Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/18/10

Christ in Glory, Andrea Orcagna, 1354-57

“And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Luke 21:29-36

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

Though challenges and adversity, struggle and hardship may always be before us as we toil amidst this temporal existence, though there might be moments of anguish and agony, suffering and sorrow that seem so prone to overtake us as we are left with these lingering feelings of hurt that crush the spirit and lay waste to the soul, even these things too shall pass. There shall come a day when all of the pain that this world can bring shall be set to flight and the darkness and the bondage of this corporeal plane shall fade from our eyes as we stand before the throne of the Most High in the promises of His grace. Then shall the blessings that have been assured to us from even the most ancient of days come to bear amidst our lives.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

As generations rose and fell, as ages passed one after another and empires and kingdoms grew and spread only to crumble under their own weight, this was the only promise that has transcended the times to stand true from era to era amidst the sacred trust of our Lord. It is what generations of saints and apostles, disciples and prophets, the righteous and the faithful have placed their hope amidst as they found their confidence in their reliance in the Lord. Come what might have come, come what must have come, persecution, oppression, even martyrdom as the hands were raised against them in the wickedness of the sinful transgressions of men, they would not be moved by anything short of their full expectation... that full expectation that they rested upon the wings of the Lord’s strength as it carried them even in the most trying of times that sought so to overtake them.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

Like summer there would be then a glorious dawning of the soul as the answers to the spirit cried out in the promises of the Lord telling unto God’s people that there would be no slavery or bondage that would stand, there would be no tyranny left to wage its war against the hearts and souls, the spirits and the minds of men, for even the most lost of people, even the most fallen of sinners would be led from the darkness to the light. The world would set and the Lord would rise as His hope came upon His children to lead them from the rocky waters that tossed them to and fro to the safe shores and the green pastures of His grace and comfort, His peace and rest. Then shall the only true freedom be offer unto those who suffer, who find that destitution comes so near and so easily to them as this world preys upon the... the liberty that comes from the Lord’s righteousness and justice.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

Whatever the challenges may be, whatever the struggles are, whatever the bondage or the captivity may bring upon us, there is hope in this world. We may not always see it, there are going to be times when we try so desperately to find it and yet it seems like it’s somewhere far distant... so far distant that it seems to escape our sight all together as our souls yearn for peace and our spirits cry out for comfort. In those moments we find that there is a desperation that seems to overtake us in the abiding tribulation that dwells in this temporal existence and that works its way through this corporeal plane. Hardship comes then so easily to us as we find that we just can’t get away from this darkness and this chaos that seems to surround us and overtake us in the most significant of ways.

It is here that a veil is cast over our eyes so that the grace and the compassion, the love and the mercy that has been promised unto us can be hidden from our gazes as the tears fill our eyes. Why? Because the world wants to have a hold over us, it wants to assert its power over us. As the great American author Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.” How can it that if not by hiding from us the hope and the peace that comes from the hand of our God, from the strength of our Heavenly Father as He seeks to care for us even in the most trying of times that would seek to overtake us?

Yet we are given a promise...

Through the words of Christ we are given a promise that shall never fade, and it is once that offers unto all of us the wondrous blessings of God’s assurances, for we know that “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Then shall the hardships and the turmoil, the anguish and the suffering no longer have any hold over us for we know that God shall be faithful to His Word and His Word is the blessing of His love unto us as it proclaims the ultimate freedom to the soul even as the adversities to the spirit seem so encompassing, so enslaving as to bind us amidst chains that seem so strong that they can never be broken.

Have trust and abide in faith, dwell in the promises of the Lord and have reliance on Him as you place your confidence in Him knowing that He shall always and forever move through the course of your life through the power of His Spirit to keep you steadfast and strong in all of the challenges of this world that you might find the endurance to preserver even as the challenges are laid out in front of you. Then shall you be carried from the darkness of this age and all ages to the blessed place of divine rest where oppression and persecution, captivity and bondage, slavery and tyranny no longer have any power or authority as their hold is broken and their grip is shattered even where it stands fast, seeming to have such a death grasp over us.

Lord, grant this deeper understanding unto us all...

Lord, carry us through this fading world to the dawning of Your glorious and wondrous summer that the warmth of Your love shall forever give us hope.

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

First Prayer:

Great is Your power O Lord, great are the wonders and the works of Your hand as You move through this world and in this world in the lives of Your people, guiding the course through the rocky paths of this temporal existence for Your children in all that they are and all that they face.

How many wonders have You worked? How many miracles have come through the power of Your strength? Untold are they as the numbers become lost in the glory of Your divine presence amidst this world, for You are always contending with the cause of those in need and trouble even in the times of their deepest trouble that all chains of bondage and captivity might be broken and freedom might be proclaimed in the blessed liberty that comes through Your justice and Your righteousness

It was Your wonders at work that brought about the freedom of Gauthier Lefevre, the French Aid worker held these long months after being kidnapped in Darfur. It was Your hand moving amidst the course of human events that have set the rebels at the table with the government to sign a peace treaty that the hardship and the strife amidst that part of the world might be set to flight. It was Your grace that was shown as the Dutch Warship was spared from trouble as the attempted hijacking was thwarted. It is Your love that is made manifest as hope is brought into this world in even the most trying and troubling of situations and the sanctity of life is preserved even as everything seems to be set ablaze amidst the darkness that can overtake the hearts and the souls of men.

Unto You then do we give all glory and praise, as we lift high Your Holy name, showing forth our gratitude and our love for You for the truth of Your righteousness as You uphold that sacred trust of Your divine and holy Word through all troubles and hardships that would seek to so inflict itself on the hearts and the souls, the spirits and the minds of Your people.

Unto You do we place all of our hope, as we gain confidence in Your blessings as Your miracles are worked through this world and in this world. Praise be Your holy name for that.

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:

Have mercy upon Your children O God...

According to Your unfailing love, according to Your encompassing compassion, according to Your faithful promises, have mercy upon Your children O God and lead them by the transcending nature of Your divine grace as You pour forth Your love in their lives.

Guide and protect Your children O God...

According to Your wondrous strength, according to Your divine authority, according to the might of Your glorious hope guide and protect Your Children that they have a firm foundation, a refuge that shows forth Your love in even the most trying of turmoil as tribulation seems so near at hand in their lives.

Throughout this world there is the darkness of captivity and bondage as persecution and oppression come so near, so easily to the hands of men as they work their unrighteousness in the lives of the people, holding that dignity that You have assigned to their time of grace cheap and without worth. Throughout this world there is hurt from the pain of poverty and disease, destitution and intolerance as the greatest of evils rob the hope from Your people and they are held amidst the most meagre of estates as the grimmest of days of trial lay before them.

Wash Your people amidst Your love O Lord and cleanse them from the wickedness and the unrighteousness in this world. Stand fast as their rock and their refuge and give hope unto their lives in even these, the most troubling days of harsh anguish and bitter agony that would so seek to overtake them. Whether it be a spiritual or temporal captivity, whether it is a slavery of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul, in Your truth and justice set Your people to liberty in the love and the truth that You have promised in Your faithfulness for their lives.

Then shall all voices be raised to You in sacred praise for the wondrous grace and the blessed hope, the transcending love and the encompassing compassion you have showed forth in their lives.

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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