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The Mystery of Surrender


SUNDAY, September 25
Jeremiah 18:1-6

“Like clay in the potter’s hand” (v. 6).

Although clay is extremely versatile and flexible, it must be flawlessly clean to respond properly to the potter’s creative hands. This powerful analogy speaks candidly to my heart as I am reminded of God’s sovereignty in the context of grace. I must be willing to surrender myself to God to become his desired vessel. Only a careful, honest self-examination will reveal the lumps that are impeding God’s desire to mold and transform me. I must take the corrective steps to wipe away the impurities and deficiencies of my heart and mind. I must allow God’s Word to convict me of arrogance, of unrealistic worries and fears, of white lies, of insensitive arguments, of unresolved anger, of unkind words. God is my potter and as he turns the wheels of my circumstances—victories and failures, friendship and isolation, invitations and rejections, enthusiasm, and laziness—he is shaping me into the vessel he wants me to be. 

Dear God, mold, transform, and purify me, make me an earnest vessel. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PRAISE GOD IN ALL THINGS

The Mystery of Obedience


MONDAY, September 26
Psalm 1

The psalmist states the rewards of obedience to God’s law. True obedience means understanding and listening with the heart. It means genuine acceptance and moving from belief to behavior. Our human tendency is to regard God’s commandment as restrictive and confining.

Obedience to God requires courage, but it engenders freedom from shameful hidden secrets. “For the word of God…exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT). God’s Word asks me to take a careful look at the way I think, feel, and act. It challenges me to unmask and confront my own self-deceptive ways and to examine my longings. It summons me to flee from seeking social approval and to confess my careless use of time and resources. The law of the Lord casts off my false pretensions, inviting me to be safely vulnerable and authentic.

Dear God, let your Word expose my wrongful ways. Amen.

The Mystery of Idolatry


TUESDAY, September 27
Deuteronomy 30:15-20

God’s people were preparing to enter the promised land, and the danger of becoming arrogant, self-sufficient, and greedy was imminent. Idolatry is more than worshiping images and false gods. Idolatry starts in the heart—craving, yearning, and treasuring anything more than God. The apostle Paul calls it greed or covetousness, a disordered longing (Colossians 3:5). Greed is a subtle idol with many colors, shapes, and faces. 

Idols are rooted in our emotions, so when something we love is threatened, we protect it and justify it. Even noble things can become idols if we allow them to be our masters. Anything that lures us away from God is a potential idol: prosperity, competence, appearance, education, relationships, success, food, and comfort. Our hope in the face of idolatry is our choice for repentance and confession. 

Dear Holy Spirit, break me free from the threatening idols in my life. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: NATIONS EMBROILED IN CONFLICT AND WAR

The Mystery of Dying


WEDNESDAY, September 28
Luke 14:25-33

“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (v. 33, NIV).

A true disciple must renounce everything. Jesus’s words are radical and solemn. Being his disciple demands an unyielding commitment to give up everything. Christian discipleship is a relentless journey of renunciation, confession, accountability, self-examination. Jesus asks not what I have to offer but instead if I am willing to give up everything that I arrogantly think I could offer. Thus, I must die to my fabricated self—the person I create to meet the demands of acceptance from others. Dying to this deceptive self is refusing to protect and uphold the disguises I use to escape from uncomfortable truths. It is letting Jesus unfold my blind spots, allowing him to reveal the shortcomings that block the vision of my true self. The mystery of dying entails emptying my broken self into God, the Creator and Author of my life.

Jesus, create in me a new heart so that I may die to my own deceits. Amen.

The Mystery of Reconciliation


THURSDAY, September 29
Philemon 1-21

“Yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love” (v. 9b).

The gospel of Jesus Christ brings together people of diverse back-grounds and personalities, generating the likelihood of tense relationships. Paul, an apostle, writes to Philemon, a Gentile, advocating for Onesimus, a slave. He persuades Philemon to forgive Onesimus who had wronged him. The letter is cleverly addressed to Philemon and to other members of the church because the matter of forgiving Onesimus and accepting him as a brother in Christ was a matter of community witness. Paul’s plea for reconciliation is based not on any equality laws but on Christian love. 

We live in a hostile world of racial prejudice, social injustice, narcissism, and hatred. Change is needed. Perhaps it may happen when we are all convicted of our hidden racial and cultural intolerances and when we confess selfishness and sense of superiority. 

Dear Lord, help me to be compassionate and forgiving, as a witness of your love. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PEOPLE SEEKING SAFETY FROM WAR

The Mystery of Contentment and Gratitude


FRIDAY, September 30
Psalm 16:1-6

“Every good thing I have comes from you” (v. 2).

King David’s prescription for healthy living is utterly recognizing that God is the source of life, goodness, safety, and provision. A fulfilled life lies in unpretentious contentment and gratitude for God’s blessings, declining any sense of entitlement or deserved privileges. A genuine dependence in God is a worthy principle to regulate our health, finances, relationships, and community life. When we are grateful and content, we are free to be noble stewards of our talents and resources. We are also free of superfluous grumbling and complaining. Cultivating a grateful heart endows the mind and body to manage difficult circumstances. Being thankful helps to reduce toxic emotions like guilt, regret, bitterness, envy, desolation, apathy, and resentment. Expressing gratitude in a journal has been proven to decrease depression and anxiety. In this psalm, David has given us medicine for the heart and the mind. 

Dear Lord, lead me through the healthy path of contentment. Amen.

The Mystery of Eternity


SATURDAY, October 1
Psalm 16:7-11

“You will not abandon my life to the grave” (v. 10).

King David had the confidence of God’s care beyond life. A settled hope, not a simple wish. David trusts God’s daily blessings and the assurance of his presence through eternity. The pandemic has exposed the fragility of our human nature and the cruel inevitability of physical death. Although my faith reassures me of the gift of eternal life, I confess that I am weak and distressed when I think of death. My hope rests in knowing that I must trust the mystery of eternity while I endure this present life. Therefore, I can choose to be joyful and embrace the warmth of ordinary days. I can choose to manage life’s predicaments, my body aches, the imperfections in my relationships, my upsetting mistakes, the interruptions of wars, hurricanes, fires, climate change, world hunger, dictatorships, and animal cruelty. Yes, resilient hope for eternal life must still face the reality of sin. 

Dear Lord, show me the joy of eternal life. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: COUNTRIES RECEIVING WAR REFUGEES 

 

About the Author

  • Pia Peña Restrepo

    I am an ordained Covenant pastor and missionary serving with my husband, Eugenio, as regional coordinators to Latin America and the Caribbean. I enjoy reading, painting, writing, walking, swimming, and playing table games. I like coffee, raspberries, vegetable gardens, mango salsa, gel pens, white elephants, art galleries, fun shoes, lentil soup, warm socks, fresh cilantro, and spending time with family and friends. I am thankful for God’s presence in my life, for opportunities to serve and learn, and for the joy and hope I find in God’s Word. I am thankful for our daughter, Paulina, and son-in-law, Ross, for our son, Effy, and for Alithea and Elise, our twin granddaughters.

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