Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Firmly Established

And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever. I Kings 2:45

Solomon’s kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon was a wise man by nature. There were factors in the kingdom that he had to eliminate. There were other things that he had to embrace.

This is true of those who would follow Jesus as well. When we become Christians, there are things we need to cut out of our lives. We break some habits that are counterproductive. We leave off socializing with people who would draw us away from our fidelity to Christ.

By the same token, there are new things that we need to add to our lives. There will be mentors and friends from this new way of living. We need to be open to the changes that God will make in our lives.

When something new comes along, we need to evaluate it in light of our relationship with Christ. If it helps us to stay true to our faith in Christ, it is something we need to adopt. If it draws us away from our faith in Christ, we need to cut it from our lives, lest we be drawn away from the faith we profess.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see what is beneficial and what is detrimental to our faith. Give us the courage to embrace the beneficial, and help us to rid our lives of the detrimental.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~  2 Corinthians: 1:3-4 (KJV)

“Who comforts us in all our troubles…”  This particular passage seems to expect that we will all have troubles in our lives. It states troubles as a foregone conclusion, not just a remote possibility.

So often we ask why. Why did this happen? What use are we to make of it? This verse tells us exactly why. We go through troubles in order to comfort others who are going through troubles.

Our God is a God of compassion – not pity – compassion. The root of compassion is patio, meaning to bear or suffer and the prefix com meaning together or with.

The current definition is:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Yesterday, I visited the local funeral home to grieve with and offer comfort to a family who had lost an infant.

We do not understand why we lose infants and children. It matters not whether the immediate cause was disease, accident or murder. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, the loss of a hope.

There will forever be a blank, open, hurting space in our hearts. We do not “get over” this kind of loss. We simply learn to live in an altered universe.

The one constant in our universe is God. No matter the trouble, the hurt, the grief, He is always ready to hold us near to His heart. When bad things happen, we can always turn to Him. He is always there, loving us, bearing with us through everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that nothing happens to us without Your foreknowledge, that You are never surprised by circumstance. Remind us that You are our refuge and our strength at all times, no matter what happens to us and around us. Grant us the wisdom to turn to You, not trying to fix things by ourselves. Help us to understand Your love so that we can extend that same kind of love to others.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Tell Me Again When This Was Written

For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?  ~~  Malachi 2:16-17   (KJV)

The second chapter of the book of Malachi is a snapshot of our world today. It talks about three important things: the teaching of the priests, the sanctity of marriage, and fidelity to God’s standards.

Let us start with the priests – or the religious teachers. In Malachi’s prophecy, God chastises them for profaning the altar, from turning from God’s teachings, and causing many to stumble. Unfortunately, we have many religious leaders who do the same today. We have the hate mongers practicing their own brand of hate-filled religion in the name of the Lord. We have teachers who teach God’s love – but not His righteousness, power, or judgment. We have others who use the Lord’s house and attendance there to further their political or business ambitions.

We are profaning the altar of the Lord and leading others astray.

Then there is the state of marriage and the family.

Sometimes tragic situations come from marriages when the two parties do not worship the same God. God is not Allah, nor Buddah, nor any of the other names people give their deities. Intermarriage in this passage is talking about marriage between two people who believe in different gods. And it talks about breaking faith with the wife of your youth. You see, God instituted marriage. When a person breaks faith with the marriage, he is also breaking faith with God.

I think, however, that this last verse in the chapter may be the most pertinent. We weary the Lord when we call evil good, and good evil. But we have done just that. Beginning with the Humanist Manifesto, we have tried to displace God in our world and our lives. Our some of our educators are trained with those values, and many of our schoolrooms are filled with those ideas. We have tried to make man the measure of all things. It is false and wrong. And just like the original sin in the Garden of Eden, it springs from an arrogance of the intellect.

Lord, deliver us from such arrogance!

Father, God,

You chastise us with these words. Help us to look carefully at our lives and motives and judge them by these standards. Give us the wisdom and grace to correct our failings insofar as is within our capabilities, and to rely upon You to make up for our shortcomings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Love?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  ~~  Matthew 5:44-48 (KJV)

Most Christians are familiar with this scripture, even though we seldom practice it. We give ourselves all kinds of excuses not to follow through with these actions.  Yes actions.

  • Love – Love is not just a warm fuzzy feeling. Love is action – working for the best interest of the beloved.
  • Bless – Speak well of and speak encouragement to this person.
  • Do good – In other words, serve. Bring the coffee; shovel the snow; promote his business…
  • Pray – Bring this person before the throne and thank God that He is sovereign in all things.

I enjoy a subscription to Mikey’s Funnies. Subscribed after my younger cousin began sending me snippets from her subscription. In honor of Valentines Day, he published a list of things youngsters said define love. This little girl has it down pat – from our scripture today scripture.

“If you want to learn to love better,

you should start with a friend who you hate.”

Nikka – age 6

Art Linkletter said it best: “Kids say the darnedest things.”  Some of them put the rest of us to shame.

Father, God,

We ask that You make us a little children, eager to learn and quick to comprehend Your teaching. Give us hearts softened to love those who are not necessarily nice to us. Grant that we may serve You by serving them. Help us to see their needs and work to fulfill them.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Surface or Substance

Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 

~~  Joel 2:12-17 (KJV)

The book of Joel is a warning and a promise with a contingency. That contingency is here.

Rend your heart and not your garment.

We all know people whose faith is all show and no substance. And we all know people whose quiet faith is all substance and not show.

I remember a lady, a quiet lady, who was faithful at church – the quiet one in the corner. If there was work to be done in the kitchen, Ida was working. If something needed cleaning, Ida was cleaning. If someone needed prayer, Ida was praying. She filled every need she could see. She was the living example of “bloom where you are planted.”

Her motivation was simple fidelity to God. His church had a need; she had a willing spirit.

Our country is in terrible shape, morally, ethically, spiritually. We hear people lamenting and decrying all over the place. But what are we doing to correct this sad state of affairs?

All the high-faluting campaigns will be found virtually useless. The people of God must return to Him in prayer and obedience. Nothing man can think of on a philosophical or psychological or sociological basis will be the cure for our sick nation. The cure can only come from God, and it will only come as the people of God turn to Him and follow His edicts. All of them, without diluting the word of God to acquiesce to political correctness.

Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them:

We must rend our hearts to return to fidelity to God.

Father, God,

Help us to see our hearts as You see them. Keep us soft and responsive to Your promptings. Show us the way to lead our world to Your salvation.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 3 December 2012

To the Victor…

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;

Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah

Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.  ~~  Daniel 1:3-7

The conquering king took things, of course, but he also took people. Look at the people he chose:

  1. Children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
  2. Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured,
  3. Skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,
  4. Such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace,
  5. Whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

First, he took the children of the king and the royal families. In doing so, he took those who were admired and respected by the general populace.

Second, he wanted perfect physical specimens – no blemish – and those who were beautiful and handsome – well favored. They would be strong and attractive. They would be examples of what these conquered people could become in this new kingdom.

Third, they had to be wise and smart and curious. These are the kind of people who seem to be trainable, malleable to knew ideas.  Their acceptance of the new culture would provide an impetus for the rest of the people to follow.

Fourth, they needed to be polite and courteous, familiar with royal protocol.

Fifth, they needed to be able to learn the new language and mores of the kingdom. The new language is key, here. Words have power. They can hurt or heal, discourage or encourage. They change meanings as their usage changes. Acceptance of the new words can expedite acceptance of new social behaviors.

Our own nation has been under a similar siege. Words have changed meaning; politically correct has become the yardstick; tolerance of anything and everything (except a concept of right and wrong) is now required. We need a Daniel attitude, because we are also captive in a foreign land. Although he acquiesced to all the changes – including even a change of his name – he maintained his fidelity to God and his prayer life.

Father, God,

Help us to maintain and deepen our fidelity to You despite the influences around us. Grant us the stamina to maintain our relationship with You and our witness for You in this world. Give us the grace to see others with Your loving eyes.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

And the Lord Gave…

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

~~  Daniel 1:1-2  (KJV)

While the book of Daniel is a book of prophecy, both prophecy fulfilled and prophecy yet to be fulfilled, it is also a book of history.

These opening verses are a simple statement of historical fact.

It could be a newspaper account with most of the journalistic questions being answered in two sentences.

  • When: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah
  • Who: Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
  • Where: Jerusalem
  • What: Siege and fall

The “why” question is not answered here.

Or maybe it is. “the Lord gave…”

It is a simple statement of the Lord being involved in the everyday activities of men and nations.

More of the why is written in Jeremiah 25 where the reasons for this judgment upon the people of Judah are spelled out clearly. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, has spoken to the nation time after time, and the people have not heeded his words.

God is good enough to give us prophets who will help us to stay on track with His will.

We have them today.

Are we listening?

Father, God,

We sometimes forget that you are involved in the day to day affairs of men. Help us to remember that You are interested in the smallest detail of our personal and collective lives. Grant us the grace to see things from Your perspective. Give us hearts of flesh that we might love Your people as You love them. Stir in us the hunger to seek Your face above all else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.