Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 2/24/10

Christ on the Cross, Bartolome Murillo, 1675

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
James 2:14-17

How do we make manifest our faith? How do we show forth the love of God in our lives as we journey through this temporal existence, seeking to abide in the commands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, just as he had instructed us to in the words of the Great Commission? Do we really go forth, teaching people to observe all that Christ has first taught us? (Matthew 28:19-20) Do we teach by doing, by acting in the grace and the mercy that was shown unto us in the lives of those who are the most in need?

It is the Apostle James who warns us of the idleness of faith and the propensity of men to grow complacent amidst their redemption. And why not? After all, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) There is no work that we can do, there is no deed that can be done, there is no act that can be performed that can earn for us the gift of grace that is salvation. It is freely offered unto us by the Lord through the power of the Spirit working through us and in us.

Likewise, there is nothing that we can do that would ever show the true and proper measure of gratitude for our redemption. Anything that we could try, or anything that we could put forward, regardless of the effort, proves, when it comes right down to it, to be inadequate. What, after all, can be done to sufficiently show our appreciation for the precious blood of the lamb shed for us for the remission of our sins and the atonement of our sins that we might have that final victory over the grave? What could we ever do that would be even close to enough to show our love for God amidst the triumph that He gave us through His blessed and beloved son?

No matter how hard we try it is never enough, it is never going to be enough, so why even bother to try? We are already saved, so what will it profit us? We are good people, we do what we should do, we take care of our families, we are kind to our friends and neighbours, we go to church on Sundays, some of us even go on Wednesdays during the different times in the church year, we even donate to charities when they come knocking at our doors. Since we can never do anything that will be sufficient, why even bother to do anything more? Isn’t that good enough?

Not really...

Imagine for a moment that God had the “good enough” mentality, think for a second about what it was like if Christ came, and midway through he asked, “Isn’t that good enough?” What sort of faith, what sort of trust would we have if God, in promising to deliver us from our troubles, gave us a map to lead us away from them that had no bearings, that offered no real insight into where we were or what actually laid before us, and then said “I gave them what they needed to get through this, isn’t it good enough?” What sort of salvation would we have if Christ, when told he would have to take up the cross, said “I already taught them how to live and to love, they can do the rest for themselves, that’s good enough for me”?

They do not though. He is never content to just say “That’s it, I’m done” and call it a day. Through God and Christ, through the power of the Spirit, we are given promises, blessed assurances that we shall be given all that we need. When we are lost God finds us and brings us to safety, when we have troubles, Christ lifts the burdens from our souls, when we feel we aren’t strong enough the Spirit moves within un to give us strength like that which we could have never really imagined for our lives. Nothing is ever just “good enough” for the Triune God as love us revealed unto us through His merciful hand, and nothing should ever be just “good enough” for us as we show forth the grace of His compassion in our lives.

Each of us, we are called to be disciples of Christ, to be followers of him who has purchased us through his blood and his sacrifice. (1 Corinthians 11:1) When we consider that we have to then consider what Christ did as our standard by which we live our lives, by the words that we speak and by the deeds that we do as we seek to draw nearer and closer to God with all of our strength and all of our being.

Like Christ then ours must be to help the poor and the afflicted, to teach tolerance and love in a lost and fallen world, ours must be to proclaim liberty to the captives and the slaves, to pray for the healing of mankind, to uplift and to edify our brothers and sisters in need, and to do all that we can to break the bondage of the body and the mind, the spirit and the soul that would seek to chain others in darkness and pain. It has to be to work tirelessly with the gifts that we have to end persecution and oppression, the scourge of hatred and suffering, and to make the path light as we help to lift the burdens from the shoulders of others.

Each of us may be called, amidst the body of Christ, to different roles and functions, to different tasks and duties amidst our obligations to God and our fellow man, yet, amidst that, it should all work together, we all must work together for the greater calling of the Lord’s love to build up and to edify, to push for liberty and justice in the greatest calling of the Spirit. (Ephesians 4:11-12) Otherwise we just prove our faith to be vain and our trust in God to be idle, the game of weak individuals more focused on their own temporal comfort than the spiritual good of humanity and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Faith should never be left to die within us. Each day it should be held up before us as we say, “By the grace of God I am what I am and I shall give forth my life for His love that my brothers and sisters shall be strengthened in all plights and troubles until that blessed day of Christ’s glorious return when we are led to the triumph of the sky.” Each day we should set to work making the world that much of a better place for the lost and the captive, for the bound and the imprisoned, the sick and the oppressed, as we make manifest the love of God in our lives through all of the days of our lives.

It is then that the true nature of faith lives within us as we show forth the blessings of our soul in the love that God has intended for us for our lives and offer unto a fallen world so prone to hurt and pain, suffering and anguish, something that is good and pure in the light and the compassion of God’s unending mercy shown unto us.

Lord, grant this therefore unto us all as You lead us amidst this temporal existence.

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

First Prayer:

Hear us when we call upon You O Lord of our righteousness, and give forth Your mercy through all of this world’s distresses as You bend Your ear to our prayers.

You have made known Your mercy in the life of Pierre Camette, released now, after these long months from his captivity and given the chance to heal from that captivity that was inflicted upon him. You have made Your mercy known in the thwarted hijacking of a Tanzanian ship as its crew was spared from the pain that could have been brought into their lives. For that we must give You all praise and glory, raising on high our joy for his safe return home.

Yet, amidst that there are still those held, and persecuted, captive amidst the bondage of this world and it’s tyranny. To You Lord do we commend their bodies and minds, spirits and souls, seeking and imploring Your grace in their lives

For all the captives in all the lost places do we intercede with You for the freedom of. Let Your eyes behold their suffering and their pain, let Your heart be open to their anguish and their sorrow, let Your hand be raised to their cause as You show Yourself in their lives as the rock of their refuge. Men who have turned from Your righteousness hold them in dark estate as they, for their own glory, place a gloomy cloud of oppression over them. Disperse them and shine forth Your light and Your love in the lives of those who are in so much need.

Show us Lord what we must do, what we must do to be that which You need us to be, that Your love shall be made manifest in our Spirits. Cast upon us Your Spirit to lead us to the places where we can show forth Your will and Your grace in our lives, that our faith may be marked by the deeds we do and the compassion we show in the lives of the people as we edify and strengthen them in Your Holy 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:

O Lord, our refuge and our strength, to You do we flee seeking deliverance as Your love is made manifest in the compassion of Your mercy, shown forth in the lives of Your people. Let not wickedness triumph, nor let the power of those those who dwell in unrighteousness rip apart and devor Your people amidst the captivity that they bring through their sin and iniquity, but let Your grace claim that ultimate victory of the spirit and the soul as it shows forth the hope that You shall always bring in the lives of Your people.

With understanding to the divine nature of Your promises Lord do we raise the names of all held in captivity and bondage, of all who have been taken hostage, of all who have had the dignity robbed from their lives as they have been held in slavery. In mercy walk beside them and let Your love be known in their lives as You lead them from the darkness that so ensnares them to the blessings of true liberty and freedom amidst the justice that shall always come by Your hand and through Your purpose.

Let not unrighteousness stand but move with strength through the lives of the wicked who dwell amidst iniquity and sin to hold human life with such contempt and hatred. Show them the errors of their ways as You make known unto them the divine nature of Your will that they may find true repentance, true remorse written in their hearts and on their souls. Cast aside their arrogance and their pride, their wickedness and their despicable acts to bring them to the blessings of Your love that they may turn from such darkness to a path of light contending for the cause of freedom rather than the death that comes amidst the hurt they bring.

Shine forth in the lives of the sick and the impoverished, the victims of intolerance, hatred and disease that all captivity, whether of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul, might be dispersed in the love that You show in the lives of the people and all may be freed may come to break the chains that bind humanity amidst its fallen nature. Let all see the works of Your hand as it moves in a way that is indescribable and yet inescapable as mercy comes to bear in the lives of all the hurt and oppressed, all the pained and anguished in all the lost places.

Then shall we proclaim Your goodness all the days of our lives having seen it so real amidst this corporeal plane.

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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