Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
Fifteen hours from now, I will board a airplane and head west…into tomorrow.
When I get to my destination, I will get to meet with Christians, to preach and teach and hear how God is with these people in a land foreign to me.
Have to admit – while I am looking forward to the experience, I also have a bit of trepidation, and more a sense of “why me”. Some of you know that feeling, when God brings you to a place that you aren’t quite comfortable with, that you do not feel perfectly equipped for, that you think – “can’t God find someone…. better, someone wiser, someone more trained and equipped, someone more charismatic, or.. just someone else!”
I have heard all the cliche’s, (and unfortunately, ashamedly, used them once or twice…) You know the “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called” type of nonsense. God knows what He is doing, of that I have no doubt, but we are trained, our lives have come to these moments, and the Spirit is working in us. Yet…. the trepidation still remains.
In such times – it is good to look at those that went forth with the gospel in scripture. (Ignoring the obvious fact that in the Old Testament most of them were killed…. and in the New Testament… yeah…same problem) Paul writes often of the partnership he had with those who prayed for him.
Ephesians 6:19 (ESV) 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, (don’t look at the next verse… okay – at least I won’t.)
Colossians 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
2 Thessalonians 3:1 (ESV) 1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, (again, the next verse… well uhm…yeah – don’t look!)
And of course, as I did my usual light reading this morning at the end of devotions, I came across:
664 During a war, the courage of the soldiers facing the enemy would be of little use if there were not others who seem to take no part in the struggle but who supply the fighting men with armaments and food and medicines… Without the prayer and sacrifice of many souls there would be no genuine apostolate of action. (1)
In a real way, you are that supply line for me, you are those whose prayers are as much part of my mission trip, as anything I do, anything I bring. Knowing that some of you are praying will remind me of Christ’s work in us, and prayerfully, in the people I minister to. So, obviously, I am asking for your prayers, to still my soul, to help me reflect God’s love, to be able to do what Paul and Isaiah described so well:
27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:27-29 (ESV)
4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. Isaiah 50:4 (ESV)
May these things, be true of my ministry overseas during the next 2 weeks… and may God’s grace be evident – with you, as well as with them.
Thanks for the prayers!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2442-2445). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
“You too, like all God’s children, need personal prayer. You need to be intimate with him, to talk directly with Our Lord. You need a two-way conversation, face to face, without hiding yourself in anonymity.”
It’s not a new trend, but it certainly is one that is trending upwards these days. The desire of people to keep God at the maximum distance possible, while staying within range where our salvation would be still… there…ready for when we die. You see it among theologians – who have a tendency to talk more about God, more about the history of God’s people – who prefer to pray in cliche’s. Two days ago, at a funeral – a pastor I know talked about how pastors ( it was at the funeral of another dear pastor’s wife) talked about how we are great at leading people to the cross – but pastors aren’t so good at staying there themselves. (he is right, and I often fit into both of these categories!) There are others, who through themselves into the disciplines of a religion, without asking why, or how the discipline benefits. And of course, there are those, who want the relationship without the religion – talking to them I have found that they want a relationship on their terms, with their rules, and often – their definition of sin.
We like to keep Gdd at a distance – and we aren’t the first – consider these two passages – often used to “invite” people to know Jesus…
19 I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life. 20 Love the LORD your God, obey him and be faithful to him….” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 TEV
and then this passage from the new Testament,
20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me. Revelation 3:20 (TEV)
What is interesting – is that both passages were not written to those unfamiliar with God – it was written to those in a relationship in Him – those who tried to keep Him at a distance, those who tried to live life based on their own decisions, to try and go it their own way…
Yes, those passages are invitations to know God – intimately – but invitations to those first who claim to already know Him. Invitations to pray, to converse, to speak to God and let Him into your life at a level that brings you so close – that you begin to reflect His characteristics, His love, and without thinking, His priorities ( people) becomes your own. When you become aware that it is the worst thing you can do to keep distance, the worse the you can do is to hide – and you begin to do it less frequently, you begin to rejoice in His presence more, you begin to realize that is all you really desire.
It’s one of the reason I love St. Francis, and Martin Luther, and yeah – the saint whose quotes frequently appear here. I don’t think any of them made it to being as intimate with God as both God and they desire – but all speak of that desire – and desire to help free us to desire, to want, to be consumed by, the God who loves us all.
As I prepare to see a little ceramic baby, lying in a wooden manger… I become more grateful, more aware of God’s omniscience and planning. For it is easy to keep God the Father at great distances – or at least imagine Him at great distances. But a baby? Even the strongest, most solidly anti-emotional man (reading this MG?) man shows pictures of his new grandbaby, or speaks with pride of those children/grandchildren he loves. Such is the way God came, in a small package that sneaks into our heart, that we don’t try to keep a distance from, for what could that little baby do?
And He roles the distance back, He comes close, while we think we’ve come to adore Him, He’s come to love us, to be with us, to live with us……
May we realize we don’t have to shout “Lord have mercy” for it to be heard, but He hears and comes, with the softest of whispers.
For He is not at a distance, for He is our life.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2013-2015). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.