Weekly Devotional – 1/6/14

Devotional:

Isaiah 42.1-4

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

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To live is to change. One of the lost difficult elements in life is the fact that we are constantly in a state of flux while we seek to be still. During the next few weeks, many of us will continue to strive toward our New Year’s Resolutions; maintaining that new diet, exercising regularly, watching less TV, seeking to stay in touch with family and friends. As we all attempt to maintain these disciplines, many of us will fall short and our new habits will come to a halt. Creating new and sustainable practices in life can be quite difficult, and without an incredible amount of discipline and faith, they often fade before they can become routine.

One of the great problems is that as soon as we create a regime, or find a healthy balance of new habits and practices, everything changes. We try to stay healthy only to become sick. We attempt to maintain meaningful relationships only to have people move away, and eventually leave us in death. We hope to hold fast to our careers, to the rhythm that gives us meaning, only to be told one day that we are no longer needed. We strive to drop bad habits only to have them flow back in as soon as the stress becomes insurmountable. To live is to change.

Change is inevitable and inescapable. For all of the preparation we can muster, we can never fully prepare ourselves for the surprises that life throws our way.

In the 42nd chapter of Isaiah, the prophet speaks about the unchanging ways of the Lord. Whereas our lives can never rest in perfect stability, the servant of the Lord will bring forth justice without changing; he will not cry or lift his voice, he will not break a bruised reed, or quench a dimly burning wick. The servant of the Lord will remain steadfast in his willingness to achieve God’s justice in the world.

Christ is that stable root that we can hold fast to when everything else in the world starts to change. As the river of life keeps propelling us forward, Christ is the solid rock upon which we can anchor our hope and faith. If we fail to maintain the new directions of our lives, Christ will still be waiting for us and calling out to say, “I am here. Come to me.”

So, if you feel down over the next few weeks as you see your consistency start to crumble, do not fear. Christ is the solid rock of our lives, willing to wait for us and be the anchor to which we so desperately need to cling. Do not worry about what tomorrow will bring for Christ will be there with open arms, ready to bring you within his embrace. Do not beat yourself up for whatever may come for Christ’s love is unending and all powerful.

 

To read more about Resolutions and Faith, I strongly recommend Josh’s Luton post on the subject here: http://apprenticeinstitute.org/new-years-resolutions-its-not-too-late/

Weekly Devotional – 12/30/13

Devotional:

Ephesians 1.5-6

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 

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Haley Mertins and Matthew Husband. Two very unique and wonderful people that will be marrying one another on Saturday. I have known Matthew since High School, when he was the kicker for the football team and recognized for his humor and jovial nature. I have known Haley since the moment she was born, I watched her grow and become the woman she is today (she is my little sister after all). Almost a year ago, Matthew asked Haley to marry him, and shortly thereafter I was asked to perform the wedding ceremony. The big day is finally approaching, and on Saturday I will stand before two of my favorite people on the planet (as well as their families and friends) and I will bring them together in holy matrimony.

Over the last months Haley and Matthew have diligently planned their wedding: sending out all the invitations, planning the menu, creating a music playlist for dancing, envisioned a worship service, etc. All of that planning and preparation will comes to fruition this coming weekend as their lives will be forever connected.

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As Haley and Matthew’s relationship has grown over the last few years, I have particularly enjoyed seeing how each of them learned to let themselves be loved by their new families; both of them have been adopted by their soon to be in-laws. Matthew has been invited on vacations with my family, is a regular at the kitchen counter for dinner, and knows (and is responsible for) numerous inside jokes. Likewise, Haley has been adopted into the Husband family through meals, celebrations, parties, and vacations. Haley and Matthew have had to train themselves to be accepted into a new family dynamic where they will love and be loved by others.

At the beginning of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “[God] destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” In many ways, the sense of adoption that Haley and Matthew have experienced is paralleled in the ways that God has adopted all of us as children through Jesus Christ. Regardless of our familial experiences and pasts, we have all been incorporated into God’s family through the redemptive life and love of Jesus Christ. Just as Haley and Matthew will be welcomed by one another’s families, God has welcomed us in to the great and cosmic love that is the body of Christ for the world.

So, wherever you are in your life, whatever situation you’re experiencing with your family, know that God loves YOU. God has welcomed you in as a child and will love you eternally. You have been grafted in to something so much larger than yourself, something that will come to define you more than anything else. As we all prepare to take our first steps into 2014, let us rejoice in the fact that we can truly call God our Father.