Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/31/10

The Crucifixion, Alonso Cano, 1640

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:5-6

No… not one….

“We have turned, everyone to his own way…”

We are all gripped by unrighteousness as sin takes ahold of our hearts and our nature is so guided by iniquity that we find it impossible to live by God’s standard, we find impossible not to transgress against the Lord, our God. It weaves through into our character as it stains our souls and we then find ourselves bound to that unfortunate and painful truth, we have separated ourselves from the Lord…

By our own thoughts, words and deeds, by what we have done and left undone we have alienated ourselves from our Heavenly Father, becoming estranged from Him as we have found ourselves travelling down a path of our own enlightenment, knowledge and wisdom.

“There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

It is such a dark captivity, such a brutal bondage, that takes ahold of us amidst our indulgences as those offenses against God stack up against us and our innocence is ripped away from us. We can feel the weight of it bearing down on us as the burden crushes us and we are left to feel the mortifying defeat and the devastation that is waged against our spirits and our souls.

There just seems to be no peace, no hope, no rest as we feel iniquities grim triumph over us as we are lead like lambs unto the slaughter. Perhaps we had been able to ignore it for a while, but as it’s conquest over us shatters us it’s not long before we find that we are left to just pick up the pieces, finding that our lives have become something we little expected and little wanted.

“God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 53:2-3)

Perhaps we could have been stronger, perhaps we could have been better, perhaps we could have done more, the thoughts run through our head, racing through our mind as we try to make some sort of sense of it, any sort of sense about it. We should have been able to do something about this grim oppression by sin that it wouldn’t have been able to sweep across us so quickly, laying waste to us as we tried to find the answers for this deep yearning we now find swells within us.

Yet, in that moment, we are gripped by the unavoidable truth, there was nothing that we could have done, nothing we could have offered to protect ourselves. Regardless of how strong we thought we were, regardless of the authority we thought we had, we cannot prevent the evil of this world from leading us astray at some point or another in our lives.

“For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

We all wander amidst the spiritual wilderness, finding a lonely exile has overtaken us as we search for a way back hope, for a place where hope does dwell and peace shall find itself encompassing our lives. We all are searching for some sort of answer to the sin that grips us and the hurt that seems to come to real into our lives as it seems to bring so much pain and sorrow into our lives.

We all wander amidst the spiritual wilderness, hoping to finally enter that Promised Land of those blessed assurances of hope and peace, love and compassion from our Lord…

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

For every crisis of the spirit God offers an answer to the soul, for every trial of life the Lord offers an answer that transcends this temporal existence. Where the hearts and the minds of men fail there is a glorious triumph, a wondrous victory that comes through the Spirit and is guided by His love and compassion, His tender mercy and His abiding grace.

Unwilling and unable to abandon us, incapable of forsaking us even amidst our own sin and iniquity, where we feel so bound to our transgressions and to the transgressions that can be waged against us by this world, the Lord moves through our lives and in our lives to break the chains that have bound us, that have tried so desperately to suppress us with such a bitter tyranny that all may taste that sweet air of His blessed liberty, a freedom He weaves into the integrity of life of all His creation.

“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)

It is that truth that frees even the most lost, even the most fallen amongst us, giving hope to the hurt and peace to the wounded as the healing power of God’s love comes to encompass their being. It is that truth that gives strength to even the most oppressed, even the most persecuted, who finds the grim weight of this world’s tyranny pushing down on them as it seeks to rob them of any good that God has to offer for their lives.

It is that truth that whispers unto us the abiding lesson of God’s compassion for us, as it tells us that though evil may come upon us, though sin may seek to lead us down a path we little thought or expected for our lives, there is a salvation that comes unto all over us, a salvation that will lead all of us, equally offered unto all people, regardless of who they are, regardless of what they may face, regardless of what might grip them. This is the blessed assurance that comes through Christ Jesus.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9)

We may feel ourselves so off course from the places we had thought we might be as the spiritual warfare of this world is waged against us, we may feel ourselves taken by such despair as anguish and agony forces us to cry out and we find that little in our lives make sense. Yet his isn’t the end of our story. God is there for us, regardless of what we may think of the world around us, to give us the endurance and the strength, the courage and the ope that we need to persevere even against the worst that this world has to offer.

In Christ, through his encompassing sacrifice, we are given more than hope in that love as we are reconciled onto God and the truth of His nature encompasses us. In Christ, through his transcending miracle, we are given more than hope as we find the promises that the Lord has made unto us is enough to always and forever carry us through.

Whatever you may feel, whatever this world may wage against you, whatever darkness seems to come upon you, whatever pain threatens to engulf you, find your strength in the Lord, find your courage in Christ, find your perseverance in the Spirit and know that our God, who loves you and cares for you will always and forever carry you through that nothing but His compassion shall be able to claim any authority over you.

Lord, grant this unto us all…

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

First Prayer:

O Lord, our God, in You shall we take refuge, in You shall we find peace…

O Lord, our God, it is You who shall be our shelter and our fortress, our ever present help in all danger…

Save and deliver Your people from that which seeks to devour them, deliver them from all who seek to persecute them and bind them by the oppression that comes amidst unrighteousness as they seek to claim the power and the authority over this life and the lives of those whom You have promised to protect.

Rescue Your children from that which seeks to rip them apart, release them from all who bring bondage and captivity as they seek to enslave Your creation lest Your people fall by the sword amidst the sin and the iniquity that can be waged against them, finding there is no hope for them in this world.

Let not Your enemies persecute the souls of those eleven on board the Al-Barari who were taken captive by Pirates, let them not tread upon the spirits of these men now ripped from their homes, but cast upon them the power of Your Spirit that they might be girded by Your strength and given hope by Your love. Guide them by Your compassion that they might find endurance amidst this worlds darkest trials that they may dwell in the peace of Your grace in even the harshest of tribulations that would threaten to overtake them.

Arise then O Lord, and when Your will designs it set them to freedom amidst the blessings of Your transcending liberty that they may be delivered from all that would seek to overtake them.

Then shall all the world marvel at Your justice as You show the full measure of Your faithfulness as You contend with the cause of Your people and pour forth Your love in 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.

Second Prayer:

Our defense is in You O Lord….

The strength of our deliverance, the hope of freedom, the blessings of liberty, they come amidst the integrity that You have given to the life that You have created, the life that You have formed by Your hand as You show that You and only You offer the salvation that is needed to break the bonds of evil in this world.

Draw then the wickedness of the wicked to an end and let not the unrighteousness of the unrighteous claim the authority and the power over this world. Let not this age be engulfed by the darkness that can be brought against it as captivity and bondage, slavery and persecution, oppression and tyranny are waged against the hearts and the souls, the bodies and the minds of the people. Let not poverty and destitution, sickness and disease claim the lives of Your people as they are left to a grim estate and a painful agony that overtakes them, but guide them in truth and give unto them hope that it may encompass their spirits in the love You have for them.

Our defense is in You O Lord…

It is in You that we shall trust through all of the days of our lives as we put our full confidence in the blessed assurances that You are the God of those who suffer and find sorrow so near at hand. Draw nigh to those who yearn for hope, those who long for freedom, those who cry out for justice, that liberty might come upon them and guide them to the places of promise where You do dwell as the refuge for the lost, the fortress for the weak, and the rock for the weary that all may come to rest in the green pastures of Your blessed mercy and transcending love through all the days of their lives.

Our defense is in You O Lord, in this shall we always place our faith as we put our reliance in You and You guide our confidence to those places of Your wondrous rest…

Our defense is in You O Lord, and we shall sing Your praises according to Your righteousness as we rejoice forever 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.

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