Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/30/10

The Raising of the Cross, Peter Paul Reubens, 1620-21

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
Isaiah 53:3-4

The humiliation and the scorn, the suffering and the sorrow, the pain and the misery.... through even the days of greatest anguish and agony, as He was stricken, smitten and afflicted, as He was rejected by men and given over to the worst bondage and the greatest captivity that this world had to offer.


Close your eyes and imagine for a moment the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah, that prophet sent by the Lord, holy and blessed, whipped by the Roman soldiers until His back was bloodied and bruised. Imagine His arms growing weak under Him, His legs losing all strength as He collapsed to the ground, as it cracked against Him, leaving scars that cut so deep. Imagine them nailing Him to the cross, the pound of that hammer against those wooden nails that pierced His skin, driving into Him to hold him up on two planks of wood, and then imagine him being left on that hill to die like that, disgraced, and dishonoured, mocked and ridiculed as the people watching sneered at His groaning and His pain in such bitter contempt and disdain.

So many hands would be raised against him, seeking his downfall and his demise, so many would seek his fall and now, finding it complete, would find so much pleasure in it. They would watch, refusing to help, refusing to offer anything to him, gambling away his clothing and insulting him as he hung. Even his friends would disown him, rejecting him, out of fear pretending as if they had no idea who this Jesus of Nazareth was or that they hadn’t been with him for the past over three years.

In the end, He would die on that cross.... but then how was that to surprise any of us. For those crucified, it wasn’t a matter of if they died, but rather how long until they did die. And those who took too long to die, the Romans would deliver one last blow against to send them to the grave.

It’s hard to even imagine...

Yet even in something that seemed so senseless, God had a plan and a design. The suffering and the sorrow, the anguish and the agony of Christ wasn’t for nothing. It had a purpose amidst the greater and grander design of life as it served as a sacrifice to free all men from the dark hold of sin, death and the Devil. It granted an abiding liberty, that no longer would people be held captive to the grave, but that finally they would be given the chance to rise above and find hope in a world that has a tendency to, at times, seem so hopeless and devoid of peace amidst the sorrow that it can bring into their lives.

From the death of Christ to our present age a lot may have changed in the world, but there are some things that never quite do. The world, in the suffering that it can bring can still seem so senseless, so without purpose and futile as anguish and agony comes into the lives of the people. There can be times when people are taken for no real reason than they can be, and they can be subjected to the worst that this world has to offer as they are wounded and broken by the rise of man’s iniquity and unrighteousness.

Still, even in that, as it seems so meaningless, God can have a purpose and a design and He can work through even the darkest of days, even the deepest of sorrows that can encompass a person’s life to make it more than what it seems. Though He doesn’t bring the trials and the temptations, the turmoil and the tribulation that comes with captivity and bondage, slavery and persecution, He can and does offer a deeper meaning to it as He carries His people forward, offering strength and courage to them that they may find the perseverance to endure all that this world can foist upon them.

That is the truth of God’s word, a blessed assurance that He has offered unto His people from generation to generation as this world has claimed the lives of His saints and apostles, disciples and prophets, those blessed martyrs who, in their faith, were guided and guarded against even the darkest of days that sought to so encompass their lives and devour them amidst the suffering that they felt. That is the miracle of God’s truth, a wondrous promise He has made unto His people from even the earliest of days as this world waged spiritual warfare against the weak and the innocent, the poor and the disenfranchised alike, seeking to break them, to crush them under its weight with the burdens that it can bring.

It’s here then that we realize that though there was never really and truly a sorrow or a suffering that was as great as that of Christ’s, there is still hurt and hardship that can try to claim our souls and wreak havoc upon our spirits, but that, even in that, there is a strength that comes from our Lord that will carry even the most lost, even the most broken of people through as it gives unto them the ultimate victory, the ultimate triumph, that conquest of the soul that comes through the love, the grace and the mercy of the Almighty as His compassion comes to bear in their lives.

Look then to the sacrifice of Christ, to the suffering and the sorrow of our Lord and Savior as he was stricken, smitten and afflicted by the hand of this world and know that the same strength that girded Him amidst that pain is the same strength that gird’s God’s children in the hurt that would seek to overtake them.

Know then the sacrifice of Christ, that darkness and that anguish that overtook our Messiah as those hands were raised against Him and He found the contempt of this world cutting into Him, and know that the same courage that sheltered Him is the same courage that shalters all of God’s people through all that would try to devour them.

Understand then the love of Christ, that love that showed through even as agony engulfed Him as He was subjected to the worst of His age and this world, and know that that even as His meagre and grim estate tried to encompass Him, in love God set out a plan even for that brutality that tried to break Him. It is the same for the lives of all of His people, regardless of what it is that they face, regardless of what they might suffer.

Look, know and understand as the truth of God’s righteousness then guides you through this world and in this world, that it may give you hope in this age to trust in Him and hold fast to His promises knowing that this world and the things in it are fleeting, but that His love... His love shall always and forever set His people free...

Lord, grant this enlightenment unto us all...

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

First Prayer:

Bend Your ear O Lord and hear our voices...

Bend Your ear O Lord and give weight unto our longing...

Contend with the voice of our cries O Lord, our God and our Deliverer, for unto You do we pray with the full measure of our devotion and faithfulness to Your word and Your truth.

You are a God who takes no pleasure in wickedness, nor do You delight in transgressions, iniquity is far from Your design as evil finds no refuge in You. Yet Lord, the workers of unrighteousness find strength in this world and they find authority in this age. Hostages are taken, captives are made, people are enslaved and persecution encompasses as tyranny and oppression break the spirit and wound the soul.

Cast Your gaze upon the affairs of men and see the wickedness that is done, look upon the faces of those who suffer and find that sorrow is so near at hand and let them not stand alone in this world that brings such contempt as it is heaped upon their lives.

See the 120 who have been kidnapped on those 8 ships hijacked over the weekend and hear their cries, hear our intercessions for them as they yearn for freedom against a bitter darkness that has been waged against them. Let them not be cast from Your presence, but lift Your Holy Hand to them and lead them from their grim estate to those places of liberty that You have promised in the blessed assurances of Your Holy Word.

Heal them of their longing and their sorrow, O Lord, by the justice that shall always come by Your hand and through Your hand and lead them to the places where Your love does dwell that they shall find that peace and hope has encompassed their lives as Your compassion comes to bear through all that they are and all that they face.

Then shall all rejoice in Your mercy as they dwell in the promises of Your hope, led to the places of promise that You have assured unto Your people in the love and grace and compassion You have for them.

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:

Unto Your people be merciful O Lord...

Unto Your children be merciful and show forth Your divine love in the hope that You have promised through the blessings of Your Holy Word O Lord.

Through this world there is suffering and sorrow, anguish and agony as captivity and bondage comes so near in the lives of the people, and darkness comes to encompass the lives of the weak and the innocent, the poor and the disenfranchised, the wounded and the afflicted. They long for deliverance and find that there is none from this age and from this world as they are held in grim estate amidst the sin and the iniquity, the hurt and the unrighteousness that would seek to so destroy them where they stand.

Be then their rock of ages, be then their firm foundation to which they can hide themselves amidst, giving unto them the shelter that they so long for amidst this world in the hope that You can bring for their lives. Grant unto them perseverance and endurance and uplift them by the strength of Your might that mercy shall finally come to bear once more in their lives and they are carried to the places of freedom where Your peace shall always dwell amidst the liberty that You have intended for Your people.

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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