Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 2/11/10

Mosaic of Christ enthroned surrounded by angels in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, c.500 AD

“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

For those who believe that somehow the Lord is strangely absent from this temporal existence amidst the struggles that overtake us, the resounding call, the resounding answer that comes through and by the power of His might shows that there is no tribulation, there is no trouble, there is no challenge that He has departed from, leaving His children to toil alone against agony and anguish, pain and sorrow.

You see, the temporal eyes look and they behold the temporal existence, it see the hardship of this existence and it expect a corporeal answer to the prayers that are raised to Him. Yet, as we learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (11:1)

If that is the nature of faith, of that transcending, encompassing hope that we have in the Lord, then what does it tell us of the nature of our God and the works that are performed by His hands? What does it tell us of how He works in this world and through this world for the strength and the preservation of His people as darkness seeks to overwhelm them and chaos seems to be all around them, threatening to rob them of their dignity, their worth and even their lives?

God doesn’t just sit on the sidelines, watching the events and the course of this world run through, they do not just pour past Him, without Him even taking notice. It is that, though He concerns Himself with the temporal existence of man, and the corporeal struggles of this world, He does by transfixing His gaze upon the Spiritual, of which He is the sole authority over.

Yes, so often, when we see that hurt and suffering is near at hand, we want to believe that God isn’t there, it makes more sense to us that way, or we want to argue that it’s part of a greater plan according to His will. God is always there, but just because He is doesn’t mean that what happens is a part of His plan. We live in a sinful world that the old adversary seeks to assert his dominance over and that he uses the people of as his pawns amidst the greater deceptions of his evil.

Here, we accept the unseen presence of evil in the world because of how it moves some to act. Then why is it so hard for us to believe that there is an unseen presence of the Lord contending with the cause of His people against that force of darkness? If we believe that evil can move people to do evil things, then why is it hard for us to believe that God can move in this world to bring good even if His hand is invisible to us?

An ever present, ever vigilant force in this world, God’s hand remains unseen, yet it moves in the most significant of ways amidst that which we hope for, amidst that which we long for. As we cry out for help He is there even when adversity threatens to overtake us to show us that there is no place where we can be held, even as the captivity of this world seeks to bind us in darkness, that is absent of His light and the love that He has for His children. It is there then, as the truth of His encompassing mercy overtakes us, that we realize that His compassion shall be revealed to us, and His justice shall come to us as He moves to bring us the peace and the solace that we so long for, that has seemed to so elude us thus far.

With righteousness shall He then come to stand beside those who are need and to show His judgment and His wrath to those who are devoid of love, who rip men and women from their homes, who show hatred and contempt for human life and human dignity, who bring the chains of bondage to make slaves of free people, desperately trying to destroy the light of this world with the darkness that they bring.

It is here that we know that no wickedness or iniquity that would seek to hold life cheap can stand for all time, nor can it escape the wrath of the Lord as He sees the hurt and the suffering that those agents of sorrow bring. He moves in ways that transcend our basic, limited sight according to the love that He has for His people to show them that even as suffering seeks to overtake them, that there is someone there beside them to give them the endurance that they so desire until that moment when His judgment is made complete. It is the promise of His righteousness, given to us in a love that He shall always have for us in everything that we are and everything that we face, come what may, come what must, for we stand in the transcending grace of the Lord, sheltered under the compassion of His wings as He carries us to the places that we need to be.

Then, as we transfix our eyes on the spiritual presence of the Lord amidst this temporal existence, we shall see, we shall behold the overwhelming presence of the Lord as He shows us the force of His cause even against everything that may rise against us and seek to overtake us.

Trust therefore in the Lord, our God, for the power of His might is a present force, and it transcends our understanding and our view of this world. Trust in Him and know that He is moving, that He is always on the move, pushing for the cause of his people against even the greatest of trials and the greatest of tribulations that would seek to overtake their lives. Trust in Him and know that when the unrighteous cannot be moved amidst this world, and when their hearts remain as hard as stone, the Lord will show that their day of judgment is coming and that it shall be at hand. Then shall we know that the cause of the poor and the oppressed, the captives and the slaves shall be vindicated by the Lord as He draws them close to Him amidst all of their needs in the love that He has for them.

Then shall know there is a God, ever present, ever faithful, working wondrous deeds in the lives of His people to give them hope even in the most hopeless of situations, protecting their lives, holding their spirits and their souls sacred even as those who try to rob them of their dignity and their lives hold it all with spiteful contempt.

It is there, at that moment then, that we know that the ultimate victory will always belong to the Lord and to His people, as the triumph comes from the power of His might, the strength of His hands, and the authority that shall always rest upon Him who is with us.

Blessed be His Holy name for that.

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


With love it is You who guides our path through the transcending, encompassing light of Your grace that overtakes our lives to make Your presence known to us as the lamp of our hope, O Lord. For that shall we always look upon You as the power of righteousness in this world in all that we struggle against and all that we face.

To You Lord do we give all honor and praise for the rescue of the Al-Khaliq and the Win-Far 161, which had been held captive these long months, the crew held in such meager and miserable estate by those who held them captive, seeking to trade their lives as if they were nothing more than cattle to be bought or sold. You Lord, saw fit to move that these lost and hurt souls might be ransomed from their captivity, using the temporal to achieve the spiritual, that liberty might encompass their lives and they would be restored to their homes.

For that we give You praise and glory, knowing the power and the authority that You have…

Yet there are three who will never return home Lord. Their lives have been claimed by the wickedness of those unrighteous men. For them do we pray, commending their lives into Your hands, seeking Your mercy for them, praying that You draw them close to Your bosom that they may finally find the peace that had so eluded them in this world as they rest in the glories of Your wondrous love for them. Let their eyes behold You and the blessings of Your Kingdom rest upon their lives as You bring them to the hope of life eternal, where suffering and sorrow, pain and anguish is set to flight, never to threaten them or seek to rob them again.

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

Second Prayer:

The guiding presence in the lives of the poor and the oppressed, the subjugated and the enslaved, we come before You in humble submission to Your Word, O Lord, seeking and imploring You to remain faithful to Your promises made unto Your people in the love that You have for them.

It is You Lord who has promised to remain near to those who cry out in need to You, it is You who has promised to heal the brokenhearted and to bind up their wounds. It is then, to You, do we raise up all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves, held throughout this world and who find themselves suffering amidst the bondage that now chains them to the sorrow of the darkness that they are held in. Be beside them, guide them, protect them, be their rock and their refuge in their hour of deepest need and show them that even as pain comes to them, even as hurt and suffering seems to choke the life from them, You shall always give unto them the hope of Your Love, even as wickedness seeks to rob it from them.

As You contend with them Lord, guide them from captivity. According to Your mercy set them free that they may find that they once more dwell in liberty according to Your justice, as Your light once more comes to encompass their lives.

To You do we uplift all the wicked souls who take prisoners and make slaves out of men. Be beside them Lord that You may work Your miracles in their lives. Transform their souls and thaw their hearts that they may come to a sincere sense of repentance in You, that they may set all those whom they have taken free and come to the love that You have intended for Your people. Let them see their unrighteousness for what it is, as they find themselves living in Your judgment, on a path towards Your wrath.

For all prisoners and hostages held captive, whether it is a captivity of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul, do we pray. Be with them and set poverty and disease, intolerance and hatred, sorrow and affliction to flight that they shall no longer be ensnared by the hurt of this world and shall see Your hand at work in their lives in all that they face.

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

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