Caring for Others Along the Road (Easter Saturday)

Title: Caring for Others Along the Road
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (Misc. Devotional)
Scripture: Luke 23:50-56
Theme(s): Repentance, Compassion, Caring, Stepping Out

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
After the darkest moment in human history, we find a short telling of a man who was faced with an opportunity to act. Joseph of Arimathea is described by scripture as a secret follower of Jesus (John 19:38) and a member of the Jewish high council (most likely the Sanhedrin). These two descriptors of Joseph would definitely have caused him some tension, especially as they related to the treatment and death of Christ. We are also told in Luke 23:50 that Joseph was a good and righteous man, but John 19:38 tells us that he feared the Jewish leaders. We see a division in the person of Joseph. He knew what to do and how to do it, but something was holding him back. His fear of the Jewish leaders was holding back his full commitment to the cause of Jesus. And maybe we can let him slide for fearing the Jewish leaders. Even though the Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put Jesus to death (John 18:31), they still managed to manipulate Pilate and Herod into doing it. If they could do that to Jesus, imagine what they could do to Joseph. At the very least, he would become a social outcast and lose his status in the community. These sorts of fears were holding him back from becoming the person that God intended him to be.

We have all seen it. There is a homeless man or woman on the street making their request for money or food. How many times have we walked around or driven past them? Have many times have we not stopped and talked with them? Let’s make it even more personal. How many times have we known that someone is going through something but we just don’t want to get involved? We rationalize it. “It’s none of my business.” “I have my own problems.” “They got themselves in this mess, they can get themselves out of it.” “What would people say if they saw me sitting with that person at lunch?” From physical to social issues, we are surrounded by people who just need a touch, a comforting reminder—some care along the road.

The power of God and the witness of Jesus Christ changed the heart and mind of Joseph of Arimathea. It is one thing to say that you are a follower of Christ. It is yet another to actually be a follower of Christ. Joseph risked everything he had and everything that he would ever be when he stepped up to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. You can almost imagine the stares of the other leaders, Roman and Jewish, as one of their own steps forward. He steps out of secrecy and into reality. He is stepping out of the shallow end of the pool into where it is deep. He is stepping out of being an acquaintance and into a relationship with Jesus.

Caring for others along the way will mean that you have to take risks. Like Joseph, you may have to risk your social standing, your popularity, some friendships, a new position, or possibly even your job. It will cost you something. Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus in his own tomb—a tomb meant for himself or one of his family members. This was a personal expense to him with no chance of reimbursement. Jesus taught us in Luke 9:24 that “if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” We must be like Joseph of Arimathea. We need to throw caution to the wind and show compassion to other travelers along the way, especially the ones that no one else will help. When faced with a crisis of faith, we must continue “doing the most good” for everyone around us.

Walking to Renewal (Easter Wednesday)

Title: Walking to Renewal
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Easter Wednesday)
Scripture: Luke 19:45-48
Theme(s): Renewal, Loss of purpose, Second chance

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods? As you push your way through trees and bushes, you occasionally come across paths that have been created in the woods. You can sometimes see paths that have not been created on purpose, but because man or animals have walked that way time and time again. It might be the quickest way to a source of water. It might avoid some natural predators in the area. It might simply be the easiest way from one point to the other. These paths have been created because of frequent travel. After someone started going that way and broke through the bushes, pressed down the grass, and parted the trees, others that came along the way started following that path. Why? It is simple. It is often easier to follow an existing path than to make a new one. The person or animal who started the path probably never expected to create it or for others to follow it, but it happens. We find comfort in following the easy, comfortable way everyone else is going. It is not easy to take a different path, a new way. It is not always easy to begin “walking to renewal.”

In Luke 19:45-48, we find Jesus entering into the temple and not liking what He finds. We find Christ confused about what He is seeing but sure about He needs to do about it. In defense of the people who were selling animals for sacrifices, they were providing a necessary service. People would travel from all over the nation of Israel to come to the Temple to sacrifice. Families who traveled from these distant places could not always transport the required sacrifices with them from home. They needed a place to purchase these sacrifices for their families—sacrifices that were an important part of the Jewish tradition and culture.

Catch what Jesus says at the end of verse 46: “You have turned it (the Temple) into a den of thieves.” What Jesus alludes to here is that these people were taking advantage of the people coming to the Temple to sacrifice. They could have been charging too much for the sacrifices or treating them unfairly. They could be selling them substandard animals. Part of the sacrifice tradition was that the sacrifices were to be pure and without blemish. They were stealing from God’s people. They were stealing from Him. They were utilizing their advantage of location and ability to take advantage of others.

Our thought today comes in right here. While they may not have started out being “thieves”, this is where Jesus found them now. It became comfortable. It became easy. It might have started to become acceptable—to become their right. They lived here and these foreigners should pay to come here. Somebody had to get them the right animal. Is there anything wrong with making a little profit? “I have bills. I have a family to feed. I have needs.” You see how easy it is—how quick it is to slide down to that place. How easy it is for Jesus to find us there.

Jesus knew He had to do something radical. This was not a time to call together the Temple Better Business Bureau to discuss suspension options. It was not time to form a committee to discuss possible repercussions of dishonest trade franchises. It was time to clean house! I don’t know where God has found you, but there are times in my life where God has cleaned house within me. He has removed all of the stuff that I thought was so important and that I had made important. Like a dentist removing a cavity before putting in a filling, if you build on decay and sin, you will not have a sure foundation. Jesus started them down a “walk to renewal.”

Like starting any exercise program, it is never easy at first. You will get tired and frustrated. You will wonder if there are any results. You will constantly question your motivation and commitment. Renewal is a lot like that. It is not easy to start something new—to make a positive change. Ask someone who is losing weight! One of the most frustrating experiences in weight loss is that healthier foods are more expensive and harder to find than unhealthy foods. Forging a new path through the forest can sometimes come with consequences. You may have to change who you associate with and where you like to go. You may have to try new things and make greater sacrifices. Your family may not understand, and your friends probably will not.

“Walking to renewal” must be your choice. You must initiate it. God has promised us support and help. He has sent His Spirit to convict, comfort, and guide us through this and the rest of our lives. Will you make a covenant with Him today?

Mile Marker: The Tip of the Iceberg

Deuteronomy 29:5 NLT – “For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out.”

If you are anything like me, reading through Deuteronomy can take the wind out of your sails!  If you have not read Deuteronomy 28:57 yet, I would not start my morning devotions with it.  There are a lot of rules and a lot of laws covered in those chapters.  But, when you essentially read between the lines of some of the passages, great truths leap out at you.  Such a truth is Deuteronomy 29:5!

Moses is reminding the people about the time that they wandered forty years in the wilderness.  He had led them through the hardest time in any of their recent memories.  All of those people of Israel who has escaped captivity from Egypt were dead, except for the two faithful spies and Moses.  The Wilderness was the latest and most memorable test the current people had experienced.  It was their Waterloo, their Pearl Harbor, or to take a page from recent history, their 9/11 or Katrina.  They did not look back fondly at that time.  Nobody was running around screaming to go back to wandering in the wilderness.  They had done that, and had the t-shirt!  While Moses has now run down all of the requirements that God has set for the people and reminded them of the punishment that they would endure if they did not listen, he prepares them to cross over into the reward that was promised to their ancestors.  Frustrated beyond belief, he looks at the people and in verse 4 screams at them that they still did not understand everything God had done for them, will do for them, and is currently doing for them.  He goes on in verse 5 to say even when you were being punished by wandering the wilderness for forty years your clothes did not wear out, your shoes did not wear out.  Even then, God was taking care of them.

God is teaching the Israelites then and teaching us now that caring for others is a big job.  When we just meet someone’s current needs, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.  Truly caring for others and wanting to help them requires helping realize how they got to this place.  It means showing them that even when times were hardest, God was still looking out for them.  It means showing them that it might take just as long to get out of a situation as it did to get into the situation.  That is how much God cares for us!  That is how much God loves us!  Not just the tip, but all the way to the bottom!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walking in His “Majestic” Presence: Week 2

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

My Morning Nemesis

Play track 2 of “Majestic” entitled “Awake.”  You can stream it live here.

It is the thing I dread in the morning.  I often plan its’ destruction.  I imagine its’ demise in many graphic ways.  What weapon will I use?  Will it be Col. Mustard in my bedroom with the lead pipe?  I have grown to loathe it.  I can only imagine a perfect world without its’ existence.  What is my morning nemesis?  What is it that fills me with dread?

It is my…(pause for effect)…my alarm clock.

You know what I am talking about!  Whether it buzzes, clangs, beeps, chirps, or hums a merry tune, I do not want to get out of bed!  I am perfectly happy and content where I am!  Does this machine not understand that the world is cold and cruel, but I am in a safe, warm place?  Why do you think babies cry when they are born?  Going from safety to reality is disturbing.

One of the most insidious of these vile creations is the easy waking alarm clock.  Hammacher Schlemmer peddle this loathsome device under the name, The Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock.  Here is a quote from the item description:

At 30 minutes before wake-up, the clock’s light begins to glow softly, brightening over the next half-hour. The warmth from the lamp releases faint aromatherapy scents into the air to stimulate the olfactory senses. Fifteen minutes before wake-up, the clock generates your choice of six soft nature sounds, such as ocean surf or songbirds. A beeper sounds at the end of the cycle.

Do you see how sneaky and underhanded this is?

Back to reality…by now, you have heard the opening moments of “Awake.”  You have heard the opening “club” feeling of the synthesizer.  You have heard the bass drum and lower toms enter.  You hear layer after layer of sound being added to the mix.

Slowly, we are building and building towards a climax.  The introductory bars come crashing in to startle us with the power and energy.  We know and feel like we are moving towards something.

Awake, awake! Fling off the night!

For God has sent his glorious light

The truth about our own lives is that we need to “put our evil works away” and “let in the light, all sin expose.”  We need to look inward and see that the “light of life in us must glow.”  Like an alarm clock dispelling quiet and sleep, the “light” of God has come to “conquer death and night.”  We must wake up and move in holiness towards our example, Christ.  I can hear what you are thinking.  Why would I want to wake up?  The real world is cold and painful.  I can get hurt or hurt others.  We have to wake up because there are people around us who are dying, a whole generation of people drowning in “status quo”, “culture”, “apathy”, and whatever else was popular yesterday.  Holiness means to stand clear of those distractions, not to stand away from.  We must be willing to immerse ourselves in people, but not their distractions.

Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT – But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

So, sing with me:

Awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walking in His "Majestic" Presence: Week 2

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

My Morning Nemesis

Play track 2 of “Majestic” entitled “Awake.”  You can stream it live here.

It is the thing I dread in the morning.  I often plan its’ destruction.  I imagine its’ demise in many graphic ways.  What weapon will I use?  Will it be Col. Mustard in my bedroom with the lead pipe?  I have grown to loathe it.  I can only imagine a perfect world without its’ existence.  What is my morning nemesis?  What is it that fills me with dread?

It is my…(pause for effect)…my alarm clock.

You know what I am talking about!  Whether it buzzes, clangs, beeps, chirps, or hums a merry tune, I do not want to get out of bed!  I am perfectly happy and content where I am!  Does this machine not understand that the world is cold and cruel, but I am in a safe, warm place?  Why do you think babies cry when they are born?  Going from safety to reality is disturbing.

One of the most insidious of these vile creations is the easy waking alarm clock.  Hammacher Schlemmer peddle this loathsome device under the name, The Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock.  Here is a quote from the item description:

At 30 minutes before wake-up, the clock’s light begins to glow softly, brightening over the next half-hour. The warmth from the lamp releases faint aromatherapy scents into the air to stimulate the olfactory senses. Fifteen minutes before wake-up, the clock generates your choice of six soft nature sounds, such as ocean surf or songbirds. A beeper sounds at the end of the cycle.

Do you see how sneaky and underhanded this is?

Back to reality…by now, you have heard the opening moments of “Awake.”  You have heard the opening “club” feeling of the synthesizer.  You have heard the bass drum and lower toms enter.  You hear layer after layer of sound being added to the mix.

Slowly, we are building and building towards a climax.  The introductory bars come crashing in to startle us with the power and energy.  We know and feel like we are moving towards something.

Awake, awake! Fling off the night!

For God has sent his glorious light

The truth about our own lives is that we need to “put our evil works away” and “let in the light, all sin expose.”  We need to look inward and see that the “light of life in us must glow.”  Like an alarm clock dispelling quiet and sleep, the “light” of God has come to “conquer death and night.”  We must wake up and move in holiness towards our example, Christ.  I can hear what you are thinking.  Why would I want to wake up?  The real world is cold and painful.  I can get hurt or hurt others.  We have to wake up because there are people around us who are dying, a whole generation of people drowning in “status quo”, “culture”, “apathy”, and whatever else was popular yesterday.  Holiness means to stand clear of those distractions, not to stand away from.  We must be willing to immerse ourselves in people, but not their distractions.

Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT – But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

So, sing with me:

Awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing!

Soli Deo Gloria!

anacrusis (god.notes)

Today, we are going to talk about what an anacrusis is and what it does.  Just in case you were wondering, anacrusis is not the name of a city in Southern California.

The pick-up note

An anacrusis is a pick-up note.  There are instances in music and poetry when, to complete or start a musical phrase, it is essential to begin before the downbeat.  Wikipedia also reminds us that “a piece of music beginning with an anacrusis will also end before the last beat of the last bar, in order to keep the number of bars in the entire piece at a whole number.”

Joshua 1:8 NLT says “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.”

God’s word says that we should start and end with His instruction every day, and all the times in between.  We should “pick-up” each day with the Father and also have Him to balance out the other side.  This is not just good advice, but a completely different way of living.  How many times do we wake up with our problems or go to sleep with out worries?  God wants us to make Him and His word our priority.

Some questions for you today:

  1. How do I “lead into” my day?
  2. What is or about whom am I thinking in the morning and evening?
  3. How does God create balance in my life?
  4. What do I need to get rid and  have God lead off my life?

Dear God, may you be my first thought and my last thought each and every day.  May you be the “pick-up” in my life that sets the tone for the rest of my day.  Amen

At the end of every god.notes is a handout that you can use to share this with OTHERS!

anacrusis (god.notes) handout

anacrusis teaching doc