Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Wedding Devotional

Romans 12:9-18
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

The scripture passages you’ve selected are so fitting for the two of you, and for this occasion. Here are some things to consider as you begin your lives together.

First, for a Christian marriage to succeed, there must be sincere love. This means a love that is free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness. It is an earnest, genuine, pure love that must be the foundation of any lasting relationship. True love always thinks of the other first. In another passage Paul admonishes followers of Christ to speak the truth in love, and thereby enable one another to grow and prosper.

This passage also stresses the importance of heartfelt devotion. This, I believe, means both devotion to Christ as Lord of your lives as well as devotion to one another. It’s noteworthy that you’re in the habit of worshipping and growing together in your lives of devotion to Christ. Be assured that the Lord will honor your fervent devotion and bless the two of you as you seek Him daily.

Finally, the Romans passage instructs you to live in harmony with each other. Understand that the two of you are different. As one book title suggests, you’re from Mars and you’re from Venus. And your different personalities and interests are healthy. Celebrate your differences and appreciate that about each other. Build your lives on your common faith and interests, but allow room for each other to express your God-given uniqueness. This leads to a healthy, growing relationship between the two of you.

The other passage you selected is from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

As you devote your lives to one another and live in the sincere harmony to which Christ has called you, he will work in your midst to create a resilience that can’t come from human strength or effort alone. The Lord will give you everything you need and will enable you to always be there for one another. He will enable you to stand together and face whatever comes your way.

And we who know you and love you will pray for you as we look forward to how the Lord works in your lives from this day forward.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Learning courage from the sight impaired

I ran into an old acquaintance at the post office this morning. This is a gentleman that I have seen walking around town for at least the past 15 years. I've never learned his last name; I only know him by his first name, Larry.

Larry walks daily, weather permitting, accompanied by his guide dog. I assume that Larry is almost, if not totally, blind.

Several years ago, when my daughter was newly married, she and her husband, and their daughter, lived near Larry, and got to know him as he traveled up and down their street. He took an interest in them, and every time I've had occasion to speak to him, he has always asked about them.

Today I spoke to Larry, who was removing the mail from his PO box. I had not seen him for quite some time. When I reminded him who I was, his first question was, "How are Laura and Jeremy? I heard that they've moved back."

I don't know how he knew that, or how he even knew that they had moved away for a time.

After catching him up on their whereabouts, I asked him how he was. I had heard that he had been struck by a car several months ago while crossing a street. "My knees still hurt, and I had some bleeding on the brain, but I'm okay, all things considered."

"Well," I said, "it's certainly great to see you out and about, enjoying this glorious day."

Eventually we bade each other goodbye and I found myself thinking what a model of courage and strength this man is; and how genuinely interested he is in others.

And it also occurred to me how much we take for granted. For instance, when was the last time you stopped just to take in the fragrance of spring? And when was the last time you noticed the sound of birds beginning their morning serenade at first light? And how long has it been since you thanked God for this beautiful world in which He has placed us?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gotcha covered

My church's worship choir and praise band will be presenting a new musical production this Sunday called "Shelter." The music and testimonies serve as reminders that God's got us covered, whatever may come our way.
This has been our experience over the years. My family and I have been through some monumental struggles. Were it not for the perfect peace and shelter of the Almighty Father, we could have come unglued.
And, even now, there are issues we face on a daily basis - concern for family members, health issues, financial concerns, and a world that seems to be moving in the wrong direction.
But, because of our faith in Christ, who tells us not to worry because the Father's "gotcha covered," we have a contentment deep down that in every situation God is working for good (Romans 8:28). And because of that we have a perfect peace and the love of God that casts out fear. (1John 4:18)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spiritual vigilance

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8

I remember what it feels like to be stalked by a dangerous predator. During my time in the jungles of Vietnam we came across tiger tracks more than once, and had to deal with the fearful thought that we may have been followed by such a beast. We hadn't been trained in hand-to-claw combat, so we weren't sure how we would react if attacked by a tiger. I certainly didn't want to find out.

In the mountainous jungles that my rifle platoon patrolled, we practiced constant vigilance. One could not relax in such an environment, realizing that not only were there enemy soldiers in the area, but all sorts of other creatures such as snakes, leeches, and the aforementioned tigers.

Followers of Christ need to understand that the world in which we live is also a hostile environment. I was reminded of this last Sunday in my pastor's sermon. We have a predator who follows us, seeking in every way he can to destroy us. His mission is to "kill, steal, and destroy," (John 10:10). The good news is that we have the spiritual weapons to do battle with this predator, Satan. These weapons are prayer and Scripture. In addition, we have the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) at our disposal. But if we fail to be vigilant, we leave ourselves vulnerable to being harmed by this predator, the devil, who constantly seeks to take us down.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It is finished

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

What did Jesus mean when he uttered these words just before he died? Was he saying that his life was over? Or was he saying, like the banner on the warship, "Mission Accomplished?" I believe it's the latter.

It was Jesus' mission from creation that he would come to earth, live a sinless life, teach us how to live, then give his life as the perfect sacrifice for sin. This is what Paul is saying in this snippet of the gospel message found in 1Corinthians 15:1-8.

Paul is relating one of the earliest teachings of the young church, a teaching passed on to him by the closest followers of Jesus. What these disciples didn't fully understand during the life of Jesus Christ on earth became clear to them after Pentecost - that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was all a part of God's plan from the foundation of the world.

So the words of Jesus from the cross remind us that Jesus accomplished what he came to earth to do - provide for us, through his death and resurrection, forgiveness of sin and a life of love, joy, and peace on earth, and an eternal life in God's very presence.