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.

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