Friday, March 21, 2014

3/21 by Hilary Norton

Devotion.  Faith. Sacrifice. Obedience. Joy.     

God’s selection of  passages for today’s Lenten blog present the full spectrum of discipleship and the nature of God and Jesus’ guidance.  From the parable of Jesus calming the storm, to Jesus’ instructions on marriage and chastity, to the Psalms extolling God’s protection and deliverance of His people even though we are unworthy, each reading presents the challenge and joy of following our most awe-inspiring Lord.    

Spring is here. God calls on His disciples to shout for joy and praise His name! Let’s not feel self-conscious about expressing our delight at the way God is leading us!  Yes, the cost of devotion is high.  Following God requires faith, devotion, sacrifice, and obedience -- as Lee pointed out in his sermon this past Sunday – but the cost of not following God is death.  

Praise God for showing us His path and leading us in His way, in His time, until we reach Him!  So, dear God, whatever today has in store, bring it on!

I think of Jesus’ disciples when they met Jesus after he emerged from the tomb.  They were so full of delight and marvel that God had conquered death, as Jesus said God would, that no one could stop them from praising God as loudly and as disruptively as possible for the rest of their lives – even to their own horrible deaths.  

Nothing could extinguish their joy and conviction regarding the risen Lord, as they followed all that Jesus had instructed them to do.  These “sons of thunder” greeted each day looking for opportunities to be the followers that Jesus commanded them to be – to tell people about Jesus, to care for the children, the sick and the poor who God had placed before them.     

What an amazing witness it would be to our community if, after our Annual Meeting, we threw open our doors so that people could hear our singing and shouting out onto the street: “Praise God!  Thank you for leading us!  Thank you for making our stewardship possible!  Thank you for our faith journey into the coming year!” 

True follower-ship requires us to submit all to God as he leads us.  Are we willing to recognize that God is leading us, leading LCPC’s congregation, and leading the community that is yet come to LCPC, even as we continue to inwardly refine ourselves as His followers?  

When conflict arises, as it will inevitably, do we recognize that God may have placed us in this conflict for us to grow closer to Him? 

Are we meeting each day and each challenge with joy and courage, knowing that God never forsakes us? 

Dear Lord, as I continue to grow in my discipleship, never let me forget to exude the joy of following You.  Help me never to let fear get in the way of sharing to others my witness of all that You have delivered me from, as You lead me on the path to everlasting life.  Amen! 

Psalm 22 New International Version (NIV)
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
    “let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
    My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
    he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the LORD will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the LORD,
    and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
    and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

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