Pleasant Grove Community Church

A Spiritual Formation Exercise
by Pastor Phil
Do you find reading the Bible a little boring and dry, but you're afraid to say anything because you think Christians are not supposed to feel that way? Well, join the club. Too often our reading of God's living word is rote, obligatory and little more than reading words on a page.

What if God's Holy Spirit, were to speak directly, and personally, to you? What if the words were to come to life so that you are experiencing God's presence and not just reading history? Would that be exciting? Would that not lift your spirit as well as your mind?

Today, I am going to share with you a way I often read scripture, especially scripture that is describing events. This is one of the ways I always use as I prepare my sermons. I have shared this method at PGCC in different settings, so some of you may be familiar with it, some of you may do this intuitively, and this will be new for others of you. Either way, it will bless you to try this today or sometime in the next few days (or both).

This approach to reading scripture does not replace studying scripture for knowledge, understanding and lessons to be applied. This approach is a companion to other ways of study and a way of allowing God to speak to you personally as you enter into the events being described.

Praying With Jesus In The Gospel Narratives
Find a quiet, comfortable place to meet with God. Take a few moments to prepare yourself to hear from God. Shift your focus away from anyone who may be nearby. Relax your body and even close your eyes for a moment. 

Take a deep, slow breath and let go of the noise and busyness in your mind. 

Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you, protect you and guide your prayer. 

The Lord God delights in you and He has something special for you during this time.
Entering The Story
Choose from one of the passages below. Read the story through SLOWLY AT LEAST TWICE. 

As you read, try to put yourself into the story . Picture the scene as if you were there. Don’t try to analyze the passage. Rather, experience it.
Allow yourself to become absorbed in what is taking place. How is each person feeling? What is each person doing? How are you feeling and what are you doing? Choose one of the people in the story and imagine yourself experiencing the event as that person, or just imagine yourself a nearby observer. You might find yourself assisting in some aspect of the event. Allow your imagination the freedom to “play out” the biblical story as you are led by the Spirit of God.
As you enter the story, try to focus on what you hear, see, smell and especially what you think and feel as you encounter Jesus. Is Jesus speaking to you? Is He looking at you? How are you interacting with Jesus? Pay attention to any internal resistance as you do this exercise. There are no “right” or “wrong” ways to encounter the text. Simply let yourself experience it.
Suggested Gospel Stories you may want to use for this exercise:
·          Jesus Walks on Water (Matthew 14:22-33)
·          Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-41)
·          Jesus Heals A Paralyzed Man (Luke 5:17-26)
·          Jesus Feeds Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21)
·          Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (Luke 19:1-9)
·          Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)
·          The Walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34)

Feel free to choose a different Gospel story about Jesus – the ones that work best for this exercise involve Jesus in a more action-oriented narrative.
When you are finished immersing yourself in the story, use the following questions to reflect on what you have experienced and learned.
1.     Take a moment to write about what you experienced, felt and thought as you entered the story with Jesus.
2.     What do you sense Jesus saying to you?
3.     What do you want to say to Jesus?
4.     How might He be calling you to respond to Him today?
5. Finish with a time of resting in the arms of Jesus. Thank Him for His presence and listen for anything else you sense He might want to say. And even beyond words, simply rest in His presence and be aware of His powerful love for you.  

OUR NEW MESSAGE SERIES continues tomorrow
CLICK HERE to watch last week's message
Pleasant Grove Community Church
1730 Pleasant Grove Blvd., Roseville, CA 95747
(916) 771-4447