Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/11/10

Christ in Majesty, Fra Angelico, 1447

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
1Peter 3:8-12

How is our life marked when we look to the world around us and see the wickedness and the iniquity that can surround this mortal existence? Do we allow for malice and spite to blot our souls, staining our spirits as we find that we are incapable of showing love and compassion in situations where we are challenged to move out of our comfort zone to look upon this world with different eyes and a different heart than our basic nature, moved to scorn by the presence of wickedness and iniquity, would call us to? Or are we guided by a transcending mercy that surpasses our own human understanding to call us to compassion even when understanding seems so far distant in our minds?

It’s not a hard thing to grow bitter with the passage of time, and find that we look upon this world with cynical eyes and hardened hearts. We see so much of what it is capable of as darkness and iniquity seem to surround this temporal existence. Captivity and bondage, poverty and destitution, slavery and persecution, intolerance and hatred move about freely in the minds of men as chaos surrounds us on ever side. In the end we are left to wonder what could be the possible meaning behind all of this. It just doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t seem fair. So often it’s as if only the evil triumph while the good and the weak and the innocent alike are left to suffer, their bodies and their spirits broken as they are left with this deep yearning to finally be set free from the trials and the tribulations that seem to befall them.

Nothing seems right, everything seems wrong as the answers appear to be far distant from us. We may not want to, but in times like this, how do we hold on? How do we let go of our hostility, how do we not wish for harm to befall those who bring so much pain and misery into this world? How do we not grow bitter and resentful, feeling the depth of despair rising up to the surface as we curse the unrighteous and the wicked who show such contempt to the dignity of life assigned by the divine hand of our Creator God? It just seems so impossible of a task.

It is in remembering…It is in recalling that we were all once lost to our sinful nature in need of God’s grace and love. In the eyes of God we were all unclean and wicked, deserving of damnation and the curse of death and hell that comes from our servitude to our transgressions. Perhaps we didn’t act in as evil of a manner, bringing bondage and captivity, slavery and death into this world as we ripped away the lives of others, holding the value of their existence cheap as we hurt and find that sorrow came through our touch. Yet, to God, that didn’t matter. All sins are equal in His eyes and all carry with them a dreadful price.

Yet, through Christ Jesus, who came into this world to give strength to the weak, redemption to the sinful, love to the lost and the fallen, and freedom to the trapped and the enslaved, we found salvation. After all, “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)

Nowhere can it be found in the Bible “For God so loved some that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever hasn’t sinned too much or as badly as others shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If we are truly to be the disciples of Christ, if we are truly to be the followers of the Savior, as we are called to be, (1 Corinthians 11:1) then ours must be to show love and compassion, care and gentleness in the lives of others. (John 13:34-35) Even when it is hard, even when it seems like perhaps it is one of the most difficult things in the world as we watch what others are capable of and find ourselves just filled with anger for their actions, ours cannot be to repay evil with evil or contempt with contempt.

Ours then must be to pray for our enemies, and for the enemies of God in love and mercy, in pity and in compassion for them, hoping that there will come a day when they put behind themselves the iniquity of their ways and the darkness of their paths. It has to be to uplift them to the Lord, knowing that the only way to bring true and lasting peace in this world is to find that, through the power of the Spirit, our Heavenly Father has worked a sincere repentance in their heart that they will shed their painful ways and be drawn into the light by the power of His calling. It has to be by understanding that evil begets evil and that it is only by God’s intervention in the course of human events that finally an end can be put to that vicious cycle.

We may want the wicked to suffer, we may believe that’s the only way that true justice is going to be brought into this world, we may long for vengeance and curse the names of the unrighteous for the hurt and the sorrow that they bring into this world. Ultimately though vengeance does not belong to us, it belongs to the Lord, and all longing for it does is cast a shadow over our souls that masks the face of love in our lives as we find we are driven by bitterness and anger rather than grace and mercy.

There is no situation, there is no time when God wants that to happen to us, there is no situation where He wants that to overtake us amidst our lives, for there is a bondage in it that ensnares us and traps us amidst our own unrighteousness and sinful nature as we find that we have been chained to darkness, unable to get those wrathful thoughts from our minds. In the end our faith suffers for it as does the faith of those around us as they find that the kindness that we were supposed to live by has left our lives. God does not want anyone or anything to have that kind of power over us. That is why He gives us these instructions on how to live our lives.

Therefore be shocked by the presence of evil in this world, find yourself repulsed by it and rise up to action to do something about it. Give your life to helping those in any sort of need or trouble, letting compassion, that compassion taught unto us by Christ, be the guiding light of your soul in the works of the Spirit. Be a hope unto the downtrodden and the captives as they find their lives marked by anguish and agony. Yet do not let yourselves be ensnared by hatred and darkness, nor let yourself be guided by a longing for vengeance. Leave judgment to the Lord and know that it shall come in His time, according to His ways with a better understanding than we could ever hope to have.

Then shall you find that goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life and that you shall be capable of great things in the lives of others as You are guided by the Spirit unto the divine calling of our Heavenly Father.

Lord grant this unto us all.

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

First Prayer:

It is You who are everlasting O Lord...

Before the heavens and the earth where formed, before the sun and the moon were placed in the sky You stood eternal.

You formed all creation. From the highest mountain to the lowest valley, from the greatest of creatures to the smallest of grains of sand, by Your hand was the course of this existence set into motion.

From generation to generation, in age after age You have contended with the cause of Your people, showing forth mercy and compassion even at the moment of our first fall as we found that we were deserving of nothing more than wrath and anger from Your hand.

Stand then once more before Your creation, stand then once more at the side of Your people as hardship and pain, suffering and sorrow seem so near at hand. Set to flight the captivity of this world and ransom the lost and the afflicted, the persecuted and oppressed, letting not the tyranny of this age or any age so ensnare them that they are brought to their own destruction amidst the hurt and the hardship that can so challenge their souls.

Pour forth Your mercy once more in the lives of Your people O Lord. Let not the vain and the wicked man deride Your name but show unto them that the everlasting, ever living, ever present God girds His people with strength that even as hope fades and peace seems fleeting, they shall know that the power and the authority rests within Your holy hands as You move through this world and in this world.

Let the beauty of Your majesty, made manifest in Your love and mercy, Your grace and compassion, be upon Your people that there be nothing that shall stand between them and the wondrous gifts that You have formed for them by Your hand, come what may, come what must.

Then shall all look upon the works of Your everlasting hand and praise Your eternal name for the goodness that You show upon Your children as evil is set to flight and iniquity is shattered.

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:

Though dangers and snares are set all around Your people O Lord, return unto them that they might not be consumed by evil and wicked men of unrighteous iniquity as darkness seems to move so easily amidst this world.

Unto those who are held in the grim estate of slavery and bondage, return as the rock and the refuge of their strength that courage shall be found in their hearts as they are carried to the places of hope that dwell in Your Holy name.

Unto those who are ripped from their lives by captivity and oppression, return as the sword of righteousness and the shield of faithfulness that they might be protected even in these, the harshest of days of their lives.

Unto those who are held, persecuted and subjugated, cast to the dark dungeons and the hidden caves of this world, return as the light of their lives and the lamp unto their feet that they should find once more their path home.

Unto those who suffer, chained to the hurt of sickness and disease, intolerance and hatred, poverty and destitution, return that they shall find the blessed assurances of Your love as they find new hope in their lives.

Unto those who bring darkness and chaos, suffering and sorrow through brutal acts of anguish and agony, return as a conquering God, taking hold of their hearts and casting all wickedness and iniquity from them.

Unto those who take prisoners and make slaves of men, return and show unto them that Your righteousness shall stand for the ages as You show unto them that their ways are not Your ways and their will is not Your will.

For how long O Lord...

For how long shall Your people cry out awaiting Your return, pleading for Your intercession in the cause of Your people who now find themselves in such harsh places? For long shall Your children seek Your mercy amidst a world that so often seems devoid of it?

Let not truth be fleeting, nor restoration to grace be far off, let not peace be idle or hope be absent but let Your divine love guide Your people from the hurt and the sorrow of this world to the better places where we may dwell in Your compassion through all the ages as Your loving kindness shows forth the wondrous glories of Your blessed assurances.

Then shall none question Your presence, for the works of Your hand shall be a miracle guiding us to the better places in this world as faith is restored and You are made known in the lives of all.

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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