Opposition

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them. They were incensed that the apostles were teaching the people and announcing that the resurrection of the dead was happening because of Jesus. They seized Peter and John and put them in prison until the next day. (It was already evening.) Many who heard the word became believers, and their number grew to about five thousand.

The next day the leaders, elders, and legal experts gathered in Jerusalem, along with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others from the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered, “Leaders of the people and elders, are we being examined today because something good was done for a sick person, a good deed that healed him? If so, then you and all the people of Israel need to know that this man stands healthy before you because of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is the stone you builders rejected; he has become the cornerstone! Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.” ~Acts 4:1-12 (CEB)

“Those who seek to follow Jesus will encounter opposition. It follows as surely as night follows day. The opposition may arise within ourselves; it may arise among the followers of Jesus; or it may arise in the world. It may be subtle, blatant, mild, or severe. But opposition is sure to come, so the issue is not whether it will appear but how we respond to opposition.

Following Jesus was not easy in the first century, and it is not easy in the twenty-first century. The level of opposition to Jesus from within his own family and his own religious group surprised his early followers. Two thousand years later we understand a little more about human personality, but the level of opposition to Jesus and his followers still surprise us.

We may be able to understand the opposition of the Roman government, but it is hard to understand the opposition of a religious community that claimed to be seeking God and faithfulness to God just as Jesus was. And yet, opposition still comes today from within the church as well as from without. How are we to face opposition when it comes? Squarely, humbly, openly, and with all the faith we can muster.

To commit to following Jesus is to commit myself to a lifelong journey of being led where Jesus wants me to go and not necessarily where I want to go. This situation often causes opposition within myself. Jesus may call me to do what I do not normally and easily do. Jesus may ask me to wait or remain silent when I wish to speak or move on. In each of these cases I experience opposition within to what Jesus calls me to do and to be.

External opposition can arise when God calls for an action that is not what the church wants or what the world wants. Am I to follow Jesus? If so, I will face and feel opposition. And yet, the only course for faithfulness is to follow where Jesus leads. May God always guide us, and may we have the grace to follow Jesus as faithfully when we face opposition as when we face affirmation, affection, and acclaim.” From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Lord Jesus Christ, you have shown us what it means to be a servant. We ask now for your grace and strength to faithfully follow in the footsteps of servanthood. We pray in the name and spirit of Jesus. Amen.

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Joy like Jesus

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. I give you these commandments so that you can love each other. ~John 15:9-17 (CEB)

“Now Jesus himself was and is a joyous, creative person. He does not allow us to continue thinking of our Father who fills and overflows space as a morose and miserable monarch, a frustrated and petty parent, or a policeman on the prowl.

One cannot think of God in such ways while confronting Jesus’ declaration, ‘He that has seen me has seen the Father.’ One of the most outstanding features of Jesus’ personality was precisely an abundance of joy. This he left as an inheritance to his students, ‘that their joy might be full’ (John 15:11). And they did not say, ‘Pass the aspirin,’ for he was well known to those as a happy man. It is deeply illuminating of kingdom as a happy man. It is deeply illuminating of kingdom living to understand that his steady happiness was not ruled out by his experience of sorrow and even grief.

So we must understand that God does not ‘love’ us without liking us- through gritted teeth- as ‘Christian’ love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core- which we vainly try to capture without tired but indispensable old word love.” ~From The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Help me this day O Lord to love with Your love. May it be genuine. May it be ever true. May the people I meet get a glimpse of Your love through me. Amen.

Don’t worry

“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matt 6:25-34 (CEB)

“Money, I never think of it. It always comes. The Lord sends it.

We do his work. He provides the means.

If he does not give us the means, that shows that he does not want the work. So why worry?” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

May the power, peace, and presence of Jesus Christ uphold, sustain, direct and keep me always. Amen.

The language of prayer

“When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this:

Our Father who is in heaven,

uphold the holiness of your name.

Bring in your kingdom

so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.

Give us the bread we need for today.

Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,

just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.

And don’t lead us into temptation,

but rescue us from the evil one. Matt 6:7-13 (CEB)

Prayer is a personal thing. I grew up in church praying for others… a job, for better health, for the resolve of family issues. Then one day I learned that Prayer was a personal conversation between me and God. Once I realized this fact my whole world was rocked to its core. My life was never the same. Oh, my circumstances didn’t change overnight but really talking with God helped me to find joy despite circumstances.

In his book, The Possibilities of Prayer, Edward M. Bounds says, “Prayer is not an indifferent or a small thing. It is not a sweet little privilege. It is a great prerogative, far-reaching in its effects. Failure to pray entails losses far beyond the person who neglects it. Prayer is not a mere episode of the Christian life. Rather the whole life is a preparation for and the result of prayer. In its condition, prayer is the sum of religion. Faith is but a channel of prayer. Faith gives it wings and swiftness. Prayer is the lungs through which holiness breathes. Prayer is not only the language of spiritual life, but makes its very essence and forms its real character.”

Almighty God, through the power of Your Holy Spirit enable me to do and be more than I could ever imagine. Come dwell in my heart and make me strong to do Your work and will. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

To go out in joy

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountain and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. ~Isa 55:12 (NRSV)

“Our work is constant, our homes are full. The problems of the poor continue, so our work continues. Yet everyone, not just the Missionaries of Charity, can do something beautiful for God by reaching out to the poor people in their own countries. I see no lack of hesitation in helping others. I see only people filled with God’s love, wanting to do works of love. This is the future- this is God’s wish for us- to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.” ~Mother Teresa in Mother Teresa: A Simple Path comp. Lucinda Vardey

O God our Father, renew my spirit and draw my heart to Yourself, that my work may not be to me a burden but a delight; and give me such love to sweeten by obedience. Help me that I may serve You with the cheerfulness and gladness of Your child, delighting myself in You and rejoicing in all that is to the honor of Your name; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

To simply follow

Teach me your ways. O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. ~Psalm 86:11-13

“St. Francis was a radical in his day- was even perceived as a heretic- because he offered a fresh view of the Christian life by living as a beggar, believing in providence, and closely following the teaching of the Gospel. But what was also unusual about him was that he reformed his own religion from with the institutional Church rather than by breaking away from it. Mother Teresa’s life has many similarities to that of Francis. Her path is also through poverty, simplicity and adherence to the teachings of Christ, and because of this she has been viewed as a progressive in the present fundamentalist framework of the patriarchal Church. Yet she preaches her love and peace in action in a world still lacking in strong female leaders and from one of the largest and poorest and most polluted cities in Asia.” ~Lucinda Vardey in Mother Teresa: A Simple Path comp. by Lucinda Vardey

Loving God, clothe me this day in Yourself and enable me to live and serve after the pattern of Jesus. Help me to be Your hands and feet in this world. Help me to spread love and peace in the world. Amen.

Wonders

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. ~Isa. 25:1

“To think that God could put an idea into someone’s mind and that person could comprehend that idea and immediately act upon it with unquestioning determination is the most remarkable wonder of all!

A second wonder is that God has given all of this capacity. God communicates with all of us! We get little nudges- feelings that this or that should be done or not done; we get hunches and leadings, signs. And signals, and sometimes direct messages.” ~From Yearnings to Know God’s Will by Danny E. Morris

Heavenly Father, help me claim the power, peace, and presence of Jesus Christ so that I may be upheld, sustained, directed throughout this day. Amen.

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