Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/10/10

Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven, Fra Angelico, 15th century

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Through the Lord, our God, we receive the richest of blessings amidst this temporal existence, for though we wander, journeying through a hard, often times harsh world, He looks upon the face of His children, redeemed in the precious blood of the lamb, and grants unto them peace and comfort. Though we find ourselves then in trial or tribulation, though challenges may seem to be all around us we know that we have an abiding strength as we are given the courage to live day by day in the grace, mercy and compassion of our loving Heavenly Father.

There is no greater promise than that, for we know that, in that, we are given the promises of His heirs, (John 1:12-13) reborn in the new hope of our new creation. (1 Peter 1:3) What then shall we fear? What can stand against us? What can rob us of our peace? For beside us stands a righteous God who is ever faithful as He contends with our cause even in the greatest of plights as the moments of adversity and struggle are upon us. Through Christ’s sacrifice we have been saved, through the Spirit’s power we have been called to our redemption, through God’s love we are carried from the grim moments of our lives to the triumphs of the soul as He shelters our spirit in His glorious precepts.

It is here then that we know that no harm can come to us, for “To live is Christ, to die gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Even if our life is brought to an abrupt halt, or drawn to a close by natural means that is not the end of our story, nor is it the end of our journey. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The grave has no power over us, our captivity to it has been broken as that bondage was set to flight. Mercy follows us all the days of our lives as we are exalted before the Most High, that we may then join the priestly band of martyrs and saints who came before us as we sing our praises to the endless glory of the Lord our God.

This is the hope of our salvation...

This is the transcending message of God’s love...

This is the call that should be on our lips at all times in all places...

As God has comforted us, as He has offered unto us so much amidst His encompassing message of peace, so too should we then give our lives in the deeper callings and the abiding hope of our soul. As those called to be imitators of God, (Ephesians 5:1) as those called to show our discipleship in Christ in the love that we share with one another (John 13:34-35) our lives should be given to helping those who find comfort and peace so elusive, those who find hope so fleeting that they may find courage and strength in all that they are and all that they face.

It is not hard to see those who are in need. We live in a world of sinful iniquity and pain brought on by the wickedness of man’s fallen nature. All around us there is bondage and captivity, whether it is a bondage of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul. All around us there are those who cry out, finding that the struggle that is before them is just too much to handle, just too much for them to take. They are in such grim estate as they find that the promise of this temporal existence has seemed to be lost on them. They are left with nothing but their sorrow and their anguish as they slip into the dark places where they can’t see the light to save their own life.

To hear the call of our Lord, to know that His Spirit is alive in our lives is to hear the yearning of those who find themselves in these lost and fallen places, offering all that we can to uplift them and to edify them, to bring to them courage and strength as they find that everything has slipped through their grasps.

Sometimes it means listening to them when they have nobody to talk to, other times it means giving what we have to feed them when they are hungry, other times it means sitting with them when they are sick and just holding their hand so that they know that somebody is there. Yet whatever it may be we should give it freely, without doubt or reservation, without selfishness or hesitation, just as Christ offered everything unto us without a second thought or question.

Sometimes though it would seem like there is nothing we can do. Each day we read the names of the hostages and the prisoners taken, and yet what can we do for them? We cannot go swinging in like a swashbuckler to rescue them, we are not a one person special forces team capable of taking out a band of pirates or a hostile force.

In times like those we need to pray, we need to uplift them to the Lord, letting our faith of our souls be guided by the works of our spirits as we show forth grace from our hands, raising up all who are in any sort of need and trouble to God. This that though we may not be able to rescue them, our Heavenly Father will draw them near to Him and, in His time, rescue them. We can remember the families of those who have been taken, the lost and the hurt people who find themselves now longing so desperately to once more see the faces of those who they find themselves separated from as the pangs of hurt seem to engulf them so completely. We can offer ourselves unto them, providing for them the love and the support that they need until such a time when they find their loved ones have been restored unto them. Then we can help in the healing process, continuing to pray for them, continuing to be for them, understanding that this is a long and hard process for them, one that nobody is ever really prepared for.

God comforts us, He loves us, and in that He teaches us to comfort one another and instructs us in how to show love unto them. Ours then has to be to see that and to keep it close to us through all of the days of our lives as we learn from His transcending mercy and find that it guides us to the places we need to be as He shows us how to be compassionate and caring, to give freely and completely of ourselves to those who find that the moment of hardship is now upon them, knowing that they had never quite imagined that it would be or that it would be as hard as it has turned out to be.

When we do that, when we learn those lessons we can then truly call ourselves God’s children... we can truly call ourselves Christ’s disciples as we find that we are guided by the Spirit to be the people God intends us to be, the people that this world and the people of it and in it need for us to be as we live our lives in service to the Lord our God in all that we are and in all that we do.

What a wonderful and glorious blessing that would truly and rightly be in our lives and in the lives of others...

Lord, therefore grant that unto us all...

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

First Prayer:

Through the course of history and the ages You have shown Yourself to be the God of righteousness as You have put the sinful ways of the wicked, those who bring suffering and captivity, bondage and slavery into this world, to flight by Your power and Your authority. Raise up Your cause once more O Lord, gird Your people with Your strength that once more Your liberty shall come to bear in this world.

Show forth Your grace in the lost and hidden places and cast Your eyes upon those who find suffering and sorrow so near at hand.

It was when Your grace was revealed that Alicia Gamez and Philomene Kabouree were released from their captivity and their bondage. That transcending power cannot be denied and unto You we give all honor and praise, all glory as we rejoice in their freedom.

Yet there are still those who suffer Lord, those who find captivity still has a grim hold of them. Now a Kenyan fishing boat and its crew finds itself amidst that darkness and pain, as they have found themselves taken by Somali Pirates.

Let not this encompass their lives but let Your hand in their lives, show forth Your mercy that their hearts are strengthened, cast Your Spirit upon them that they might find perseverance in this, the greatest struggle of their lives and uplift them in all that they face that they shall know that You carried them forward in this, the deepest struggle of their lives.

Then shall all know that the living God of Israel still contends with the cause of His people, even as one age fades to another as Your face is revealed in all the struggles before us.

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:

Our souls yearn, our spirits long O Lord of our deliverance, our hearts grow heavy and our cries go up to Your throne, to Your Heavenly Court.

Hear the desires for freedom, the hunger for liberty, let not the call for justice fall upon this earth broken and shattered, but raise up your cause for those who suffer.

Slavery and captivity, bondage and oppression come so easily amidst this temporal existence and Your people suffer in the darkest of estates. Draw them nigh unto You, contending faithfully for their cause, contending faithfully in their cause that sorrow and anguish, pain and tribulation shall be put to flight as You take them from the dark places that have so encompassed them that they might find themselves in the blessed light of Your love.

Let not evil men triumph over them, nor let the unrighteous claim the authority over their lives but, in mercy, grace and truth bring them to the places of compassion that they might return once more to the homes and the lives that have been so cruelly ripped away from them in the iniquity of this world. Show that the victory rests in Your hands as they are giving abiding hope in all that they face amidst the trials of this world that none all shall come to know that Your righteousness shall forever be with those who suffer and find sorrow so near at hand.

Declare once more that You are the enemy of bondage and slavery, persecution and subjugation. Call the vile men of iniquity before Your judgment seat that they may see that their ways forsake the light of the living God. Then shall they repent of their wickedness and forever know the price of persisting in their path of terror as they leave their hatred behind them and become agents of Your love, abandoning captivity, renouncing slavery, deserting bondage for the freedom You bring.

Into Your hands do we commend all who suffer, all who find themselves chained by this world and its power. Be the God and Lord of deliverance to all who find themselves sick and afraid, all who find poverty and destitution so near at hand, all who find anguish from hatred and intolerance, lifting Your face to them and giving them the peace and the hope they so desire, they so long for in this world.

Then shall the victory be seen as Yours as our souls are given peace, our spirits hope, our hearts comfort as we know our cries have been heard as You lift Your hand to guide this lost and fallen world.

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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