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“Let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.”

January 5, 2023
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Daily Scripture

1.5.23 Micah 6:6-8, John 15:4-6, 8

Micah 6

6 With what should I approach the LORD
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
8 He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the LORD requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.

John 15

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. 6 If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned.
8 My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.

For further reflection on the history and meaning of Wesley’s Covenant Prayer, click here to read an article from UMC Discipleship. (Thanks to GPS reader Steve Bancroft for sharing the link.)

Daily Reflection & Prayer

More extremes—full to empty, all things to nothing. The key words in this part of the prayer, the phrase that sums up the inner meaning of praying all these nearly unreachable ends of the spectrum of life, is “I freely and heartily yield all things.” The Covenant Prayer is a way of saying, “I do not serve God for the sake of external rewards, whether material or psychological. I serve God because I accept that serving and worshiping God is the only fitting response of a created being like me.”

  • What do you make of John Wesley’s choice of “freely and heartily” as words to characterize the way you yield all things to God’s pleasure and disposal? You likely recognize Micah’s words in today’s Scripture as the foundation of our “BE” campaign last October-November. How did Micah 6:8 embody free and hearty service of God, as contrasted with the grudging, reluctant tone of verses 6-7 in that chapter? How can you translate that into your day-to-day walk with God?
  • Pastor Folmsbee captured the effect of freely and heartily yielding to God’s pleasure and disposal in a powerful phrase: “The Church does not have a mission; the mission has a Church. Therefore, God’s authority exceeds all, and we are to know it, believe it, and live it.” * As we renew our covenant with this prayer, we show that The Church of the Resurrection (much as many of us love it) is not an end in itself. How can you yield yourself, and your church, to God’s purposes?
Prayer

Creator God, may my life be marked by abandonment of my own interests and measured by my submission to you, simplicity, and faithful generosity toward others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

There are two promises I remember making on my wedding day.

The first promise happened just before I was ready to walk down the aisle. As the bridesmaids were in procession, I turned to my 3-year-old nephew, my ringbearer, and said, “Alright, it’s about time to walk down the aisle.” I immediately saw the look of terror on his face which was followed by a teary “No. I don’t want to do it. I’m not going to walk down the aisle.” I had just moments to rectify the situation. I had to reason with a 3-year-old the only way I knew how. I bribed him. “How about this? If you walk down the aisle like we practiced, I’ll get you a surprise later. Do you want a surprise?” The tears stopped and his little head nodded. It worked! He did a great job of walking down the aisle. The moment was saved because he knew there was a surprise waiting for him if he did his job.

The second promise I made was to my husband in front of a crowd of witnesses:

“I, Janelle, ask you, Brandon, to be my husband as my friend and my love. On this day I affirm the relationship we have enjoyed, looking to the future to deepen and strengthen it. I will be yours in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in failure and in triumph. Together we will dream, will stumble but restore each other, we will share all things, serving each other and our fellow humanity. I will cherish and respect you, comfort and encourage you, be open with you, and stay with you as long as we shall live, freed and bound by our love.”

This promise I made to Brandon wasn’t based on what I would be getting out of the relationship. It wasn’t tit-for-tat. It was a promise of how I would serve him and how, together, we would serve our fellow humanity. We committed to be a life-long team that day.

Those were two very different promises made that day. In reflecting on those promises, I think we can find two ways of interacting with God. Like a 3-year-old, we’re sometimes tempted to barter with God in our prayers. “God, if you just give me this one thing that I really want, I promise that I’ll never do this or I’ll always do that.” We treat God as a transaction. We try to bribe God to get our way. While this may be enticing, I don’t believe that a genuine relationship is formed out of a quid-pro-quo approach.

I think our interactions with God should more similarly reflect the second promise I made on my wedding day, a vow to serve and work together. We’re not meant to work for God with an expectation of something in return. We’re meant to be in relationship and work alongside God to bring goodness, hope, healing, and light to the world. My hope is that this year our promises to God will look less like bribes expecting something in return and look more like vows to work together.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Folmsbee, Chris. The Wesley Prayer Challenge Participant Book (p. 100). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.