Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Saturday, November 28, 2020
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)
Rooted and established in love? I have my moments, I suppose. One minute I am able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is his great love for me, and the next I lose track of it altogether, becoming just as convinced that I am totally and completely unlovable. One minute I’m living my life so that I will be loved, and the next I’m living it because I already am. It can be a bit of rollercoaster at times.
It all comes back to identity. As long as I live as if my worth and value are up to me, I am in for a hell of a ride. But when I can finally become convinced that my worth and value are set in stone by the unfailing love of God, it creates a rootedness. My life becomes more durable and less at the mercy of mood and whim and circumstance.
Oh to be convinced of your great love for us. Oh to grasp its heights and depths and breadth. Oh to live a life that is rooted and established in that love. That’s the life I truly long to live. Help me, O Lord, to believe that it’s possible.
Thank you, O Lord, for your great love. Thank you that it is wider and longer and higher and deeper than I could ever imagine. Help me to sink my roots deep down into that unfailing love and care this day, so that I will not be moved by mood or whim or circumstance, but moved only by the power of your great affection. Amen.
Friday, November 27, 2020
“And to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:19)
How is it possible to know a love that surpasses knowledge? That is unless this type of knowing is different from the knowing we usually talk about. Maybe the kind of knowing Paul is praying for goes far beyond mere cognition. Maybe the kind of knowing he is talking about cannot be done with the head, but only with the heart. Maybe it is the kind of knowing Moses wrote about when he said, “Adam knew Eve, and she conceived a son.” (Genesis 4:1) It is the most intimate kind of knowing possible. It is like the silent embrace of two lovers. It is a type of knowing that says, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:2) It is a knowing that can only be described by the intimacy and passion and union of husband and wife. Maybe that’s the kind of knowing that surpasses knowledge. Maybe that’s the kind of knowing that God wants for each of us—intimate union. Maybe what God really wants is not merely for us to “know” he loves us, but for us to be seized by the power of his great affection. Maybe he wants us to be so captured by the passionate torrent of his love that it changes everything about us. Maybe this kind of knowing leads to an ecstasy that is beyond explanation. If that’s the case, then you can sign me up!
O Lord, I want to know the love that surpasses knowledge. Because I have a feeling that when I finally do know that love, it will turn me into a totally different person. It will fill me so full of you that I simply won’t be able to contain myself, but will overflow with your life and your love onto everyone who crosses my path. That’s the life I want, O God. That’s the love I want. Thank you that that’s the kind of life and love you want for me. Amen.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)
It is amazing what living openly and honestly with ourselves, our God, and one another will do for us, if we are courageous enough to do it. That’s why confession is so important; it does not lead to guilt and shame, but to freedom and joy.
But still we hide. We hide our sin, we fail to acknowledge our weakness, and we cover up our flaws and our failures. And, thus, we end up alone. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it so well: “Pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone in our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!” We live as prisoners in our own lives, not as those who have been redeemed and set free. As one of my good friends once said: “God can’t help fake people, only real ones.”
So we must somehow learn to live real lives before ourselves, before one another, and before our God. We must be willing to live from the truth of our inner being, whatever it may be. We must be brave enough to put our real selves out there on a regular basis, and let our God and our friends get their hands, and their hearts, involved in our mess. That is the only way it can ever be redeemed and transformed. We must learn to keep it real. That’s what confession is all about. It is meant to help redeem and restore us. It is meant to lead us to joy and freedom: “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” So let’s start today!
Help me, O Lord, to live a real life today, not a fake one. Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to come out of hiding and live openly and honestly with you, with myself, and with my community. For only then can I live in the joy and the freedom you created me for. Amen.
Monday, November 16, 2020
Forgive me, O Lord, for the things I care too much about—and the things I don’t. Forgive me that I’m more concerned with being right than I am with being loving, I’m more concerned with being comfortable than I am with being compassionate, I’m more concerned with being liked than I am with being genuine, and I’m more concerned with my kingdom than I am with yours. Lord, have mercy!
Help me to totally surrender myself to you, so that I will not be consumed with the petty and the passing, but will only care about the things that matter most to you.
“Show me you ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.” (Psalm 25:4-7)
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
The Greek tragedian, Aeschylus, once said: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” Sounds like Aeschylus read Isaiah 43.
God never promised that we would not have to pass through the waters or walk through the fires of this life. (Isaiah 43:1-7) In fact, he promised just the opposite; he promised that we would. But he did say that when the waters rise and the flames blaze, he would be with us. He promised that the waters would not sweep over us and that the flames would not set us ablaze because we are precious and honored in his sight and he loves us. Therefore, we do not have to live in fear. God is trustworthy. He is accomplishing something very good in us as a result of the waters and the flames; something that could be accomplished in no other way. We might not be able to see it right now, but one day all of our pain and all of our sorrow and all of our suffering and struggling will be redeemed. Thanks be to God!
Where are you passing through the waters or walking through the fires these days? Where is God in the midst of it all? Do you sense his presence? What do you think he’s up to?
Thank you, O Lord, that when we pass through the waters, you will be with us. Thank you that when we pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over us. Thank you that when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned; the flames will not set us ablaze, because you are with us. Give us the strength and the courage and the grace to believe that. Amen.