Why don’t you check out the devotion that I wrote for Deeper Waters? Just click the link below.
Today I am joining the gang at Five Minute Friday’s at Kate Motaung’s blog. The word for today is JOY. Five Minutes-Free Writing-No excessive Edits
“The Joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Joy: it is the name of friends.
It is the word on one of my favorite teacups.
We see it plenty of times at Christmas.
Joy is something we all want to feel, but like all feelings it comes and it goes.
Much sought after and hard to hold on to; joy weaves itself in and out of my life. I wish I could say that joy is a feeling that I find myself in possession of frequently.
Joy is not really just a feeling. According to Nehemiah 8:10 it is the source of our strength.
Wow, strength is a word that I think I need even more than I need joy. I am beginning physical therapy this week. I have been run down with health problems and I need to keep my muscles strong while I heal. Strength is what I really need. The Word of God tells me that joy leads to strength.
The Word tells us that finding our joy in the presence of the Lord is the ultimate strength.
All we need is God and we will have joy and strength.
We are not dependent upon health or feelings.
All we need is to be in God’s presence.
You feel the beat of my heart, Lord.
You hear the sounds of my doubts.
You overhear the words of my mouth,
Before I say them out loud.
You know what I really feel
When I have buried it deep.
You see the show from the truth,
What I truly believe.
You know all that I want,
My secret hopes and dreams.
You read the depths of my doubts,
What things are not as they seem.
You say that I am enough.
You listen to my ardent dispute.
You have compassion for me,
Lord, you lived here too.
You sing soft songs to my heart.
You say, “Be still, my dear.”
I tell you, “I’ve got a plan.”
You quietly hold me near.
You say, “I’ll fight for you.”
I beg for more strength.
You conquered death for me.
You’ll go to any length.
You won the battle with sin.
I fight my own way.
You plead, “Please, be still.”
You defeated the fears I can’t name.
I give us lists for each day.
You wait quiet for me.
I implore, “Lord, just speak!”
You whisper my name.
Like Mary, I’m stilled.
For a moment fear fades.
“My Savior, He lives!”
You won’t go away.
We sit in silence a time.
My attention, it fades.
I run off chasing the mist.
Why can’t I remain?
At the end of each of the hardest physical crashes of my life, I realized that I had been pretending to be someone I am not. I was pretending to be strong. Perhaps it was an unconscious attempt to fool myself into ignoring the physical symptoms of the fatigue. At any rate, I had to do some soul-searching each time and recovery included not only rest but a deliberate attempt to reconnect with my gentle, authentic nature.
Right now I have a picture of myself at age three on my inspiration wall. She had such an enthusiastic smile that little girl. What became of her? At that age I radiated joy because I still knew pure love. I had experienced cruelty from the neighbors, but I was so young that I didn’t know it would continue. I loved everyone and I still believed that everyone loved me. All people and all of God’s beautiful creation was filled with love. My Mommie told me that Love (that was God Himself) made the world go around. I believed it. I thought everyone knew God was all loving. I thought everyone knew Agape love. I could not have articulated these beliefs at three, but that was the world that I knew then.
My life is a process of growing back into that innocence. God is love. He has made everything good. All creations will one day be restored to what it was meant to be. We are here in this brokenness to learn to be our three-year-old selves in spite of the evil still prowling the world.
Leaning into JESUS, not our own strength, is the only way to grow a strong spirit. Meekness is the opposite of weakness. We can only be meek when we learn to let love grow stronger than fear. No one can be meek when they are operating out of fear. It requires the option of retaliation and we choose forgiveness instead. When our response is based on fear we are listening to the evil in the world not the love that comes from God.
Actual strength and wisdom only seem to occur when we go through the fires and the floods of this life and remain our gentle, loving, authentic selves and survive to reach the other side of one adversity after another. We spend so much time relying upon ourselves that we can lose touch with who we really are along the way. Learning to trust God enough to be our original selves in a harsh world usually involves much physical suffering and loss of strength. I wish I knew an easy way to reconnect with that three-year-old joy again. I will keep the picture up for a while as a reminder that the world is a glorious place full of wonder and awe. Love made the world. He is all good and we are His children.
The verse that stopped me today was, “Mark 9:35-37
” Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” What first made me pause for some reason was the phrase sitting down. I checked the Greek and found out it is καθίζω kathizō ; another form of to make to sit down, to sit down:–appoint(1), rested(1), sat(5), sat down(15), seat(1), seated(1), seated themselves(1), settled(1), sit(9), sit down(4), sitting down(1), stay(1), taken…seat(1), takes…seat(1), took…seat(3).
Jesus’ disciples are arguing about who among them is the greatest and Jesus stops, sits down to rest and calls them to Him. I would have jumped right into a debate over theology with them. Jesus lifts a little child into His lap and teaches them humility. He uses an object lesson. He slows them down to listen. He knows that if He scolds them they will become defensive. If He tells them that they should memorize everything He says they will be distracted or annoyed, depending on their temperament. Jesus stops. Jesus sits down and waits until He has their full attention. Then He uses something everyday and unforgettable to help them remember.
Forget about putting yourself first. Don’t worry about your own accomplishments. Love and serve others. Listen patiently to what other people say. Love them gently. Follow Me.
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I don’t fit into my life. By which I mean that my spirit doesn’t fit into the life my body dictates. If you have ever experienced medical grade compression stockings you have a metaphor for my life. Technically I know it must fit, but squeezing myself into it is a struggle.
I don’t have the temperament to sit and watch television for any period of time. If I could sit back with my feet up and just mindlessly watch it I would fit perfectly into my physical abilities. When I do watch television I’m always doing something else at the same time. I reserve it for late at night or when I’m very sick. There are too many things that I want to get done so I knit, or plan, or groom my dog while watching tv.
The verse for today is from St. Paul’s second extant letter to the Corinthians chapter 12 verse 9
my grace is sufficient for you
this is one of the most powerful passages St. Mark’s epistles for me. I struggle to accept that His grace is enough. I know that I am saved by grace alone and that I do not add anything to it. I cannot add anything to my salvation with works. What I struggle with is the practice of accepting whatever He gives. I confess to struggling with wanting more. I want more to be done. I want to do more. I -I -I. That’s the problem.
His grace-is enough. Enough. I don’t know that I have made peace with enough. I always want more. How is it that I cannot allow the one who knows everything to decide when enough is enough? Today I am working on learning enough.
Hikanos Greek adverb, meaning enough or sufficient is the word I struggle with. God is large enough. Why should I struggle with a simple statement like that? Some synonyms for sufficient according to Merriam-Webster are competent, adequate or enough to meet the needs. how could God not be adequate to meet my needs?
God’s grace is sufficient. I stand here. And I rest here. His grace is enough.
Since the beginning satan has been telling us lies about our not being or having enough. He told Eve that she needed to know what the forbidden tree would give her. She was not enough. Humanity was thrown out of the garden and we’ve all borne the pain ever since. In John 11:45-57 we read about what happened right after Jesus restored Lazarus to life. If you didn’t know better you might expect a party. No, it is a plan for an execution.
The worldly leaders, in this case they were the Pharisees, were afraid of the Roman authorities. They were an occupied nation. The chief priest and leaders feared that the Romans would take away the source of their power, the Temple. The Pharisees had local authority as long as they kept the peace and made sure the Romans received their tax reverence on time. Their concern was that if Jesus continued to do astounding things like raise the dead, they people would think He was the Messiah and rise up against the Roman over-lords.
Fear is at the heart of it all. The Pharisees feared loosing control of the people. Keeping the peace sounded like a worthy cause. The end result was crucifying the Savior of the World.
We like to think we are different. If we had lived when Jesus walked the earth we would have followed Him faithfully. The reality is that in Gethsemane His closest friends ran off and Peter followed, but denied knowing Him, three times. People haven’t really changed. I have been sick all week. I had a busy work load. These posts are not going up on time. I decided to quit. I thought I’d buy my worried mind some peace by quitting. Quitting a series in no way compares with murder, but I was read to kill a series because I was not enough.
I had all the arguments worked out. My logic was faultless. I stated on a whim, finding out only two days before the series was scheduled to start. I wanted peace, but peace at what cost? Quitting would only reaffirm my insufficiency. I figured I would delete the whole 31 days original post and links and forget I ever started this series.
I pulled out the Lectionary reading to see what I had missed and as I read them I felt like a Pharisee. I was doing away with a series because I didn’t have time this week. The series is titled 31 Days. I did not give it 31 days and then declare myself a failure. So here I am. I don’t know how many posts will go up. But I am going to do my humble best to share reflections on the Word of God.
Dear Jesus, when I listen to the lies about my own unworthiness help me remember that You willingly went to the cross to pay the price for my failures. You did sacrifice Yourself for the world, including me. I thank You and fall in worship before You. All You ask is that I keep trying to serve You. Help me to follow-You-through. In Your Holy Name I pray. Amen.
We have been called; each of us in the waters of Baptism. We have all been given the mission of sharing the Good News of God’s love made clear in Jesus Christ. The text for today, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, calls it the ministry of reconciliation.
The job we share is to help everyone know that God has made peace with man through Jesus’ blood. We are “ambassadors for Christ.” We have Good News for the world yet too often, we are afraid to speak lest we offend someone. We are to speak of reconciliation and peace. Our call is to restore wholeness. Let us be brave ambassadors and speak up.
All things are made new in Christ! These are just the words a hurting and broken world needs to hear. Today I will try to keep up the refrain. Will you join me?
Dear Jesus, You who never sinned became sin on the cross and took my punishment for me. Thank you! Those words alone are inadequate. I offer You myself in gratitude. You only ask that I share the gift of reconciliation with others. Help me today to speak of Your love for all. Help me to demonstrate something of Your unconditional love, by forgiving others. Help me to remember that all things are being made new. In Your precious Name I pray. Amen.
Psalm 144 is one of King David’s psalms. Here he requests that God will help him in his role as king. When I first read this I did not relate to the request for a warrior’s hands and fingers. Then it dawned upon me David was a warrior-king.
In this psalm he is asking God to help him in his work. It is not that different from when we ask for help meeting the bosses expectations or keeping the parishioners or customers, as the case may be, coming back. David starts ends and pauses in the middle of his request to be a successful king with the recognition that God our rock and refuge, we are like a breath or passing shadow, and happy are those whose God is the Lord.
David is such a human man. He has great triumphs and acclaim for the Lord. He makes terrible mistakes and repents. Through his ups and downs, the growing and failing of his faith he always turns back to God. Even in this psalm where he is asking for worldly success he stops and praises God several times. David gets distracted by life but he never long forgets the one who made life.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come before You today knowing that You know what I need better than I do. I trust in Your boundless grace. Yet I ask that if it be Your will you bless my work and make it fruitful for You. I know that whatever happens You are with me to comfort and guide me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.