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.

Morning Prayer 11/16/09

The First Song of Isaiah, Ecce, Deus

Surely, it is God who saves me;*
I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,*
and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing*
from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say,*
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples;*
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,*
and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,*
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/12/09

David and Goliath, Church of the Holy Cross, Van, Turkey

“And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:38-40

They had set up camp overlooking the valley of Elah, the Philistines entrenched in their own camp just beyond them, yet they were held at bay, unable to move forward for the hero of their enemies stood before them with power and strength, ready to stop any advance they made. The challenge was now set. If the children of Israel were to lose the battle they would be sent to captivity and slavery, their lives then controlled by the idolatrous Philistines who mocked God, and held their lives to be cheap and meaningless, without any real value or worth.

They wanted to march forward, to make their stand against the unrighteousness and the wickedness that was now their across from them, but they couldn’t. The contest was clear: the champion of Israel versus the champion of the Philistines. To lose was to forfeit their lives and their homes and their country. Their family and their friends, their children and their grandchildren would be given over to dark bondage as they were taken prisoner and given to the evils of their enemy. There was not one amidst the armies of Saul who were willing to stand against him, not one who was willing to take the chance that he would lose the fight and thus lose his life and subject his people to the life that they would be given to.

The mocking and the derision of Goliath would go unanswered…

That was until David would step forth.

A Shepherd boy from Bethlehem, he wasn’t a soldier. He was there only really by chance, having been sent by his father to bring food to his brothers who were in the army. Otherwise he had lived for his flock amidst the fields and the pastures of his home. He had no dreams of being a hero or dreams of being a great man. Yet, as he heard Goliath calling out, he knew the challenge could not go unanswered. “What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26) Whatever fear he might have felt, whatever may have scared him, David would stand ready to go forth against Goliath, a boy against the Giant of Philistia.

As he prepared to go forward, Saul would clothe him in his armor, giving him his helmet and his sword. Yet, David, as said, wasn’t a soldier, he was shepherd. He had no military training, he had never before put on the heavy brass or taken up the weighty sword. Now, as he did, he couldn’t move. It was too much for him. He had no practice or training in all of this, and it just too difficult for him to move in it. He would have it all taken off. Then, picking up five stones he would stand in the valley against Goliath dressed as he was, with his staff and his sling in his hand.

The giant would be unable to believe it. Was this the best that his enemies had to offer? “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?” (1 Samuel 17:43) In a moment he knew the battle would be over. After all, what chance did this boy have against him, a seasoned soldier, the feared adversary, strong and powerful, able to kill him with one stroke of his sword. Yet David would not flinch. Taking one of his stones, he would swing his sling and release. The rock would fly through the air. It would land, square between Goliath’s eyes.

We don’t know what the last thoughts were of Goliath as he fell to the ground, but one has to imagine he wondered how it was that he bested by this boy. He had no experience, he no weapon except that which he used to chase away the bears and the lions from his flock, and yet he had won. For all of Goliath’s strength, the boy had won the day. If he had any final thoughts they had to be ones that wondered how this was at all possible. With all the armies of his enemy their it just all seemed like it would have been so improbable that he would die at the hands of an Israelite boy.

God sends us the most unlikely of situations as we look to the wickedness of unrighteous men who mock the Lord our God through their words and their actions. We see them all around us. They take captive men and women with no thought or consideration, making them slaves and hostages, persecuting them and oppressing them as they work their will in this world. They operate with such bitter hatred, putting enmity between them and God. Yet, even when it seems like we are ill equipped to understand the gravity of the situation or the pain they inflict, when it seems like we are ill equipped to comprehend the power that they have the Lord wants us to make a stand. For, through their actions, they ridicule God and show disdain to their fellow man, whom God tells us to love.

Like David we may not be able to put on the armor of this world to march forward against their dark power and their grim hold. Yet there is a protective covering that He wishes for us to wear as we take up these challenges. It is an armor that is more powerful than the forces of this world, and one that will let us stand against evil in all of its forms. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

Girding our loins with truth, and taking on the breastplate of righteousness, tying the boots of the gospel peace, while lifting high the shield of faith, while we march forward with the helmet of salvation, welding the sword of the Spirit, the Word of the Lord, (Ephesians 6:14-17) which is sharper than any double edged sword of this world, (Hebrews 4:12) we go forth with the strength of the Lord against all the challenges of this world, amidst any trial or tribulation. Though it then may seem as if evil is on the rise and chaos surrounds us, though it may seem as if darkness and wickedness is on the march we shall have the preserver through the mysteries of God and the love that He has for us.

Therefore pray for the prisoners and the hostages, pray for the captives and the slaves, knowing that the Lord our God, our Heavenly Father, wants you to make a stand for them. In the lessons of Christ, which tell unto us to love our fellow man that we may prove ourselves his disciples, (John 13:34) stand up for the poor and the afflicted, letting your deep and abiding profession of faith be one that looks upon the cause and the plight of those who suffer or those who would be ripped away from all that they knew or loved, and taking it up as you own.

Like it was unto David, the armor of God is sufficient for us through our lives and in our lives, strengthening us and shielding us against even the deepest of challenges that we face. Here then we know that when we take up the cause that the Lord has for us, putting the name of His Spirit, that Spirit which brings liberty, (2 Corinthians 3:17) first in our lives, even above the fear or the weight or the burdens that we feel, we know that we are doing the Lord’s work in our lives and that He shall give us the strength to go on and to make this deep and abiding stand. For when we are weak then shall He make us strong, for His grace is sufficient for us. (12 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Take the cause of all of those who suffer and are taken captive by this world and the forces in it as your own, and know then that God shall guide you and protect you all the days of your life. This is the promise and the assurance that He has given unto you in the love that He has for all of us regardless of what we may face in this world and amidst this world.

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

Morning Prayer 11/12/09

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/10/09

The Prophet Jonah, Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel, 1471-1484

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Matthew 5:43-55

It’s a hard lesson to learn. We look around the world and we see those who persecute the innocent, who rob life away from the weak, who make slaves and prisoners of those around them for no other reason than their own greed and arrogance, their own self righteousness, believing they are so much more important, they are so much more superior to others around them that they can do as they will, that they can do as they want with no accountability or responsibility for their actions. They work all sorts of unrighteousness and wickedness in the world as they bring pain and suffering, anguish and agony in all that they do and all that they are.

There is so much darkness in what they bring that it’s hard to understand why it would be that we are to love them, that we are to bless them and do good unto them. It is hard to imagine why it would be that Christ would tell unto us to pray for them in our lives. They seem so turned to their evil ways, to the sorrow that they bring that it occurs to us that our efforts, they are probably just wasted by doing that. They have set themselves on their own path, their own course and we believe that there is little that is going to change that or bring it to an end as they prey on the lives of the strong and the weak, the good and the bad with no thought or consideration as to who they are or the life that they had.

Why should we bother wasting our prayers on them then? Why should we bother wasting our good will on them when the truth is that we have a hard time believing that they will turn from their wicked ways?

Why then would Christ teach us this lesson? Why would he offer these words of instruction unto us amidst our lives as we look around and see those who are more than willing to set the world ablaze amidst chaos and hurt as the pain they inflict comes to bear on the lives of all those whom they touch? Aren’t there better things that we could pray for, better things that we can do with our time and our energy, our efforts and our strength?

No, there really isn’t.

There are miracles that occur in the love of the Lord, miracles that occur by the hand of the Lord that defy logic and reason as they work their way through this world and in this world. Amidst them is the truth of God’s understanding that tells us that no matter how far gone it may seem that a person is in their own path or their own wickedness there is still time and a chance that they will come to a sincere repentance in their heart for the evils of their transgressions. Consider the lesson of Jonah taught by the Lord about that wicked city Nineveh.

They had given in to their own unrighteousness, their own evil ways as they practiced all sorts of wicked things amidst their lives. So much so did they sin in their own iniquity that they were to incur the wrath of the Lord as He planned to bring destruction upon them. Yet it would not come. As the people there heard the message of Jonah they turned from their own ways. The Spirit of the Lord moved through them in the most significant of ways and with a contrite heart they looked upon God and sought His mercy as they repented of their wickedness. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3:10)

Though we may not understand how God works in the lives of people or how He moves in their souls and their spirits, we know that He does. When we are told to love our enemies, even those who persecute and oppress, those who work such evil, bringing such darkness with their hands, that we pray for them, we are to pray that they turn from their wicked ways that they may come to a true and sincere repentance. Yes, it would be easier to just pray for their destruction and death, that they may be wiped from this earth that no longer would they be able to inflict themselves on others. Yet, by doing that we forsake the love of God and we become bitter, holding our own malice and hatred in our own heart, allowing for them to take us captive amidst our own spiritual life, giving them a grim power over us.

Instead though we are called to trust the Lord, to trust in His plan and His will, to know that even when we cannot see it or even when it seems like He is far distant from the cries and the longings of the afflicted that He will move through this world and in this world for the cause of good and the cause of righteousness. As our prayers are then lifted to Him we know that He shall, as has been promised, hear them and will work His will amidst this temporal existence according to His justice for the cause of His liberty.

Therefore pray for our enemies, for those who would take prisoners and hostages, captives and slaves, knowing that there is no dark or hidden place where they can keep themselves and their souls from the Lord. Use your strength and your power to proclaim a message of God’s law and Christ’s gospel to point to their unrighteousness and their wickedness, to their lack of love to their fellow man and the transcending truth that shall set them free from it that they may come to see that they have not abided in the command of Christ Jesus that we love one another. (John 13:34) This that they may truly see the light of the Lord and that it may cut through their own wickedness and iniquity to bring them to a sincere repentance for their ways that they may come to do good in this world.

Trust that the Lord, He has a plan then in the teachings taught unto us by the Messiah. Yes it may be difficult for us to follow, it may be tough for us to understand, yet that is just because the wisdom of God is perfect and transcends all of the knowledge and enlightenment that we have. It is possible that He can bring good from even the darkest of souls, even the darkest of times. It’s here then that we must believe that He will, placing our hope and our faith squarely on Him in even these, the most trying of times of chaos and pain, trial and tribulation that can inflict itself on the souls of men.

Though the gloomy acts of hate filled men of loathing may surround us pray for them to come to understanding, pray for them to come to repentance that the will of the Lord shall then come to bear in their lives and they forsake all their unrighteousness for the road of divine reconciliation that has been paved through Christ Jesus for their lives. It is then that we shall see the love and the mercy, the compassion and the grace of the Lord come to bear in the lives of these people as they put aside their own wicked ways for a better, stronger path, and the darkness that they bring will finally come to an end.

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

Morning Prayer 11/10/09

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/09/09

Job Castigated By His Wife, Albrecht Durer, 1503-04

“Then said his wife unto him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said unto her, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
Job 2:9-10

It’s perhaps the simplest thing in the world.

To hold on to one’s faith, to maintain their integrity when all is well and good in their lives and there are no deep and abiding challenges that fall before them. Those of faith, they rarely question God’s love or mercy, His compassion and His grace in their lives when all is well and there aren’t any struggles in their lives. Why would they though? All is good, all is well and there is nothing to cause them pain, or to make them concerned about God’s presence in their lives. In the most tangible of ways they are happy and they can abide in the peace of that comfort as their lives make sense to them.

Why not though? After all, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Through his entire life Job had given praise and glory to the Lord. He feared God and he turned from evil and it was counted to him as righteousness as, through the grace that brought the abiding faith into his life, the Lord knew him as upright and blameless. (Job 1:1) He would give sacrifices to the Lord each day just in the off chance that perhaps a sin had been committed so that it would not be held against any of his house or in his land. (Job 1:5) Yet now all he had, all that he drew comfort from amidst this temporal existence, all of his possessions and his family had been ripped away from him in the most brutal of fashions. And even still, whereas once someone might have been able to say, well, at least you have your health, he didn’t even have that anymore as his body was covered in boils.

Seeing all of this, the misery and the pain, the suffering and the sorrow that encompassed his life, his wife would come to him, baffled that he would still cling so desperately to his faith and to the Lord. “Dost thou still retain thine integrity?” She would ask dumbfounded. “Curse God and die.”

They were perhaps not the words of comfort he had hoped that she would give him, nor did they give him any solace amidst the hurt and the pain, the anguish and the agony that he felt. Yet, still, even as the burdens of this world came to bear down on him in the most significant of ways, as he felt the abiding weight of this worlds sorrow seeking to so ensnare him amidst the captivity that it had to bear for his life, the answer he would give would be a telling one. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”

The Devil comes into people’s lives in different ways, in different times and through different means, but his mission is always the same. He wishes to trap up amidst the misery and the pain of this world, and through that, as he takes everything we have from us, he wants us to question God, to curse God and die. That way we might fall from grace, giving to him the only thing he cannot steal from us by his hands.

You see, Satan can rip from us everything that we have. He can take our homes, our money, our families, our health. He can cast us down to the pits of despair as little in our lives seems to make any sense anymore. Yet the one thing he cannot take from us is our faith. He cannot enter into our hearts to tear it out of us. He can pour on us challenge after challenge, he can let unrighteousness and wickedness rise up against us, he can let evil surround us threatening us in the most significant of ways until we have little to nothing left in our lives. But we cannot take from us our faith. That has to be freely handed over to him as we forsake the Lord amidst the darkness that the Devil seeks to encompass us with.

After all, it is our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus teaches us, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:28-30) Unable to pluck it from us, the old Adversary wants us to give it to him so that he might trample it under his foot that we might be given over to him.

It is then, when we do that, when we give that over to him, that our captivity is made complete and we are forever held in the bondage of his slavery.

His means of ensnaring us, of trapping us, of trying to destroy our spirits and our souls, they come into our lives through so many different struggles that we face. There the challenges may be physical or moral, they may be spiritual or temporal but they are a challenge.

But God does not abandon us to hopelessness amidst all of this, “For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” (Psalm 9:18) The assurances of the Lord are clear, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24) Though the Devil may come like a roaring lion God shall walk beside us through all of the struggles, through all of the trials and the tribulations of this age, even when the good gives way to the bad and when evil seems to surround us even in its harshest of forms. We can draw hope in those promises, in that love and compassion, that mercy and grace that the Lord has for us through all of the days of our lives as He cares for us. Yes, it may seem as if all the world is given to the hurt and the agony of chaos forged by the Devil as challenges rise up and wicked people come forth to do unrighteousness in this corporeal plane, yet we have a blessed assurance from God that He shall walk beside us all the days of our lives.

Remember then the promise of the Lord, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) No matter what may happen, no matter what may come He will be there for you and with you, that you may not fall to the power of the wiles of the Devil. He will give you hope amidst your faith as you struggle in this world against powers and principalities that would rise up against you.

Therefore maintain your integrity amidst all of this, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) For when you dwell amidst the love and the assurances, the promises and the faithfulness of the Lord there is no bondage or captivity, there is no slavery or hatred that the Devil can foist upon you. As the hymnist would write so we can also hold fast to, “God’s truth abideth still” for a “A mighty fortress is our God” and He shall never fail us or forsake us amidst the challenges of this life.

Lord, grant this trust and this truth unto us all.

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/05/09

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
Job 13:15

We don’t always understand the ways of the Lord, nor do we comprehend all that He does. The way that He moves in this world and the ways that He works in this world, it remains a profound mystery unto us as we search for answers amidst this temporal existence. We believe that for evil to happen in our lives, for evil to run its course through our lives God had to have a part in this. It is why the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people”, seems to always be so prevalent on our lips. We want to believe that there is a reason for all of this and that there is a just cause that occurs, weaving its way amidst this corporeal plane.

Even Job, now in the throes of his despair, the burden and the weight of his trials now weighing on him, finds himself believing that somehow God wills this wickedness to occur in his life. He hopes in the Lord, he trusts in the Lord, believing that it is all part of His divine plan, yet still his words are unmistakable. After all, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. (Job 1:21)

Yet the answers that we seek amidst the wickedness and the evil in this world, amidst the darkness that seems to afflict our souls, it’s not that simple of an answer. Yes God is alive and God is all powerful, He exists within a natural order of things, weaving all things together as He knits together the innermost being of people. (Psalm 139:3) Yet the pain and the suffer, the sorrow and the agony, the anguish and the torture that occurs amidst the torment of this world, it does not occur because God wants it to occur or even because He wants us to be tempted or to be tested amidst the fires of darkness that would seek to so encompass us in the captivity that is forged by the old Adversary.

Evil occurs because the prince of this world still has a hold over it. He moves freely through it in the corrupted image of sin and iniquity of mans transgressions as they forsake the love and the light of the Lord amidst their own actions and deeds. He works through the unrighteousness that he seeks to hold us all prisoner to in the deep and abiding struggles of this world as the challenges come to bear on our spirits and our souls, robbing us of our peace and our comfort. There is no solace amidst this world then, no rest in it as long as he comes like a roaring lion to devour us.

Still, with the whole armor of God, (Ephesians 6:10-18) we are given all that we may need to stand against the wiles of the Devil, and slay him, that while we stand triumphant amidst the Lord love, dwelling in His compassion and His mercy, Satan shall fall and his unrighteousness shall be exposed for the pale, weak imitation of authority that it truly is. Here we know that God then does not burden us with more than we can bear. After all “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

But then this is the triumphant message of Job, and it is a message unto all believers, unto all of the faithful children of the Lord, who, in their heart, in their soul, that their “Redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” There then they know that though the grave may eventually claim them and worms may destroy the body, in the flesh they shall behold the glories and the majesty of God’s magnificence. (Job 19:25-26) It is a transcending, and encompassing truth that comes to bear in all of our lives through all of our lives.

When we put this hope and this trust, this glorious faith in the Lord, knowing that He will give us strength and courage, He shall walk beside us, letting none stand against us all the days of our lives, as He abides in that faithful assurance that He shall never fail us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5) we always and forever shall know that we have built ourselves on a solid foundation, one that will always and forever withstand the pressures of this world and the burdens of it. This is what Job knew, and this is what the Lord, in preserving His Word and the ancient lessons of that righteous man of Uz wanted all of us to know amidst our own lives, in our own lives. Come what may, come what must, when we build our hope in the Lord, there is no bondage, there is no slavery, there is no captivity that cannot be broken as He ransoms His people by His authority for His name sake.

He washes us all pure in the precious blood of the Lamb, that we may be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) and here, He moves through our lives, by the power of the Spirit, to bring us to liberty, to the blessed air of freedom, (2 Corinthians 3:17) that we may forever and always dwell in His glory.

Yes we may feel the challenges of this age, we may feel the authority of the ancient Adversary coming to bear in our lives, we may feel the deep and abiding captivity of the spirit and the soul that he wages against us that He may seek our demise, our fall from grace, as he tries so desperately to win another soul for his war against the Lord. Yet his power is fleeting, and with a word his authority over us is gone as we find our hope and our faith built on the solid rock of God’s great and encompassing love. When it comes to bear in our lives and our expectations, our anticipation exalts Him above all else we may come to know the Devil will not be able to bind us, he will not be able to chain us in his slavery, for we have come to know the grace and the peace, the comfort and the love of the Lord in all things, through all things.

This must always and forever be the solid rock in which we stand upon and build our faith and our trust in. It is then that we know, come what may, come what must we shall see the victory of the spirit amidst the triumph of the soul as we rest in the house of the Lord forever, amidst the glorious conquest of Christ, who put to flight the power of sin, death and the Devil, setting captivity captive and ransoming a lost and fallen race.

Trust in this promise, in this hope, building your faith on it all of the days of your life and know that there will never be a moment or a time when you are let down, even amidst the greatest of challenges that comes to bear in your life, through all the days of your life. There is more than just the wickedness and the unrighteousness of the dark forces in this world and the love of the Lord shall always and forever show that, in grace, mercy and love in your life, even as the burdens are heavy and the trials of this worldly tribulations are great. It is then that we can always abide in the promise of Christ as he tells unto us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Lord, grant this unto us all…

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/03/09

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. “
Psalm 33:18-22

The victory of the spirit, the triumph of the soul that lies in the Lord, it comes from hope, and that hope, it stems from faith taking root in our hearts, pouring forth the grace of our Heavenly Father in our lives.

How though do we find that faith, how do we dwell amidst it when the world is wrought with challenges and our souls are disquieted amidst our being, longing for peace, longing for answers, for a comfort to encompass us and a peace to envelop us through the solace that He brings? How do we find that faith, and, in faith, come to dwell in hope, when all we know, when all we see are the deep and abiding tribulations of this world as they come to overtake us and to swallow us whole? Is there an answer to the cries of our spirit that come as an answer to our souls within the great afflictions that men and women can face through the deepest trials in their lives?

These are the questions that fill us. They dwell amidst us as we look to the world and to the pain and the suffering that it can bring. We see the bondage of iniquity and the dark hold that sin can have on people. The chains of wickedness and evil clank, ready to bind the hands and the hearts of the innocent, weak or strong, poor or rich, joyous or sad, with no thought or consideration to who they are. Their heavy weight bearing down on us seeks to break us in the most significant of ways until there is nothing left but the shattered frame of the person we used to be. No home, no rest, no life, no peace, no hope, we see the persecution that comes from unrighteousness and the oppress that comes from the vile works of the corrupted nature of man throughout this world.

It holds each person captive, hostage to the gloomy estate, to the dark places that dwell amidst the hidden places that the old Adversary would strive to hold us in, believing that he can keep us out of the sights of the Lord. Here we know pain and suffering, agony and anguish, sorrow and torture as our tormented cries go forth, pouring from our lips, searching for something, for anything that will make the darkness flee from us.

It may be a moral struggle or a physical struggle, it may be a emotional challenge or a spiritual one, yet it always remains what it is, a struggle and a challenge that abides amidst this temporal existence, seeking to swallow us whole.

Yet there is no dark place amidst this corporeal plane that can remain hidden from the Lord. There is no dark place that can be left unseen by our Heavenly Father amidst this world. He is there to cut through it with his light and with His truth which is sharper than any double edged sword, that is more powerful than any weapon that Satan or those who follow in his unrighteousness and wickedness may hold in their hands.

We have the Lord, and He is the hope of our salvation, for in mercy does He pour forth His compassion in the lives of those who love and who fear Him. Though it may seem as if there is little to draw comfort in or that that there is nothing left that we may find peace in, He is there to shine forth His truth and to deliver our souls even from death. He shelters us in the gracious and the wondrous precepts of His wings, drawing us close to Him when we are in the most need, when we are feel like we are the furthest from Him and like nothing in our lives make sense anymore.

He is our shield, and our strength, our ever present help amidst the trials and the tribulation of this present age, of this present generation. Just as He walked with the saints of old, those blessed legions who gathered in His name, He walks with each of us through all the journeys of our lives, lifting us when we have fallen, carrying us when we are weary and heavy laden, taking our burdens upon Himself that we may find a measure of solace even amidst the deepest of challenges that come to encompass our lives. For our righteousness He dwells amidst liberty, bringing us to freedom… a transcending, encompassing freedom that surpasses even the knowledge and the enlightenment of this world.

After all, by His love He reconciled us all to Him. Even as we were lost to iniquity, the power of sin, death and the Devil binding us amidst the dark captivity of this world, binding us amidst the pain and the suffering that it can bring, putting upon us the yoke of slavery, He gave us a Deliverer. He offered unto us a Redeemer, a Messiah, who would bring the power of salvation through His encompassing sacrifice, letting the grave no longer have any power over us. Through that love, made manifest in Christ Jesus, captivity was made captive and all of us were ransomed.

Through Him we have become conquerors amidst the glories of the power that the Spirit of the Lord grants unto our soul in our faith. It is then by that authority that we know that we have nothing in this world that we need to fear, for the inevitable triumph goes to the Lord and to His children, even when it seems as if the world will hold the victory. It’s victories are fleeting and its power shall not have a hold on us for long, for by God, through Christ we shall come to defeat all the dark powers of this world and vanquish its unrighteousness, even as it seeks to take a hold over us by the claims that it makes over our bodies and our minds. The Lord Almighty shall confound the wicked and shall subjugate the evil, as we find His transcending love encompasses our souls.

Therefore rejoice always in His love and know His peace, deriving your strength from the power of His might, and the glories of His precepts. Through the love that He has for you, and the mercy He shows unto you, you shall find then that you dwell amidst compassion through grace by faith. There hope shall come to bear in your life in the most significant of ways, in the most wondrous of ways as you feel Him draw you closer to Him and give you the power to be stronger and of better courage than you had ever known or thought possible in your own life by your own might.

What a glorious promise and blessed assurance that truly and rightly must be seen as in our lives through all things, in all things, given unto us by the love that the Lord has for each and every one of us according to wonders of His mercy and the miracles of His love. For now we have the power to overcome and be greater than we had ever imagined, even in the times of tribulation and darkness that this temporal existence, that this corporeal existence so often tries to destroy us with in our lives. Even now, even in these troubled times, we have the abiding hope and the transcending faith of the Lord in our lives through all the days of our lives.

Lord, therefore grant this unto us all.

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