my mood takes nothing away from God, equally I am no less precious in God’s eyes or removed one inch from God’s heart of love because of my low mood. God loves us as he finds us.