No devotional today. We took an Easter break to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
≈ Devotional for Tuesday: April 18, 2006
MIRACLE OF LIFE
"The Feeding of the Five Thousand"
It was difficult for Jesus to find time and solitude to be with His disciples, especially during the Jewish Passover when thousands of pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem. His band of twelve needed to learn the deeper truths before the end. Jesus took them across the Sea of Galilee to a mountain retreat to be alone with them. But the crowds followed.
It was likely that these people were traveling, and unexpectedly came upon the Master. Their provisions for the trip would have been low by now and Jesus had compassion for their hunger. Turning to Philip, He asked where bread might be bought for such a multitude. But Philip saw the situation as hopeless and offered no solution.
Andrew said, "I will see what I can do." He found a young boy with a picnic lunch and brought the lad to Jesus. We never know what might come of introducing people to Jesus. Andrew didn't realize he was providing resources for a miracle that day. He was just doing what he could to help the situation.
Then there was the boy with his meager lunch, five barley loaves and a few pickled sardine-like fish. Barley was the bread of the very poor. It was the required trespass-offering from a woman who had committed adultery, because barley was the food of beasts and the woman's sin was the sin of a beast. Barley bread was held in contempt but it was everything the boy had, and on that day it was enough to feed the multitudes.
The miracle of life is that Jesus needs what we can bring to Him. Little is much in the hands of the Lord.
GospeLines Prayer: May our lives be enriched because we have given everything we have, not because we have given the most. Let us rejoice that what we consider meager or contemptuous, when it’s put into your hands it can be transformed into a miracle to nourish the multitudes around us. Amen and amen.
"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
The bloodied hand of the last survivor reached through twisted rubble in the direction of the voice of a New York fireman. Swollen eyes strained toward the narrow beam of light overhead. In twenty minutes she would be saved from the place she lay entombed for more than a day.
Stories rush through our minds, of heroism and terror. The images of buildings targeted by airplanes are etched into our memories. We won't forget that awful day. We shouldn't forget. But we, like the few survivors pulled from Ground Zero, must now move ahead. Beloved, it is time for us to reach toward the healing light and comforting voice of Jehovah God. Our sorrow will not walk away on its own; we must nudge it along as we would a guest that has overstayed his welcome. Healing will come to us but not by heroic efforts to forget the tragic events that have marred our nation’s history. Our passage to recovery will open when we can embrace the future with a passion and determination equal to, or greater than our sorrow born from the tragedy.
Forget about it? Ignore it? No. Healing comes to us through a process which includes fear, anger, hopelessness, faith, acceptance and recovery. We would never shame those families who have suffered the loss of their loved ones by trampling the honor of their memories. As many of them said, "It is time to begin the healing process. That's what our husbands and fathers, brothers and sisters would want."
So, there comes a time to exchange our bereavement for bravado, our crying for courage, our anxiety for a stability anchored in everlasting hope. And this is that time. Terror may shake the foundations of the tallest buildings in the world, but it cannot budge the Rock upon which your faith has been built. Danger crippled the airlines of the greatest nation in the world, but it cannot deter your God-given mission. Caution has altered commerce, interfered with the way we communicate, and modified the methods we travel. But the work of the Kingdom will never change, prayer-lines have not been ripped apart, and the pathway to the altar of salvation remains open. For the fellowship of the redeemed, it is business as usual!
Bloodied, perhaps bowed but unbroken, the Church now squints through the rubble, seeks the ray of Light and hears the voice of the Almighty, "Go…make disciples of all nations…and I am with you always!" (Matt. 28:19-20) He has wiped away our tears, replaced our sackcloth with fresh armor, taken away our ragged shoes and has shod our feet with "the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6)
We will not forget our terrible journey prompted by terrorism, and we will never again be the same as we were before. Now, there is a mission ahead of us that calls us back to duty. "Pray for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words will be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador…, pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Eph. 6:19-20)
GospeLines Prayer: Father, I want to be as brave as You think I am, but I am not. I want to be all those things: courageous, fearless, strong. But You know my humanity better than anyone. Please, God, let me "sit on the sidelines" just a little longer, I am not ready for this mission. Yet, if this cup cannot pass from me, You will have to do it through me. I cannot do it alone. I will reach toward Your light, and trust in Your strength, and walk in Your power. And frail as I am, You have graciously reminded me that it doesn't depend on me, but You are the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen and amen.
A few days ago, during a very emotional and uplifting praise and worship service, one of the worship leaders commented that, “You can definitely feel God’s presence here tonight!” No doubt we've all experienced that same feeling from time to time.
Sometimes, when we simply walk into a church, we sense God’s presence. If you’ve ever been to one of Billy Graham’s crusades, especially during the alter call, you can almost see the angels hovering over the worshipers. Sooner or later, all Christians will come to that place where His presence is tactile… real…
What do we do when God’s presence is so real and so powerful? Do we strike up the band and sing another rousing chorus of "When the Saints Go Marching In" or do we just stand in awe? These lines from the Mercy Me song, I can only imagine are aimed directly at this question.
Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus?
Or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence?
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
Can we only imagine; or, does God provide us with the answer? Consider what happened when Moses came near to God in Exodus 3:5-6. God said, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground..." When he heard this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. This was such a significant event that Stephen repeated it to the Sanhedrin as recorded in the seventh chapter of Acts.
The man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." (Mark 1:40)
The Rich Young Man ran up to Jesus and fell on his knees before him. (Mark 10:17)
Peter fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8)
Luke says that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14)
And finally, there's the publican who wouldn't even lift his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13)
Like the words in the song, I can only imagine what I'll do when I'm actually in the presence of our Lord; standing on holy ground. But for now, when I feel His presence, I think I'll spend a little less time singing hallelujah and a little more time on my knees.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5