Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 2/16/10

The USS Consellation Fires Upon the Slave Ship Cora. In 1860 the Constellation rescued 705 African slaves and helped put an end to the Atlantic human trafficking trade.

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”
Psalm 56:8-11

At times it seems like a lot, doesn’t it?

We put our trust in God, we say with God I walk, I will not be afraid of what men may do. We say with the Lord I stand, what can this world do to me that can rob me of the peace and the comfort that He gives unto me. But, before we know it, the struggles are before us and the challenges are upon us, and they seem to be more than we can bear, more than we can handle. Captivity and struggle, temptations and trials, they seem to come so easily and we are left with this lingering sense of doubt, wondering how it is that we could find ourselves now amidst the challenges that we face.

Perhaps, it could be that there is more to life than the lingering feelings that seem to so easily now overtake us but the truth is we have a hard time seeing them as we find that what we were so sure of seems to so quickly evaporate from our eyes, the days fading to the nights that seem to just go on forever. The darkness seems so grim, so encompassing and we are left with this sense that nothing... nothing in our lives will ever be the same again.

It hurts so much as we find ourselves longing for answers, as we rest in the promises of the Lord and yet find ourselves wondering if they are sufficient for us, if they are enough that we can truly rely on them in our hour of deepest need when the moments of hurt are upon us and it feels as if there is nothing more left to us but to just cry as we find that we just... we feel so lost and alone. We know the blessed assurances of God, but when we find ourselves in times like these, when bondage seems so close at hand, when the darkness seems so transcending, when faith seems so inadequate we are forced to question if they’re something real or if they are something else all together.

That is the way the world ensnares us, the way the old adversary asserts his power over us...

You see the Devil is content just showing us that evil exists in this world, or that there are times, more than we’d care to even imagine, when sin and iniquity, when wickedness and hatred seem to triumph over righteousness and justice. He is not content with just asserting slavery and captivity over the hearts and the minds of men, for we know that it does exist and when we can see his hand in it we turn to God knowing that it is only His strength that can and will save us.

To assert His dominance then he shows to us the worst that men are capable of and he convinces us that not only are their power will have power over us, but that they do it without his help and that their strength does not come from him but from their own hands. All of this that we can dismiss the presence of the Lord or believe that somehow He is far distant, incapable of defeating the authority of unrighteousness and hatred amidst this temporal plane.

Yet we know that there is more to this corporeal existence than just flesh and blood, than just the triumphs and the victories that evil claims over our lives. There is an ever present God, and He sees the ever present attacks that are waged against us as hurt and pain seem to come so near at hand. He is the one who sees our tears and our hurt as the pain seems so real and palpable in our lives and understands more than we could ever hope to where it is that they come from.

Vigilant and ever faithful, this God of ours, this Lord over all, He does not let any of this serve as the end of our story though. No, He is there beside us each and every step of the way whispering unto us “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) He is there to show unto us that His grace shall forever offer unto us the strength that we need, for even in our weakness then shall we see the Spirit of the Lord and know that our faith does not rest on the wisdom or the power of men, but on the authority of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 2:3-5)

It is God who walks beside us each and every step of the way, it is the Lord who gives us the courage that we need amidst our lives. By Him then we know we are capable of facing all that this world has in store, all that this world may bring against us, because it is He who carries us, supporting us as we wander amidst this temporal existence. (Philippians 4:13) Though we then may be forged in the fires of this world and find that pain is so near at hand, so close by us, He lifts us from it and tempers us until we are like steel in His hand, strong and unrelenting against the challenges of this world.

Through Him, through Christ, we are then more than conquerors, (Romans 8:37) we are the redeemed children of our Heavenly Father, bought in love, ransomed from the hand of evil and set free from the captivity that would so seek to overtake our souls and overshadow our being. There is no bondage that can chain us, no yoke that can weigh us down, no strength that can overtake us for we dwell in grace and love, knowing the transcending mercy that has redeemed us amidst a lost and fallen world so given to its own ways and the authority of sin, death and the devil.

Yes, there are going to be times when it seems as if nothing can save us, when it seems like there is just too much to handle, too much to bear. It is going to feel as if there are times when the slavery and the captivity of this world are too near at hand, or when it seems as if slavery and bondage shall forever triumph over righteousness and justice. But with God shall the victory always rest as He shows His love and His mercy, His grace and His peace in the lives of His people through all that they know and all that they face. That triumph of the spirit shall then come to claim the ultimate victory over our souls as we find rest in the green pastures of God’s compassion as He shelters us with His wings.

Then do we know the encompassing truth, the overwhelming peace that comes to dwell forever in our souls as our hearts are strengthened in the love and the mercy of God’s divine precepts and we are given the hope that shall always and forever uplift us in our times of trouble as we know the freedom and the liberty that can only come from the Lord. After all, so long as God stands beside us, so long as God walks beside us, come what may, come what must, come all of the world and all of its snares and traps, who shall ever be able to stand against us, for we dwell as children of mercy in the promises that our Heavenly Father has made for us.

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

First Prayer:

As the conquering hero we need You to be walk beside us, stand beside us through all of the battles that this world wages upon us as it seeks to rob us of our peace and our comfort. Let not captivity and bondage be near to us, but draw it out from the dark and hidden places where it lurks so that we may see it for what it truly is in the evil that it brings amidst this world.

Like David before us Lord, we see this world and the pain that it can bring, we see the sorrow and the hurt that it can offer in our lives as suffering and sorrow seem so near at hand and Your children are held in the bondage of wickedness and unrighteousness. Yet, like Your servant, we know that all authority, that all strength rests in You as You make Your face known in the lives of Your people. Let them not then fall by the sword but show the power of Your righteousness as You bring justice to bear in the lives of the people. Let them not collapse under the weight of this worlds strength but show the power of Your might as You bring liberty by Your hand for the cause of the freedom of Your people.

Show to those who would make slaves of men, who would rob the dignity from the gift of life that You have given, that they shall not stand, that, in mercy and grace, You are made known in the lives of the poor and the downtrodden, the lives of those who yearn to find once more the peace that has been so callously ripped from their lives. Show them that they may know that their ways are not Your ways and that when their will comes against Your divine will it shall be Your purpose that is left to stand, regardless of the power and the strength that they thought they had.

Then shall they put their wickedness and their iniquity behind them and come to praise Your name as finally hope shall come to bear in the lives of all people in all places according to Your wondrous, glorious mercy.

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:

Be the strength that we need amidst a sinful world O Lord, and walk beside Your people in all that they are and all that they face, as the challenges are before them and the struggles are so near in their heart. Let them not fall by the hand of unrighteousness but find courage and hope even now, in their hour of deepest need.

To You do we uplift all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves, knowing that Your compassion is the force of Your strength. Be beside them then in love and mercy through all that they face, through all of the darkness that now so overtakes them, swallowing them amidst the pain that is so real, the sorrow that is so palpable in their lives. Show unto them that there is a loving God who walks beside them each and every step of the way, never abandoning them, never failing them, even when it seems as if they are alone with nothing but their hurt to keep them company.

Be vigilant to their cause Lord and in Your time, in Your way set them free, showing unto them that they have never been removed from Your sight and that they have never been lifted from Your heart as You, in love, show them the mercy that they so longed for and had thought had been so far gone from their lives.

Let not the unrighteous triumph amidst their wickedness as sin so often guides their way but show unto them that You shall always be at work, moving, weaving through the course of human events that no longer will darkness and hatred be left to stand. Work in their hearts to bring love to their souls, that they may know that they have become agents of iniquity and that they bring nothing but sorrow into this world. Show them their ways are vain that they may put behind them all suffering and know that there is a God who can work true and sincere repentance in even the most lost of spirits.

For all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves do we pray Lord that freedom may come in the lives of all people, in all places. Set to flight all sickness and disease, all poverty and injustice, let intolerance and hatred fade from this earth that we shall come to realize the dreams of a better life that You have intended for all of Your children.

Then shall freedom be the praise we raise up to You as Your transcending liberty encompasses all of our lives through all that we face and all that we do in this mortal 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.

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