What’s in a word…(week 2)

Gather together with friends or find a comfy place to meet with God.

Prayer: Begin with a few seconds of silence… breath in… breath out… Allow the cares of the day to be set aside and center your thoughts on God. Pray a prayer of praise to God as the author and creator of all Truth.

Touchstone Reminders: Last week we discussed touchstones to use as we learn how to live and be in community. We’ll practice hospitality by accepting each who comes exactly where they are, trusting God has brought us here for such a time as this. Please remember the sharing we experience here is a gift entrusted to us. We honor those gifts by practicing confidentiality. We want to keep what’s been shared as a sacred trust.

When we feel the need to respond in some way to one another it is not for the fixing or advising, but for the growing. Try to phrase your thoughts into a question that encourages us to deeper listening.

Listen to others, but more importantly listen to Holy Spirit’s leading in you. Try to focus your note taking or inner thoughts on what God is speaking to you through what is shared in this community.

Community:

Read Acts 2:1-4

What do you notice in this passage that speaks to community?

On the day of Pentecost, there was a gathering. Believers were all in one place when the Holy Spirit blew through their midst. Each one present was filled with the Spirit, and as a result they spoke in different languages.

This Scripture gives us a picture of how God works in a community of Believers. All gathered to serve one God, all experience one Spirit, and the result varied in the form of different languages.

It is the same with us. We gather to seek God. Holy Spirit inspires us as we listen. As a result each of us receives exactly what we need to be transformed and draw others to Him.

Take 2-3 minutes to read and reread the following quote. What words or phrases stand out to you?

For Christians, God is present in our hearts by his Holy Spirit, empowering us to become new people. The key, however, is that our new identity in Christ is both “now” and “not yet,” a promise and a present reality. For now, that presence is a promise and a beginning, a new self born but not yet perfected. Why not yet? Because the Holy Spirit doesn’t jump in and create a new self in us overnight or wave a magic wand to conjure up perfection. The project of growing into our new identity takes a lifetime, and a lifetime of cooperation on our part. It’s called sanctification. In one sense, we are Christians, and in another sense, we are still becoming Christians. God is both “already” and “not yet fully” present in us.

— Rebecca Konyndyk Deyoung, Glittering Vices

Why do those particular words or phrases stand out to you?

What new understanding does the quote give you about spiritual growth?

Our instant gratification culture leaves little room for the understanding that maturity happens little by little, moment by moment, in the ordinary living of each day. We are inundated with a life lived in the fast lane. Online orders arrive in two days or less, e-mails provide instant communication, and fast food is only considered fast if our wait is less than five minutes. Today’s technology is useful and wonderful in many ways, but it doesn’t translate well to maturing in the things of God.     

Practicing any spiritual discipline takes time. Focusing on a word for an entire year allows God to reveal truth in ways that sink deep and bring lasting transformation to our lives. Transformation, or sanctification, is a lifelong process. And sharing our spiritual life in community is like fertilizer for spiritual growth.

Carol says:

I walked the walk of faith alone for several years, this included regularly attending Sunday school and weekly worship along with any Bible study I could make. Even though this included others, I rarely shared the spiritual work happening in me. I kept the revelations and calls of obedience to myself, because no one else was talking about it. I just thought I was weird.

Then Stacy reached out to me in my weirdness when I took a t-shirt idea for the youth group to her as Youth Director. She came along side me in my walk with God and what happened amazed me. The rate of spiritual growth increased dramatically.

In my experience, spiritual growth occurs exponentially when we share our walk with God in community. Even if there are only two gathered together.

Share:

Think about your week of practicing the One Word discipline.

  • Did you receive a word, or are you still waiting?
  • If you received a word, what is it? What emotions rise surrounding your word? If you haven’t yet received a word, what emotions rise?
  • Where did your word come from? Where have you looked for a word?
  • What definition seemed to grab your attention about your word?
  • What thoughts come when you consider staying with it for an entire year?

Stacy says:

I waited a few weeks to speak aloud my word for 2019. There in the midst of humming embroidery machines I told the sister, “I think my word for the year is enlarge!” The word filled me with excitement. I loved the word.

She nodded her head and shared a Scripture with my word in it. I felt confirmed and ready to begin the year with enlarge. For the last three years I’ve been cocooned in the transformation of the one word enough.

Thirty six months… 1095 days…. I am like a butterfly freed from the confines of a long hard process and I am ready to fly!

In the waking hours of the next day I revel in the joy of leaving my cocoon and taking flight. And then, I notice something more. When butterflies leave their cocoon they don’t immediately fly off. Instead they rest, waiting for their wings to dry and getting used to more space.

Let the struggle begin. Could my word really be rest? No, nope, I don’t want that word. Really, God? Is this where you’re leading me because I like the word enlarge better. A host of emotions flood my thinking as I consider the word. Guilt, disappointment, dread. Because it is not my natural bent to rest. I’m an “enlarge it” kind of girl, not one who rests.

My word for this year is rest. Just typing it stirs up angst in me, and the struggle helps me make my choice. So much resistance to one word reveals to me I’m in need of transformation when it comes to rest. No, it is not my choice word, but I am trusting God’s way is much better than my own.

  • Did practicing this week’s discipline draw you closer to God? How? Or maybe it drove you away from God. Why?

Carol says:

My word for the year is Restore. It drew me closer to God as I asked Him: What is it you want to restore in me? to me? through me?

Since then, I’ve been listening.

Scripture Foundation for One Word:

Read Isaiah 55:8-11

Verse eight reads, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” Why do you believe God made this declaration first?

How does this passage apply to the One Word discipline as a means of preparing your heart for the spiritual growth God wants to bring?

What promise in this passage gives you hope?

Read Matthew 7:7-11

According to this verse what happens when we seek, ask, and knock?

How did Jesus emphasize God as the giver of all good gifts?

Choosing one word for the year and allowing God to use it takes time. We may think we understand the meaning of the word for us, but God in His infinite wisdom has so much more than we can imagine for each of us. He is faithful to speak in transforming ways and answer our desire to know Him better.

The Amplified version of Matthew 7:7 reflects the meaning of the original language: “Ask and keep on asking… seek and keep on seeking… knock and keep on knocking…” Becoming, transforming, sanctifying is God’s work in us, but we have a part to play. As we continue to cooperate in the process, our lives are changed. We will never be the same.

Whether you have received a word for the year or not, ASK God about your word, the one He’s given you or the one you’re waiting for. Don’t presume you know what He wants to do with the word He’s given you, and by all means, don’t presume He doesn’t have a word for you.

Close: Close your time with a prayer of blessing.     

May the God who makes all things grow bless you with a word to draw you closer to Him.

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