Each week for this season our devotions will be centered around the practice of PRAYER. Like the disciples we too have the opportunity to ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We encourage you to read all prayers and Psalms out loud – let the words of Scripture fill your prayers!
Devotional Thought // Pastor Chris
The trajectory for the faithful follower of Jesus is one of love: love for God and love for one another. I use the word trajectory because it is a process that takes time; it takes years, decades, and in reality a lifetime. Likely, you have a desire to become more and more like Jesus.
We have many rhythms designed to posture us before God to be transformed. We talk about them frequently as we refer to the Spiritual Disciplines: prayer, fasting, reading the bible, sabbath, solitude and silence, etc.. These disciplines, practiced over decades in community play a vital role in order to facilitate our transformation. Most of us want to live on the mountain top of spiritual high to spiritual high, but this isn’t the complete process. It’s unrealistic and in reality, unhelpful for our process of becoming more like Jesus.
Author Alan Fadling in his book, the Unhurried Leader writes,
“I’m tempted to want only to know the power of his resurrection. To my earthbound ears, this sounds like a good deal. But the great commandment is not about power; it’s about love. What Paul wanted most was not great power, but instead the great love Jesus exhibited as he hung on the cross. Paul wanted to be there with Jesus. He wanted to be close enough to Jesus to know his suffering and to share his own sufferings with him.“Alan Fadling – “The Unhurried Leader”
Our life is incomplete if we can’t identify the suffering of Christ. Albert King in a famous song wrote,
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die . . .
Our suffering will produce in us something that easy times never will. Our suffering will produce in us things that solely reading our Bible or Praying never will. Just as suffering was a part of Christ’s life, we too share in the joy of suffering, because if we share in His suffering we get to share in His comfort as well (1 Peter 4:13).
Who are some of the most loving people you know? Who are the people that put their love of God and love for others (including their enemies) before their own wants, desires, or needs? Likely it is someone that has experienced substantial suffering.
Are you suffering? Paul calls us to be patient in suffering, to allow it to do it’s good and perfect work. It’s not easy, but Jesus dwells with us as we walk out the way of the cross.
1 I will give thanks unto you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will speak of all your marvelous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
indeed, my songs will I sing of your Name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies are driven back,
they shall fall and perish at your presence;
4 For you have maintained my right and my cause;
you sit on your throne judging right.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the ungodly;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
6 As for the enemy, their destruction has come; they are in perpetual ruin;
like the cities which you have destroyed, their memory has perished with them.
7 But the Lord sits enthroned for ever;
he has prepared his seat for judgment.
8 For he shall judge the world in righteousness,
and minister true judgment to the peoples.
9 The Lord will be a defense for the oppressed,
even a refuge in the time of trouble;
10 And those who know your Name will put their trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never failed those who seek you.
11 O praise the Lord who dwells in Zion;
tell the peoples what things he has done.
12 For when he takes vengeance for blood, he remembers them,
and forgets not the cry of the poor.
13 Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider the trouble I suffer from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 That I may tell of all your praises within the gates of the daughter of Zion;
I will rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk down in the pit that they made;*
in the same net which they hid secretly is their foot caught.
16 The Lord is known to execute judgment;
the ungodly are trapped in the works of their own hands.
17 The wicked shall return to the grave,
even all the peoples that forget God.
18 For the poor shall not always be forgotten;
the patient hope of the meek shall not perish for ever.
19 Rise up, O Lord, and let them not have the upper hand;
let the nations be judged in your sight.
20 Put them in fear, O Lord,
that the nations may know themselves to be merely human.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you live and dwell in perfect unity. You ask us to be patient in suffering because that is what you have done by entering into our suffering world. Help me to be patient with my own suffering and the suffering of those around me. I cannot do this on my own strength and so ask you to help me to remain firmly and deeply rooted in you. Your strength will help me to patiently suffer. Thank you. Amen.