Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Peter Moore is Alive and Free!

Wonderful news after two and a half years of waiting and praying! Via BBC:
British hostage Peter Moore has been released alive from captivity in Iraq, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

He said Mr Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln who was seized in Baghdad in May 2007, was in good health and "absolutely delighted at his release".

Mr Miliband said the Moore family felt deep relief after two-and-a-half years of "misery, fear and uncertainty".

Mr. Moore was kidnapped along with his four security guards in May 2007 after Shi'ite militia members dressed as Iraqi policemen stormed the Ministry of Finance where he was working as a computer consultant. At one point British officials believed the 5 men had been taken to Iran, who sponsored the Shi'ite insurgency, but earlier this year the bodies of three of the hostages were discovered in Baghdad.

There is no word yet on the fate of the remaining hostage, Alan McMenemy, although officials fear that he is dead.

Thank God for this long-awaited answer to prayer! Please continue to pray for Mr. McMenemy and his family who are still enduring the pain and uncertainty that accompanies these hostage ordeals, and please remember the families of the fallen hostages, Jason Cresswell, Jason Swindlehurst, and Alec Maclachlan. And please continue to pray for the protection and safe return of all the hostages in Iraq and around the world.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/28/09

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
Matthew 2:16-18

Through the course of history there have been many ways in which wicked men of evil disposition and sinful desire have asserted their unholy, unrighteous authority over the hearts and the souls of people, seeking their own control, their own dominance in the most fearful and loathsome of ways.

Proclaiming peace and good will towards men, the advent of the Lord was finally made manifest by the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. God’s glory was finally revealed through the blessed arrival of the long awaited Christ who would deliver mankind. (Luke 10-14) The centuries, the generations of waiting would finally be over as the faith of the prophets would be kept as the Lord stayed true, holding fast to the promises that He had made unto them from even the earliest of days. (Genesis 3:15) No longer would they be held captive to the dark power of sin, death and the devil, the bonds would be broken, the chains would be shattered, as the burdens would be lifted from us, the Messiah now setting captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8) as he ransomed a lost and fallen race.

Freedom would finally come, brought by the birth of a child in the most meager of estates as the King of kings and Prince of Peace would shine as a light on a darkened world, the hearts of men no longer in the pained, grim places that robbed it of all hope and love. The shadow of death would be set to flight by Him as those who were brought to the wondrous faith would sing in joy, the miracle of God’s love coming to bear in their lives in the most significant of ways. (Isaiah 9:1-3)

Yet the freedom that God proclaims, it’s not a freedom that all men respect and admire. Those of brutal iniquity, who let hatred guide their aggression, they fear it for it emboldens even the most meek of hearts that they so seek to oppress, bringing a wondrous hope into their lives. In this then they realize that “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” for “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37-38) as God shows that His grace is sufficient for them unto their lives.

How then can they be made weak by the powers and the transgressions of this world when there is one who, through His guiding hand, through His love and mercy that makes them strong?

Still, there remains those who, like Herod, that wicked King, who would try to prove that they are stronger than the Lord, that they are more powerful than God’s hand, than God’s divine calling towards justice and freedom as they assert themselves on the lives of others, trying desperately to rob all joy from it. They seek to break the spirit of men and women through murder and suffering, through sorrow and pain, through anguish and agony, employing even the most extreme of tactics to bring about their ends.

Today the Church commemorates the Feast of the Innocents, a day marked in solemn remembrance of the massacre of children under Herod, his attempt to end the life of the Savior as he issued his order that all children under two be brutally executed by the hand of his agents. We mark this day with a deep sense of pain as we consider the infanticide of those Israelite children who were, so young, so untouched by the world, and the lives that were ripped from their grasps. We consider the pain and the agony of their families as they are left with nothing that they could do as the joy of their lives became the sorrow of their souls. We commemorate, we mark, we consider, and we wonder how it is possible that such hatred could exist in this world that it would work to extinguish the light of life in the most significant of ways.

Yet God’s light cannot be put out or smothered by the hand of man, nor can the deeds of men overshadow the love of the Lord at work as His mercy reigns, no matter how those who try seek to assert themselves over the hearts and minds, the spirits and souls of others. The Lord God Almighty reigns and from the darkest of days He brings the greatest of hopes to bear in the lives of His people, showing that His hand is always at work in this world. For even though we saw the brutal death of so many innocent, their place in Heaven was secured amidst the glorious throngs of martyrs who came before and after them, the product of such wicked deeds. Through Christ they were redeemed and even as the temporal life was drained from their form, the weeping and the crying of their mothers and fathers over them, they were given the perfect form of the Spiritual life where tyranny and oppression could no longer reign over them.

And even amidst this, as the hand of man swatted against Him, Christ would remain protected to proclaim the freedom and the liberty, the justice of the Lord amidst this world. It was like nothing more than fly swatting at a giant…

If this is the love of God and the freedom He proclaims over the souls of men, imagine then what it is that He is capable of in our present age as there are those who seek to assert themselves over our corporeal liberty and our temporal freedom.

We may ask ourselves, why does God let such wickedness occur in this world? Yet the truth is that it is not by God’s hand that it happens, nor is it by His will that such things take place. Despite the mercy and the love of Christ proclaimed, there are still those who let darkness rule their souls, as evil and chaos mark their way of pain and suffering. It’s the truth of this age, of this world, and yet God does not bring an end to it at this time because it is His desire that all who can be saved shall be saved to see the glory of Heaven and the eternal life brought through the Redeemer, a life free of all pain and suffering. Until that day when every soul that can be won for Heaven is won for Heaven, this world will persist even as evil comes to bear in it.

Yet that is not the end of the story…. With the Lord God Almighty it never is… God is at work in this world, and through His Spirit He is proclaiming the glorious freedom that comes through Christ Jesus. Even in the darkest of places, even in the darkest of times in a person’s life, God is there in mercy to shine his light to guide their way, never leaving them, never abandoning them, never failing or forsaking His people like lambs unto the slaughter. The Heavenly Father who was faithful enough to His Word to bring His only begotten Son into this world that none should perish but all should find eternal life, (John 3:16) has made that promise to us as He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3), as He saves those who are in crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Whatever the captivity, whatever the tyranny, whatever the oppression of the soul or the spirit, the body or the mind, trust that the Lord is there, that God is with us, through the trials and the tribulations of this world to bring us to the blessed light of His freedom. There is then no hidden place, no secret place, that wickedness and transgression can hide when our burdens are cast to Christ, the Savior breaking our yoke of slavery and giving us rest and peace in the love that He shows for us. (Matthew 11:28-31)

What a rich blessing, what a glorious assurance that is cutting through even the darkest of days of our lives…

Praise be His Holy name for that…

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/17/09

The Nativity with God the Father and the Holy Ghost,
Giambattista Pittoni, 1740

“Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
Psalm 68:18 and 19

The greatest of challenges, the most enduring of struggles to so imprison humanity… the deep yearning and the painful longing that it brings as it steals our peace, breaks our hearts and crushes our souls.

How do we even begin to battle back against it? How do we stand against the test of time and the battles of the heart that so seek to destroy us? That so seek to break us in the most significant of ways.

The oldest bondage to ensnare and enslave the hearts and the souls, the bodies and the minds of men wasn’t the Egyptian or the Babylonian Captivity, nor did it distinguish between Jew or Gentile, it had no consideration for any of the social, economic or cultural distinctions we have come to know within our lives. No, it knew none of it. Though it may be of the flesh, it is not a captivity ruled or governed over by men.

Since our first disobedience at Eden, each of us… we have been enslaved by the power of sin, death and the Devil. Corrupted in our nature, weakened in our resolve, we fall into its traps so easily, finding ourselves entangled in its web.

Yet, through the love of God, through His divine mercy and His gifts of grace, we know that this isn’t the end, it’s simply the beginning. Even since that fall, we would be handed the promise of a Messiah, of a Savior, given unto us to deliver us from the power that sin has over us. In the words of the Psalmist, he would come to lead captivity captive… to free us from that slavery.

Through Christ Jesus, we have come to see the fulfillment of that promise that the Lord God would give even unto Adam and Eve as they were dispelled from Paradise for their iniquities. Through that Son of God we, a race of enslaved captives, bound to death and the grave, are set free.

Consider that for a moment… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). He loves us and He cares for us so much that He is willing, in order to free us from the dark bondage to the Devil, to offer, as a perfect sacrifice, His son.

Through Him, in Him, we are more than conquerors, (Romans 8:37) for we, through His abiding compassion and wondrous love, know that we have the power to triumph, regardless of what the world may seek to capture us with, regardless of what the old Adversary may use to so ensnare us with. After all, His blessed name is Immanuel, and if God is truly with us, then who or what can stand against us? What then can separate us from the love of Christ in our lives as our Savior intercedes for us in mercy through grace?

If that is the compassion He shows us, if that’s the mercy He has for us, that He would conquer the pits of Hell for us and our salvation, should we not then trust Him to free the captives who are taken by this world? To look to Him for guidance and to trust that He will lead the way for us?

Of course it does not mean we should not take action, but it does mean that we should be resolved to know that, through it all, God is at work, He is present, His hand guiding, preserving and protecting to ensure the safety of His children. Trust in Him, knowing that even though we see hurt and hardship, even though it may seem overwhelming at times. He is present and at work showing His love for us through all the days of our lives.

After all, what then do we have to fear? For through God we have the wondrous and glorious love of our Savior. There is then no captivity, no bondage that can rip us away from Christ’s ransoming us. If this is His power against the spiritual forces, then what do we have to fear against powers and principalities, for He abides with us through the power of the Spirit to always set us free. What a wondrous miracle that truly is.


Heavenly Father, guide us by Your wisdom, by Your hand that we may learn to trust You, that we may learn to place our hope and our confidence in You. Hear our humble supplications for those taken captive, those who are held in slavery, hear the cries of those in bondage, and strengthen and preserve them in Your faith according to Your will. Show them Your transcending mercy O Lord, and comfort them in Your Holy Spirit according to Your compassion and love for Your children.

In the name of our precious Savior Christ Jesus, who ransomed the captives, freeing us from our slavery to sin, and who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, forever seated at Your right hand of glory, Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/15/09

“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3: 9 and 10

For generations… For generations the children if Israel, they suffered. They suffered and they struggled under the tight fist of the Pharaohs.

Once welcomed into Egypt it had been hundreds of years since the name of Joseph had been remembered in the royal halls of power. Now those proud sons of Abraham and Isaac, those proud daughters of Sarah, found themselves bought and sold as slaves. Whipped and bond in chains, defiled and degraded, they were lower than cattle, oppressed and tormented by their task masters who traded in human flesh and slave labor. They endured the deep and abiding pain of those dark days with no real rest or relief offered to them by their captors as they found that life was nothing more than agony and anguish.

Yet, their bodies cut and wounded, their bones broken and sore, their spirit and their souls could not be shattered by the mere force of the wicked iniquity of men. The hope that they had, it could not be beaten out of them, nor could it just be crushed as the found the enormous weight of the darkness of men bearing down on them. Whatever the burden, whatever the load, whatever the hurt and sorrow, they knew that there was more to life than the temporal authority and the corporeal power of the unrighteousness as it came to bear down upon them. In these moments they would cry out to the Lord, their God, trusting in Him, trusting in His promises, knowing that, throughout their struggles, throughout their challenges He would stand beside them. There would be no torture or torment, no darkness or pain that could separate them from His deep and abiding love for the,

Faithful and devoted to His people, unwilling to fail them or forsake them, unwilling to abandon them in their deepest hour of need or their darkest hour of pain, He would hear their cries…

He would hear their cries… He would see their plight…. He would feel their pain… He would know their sorrow… and for the life of them, He would not just give them up forever into the hands of their oppressors and the power of their might as they found themselves held in the darkness of that bitter estate. In the words of the Lord we hear Him say unto Moses, His chosen deliver, that He does remember the captive and the oppressed, that He does remember the slaves, and that He brings them forth from their bondage. In the words of the Lord we know that He remembers the plight of His people and the suffering that they are forced to endure, that they are made to undergo and that there is no power or might that is able to separate them from His abiding love and grace, His transcending mercy and hope for their lives.

So it was, so it is…

The love that God has for his oppressed children is not just a love for the children of Israel, but a deep and profound transcending love that surpasses all human knowledge, understanding and wisdom, bringing forth, shining forth His justice in this darkened world. It is a love that hears the calls and the cries of all the captives and all the oppressed from all nations. It is the grace that looks upon the lives of the people with compassion, caring for them even when it seems as if nothing in their lives will ever make sense again.

With Moses we see the hand of the Lord's deliverance, but it is not just a deliverance reserved for the Old Testament or for those ancient Children of the Heavenly Father. Though now revealed unto the world in different ways than a burning bush that is not consumed by the flames, the message remains the same: A God of righteousness, the God of the Captives, He shall lead them from the hands of oppression and tyranny through His righteousness.

Trust therefore in the Lord, looking to His divine justice, knowing that, no matter how long or how hard the struggle may be, just as He was with the children of Israel so to is He now with all the captives, all the hostages, and the slaves, working to deliver them the wicked and the unrighteous. Trust in Him, and know that, though the road may be long, though it may be wrought with challenges, the Lord is their with the oppressed through all the ages.

In the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Ghost, Amen.


Heavenly Father, hear the cries of the oppressed, see the plight of the captives, be not far from their struggles and their afflictions. Let not the wicked hand of the unrighteous bind the hearts and souls, bodies and minds, of Your children in their darkness, but shine forth Your light through Your justice that no iniquity, no tyranny may assert itself over others. Deliver, O Lord; show that you are God over all and that You will not let forsake Your children to the evils of unrighteous men.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came from on high to lead captivity captive and who reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/14/09

The Nativity, Federico Barocci, 1597

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

On him who is to come shall rest all authority for he shall usher in the age of the Lord, that divine reconciliation with our Heavenly Father for the sake of our righteousness and our redemption. Peace shall come in the Holy Name of God through him and finally shall we know a love that transcends all knowledge and understanding. In our time of weakness he shall give us strength, when we are overcome by the forces of this world he shall counsel us, he shall be our Prince and our Lord able to put to flight all pain and suffering, all sorrow and agony, giving our lives over that we might forever and always abide in mercy and compassion.

This is the wondrous love of God, our Heavenly Father. Even whilst we were lost to sin, death and the Devil, He dwelt with us, bringing forth His promise of salvation from even the earliest of days. (Genesis 3:15) Though, by the iniquity of one man then did sin enter into the world to bind us all to the dark yoke of captivity, crushing us under its burdensome weight, so by the life of one man did liberty come that we might all be set free, the slavery no longer upon us. (Romans 5:12-21) We would be ransomed from that grim power, forever testifying of the love of our Heavenly Father in our lives. (1Timothy 2:5-6)

This would be the faith that the prophets and the saints of the ancient days would build their hope on. (Luke 24:44)

From Moses to Isaiah, from Joshua to Micah, these were men who knew of captivity and bondage, of slavery and the pain that was associated with it. At some point or another their lives were held to be cheap, without any real value to it. They were carried from their homes, exiled in foreign lands as they were forced to kneel before foreign kings. Persecuted and oppressed they knew of the worst that the world had to offer as they were held at the mercy of other men.

Daniel would be cast to a den of lions, his dear friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego would be thrown to the fiery furnace, Joshua would live his life under the task masters whip in Egypt waiting for the day of deliverance, Isaiah would be sawed into two, dying the most painful and torturous of death. Yet their lives were given in testimony to the Lord and His divine mercy as they waited on the Advent of the Savior to lead them through the darkest of days that encompassed their lives to the mercy of the Lord. It would be the testimony of the three righteous men before the throne of Nebuchadnezzar as they refused to bow before the golden idols, recognizing the authority of God before the authority of men that perhaps best testified of this…

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

From the hand of God they knew there would come deliverance… wondrous and glorious deliverance for they knew that He promised salvation to them through the power of His Savior, long awaited and long appointed. It was then just a matter of time before he would enter into this temporal plan and the authority of the wicked who would hold men captive and slave to their will, persecuting and oppressing them, treating them as nothing more that cattle to the slaughter, would be put to flight.

The captivity and the bondage that we see amidst our present age, it is perhaps unlike the captivity of those ancient days of struggle and turmoil. Yet, regardless of what has changed, there are always those things that remain constant. It is worked by wicked men of wicked iniquity and strife who bring chaos and pain, suffering and anguish into this world. They care not for the righteousness of the Lord, for they cannot see past the veil of evil that has been cast over their eyes that so darken their sight. Those who stand in their way are cast to the pits of despair, even robbed of their lives as they are held in bitter exile far from their homes.

But even more constant than that is the constant truth of God’s abiding, transcending love and abiding hope shining through in the lives of His people and the compassion that comes through Christ Jesus, that Prince of Peace and glorious King of kings. Regardless of the day or the age, regardless of how unrighteousness and sin, iniquity and pain may try to assert itself on the lives of the people the authority rests with God and God alone, and through His Son all captivity and bondage is set to flight as He shines His mercy, love, compassion and grace in the lives of His people.

Perhaps we don’t always see that. It seems like when evil is on the march there is nothing that can push it back, there is nothing that can stop its onslaught as it robs people of the dignity and the integrity of their lives. The pain that it brings is so real, so palpable while the cause of peace and God’s authority seems abstract and far distant from this corporeal plane. It’s hard to imagine deliverance finally coming in the significant ways, in the wondrous and the glorious ways foretold of, trusted upon in even those most ancient of times.

Yet we can be assured that God is always faithful and ever devoted in His love and His care. We can know and we can trust that He will bring His mercy and His compassion to bear as His authority is shown throughout this world. Throughout the passage of time He has demonstrated that there is nothing that will be able to stand between His people and His grace. So much so does that come to bear in our lives that He would give His only begotten Son to put an end to Satan’s dark hold over us. What more do we need to demonstrate the care and the love that He has for us?

Yes, it may seem like the authority in this world rests upon the wicked. It may seem as if the power of this age rests upon the unrighteous. It may seem as if there is no end to their power as they work their ways, bringing agony and anguish. Yet the truth of the Lord, abiding and faithful in the lives of His people, is that through the advent of our Messiah salvation truly comes against wickedness and the darkness that it brings. After all, if He could loosen the stranglehold the old adversary had on us as he robbed us of our lives, how much more can He do against the adversaries of this world?

Trust therefore in the Lord and in His promises knowing that by His hand salvation shall come as He rescues His people as He has promised that He forever shall. Trust in the Lord through all the struggles of this world and know that by Him, through Him, liberty shall reign as through His Son and by His Spirit, His authority shall be made known in the love that He has for us, His dear and beloved children.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/10/09

Prayer for the News:

“But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.”
Psalm 59:16-17

Rock of strength, fortress of mercy, refuge for the troubled, we come before You Lord, knowing that, through Your love and compassion, through Your devotion and faithful assurances You are our ever present help in times of trouble. It is You who does wondrous deeds, showing forth Your grace in the lives of Your people even when the times of challenge are upon them and the agony and anguish of this world.

And Lord, there is suffering and sorrow, there is pain and hardship in the lives of Your people. You know their names, You have seen their faces, You have heard their cries. For so long have they had to endure the worst that this world has had to offer, finding the darkness and iniquity of men ripping them from all that they know and all that they love. For three years have André Durant, Callie Scheepers, Johan Enslin and Hardus Greef been left to languish in the grimmest of estate, having nothing more than hope to cling to amidst their live as they’ve been held captive in Baghdad.

Lord we pray that You be their refuge and their defense, the force of mercy in their lives according to the promises You have made. Where their lives are help cheap, show them they are of worth, where misery abides in them bring Your faithful promises to dwell, and where captivity and bondage is all they seem to know any longer, guide them to the deeper miracles of the freedom and liberty that You bring. So them that even though the path before them is long and hard, wrought with challenges unlike anything they could have imagined, Your light and Your truth breaks through in the most significant of ways to guide Your people back home.

Show them that they might have courage and strength as Your perseverance guides them and sustains them through all of the days of their lives, through this captivity and the days of joy You have planned for them when this is finally all put to flight…

Then shall we praise Your name, singing of Your power all the day long…

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

A Prayer for all the Hostages:

“That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.”
Psalm 108:6

To You do we flee dear Lord that we may seek and implore Your grace that mercy shall abide with Your children and that Your blessed people shall be delivered from the hands of wickedness and iniquity, unrighteousness and captivity throughout this world. Hear the names of the hostages and the prisoners, those who are oppressed and persecuted throughout the world, and know the countless others, bought and sold into slavery, bound and tied to imprisonment, crushed and destroyed by repression those ranks of men and women, children and families who we don’t have names for, the vast unknown throughout the world who are only known by those who they love and have been forced to leave behind.

Save them by Your hand that the hand of cruelty shall not be upon them. Show them the light of Your love that it might cut through the darkness that now surrounds them and let Your mercy shine through in the most significant of ways. Give them hope to endure their struggles and strength to preserve through their ordeal. Give them courage to push forward, and the blessings of Your assurances that they shall know that You have not abandoned them. Then, in Your time, in Your way, restore them to their freedom.

Show those who take prisoners and hostages, those who make captives and slaves of their fellow man that Your love does not abide in their unrighteousness and that Your grace does not dwell amidst their cruelty. Bring them to understanding that they may see the error of their unholy ways, and that they may come to a sincere sense of repentance according to Your path and Your sense of divine justice. Show them that they may abandon their path of darkness no longer to inflict themselves on the lives of others in the cruel fashion in which they have ripped them away from their families and loved ones, their homes and their joy. Then shall they come to understand that their ways are not Your ways and their will abandons Your will and they shall become agents of peace and love rather than chaos and hatred.

For all who are held, all who are taken from their peace and their joy we pray dear Lord, that You may bring them to the liberty that abides in Your Spirit to dwell forever in the joy of Your blessed freedom.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/08/09

The Infant Jesus Sleeping on the Cross, Murillo, 1670s

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Isaiah 35:1-10

Fear shall always seek to weaken us; it will try to rip from us our strength and our comfort, robbing us of our assurances and our peace amidst this life and this world. Pain will come, hurt and suffering; there will always be times of trouble and hardship, all that it might exhaust our resolve, deteriorating it under its burdensome weight. It rips through us in the most significant of ways. Then, suddenly, as if it just snuck up on us, it becomes easy for us to just question everything. After all, in those moments, life just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anymore and we are the ones that are left to pick up the pieces.

Yet the more we endure, turning to the Lord, our God, when we find that the anguish and the agony of this world is upon us, the stronger we are, for it is He who gives us strength and courage, hope and endurance to run the race with faith. Through the power of His hand, and by the mercy of His Holy Spirit, when we put our trust in Him He heals us. Suddenly there is no struggle, there is no challenge, there is no pain that cannot be put to flight for He whispers unto us that His grace is sufficient for us. Where we are weak there He makes us strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) Then the blind shall see, and the deaf shall hear, the mute shall speak and those who have never walked before in their lives shall step forward according to the love that their Heavenly Father has for them.

We may not understand the great mysteries of the our God as He moves through this world, making His presence known in our lives, indeed in the lives of all of His Saints, all of His children. After all, even as we hard as we may try to understand His wisdom, His knowledge transcends our knowledge, and His understanding is far greater than our ability to comprehend. (Romans 11:33-36) Yet loving, and caring, God reveals unto us His heart even amidst the enduring struggles of this age and of this world. He does not just leave us in the darkness. Instead, He shines the light of His truth in our lives. That light breaks through all of the gloomy pain of this world to bring forth truth and righteousness, redemption and reconciliation with the Lord God Almighty. (Isaiah 60:1-4)

Assurance… blessed assurance is given in the coming of Christ, for He is the ultimate manifestation of God’s strength and love for our lives. He is the Word made flesh, given in grace and truth to the saints (John 1:14) through the compassion and the mercy of the Lord. Through him and by him we have the strength to face all the challenges and the trials of this world, this temporal existence and endure, for he is the appearance of God’s great devotion to us. Upon him then can we rest all of our burdens, all of our pains and anguish, knowing that he shall take the weight from us. After all, it is Christ who whispers to us through the darkness of this corporal plane, saying unto us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Yes, this world is strong, and the power of its might and its authority is great, but Christ is greater, and there is no adversity, there is no challenge in our lives that he can’t preserve and sustain us through. When we place our hope and our trust in him, understanding the true nature of God’s love for us our broken hearts will be healed and our wounds will be mended (Psalm 147:3) as, by the power of His authority, the way is made light as He gives salvation to those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) And how do we know this? Because our Heavenly Father tells it to us as Christ tells us that God does not just abandon us or fail us, He does not just forsake us during our times of peril and pain, hardship and struggle, (Luke 15:3-7) nor does He turn His back on us when we have strayed and then wandered home. (Luke 15:11-32) He is there to care for us and to love us even then, knowing it is in these times that we need Him the most.

There is then no captivity, either spiritual or physical, of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul that God cannot set to flight. Ransoming each and every one of us by and through the power of His love He would make His will and His desire known for us as He shined His light and His truth in our lives through Christ Jesus. This is the sign of His Spirit, that marvelous abiding Spirit of Liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17) that we have so much hope in through all of the days of our lives knowing that it brings us to His divine justice and mercy.

This was the firm expectation and the unbridled optimism of the Prophet Isaiah as he looked to the coming of the Messiah as the great fulfillment of God’s promises unto mankind, never wavering or doubting the assurances that the Lord God had made as He told him that there would come a time when all things would be revealed. He placed all of his hope in these vows of devotion from his God, knowing that though the people of God mourned in lowly captivity to sin, death and the Devil, to iniquity and darkness, pain and sorrow, there would come a day when a child would appear and he would banish it all, paying the ransom and setting captivity captive.

This would be Christ the Lord and He would bring the truth of the Lord’s encompassing mercy and enduring love with him…

Therefore, like Isaiah, place all trust and hope in the advent of the Savior, knowing that he has the power to set people free. Pray for His coming that the Spirit of the Lord may be upon us, and that the message of freedom shall be preached in all places, in all things, through all things, knowing that by and through God’s love all men shall be released from darkness. Place your trust and pray, knowing that God will reveal His love then through His Son, and there shall then be nothing, whether it is power or principality or pirate, or captivity and bondage, slavery or repression, oppression or persecution that will be able to so burden the children of God and keep chained far from His love for them.

Trust in Him and the power of His promises through all of the challenges of this world and know that your hope shall never be misplaced…

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/7/09

The Root of Jesse's Branch, Notre Dame de la Grande Cathedral, Poitiers, France

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Romans 15:8-13

Generations did they wait for His advent, placing their hope and their trust in the promises of the Lord. They watched for the signs, holding fast to the word of the Lord given to them from even the most ancient of times. And why? Because they knew that their God was always faithful, and He had given them His assurances that there would come a time when a Savior would be born. He would come to redeem them, setting sin and iniquity to flight as he crushed the head of evil under his heel. (Genesis 3:15) Then, though man had fallen to the most brutal of estates amidst his own transgressions, corrupting that perfect nature that the Lord had created him in, he would finally be set free, dwelling in the mercy of his Heavenly Father.

His life would begin small and weak. He would be born in the most meager of estates. He would be like the twig, that shoot coming forth from the tree. Yet, the power of the Spirit would rest upon Him and He would grow strong and powerful, all authority resting upon Him as He produced the fruit to nurture and sustain us. (Isaiah 11:1-2) “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” he would give us for our edification and against such there would be no law. (Galatians 5:22-23) No longer would we hunger in spiritual exile, for God would be with through our Redeemer who guided and sustained our lives each and every step of the way. He would be with us, pouring forth the Manna from Heaven that we needed to never yearn amidst the starvation of the soul again.

This Messiah would come. His advent would be made clear through Christ Jesus, our Lord and our Savior. He would be the confirmation of all of the promises that God had ever made for us in love. Through Him we would have the power to become the children of God, (John 1:12-13) born again of the water and the Word, of the Spirit of the Lord. (John 3:4-6) With grace, mercy and peace would Christ come to make way the path on high, bringing unto us hope and strength amidst the encompassing liberty that he offered to us. (2 Corinthians 3:17) That is the abiding truth of God’s great love for each and every one of us. For though we were lost in sin, though it made our souls like scarlet, staining our spirits through and through, Christ would come and wash it as clean as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)

Praise be to the Lord, finally the yoke of slavery would be cast from us. We just have to stand firm and stand fast then for Christ made us free. (Galatians 5:1) He would ascend on high, leading captivity captive, giving the gift of liberty to the children of men. (Ephesians 4:8) The ransom would be paid through Him, and we would finally be released from the dark hold of sin, death and the Devil in our lives. Gentile or Jew, it would no longer matter, for we would all be the sons and the daughters, the chosen people of God by the power of His love and Christ’s sacrifice.

It’s here then that we come to a fundamental truth, and understanding… we can all relate, at least a little bit, to the prisoners and the slaves, the captives and the hostages of this world, even if we don’t necessarily realize it at the time. After all, we were all lost, we were all fallen, we were all held in such meager estate. The captivity that we faced, it would bring sorrow and suffering, pain and agony, as we found ourselves afflicted by our ancient adversary. In the end it would all ultimately death never to see our Heavenly home. There captivity? It brings anguish and hardship, darkness and torment, as they are left in the most tortured estates as they are subjected to the forces of unrighteousness and wickedness in the world. Too many of them held never return home, dying in the far distant places, those dark, hidden places they are kept by their captors.

Ours may be a spiritual captivity, while theirs is a physical and a mental captivity, but the similarities should cause us to look upon them with a renewed zeal and spirit to help them, to show sympathy and compassion for them in their lives. It should compel us to pray all the harder for them amidst their lives, for, even in our own small way, we can understand a part of their affliction and their distress at the hands of cruelty. We know, in our own minute way, the sorrow of the spirit and the anguish of the soul that they are forced to face amidst their lives given over to iniquity as unrighteousness dominates over them, persecuting and oppressing them in the most significant of ways.

But even here we also come to another fundamental, core certainty as we face the reality of our lives… If God can set us free from the captivity of the Devil, putting his dark power to flight as He brings us to His blessed liberty, then how much more can He do against the captivity of this world and those wicked forces of men that are in it? If the love of Christ can set us free amidst the mercy that the Lord shows by and through the power of His Spirit, how much more is it capable of in the lives of the captives and the slaves held in the dark and hidden places of this world? How much more can it do in the lives of those who are in such need as they are taken from all that they know and all that they love?

This is the God of Israel. He lead His people from the hands of their Egyptian taskmasters even as they were held in slavery and bondage. He brought them out of that land, leading them by His hand to their Promised Land that finally they would be set free to live and to think and to do and to be.

This is the God of salvation. So much so would He love us that He would not even withhold His only begotten Son. For us and the cause of our freedom, for us and the cause of our liberty He would offer him unto us that we might find redemption and reconciliation with Him according to the light of His love. Through him He would put to flight all captivity and bondage, any slavery of the soul.

Look then therefore to the advent of the Lord, our Savior and understand that it is God’s calling to freedom. Look to it, understanding the captivity of the soul, the bondage of the spirit, the slavery of the heart and the liberty of our being that He would bring unto us for our lives. Look to it and understand it, using that enlightenment in the cause of the same love that our Heavenly Father showed unto you, that you may work for the cause of freedom and justice throughout this world, putting the cause of those held in dark and meager estate foremost in your life all of the days of it.

Then shall you magnify the love of God, producing the fruits of the Spirit that Christ first produced in His life, shinning forth the love and the light of our Savior, as his disciple, in all things and through all things, each and every day of your life.

Lord, grant this unto us all…

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/3/09

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-5

There was a faith that the prophets clung to all of the days of their lives. It was a hope in the promises of the Lord. Though they were lost in captivity, though sin grasped at them, strangling the life from them amidst its dark, brutal power God had given them His assurances. They would know that that this would not be their fate forever. The dark bondage of this world would be set to flight, and the exiled would return to home. Love and compassion from God, the Heavenly Father, would reign as, at long last, freedom would be bought and paid for through the life of the Messiah.

The Son of God would come, being made man, born in the most meager estates. He would live his life in service to His fellow man, showing mercy and grace in the lives of the people. Upon his shoulders would rest all of the griefs, all of the sorrows, all of the transgressions of a lost and fallen humanity. For their sake he would stricken, smitten and afflicted. For their sins and the iniquities, he would be bruised, and injured. All that our spiritual injuries would be healed and that peace would come to encompass our lives. Captivity would no longer have any power over us, for it would be made captive (Ephesians 4:8) and we would be ransomed by God’s transcending, encompassing love, made manifest through Christ Jesus. (Matthew 20:28)

For Isaiah, for all of the Prophets of those ancient days, there was no greater hope they could build their trust on. They had the promise of the Lord of the coming Savior, of that Redeemer who would bring liberty through the power of His hand. God’s love would be revealed in all of its glory, made apparent through the life of Christ. Even if they had tried they couldn’t seem to abandon this blessed assurance of the Lord, for no matter how long it was that they had to wait, they knew that there would come a day when the miracle of the Lord’s plan would come to fruition and all would be revealed unto them who waited in faithful anticipation for the fulfillment of His Word.

Having waited generation after generation, age after age they never gave up that hope in the expectations of the Lord. Though despair and pain, suffering and sorrow, anguish and hardship surrounded them, though they found themselves torn from their homes, exiled from their lands, the people of God falling away to the false idols of this world, those faithful of God, such as the Prophet Isaiah, refused to give up their belief that the Lord would fulfill His promise to them. Even as their world collapsed, even as it seemed to fall apart all around them, still, they looked to the blessed assurances of their Heavenly Father knowing there would come a day when all of this would come to an end. His Son would come and, in his train, he would bring the blessed Spirit of Liberty to set them free.

The Messiah would come. In God’s time, in God’s way, the Redeemer would enter into this temporal existence, made man. Just as Isaiah foretold, just as the Prophets anticipated, the Lord would stay true to His promises to them and there would finally come the day when he would be born to bring them to the glorious liberty of the spirit and the soul, removing from them the burden of captivity and the yoke of slavery to sin, death and the Devil. He would come into this world to be wounded that they might be healed, telling unto them, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 28:11-30)

If this is the hope that God shows unto His people, unto His beloved children amidst the spiritual captivity that so crushes us, then imagine then the power that He has over the physical and the mental captivity of His people amidst this world’s authority. After all, it is He who ultimately has all of the power and authority; it is on Him that rests all the glory amidst the ages. With a word He can fail the control and the strength of this world. In the end even those who oppress and subjugate, even those who take hostages and make slaves of men, they are subject to His supremacy and His rule over all that He created. (Romans 13:1) Though they flee and hide from Him, believing there are dark places they can commit their sins and their iniquities, there is no place they can go that is out of the sight of the Lord God Almighty. It is here then that we know that in His time, in His way, He will bring justice to the afflicted and end the suffering of those who are held in such painful estates.

God does not fail or forsake His children, nor does He abandon them to suffering and sorrow. Rather, He is there to show His love, mercy and grace for their lives. This is the transcending truth of the ages. It is the truth that Isaiah knew, the hope that Moses built His faith on, that David placed his trust in, that Jeremiah struggled to maintain, it is timeless optimism that Job, even in the darkest of days of His life drew strength from. God does come in glory and love, in compassion and mercy, to set His people free according to His grace. There is no power that can afflict them, no power that can hold them, there is no authority greater than His. Through Christ Jesus and the encompassing sacrifice He gave through His only begotten Son He showed that truth to us.

Look then therefore to the truth of Christ’s advent, for, in it, comes the great message of freedom that transcends the ages. It is the message of liberty and justice that sets God’s people free according to the love that He has for them. Through it and through him we shall then always know the truth that will set us free, and like the prophets of the days of old we shall have all that we need to build our hope upon all of the days of our lives.

Yes, the days may be long and full of hardship, yes it may seem as if there is darkness all around us, it may seem as if the grim hold of those who take captives and prisoners, slaves and hostages has no bounds as they work their wickedness through this world and in this world. But as the Lord, our God, showed through Christ Jesus, His only begotten son, as He sent him down from Heaven for our cause, these things too shall come to pass as God shows that His love and His mercy reigns supreme.

That is out timeless hope, the transcending truth of our lives, the faithful anticipation of His Word for our lives. Find your courage and your strength in that assurance and know that you shall always have a firm foundation anchored to the rock of God’s salvation, both temporal and spiritual, as the freedom of that comes through His love encompasses the body and the mind, the spirit and the soul of His people.

What a wondrous promise and a glorious assurance that truly is for our lives...

What a miracle that is that shines through in our lives…

Blessed be His Holy Name for that.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 12/1/09

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

Ever since man’s first fall to sin amidst the glories of Eden he longingly waited for the promised Messiah to restore him. (Genesis 3:15) For generations prophets pointed to the assurances of the Lord. They would look with hope to the word of the Lord, a guarantee that there would come a Redeemer to rescue His fallen children. They would put their faith in it; all of their trust would rest on it. No longer would they be held in such bitter estate, lost amidst this temporal existence. The dark captivity of sin, death and the Devil would be broken. No longer would the chains of that slavery bind the hearts and souls, the spirits and the minds of God’s people. Ransomed from sin and iniquity they would finally be set free. (Psalm 68:18)

Despite trial and tribulation, hardship and persecution they could not just abandon that hope. They had to proclaim that wondrous and glorious message of salvation. They knew that, when the Son of God came, he would heal the broken hearted, and he would set free all the captives, giving liberty to those who were bound up. He would bring comfort, peace and joy amidst the love that God had for each of us. Mercy would reign and the deep, abiding burdens that crushed the spirit would finally be lifted from the soul. Those weary, unable to find a measure of rest would finally find an end to strife and sorrow.

In ancient Hebrew customs there was the year of the Jubilee. (Leviticus 25:8-55) It beginning was marked by Yom Kippur, that day of atonement when the sins were lifted from the people. Now a timeless and endless Jubilee would be proclaimed as that great sacrifice came upon this earth to take away the sins of the world. (John 3:16) The Spirit of the Lord would usher him forward and upon them would rest the abiding blessing of freedom that would encompass their lives. (2 Corinthians 3:17) With God with us through the Son who or what would be able to stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

Always faithful to His Word and ever devoted to the cause of his people God would not fail them or forsake them. He would never forget them, nor would He tell them that they weren’t worth the price that had to be paid. In His time, in His way He would send this Messiah forth into this temporal existence. According to the love that He had for His people, for His children the Heavenly Father would not withhold even His only begotten Son from us. In compassion and mercy He would give all to us that the hope and the faith of the prophets, the same hope and faith we rest on today, would not be in vain. The encompassing miracle of our lives it would be the abiding truth that would forever set us free. (John 8:32)

If this is the love of the Lord, if this is the power of our God made manifest through Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, then how much more can He do amidst this world? If we can conquer the spiritual captivity and the spiritual authority of sin, death and the Devil as it holds our lives amidst grim and bitter estates then how much more can He do against the temporal captivity and authority of those who are held hostage and prisoner? The promise, after all, is right there before us. He will proclaim liberty to the captives and open the prisons to them that are bound. He will heal the broken hearted and He will comfort all of those who mourn. All praise and glory will belong to Him because with Him shall come the abiding freedom that He endowed us with even at the beginning of time.

Throughout the world we see all sorts of evil, all sorts of wickedness. Men of darkness let sin and iniquity guide their way. They bring death and destruction with them as they hold life cheap and without any intrinsic meaning or value. Through their unrighteousness they take prisoners and hostages, they take people captive and they make them into slaves. They buy and sell flesh as if it was nothing at all. Sorrow and suffering, pain and agony follow them through all of their days.

Yet their power is meaningless. Though it lasts for a short time it shall pass just as surely as one day fades into the next, for they abide in their own hatred and loathing. The love of the Lord is far distant from their hearts and their minds, their spirits and their souls. They show nothing but contempt for their fellow man. God, the Lord God Almighty, will not let that stand. He will not just let them do as they will without bringing hope to His people, offering unto them courage and strength through even these, the darkest of days of their lives. That is the transcending, encompassing truth of His abiding love.

Though it may seem far distant, ransom and rescue shall come. It will come by the hand of God working through this world, showing that there is no limit to His power and authority. It shall move in the most significant of ways in the lives of His people. Though there will always be those who will seek to assert their own control and influence to subjugate and oppress their fellow man God shall show them that He is there to proclaim liberty and freedom, justice and mercy for His people. Faithful to His promises this is the assurance of His devoted love. It is a blessing that is beyond compare.

So just as the prophets looked to the coming of the Messiah, placing their hope in the Word of the Lord, look to the freedom that He brought in Christ Jesus, and know that liberty does not just begin and end there. It carries through the ages, and makes itself known in the love and the mercy, the compassion and the grace of our God. There is no other way to understand it but to understand that it is a miracle that comes by His hand through His hand in this life. It then encompasses us in the most significant of ways through all of the days of our lives.

Perhaps it could be that hope seems far distant as we longingly look and wait. Yet that hope is never in vain. God will show forth His devotion to His people through the kindness of that He brings into their lives. His Spirit shall then be upon all those who suffer, all of those who find themselves in agony as He brings them peace. Captivity and bondage shall have no power over them, for rest shall come to the weary and comfort to the troubled. What a blessed miracle that truly and rightly must be seen as for our lives.

Therefore place your trust in Him and know that He walks beside you carrying your spirit and your soul to the wondrous promises of His great and abiding live. Just as He ransomed captive Israel, “That mourned in lowly exile” until His Son appeared, He too shall ransom the captives and the hostages, the prisoners and the slaves wherever they are held, and whoever holds them. They shall never be failed or forsaken according to His great love.

Blessed be His name for that.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/30/09

The Last Judgment, Michelangelo, 1536-41

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”
2 Peter 3:10-12

The final days are upon us, yet none shall know the time. Movies and books, scientists and theologians, they have wrestled with the end of the world. Some have even put forward their own predictions of how and when this will happen. What we know though is that Christ, he shall return like a thief in the night, quietly until suddenly he is upon us. There are signs that point to that return, but they are just that signs. Not even these things will tell us the year or the day or the moment or the instant when it will occur. Anything we can offer is nothing more than a shallow prediction based on our own incomplete knowledge and understanding.

What we don’t know about the end times and the return of Christ, it could fill an encyclopedia. Yet what we do know is that when it comes there we be no escaping it. There will be no missing it. The noise of heaven shall overwhelm us, the elements shall melt, and all of the earth shall come to pass. In a flood did God destroy the wickedness of men in days of old, preserving only the righteous, (Genesis 6-8) now will He destroy it with fire and heat. Again though, shall only the righteous be left to stand according to His abundant mercy and timeless grace.

Yet none are righteous. (Romans 3:10) All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So who shall be saved from these final days?

Those redeemed in the precious blood of the lamb. It is those who are justified freely through the grace of God by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. (Romans 3:24) Though their sins stained their soul, by his blood are they washed as clean as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) The blessed gospel message of the Redeemer, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It is a free gift of grace, shining light and love into our souls, based solely on the works and the will of the Lord our God.

Yet our deeds matter. Without our works our faith is proven to be dead. (James 2:20) They magnify the glory of God and show forth our faith in Him. As the Apostle Peter then asks us, what manner of Godliness should we bring forward from our spirits and our souls? With the confidence we have in Christ, what manner of good should we exemplify in our lives, through our lives, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord?

Love… the love first taught unto us by Jesus. It is his great commandment for us and it’s how we prove ourselves to be his disciples. (John 13:34) When we show forth love and compassion, mercy and kindness in our lives we live a good and Godly life filled with the Spirit, letting those fruits edify and nourish people wherever they are, whoever they are. The light of the Lord shines forth from our being in the most significant of ways. Then we know that our Heavenly Father lives within us through the hope that we have in our faith and those blessed assurances that we have in them. In the final days we shall then see the Lord in our flesh and stand beside Him in all confidence.

Yet, in this world, there are those folks who are of this world, letting themselves conform to its wickedness rather than being transformed by the Spirit. (Romans 12:2) They abide in their own self righteousness, rather than in the righteousness of the Lord, following their own will and desire rather than seeking what is pleasing to God. They work all sorts of iniquity, bringing pain and suffering, sorrow and agony with them. They take prisoners and hostages; they make slaves out of men and women. These are ones who hold humanity cheap without any intrinsic value or worth as they hold the power of life and death in their hands and choose death. Whether it is a physical murder or a murder of the spirit, they hold no love in their hearts for their fellow man as they rip away the innocence from all of us and let us all die a little inside.

It’s not always going to be like this though. Even these things too shall come to pass, and there will come a day when all of their evil shall be put to flight. In pride do they show their true nature, and what we know is that, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) The flaming sword of the Lord shall cut through the darkness that they bring and the light shall shine forth according to His love and mercy. Then shall they come to see the errors of their ways.

In the final days all of their wickedness and iniquity shall be brought forth and they will discover that there is no hidden place they can keep themselves that is out of the sight of the Lord. They shall come to know that He is ever present and ever vigilant for the cause of His people, never failing them or forsaking them all of the days of their lives. He brings them courage and strength even when brutal captivity holds them hostage. Just as He ransomed even the most captive of souls, imprisoned to the power of sin, death and the Devil, through His only begotten Son, so too shall He then set free all who are held in even the most bitter of captivity amidst this world. There will be no yoke of bondage that will be too strong that He will be unable to break it.

It is therefore why we pray not just for the prisoners and the slaves, the hostages and the captives, the victims of human trafficking, but those who take these people from their homes, ripping them away from all that they love. Like God, we wish for all people to abide in the light of the truth and to let that truth set them free. Our fervent desire has to be that they see the error of their wicked ways before those final days and to repent of them that they will find mercy and righteousness which will come to encompass their lives.

It’s hard to do. We see the chaos that they bring and the suffering that comes from their hand. Yet we have to believe that God can work in the spirit and the soul, the heart and the mind of even the most lost that finally good shall come from the evil they work. We have to believe that just as He redeemed us through the free gift of grace, so too shall He redeem them in the love that He has. Our desire cannot be for any to burn amidst the fiery pits of hell and that desolation that is waged. For when we do we desire for them to be held captive and slave as well, this though to the power of the old Adversary.

Therefore wait and look for the end times, but pray also. Pray for the repentance of all those who work such pain and iniquity, such wickedness and hatred in this world. Let the love of Christ move your heart to desire you to hope they will see the error of their ways before it is too late and their time has passed. Pray that the Spirit moves them and know that even if they reject the coming of the Holy Ghost in their lives, these things too shall pass and their will come a day when God puts all evil and worldly captivity to flight, refusing to let it stand for all time in all ages.

Then shall we all dwell in the blessed assurance and the hope-filled promises of the Lord our God amidst the love and mercy, compassion and grace that shines for from Him as a loving Heavenly Father caring for His children.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/26/09

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Ephesians 3:10-19

The blessings of this life that carry from the temporal existence to the glorious triumphant Spiritual existence. What is it that we are thankful for in our lives? What is the truth that carries us through even the darkest of days of as we wander through this world looking for that abiding sense of peace that will bring us comfort and joy? What defines our happiness as we look to our days and our years here amidst this corporeal plane?

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time where we enjoy the solace that we find with family and friends. We put the troubles that we may face in our lives behind us even for a short time and we just spend the day resting, as we find ourselves grateful for what we have. It’s one of those times were we stop thinking about what we could want or what we feel like we are owed or what it is that we should have or anything else and we give thanks knowing that we are truly blessed in our lives, even if it isn’t with the material wealth that the world tells us we need to find peace. We carve our turkeys or our hams, we watch our football games and all of our conflicts and our woes seem far distant and far removed, even if it is just for a little while.
Even if we can’t necessarily see it, even if it is hard for us to understand, or the gifts that we have are far removed from our lives, we are sincerely blessed in our lives, even if it seems like we don’t have a lot or that the past year or years have been filled with troubles that seemingly have no end in sight. There is just so much that we have to praise God for in our lives as comfort and peace in our lives are not as distant as it may perhaps seem to be at times.

Yet what is it that we should truly and rightly be grateful for? What is it that we should give the most thanks for?

Throughout the world there are those who are held in bondage and captivity, they are held hostage by the forces of wickedness and evil in this world with no end in sight. Ripped away from all that they know and love, all whom they know and love, these men and women are held in grim and dark estate. They have no idea what it is that they have done to deserve the agony and the pain that is now being inflicted on them. They have no idea if they will ever see those whom they care so dearly for ever again as they long to draw close to them once again.

We know some of them by name, and yet it’s just a small number. There are so many more who we don’t know, or who we will never really know. They die without us ever really even having known that they existed or that this iniquity was inflicted on them. They remain nameless and faceless with the only people to mark their lives being their families and their friends who are only left to wonder about what their fate was. It is a hurtful, dark way to go, one that is filled with so many questions for those who are left behind as they try to find some sort of meaning in this. The evil that has burdened them as they too find themselves imprisoned, not physically, but spiritually by the dark and wicked acts of those who stole the lives of those whom they love, and ultimately a piece of theirs as well gives them only one answer, that there is such suffering and sorrow in this world that is beyond compare.

Amidst this we have so much to be grateful for, so much to be thankful for in our lives. We live in freedom. Perhaps it may seem as if nothing in our lives are going our way, perhaps it may seem like things are just not going right, but we have the blessings of liberty. Our lives can find peace as we strive to do more, to do better with the gifts that we have been given to us by the hand of God.

Those blessings and those gifts, they are not hard to find if we just take the time to look. The Apostle Paul speaks of them in his epistle as he talks about the confidence that we have in the Lord and the faith we have been given through Christ Jesus, our Savior. Even in our times of hardship and our times of tribulation those blessings are there for us to take hold of, and to rest in through the peace of the Lord that transcends our base human knowledge and understanding. It is a richness of life that we are given through the atonement we are granted in the life and the death, the encompassing sacrifice and the conquest of the grave by the Messiah. It is the liberty that we are granted through the power of the Spirit that we are reconciled to our God by.

God wishes for us all to know this love and this joy, and to abide in it all of the days of our lives. He wants us to dwell with this faith in our hearts that we may not grow faint amidst the troubles that we face in this temporal existence that we can come to the glorious triumph of the spirit. He wants us to be thankful for it even when times are hard, even when the days are rough, knowing that yes, these things too shall pass and that no matter what the world heaves upon us, no matter what the world thrusts at us, no matter what the world takes from us it can never take from us His blessed and wondrous assurances of salvation. But more than this He wants us to spread this message and to pray for those who do not dwell amidst earthly freedom that their spirit may be so moved by his love that they will find the peace of the Lord in their lives.

So as you carve your turkey, as you think about all that you are thankful for, as you remember the blessings that encompass your life, even if they seem far distant in your life, remember those who are not as fortunate as you. Remember the prisoners and the hostages, the captives and the slaves who are held far from their homes, far from all those whom they love, that they may draw confidence in the Lord and the faith that comes through His love in the gift of grace that He offers by and through the power of His encompassing Spirit. Remember them and know that through God’s love they shall find their peace either in this life or the next as the Lord draws them close to Him in the love that He has for them as a compassionate and merciful Heavenly Father.

Remember them and draw your hope from Him in the struggles of this world, remember your peace and comfort from the Lord and pray that all will be able to abide in the same liberty and comfort that does come through Him and by Him amidst the love that He has for all of us in our lives.

Then it shall truly and rightly be a blessed thanksgiving, then it shall truly and rightly be a blessed day as we come to see everything that is wondrous and glorious, that God has to offer to us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Morning Prayer 11/26/09

Psalm 30

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."

7 O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

8 To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:

9 "What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help."

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/17/09

“The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”
Isaiah 40:6-9

It’s easy for us to know that we live in a world where there is much to fear. All around us we see tyranny and oppression, persecution and subjugation, we feel the captivity of the body and the mind, the spirit and the soul as evil works its way through this temporal existence, showing its face in the lives of all of those whom it touches. We can’t turn a blind eye to it or act as if it just not there because it is such a prevalent force working its way through this world.

All of Christian life, all of human life, it is given to Spiritual warfare of the age as evil and wickedness works through the lives of the people. The battles are waged, the trials are set, the tribulations are before us as we are left to see the darkness that surrounds the age in which we live in. Amidst all of this there is a longing of the soul that needs an answer to the spirit as we cry out, unsure of what is that we are supposed to cry out as peace and comfort seems so fleeting and pain and suffering seems to come so easily. We want to know, we need to know because there has to be an answer, any answer, yet so much just doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.

Yet even amidst the evil of wicked men willing to work their wicked ways, even when it seems like nothing in the world is going to make sense, and like peace is gone and darkness is on the rise, even as chaos seems to be on an onward, progressive march forward, there is a whispering voice that blows like the wind, bringing unto us the response to the longing our souls. No matter how great the challenge, no matter how large the struggle, no matter how powerful the enemy the Lord our God is there, showing that these things are small, and that yes, they too shall come to pass.

All of the earth magnifies His glory, showing forth the truth of His righteousness. As we look upon all that He has created we see that even the grass withers and the flower fades and dies, for they are but temporal and corporeal. Yet the word and the truth of the Lord our God, it stands forever as the blessed assurances of our lives, promising His help and His hope in the lives of His people as He moves through their lives and in their lives in the most significant of ways even during the deepest of challenges that dominate our lives as He tells us that this age, it shall pass. Though it may see as if the struggles are great, even though it may seem as if the captivity and the slavery that binds those it takes with its burdensome yoke they shall pass like the withering grass and the fading flower, crumbling and dispersing as the Spirit of the Lord blows across it.

The power and the glory, it does not belong to those who move through the world to oppress, worshipping themselves or their idolatrous gods amidst their own self righteousness, it belongs to the Lord God Almighty. He is the same God who delivered the children of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians as they were held by the taskmasters whip. He is the same God who marched them forward through the desert, feeding them and providing for them, never letting them thirst or hunger as He brought them to the Promised Land. Here, even as the wandering tribes of this nomadic people who had spent decades in the wilderness came up against the well established and fortified cities of their enemies, God would deliver victory into their hands.

The hope and the faith, it does not rest on those who move amidst the generations subjugating men, as they bring darkness and pain in their steps, kneeling before their false gods of this world, before their Baal’s that dominate their lives, sacrificing the innocent on their altar, it rests on the Lord our God, our Heavenly Father. He is the same God who sent His only begotten Son into this world that evil and darkness, that pain and suffering would have no more power over us. Through his atoning sacrifice Christ Jesus would set captivity captive and ransom even the most lost of souls from the wickedness that would so encompass them. No longer would they be held in slavery to sin, death and the Devil for he had broken that yoke and set us all free amidst the Spirit of liberty that he brought with him.

Come what may, come what must then, for the power of this world, and the dark forces of iniquity and wickedness they shall fade from this world, showing that darkness has no authority over the souls that they would take hostage and prisoner, over those that they would so inflict themselves on. They shall be put to flight amidst the truth of God’s righteousness as His Word, that transcending and encompassing certainty that surpasses all human knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment, stands amidst our lives to reveal His love unto us. He shall then come in compassion and mercy to all the hidden places where men of sin hold the lives of the people cheap and without dignity or value or integrity to bring them to justice and set His people free.

Yes, there is much in this world to be afraid of, there is much in this age to fear as cruelty and pain seems to be so close at hand, as we cry out for those who are ripped from their homes and from all that they love in this life. We are left to wonder why and what for? Yet even here when we trust in the Lord and place our hope in Him, we know that His rod and His staff shall comfort His people in all that they are and all that they face in their lives for He shall walk beside them all of the days of their lives, through all of the challenges that come before them in this life.

Shout to the Lord amidst your anguished cries, shout out to the Lord, giving Him praise and glory, lift your voices to Him who has brought forth the victories to His people in the ages past for He shall show forth His righteousness in the lives of His people, letting not the dark powers and the painful authority of the generations stand. He shall always show Himself to be a God of justice and mercy working through the lives of His people, moving forever in their lives, giving them the strength to go on, to meeting the challenges that are before them head on. He will never abandon them to the roaring of the lion as they find themselves before the greatest of threats that would come to encompass their lives.

This is forever the hope and the assurance that you can build your trust and your faith in amidst the love that He shows unto His people all of the days of their lives. For even as darkness rises it shall quickly fall as the sword of truth cuts through it shining the light of God even in the grimmest and gloomiest of places. Blessed be His glorious name for that.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Morning Prayer 11/17/09

Benedictus es, Domine

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;*
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.

Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;*
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;*
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.

Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;*
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths;*
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.

Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;*
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/16/09

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
Isaiah 40:1-5

In a world so prone to chaos and to pain, to suffering and sorrow, as trial and tribulation surround us, where is it possible for a person to draw their comfort? Where can one find their strength to carry on when it seems like nothing makes sense anymore and their world is crashing down all around them? How is it possible for them to find peace in a world where it all just seems so very fleeting and like nothing around them will ever make sense again? Will anything ever be the same again?

For Isaiah and the children of Israel, everything around them was changing. The world that they had known was fading before their eyes, as it gave way to invasion and political intrigue, exile and corruption. The land of their fathers was gone as the conquering Assyrians were marching forward. The generations of Moses and Joshua, David and Solomon were all a matter of history, distant and far removed in their minds. There were none left who remembered the days of the wandering the desert or the great victories that were delivered into their hands by the hand of the Lord their God, there were none alive who could remember the reigns of David and Solomon, and as the generations passed, one to another, the distant memory of those great victories and those glorious days were distorted by the minds of men. The fall of the Kingdom of Judah was coming.

With the collapse of the divided Kingdom would come captivity as the people were taken from the only home they had ever known. They would be taken from their lands to a distant place, to foreign lands ruled by foreign leaders. The covenant that God had made with His people had been broken as they placed their hope and their faith in idols of stone and bronze that had eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear their suffering or their sorrow, with lips that could not speak words of comfort unto them in their times of distress and despair.

Yet even in this time of darkness and abiding sorrow, the Lord would offer words of comfort for His people. As they saw the rise of Empires that marched against them, as they saw the rise of Kings with armies to conquer them the Lord would not forget His faithful amidst these darkest of days. He would give them a faithful peace that they could draw their hope from and place their reliance in. Even as darkness seemed to surround them, even as captivity seemed to be all around them, as they were carried off from their homes and from the lands of their fathers, they shall forever know that there is a loving God who is there to care for them even in these, their deepest days of trial.

A God of deliverance, a God of comfort…

Even as captivity and bondage burden them amidst these times, the Lord would exalt them beyond measure. He would make their path light; whispering unto them that yes, even these things too shall come to pass. In the words of the Prophet “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” for a path, a road of righteousness would be paved by His hand even as their voices cried out in the Spiritual wilderness. He would offer to them a measure of peace and comfort as His love and compassion came to bear in their lives.

You see, there is no bondage, there is no captivity, there is no slavery that is so great that the chains cannot be broken by the Lord. Even in the deepest of trials, and the most abiding of tribulations, He makes a promise unto His people. The words He gives to them in the times of darkness are the same He gives to them in the time of light. The hope He offers, it’s the same whether in times of triumph or times of defeat, in times of exaltation or in times of captivity. The blessed reassurance that He offers is that He shall be beside His children all of the days of their lives, He shall never fail them or forsake them, He shall never abandon them or leave them even when it seems as if all the world is changing around them. He shall give unto them the courage and the strength they so need in their lives to go forward all the days of their lives. (Joshua 1:5)

We live in a world where there is just so much pain and suffering, where there is just so much sorrow and darkness. Amidst our present age, even as we progress forward there are still those who take hostages and prisoners, those who still take captives and make slaves out of their fellow man. No matter how far it may seem as if humanity has advanced, or how far we seem to go, there are those who turn from the righteousness of the Lord to inflict themselves on others. They move in wicked and evil ways bringing the fall of others with their hands as their minds think all sorts of dark thoughts. It becomes apparent that the Devil, he has to be present in our age, for there is little other explanation for why such temptation and tribulation would come as people follow a grim and gloomy path that robs all dignity from humanity and holds the integrity of human life so cheap.

Yet even here, even amidst this present age, even in this darkness God is present as well. He is ever present and ever vigilant in the lives of His people telling unto them words of comfort as He offers His assurances to them. He is there to tell them that even as they are held in bondage and captivity, even as trials and tribulation seem to surround them, burdening them with that painful yoke that they are now forced to wear He is with them all of the days of their lives.

We may not understand it, we may not fully comprehend it, for the wisdom of God transcends the wisdom of this world and as wickedness is inflicted impartially against people, the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, with no distinction as to who they are we can’t quite fully grasp the Spiritual warfare that is there working in this temporal plane. Yet what we can always and forever know is that the Spirit of the Lord is present in their lives, giving unto them the strength to overcome, the authority and the courage to stand against the wiles of the Devil and those who have been so deceived by his unrighteousness that they would so brutally inflict themselves against others. He is there just as He is there in our lives as Christ comes upon us in truth and love to free us from the captivity and the bondage of the Spiritual slavery to sin, death and the Devil that would make us all slaves to the grave.

Even then we shall know that the Lord our God shall move in the most significant of ways for the cause of His people in these days of danger and hardship for the cause of their freedom, showing that even as they are bound He shall be there beside them offering His comfort, and His love, His mercy and His compassion in their lives. Though held in fearful places in abiding darkness they have nothing to worry about then for the Lord, our God shall not let them fade amidst this world and He shall pave the road to their liberty by His hand and through His righteousness in all things through all things.

This is His ever faithful promise unto His people, one that shall never be withheld, regardless of what may come, regardless of the presence of evil in the world. He shall walk beside them giving them strength to overcome as He grants His loving peace in their lives.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.