To sit with me awhile…

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Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.” ~Luke 19:39-46 (CEB)

“When Jesus was in his excruciating moment in the Garden of Gethsemane he needed his disciples to be with him while he prayed. He longed for the comfort of their presence and was pained by their inability to provide this for him. Jesus didn’t need Peter to slice off an ear of his enemy. He just needed Peter and the others to be there with him as he faced his enemies).” ~From The Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that sometimes others just need our presence. They may not be looking for words of comfort or even affirmations. Sometimes friends may just need someone to be “with them” in the sorry. Help me to see this day how I might “be with” others. Amen.

He came in peace

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The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him. They shouted,

“Hosanna!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessings on the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

Don’t be afraid, Daughter Zion.

Look! Your king is coming,

sitting on a donkey’s colt.

His disciples didn’t understand these things at first. After he was glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

The crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were testifying about him. That’s why the crowd came to meet him, because they had heard about this miraculous sign that he had done. Therefore, the Pharisees said to each other, “See! You’ve accomplished nothing! Look! The whole world is following him!” ~John 12:12-19 (CEB)

“The ass was the beast on which kings rode when they came in peace; only in war did they ride upon horses. The entry of Jesus was the claim to be King.

But at the same time it was the claim to be the King of peace. It was upon the ass of peace and not upon the horse of war that Jesus came. He came deliberately refusing the role of the warrior Messiah and claiming to be the Prince of peace. He was appealing for a throne, but the throne was in the hearts of men. In that entry into Jerusalem Jesus, in a dramatic symbolic action which spoke more loudly than any words, was making one last appeal to men, and saying to them: ‘Will you not, even now, even yet, accept me as your Lord and King, and enthrone me within your hearts?’

Jesus entry into Jerusalem was an action of supreme courage; it was an assertion of royalty and an offer of love; it was at one and the same time royalty’s claim and love’s appeal.” ~From Mind of Jesus by William Barclay

We miss the subtle things of life. The still small voice. The Prince of peace. The noises of this world grab at our attention more now than ever. The distractions of this world increase daily. Would we even notice a quiet entrance today?

Lord, Help me to see the small things in life and to hear You whisper my name. May I this day accept You as our Lord and King making a place for you in my heart. Amen.

Certainty

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The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. ~Isaiah 38:20 (KJV)

“It has been said that Charles Wesley’s hymns always begin on earth and end in heaven. So it is with John Wesley’s theology. He was firmly convinced of the coming day of Christ, which is not yet, but toward which humankind, with the whole creation, is moving. For Wesley, it was necessary to stress God’s ultimate victory; but it was also important to affirm the penultimate reality of God’s presence, now experienced as life that is drawn to God in increasingly focused love. John Wesley had a doctrine of final things, an eschatology, in which God’s kingdom is being presently realized even as it points toward a consummating future. The Christian lives with the lively hope that God, who has begun a good thing, will fulfill it in the day of Jesus Christ.” ~From Practical Divinity by Thomas A. Lanford

am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Phil. 1:6) And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

Thank You O Lord for the hope you instill in me. I thank You for Your word that tells of Your ultimate victory. Thank You for beginning a good thing… in me. Amen.

 

Real presence

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The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. ~Isaiah 28:20 (KJV)

“But God is present in reality no matter what unreality our practices and our ponderings imply. He is forever trying to establish communication; forever aware of the wrong directions we are taking and wishing to warn us; forever offering solutions for the problems that baffle us; forever standing at the door of our loneliness, eager to bring us such comradeship as the most intelligent living mortal could not supply; forever clinging to our indifference in the hope that someday our needs, or at least our tragedies will waken us to respond to his advances. The Real Presence is just that, real and life-transforming. Nor are the conditions for the manifestation of his splendors out of the reach of any of us! Here they are; otherness, openness, obedience, obsession.” ~From The Captivating Presence, by Albert Edward Day

Thank You, Heavenly Father for being a real and a life-transforming Presence. I thank You for pursuing me consistently and guiding me in the ways that I should go. Thank You for never giving up on me. Amen.

Idleness

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Everything that is revealed by the light is light. Therefore, it says, Wake up, sleeper! Get up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Be filled with the Spirit

So be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times. Because of this, don’t be ignorant, but understand the Lord’s will. Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit in the following ways: speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:14-20 (CEB)

“As I listen to myself and to other Christians, I notice that after some years of following Jesus we tend to suffer from various symptoms of drifting away.

When we were young in our faith, we were eager to give sacrificially of our time and resources to alleviate the pains of the poor; we were eager to take the time for daily reading of the scripture and prayer. Fasting was a spiritual delight, and we would plow through show up to our belt buckles to get to church on Sunday. Then, after some years, we began to drift away from the spiritual disciplines that sustained us in earlier times.

John labeled three deadly conditions that cause us to drift away from our earlier spiritual disciplines (1 John 2:16); lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life (or, if you will, lustful desires, wandering eyes, and greedy eyes- a false sense of security in our material possessions). John insisted that if we follow in these ways, we certainly will come to spiritual and ethical shipwreck.

Most Christians, I suppose, don’t come to such extreme conditions. But for many, after some years of faithful practice, spiritual rigor mortis sets in- and all is lost. Paul suggests an antidote for drifting away; ‘Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’” (Eph 5:14-20) ~Norman Shawchuck

I have mentioned before that I hope when Christ comes I am on the “up-swing” and not on the “down-swing.” Sometimes I just get “tired” and discipline slips out the window. Other times I just get too busy with life. But Paul tells us in 2Thessalonians 3:6 guard against becoming idle. We are to be about God’s work.

Heavenly Father, help me this day to live wisely and not foolishly. Show me areas that I have drifted. Help me make the most of these days giving sacrificially my time and resources that Your kingdom may be glorified. Amen.

My small part with great love

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I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. ~Ezek. 11:19-20 (NRSV)

“When we were traveling in India, . . . we had the unforgettable experience of talking with Mother Teresa. We remember savoring that time: the sunlight on the balcony, her wise and wrinkled face with piercing eyes, the sisters in the courtyard below doing laundry, and her parting words, ‘Please pray for us that we will be faithful, and not interfere with God’s works.’

In the immediacy of that moment, we were given a gift- and that gift involved what we should and could do (be ‘faithful’), and what we shouldn’t do (‘interfere with God’s work’). She truly believed that she and her sisters- whose devotion to God and care of the rejected and dying ones in our world is legendary- needed to be aware of this possibility and to guard against getting in the way of God’s work. Those who criticize Mother Teresa for not attacking the systemic problems that cause persons to be sick and hungry and dying on the streets of Calcutta and Chicago may be called to do that very thing. But Mother’s calling was to share compassion and love and to feed and hold the dying. Each of us must discern and answer our own unique call.

Mother Teresa’s request presupposes that God is active and that we only muck up the situation when we forget that our understanding is partial. We must avoid the temptation to play God!” ~From Sacramental Living by Dwight W Vogel and Linda Vogel

What a reminder that we are not called to do it all. We are called to do our part. If we all do our part, some will do the feeding, the holding, the loving and others will fight the battles that attack the root causes and injustices for hunger and suffering. What part are you called to do?

Heavenly Father, Help me discern my part of the battle against hunger and suffering. Help me to be faithful this day and to not interfere with Your work in the world. Amen.

True vocation

This is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. ~Phil 1:9-11 (NRSV)

“Action, just as silence and the word, can help us to claim and celebrate our true self. But here again we need discipline, because the world in which we live says, ‘Do this, do that, go here, go there, meet him, meet her.’ Busyness has become a sign of importance. Having much to do, many places to go, and countless people to meet gives us status and even fame. However, being busy can lead us away from our true vocation and prevent us from drinking our cup.” ~From Can You Drink the Cup? By Henri J. M. Nouwen

So often I fall into that trap of “If I am busy then I must be about God’s work”. That is not always true, especially if it was not my work to do in the first place. I must always be mindful to seek God’s will in the work of my hands so that I do not interfere with His ultimate plan.

Heavenly Father, help me to discern the work that is meant for my hands. Help me to not interfere in Your work. Guide me along the path that you have created for me so that I may help in the building up of Your kingdom. Amen.

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