Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’
Devotion that Keeps Me From Straying
“They are a people whose heart goes astray, and they do not regard my ways.” (Psalm 95:10)
As I begin this journey into the Lenten season, there are a few things I need to be aware of—a caution or two that I will add to those I mentioned from yesterday. When I read the line above from the psalm this morning, my immediate response was a bit judgmental and flavored with disdain. You know, something like, “How could those ungrateful people be so quickly led astray from God?” It didn’t take very long before the Spirit began to unravel some of my judgmental attitude and reflect it back to me. We can all become fragmented in our attention and led astray. Emilie Griffith speaks to this with her words here:
“For many of us the constant onslaught of errands and duties may pile up until it becomes a wall between us and God. We do not consciously turn away from God. Instead, we drift away, like ships without rudders, with no particular aim in mind. Therefore, one thing we can do in Lent is to make a deliberate return.” -Emilie Griffith; Small Surrenders
Little by little, the worries and distractions of life can turn our attentions away from devotion to God. We think we are still being attentive to Him by acknowledging Him with our lips, but the reality of our living and lifestyle do not reflect one who regards His ways. We think, like Peter did, with the mind of man… and this earned him a rebuke from Jesus, who called Peter “Satan.”
“Christians who permit themselves to be shaped by secular culture are guilty, not only of betraying God, but losing their own true selves. -W. Paul Jones
What is the remedy for this? I believe the first step is awareness; knowing that the possibility of distraction is real and can affect even the most resolute person of faith. Secondly, I think having a regimen or established discipline is helpful to keep us tethered or grounded in our devotion. Some of these disciplines can seemingly become rote acts of devotion, even appearing to be dry, lifeless, and fruitless. I suppose that can be a real concern, but in my life’s experience I have found even in the rote acts I am tied to the God I am devoted. This devotion stems from a desire to follow Him and know Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. Through faith, I believe He honors that devotion…even if it is sometimes shared in a rote act. That action, no matter how dry it might be, is still an act of devotion born of the desire to remain connected to the God who created me and it keeps me from becoming so distracted that I stray and fail to regard His ways.
“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before—do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul.” -Deut. 13:1-3
This is kind of scary; maybe it even seems a little tricky and unfair to us. The LORD says He will test us to see if we will stray. He will test our love and devotion. This provides me with all the incentive I need to stay on my toes and remain alert. It is precisely the reason that I need disciplines…rote or otherwise to keep me rooted, grounded, tethered, and anchored to the God of my faith.
A couple of other thoughts occurred to me while I was in Scripture today. While reading a text from John’s Gospel, these words stirred me: “When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’” (John 1:38)
I found these words encouraging. As I follow Jesus into this season of repentance and reset, I hear him asking me; “What are you looking for?” I believe as we journey together, I will be able to identify what I am looking for…and I will be able to communicate that to him. Actually, I believe as I walk with Jesus, he will help me to realize what I’m looking for…and realize I have found it fully and completely in Him.
“God’s way can be grasped only in prayer. The more you listen to God speaking within you, the sooner you will hear that voice inviting you to follow the way of Jesus. For Jesus’ way is God’s way and God’s way is not for Jesus only but for everyone who is truly seeking God. Here we come up against the hard truth that the descending way of Jesus is also the way for us to find God. Jesus doesn’t hesitate for a moment to make that clear.” -Henri Nouwen
Finally, another word, this from the apostle Paul to the Titus, lifted my spirits as well. I know; experience has shown me, that I will get tired during these 40-days. I will go through a bout or few of depression and even may get a bit discouraged by my own weaknesses. I may begin to doubt that I will accomplish what God desires for me. These following words will serve me as a reminder to be encouraged during these low times:
12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord have mercy.
O God, Maker of all mankind, give the rewards of joy, grant the gifts of graces, dissolve the chains of quarreling, and bind fast the agreements of peace. Almighty God, ever-lasting Father, your love was poured forth upon our world from the cross. As we have come to know the grace of our Lord’s resurrection, grant that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we may rise with him to new life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
[15APRIL2012] Eastertide | 2nd Sunday of Easter
♦ 1 John 1:1-2:2
“The Lord is risen, indeed, alleluia!”
Easter Sunday: He is Risen! “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29)
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting. (Psalm 133:1-3)
“The festival we celebrate is one of victory—the victory of the Son of God, King of the whole universe. On this day and every day that follows the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the devil is defeated by the Crucified One; our race is filled with joy by the Risen One.” Alleluia! (adapted from a quote of Hesychius of Jerusalem)
While reading from Robert Weber’s book, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year, I came across some questions he posed to himself after listening to an Easter Sermon some years ago. He raised the questions:
- Have we evangelicals so thoroughly defended the Easter fact that we have lost the power and significance of the Easter Faith?
- Are we missing the meaning of the resurrection in our own lives?
- Are we no longer conscious of the pattern of death and resurrection in our own lives?
- Do we no longer expect resurrections to occur in our own lives?
I think these are good questions to ask ourselves. Over the years I would say the answers to these questions and others like them land on the negative end of the spectrum… meaning most Christians I have met do not live as resurrection people; at least not in the present tense. I think Western Christianity has subverted the message of the gospel and the resurrection life that it offers to us. We come to the Cross of Christ anxious to receive His message of salvation, accepting it greedily, stuffing it into a safe place and then running off to resume our self-controlled lives here on earth until the day the great spaceship of God returns to cart all of us “believers” away to the land of “milkshakes & honeysmacks.”
The problem with this thinking is that it isn’t true theology… it’s false me-ology. The Easter gift is a risen Christ! A tangible and present reality of a Messiah who has defeated sin, death, and the prison of the grave. The promise of new life is a gift for today as well as a promise realized in fullness and glorification for our eternal future, but our present focus is to live as victorious resurrection people today! Christ is Victorious now! And so are we! We should live as though we believe this.
“And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head and you will strike his heel.” (Gen.3:15)
I love these words from a sermon preached by Melito of Sardis (AD 195) on the Victory of Easter.
But he rose from the dead and mounted up to the heights of heaven. When the Lord had clothed himself with humanity and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried, he rose from the dead, and cried with a loud voice: Who is he that contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I set the condemned man free; I gave the dead man life; I raised up one who had been entombed. Who is my opponent? I, he says, am the Christ. I am the one who destroys death and triumphed over the enemy and trampled Hades underfoot and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven. I, he says, am the Christ.
The Tomb is Empty. There are no stones atop me, before me, or shackled and dragging behind me. I am Free. And that’s all I got to say about that… at least for today.
Prayer for the Second Sunday of Easter:
Almighty and everlasting God, who is the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their live what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
I know this video from Rob Bell is getting a lot of play time right now. That’s ok, because it’s gonna get some more play time from here too. To borrow one of Rob’s favorite phrases, “it’s brilliant!” I love these words he uses (that should come as no secret, I use them a lot here too)…
Redeemed, renewed, restored, recreated, resurrected! Reestablished, reconciled, restarted, RESURRECTED!
Do you believe, he asks? WHY YES, I answer! As a matter of fact… I DO!
Live it. Believe it. Resurrection. Recreated. IMAGO DEI. Reestablished. Renewed.
Resurrection is today.
I think I’ll watch this a couple hundred more times… Brilliant!
We are sharing a teaching series as we approach Resurrection Sunday (Easter) in our church called “The Road to Redemption.” I was honored with teaching the installment on the “Redeemed: Humans are Broken” yesterday. I have included with this post the outline, small group discussion questions, and my teaching notes as well as the audio of the message. We used a video to setup the teaching which I have also included here which adds some context to the first part of the sermon… As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.