Archive for April, 2020
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases’” (Matthew 8:17).
Whether it’s a viral pandemic, wars, famines, or natural disasters, it’s an endless list of things that bring forth human pain and suffering. In the midst of it all is the presence of Christ, working to redeem the brokenness of a creation that, itself, desires to be set free from the slavery of its corruption (Romans 8:21). When it doesn’t look as if he is, or if it isn’t being accomplished in the way or the time frame you would work to make things right, remember this: his thoughts are not our thoughts nor are our ways his ways (Isaiah 55:8). The cross proves this to be so.
“Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms” (Isaiah 60:4).
In what was a time of desolation, the prophet challenges the people of God to be visionaries of hope; to dwell as victors in all things rather than victims of their circumstances. While everyone else is seeing and interpreting their adversity from an eye-level perspective, eyes of faith offer an elevated view to a horizon of not yet seen possibilities. In so doing, we lift others up and bring them along with us.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you” (Isaiah 60:2).
As disappointed as the post-exilic Jews may have been upon their less than triumphal return to Jerusalem, God’s prophet reminds them that present circumstances do not define the kind future God has in store for you. In fact, God’s aspirations are so high for his people that he places his glory upon them. That is, the weight, or importance, of his person is entrusted to, and rests upon every person of faith. The weight of his glory gives weight to who you are.
“My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I wither away like grass” (Psalm 102:11).
The proper theological answer to the title question is, “Yes, I am.” You started dying the day you were born. That one truly believes this is nowhere more evident than in the treatment of others. The dying want to leave nothing undone; they desire no regrets. Such awareness of one’s mortality isn’t a morbid preoccupation, but a motivating prompter to be kind, merciful, thoughtful, reconciling, generous, and expressive of love. For some, it takes an event of pandemic proportion to be awakened from the arrogant assumption that things will forever remain as they are; that all the time in the world is available to make things right. Unfortunately, there are no “do overs.” Commit to dying well the first time; it’s the only way to live.
“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink” (John 6:54-55).
Because of its association with the body and blood of Christ, some might consider the title of today’s devotion offensive. That’s okay because many disciples found this particular teaching of Jesus to be offensive. In fact, many would fall away and no longer continue with Him (v.66). Whatever one’s theology regarding the “real presence” of Christ in the communion elements, it is in Him that we find real food and drink; a true and filling diet of satisfying Truth. In a world that offers only an empty calorie diet of false, fleeting, relative, and ever-changing propositions, I can certainly understand why His words would be offensive.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).
This proverb, familiar in the day of Jesus, is an admonition to be patient. What Jesus is arguing for, however, is just the opposite. His charge to disciples then and now is that when it comes to the missional task of the church, NOW is the time. Don’t wait! Your daily life is pregnant with opportunities to be the presence of Christ. What one soon discovers is when we wait for another chance, inevitably, we miss the only chance we had.
“He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25).
I’m convinced the stress of existence is heightened, all the more, by the parceling of life into categories that, each one, compete for time in the day. Thus, when contemplating the addition of devotional moments—a bible reading here, a prayer there, with an occasional church service thrown in—only more has been added to the list of stressors. It seems that the One who gives to us all that we are and have, is deserving of all that we are and have. When the entirety of life is deemed sacred, only then do we find purpose in the process, and the mundane and ordinary is transformed to holy ground.
“Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:4).
“Daddy, please, bring me something that lasts forever?” At age five, my friend’s daughter already recognized the frailty of his gifts; that they eventually break. In recent days, we have seen that even the best thngs built by man; entities with a monolithic and institutional presence—government, economic, and healthcare systems—are, in fact, vulnerable and prone to exposure. There is only One worthy of our absolute trust; for he, alone, is the established, fixed, permanent, immovable, and everlasting Rock.
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
Contentment is a state of being determined, not by any particular circumstances but, rather, the nature and character of God, and one’s unwavering confidence and trust that he is who he says he is. If anything, the events of this viral pandemic have heightened, all the more, my confident belief in God, along with my disbelief in man, and the vulnerability, insufficiency, and fallibility of human systems, and their inability to offer any sense of the permanence and security so desperately longed for by the human spirit.
“And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory’” (Luke 24:25-26)?
The argument Jesus offered these two disappointed Emmaus bound disciples was if you actually knew scripture, you would rightly know me. Like these two, there are many today who recognize and confess Jesus to be the Messiah, but are so intent upon defining him according to their own political preferences, feelings, wants, and desires, they are blind to what the scriptures say about him. Nowhere is this lack of discernment more obvious than on social media platforms, where one day is “liked” a rant about the demise of personal freedoms and civil liberties, which are God-given inalienable rights, but are now being selfishly twisted by those holding to a worldview of secular individualism; only the next day to “like” a post about sacrificing personal freedoms for a greater good, which emerges from a biblical worldview. If the Lord would desire anything in the messaging of our faith to the world, it would be, at very least, a discerning consistency.