Dear Calvary Family,
There’s a wonderful ministry called Soul Shepherding that is run by Bill and Kristi Gaultiere that helps care for the souls of pastors and other ministry leaders. They are amazing people and have been a gift to many of us at Calvary Church. They had a newsletter this week all about the face of Jesus smiling at us. That’s something we have talked a lot about at Calvary and that I pray for every week in our blessing prayer at the end of the service. I thought you might find these thoughts and spiritual practices helpful and encouraging. Try practicing the breath prayer as soon as possible! You can find out more at soulshepherding.org.
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
“Jesus smiles. Yes!!! Don't you love this picture of Jesus smiling warmly? It's my favorite. It reminds me that Jesus delights in the Father and in us too! It's hidden from many people, but the smile of Jesus is everywhere in the Gospels. Jesus "rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit" (Luke 10:21, NASB). John shows us that Jesus prays for us to have the "full measure" of his joy! (15:11 and 17:13) (For more examples see "Smile, Play, and Laugh with Jesus!")
Paul taught us that the word of God is for washing our minds (Ephesians 5:26). Our minds accumulate with dirt: sinful choices, hurtful words, bad memories, harmful images.
For instance, when we pray to God we may unconsciously see the face that frowned at us when we were little. That person's criticisms, anger, or worries may be imprinted into our heart. We "know" God loves us yet deep down inside we're afraid that he's not really for us, that he also will disappoint us or hurt us in some way.
The image of Jesus' smiling face is what we need in our hearts! Oh to behold the smiling face of Jesus! His face shines with God's love for us. This is the image of God from the Gospels that we need to wash our minds clean of the frowns that we've internalized!
The most important thing in your life is that you see that Jesus smiles at you! Then a smile will come to your face and to the people around you!
Do you see Jesus smiling at you now? Do you ever pause to think about the smile of Jesus shining on you and then smile your appreciation in reply? A smile is a powerful prayer! It can help you to overcome discouragement, worry, fear, frustration, loneliness, or boredom -- really.
Jesus welcomes you to come closer. He's interested in how you're feeling and what you're doing -- he enjoys knowing you and being your Friend. And to have the Lord God Almighty as your Friend is the best blessing!
Jesus opens his heart to you. He forgives your sins. He wants to encourage you and to guide you on the path of life with him. Follow Jesus and then you can exclaim, along with the Apostle John, I am the disciple Jesus loves! (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20).
To help you live in the smile of God I'd like to share with you a favorite Breath Prayer of mine that I wrote after my first two years of Praying the Psalms with Jesus every day: "Jesus delights in me... I delight in you my Lord" (It's inspired by Psalm 18:19; 37:4, 23).
You might try using this breathing rhythm to help you meditate on and absorb into your heart the wonderful healing image that Jesus smiles at you:
Breathe in (with a smile!) as you whisper or think: "Jesus delights in me..."
Breathe out (still smiling!) as you whisper or think: "I delight in you my Lord."
You might try it for a few minutes now, slowly and softly repeating it over and over...
Then as you go about your day you can breathe this prayer as often as you can remember: "Jesus delights in me... I delight in you my Lord." You can also pray this for a relationship you're in: "Jesus delights in us... We delight in you my Lord." Or for intercession, praying for people by name: "Jesus delights in _______... May ________ delight in you my Lord."
One breath. One prayer. One smile! It may seem like a little thing to appreciate that Jesus smiles at you, but it can help you to do whatever you're doing with and for Jesus -- and do it with joy!
"The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). And it's a great blessing to the people around you.
To pray a short verse or paraphrase of Scripture as a Breath Prayer is refreshing and empowering. It helps you learn to practice God’s presence all day and stay in tune with the peace of Christ. I’ve selected key verses of Scripture and developed step-by-step instructions for meditation, breathing rhythms, and prayer in “Breath Prayer Guides.”