Category Archives: Jesus
A Hard Devotional Thought for these Days
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots. Luke 23:34 CSB
It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right.
Therefore the entire sum of what it means not to kill is to be impressed most explicitly upon the simple-minded. In the first place that we harm no one, first, with our hand or by deed. Then, that we do not employ our tongue to instigate or counsel thereto. Further, that we neither use nor assent to any kind of means or methods whereby any one may be injured. And finally, that the heart be not ill disposed toward any one, nor from anger and hatred wish him ill, so that body and soul may be innocent in regard to every one, but especially those who wish you evil or inflict such upon you.
I knew what was coming today in my Bible reading.
It made me want to delay it as much as possible.
The words from the cross above frustrate me… significantly frustrate me. Especially if the Apostle Paul’s words are echoing through my mind at the same time.
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 CSB
Yesteday, I was planning the service for the day after the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Flashing across my news feed and social media were call for revenge, including a horrific prayer for it to have quickly, to wipe out a people. It wanted revenge, not justice, and definitely not mercy.
And my first reaction was to agree, even as it soured my stomach… and I knew it was wrong.
Did I mention following Jesus was inconvenient?
Another line from the Scriptures, this time from Jesus,
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45a (NLT2)
This isn’t just inconvenient… I don’t even have the words.
It is more tha just difficult, it is impossible… at least for me.
Never mind those who have killed people in what they consider war… this is true for those in all sorts of positions. Some actively hate, some unintentionally hurt (how could they not see their own narcicism?)
But on this day, as I read of Jesus on the cross, I realize again how much I have to be united to that cross, to let my narcicistic self die there, and rise to life with Him. How that means I give up my desire for revenge (though I call it justice – let’s be honest here) I need His mercy, I need His love…
I need Him to heal me of my hurt.
This isn’t about being weak, about not standing up for what is right and wrong. Luther’s quote makes that clear – we can’t let our hearts be ill-disposed, but rather we need to lift these enemies to the Lord in prayer, and desire, as God does, that they come to repentance. That’s not being weak….
It is accepting the inconvenience of following Christ, and realizing that Him joy
As we do, it will take prayer, it will take a lot of thought about the cross, and the grave, and why Jesus, for the joy set before Him,… set aside revenge… and loved.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, trans. F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau (n.p.: WORDsearch, 2003).
1 Why do the nations gather together? Why do their people devise useless plots? 2 Kings take their stands. Rulers make plans together against the LORD and against his Messiah by saying, 3 “Let’s break apart their chains and shake off their ropes.” 4 The one enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord makes fun of them.
10 Now, you kings, act wisely. Be warned, you rulers of the earth! 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, or he will become angry and you will die on your way because his anger will burst into flames. Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 2:1-4, 10-12 (GW)
The delight which the mariner feels, when, after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth—“I am the Lord, I change not.”
I am getting tired of politics in the church. It literally is sucking the life out of me.
I see a pastor, sharing memes that deride those who are younger than him, those who have little hope because of what they see going on in the world. I wonder if he considers the effects of the youth in his church, and the effect of such memes on them?
I see a parachurch organization, applauding those who blatantly disrespect our country’s president, disregarding scripture and our role as God’s people to be agents of reconciliation. When asked about it, I am mocked for believing what God desires, and what the Holy Spirit calls us to do is impossible.
It doesn’t matter, right or left, traditional or progressive, the hatred I am seeing manifest toward those who don’t agree on this issue, it sucks the life out of me. It brings me to despair, and wonder if the church has completely lost its way. Whether it has forgotten the God who could redeem and reconcile Paul, the God who could change and adulterous and murderous heart of a King, the God who could look out on those who were killing them, and ask the Father to forgive them..
Do we believe God still reigns? Or do we, like the people described in Psalm 2 simply want to toss God aside, and ignore the fact we are all part of His creation.
My mind tells me that the church no longer trusts God, and that is why such things happen
my heart lies broken.
My soul tries to wait, hoping beyond hope that God will keep His promise.
Weary just after breakfast, I come into my office, I see Spurgeon’s words first, and long to be the spiritual version of the sailor he describes, who tired form the storm, finds rest and relief as his feet land on solid ground.
I find that ground in the storm, in a God who can laugh at the wayward children who need to be reminded of His presence. Who need to be corrected, who need to be reminded that God is still God, that Jesus is still our Savior, and our Lord. That even now, in our brokenness in our frustration, in our anger at others and our lack of faith in God.
God is still desiring our embrace,
God is still wanting us to take refuge, to find our safe place within His love.
God is still here, willing to clean up the damage our lack of faith in Him, to heal the brokenness caused by of all the political crap we experience.
God hasn’t changed, He’s the same God who brought Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot together.. and sent them with others to bring His people into the world. They were far more polar opposite than any extreme we see in American politics today… and in Jesus, the found unity and the ability to serve people together.
May we have the faith, the dependence on God to see such happen in our days as well.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).