[08JAN2012] Basking in the Light
♦ Gospel -Mark 1:4-11
Lord, I will sing of your power; every morning I will sing of your faithful love. Let us live as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. Amen.
Today has been a day for me to bask in His glorious presence and light, the light that is epiphany and revelation to me. This is the awareness and awakening that shook me to my core over a decade ago… a “shakening and awakening” like none other I experienced in all my life of knowing about Jesus. Knowing about him was nothing compared to knowing him. I am grateful beyond words and any human expression for the grace and mercy he showed to me when he revealed himself in light and in truth. Praise Him! My prayer today has been expressed in the joy of these words from the psalmist from Psalm 139:
For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation.
Already you knew my soul, my body held no secret from you… when I was being fashioned in secret and molded in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes see all my actions, they were all of them written in your book; every one of my days was decreed before one of them came into being.
To me, how mysterious your thoughts, the sum of them not to be numbered! If I count them, they are more than sand; to finish, I must be eternal, like you.
—as read from the Anabaptist Prayer Book: Take our Moments and our Days
(There is no embellishment whatsoever in the following story. None.)
Monday night: We left our home to drive to Seattle to pick up Garrett (our son) who was arriving from college for his summer break. Just before we were to get on the interstate I noticed a “thunk-thunk” sound coming from the rear tire area of the car. I immediately pulled over and had Laurie (my wife) get into the driver seat and drive slowly ahead so I could figure out what was happening… we were hoping nothing serious was happening so we wouldn’t be late to meet Garrett’s arriving flight. I spotted the problem! I large metal shank was protruding from the tire… I tried to remove it, but couldn’t. I retrieved a tool from the glove box and began to pull the metal from the tire while praying I wouldn’t hear the hissing sound of escaping air. What emerged from the tire was a large flat razor, but PRAISE GOD, no air! We pressed on to Seattle and were there in plenty time to pick up Garrett with no delays!
Tuesday: No problems with car or tire… business as usual.
Wednesday Morning: We left out to take Josh (our son) to school and drop Laurie off at work. I was going to have to pick up some guests (from the SeaTac Airport) who were/are arriving today to visit with us for the week. Just before we pulled out of our apartment complex I noticed a weird feel to the car. I pulled over and looked at the rear tire (the one that had a razor blade in it two nights ago) and it was almost completely flat. I pulled back up to our apartment to put on the spare donut tire. It was looking like everyone was going to be late today and I might even be late to pick up our guests at the airport. On another note… we don’t really have an extra hundred bucks in the budget for a replacement tire. I got the emergency spare on and headed out… Laurie got to work on time and I decided rather than try to repair the tire, I would drive to a tire store and just purchase a new one. When I arrived at the store, before I was even out of the car a young man was at my door telling me he noticed I needed a tire. We chatted a moment and the next thing I knew my car was on a lift. Before I could even explain what I was looking for, the fellow told me he’d warranty my tire and it wouldn’t cost me the full price of the new tire. When everything was said and done I walked out (in time to meet our guests at the airport on time!) with a new tire, balanced, mounted, and the old tire disposed of for $28 and some change.
The remarkable chain of events for these past three days and the way we were taken care of is a glorious testimony to the God who watches over us. Now… I better get on the road to pick up Meg and Nicole. PRAISE GOD!!!
I am Particularly warmed…
For the last few days, my morning prayers have been particularly warming to my soul… not that other days and times are not; these past few days have just been particularly warming.
Our hearts, O LORD, are restless until they rest in you!
I am grateful that my heavenly Father enjoys time with me more than I enjoy time with Him. Again, I do enjoy my time in His Presence, but the evidence of my life in the light of Biblical revelation dictates His love and enjoyment of me far exceeds anything I can imagine.
In recent years I have felt exceedingly lonely… often misunderstood, often misquoted, sometimes maligned, and set somewhat adrift. While this season has been heart wrenching as well as spiritually and emotionally difficult, I believe it is by providential design. The process and the work that God continues to perform in my life is still “under construction.” What will be is still yet unknown; the temporal destination we are still unsure. While I trust God implicitly, there are still times that I am sad and I am afraid. It is with this knowledge that the Spirit poured out the balm of God’s Word to heal my heart this morning…
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
I will fulfill my vows to you, O God. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.
Psalm 56:3-4, 8, 12-23
When I am feeling low in spirit, longing to see the direction of my life… months and years ahead of me and frustrated that I can only see by the “light that illuminates in front of each step,” my God comforts me; He not only dries my tears, but He collects and records each one. The Man of Sorrows identifies with my sorrows. He rescues me in my weakness and affirms His love and His purpose for me…
I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me… My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident… Be exalted O God, over all the earth. (Psalm 57:2-3, 7, 11)
It is for this reason that my heart is particularly warmed… and I can share from my warmed heart sincere sentiments alongside the psalmist David; “God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary, and waterless” (Psalm 63:1). Nothing compares to my God, nothing compares to the loving embrace of the Son, nothing compares to the revealed knowledge and wise guidance of the Spirit. O, Praise Him, O Praise Him!
Epiphany Meditation: The Word Became Flesh – Pt. 5 [16JAN2011]
Practical Witness – Practical Insight
As I’ve been considering the Word became Flesh for the past several weeks, there have been a number of passages of Scripture “speaking” to me and fueling my meditations. I decided to post a few of these and share some of my “soul food.”
Submit to God’s royal Son…What joy for all who take refuge in Him (Psalm 2:12)
He will be victorious (Psalm 110:7)
Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (Joshua 1:8)
There is no place where God is not. Where I go, there God is. Now and always He upholds me with His power and keeps me safe in His love. –Anonymous
One morning my selected reading was Psalm 18. It was pretty early and I transposed the numbers in my mind and turned to Psalm 81 instead… Regardless of my state of mind and how “accidental” it seemed, I’m believing it was providence and the Spirit of God who guided me. Here follows the passages that grabbed my attention:
5 I heard an unknown voice say:
6 “I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
7 In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
What I considered about these words was this; this is our God. He hears our cry as he heard the Israelites in Egypt. He relieves our distress and rescues us from the burden of our sin; he sets our feet on the path to deliverance and the Promised Land… and along the way… He tests us. He purifies us of anything that would betray our faith. He proves our love and allegiance to Him as genuine, or not. The reality is this: if we will be rescued, we will be tested (1 Peter 1:6-7). Will we pass? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
9 You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
10 I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
There is nothing new under the sun, says the Teacher in Ecclesiastes. And, the stubbornness and rebelliousness of people is unchanging as well. As “bullheaded” as the people of ancient Israel were, so are we today. God has given to us a clearly defined way of living, going as far as showing us himself (Jesus) how to live and abide in relationship with the Triune God. We continue to make idols for ourselves in the trappings of our lives or we cut right to the chase and crown ourselves as our own lord our god. This will not do. God Almighty speaks to us now as He did then; “I am the LORD your God, I am your Deliverer.” We would do well to heed His Voice.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it with good things.
How vulnerable we would be going through life with our “mouth” wide open… or looking ridiculous if not vulnerable. God calls us to trust Him and Him alone. He will guide us and He will provide for us. He tells us in another place that a good Father does not give His son a stone in the place of bread… In this word He simply tells us to “open wide” and He will fill us with good things (Matthew 7:9-11 and Luke 11:11-13).
11 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
13 “If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways
The great burden of my own heart is that our stubbornness will be our undoing as it was the undoing of Israel. We will continue to refuse our will to God and He will allow us the right of refusal. He will let us choose our own way…a way that ultimately lives in bondage to our sin and ends in death, physical and eternal. Our devices are instruments of destruction… God’s way is the only Way, Truth, and Life (“If my people would only listen to me, only follow my ways…”).
And finally, I haven’t been able to shake this passage from my memory… it has been lingering in my heart and on my tongue for almost a week now.
“When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the temple of the LORD. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the temple.” (1 Kings 8:10-11)
I wonder… what would happen if we had an experience like this one mentioned in 1 Kings 8:10-11… God’s Presence, the Glory of the LORD GOD Almighty, filled our sanctuaries across the land? Would we even allow something like this? Would God’s Presence in this capacity be welcome? This would wreck the order of our service programs and Sunday morning Christian entertainment. I wonder…
Here this passage tells us the priests could not even continue their service because of the cloud of God’s glorious presence… I wonder… Oh. My. Glorious. Wonderful. Awesome. Heavenly. Incredible. Marvelous. GOD. Jesus. Creator. Sustainer. He is what everything is about (Colossians 1:15-20). How easy we forget this; assuming we ever knew it in the first place… I mean know it in our hearts and not merely confess it with memorized words from our lips.
Our God is what we are about. God is not about us. When (and if) we ever get this right, there will be revival amongst humanity that will make the angels in heaven jealous.
Advent Meditation: While We Wait [04DEC2010]
While we wait the Holy Spirit is among us and also dwells within us. He ministers peace, comfort, and bears living witness to the promise and hope for Christ’s return. I am greatly encouraged this morning as I spent quiet and reflective time alone with God this day. As I sat in quiet repose I sensed the Lord’s words to me that our confidence should be without fail. He has given us all that we need to endure, overcome, and flourish in any situation or circumstance for the duration of our wait for His return. His coming is imminent even if not in my lifetime, so I might grow faint…I might grow weary…I might find myself with doubt and in despair. The Spirit speaks to me; “No, I am here to strengthen you and grant you the assuredness of My power, so your confidence may be certain.” As I dwelled on this “word,” additional and supporting thoughts were brought to my mind…
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify on my behalf.” John 15:26
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs to deep for words.” Romans 8:26
So, not only is His Spirit near, His Spirit is here and now! His Spirit brings confident and expectant hope always and in every season…even when I am without knowledge or words for what to do in my “season” or circumstance. Hallelujah! Our greatest weakness is our short-mindedness. We are quick to forget these promises; oh, we might remember them in word, but remembering them by experience and living upon that experience is a different matter entirely. We should be confident enough in our faith to stand upon the promise of God’s With Us Presence to enable us through weathering any situation this life may push our way. We are an equipped and empowered people! We are given all we need to grow to complete maturity in His Grace… check it out:
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. (2 Peter 1:3-7)
This is encouraging news! And, there were some additional words brought to my memory from the guidance of God’s Spirit in me this morning. I heard these words:
- We have His (Jesus) Witness in the Person of the Holy Spirit
- We are given His (Jesus) Authority
- We share His (Jesus) glory
This is pretty “heavy and heady” stuff. Just the thought of it sounds a little over the top. I mean, having the same authority as Jesus? Sharing His glory? Really?
Empowerment = Authority = Confidence
Well, yeah… Really. Certainly there are some qualifiers and disclaimers that surround these statements. It assumes a repentant and right heart; it assumes a follower who has denied self and is passionately seeking to grow in a progressively maturing relationship with Jesus among other things, but at the most basic understanding these professions of faith are true.
Jesus said that all authority had been given to him. His testimony is sufficient, but it is confirmed through supporting testimony as well. He (Jesus) has the right to transfer and/or delegate His authority as He sees fit. He has delegated and authorized His followers as bearers of His authority, conveying all the power necessary to accomplish any task He has given to us. Similar to Jesus’ words to Pilate; “no one and nothing has any power over him except he grants it to be so” (John 19:11). The same is said for us as His followers. The only power that overcomes us is the power that we allow to overcome us. Jesus said some other incredible things that also give support to this faith profession. Let me encourage you to meditate and reflect upon these supporting passages (Matthew 28:18; Luke 9:1; Luke 10:19; John 14:12-13; Jude 1:25; John 20:23; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20). These are just a few, but I believe they will begin the “rough outline” of an incredible portrait of our position and identity in Christ… As WE WAIT confidently, expectantly, and most assuredly.
One final item that has captivated me over the past few days… check out this progression. I won’t comment on it, but wanted to share what an awesome and incredibly empowered place we live with God’s Holy Spirit guiding us and comforting us. God’s gift of His grace makes us aware of the depravity of our sin and barrenness of hope…in this state He will not share His Glory… and, well… see for yourself how things can progress (if you believe and if you follow)
- He will not share His glory (Isaiah 42:8)
- We have seen His glory (John 1:14)
- We have touched His glory (1 John 1:1)
- We have been given His glory (John 17:22)
- Also refer back to 2 Peter 1:3-4
Absolutely incredible and almost beyond our ability to even grasp, much less comprehend, but there it is. Do you feel loved, empowered, assured, and confident? This is the Comforter lovingly assuring and guiding us While We Wait.
Tell the godly that all will be well for them… (Isaiah 3:10)
Lectionary Readings for the day: Cycle A
I was very blessed this morning by the discovery of a wonderful meditation piece crafted by one of my “cyber” friends. I have been a member of a wonderful community known as the Acoustic Guitar Forum and my friend Kyle, who is also a member there, posted this beautiful arrangement this morning. I asked him if it would be okay to post it here at the icrucified blog and he graciously gave me his permission.
Please, take a few minutes… and clear your thoughts, take a deep breath and consider the gift of Jesus.
Solo instrumental guitar, written by Kyle Scobie.
Passages taken from the 1st and 2nd Chapters of Luke, with a majority coming from The Magnificat (The song of Mary) Luke 1:46-55.
Thanks again, Kyle!
“In hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope at all. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience…” Romans 8:24-25 (see in context Romans 8:18-25)
“What we hope for and wait for in the future should shape how we live in the present.” Laurence Hull Stookey
Definitions for Hope:
Ø A belief in a positive outcome
Ø The general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled
Ø Promise: grounds for feeling hopeful about the future
Ø Someone (or something) on which expectations are centered
Ø Be optimistic; be full of hope; have hopes
Ø Intend with some possibility of fulfillment
Ø One of the three Christian virtues
- What is hope; really?
- How do we define hope and how does our definition reveal itself in us?
- What do I hope for?
- How does “hoping” differ from “wishful?”
I differentiate hope from “wishfulness” on the basis of desperation. Hope leaves me with the sense that I am hungry; yearning; even desperate for something… Wishful, on the other hand, connotes to me something that “might be nice, but I can live without it impacting my life in a negative way.”
As I was talking to my family this morning over breakfast and discussing how hope affects our lives, my youngest son shared some of his hopes with us. He has “hope” of certain goals he has set for his future with regard to employment and occupation. I asked him how this hope impacted his life and he answered that it motivated him to do well in school in order to qualify for scholarships and entry into a quality university. He also said he planned to go to summer education programs to accelerate his learning and that he was taking higher level courses during the normal school year to raise his class ranking and better prepare himself for college. The hope he has for his future is something he believes in. His belief in this hope is such that it motivates him toward positive action as he “lives” for his hope.
How then does our hope and faith in the promises of God impact our lives? Yesterday, at the close of our worship service, the pastor asked for people to raise their hand who had lost hope. Several people responded asking for prayer. I think this is good that we acknowledge and pray for our struggling brothers and sisters… life can certainly deal out some seriously catastrophic blows to us that might weaken our hope. However, I think we are capable of living daily in such a way that our faith grows and our hope is strengthened, so when life deals us these unexpected and painful knocks we might be emotionally or physically weakened, but our faith and our hope remains steadfast. “Our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness…” As we pursue with persevering diligence the path of becoming a fully transformed disciple of Jesus Christ, we are changed. Our hope becomes something more than a wish; our hope becomes a living, developing, transformational building block of our very spiritual DNA. In function and in essence, as our hope grows in Christ and the promises of God, our hope becomes unflappable (Ephesians 4:13-15).
How is your hope affecting your Christian walk; have you lost hope, is your hope wavering, or is your hope growing?
Hope is a strange invention – by Emily Dickinson
Hope is a strange invention –
A Patent of the Heart –
In unremitting action
Yet never wearing out –
Of this electric Adjunct
Not anything is known
But its unique momentum
Embellish all we own –
What’s the difference between a Christian definition of hope and the way it is usually used?
The word “hope” in ordinary English vocabulary is generally distinguished from certainty. We would say, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I hope it happens.” When you read the word “hope” in the Bible (like in 1 Peter 1:13—“set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”), hope is not wishful thinking. It’s not “I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I hope it happens.” That’s absolutely not what is meant by Christian hope.
Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass.
Oh come, thou radiant Morning Star, again in human darkness shine! Arise resplendent from afar! Assert thy royalty divine: thy sway o’er all the earth maintain, and now begin thy glorious reign. Amen. ~~ Charles Wesley
Lectionary Readings for the day: Cycle A