Holy Week Devotional – What Do You Expect?

The Lord’s Day, March 25, 2018

Read Matthew 16:15-27

15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” …

…  22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

What Are Your Expectations?

Each day I rise with expectations, you likely do too. Maybe a heart that is hopeful for good, for success, for love, for peace, for acceptance and kindness. Do you know your expectations?

Today we mark the remembrance of Jesus “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, the beginning of Holy Week, the week in which He dies. That was not what His friends expected. Rarely do we expect death – and we certainly do not invite it.

In Matthew 16:16, Peter makes an honest confession of who Jesus is – He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. A profound truth that Jesus says will be the foundation of His church, the family of God. Then a few moments later, after Jesus predicts and invites His death, Peter is contradicting the Christ and receiving a strong rebuke from the Lord.

It is mind boggling how quickly we can move from getting it right to getting it terribly wrong. From walking in step with Christ, to arguing with God, certain our way is right.

Peter had expectations of Jesus, and none of them included His death. And when Jesus signaled that He would not meet Peter’s expectations, Peter got in Jesus face and said, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Peter was so confident in his expectations of Jesus, who he should be, how he should live. Yet his confidence was not guided by truth, but his own desire. His desire, though seemingly kind and good, would have aborted the work of the cross, salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation to God, eternal life and glory.

Wow! I suspect it just seemed good to want Jesus to live. But Peter’s expectations were flawed. What are your expectations? Are you open to different outcomes? Are you willing to remove “should and ought” from your expectations of others? Are you open to receiving, in this moment, each moment, what God has for you – even if it is not what you expect?

Prayer:

Father, I welcome everything that comes to me today, because I know it’s for my healing. I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my expectations and surrender them to You. I am open to Your love and presence and Your action within me and in the world today. Amen.

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40 Days Devo – Don’t Hurt One Another

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Exodus 20:13

“You shall not murder.”

OF COURSE! 

This commandment lacks nuance. Maybe we would gladly skip over it, looking for more refined instruction that does not fall in the “Captain Obvious” camp.

Not so quick. The story of family begins with Adam and Eve dishonoring the Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 4.33.53 PMwishes of their heavenly Father, breaking the 5th commandment. Then on the heals of their turning from God, something He says brings
death, their eldest son Cain, in a fit of jealous rage, kills his little brother Abel. The first murder of the Bible follows the heals of a mom and dad disobeying God.

It would seem a family would be alarmed by such violence and put a stop to the relational destruction. How could they let it happen again? But Scripture says the story gets worse. Moses murders a man to ‘right a perceived wrong.’ Pharaoh murders the babies of Israelites to ensure they don’t outnumber and overtake his government. King David murders Uriah to cover his adultery. Herod Antipas murders John the Baptist to silence his voice against his incestuous behavior. Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, is murdered by the Romans and Israelites because he threatens their governing power and their religious status quo. And James proclaims “you desire but do not have, so you kill.”

There is a theme that James summarizes: we kill as a means of control. We so desperately want our way, control of our life and circumstances, that we will mortally wound another human being to fulfill our pleasures (James 4:3).

Jesus says, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).  The choice is to kill – with a look, a manipulative word, cutting sarcasm or force – to get what we want, OR surrender our desires, our “rights,” in the moment, to the eternal love of God. The former has left a trail of sin, suffering, brokenness and blood. The latter provides freedom. Jesus’ way leaves a legacy of love. Today, will you “kill” your neighbor or choose love?  

Prayer:

Father, history is full of demanding violence and death. Today, fill me afresh with Your Spirit of love and peace. Give me the grace that I may surrender to your love and trust you to provide more abundantly than I could ever ask or demand to be satisfied by in this world.

 

40 Days of Kindness & Prayer – #10

Friday, February 23, 2018

Read: Galatians 5:22-26

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

SPIRIT LIVING:

Will you let the light of Christ Spirit shine out of you today or will your circumstances so grip you that you come out sideways with anger, frustration, anxiety, impatience or despair?

I am aware that my heart, mind, soul and strength can be constantly flipping channels. Like going from the News to the Olympics, from the agony of defeat to the joys of victory.  Maybe you’ve experienced this driving. One minute singing along to Christian radio and feeling God’s loving presence and in the next angrily berating that idiot in the Smart car that just cut you off. Left to myself, I am a fickle flip-flopper, prone to lose anchor and wander.

So Paul says, its better to “live by the Spirit” and so be anchored in love, joy, peace and that other good stuff. But what does it mean to live by the Spirit? I have a body and appetites and desires that are far more than ethereal. And my body and desires are God given, so living by the Spirit cannot mean our body and desires mean nothing. For our sake Jesus came to dwell in a human body and that means a lot.

What if it means surrender, now? Surrender of your body, your desires, your circumstances, your gifts and aspirations. What if it means surrendering – everything – now? What if it means surrender to the wisdom, will and way of God (specifically to his Spirit within you), now? Could it be an invitation to surrender to His loving presence within?

When I actively surrender to him and trust him to work in me and through me, then I can experience the fruit flowing from me.  I can welcome everything around me with gratitude. I welcome the victory and the agonies. I can welcome all my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and persons, situations, and conditions. A posture of surrender opens my heart, soul, mind and strength to the Spirit’s presence, love and power. This is the anchor of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (40+ days of it), goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Will you surrender to the light of Christ Spirit today?

PRAYER:

Father, I desire to live and walk by your Spirit of love. I surrender to you and welcome your presence, power and loving action within me, now. Amen.