Thursday, February 28, 2013

3/1- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Blind- John 9:1-7

3/1- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Blind- John 9:1-7

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day,we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing...24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:1-7)

Thoughts: Jesus said when that one of the signs of his being the Messiah was opening the eyes of the blind (Lk. 4:18- quoting Isaiah 61).  When Jesus healed this blind man, the blind man declared his glory- not backing down.  When Christ opens our eyes to God for eternity, we too should not back down from bearing witness to His help and healing of our spiritual eyes.  

Prayer: Open my eyes that I may see, O Lord.  Help me to bear the glad truth everywhere of your love.  

(Christ healing a blind man- Del Parson)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2/28- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Widow- Psalm 68:4-5

2/28- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Widow- Psalm 68:4-5

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:4-5)

Thoughts: God is worthy of praise, because He cares.  We sing to Him not simply because He rides on the clouds, but also because He cares for the "least of these."
    Women were much more dependent on their husbands in biblical times (as it is in much of the non-western world today).  There was no life insurance, and it was more an agrarian day to day existence.  When a woman was widowed, she was in trouble.  But God looks down from "his holy dwelling" and His greatness lies in His ability to see and help the least of these.
     For many the common sense way is: "God helps those who helps themselves." But God also helps those who cannot- and that testifies to His greatness.  God does not just give us the talent and energy and stops there.  God also hears the cries of the orphan, the widow, and the vulnerable.  So declare God's glory- He is worthy of praise because of His care. But also declare His glory by helping widows in need. 

Prayer: You are worthy Lord, because you are not just the Creator but also the Sustainer of all things. 

(Jesus sees the widow putting in all she had- showing God sees (and cares about) the widow's need- and generosity (Lk. 21:1-14).  Jesus also raised up from the dead the son of the widow at Nain (Lk. 7:11-17).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2/27- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Alien- Deut. 10:19-22

2/27- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Alien- Deuteronomy 10:19-22

18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow,and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19-22) 

Thoughts: There are migrant workers in almost every country- even Antarctica. Migrant workers usually cannot speak the language, do not have legal protection, and are usually missing government help that others are entitled to get. Migrant workers can be treated poorly without many (if any) sticking up for them.  Most migrant workers are vulnerable and helpless.  God reminds the people of Israel that they were that way in Egypt, so they are called to treat the aliens with kindness.  Migrant workers are vulnerable but they do not deserve God's help.  In some ways this illustrates all of us.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  The call is not to break the law but simply to provide basics like food and clothing.  If the migrant workers decide to stay (and most of them want to find a way to do that), then the hopes are not to hate them but to be a neighbor to them.  Migrant workers who are Christians have less incentives to get involved with bad crowds, and more incentive to do good and be good neighbors themselves. 
Our role is to be humble, kind, compassionate, and generous- not because they deserve it- (they may deserve punishment if they are illegal), but because we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves- even if they are strange to us or strangers to us.  In doing this we are missionaries without leaving home. 

Prayer: Give me eyes to see those around me who are different, left out, and vulnerable.  Help me to see them as if they were you, Lord.  Help me to treat them as if they were you.  

Church members feeding migrant workers after hours

Monday, February 25, 2013

2/26- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Orphan- Deut. 10:17-18

2/26- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Orphan- Deut. 10:17-18

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow,and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)

Thoughts: God cares for those who cannot care for themselves.  There are 210 million orphans in the world today.  There are 245 million widows in the world (115 million of which are living in poverty).  There are 175 million migrants around the world.  The passage does not say that God will stop widows from being widowed, or orphans from being orphaned, or migrant workers from migrating.  But it does say that God cares about their plight.  It is also true that when Christians care for these most vulnerable they declare God's glory.  The widow, the orphan, the migrant can do little if anything for those who help them.  So helping people in need is a witness that God motivates us to go beyond themselves.  When someone goes overseas to spend their time helping orphans they have never met; when someone reaches out to the widow in the snow or cold; when someone seeks to provide a Bible, clothes or food for migrants (risking popularity), then they have said something about God.  

Prayer: Lord, give me your eyes and your heart to see and care for those in need.  Then give me the strength and power to help. 

Becca, a South Carolinian Christian with Ugandan AIDS orphans. 

2/25- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Hungry- Isaiah 58:6-10

2/25- Declaring God’s Glory in Helping the Hungry- Isaiah 58:6-10

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:6-10)

Thoughts: Isaiah reminds us that when we fast, we should remember not just our own hunger, but we should remind ourselves of the hunger of others- and do something about it.  So at least we could give away the food we refrained from eating.  When we sacrifice in order to give, God is always there.  When we share with the needy as a part of our worship to God, God listens, answers us, and blesses us so that our witness increases.
   Our consumer driven society does not know much about fasting or self-sacrifice.  So we are called beyond ourselves this Lent- to deny ourselves, take up our sacrificial cross- and follow Jesus.  

Prayer: So, Father, give me eyes to see the needy this day.  Create in me a generous heart.  Provide for me- so that I might give.  Give me grace to restrain my own over-indulgence so that I might help those who have nothing.  

(Left-Sharing food at Thanksgiving).  Yet, the hungry are around every day.  At our little local food pantry (We Care) they give out 600 pounds of food per hour.  Our church packs 41 backpacks for hungry kids each weekend.  One if five children in America miss meals not because they are fasting but because they cannot afford food- or have no one to feed them. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2/24- Declaring God’s Glory in Passing the Faith On- Psalm 78:3-7

2/24- Declaring God’s Glory in Passing the Faith On- Psalm 78:3-7

I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— 3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lordhis power, and the wonders he has done. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our  Ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. (Psalm 78:3-7)

Thoughts: The Psalmist says "I will open my mouth."  He refuses to keep his mouth shut about God. Then he moves to the first person plural- "we" have heard them- and "we" will not hide them- "we" will tell them.  This is the three step process to declaring God's glory.  1) Listen for the glory of God yourself; 2) Determine not to hide it under a bushel; 3) Tell it out.  The Psalmist notes that God has done praiseworthy- unforgettable deeds.  Such deeds elicit and call to us to trust in God.  Since God is trustworthy, we do not need to forget Him.  Rather, because God is such a loving help- He should be heard and followed.  Part of following Christ is not hiding what we know- but teaching the next generation.  He does not say that he will teach his own children, but simply the next generation.  Everyone coming up needs to hear, and everyone experiencing God needs to tell out His glory.  So in a sense- we all are missionaries to the next generation of the gospel.  The question is, "What kind of job are we doing as called missionaries of God?" 

Prayer: Help me to do all I can to play a role in spreading your love to the next generation.  

The author reading to his grandchild, Etta. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

2/23- Declaring God’s Glory in Sharing- Psalm 71:15-18

2/23- Declaring God’s Glory in Sharing- Psalm 71:15-18

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LordI will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. 17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Thoughts: The Psalmist clearly saw his life as an opportunity to share God's love and ability to help to everyone.  He said he would tell it all day long (vs. 15), and said he would tell it all life long (vs. 18).  He saw a solemn responsibility to not let the faith die with his generation.  Too many of us have abandoned our children to unbelief refusing to talk about God lest we hurt their feelings, or interrupt their relationship with us.  But while we would tell a child no to not touching a hot stove to protect them physically- even if that child may become upset at us- we will not tell a child no to putting other things in the place of God.  We not only have not done a great job at telling the next generation the mighty acts of God- we have communicated to them it is not really that important.  So our children do not know to call on God for help.  So our grandchildren do not know where to turn when they've reached the proverbial end of their rope.  This Psalmist was so grateful to God for helping and saving him from trouble nothing would contain his declaring God's glory.  When God has helped us, we should  give Him the credit and not be ashamed to share our faith with others. 

Prayer: Today is an opportunity you have given me, O gracious God, to declare your glory.  Help me to do just that.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2/22- Declaring God’s Glory in Identifying – Romans 1:16

2/22- Declaring God’s Glory in Identifying – Romans 1:16

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

“But my righteous
 one will live by faith.    And I take no pleasure     in the one who shrinks back.”39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:38,39)

Thoughts: In the culture of America and much of the West, there is great pressure to be ashamed of the gospel.  At the very least, the secular world would like- even require that we keep the gospel private, quiet, and restricted.  As Christians shrink back in fear of offending others, the church also shrinks back.  It is easier and more comfortable for Christians to retreat to their churches, and keep to themselves in a Christian ghetto or Christian fortress.  When we do so we not only wither but we also start to think too self-righteously.  We should always wish to please God more than man- who wish to be left alone in their comfortable sin.  But we also need to recognize that people need the power of God in life because there will be a point where we are powerless.  The Gospel is the power to rescue us because we need to be rescued and saved from troubles, problems, hurt, harm, and sins.  Paul did not flinch from sharing faith.  He went from persecuting Christians to risking his life to share the Christ-faith.  He knew the power- and we need to recapture the importance of the power of God that keeps us from being ashamed of the gospel. Paul was not ashamed of identifying with Christ, and we should not be ashamed either.  We need to look for ways to identify with Christ, or publicly professing our faith. 

Prayer: Give me grace and strength so that I do not shrink back and so that I am not ashamed of you, O Lord- or your good news. 

A yard cross may be a simple way of identifying ourselves with Christ as a witness. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2/21- Declaring God’s Glory in Praying- Psalm 29

2/21- Declaring God’s Glory in Praying- Psalm 29

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, 
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.  3  The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, 9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks     and strips the forests bare.  And in his temple all cry, “Glory!

Thoughts: Declaring His glory in and of itself is a prayer.  The exclamation "Glory!" is a statement of fact and of awe in prayer.  When we give God the glory- when we seek to worship Him in and for His glory we are deeply in prayer and worship.  For the adoration of God's glory means we are not giving ourselves glory, and the attention and praise rightfully goes to Him.  In many ways the heart of the prayer life is not petition or confession or supplication/intercession for others.  The heart of the prayer life is focus on Him.  So Jesus teaches us to end the Lord's prayer saying, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever!"  In the book of Revelation- many times it speaks of the angels and the saints crying "Glory" to His name and self, and that He is worthy of honor and glory and praise.  If the heart of prayer is a focus on His glory, then we glorify Him when we pray.  

Prayer: May I glorify and honor you with my focused prayers.  You are worthy of all my honor and glory this day, O Lord.  You are worthy.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2/20- Declaring God’s Glory in Loving- John 13:34,35

2/20- Declaring God’s Glory in Loving- John 13:34,35

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Thoughts: Part of the human dilemma that we feel so deeply is that we were made to love, and we want to love, but we have a hard time loving and being loved.  But when we believe and are disciples of Christ we are assured of God's love= knowing we are loved even though we don't deserve it.  Because of this, we are also empowered by His example and by the Holy Spirit to love  others.  It not only is the greatest Christian command to love, it is also the greatest witness that Christ's love makes a difference in our lives.  
     In the passage above- "everyone will know" when we love each other.  People who will not listen to argument- will listen to love. It is the most visible argument for the existence of God.  We are not simply a chemical reaction- there is love.   We declare God's glory when we love each other. 

Prayer: Give me, O Lord, grace and power to love my neighbor as myself, and to love my brother and sister Christian above myself as well. 

2/19- Declaring God’s Glory in Serving- Luke 22:26-27; Mark 10:45

2/19- Declaring God’s Glory in Serving- Luke 22:24-27; Mark 10:45

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:26-27)

45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) 

Thoughts: God's kingdom values are different.  There was a short-lived bumper sticker that was going around before the 2007 recession hit: "He who dies with the most toys wins."  The world values greatness in terms of worldliness and things.  Many hold to this.  So Sylvio Berlusconi- who was convicted in October 2012 of tax evasion and also indicted for underage prostitution (while in service as Prime Minister of Italy), and who brought Italy to the point of bankruptcy- is amazingly running again for Prime Minister.  His running power is his ability to control the media (he owns most of it), his past experience as Prime Minister, and his being the sixth richest man in Italy (Forbes says $6.9 billion).  Machiavelli and Jesus had two different values of greatness and service.  Machiavelli would say that values have nothing to do with political office.  So, we often hear "I am not running for Christian of the year but for office."   But people long for someone who is both just, true, service-oriented, as well as wise, strong and a great leader.  George Washington (whose birthday we celebrate this month) at least twice refused to be king, and his greatness was found in his service for his country.  For Christians our example is Jesus who was the King of kings who came not to be served (though he of anyone- deserves it), but to serve.  In Luke 22 Jesus devalued comparing ourselves to others and lording it over others. He valued simply giving of ourselves for the greater cause of the kingdom of God- where justice and love meet. 
So today, do not seek how to gain more of the world for yourself, but seek how to gain more in order to give more.  Do not seek to have people serve or honor you, but seek to serve and honor others.  Whatever we do- as a doctor, teacher, politician, or whatever- we should seek to glorify God and to honor Him and others above ourselves. 

Prayer: Help me this day to put others above myself, Lord.  Help me to deny myself, carry my cross this Lenten day, and follow you.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2/18- Declaring God’s Glory in Teaching- 2 Chronicles 17:7-9

2/18- Declaring God’s Glory in Teaching- 2 Chronicles 17:7-9

In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. With them were the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah; and with these Levites, the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them; they went around through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. (2 Chronicles 17:7-9)

Thoughts: Teaching truth to others is an essential part of declaring God's glory.  Truth itself glorifies God- the author of all reality and all truth.  When public teaching began in the United States much of it (like the McGuffey Reader) was in order to teach young people how to read the scriptures.  Since 1971 teaching must be primarily secular in nature- neither advancing nor inhibiting religion.  Teachers teach truth and live a life of love of God and neighbor before their pupils.  Jesus taught truth- not just about God- but about life.  His teaching methods by parables     and everyday life was exemplary.  For Christ there is no secular truth vs. spiritual truth.  All truth comes from God and should be taught.  So whether we teach in a public, private, or Christian school- teaching cares for the mind as a doctor cares for the body and a minister cares for the soul.  Whatever we do, we are called to glorify God.  

Prayer: Today, Lord, we pray for those who teach and those who learn.  May they find ways to not be ashamed of you- but declare your glory through the spreading of truth- for all truth leads to you.  

"Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops."  (Henry Brooke Adams)

"Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best." (Bob Talbert)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2/17- Declaring God’s Glory in the Healing Arts- Ex. 15:26; Ps. 103:3

2/17- Declaring God’s Glory in the Healing Arts- Ex. 15:26; Ps. 103:3

26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” (Ex. 15:26)

[I am He] who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases, (Psalm 103:3)

Thoughts: Just as an engineer can only make things out of raw material given to them; or as an artist can only paint things with pain already provided from creation; so a doctor or nurse can only heal with the power of the Creator and giver of life.  God is the Great Physician.  God not only makes white blood cells and antibodies that heal, but also gives talent, the ability to communicate, and talents to doctors to heal.  Many of the medical advances that doctors have made are direct answers to prayer over the centuries.
    When we secularize medicine- or sharply divide the spiritual from the physical, then we take away from the glory of God.  But when we pray to God before surgery, and thank God afterwards we are declaring God's glory in our sickness.  Christians give credit where credit is due.  That some have the talent, brains, and skill-set- to test, diagnose, and administer healing is a gift from above.  Let us pray for those in the healing profession- doctors, nurses, and so many others in the healing profession. 
    It is important to remember that the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lame walking were signs of God's love breaking in on us through the coming of Jesus.  Jesus also related forgiveness of sins often to physical healing.  Guilt can damage many a soul- and many a body.
    Doctors have a unique ability to declare God's glory in local missions with the needy and with overseas missions.  Dr. Livingstone of Scotland was a physician first- but one of the greatest explorers and linguists ever.  

Prayer: Lord, be with my doctors and nurses.  Be especially with Christian doctors and nurses to help them make a difference for you. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

2/16- Declaring God’s Glory in cancer- Isaiah 25:4

2/16- Declaring God’s Glory in cancer- Isaiah 25:4

For you have been a refuge to the poor,
    a refuge to the needy in their distress,
    a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm,(Isaiah 25:4)

Thoughts: Cancer is a malignant growth that takes away life from living healthy cells.  It is parasitic- living off the good until it kills the good.  This is the way of evil as well.  Evil is defined as the absence of good- it has no positive quality of its own.  Evil would seek (like cancer) to choke out the good- making it irrelevant and lifeless.
    But the giver of life has made a refuge.  He has made a shelter.  Cancer cannot take everything- it cannot take our soul while we are here, and it cannot take our eternal life.  Cancer is limited, and is conquered by the giver of all life- including eternal life. Because cancer may come back- it has the illusion of being perennial- but it isn't. Belief in God provides strength, hope, and courage that is hard to understand from the outside looking in. When Jesus walked on this earth he never gave a single person a disease- but instead healed many showing God's mercy and help.  Jesus still is the Great Physician and our refuge.
     For those facing cancer, and for those who are loved ones of those facing cancer: remember cancer does not win if God wins.  Cancer may cripple our body and bring pain and the torture of radiation, chemo, and surgery- but it does not win if God wins us.  In fact, when we declare God's glory in the midst of cancer, it makes a tremendous impact.  Sometimes cancer reveals what we all need to remember- what is truly important.  The things- nice clothes, nice car, nice houses, nice degrees will not last. However, God provides a refuge that cannot be taken away.  The love of God is a relationship that truly lasts beyond anything cancer can do to us.  So... we help God win by declaring His glory in the midst of cancer.  Christians who do not have cancer can declare His glory by praying, by serving, by helping. Cancer does not win if God wins- and in the end- He will win!  This needs to be declared!

Prayer: Lord, in my lowest, make me an instrument of your peace. Help me to see that even the giant cancer is small compared to you.  

Link to article by Tony Snow- White House Press Secretary speaking of his cancer in Christianity Today- well said!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2/15/13- Declaring Christ's Glory in Surgery

2/15- Declaring God’s Glory in Surgery- Psalm 4:8; Psalm 119:71

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees. (Psalm 119:71)

Thoughts: About 20 million Americans undergo surgery with general anesthesia each year, while another 28 million (totaling 48 million) undergo other surgeries.  It would be an oversight to think that our faith should not make any difference in how we face surgery.  Christians seek to glorify God in how they handle diversity and trials- as a witness to the world and to family of the peace and strength given in Christ.  So here are some pointers.
1) We face surgery believing that our bodies and this life are not as important as our souls that live on. 
2) We face surgery believing that God alone gives us peace and watches over us- even when the surgeon or anesthesiologist cannot. 
3) We face surgery knowing that God is the Great Physician. 
4) We face surgery knowing that God is able to make even our sorrow and weakness things that honor Him..  
5) We should pray- preparing our hearts for the surgery; asking God to guide the doctor's hand- using the talents and instruments given to them in God's sovereignty and grace. 
6) We face surgery as we face sleep- our bodies cannot necessarily stop it- but we lie down in peace because God is the one who makes us sleep in safety. 
7) We face surgery believing that whether we live through it- successfully or unsuccessfully; whether we do not live through it- our call is to glorify God. The Christian wins either way. 

Prayer: O Lord, you who healed the sick with a word, with a touch, or with medicine; bring your healing grace upon those we know and love facing surgery at this time.

2/14- Declaring God’s Glory in Sickness- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

2/14- Declaring God’s Glory in Sickness- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thoughts: "In sickness and in health" is one of the vows we make when we get married.  Love, you see, is not just a feeling- or a "what's in it for me" self-fulfilling quest.   Love involves the will, it as Paul says "never fails."  On this Valentine's Day when so many think of love these days as simply non-committal sexuality, we might remember "in sickness and in health."  What this means is when we are down the one who loves us doesn't leave.  It also means trust and reliability.  It is the way God loves us- in sickness and in health.  In fact, Christ came to us when we were spiritually sick to help us.  He not only forgave sins- but healed the sick (the two are often related).
     Yet, even when we are not healed of our problems, Christ is a help.  That is what Paul is saying here.  He found God to be there for Him in the tough times of sickness.  Paul had some "thorn in the flesh" from which he asked healing over and over and over but it was denied.  What Paul found was that He could rely on God's love even when Paul was not made well.  Paul even was able to declare God's glory and power in the midst of his sickness. When Christians face trials it often brings the eyes of non-believers upon us- wondering if our faith helps us. When we find strength in God and rely on His power, then we are indeed declaring God's glory.  Paul was determined to love God "in sickness and in health" too.  Too many leave God when He doesn't answer prayers the way they want Him to.  Pray that your love will be true, not fickle or conditional. 

Prayer: Lord, may my love for you be true in sickness and in health- in good times and in bad.  May I rest and find strength in your great love.  

(Jesus heals blind man who testified (declared) (Jn. 9) "I once was blind but now I see."  Many scholars feel Paul's thorn in the flesh was his poor eyesight.  Paul was not healed but still declared God's glory. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2/13- Declaring God’s Glory in Ashes- Isaiah 61:1-4

2/13- Declaring God’s Glory in Ashes- Isaiah 61:1-4

The Spirit
 of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor     and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashesthe oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 4  They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4- quoted and read by Jesus in Luke 4 "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."). 

Thoughts: When Christ began his ministry he began it as a missionary.  Christ came for a reason, and it was best stated by Isaiah (so he quotes it).  He came to give hope and heal the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, prisoners; to comfort those who mourn.  
On this Ash Wednesday, we can remember that Jesus was the one who got rid of the ashes of death, the ashes of mourning, the ashes of despair.  Jesus was God's Son sent to bring hope and joy to the earth- turning ashes into a crown.
We are all called to imitate Christ- spreading good news- declaring God's glory.  

Prayer: On this Ash Wednesday- help me, Lord, turn someone's ashes into joy.  Help me to be a spreader of good news and hope.