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Seeking Peace Along a Hard Road

Blessed Father, we desire to break bread with You, to walk with You & enjoy Your company. Make our hearts burn within us as we meet with You, unfolding Your Word in our hearts. Help us to see, hear & gain wisdom. Prepare us for the difficulties & joys of the day, so we may rely on You & give You glory no matter what may come. We seek You out for these blessings of faith & for the sake of Your glory being shown through us.
We pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Luke 24: 13-35
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

I long for these moments & experiences. As Christians, we long for the Lord’s presence, we desire to walk with Him, listen to Him & experience what these two experienced along the road to Emmaus. There is no greater joy than to be able to give our whole selves over to the will & mystery of the Lord, to be bundled up in His arms & to close out every sound but the sweetness of His voice. Swift & powerful, His tongue comforts & convicts, He cuts to the root of our sin & draws us up into the highest heaven. It is almost indescribable. But we long for these moments. We want every weekend worship gathering to be a place where we meet with Him like this, every moment spent in the Word like this, every encounter with a stranger, friend or family member like this when we share our faith with them.

But we must also be reminded of these two on the road. They were consumed, troubled & sad. They had expectations, desires for redemption & they wanted to see God’s hand move in a mighty & powerful way. And it took Jesus’ presence to bring them comfort. His Words, His presence, His laughter, teaching & prayer to open their eyes to what God had done & was continuing to do.

If we would feel His presence, then we must draw near & listen. We must hear what He says, and leave behind what fills our mind, giving it all over to Him in these moments where we need to draw near. While Jesus spoke, they were silent. They listened. They didn’t interrupt every third word, they weren’t engrossed in another activity. Their focus was undivided & therefore laser focused on everything He had to say. It was time spent just with Jesus. Unrushed, untouched, unadulterated. Just them & just Him.

If we want to feel the comforting presence of Jesus, then we need to give Him our attention. We need to listen & remove distractions. If we are broken & hurting inside, if life’s events are too much to handle & understand, then we need to trust Him with those moments & draw near to Him & Him alone.

Praise God for His Holy Spirit who can & does walk with us, even within us, through these moments of our day-to-day life. What a precious gift to know He is with us, moving, present & speaking to us. We simply need to seek Him out for peace & be still, trusting in His footsteps along the way.

Father, we bless Your holy Name! We praise the movement of Your Word in our hearts!
Teach us to listen & be still. remind us of Your presence & may we feel that sweet stillness in our spirits as we draw near to You along life’s road. Again, we pray in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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Purified, Redeemed & Given Peace

Father, bring us Your peace. Through Jesus Christ You have offered to us grace beyond measure. You have inaugurated our entry into Your presence with His blood, purified us and saved us from the wrath due us in Your judgment. Thank You for putting away our sin by this sacrifice. Thank You for promising us life beyond life and death. Thank You for the blessing of the greater picture of existence with You through Him. Thank You for the presence of Your Holy Spirit in this in-between time. Amen.

Hebrews 9:15-28
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

This is a lot to take in, isn’t it? Centuries of human effort, ritual purification, sacrifice and an obvious inability to maintain moral standards left us reeling. We were desperate, the children of God were in need of relief, and the world needed a savior without even knowing they needed Him. Try as we might to deny sin’s presence in our life, we rationalize all our decisions, seek out our own way and call the effort worthwhile. We stubbornly stand in pride and deny correction when it comes.We’ve all stood silently in this place. We know our own hearts, even if we don’t speak what we feel all the time.

Emotionally and spiritually bankrupt, God saw our deep need to be cleansed, redeemed and brought into real peace with Him. We need to remember this, drink it in & rest in Him.

And so comes Jesus.
Pause a minute. Breathe & speak His Name.

Heaven’s sacrifice once for all who would come.
Final.
He loves You deeply.
Pause again. Breathe & speak His Name, Jesus.

We needed Him so badly. Our efforts always temporary, we needed relief. And so He brings us peace by removing the need for the effort, and taking it upon Himself. This is the richness of the love of God, this is the depth of His grace. This loving Father, making sacrifice on behalf of His children, so that we might bring Him glory and that He might sing over us in His peace.

Jesus is the One who stood in the gap. The Father the One who sacrifices. The Holy Spirit the One who indwells us as we are being made holy – Our Triune God gathering us into His love.

Pause a minute. Breathe & abide in the rest He provides. Breathe. Trust in our Great High Priest who offered Himself up as the sacrifice.

Breathe.
Rest.
Speak the Name of Jesus.
Trust in Him & Praise His Name.
Walk in the rhythms of His grace today.

Father, bring us Your peace. Through Jesus Christ You have offered to us grace beyond measure. You have inaugurated our entry into Your presence with His blood, purified us and saved us from the wrath due us in Your judgment. Thank You for putting away our sin by this sacrifice. Thank You for promising us life beyond life and death. Thank You for the blessing of the greater picture of existence with You through Him. Thank You for the presence of Your Holy Spirit in this in-between time. Amen.

Rivulets of Divine Conspiracy

Father, we can look back now, and see how Your grace snuck up on us. Working through the blood of Christ, in rivulets of divine conspiracy, you crept in from all angles and wrought Your terrible torrent of life-giving love on our broken, dead souls. Through something tangible, You did the unthinkable. Through something physical, You worked the eternal. Holiness shrouded in flesh, mystery upon mystery, You overtook us with the flood of Your poured out love and raised us to life. We praise Your handiwork, O God! We bless Your holy Name! Amen & Amen!

Hebrews 9:1-14

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

The blood of God Himself, let loose in a divine river of life. It flows from Emmanuel’s veins. How sweet the sound of its rushing, how terrible the price. By You called us worthwhile, and You sang over us in our distress. You brought us comfort upon comfort, and You glorified Yourself all the while. This Lamb & Priest, the Sacrifice & Architect of salvation for all who will come to You. He poured out His life into the locks of the passageways of Your throne room, Father, and opened the way for us to return home.

It’s funny that we think the road back to You is ours to walk, ours to determine, Father, when You are the One who cut through the terrain, who smoothed out the way, who removed rocks and obstacles and build bridges over dangerous rivers so that we might survive the journey. The prodigal came home because the father provided the road, otherwise he would have been lost forever. Jesus paved the road with His sacrifice, and through Him, You provided The Way. We never saw them coming, these rivulets of divine conspiracy. But You work as You will, and Your will was bent on Your glory and on saving us from ourselves.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity.
Robed in flesh, on earth to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!

Thank You for taking our temporary sacrifices and completing an effort we could never accomplish. We bless Your holy Name! I love that You do not work in direct paths, but in those circuitous rivulets of love, You teach us to follow along in step with Jesus, Your Holy Spirit guiding and comforting us in the pace and the rhythms of Your grace.

Father, we can look back now, and see how Your grace snuck up on us. Working through the blood of Christ, in rivulets of divine conspiracy, you crept in from all angles and wrought Your terrible torrent of life-giving love on our broken, dead souls. Through something tangible, You did the unthinkable. Through something physical, You worked the eternal. Holiness shrouded in flesh, mystery upon mystery, You overtook us with the flood of Your poured out love and raised us to life. We praise Your handiwork, O God! We bless Your holy Name! Amen & Amen!

A Song for the Brokenhearted

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“1 Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
    for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.”
Psalm 147:1-5 ESV

How do you respond to someone when they’re brokenhearted? What do you say when someone’s world has come crashing down? What words are there in the midst of tragedy?
Too often, our song of peace for others in these times is silenced because we fear crossing a boundary. We are worried that we will overstep, say too much, maybe, somehow, make things even worse. And so we give someone a nod, a pat on the shoulder, and simply mutter “I’m praying for you.” Then we walk away wishing there was more we could have said, dozens of phrases begin swirling in our head. But we tell our self that the moment has passed, and it’s best not to make it any more difficult of awkward than it already is…

But that is not where we find God. The psalmist points us in the right direction here. By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in his heart and hand, we find this gentle reminder that we can always share. Look at Who God is, and what He does:

1. God is always worthy of praise, no matter what may be going on.
In times of tragedy, we are often reminded of Job. And what does Job say when he has lost his fortune, and more importantly, his own children?

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Job 1:20-22

It may feel absurd to praise God in these moments, but look at what praise does in us. It restores the most basic function of our life, it reminds us of our purpose…to do just that, praise God. And when we praise God we are comforted by His presence, because when we praise Him, we stand before Him.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

We are comforted when we come into the presence of God, and praise is the remembering of the good things that He has done. In spite of whatever else may be going on, God has been good, is good, and will continue to be good. It is our world that is broken, not Him. And so we praise Him, and in turn we are comforted. He responds when we respond in faith.

2. He builds us up. He heals us. He binds our wounds.

When we feel broken, when others are shattered by the events of life in this sin-wrecked world, when death rears its head and that valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23) looms high over our hearts and heads, we find ourselves still in the almighty clutches of the Good Shepherd (John 10), the Great Physician (John 5) who has promised The Comforter (John 16), The Holy Spirit to be present with us in all things, just as He is (Matthew 28.) He is the Traveler along our road, who stops, stoops down and meets our every need (Luke 10.)
He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13) He has promised us this. He is near to the brokenhearted, and He knows our pains.

3. He reminds us that He is still in control, ordering our days. He knows all the details, and nothing escapes His watchful eye and loving heart. Listen again to what the psalmist says:

He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.

When we feel broken, when others are shattered by the events of life in this sin-wrecked world, we look to God and are lovingly reminded of this great truth. If He knows and names the countless stars in a billion, billion galaxies, surely He knows my name, too. He knows my every hurt. He knows what brings me joy, and He knows how to share His peace.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:29-33

He knows us. He acknowledges us. We need only to turn our eyes back to Him, trust in Him, and remember who holds our days. Again, faith brings us to this point of healing. If we allow a root of bitterness to spring up in us, healing will be longer distant and harder fought.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Hebrews 12:15

Grace is quickly given, but we must also see to it that we allow it to rest on our hearts. It is easy to sink into the mire of depression in a dark season. It is easy to be a party of one, closing ourselves off in a solitary prison of pain. But that root of bitterness grows and strangles, and the answer to it is to seek out God, and serve someone else. Comforting others, even in the midst of our own pain, can be a great healing experience, and help us remember the goodness of God.

3. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.”

When we feel broken, when others are shattered by the events of life in this sin-wrecked world, we need to submit ourselves to this one unbending truth. God is great. He is abundant in power. We cannot grasp the depths of His understanding. And even if we don’t feel like we have the words to share in the midst of pain, this one thing we do have.
Nothing is beyond our God. No hurt stands beyond His understanding, and even when we feel utterly powerless, God is still Sovereign-over-all. He will never fail us. He is our joy, our rock, our refuge and our hiding place.

He never promises us that we will understand everything that happens in this life, either on this side of eternity or the other. But He guarantees us this: He knows, He is in control & He loves us deeply.

Comfort someone with these truths, or allow God to be your point of comfort in the midst of your own trials.

You_are_not_alone.

Psalm 118

1Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
    they went out like a fire among thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard,[a] so that I was falling,
    but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16     the right hand of the Lord exalts,
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.[b]
23 This is the Lord‘s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save us, we pray, O Lord!
    O Lord, we pray, give us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
    up to the horns of the altar!

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you.
29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Acts 7:9-16 // Jesus and the story of Redemption (pt 2)

“9 The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole household. 11 Then a famine and great suffering came over all of Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestors could find no food. 12 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors the first time. 13 The second time, Joseph was revealed to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 Joseph then invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people in all, 15 and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our ancestors died there, 16 were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.”

Acts 7:9-16

“God was with him, and rescued him out of all his troubles.” 

This is what God does. In our weaknesses, in our plight, in our pain and suffering, He extends His hand of mercy. He comforts our heart. He brings us peace and lifts up our head. Zephaniah says that God is mighty to save, that He sings over us and comforts us with His love.

I don’t know about you…but I need that. I need comforted because life hurts so often, my sins and mistakes wound me deeply and my fears, doubts and worries can seem overwhelming at times. There are days when things seem to press in from all sides, where issues I have no power over seem to loom over my head and press their weight into my shoulders, and I am crushed in my spirit.

On those dark days, it is a comfort to know that the one thing keeping me afloat in the midst of that storm has nothing to do with my own willpower or strength. It is the mighty hand of God upholding my spirit. His love brings me through, and His grace, mercy and love, lift my eyes up from the muck and mire and points them heavenward. He helps me remember that there is life beyond the moment of suffering, that there is joy that outlasts all pain. He reminds me of His good and perfect promises to me, and like the unending rhythm of the waves on the shore, He will never relent. He will never leave me or forsake me.

“He gave him favor & wisdom…”

As God gave Joseph what he needed in his plight, so he provides for me today. I do pray daily for wisdom, He knows I need it. But He also provides the answers and solutions to all my worries, problems, questions and concerns. He provides a faith that cannot be shaken, armor that protects the heart, and a Word that gives me sight. He truly is YHWH Jireh, providing for all my needs and even beyond. 

So, praise God today for His wonderous care! 

Praise the Lord of Hosts for His protection!

Praise God for the goodness of His creation!

Praise God for the provision He made throught Christ in the misdt of our death in sin. 

While we were already dead in our sin, He raised us up, breathed new life into us and animiated our dead bones so that He might be honored, glorified and praised. Our sustaining points glory to Him. Our blessing though provision accentuates His awesome love. The outpouring of love that flows from His people brings joy to His heart, like a Father watching His children put on His shoes and shirt and doing their best to be like their daddy. 

As we GoLove others, we mimic the heart of Christ, the eternal definition of love, care, provision and dedication. If Jesus had the strength to bear what He bore in His body for us on the cross, surely He can help us through our difficult days. Surely we can GoLove others and give them hope in theirs…

  

Mark 1:35-45//Searching for Jesus

“35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions went searching for Him. 37 They found Him and said, “Everyone’s looking for You!”

38 And He said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.” 39 So He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

40 Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him and, on his knees, begged Him: “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing, He told him. Be made clean.” 42 Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed. 43 Then He sternly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But He was out in deserted places, and they would come to Him from everywhere.”
Mark 1:35-45

When Jesus is really and truly presented, when our actions and words are authentically pointed toward Him, when our life’s message is centered on Him, people are going to be drawn to Him at work in us. Maybe they come curious, asking questions. Maybe they ask for us to pray with or for them. Maybe they just start gravitating toward us, seeking silently to be around someone who obviously cares for others. However it comes across, when Jesus is lifted up, people are drawn to Him.

The people of Capernaum and the neighboring towns flocked to Him because He was meeting needs, helping others and speaking the truth with authority. Because He was open, honest and straightforward with the truth of God, people were drawn in, like eyes to a candle in a dark room.

We don’t have to put on a show, be a ‘super-Christian’ (whatever that means) or have a multimillion dollar complex of lights and sounds to draw people to Jesus. Authentically lived lives, humbly, lovingly proclaiming the Gospel is all that is needed. If we know it’s about Him and we live/talk/preach/serve like it’s all about Him, then people will be drawn to Him. That is why He told us to GoLove others the way He did.
It’s not about us, how impressive or unimpressive we are, but it is all about Him. John the Baptist had it right, ‘He must become greater, I must become less.’ That is the key, Jesus comes first, and we live that truth in His love daily.

James 5 // Pray in faith

“13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.”
James 5:13-18

Prayers are precious things and a privilege to participate in. Each one is a journey before the throne of God and we really need to take that fact into our understanding. As His children, we need to be confident that He hears us as we stand before Him and that we’re not just speaking to the ceiling or lobbing requests at the clouds. Instead, when we pray, we are coming as adopted sons and daughters to the King, heirs of His promises and we need to know that He takes what we have to say seriously. So, when we pray, come before Him, acknowledging Him directly and in faith. Trust that He hears you and that He cares.

I have seen the sick cured, pains removed and true peace given to the dying. I have seen lives restored, redeemed and renewed thanks to honest, faithful prayer. I have full confidence that God will accomplish all that lies within His will if we will simply come to Him in faith. And sometimes, a lot of times for me, if what I want lies outside of His will, He will help bring us into correction and an understanding of what He really desires for us if we will humbly come and seek His will in prayer. But we must have faith. We must believe.

It is easy to flippantly toss a request up in the sky and then move on, but that is not what we are told to do. When we pray, we must come with the urgency that is on our hearts, we must come with the earnestness that speaks to real need. If we don’t care about what we’re praying for, if we are not really acknowledging it or Him, don’t you think that plays into how our requests are received. When you pray for the sick, do you sincerely pray that they would be healed, believing they will be, or do you pray like healing is a long shot and really believe that nothing miraculous can happen? When you pray for the hurting and broken, do you pray that God will move in their hearts through His Spirit, believing that He will do a work in them, or do you pray to comfort them, quietly hoping that time will remedy the situation?

If we are going to GoLove people in Jesus’ Name, we need to believe what we are telling to them and we need to be sincere with what we pray for them. Prayer is not just a babbling into the wind, prayer is an ushering before the Throne of God and a petition in His presence. We must pray in faith if we want to be heard and see change happen. Half hearted, half cared about prayers are ineffective and fall short. But when we boldly come, seeking His will (that means leaving prideful, human, fleshly desires out of the mix) and believing that He hears, cares and will respond, we can trust that He will do what is right.

Trusting in God’s timing // Psalm 5 // Book of Common Prayer

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“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord —how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.”
Psalm 6:1-4 ESV

We all ask this same question of God.
‘O, Lord – How long?’
We stand looking at the pain in our hearts and we ask, ‘How long?’
We watch the wicked seemingly prosper and we ask, ‘How long?’
We witness pain and suffering in the lives of others and we ask, ‘How long?’
We know there is pain yet to come in life and we ask, ‘How long?’

“I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.”
Psalm 6:6, 7 ESV

When it seems like The Lord doesn’t notice or that He has turned a deaf ear to sin, we ask what David did,
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1 ESV

But in reality, we know just as David did, that God is not so small or petty or timid that He would disregard such things or fail to show His justice. We know He hears and sees everything that goes on, that nothing stands outside His judgment.

“Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart,
“You will not call to account”?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.”
Psalm 10:1, 12-14 ESV

God’s timing is perfect. His mercies are true. No suffering goes unnoticed and no wrong escapes His eye. When parents harm and neglect their children, He knows, He sees. When friends wound each other and His church suffers, He knows, He sees. When spouses are unfaithful, He knows, He sees. When our hearts groan and we cannot express our sorrow in words, He knows, He sees.

His timing is perfect. Our patience is not.
His plan is flawless. Our understanding is not.

“The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord ’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.”
Psalm 11:4-7 ESV

It isn’t a matter of if God will be just, it is simply when His justice will be made known. God doesn’t forget. Jesus didn’t suffer needlessly. We were not given a His Holy Spirit without reason.

““For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:7, 8 ESV

God will move, have no doubt of that, but He does so according to His will and in His timing. He has promised justice for the oppressed, and punishment for the wicked. It is coming.

“They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord, “those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.” Amos 3:10 ESV

And all the wrongs of mankind, all the bad things will come undone as the justice and wrath of God are poured out. The righteous may suffer today for His Name’s sake, but they are not forgotten or set aside. We do His work as we wait on His perfect timing.

“I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.

And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
2 Peter 1:13-21 ESV

So, in God’s perfect timing, be carried along by His Holy Spirit, doing the work He has set you to do. Trust in His timing, and allow the righteousness that He provides to rise in you, guiding you in His perfect will. GoLove people for our King. Share hope with the oppressed. Provide comfort to the sad. Reach out to the poor. Encourage the downtrodden and invite the masses to come know love and forgiveness in God’s perfect timing.

Leave the administration to God.
Do the work He has given you to do and don’t let anything hold you back.

sitting in the back…no one look at me

how many people come into church each week around the world, and don’t understand that if there is anywhere they can find support or help or love or understanding, it should be that same church. but people come in, afraid to expose their pains and fears and weaknesses (because they must be the only ones like this, they think, or feel) they assume that everyone else may have it together. so they sit in back, suffer quietly and go on home, no better for their time.

Jesus met people like this all the time. people that tried to hide in the shadows, who didn’t want to be seen, or who had been told they shouldn’t be seen. and His heart was moved for them. his heart was in pain because of their pain, and He could not allow their misery to go on unaided.

so, in mark 3, we see this man with a withered hand. which today wouldn’t be a big deal. no one would think badly of him for it. but in that time, it would have been seen as something that happened as a result of sin according to their thought. as if the condition wasn’t difficult enough to deal with on its own, he also had a stigma thrust upon him for something that was no real fault of his own. so, he was considered spiritually unclean, he couldn’t really work like he should have been able to, which also reduced his income potential, so he is also materially affected. then there are the daily stares from children, and even adults, to contend with…so it’s no surprise that he was sitting in the back of the synagogue.

Now, Jesus doesn’t call him out to embarrass him, but to publicly restore him in every way possible. so Jesus asks him to extend his hand out, and He then heals the man. now obviously, this is going to make a huge difference in the life of this man. this effort will change everything in his life, even if it doesn’t change his detractors’ view of him.

we meet with people daily who are scarred or hurt to feel as though they carry some sort of stigma for a past action or event in their life. it may have been something of their own doing, it may have been something that life thrust upon them, but no matter what it is, if they have come to God for help, we cannot allow them to sit in the back and hide. we cannot sit with our backs to them, and pretend as though they are not there, or as if they are beyond our help. yes, it may mean spending some time with them. yes, it may mean that we have to put our regular schedules aside for a little while, but for goodness sake, we cannot ignore the hurting in our midst. we cannot assume that it’s all going to be okay for them, and so we don’t need to play any part in reaching out to them.

Jesus never acted that way. He didn’t ignore the oppressed and marginalized, and neither should we. what cruel people we would be, to take part in the greatest joy in life -having our sins forgiven, the Spirit’s presence in our lives, and the eternal glory of heaven to look forward to- but never share it with those who need that hope in life so desperately.

Father, forgive our silence. Forgive our quiet mouths and our self blinded eyes. there are so many out there who need you desperately today, and they have not heard from your people.

Father forgive our indifference when it comes to the suffering of others. soften our hearts, open our ears.

help us to see what You see in the people around us, and to toss our stigmas and worldly opinions aside.

stretch us out, and heal our withered hands, so that we can serve You today, right now.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Spirit, have mercy.

amen.

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