|Accede to &|
Act in accordance with
|…God’s will, imperative, prerogative, and purpose.|
|Rest in||…God’s absolute omnipotence, eternal sovereignty, timeless omniscience, and peaceful omnipresence.|
|Trust in||…God’s immutable faithfulness, mercy, justice, and love.|
I’ve been avoiding saying much on social media lately — especially within the political sphere — and I believe it’s good to continue in that vein.
So, in the hopes of fostering some good will and peace…
May all those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ take some things to heart — seriously.
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(1 Ti 2:1–4)
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
(1 Pe 2:13–17)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
And how do we ever hope to accomplish any of this?
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Father in Heaven, thank You for the living Word that You sent to redeem me. Lord Jesus, thank You for your faithful, humble obedience to all that the Father gave You to accomplish. With your Holy Spirit anointment me now — Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me now I pray. Open my eyes that I may see. Open my ears that I may here. Fill my soul with your presence. Make your written Word to be light and life for me today. By the holy fire of your presence, cleanse from my soul all that is not of You. By your Word, wash me that I may be a spotless bride — sanctified and made ready for You, my Lord and my King. Let me be broken that I may be reformed in your image. By your Word, re-create in me your perfect, holy image – the image You created me to bear for your glory. As I abide in You, my Lord, abide in me — showing forth the fruit of your Love in abundance. Almighty God, hear this my plea and answer from Heaven as I now wait upon You — meditating upon your Word. Amen.
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we humbly confess that we have sinned,
against You and against one another,
in thought, and in word, and in deed,
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved You with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep,
following too much the methods and desires of our own hearts.
But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
forgive us as we forgive one another,
and grant repentance and healing,
according to Your promises
declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
O most merciful Father,
for Jesus’ sake and by Your Word,
cleanse and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Love,
sanctifying us wholly,
completing in us the work You began,
continuing unto the day of Jesus Christ,
that we may hereafter delight in Your ways,
walking worthy of You, our Lord, in loving obedience,
to the eternal glory of Your holy Name.
Matt. 5:28; 6:14-15; 15:18
Eph. 3:6; 5:26
2 Tim. 2:25
Jas. 4:17; 5:16
1 John 5:2
“I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
I’ve often found it easy to relate to — yes, to identify with this passage. Did I say often? … a lot! I’m afraid this passage can be quoted as more of a crutch or excuse than we’d often like to admit. It’s far too easy to get stuck here — to acknowledge the diagnosis and be content. But that is entirely the wrong kind of contentment! This is the kind of diagnosis that calls for holy discontent. As JD Walt puts it, “Jesus waits for a generation who will not be content to live out their lives in the lazy place between belief and unbelief.”
In the greater context of this passage, it wasn’t the father of the demon-possessed boy that was so unbelieving; rather it was Jesus’ disciples — and they are confounded by their spiritual weakness. Jesus gives them the cure — prayer! Not ritualistic, going through the motions, gotta say the right words in the right order with the right emphasis incantations. But the kind of prayer that is born of intimacy — a relationship overflowing with the Spirit of Holy Love.
I don’t know about you, but lazy faith is not a characteristic I want to have my life marked by. May the Spirit of Holy Love be the very breath we breathe today. May the intimacy of this relationship overflow in continual prayer. And may we be so wholly discontent with anything less that we persevere unwaveringly in this pursuit.
This morning my thoughts turned to Scripture — the Word — the Sacred Text. The more I’ve invested time and energy into reading and studying and even simply listening to the Word being read over and over again, the more I find that various passages are illuminated in new ways — further revealing God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
It brings to mind movie scenes of text, often ancient or cryptic, etched in stone or on brittle, aged pages — text that is obscured in some way from the understanding of many or all of the characters in the plot. Then something happens to bring meaning from what had formerly been hidden or confounding — perhaps there are even special effects to emphasize the event … and Bilbo or Harry or whomever receives new and special knowledge that comes with great privilege and responsibility. But there is something more ancient than any magic ever contrived by human minds or hands.
As we diligently search the Scriptures — as we emulate the faithfulness of the Bereans of old and so many more like them down through history — we are drawn ever deeper into relationship with the God Who is Love. We desire to know the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, eternal One Who is beyond our human comprehension — and He reveals Himself through the illumination of His Word each day in new ways that sometimes leave us stunned to discover a Truth that was always there. And there’s always more — as abundant and boundless and infinite as Him Who is the Living Word!
Lord God, may I never cease to be amazed and filled with joyful desire to be led by You — deeper into Light and Truth. You are the source of all that is good and wonderful and pure. You are the special effects and the special knowledge — You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May the privilege and responsibility of being the loyal subject of You, my King, make me sincere and earnest in proclaiming the Good News that all may come and drink from this fountain — all may come and be made free and new in Christ — all are welcome to come and receive Jesus Who is the Word & Light & Life!
My mind and heart ache — conflicted with anger, horror, and deep sadness at the escalation of brutal injustice and flagrant immorality lately. Not just here in America; but it is coming home for us as Christians here — suffering for us has yet to compare to that of our brothers and sisters in many other countries.
Hear these words…
My soul cries out, My soul cries out for You
These bones cry out, these dry bones cry for You
To live and move cause only You can raise the dead
Could lift my head up
My soul cries out, my soul cries out for You
Jesus You’re the one who saves us, constantly creates us
Into something new
Jesus surely You will find us, surely our Messiah
Will make all things new, will make all things new
—Dry Bones (Gungor, Creation Liturgy)
Pray with me…
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Come, Spirit of Holy Love!
Father fill me with your fullness.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Have you ever considered the sufferings of Christ? How may we share His sufferings? We know that in the Incarnation Jesus laid aside His glory willingly, not clinging to it. Yet, even more than that, He willingly gave Himself into the hands of His enemies — both the readily apparent and the not so apparent.
Jesus suffered the deprivation of all the comforts of His glory — having not even a place to lay His head. He suffered the hatred of the religious leaders of His own chosen people. He suffered the rejection of His own family and neighbors. He suffered the abandonment of followers who were easily distracted and dissuaded. He suffered the misunderstandings and weakness and selfishness and inattentiveness of His disciples — even the betrayal of and denial by His very own. He suffered the false accusations and injustice and mocking and condemnation … and then the horrific brutality of the Roman system that scourged Him into a bloody pulp and nailed Him to a cross to suffocate in agony. All of this, yes, Jesus suffered.
Let’s go a step farther — God the Father suffered the immeasurably exquisite anguish of watching … beholding … knowing it could all be stopped with a word … a breath. Indeed, ever since the fall, God has beheld as His creation turned against Him and upon itself in selfishness, pride, hatred, and vile wickedness — humankind, the very pinnacle of God’s creation, leading the charge to its own destruction. And then He beheld as His only Son took all the sin of all creation upon Himself — the pure becoming impurity — the lamb becoming the scapegoat.
But perhaps there is a suffering we underestimate — one that we may be unfamiliar with and possibly cannot bear to face.
“Father, forgive them …” (Luke 23:34)
The suffering of forgiveness … to forgive is to relinquish my rights — to be humbled — to let loose of my claim on just satisfaction for some loss or grievance — to give mercy in response to ruthless injustice — to give honor in response to humiliation — to give love in response to hate. You see, the deeper the wound — the more grievous and offensive the sin — the more spiteful and heinous the actions and words of the perpetrator — the deeper the suffering of the victim who chooses to forgive. This is a suffering that can be crushing — feeling like one’s very soul is being torn apart. In this process, more and more of self dies as it is surrendered in obedience to the Cross. And what is that obedience to the Cross? In a very powerful sense, it is compassion — quite literally, to suffer with. And we may not suffer with Christ unless we will forgive as He did. To look upon the Cross with pity may stir up the most powerful feelings; but, unless we move beyond pity to compassion, there is no action and without action there is no obedience … there is no being … there is no “becoming like Him in His death.”
There is only one motivation to move beyond pity to compassion — forgiveness itself. Jesus illustrated this for us in the parable of the unjust servant who, although he was forgiven by the king for his debt that was the equivalent of 200,000 years labor, refused to forgive the debt of another that was the equivalent of a day’s wage. No wonder Jesus said, “if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:15) When Jesus said, “he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47) I’m inclined to believe that He wasn’t speaking only of the quantitative measure of forgiveness so much as the recognition of the weight and consequence of forgiveness.
This forgiveness is for the meek, not the weak. It demands response, not reaction. A reaction is nothing more than that which naturally occurs when a stimulus is applied. A response is quite literally an offering (Latin: re– “back” + sponde “drink offering” ) — indeed, it is something poured out as an act of worship. Jesus describes the response of the Christian to wrongdoing in selfless and intentionally active terminology. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Harboring unforgiveness or failing to seek reconciliation preempts any ability of the Holy Spirit to enable you to love and bless and pray. (Matt. 5:23-24) Forgiveness is essential to any reconciliation. God did not wait, but freely offered forgiveness — reconciling us to Himself through the Cross while we were still sinners and enemies. (Rom. 5:8-10)
Only as we come to fully know the forgiveness we receive as our own through Christ can we truly, completely forgive. Conversely as well — only as we truly forgive as we have been forgiven can we begin to grasp the fullness and power of the forgiveness we receive from God our Father. As we truly forgive, our self will continually be put to death — and therein, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be raised to new life with and in Christ and come to “know the power of His resurrection.” That which is resurrected in us is indeed new life — life overflowing with joy and peace that even death cannot conquer.
Then we can proclaim with Paul, “to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)
Jesus, my risen Lord, makes living worth dying for and dying worth living for!
It is a perversion of the Gospel to continually proclaim “love, don’t judge!” Seriously? Does it have to be explained that even to love involves judgment? Furthermore, Jesus never looked at sin and denied that it was sin. To the woman caught in adultery, His lovingly compassionate response to her concluded with, “Go and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) Not, “It’s ok, I know you just can’t help that you are [fill in the blank with whatever the excuse of the day is].”
Were you born with a proclivity or tendency to sin? Yes—we all are! Are some more tempted to one sin over another? Yes. Are some weaker in one area than another? Yes. Are there influences (negative and positive) on our weaknesses due to people and circumstances? Yes. Are there spiritual forces at work oppressing different people in different ways and at different times? Yes.
Whether you are rebellious, immoral, unholy, profane, homosexual, murderous, deceitful, slanderous, covetous, idolatrous, drunken, abusive …
NO MORE EXCUSES! In earnest prayer… Confess your sin. Mourn and repent of your sin. Receive forgiveness for your sin. Go and sin no more!
Excuses do nothing more than to deny the effectual, victorious, perfectly complete work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Sin and death have been defeated! We proclaim that victory by confessing and repenting and receiving forgiveness and being empowered by the Holy Spirit indwelling and cleansing us by the Word and in His blood—continually—until the day we are transformed and “the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality.” (1 Co 15:54)
But be warned, just as we proclaim Jesus’ victory in our confession, we deny His victory on the cross when we ignore or hide or deny our sin by failing to confess it. And in that denial we are proclaiming Satan victorious. Hear the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah (Is 5:20-21): “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!“
Mulling over Oswald Chambers this morning, the Spirit gave me some perspective on the past few months …
Understanding my self-reliance and self-sufficiency as it conflicts with God-reliance and God-sufficiency is beginning to free me from a way of thinking that leads away from prayer and into anxiety or even indifference relative to the extent to which I confront or ignore a circumstance or need.