Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/26/10



“Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time? Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.”
Lamentations 5:19-21


It was hardly the life that anyone could have dreamed for themselves or their children as servitude found itself so easily weighing them down amidst the slavery that had now so captured their souls and pained their spirits and their souls. They struggled and they suffered once more under the hands of their enemies as they were forced into foreign lands to bow before foreign rulers who cared not for them, but the expansion of their power and influence in this temporal existence.

Death would easily find itself at their doors as they were disgraced, and there was no rest for the weariness that they now found overtaking their lives. They hungered, they longed for relief and yet it seemed like it was so far off, as help seemed like it would never come and they would be forced to live their days as nothing more than slaves, held hostage to the ambition of vain rulers. The joy was gone from them as their hearts sunk deep within their chests and they were left with this deep, lingering feeling, wondering if there would ever be a time or a day when it would get better, when they would be restored to grace and find themselves once more amidst the homes they had so long ago been forced to abandon.

Where was their hope? What, in times like this, could they build their expectations on even as anticipation and hopefulness seemed to be ripped from their grasps and they were left as nothing more than the shattered frame of the people they had once been? What could they possibly build their faith on? What could they possibly draw any sort of optimism from to even begin to believe that finally this could draw to an end and they would find that, even through the darkness, the light of their lives would be restored?

For the Prophet Jeremiah, even as he found himself lamenting the fall of his people, the answer was clear. The Lord, His God, ever powerful, with a strength that transcended the ages and the might of this temporal existence, had the power to shatter any chains that so bound the hearts and the souls, the spirits and the minds of men. Even as force and slavery were upon the people, even as life was held cheap or without value by unrighteous men of sin and iniquity, there was a God in Heaven who contended with their cause and stood beside His people even as chaos and darkness seemed to reign in their lives.

It would be there, in that understanding, guided by that abiding faith, that He would cry out to the Lord, that never should His people be forgotten or forsaken. By His power they could be restored and renewed to the glories of the life that they had been forced from by the brutality of others. Then, finally, by grace, they would find the joy of their hearts once more returned to their being as their spirits were made light and the wounded, broken parts of their souls would be healed.

Perhaps life was different than Jeremiah had always hoped that it would be. Perhaps, it could have been, that it had taken him and his people to places that he had never really imagined that they would have been taken. It might have been that they had been led down a road that they had never dreamed of and now darkness seemed to reign in their lives as they were made slaves and servants, their pride and their glory ripped from their lives, as their spirits were broken and their souls were weighed down beyond measure. Yet even as that became their days and their months and their years and their generations, there was still a transcending hope that would be there for them as they struggled amidst it all to find the answers that had so eluded them.

For you see, the Prophet knew that there was a God, and even when it seemed as if He was far off or far distant from the strife and the struggle of His people, He was there, in the thick of it, to contend with the cause of His people, never failing them or abandoning them, never forsaking them or forgetting them, even as they faced the challenges of their lives, finding that darkness was all around them. In love and compassion He would forever work within their lives to set them free as the truth of His righteousness came to bear even in a world marked by sin and suffering, iniquity and pain, even when the chains of bondage sought so to bind men to a rock and cast them to a sea of despair that they might drown in the troubles that now had so engulfed them.

That is the promise of the Lord and it transcends the generations as He shows that He is ever faithful, and ever vigilant amidst the faithfulness that He shows on to His people, for the righteousness of the Lord is the devotion of His compassion as He shelters His people under His wings, showing that He is the rock of their salvation, their ever present help, their ever present refuge in their hour of need and trouble. God, He never changes in the love that He has for His beloved children, and, amidst that, He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Even when it seems as if the situation is hopeless and pain and sorrow seem so near God is there to save His children, to show that there is nothing too great or too large that it overtakes the power of His hands. He is there even when it seems as if people are at their most alone and nothing can help them anymore, when the world and all of the things of it and in it have failed them and darkness seems to have swallowed them hole, leaving them the empty shell of the person they once were, the person they had once dreamed of being.

Through the redemption of Christ He has shown His compassion and His mercy, His love and His grace to His people, letting them forever know that there is nothing that can separate them from Him as His light shines upon their lives and He lifts the yoke of even the deepest bondage from them. It is the power of that Savior that breaks all the chains, no matter how great or thick or strong they may seem. It is in that love that we know that the Lord then, through the power of His Spirit, is near to all those who call upon His name.

It must be ours then to trust in Him just as Jeremiah had before, knowing that He will be our ever present help, our ever present compassion in times of trouble when we descend into chaos and unrighteousness and sin seems to be on the rise against us. It must be ours to know that He is a God of justice and freedom, who endows His children with the blessed gift of liberty against any captivity that seeks to so bind them, ransoming them from the life of slavery and servitude that would so engulf their souls, destroying their spirits.

Perhaps we may wonder where God is in all of this. But even as we do, God is right there by our side, showing unto us that His grace shall forever be sufficient for us as it makes us strong in the weak and wound, the bruised and battered places in our soul. It is then, when we open our eyes, to see the light that He offers, even when it seems like but a flickering flame in this world, do we realize that we have become more than conquerors in the name of His blessed Son and our lives are given meaning even in the captivity and the bondage of this world, for then shall we know that it has no hold, no power, no authority over us, as we have been cherished and loved as the sons of God, inheriting the blessings of His Holy name.

Lord, grant this unto us all.

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

Prayer:

To Your righteousness do we flee dear Lord, seeking and imploring Your grace for our lives as we look to Your throne as the compass that guides our lives, that guides our spirits and our souls back home to You amidst the love that You have for us.

Let not our days be marked by brutal iniquity or dark pain, but contend forever with our cause that we shall know that there is no captivity or bondage, no slavery or exile that shall so darken our lives amidst the grim iniquity that can come to encompass this age and this temporal existence. Be beside Your people as they battle against the chaos and the pain, the suffering and the sorrow, the anguish and the agony that this world can offer and let them know that You walk beside them through all of the days of their lives even when they feel discouraged and think their life in vain as darkness so encompasses them and engulfs them as the old Adversary wages His war against them.

Restore them to the path of Your righteousness through the power of Your Holy Spirit, let none feel hurt or wounded and heal the injured places inside of Your people that they may know that there is God who loves them and cares for them amidst all of the struggles, all of the trials and the tribulations, all of the challenges that this world has in store for them. It is then that their faith shall be given voice and their hope shall be proven never in vain as Your grace and love comes to guide them as the light that makes way their path light amidst the mercy that you show unto them.

Then shall we forever know that there is a just God that contends forever with the cause of Your people as Your Spirit comes to guide their lives in the name of Your Son Christ Jesus.

Then shall we forever and always praise Your glorious name for the mercy that You have shown unto us through all the days of our lives.

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.

Second Prayer:

Abide with us dear Lord, dwell amidst our lives by the power of Your righteousness and let the blessings of Your love come to abide in our spirits and our souls as we stand before the Cross of Christ, seeking and imploring Your mercy in the lives of Your people.

Hear the name of Your people as we raise the names of the prisoners and the hostages, the captives and the slaves, and find them amidst the dark and hidden places that they are held by the power of darkness and chaos in this world. Let them see that there is a God of grace, a God of love who stands beside them even as they find that hope is so far from them and pain seems so near at their heels. Then, in Your time, in Your way, set them free according to the promises that You have made for the liberty and the justice of Your people, showing unto them that the same God who contended with the cause of the suffering in the most of ancient of days, fights beside them with strength and authority, with compassion and mercy for their lives.

Let them not be held by unrighteousness for all times. Let those who work such pain in this world see the pain of the suffering that they cause. Lift from them the veil of hatred that so covers their eyes that they may look upon the hurt that they so create as they hold the gift of life that You have granted cheap that they may see life with love. Bring them to repentance that they may cast aside their darkness and dwell in light, bringing truth rather than lies, love rather than hatred into this world.

For our dear brother Ed do we pray dear Lord. Be beside him and his family as they struggle in the darkness that has come to bear in their lives and let them know that a God of love is beside them to lift from them the pain that has come to engulf them. Let them see Your hand in all they face and bring them to the peace that can only come from You.

And for all who struggle and suffer amidst agony do we pray. Whether it is a captivity of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul we uplift them to You dear Lord that no longer shall sickness or disease, poverty or intolerance shall chain down Your people amidst the suffering that it can bring and they shall know the freedom that only You can bring unto them.

For all of this do we pray in the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/22/10



“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
1 Peter 1:3-5


Through the abiding, transcending blessing of God in His Son Christ Jesus mercy had been shown unto each of us as a new hope came to encompass our lives. Once where we were lost to sin, spiritually dead amidst the power that it held in our lives we were born anew, given a new life according to the grace of the love of our Lord. It was there that we inherited the deep and abiding blessings of eternal life, no longer corrupted and defiled by the power of this world and it’s grim hold over us.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Through one man all sin and sorrow entered into this world, yet by one man was it set to flight, the law which once condemned us, now being fulfilled, freeing us as we dwell in the power of that transcending faith that gives our lives meaning and purpose. The hope and the anticipation of the saints and the martyrs, the prophets and the disciples would be gloriously rewarded as the long awaited Messiah would set captivity captive, bringing the wondrous gifts, the amazing miracle of God’s marvelous love even to the most lost of souls.

And that… that is the true nature of liberty…

You see liberty is not granted or given at the hands of men, nor can it be stolen away from us, or even ripped away from us as some seek to grab a hold of us, choking the life from our hopes and our dreams amidst this life. They may steal our time and our anticipations, they may destroy our bodies and rob us of our lives, but liberty… true and lasting liberty, it does not belong to corporeal frame or the temporal existence, it is the spiritual peace, the transcending love that guides our souls. That is how God can promise it even to the most wretched, most despised and scorned of souls, telling to them that, in faith, they are endowed with the rights and the privileges that come through His blessed inheritance.

That though does not mean that there will not be those who will seek to subjugate and oppress, those who will seek to rob the dignity and the integrity from life, those who will try to make slaves of men and women, holding them captive by the power they have amidst this world, in this age. Seeing the world for what it truly is, it is not hard to see the chaos and the pain, the sorrow and the agony that can be brought to bear in it as darkness forges chains that seek to bind us and hurt that seeks to break us. It is all around us and it hits us in the most significant of ways that bring unto us the worst sort of suffering and sorrow.

We look around and we know that there are always going to be those who are ripped away from their lives and the ones that they love so long as this world persists. There are going to be those who are held by poverty and sickness and disease. There are going to be those who, causing no harm to others, find that still harm befalls them. We are always going to see those who are taken by those who make prisoners out of free men, holding them hostage or trading flesh.

In those moments we perhaps wonder what happened to the just God that we were promised. It seems at times as if He was far distant from our plights and our struggles, from the hurt and the pain that is in this world. In those times we just don’t necessarily know what to make of all of it. We want to believe that He is there, that He is working, as He did in those ancient days as He led His people to freedom from the hands of their oppressors.

Yet just because we cannot see God does not mean that He is not there or that He is somehow absent from the struggles that His people face. The truth of His righteousness is that, even in our most lost of days, even in our most painful of struggles, even when it seems as if the plights and the challenges that are before us as trial and tribulation so easily seem to find us, God is there for us in the most significant of ways to work His ways in our lives, leading us through, guiding us through, lifting us where we have fallen and giving us strength when we grow tired and weary from the long road of this world.

We cannot then mistake the presence of pain and misery, the presence of the old Adversary in our lives seeking to cause our fall as the absence of God seeking to edify us as He bestows upon us His grace. He shall be there for us and beside us all of the days of our lives, drawing all those who call upon His name, all of those who need His mercy and His compassion closer to Him.

It can be hard at times to see what His plan possibly can be, but it is there, even as we find that we are bewildered and confused amidst the wisdom and the enlightenment of this world that demands of God that He adheres to our base perceptions of the way that the world should be, the world must be for Him to abide in it. But, as hard as it may be for us to see, He is there with His Spirit, that blessed spirit of liberty and freedom that He made manifest through His Son, Christ Jesus, to give us a new hope in the love and the compassion, the mercy and the grace that He bestows upon the lives of His people.

Do not fear then when those who are of this world come, for though they may roar like lions, when compared to the power of the Lord, our God, they are nothing more than kittens, unable to withstand the power that He has. Yes, troubles may find us, yes the struggles may be upon us, but through His freedom, as He draws us closer to Him, we shall find the abiding blessing of His hope through the vindication that He offers unto us, whether it is in this life or in the next. What then shall separate us from the love that the Lord has for us, for by Him, through Him we become more than conquerors.

Trust Him therefore with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your might, knowing that His grace shall be sufficient for you as He makes you strong amidst the liberty that He brings, even when it feels as if you are at your weakest and there is no way you can withstand the pressure and the weight of this world upon you. The love of God, that love that transcends all that this world can show and has to offer shall always and forever be with you in the blessings of His faith inside of you.

With that hope, with that faith, with that abundant grace in our lives we then shall never have to fear, for we shall always find that there is a just God at work in our lives, moving through our souls to bring hope to our spirits through all that we are, in all that we face through all the places we are held, no matter how dark or grim the days may seem to be as unrighteousness and iniquity seek to inflict itself upon us.

What a wondrous blessing that truly and rightly must be seen as in our lives.

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

Prayer:

To You dear Lord do we come, seeking and imploring Your mercy in the lives of Your people

For Paul and Rachel Chandler, kidnapped in the Indian Ocean, do we pray, crying out to You as we uplift them in our spirits and our hearts as we search for Your grace in their lives. In such fearful and pained estate are they held dear Lord, as they are left to wonder about their lives, held in the dreadful knowledge that their time is at hand, knowing that it is only a matter of time before their captors, who robbed the integrity of their lives, rob them then of their lives.

Walk beside these two souls, showing them that You are beside them in even these their darkest of days, showing Your grace and mercy upon their lives as He cast Your Spirit upon them to bring them to peace. Spare for them their lives and bring them once more to the blessed liberty that does come through Your Holy Name, guiding them from the fearful places where they have been held in terror and dread by unrighteous men of brutal iniquity and pain. Let them no longer suffer under that horrid estate, but let them once more breath the air of Your freedom, letting them see that there is a just God who contends with their cause.

And if this be not Your will God, then bring them once more to their Heavenly home, to that blessed place where You draw Your people close to Your bosom, giving them the rest and the peace that had so eluded them in this life as they were ripped from all that they had known and loved in this world.

Pain, dear Lord, is always so near at hand amidst this temporal existence. We pray then that You release these two afflicted, subjugated souls from the suffering, so much greater than anything we could understand or hope to bear, that they have been subjected to amidst the mercy that You have for Your children.

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

Second Prayer:

Amidst Your mercy and Your grace do we dwell dear Lord, finding that Your love guides us through all the days of our lives.

It is in that knowledge, in that sacred trust and that blessed hope then do we pray for all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves who are held throughout this temporal existence. Hear their names, see their struggle, feel their pain and raise Your Spirit to them, granting them the hope and the peace that comes through Your blessed love for Your people. Let them know that they do not stand alone, but that there is a righteous God of peace and mercy that creates in them a transcending hope amidst the miraculous blessings of His hand.

Cut through the darkness that so engulfs their lives and let them be born anew in the strength of Your miracles as You shelter them in the shadow of Your wings. Let them know that they are Your compassion and that through You does come the liberty and the freedom, the justice and the peace that seems now, in these, the darkest of days of their lives, so elusive.

Let not unrighteous men hold them amidst their iniquity as they bring pain and hatred, darkness and sorrow into this world, seeking to rob your people of the peace and the mercy that you have promised them for their lives. Let them see that they have become nothing more than soldiers for contempt as they rob integrity from life and dignity from the soul. Convict them amidst Your justice as Your Spirit comes upon them to show them the errors of their ways and let them come to a sincere true sense of repentance in their lives, that they may abandon the path of slavery and embrace Your freedom and liberty through the remainder of their days, dwelling in love that lifts the burdens from even the most wretched of souls.

For our dear brother Ed do we pray dear Lord, lifting him and his family to You as they struggle amidst the trials and the tribulations of their lives. Let them see Your grace and mercy, let them feel Your love and compassion and give them that sense of peace that can only come from You as they struggle for answers in the challenges that they face.

For any and all who are held amidst bondage and captivity, whether of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul do we pray Lord, seeking and imploring Your grace from their lives. Free them from any chains that bind them, whether sickness or poverty, disease or intolerance, that they may dwell in Your love through the remaining days of their lives, knowing that Your hand guided them through the challenges and the tribulations that they faced, showing grace and mercy as compassion came to bear in throughout all the days of this temporal existence.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/21/10

Job's Complaint, William Blake


“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
Job 19:25-27


His life had collapsed all around him, crumbling to the earth as everything just seemed to fall apart and he was left with this lingering feeling of hurt and pain, sorrow and anguish as it all seemed to overtake his soul, Job looked at the life he once had and the life he now lived and there could be little doubt that the darkness lingered in him. It was all ripped away from him, family and fortune, possessions and health, even his wife and his friends, they seemed eager to turn on him when he had nothing. In their mind nothing could explain his fall except that somehow he had incurred the wrath of God, and as his wife would tell him, with everything gone, there was nothing left to him but to “curse God, and die.” (Job 2:9)

His life was in ruins, and it was so apparent that he was lost and alone, the peace he once had gone, the comfort he now needed dissipated, and all before his very eyes as he was left to wonder why? Why and what for? Had he just died it would have been better, he knew this, for then he would not be forced to watch all that had come to pass, he would not have been forced to feel the tragedy and the hurt of it all. He would have found some sort of solace in the grave as he as granted rest and reprieve from this world where pain seemed so near at hand and where the deepest of sorrow had come to stroke his face.

It was enough to shake anyone’s faith, and, looking to the response of his wife and his friends, one has to wonder if they would have, in similar circumstances, kept there’s as they looked to all that came to pass. After all, just seeing the struggles and the challenges that Job was forced to endure they wavered as they gave their counsel to him, imagine then if they were put on the same life altering, life changing path that he had been placed on by the course of this world and the powers of it that could forever transform a man’s life in the blink of an eye.

Yet the faith of Job, it could not be shaken. Thrown against the rocks amidst a sea of despair, tossed to and fro by the events of his life, and left battered and bruised the righteous man of Uz would not be moved, he would not be changed. Come all of the challenges of this life, come all the tests and the trials of this world there would remain that which he knew he could never be robbed of, that which could never be murdered in him, and as long as he held fast to it, he would find a measure of comfort and solace even as it seemed like he had nothing else left to live for.

This is what makes the triumphant cry of Job so amazing, so remarkable. Even as it must have seemed like he had nothing left, he stood tall, his body and his bones aching, his life in ruins, his peace robbed of him, and he called out amidst his faith, proclaiming that come what may, come what must, there is nothing, there is no one, whether through strength or affliction, through abandonment or struggle, that could take from him the promises of his God, there was nothing that could rob him of the hope that those promises brought into his life.

You see, the thing about faith is that it can never just be taken away from us. (John 10:28) That doesn’t mean though that we can’t lose it. There are times in our lives, when put to the test or put to the challenge, where we can find that it’s just not there, but it’s not because it was stolen from our grasps or because it was robbed us. It is because we have given it away, because we have abandoned it, because we felt like we had no more use for it or that it had failed us and so we toss it away as if it had no more value or worth left in our lives.

But what God teaches us, what we see in the life of Job is that faith, above all else is hope. It is hope in even the most dire of circumstances, even in the greatest of challenges. It is hope in the promises of God, hope in the blessings of His word, hope in the assurances that our Lord shall remain vigilant to our cause, being our rock and our refuge even as all the world around us seems to be cast to darkness and to chaos, to pain and to suffer and the anguish of the soul and the agony of what our lives have become seem to be upon us.

Perhaps it could be that our lives are unexpected, perhaps it could be that the events of it seem difficult, perhaps it could be that they rock us to our very foundation as everything we knew or that we thought we knew is called into question and it seems as if the world around is falling apart, leaving us with nothing but our pain and our sorrow. Yet so long as we cling, holding fast to our faith there is a transcending hope amidst our lives that guides us and protects us even amidst the most trying of times that seek to overwhelm us and overtake us.

We may not always understanding why it is that things seem to happen or why it feels as if darkness is upon us, yet understanding doesn’t need to come for us to know that there is a God who loves and who moves heaven and earth to protect us amidst our faith. There, though we may feel as if the tribulations of this age are upon us and that there is just so much there that it’s just more than we ever thought we could bear, by His compassion and His mercy He makes His presence known in our lives to lift the burdens off us and break the chains that bind us.

When we realize that, putting our sense of hope upon the Lord, our voice raising praises to His holy name, our lips trembling with anticipation as we raise our cause to Him amidst the trials that our days seem to be filled with we know that we have a firm foundation, for upon the rock of ages that cannot be moved we have built our lives and our faith, knowing that it is the mighty fortress by which nothing can destroy, nothing can break and we shall stand firm through all of the days of our life to the glories of the eternal life that has been promised to us through the assurances of His blessings and redemptions for our lives.

Stand fast then, even when captivity seems upon you, when it seems as if bondage is near at hand and iniquity is raised against you, for, in mercy, His love shall always come to bear in your life as you place your hope in the promises that He has made unto you face through all the days of your life. Then, come what may, come what must, you shall be able to make the same triumphant call, the same triumphant cry as Job had even as it seems like all the world around you has faded and fallen at your feet and your peace seems to be fleeting. For God, amidst His richest blessings shall shine His truth and righteousness upon your soul, forever giving strength unto your spirit.

Lord, grant that unto us all…

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

Prayer:

To You do we humble ourselves amidst the promises of Your grace and hope amidst our lives dear Lord.

From the story of the Maran Centaurus do we now hear of murder and deceit and greed that has come to bear in the lives of these pirate who took hostages and captives for their own wants and their own desires, and though they received that which they demanded, they have found that where once they held the lives of others cheap, the integrity of theirs is no longer held with any values amongst their accomplishes. We pray dear Lord that this be an awakening for them and for those who would take captives and hostages throughout the world. Let them learn, let them find truth even as pain and suffering, as hopelessness and despair comes into their lives. Let them see the iniquity of their ways and that they do reap what they sow, finding hatred, and greed and contempt and death when they deal in these things.

Use then this experience to bring them to a greater sense of love for their fellow man, that they may abandon their path of unrighteousness and come to the compassion and the mercy that You taught us through Your Word. Let them see the pain and suffering that they bring and finally come to understand that they cannot escape it in their own lives as they find that betrayal death is so near at hand.

Then shall Your righteousness come to bear in their lives as true and sincere repentance is worked in their lives and they come to dwell in Your grace through all the days of their life, becoming disciples given to your way rather than the agents of misery that they have become in this age through the works that they have become known for.

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

Second Prayer:

To You do we come Dear Lord, seeking and imploring Your grace for the lives in Your people.

With Your promises in our heart and Your assurance guiding our spirits and our souls do we raise the names of all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves to You, knowing that there is no miracle that is beyond Your power when Your justice and authority comes to bear in this world. Stand beside Your people then in this, their deepest hour of need, and bring them to the blessings of Your Holy Spirit as You give them a sense of peace even as darkness and pain, suffering and sorrow seem so near at hand in their lives. Then, according to Your great love and Your wondrous grace, set them free from the hidden places where they are held.

There be those in this world held dear Lord, whose names are not on our lips. Here, for the names we do not raise up, for the names we do not know we pray, asking that where we do not know You do, seeing their faces, knowing their struggle, feeling their pain, that Your mercy shall come to bear in their lives. Bring them to liberty amidst the challenges and the hurt that they are forced to endure, and let your enduring justice forever guide their lives even as they seem so lost, so filled with anguish that their spirits are wounded and their hearts break amidst all that they have come to know and see in this world.

For our dear brother Ed do we once more pray, seeking and imploring Your grace for his life and the life of His family. In this, their hour of need and struggle walk beside them shining Your mercy and love upon them that they may, even as pain and sorrow, even as trouble and agony seem so near at hand, know that they are protected by You as You guide them by the mercy of Your hand.

For any who are held in any sort of captivity or bondage or slavery do we pray Lord, uplifting their cause to You amidst the promises that You have made unto Your people. Whether it is through sickness or poverty, intolerance or disease we ask that Your love come to bear in their lives as You draw them close to You, letting Your love and compassion, Your transcending grace come to bear in their lives and you set them free according to the mercy that You have promised unto them, for only You can work the miracles that they need now in their lives.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/20/10



“In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.”
Psalm 31:1-5


It’s hard at times…

It’s difficult at times, amidst all the challenges in this world, to trust in the Lord and wait for His deliverance, to believe that He shall be the rock of our defense, that fortress that preserves us in His righteousness. We want that hand that will lead us, that transcending force that will guide us but we see the world around us, the pain and the hurt, the agony and the anguish, and wonder to ourselves if it’s truly there.

In those moments we wonder to ourselves, isn’t there supposed to be a time when things are supposed to be easy or simple? Isn’t there supposed to be a time when things are just not as confusing or as hard as they have become in our lives? We feel the challenges pile up on us and it weighs down on our spirits and our souls, robbing us of our comfort and our peace, and we think to ourselves how can God let our lives come to this? How can He just let all of this mount up on us as if we didn’t have enough problems or enough trials? Can’t there just be one instant where things just seem to make sense and darkness doesn’t seem to surround us?

Then it suddenly dawns on as if we were hit by a force of enlightenment that awakens us to the truth of this temporal existence. Obviously God isn’t there. After all, if He was how could He let such pain and sorrow exist in this world? If He was, then why would so many bad things happen to good people? If He was, then why would our lives seem so hard even when we rely on Him and put our hope and our faith in Him according to the promises that He has made to us? Obviously He can’t be, or if He is, He isn’t that just God, that loving God who has told us that He shall love us with an unfailing mercy, because it just seems like He fails us so often amidst our lives.

The great deception of this existence, it comes at the hand of the Devil. You see, Satan cannot win against God allowing for His presence to be known, for as we see his face, as we see his darkness and chaos and iniquity against us, we draw closer to God knowing that He is the only one who is able to defeat that transcending sin that the man of perdition can bring into our lives, for as Christ reminds us, though the prince of this world may come he has nothing that he can offer God or defeat the Son of God with. (John 14:30)

Still he is the prince of this world (John 12:31) and the great deceiver (Revelations 20:3), who through his power over this world and this age blinds the people that they may not see the light of God and the truth of His glorious righteousness. (2 Corinthians 4:4) There we come to realize that if the old and ancient adversary cannot make his presence known to tempt us, to trick us, to lead us away, he must use other methods at his disposal, other weapons in his arsenal to wound us and bring us to spiritual death.

So, through his authority over this world, over this temporal plane, he works all sorts of evil against the people of God, letting them believe that they are “Acts of God” or that they are because of the absence of God. He bombards us with one disaster after another in our lives, or in this world, so that the pain we feel and the suffering that we see is real and tangible, so that it is so palpable in our lives, that we wonder how it could be that God let this happen.

But God, our loving Heavenly Father, does not let it happen, nor does He let harm or danger or affliction and pain come to us. He isn’t in the hurt and the sorrow that is amidst this age or that comes through this world. No, God is in the love that is shown by His people as they comfort the sick and the pained, as they lift up the captive and the slaves, as they edify those in need and strengthen those who find themselves in the deepest hour of their trouble and their pain. He is there in the mercy and the compassion, the grace and the peace that is brought to those who find that all that is precious in their life is ripped away from them, as He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds for them (Psalm 147:3). He is there with an unfailing love to console us in our deepest hours of anguish as our faith is tested in the most significant of ways.

It is His promise that He will be near all those who cry out, who call out His name (Psalm 145:18). Unchanging in His love, ever devoted to His Word He is there then when we need Him the most even if we can’t perhaps see it at the time. He is there to offer unto us all that we could need and hope for amidst our lives as He makes us strong even in the weakest of places in us that seem to so overtake us, that seem to just shatter our peace and rob us of our comfort. A refuge for us, He gives us shelter from the storms of this world and heals us when it feels like we are just lost and broken souls set adrift in this world.

How can we then question His existence, how can we then not trust in His promises when they are so near to us, when they are so close to us in our hour of need?

Life may be unexpected, and those unexpected things in it, they may bring us pain and sorrow, they may bring us hurt and sorrow, they may chain us and hold us captive to the worst feelings, to the worst fears that could overtake our spirits and our souls. But when we trust in God, when we put our hope in Him and look to Him as the guiding, transcending force to lead us from all challenges, we find that we have a rock of salvation that delivers us amidst righteousness to the places where we need to be, that leads us to the places where we may finally come to some sense of peace and rest.

It may not be easy at times, and the pain that this world throws at us, it may test the very basic reliance that we place on our faith as it tries so desperately to rob us of the confidence that we have in the Lord, but when we build our belief on our Heavenly Father we have His assurances that no harm shall ever come to us, no harm that can rob us of the true life that we are granted by the power of His Son, our Savior Christ Jesus. Depend then on Him and know that you will always have a firm foundation, come what may, come what must, through all that the Devil may throw at us to so deceive us, to so wound us, for we are not his, we are the redeemed, blessed children of God and He shall save us according to His love for us, in the mercy He has always shown to us.

Lord, grant us the strength to abide in that faith…

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

Prayer:

Be the refuge for the lost dear Lord, drawing them close to You, giving them strength and comfort in their hour of need and hope amidst their pain and their anguish that they may find that they stand on the firm foundation of Your righteousness, sheltered by Your love through all that this world has to offer.

There are so many ways that Satan seeks to hold us captive, so many weapons he uses to wound us, in the hopes of destroying our faith amidst the hope that we have in You. Let not his captivity and bondage so ensnare us, so entangle us that we find that we are held by the power of His darkness. Let not his unrighteousness so rob us of the peace and the hope that we have in You as we dwell in this temporal existence. Break the chains, set to flight the captivity, destroy the bondage that lives in this corporeal plane that we may see Your transcending grace and Your unfailing love in all that we are and all that we do.

Give none the occasion to say that there is no God, but through the refuge that You give to even the most pained of souls, even the most anguished of spirits, even the most broken of bodies, show them that there is a Lord, and He is one who lives amidst the cause of His people, standing beside them through all of the days of their lives. Let the nations praise Your name for the great mercy that You show as Your will is done on earth as it is in Heaven and Your justice comes to bear setting Your people, setting all people free amidst the power of Your great might.

Then shall love come to bear in the spirits and the souls, the hearts and the minds of the people as Your Spirit proclaims the true and lasting liberty that comes from Your Son and we shall all rejoice in Your glorious name.

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

Second Prayer:

Before Your throne do we bow in humble supplication to Your word Dear Lord, seeking and imploring Your grace in the lives of Your people.

To You do we commend the names of all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves held throughout this world, asking that Your blessings be upon them. In these, the darkest hour of their deepest need we beside them showing forth Your love, compassion and mercy for their lives that they, even as anguish and pain, even as suffering and sorrow seem so close at hand, may find a measure of comfort through the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Hear their cries Lord and feel their longing, know their pain as You look upon their faces and in Your time, in Your way, set them free according to Your will, that finally, at long last, they shall be restored to their lives and to those whom they love. Let not their lives be given over to the bondage of this world but bring them to the liberty that can only come through the love that You have for them as Your righteousness gives them shelter amidst this temporal existence.

Let not their captors abide in unrighteousness and darkness through all of the days of their lives but show them the darkness and the pain that they bring, show them the contempt and the hatred that they foster amidst this world that they may come to understand the hurt and unrighteousness, the sin and the iniquity that they have come agents of in their actions and deeds. Bring them to a sincere sense of repentance through Your justice and let Your Spirit lead them to the places of love that they have so long ago abandoned.

For our dear brother Ed and His family do we also pray dear Lord. Protect them and guide them during this, their times of trial and hurt that they may see Your hand guiding them and they may forever dwell in Your mercy and peace even when it seems as if sorrow is so near at hand.

To You Lord do we give all those who are in need. For all those who are bound, whether they are held captive in the body, the mind, the spirit or the soul, do we pray. Uplift them and give them peace. Free them from whatever does bind them, whether poverty or sickness, loss or death, and guide them, edifying them in Your transcending love through all the days of their lives.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/19/10



“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
Psalm 62:5-8


It’s hard at times…

We look to the world as it is and we see it for what it offers and it’s hard to rest upon our faith. There is just so much. The times of trouble and the moments of challenge they seem so overwhelming to us as they seem to overtake us, as they seem to just wear at our spirits and our souls and our hearts seem to break a little bit more. We want to believe that there is more than just the hardship that we see but how can we when it surrounds us, weighing on us, bearing down on us and we feel it crushing against us.

We know that there has to be more, this can’t be the sum of our lives, this can’t be the sum of this existence because if it were, then nothing would seem to make any sense. To live in a world where the moments of joy and peace are fleeting and comfort and solace seems to always remain just out of reach, where all we have is to live for ourselves in the hopes that maybe we can accumulate enough or grab a hold of enough to make us happy for just a moment or a second before suddenly it’s just all gone with the blink of an eye and we have faded from this earth, it just seems like such a waste. So we want to believe in something more, something greater, something larger than ourselves. But how can we? After all, how can we see good, how can we find peace when darkness is cast upon our souls?

As hard as we try to believe that is the reality of this existence and it just feels as if, as we watch evil on the rise, and iniquity bearing down on us, that we are alone… alone to face the trials and the tribulations of this temporal existence, this corporeal plane….

There is a captivity that the old, ancient foe, that bitter, brutal adversary seeks to work against each and every one of us. Though he wages it against us in different ways as his evil comes to bear in this world, it is a slavery that he seeks to bind our souls amidst as he seeks to chain us with the brutal power of his transgressions against the Lord. Many weapons does he use to pierce our hearts and our spirits, but as they bleed, all of the wounds do so in the same manner, draining the comfort and the love, the peace and the solace from our souls until finally we are the withered frame of the person we once were, the hope and the faith having dripped from our lives until finally there is nothing left and we are the hollow, weak shell of the person we once were.

No longer do we have the strength to fight him back, no longer do we have the energy to race from him, we just lay there, our wounds too much, our spirits and our hearts too broken. We are exactly as he wants us… unable to fight against him or to escape his dark power and his brutal hold. Then shall he devour us like a roaring lion waiting for that perfect moment to leap upon his prey and feast on them. (1 Peter 5:8)

Yet this is not how it need be, this is not how it must be, for even as we look upon our lives, even as we see our pain and feel the tangible presence of it in our lives, we are never left without hope, we are never left without some level of peace and solace for our lives. Even as agony and anguish, even as pain and suffering seem so near at hand we have a rock by which we can anchor ourselves to weather the storms and the tides of time, we have a rock that we can hide behind as our defense as the forces of darkness wage their war against us.

As we are reminded in Scripture, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof” (Psalm 46:1-3) our lives must be given over to faith amidst the hope of God that we may find the shelter and the strength that we need in all of our troubles. After all, through Christ Jesus there is no bondage, there is no slavery, for he has ransomed the lost and the fallen, and set captivity captive, making way our path on high. (Ephesians 4:8)

Yes, it may seem as if the world around us is pained and full of anguish, there may be suffering and sorrow in the places we look, there may be those who lurk in the hidden places of this world, waiting to work all sorts of unrighteousness, but when we put our trust in the Lord and we look to the promises of the Christ, we know that we will have an ever present, ever faithful help in all of our times of trouble and need. When we trust in Him and know that He is ever faithful to those promises that He has made to us and ever devoted to our cause we can find a measure of comfort even when our world seems to be crumbling around us, we are shown a measure of care and love beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

It is here that we realize that Christ, He sets us free. (Ephesians 5:1) Through the love of God by the sacrifice of our Savior, we are led to liberty through the power of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Though the Devil may then use all of the power at his disposal, though he may wage war against our soul, we are protected by the shield of the Lord’s righteousness offering to us comfort and peace, offering to us vindication for our faith, whether it is in this life or the next as His light cuts through the darkness to lead us down the path of His righteousness through all that we think we know and all that we possibly face.

Grab hold of and cling to your faith even in the most trying of times, even in the most difficult of times of your life, knowing that even as they seem so overwhelming, so overshadowing, the Lord, your God is there for you, drawing you close to him through all that you face. Trust in Him and in the power of His might, drawing the wonders of His righteousness close to you, for even when it feels as if we are alone, when we are at our most vulnerable He is there for us. The same God who would love us so much that He would not withhold His only begotten son from us is the same God who will strengthen and preserve you each and every day of your life through the transcending peace and the wondrous grace that are the blessings of His love. Then, when we rest ourselves upon that knowledge, shall we know that we will not be moved, come what may, come what must, for the strength of His compassion and mercy, His grace and love shall guard each of us, His beloved children, through all of the days of our lives.

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

Prayer:

May the light of Your love, that transcending light that cuts through even the darkest of days, guide us, and guard us as we dwell amidst the wondrous and glorious precepts of Your encompassing mercy dear Lord.

Let not Your people suffer in agony and anguish for all times at the hands of bitter unrighteousness and brutal iniquity, but guide them, guard them, show them Your mercy that they may find peace, and comfort, knowing that there is a God who loves and cares for them and who shall forever set them free.

Set them free dear Lord…

In these, the trying days of trial and tribulation, where the challenges of this life seem so near at hand, we call upon Your name, trusting forever in Your promises, those blessed promises that You have made from even the most ancient of days to protect and to shelter Your beloved children under Your wings. Be the refuge for the afflicted and the persecuted, be the ever present help for the slaves and oppressed, be the source of hope for the captives and the hostages, and the freedom by which all come to the deeper, more abiding sense of liberty and justice that does come through Your Holy name.

Work Your righteousness in this world Lord that all forms of captivity shall be set to flight and that Your will may be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Let Your hand move throughout this temporal existence and work for the cause of Your children that no longer shall they find that hardship and pain are so close at hand. As You lead Your people from the hands of their slave masters in even ancient times, letting not whip or weapon stop You from working for the cause of their freedom, let it again lead Your people to the glory of Your blessings as they find that they are restored to the love of those whom they care so dearly for, the homes they have been so brutally ripped from that they may know that they dwell in Your compassion and grace forever.

Then shall we praise and glorify Your name for the great mercy that You show unto Your people through all of the days of our lives.

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

Second Prayer:

To You do we feel, seeking and imploring Your grace and mercy through all of the days of our lives, knowing that You, O Lord, are the strength of our refuge and the blessing of our protection.

It is in that knowledge and the blessings of Your promise to be near all of those who cry out for Your name that we uplift and raise up all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves through all of their struggles and plights. See their faces, feel their pain, hear their cries, and relieve their longing that by Your holy name they shall once more come to the blessed air of freedom, restored to their lives by the wondrous, glorious power of You love.

Be their refuge, their ever present help in all of their struggles, even in the dark, hidden places where they are held. Though we may not be able to see them, though we may not be able to find them we know that there is no place where one can be held, where one can be kept that is far from Your presence, that is far from Your sight. Therefore, by Your power, through which all things are possible we, in humble supplication to Your word, as that Your will be done and that liberty does come to them even as they struggle amidst the most brutal of days of their lives.

Let Your righteousness come to bear in their lives and the lives of their captors. Let not they dwell in iniquity and pain forever, but let those who work pain and hatred, evil and darkness in this world know that their will is not Your will. Show them the contempt that they bring that they may, in Your abiding justice come to a sincere sense of repentance. Cast Your Spirit upon them and let their spirits be convicted that they may become instruments of good, working against such evil they were once agents of.

For our dear brother Ed and his family do we also pray dear Lord. Be beside them in these their trying days of trouble and hardship, shining Your blessings upon them, giving them that which they need as they deal with the pain that they now find in their lives.

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/18/10



“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6


We look to the world full of pain and suffering, full of anguish and agony and we see in it chaos and darkness, pain and sorrow. We try so hard to grasp the things of it and yet, amidst our thoughts, things seem elusive, like they are just beyond our comprehension. As hard as we may try we just don’t quite get it. And how can we? After all it is distant in our minds.

Yet that doesn’t stop us from attributing our own explanations to the things that have happened. We do it all of the time. Whether or not it actually makes sense we try to figure out a way to make it all make sense to us so that, even in a small way, the world doesn’t seem quite so big or scary to us, or we do it so that we can finally tell ourselves that we comprehend the things around us. And why? It’s because there is nothing more frightening to us than the great unknown.

The truth though is that often times the basis by which we seek to understand why is formulated on our own simplistic, shallow understanding, and when we need God to understand we turn to our own views, and the base, corporeal understanding of the world and what it all means. We rely on human understanding, human knowledge, human wisdom for the matters of the heart and the soul, even though there is nothing amidst human enlightenment that offers us any peace or comfort, any real rhyme or reason as to why all that occurs take place.

And then, when we are left to lament the losses that occur we find that our faith is shattered, because, in refusing to look to the spiritual for an answer to why, we blame it for the what.

Yet it is God's wisdom, it is God’s understanding, not our own, that offers unto us the only real explanation of why and it is only when we acknowledge Him and His transcending truth that we can find any measure of comprehension. Otherwise all that occurs, all that happens, it does so random, for no other reason than the cruelty of men and this world and we are left with this lingering feeling, this encompassing feeling that our God is not our God, for the Lord we place our trust in is kind and loving and this one is malice and far distant, if He is even there.

To understand the nature of pain and sorrow, to understand the world of chaos and destruction that occurs around us we must understand the deeper, abiding lessons that God teaches us amidst His word. You see, we live in a world that is fallen to sin and to iniquity, we dwell in a temporal plan that has lost its sense of righteousness. With the success of Satan, all people have found themselves in a state that abandoned the nature by which God had created us in. (Genesis 3:11-24) Adam and Eve, by partaking of that fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, opened wide the doors and let all sorts of unrighteousness into the world.

What though did they let into this world? By God and His creation, through His love and His compassion, they already had knowledge of all that was good, all that was pure and holy. All then that was left to enter into God’s new creation was evil. All that was left was hatred and malice and contempt and sin and jealousy and all other forms of iniquity that transgressed against the Lord.

Amidst their impurity God could have destroyed humanity by destroying them. But a God of love, a God who is love (1 John 4:8) He could not bring Himself to wipe His creation from this earth. So He promised them a Messiah, a Savior who would come from on high to crush the head of evil with his heel. (Genesis 3:15) It would be the hope and the promise of the Christ that generations of the faithful, in refusing to bow before the false idols and the temporal view of this world, would put their hope and trust in. And though by one man sin would enter into the world, by one man sin would expelled from our souls. Finally then would we be set free from the sins and the trespasses that so tarnished our souls, (Romans 5:12-21) for though they had left our spirits and our hearts stained that they were as read as scarlet they would, through his life and death and sacrifice, be washed as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)

Why though would this not be the end of iniquity and pain and sorrow? Why would we still see the rise of evil men bent on persecution, subjugation and unrighteousness? Why would there still be captivity that rips us from our peace and our comfort, our solace and our love? Why would there still be hatred and malice, contempt and evil in this world if the Christ had come to set it all to flight, ransoming us all from those dark powers?

Though God intended for the righteousness of Christ to extend to all people in all places, and the salvation of Jesus was universal, coming to even the most lost of souls (John 3:16), still we live in a fallen world because all who can be saved have not been saved. God does not just rescue some and leave others, nor does He abandon people to darkness and to chaos, nor does He overtake our will and turn us into nothing more than robots, forced by His authority to trust in Him and to put our faith in Him. He brings us to that gift of His grace through the power of His Spirit in our own time, according to His great love for us. As long as He knows there is one more soul that can be saved, that will be saved, He continues this world for their sake, while promising His mercy to His children who still suffer in it.

Yes there are those who are going to still be subjected to all manner of captivity, those who are going to find that pain and suffering is near to them, those who are going to be held in dark and meager estates. Yet to them God gives the promise that He shall always be near to them, strengthening, preserving, protecting them through all the days of their lives, and if they cannot find their peace amidst this existence then He shall give it to them in the next as He draws them closer to Him, and they find themselves before His throne, their place prepared in His Kingdom as He brings them to a world where sorrow and anguish, where hatred and sin, where death and destruction no longer have any power over them or their lives.

It is only then when we put aside our understanding of the world and look to the transcending, encompassing promises of the Lord, our God, that we come to truly comprehend not just the nature of sin, but the nature of love as we come to see His place in all things, through all things, finding that His grace is sufficient for us, making us strong where it was that we once were weak. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) It’s easy to dismiss Him and to pretend as if He isn’t there or that He doesn’t have a place in all of this, but the simple, transcending truth is that He does, it’s just not where we look, or where we see. It is in the love and peace, the comfort and the mercy, the compassion and the grace that He extends amidst the great care that He shows unto His people.

What understanding then would you rather rely on? Our own understanding that leans on our worldly wisdom that would tell us that there is no purpose after sorrow and captivity? Or the encompassing truth of the Lord that looks to this world and offers unto us a explanation that gives to us a deeper meaning that shows to us that even when chaos reigns He applies a natural order to things that offers unto us an abiding sense of comfort in even the most trying of times, even the most painful of times, and shows us that He is never far from us even in the dark, hidden places that would so ensnare us and rob us of all we have in this world?

Those are the choices, but when we do acknowledge Him and His truth, He shall forever guide and direct our path back home according to His love for us in the knowledge and the wisdom of His ways according to His unfailing mercy for our lives.

Lord, grant this unto us all.

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

Prayer:

To You do we give all honor and praise dear Lord as we look upon Your transcending mercy and your infinite grace. As we see the rescue of the Maran Centaurus we cannot help but see Your hand at work, moving amidst this world to bring those hostages and prisoners back once more safely to their homes. And though perhaps we may not completely understand the outcome with the ransom that has been paid, we know that we cannot put a value or a price on human life, and thus we rejoice we joyful thanksgiving that You worked to set these people free, that once more they may return to their homes and to their families, to once more look upon the faces of those whom they love, knowing that they will value and cherish each breath, each moment, all the more as a gift from Your holy hand. We pray then Lord that You extend the same mercy and grace to all who are held, that once more they may too return to the ones that they love, and that all captivity, all bondage, all slavery and persecution be put to flight and those who suffer may find a new birth of freedom in the birth of Your new hope amidst the mercy and the compassion that You have for them.

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

Closing Prayer:


To You dear Lord do we flee, seeking and imploring Your mercy in the lives of Your people. In their suffering hear their cries and be near to them in these, the darkest of days of sorrow and agony that so ensnare them. Hear their names and shine Your face upon them in their time of deepest of need, showing unto them that there is a God who loves them and cares for them even as all the world around them seems to crumble beneath them and they are left amidst the feeling of loss that now so entangles them amidst its chains. And then, in Your time, set them free. Bring them to Your blessed liberty according to Your blessed name that once more they may be restored to their lives, brought to the light from the dark, hidden places where they are kept.

Bring their captors to justice Lord, to Your justice that they may see that their ways are not Your ways and their will is not their will and they may come to a sincere sense of repentance for the evil that they work in this world and that they may become instruments of Your mercy rather than tools of their own hatred and iniquity. Let them see the pain and the suffering they cause for what it is and fill them with Your Spirit that they may turn from the path of their own unrighteousness and shine Your love and mercy in all that they do.

For our dear brother Ed and his family do we also pray dear Lord. In this trying times for them show Your grace and mercy and give them Your peace as they seek to come to terms and find solace in the pain that now engulfs their lives.

For all who suffer from any sort of captivity do we pray, whether it is a captivity of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul, whether they are held by sickness or disease, poverty or hatred, set them free according to Your love and compassion, your mercy and grace, that no longer will the bonds that so entangle them rip them from the peace and the mercy that you have intended for them and their lives.

Then shall we praise Your Holy name through all of the days of our lives, giving You all honor and glory for the great and wondrous blessings, the amazing deeds of Your hands as Your blessings extend to the lives of all Your people.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/14/10

Photo courtesy of Matthew Marek/American Red Cross


We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
1 John 4:19


Love…

Love for God means love for our fellow man…

Each of us, when we dwell in faith, we abide in a sense of encompass grace that overwhelms our lives in the most basic, yet transcending of ways. It creates in us a clean heart and it restores a right spirit within us, teaching us of God’s ways as it blots out the iniquity of our sins. (Psalm 51:9-12) It instructs us in righteousness, showing us the path to our Heavenly Father as we walk in His precepts, protected by His rod and His staff until, at long last, we reach our final rest amidst His Kingdom and we come to eternity.

This is the love of God, a love that has looked upon the face of each of us, smiling upon us as He ransoms our lives through and by His hand. No longer are we poor, lost sinners kept in the most meager of estates as hopelessness and pain seems to surround our lives. Instead, through Christ we find the compassion that God has shown unto the world as He gives us all that we need to find redemption amidst our journeys through this temporal existence. It is truly the wondrous and encompassing blessing of our lives as we live amidst His truth, knowing that we have come to dwell in the peace that exceeds all human understanding.

Faith is therefore love, and just as faith without works proves itself to be dead (James 2:20) faith without love is as well as dwells in darkness and self interest and painful sorrow as it shows the face of vanity and conceit amidst its own hollow, futile sense of arrogance.

Yet through God we are taught to love. In the teachings of Christ we are told that if we are truly and rightly to be considered his disciples then we are to love our fellow man even as Christ first loved us. (John 13:34-35) It is a self sacrificing love that looks to the needs of others and shows mercy and compassion unto them, a love that looks upon the pain of others and seeks to do all that it can to alleviate it, a love that looks at the troubles that others face and does all that it can to rescue them from it. After all, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

If we are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, tied together, bound together through the grace of the Lord and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the mystical unity of universal salvation then how much more should we be willing to do for one another as the times of trial and tribulation, as the moments of deep and abiding challenge are now upon them? How much more should we be willing to give of ourselves to our fellow man knowing that we have been bound to them in the love that God has for each and every one us in our lives?

Perhaps the world seems overwhelming. We have earthquakes in Haiti that claim the lives of the people, holding them and their families in the most fearful and pained places as they find that both literally and metaphorically their world crumbles underneath them. They have lost everything and now it seems as their world has ground to a stop as they are left to pick up the pieces without even knowing where to start. We have human traffickers who rob the innocent of their dignity, buying and selling human flesh as if by the pound, holding life to have no real worth or integrity to it. Girls are grabbed and drugged and sold into the sex trade, becoming nothing more than a hollow shell of a person as they are treated as nothing more than dolls for the amusement of the sick and the perverse.

For as much as we have advanced as a civilization still there are governments that persecute and oppress their people, casting them to dark dungeons or executing them for their disobedience as they try to grab hold of the rights we have been endowed by our Creator with and that most of us just take for granted. In some corners of the world genocide and gendericide is practiced as races are wiped out and mothers or daughters or sisters are beheaded in front of their families, all for the transgression of having been born different. Rebels and pirates take prisoners and hostages, selling them, beating them, murdering them, destroying lives through the chaos and anarchy they bring. They show contempt to human life and dignity as they do nothing but show their bitter hatred to their fellow man…

All are forms of captivity and bondage; all are forms of slavery that still abide in this world today. Perhaps they are different forms of it, an earthquake being a natural act while human trafficking remains an act of man. Yet they are all ways that the old Adversary, by bringing pain and suffering, sorrow and agony into this world, asserts his control and dominance over it.

It seems like it is too much for us to handle. We are not Special Forces Team or the Red Cross Aid Workers, we aren’t the Navy SEALS or some humanitarian group that is capable of putting an end to either the reign of terror of brutal men of bitter iniquity or to bring the necessary help to the regions of the world where it is so needed. What then is it possible for us to do?

Love…

It is possible for us to love our fellow man, and there to give of ourselves all that it is possible to give in our lives to help them. We may not be able to provide all that people need after a deadly earthquake hits, but we can organize our friends and our family and our work to provide what we can offer. We may not be able to end slavery in the world but we can give to the organizations that raise awareness and seek to bring it all to an end, that all might be made aware of tyranny and oppression in the world and feel compelled to do something about it. We may not be able to end piracy or human trafficking, but we can pray to our God for the victims of it knowing that He is always faithful, forever contending with the cause of His children through all that they face and all that they know.

Our obligation to love and to offer of ourselves and what we have does not just end because we feel overwhelmed by all the need out there, just as Christ never felt justified abandoning us because He suddenly came to realize that the sins of the world were too overwhelming for Him to take upon His shoulders. It means that we must give of ourselves all the more, knowing that even the smallest amount of time, even the smallest of gifts makes the biggest of differences in the eyes of God and the lives of those who have nothing. We may not be able to change the world, but in that moment, we can “be the change that we want to see in the world” as we abide in the love of the Lord through the service that we offer to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Serve in love and show forth the love of the Lord in your life, abiding in Christian service, abiding forever in the faith that we have in Christ Jesus through the works that you do. Live your life asking if you did enough, forever seeking to do more, that you make show the grace that God showed in your life and knowing that you have been saved and thus, in compassion and mercy, it is yours to offer of yourself in joy and thanksgiving for the gifts that have been given in your life by a Heavenly Father who cares for you and protects you throughout all of it.

Then shall you magnify and shine forth the light and the love and the life that God has intended for you through all of your days journeying amidst this temporal existence.

Lord, grant this unto us all.

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/13/10



So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21


We pray for the hostages --- we pray for the hostages and captives and the prisoners, all those who are taken --- those who are ripped from their lives. We pray for all those who held captive to all bondage of the body or mind, spirit or soul, whether through human trafficking or through sickness and disease or poverty. We pray for those who are persecuted, who are oppressed, those who are subjugated and made slaves, those whom acts of genocide are committed against, as they are murdered, ripped away from the only home they have ever known, ripped away from their families and friends and loved ones, those whom they care for. We pray for these people because nothing they have done deserves the pain and sorrow, the suffering and anguish they now experience. Because we know that whatever they have done with their lives, they deserve a measure of peace that transcends the hurt and the sorrow and the grim darkness that they have come to know, as everything that they ever felt peace and comfort and solace in is ripped away from them.

But then, why do we pray for those who have inflicted themselves upon others in the most brutal of ways? Why do we pray for them to come to a sense of justice, to a sense of understanding about what they are doing, about the evil and the pain they are working? Why do we pray that they will be reconciled to God when it seems that all they know, all they have done in this world is grim hatred, brutal darkness, bitter iniquity? When they have proven themselves to walk in the footsteps of the Old Adversary, our ancient foe?

We do it because as much as they know what they have done, as much as they know the evil they have inflicted, as much as they know the darkness that they bring, they, like those who crucified Christ or those who stoned St. Stephen, they know not what they do. For if they knew the true nature, the true cost, the true price of all that they bring into this world, they would have no choice but to quickly reject all the pain that they have brought.

You see, sin and iniquity separate us from God, they separate us from God because they earn us damnation and hatred and pain. And when we continue to dwell in iniquity, then we show to what our lives and our faith are truly given, for faith without works is dead. When our works are marked by evil, then it shows what our faith is truly built upon, and there it is built upon the worst that the Devil can bring, it is built upon the worst hatred that our Old Adversary can work. He captures the hearts and the souls, the spirits and the minds of people and works his way, and there they bring their death, they bring their grim hate because they have become nothing more than instruments for him. They are no different in that way from the earthquake in Haiti that is currently being battled against, they have become a natural disaster, worked in a world where the Prince of this world has a grim hold. And thus, they live in darkness, they dwell in darkness, held captive by their own nature, by their own sinful position and their own sinful place, and they are just as needing of God’s love and mercy as anybody else, more so, because as they transgress, they hurt and they harm and they cause pain to so many other people out there.

And thus we pray that they will come to a sincere sense of repentence, so that they can be reconciled to God, and shown the light of His way and His truth, of His love for them, so that they may be shown the righteousness that He brings and understand that His ways, they are not their ways, that their trust is built upon something shaky that will fall apart and that will bring them to death, that will bring them to pain and iniquity, that will bring them to the darkest places that this world has to offer and beyond. Thus we pray for their reconciliation, we pray for their redemption, so that God’s love and God’s mercy can shine forth in their lives and they can be a new creation, where they can begin to understand that sin does not have to dwell and abide and subjugate them in the most significant of ways. And thus righteousness can be worked and they can turn their back to the Old Adversary, that ancient of foes. This is why Christ tells us to pray for our enemies, that is why we are taught to love even in the hardest of times, that we may prove ourselves to be His disciples, for even as He brought truth to the Pharisees and the Saduccees, those who would seek to murder Him in the most brutal of ways as they rejected Him and the truth that He brought, He never hated them, but rather sought at every turn to convict their hearts and their minds, their spirits and their souls, so that they may truly and rightly understand the path that they have gone on and see the wrong that is being done, to see the wrong that is being done by those who subjugate and oppress, those who take prisoners and take hostages, and try to convict through His words and through that Gospel message, so that the law of the Lord that shows us where we have gone awry, where we have gone wrong, but do not condemn them but instead show unto them the mercy that Christ first showed unto us, praying that they may come to understand, that they may come to know and that they may come to faith putting behind them the things of this world, so that they may become an instrument of God’s divine will in this age and through all ages.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/12/10



“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:26-28


Through Christ we are free… and what the Lord has set free amidst that blessed gift of liberty that comes by the power of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17) none shall be able to enslave…

We are endowed by our Creator with certain blessings as miracles are worked in our hearts and souls and we are brought to places we never had thought that we would be. Nowhere is that more apparent than the freedom from captivity that has been bought by the precious blood of the Lamb. It looks to the furthest recesses of who are and it works within us in the most significant of ways to take us to the places where we need to be. It is there to touch us in the most significant of ways to break the chains of bondage that would drag us down, robbing us of our peace and our hope, our comfort and our solace.

This faith in Christ, it is the great equalizer. It knows not gender or race, nor does it understand the cultural differences that we, in our temporal knowledge, seems to put such a high premium on. It doesn’t matter if we are black or white, Asian or Native, it doesn’t matter if we are male or female, for the unity in that comes through the Savior and the divine reconciliation that we come to know in the Lord only cares of that which is in the heart. No lines, or borders or arbitrary places that we draw can separate us from the love of God as long as we find our peace in the Messiah, looking to Him as the hope of our salvation.

Finally then is the dark power of sin, death and the Devil put to flight. That is the promise of Christ as He tells unto the people, as He tells unto each and every one of 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 11:28-31) No longer will we be ripped and torn to shreds by this world and its grim hold to us, no longer will our bondage to sin chain us to darkness and death, for the unrighteousness of this world shall forever be put to flight as we rest our faith and our hope in the Lord, relying on Him to set us free.

That is the blessed nature of faith, that wondrous miracle to be worked in our hearts and souls, spirits and minds, pulling us from the foolishness of this world to create in us a new, clean heart.

This is the blessed nature of faith, that hope that generations of saints and apostles, martyrs and disciples were willing to sacrifice all they were and all they hoped to be to preserve as our great heritage.

If this is the spiritual captivity that the Lord, our God, in His gifts of love and grace, gives unto us to forever bring us to the blessed air of liberty, then imagine how much more He does amidst the day to day trials of our lives as the pressure mounts and the hardships seem right before us. If His compassion and mercy is there to free us in the most significant of ways, touching the furthest recesses of our hearts and souls to bring us to those places where bondage and slavery no longer can grab hold of us then imagine all that He does, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts. For even as we were once lost, we shall always and forever be found.

This is the transcending promise of the Lord, the promise that moves through our spirits and our souls in the most profound of ways, paving a path in our lives to bring us to His throne where we can praise Him for the darkness that He has lead us from that we might bask in the warmth of His love for us, His beloved children.

Perhaps it may not seem as if our lives are right. There are moments when it just seems like everything that can go wrong does go wrong. There are times when, no matter how hard we try, everything goes wrong and we are left to grapple with this lingering feeling of inadequacy. We are not enough to help ourselves or to find a measure of comfort. All of our peace has been ripped away from us and we are unable to find it again. We have lost a part of ourselves in this journey of life and now… well now we are left to wonder why and what for as the hurt seems so real and tangible in our lives and we can’t help but feel the hurt well up inside of us.

Yet, by and through the love of God, we have hope, for we know that we are never abandoned. Even as it seems like everything in this world is fleeting and we have entered into a grim tunnel of darkness we are not alone, for we have the grace of God to take us to the places that we need to be amidst the compassion that He shows us. We are set free from the bondage of despair and hopelessness, of slavery and captivity, whether it is of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul as the righteousness of the Lord comes to bear in our lives. Here we come to know that no matter what comes, no matter what happens, God shall judge the wickedness of this world and protect the lives of His people even through the greatest of challenges and the most dire of tribulations.

Perhaps you may wonder why does such evil happen in this world or why do we need to be held captive to such iniquity. You may look around to the plights you feel in your life or the hurt that you see in the lives of others or the oppression that is worked in this world as subjugation and persecution become the weapon of choice to rob some of all that they have. You may think nothing in this world is fair and wonder to yourself why that has to be.

And you would be right, this world is unfair, evil and oppression and persecution and subjugation and captivity is worked in it to rob people of their comfort and their hope as unrighteousness seems so close at our heels.

Yet, as we are left to wonder we also have to be left in wonder, for the miracles of God work to forever set us free, showing us that there is no power, there is no authority that can separate His people from His love amidst their lives. Perhaps we may not always understand, or perhaps, at times we may feel lost and pained as our courage and our strength evaporates right before our eyes, but by, and through, the love of the Lord, we are given a transcending hope that abides within us to show unto us that His grace shall forever be sufficient. After all, if the Lord is standing with us, the same Lord who has forever freed His people, whether from the bondage in Egypt, or from the bondage to sin, who shall be able to stand against us? After all, He is forever and always by our side through all of the dangers of this age and all ages.

This shall forever and always be the transcending hope and the abiding faith that sets us to liberty, blessed be His name for that.

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 1/11/10



“Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.”
Psalm 118:4-7


In distress, in trouble, while fear follows us and the days are filled with the greatest of challenges, wrought with hardship, misery and pain, when it seems as if the Lord is far distant, as if unable to hear our cries and our pleas, our God is by our side. With mercy and love, compassion and tenderness He is walking with us, holding us close to Him, standing as our shield and our protection even in the deepest of days of trial and turmoil as tribulation and hardship seems to be all around us.

Let’s face it, life, it rarely seems to make sense. One moment we seem to have the world right there before us as it just seems to all be ready for us to grab hold of, to seize in the most significant of ways. It feels as if we are ready to just take life and to carry it to the places that we always wanted to be, to the places we always knew that we should be. The next moment it just feels as if everything around us is crumbling, collapsing under the pressure of everything that has gone wrong. It seems as if, for everything that we have going for us, nothing can go right and we are left with this lingering feeling in us that nothing will ever go right again.

Why can’t it remain good forever? Why can’t it be easy for ever? Why can’t we just follow our hopes and dreams to the places that we have always wanted to be? Why can’t we just finally be the people we want to be? Why does it seem like it all has to be snatched away from us?

In those lingering moments when the questions lurk up from behind us, ready to knock us off our feet, come the greatest moments of doubt in our life as we find ourselves wanting the answers for everything and finding them for nothing. We cry out to the Lord, searching, seeking for some sort of explanation for it all and yet it seems to be nowhere in sight. We are afraid of the next steps forward, we are scared of the harsh, cruel nature of the world out there and how it has treated us thus far in our journey through it. After all, so much seems to be in doubt, so much seems to lie in wait for us, what can be next? What can be around the next corner waiting to feed on our wounded spirits and our broken hearts?

There are many who, in these times, find that their faith is fleeting as they let go of it and let it blow away as if it was a leaf caught in the wind, frail and sputtering, slowly passing further and further away from them. After all, it feels as if it has fallen apart in their hands, as if dried out and long dead, no longer full of the bright colors and vibrant life it once held. Why then would they hold on to it?

Yet faith, it is not like a leaf in the wind, it is like the wind. Invisible, yet very real, very present, we feel it surround us as it blows across us and against us, as it touches us, caressing us as if gently reminding us that even when we are alone we never quite are, for there is more in the world than that which we see. It pushes against us, it blows against us when the road we are on is the wrong path, turning us around even in our steps to show us the right direction, to lead us down the right course, as if oblivious to our resistance, only capable of comprehending our obedience.

You see, the hard times, when we are willing to abandon everything, those are the moments, those are the times when Satan, with all of his strength, tries to assert his captivity over us. He does it by making it seem as if we are alone, as if we are lost in a world that we couldn’t even begin to possibly understand, he does it by making our lives an unmitigated disaster as he rips away all that we have in it and then takes away our hope and our peace, not even letting us cling to, or even grasp at the intangibles that once gave us our hope and our peace, our comfort and our solace.

Still, even in these dark moments, whether the struggle that is before us is a physical, or moral, whether it is emotional or spiritual, God is beside us, walking with us, carrying us when it seems as if we have nothing, not even the strength to pull ourselves forward another step or another foot. He is there to show us that even when it seems as if we have lost everything in this world, we have found His peace and His assurances as He gives His blessed love to us in the most significant and miraculous of ways.

Yes, the old Adversary seeks to put blinders on us, he seeks to blind us, that all we can see is darkness and misery, pain and sorrow, so that all we can feel is agony and hurt amidst our lives. But God is there, just as He was with His only begotten Son Christ Jesus, to restore our sight and make us see that finally we shall be able to see the light and find our way in this world.

So when hope seems fleeting, when we seem lost, when our spirits are held captive, ours must be to build ourselves upon that solid rock, on that solid foundation of Christ, knowing just as the hymnist did before us that all other ground is sinking sand, we must be the wise builders who build our faith, who put our faith into something real and tangible. The power of the Spirit as it works comfort and solace in our lives, showing us that even as darkness is all around us, even as we are chained by bondage, even as we are chained by all that seems to enslave us in this world, God will give us hope and He will give us courage. Then finally, finally shall we find life, shall we find light even in the darkest of days, even in the hardest of days of trial, so that life and light, so that hope and dreams, they shall forever be captured in our souls and all the chains that once bound them shall be broken as we live a new life, as that new creation in our new birth in Christ Jesus our Savior.

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