May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. – 2 Corinthians 13:14
These special words written by the apostle Paul aren’t just a pious wish that God would be with his people and bless them. Instead, he’s reminding us as Christians that God IS with us. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the one true God is ALWAYS with us to give us his great gifts.
In one way, though, it is terrifying to know that God is always present. He knows the greedy or doubtful or vengeful thoughts we have. He hears the angry or bitter or immoral words we speak. He witnesses the loveless and selfish and hurtful ways we treat others. The almighty, perfect God knows our sin, hears it, sees it … and hates it.
Yet that almighty, perfect God doesn’t forsake us. Rather, he stays with us and blesses us with his grace. Through the sacrifice of Jesus he takes away our guilt for every sinful thought, word and deed. In love God our Father sent his Son to be our Savior. He forgives our sin and gives us the gift of eternal life. And every day he provides for all our needs and protects us from all harm and danger. He also blesses us through the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the gospel the Holy Spirit brought us to faith in Jesus. He continues to work through God’s Word to keep us connected to Jesus and joins us together with other Christians in the bond of faith.
Blessed with the grace, love, and fellowship of God, we are glad to live each day with the confidence that God is always with us.
Prayer: Be and abide with me always, O God, with your power and with your love. Amen.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
Father’s Day was celebrated this Sunday. It’s fascinating to notice the difference between Mother’s Day cards and Father’s Day cards. Here’s what I notice. Many Mother’s Day cards communicate affection sweetly and directly. Many Father’s Day cards do so at a distance, or indirectly, or through back-handed humor. It’s been observed that women tend to bond “face to face” and guys “side by side” (in doing something together).
These cultural differences cover deeper realities however. Men have the same need for love as women and feel just as deeply about things (even if they may not always be in touch with it!) I have never witnessed a deeper cry of loss than when a father broke down at his son’s death. Men have the same need for faith as women, although again, are not always as in touch with it, or perhaps, see it modeled in ways that connect.
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, our American culture has tended to look to women as the bearers of culture, education, and faith – something first observed by Alexis de Tocqueville in the early 1800s and noted through the frontier days and beyond. You might have observed that while attendance at worship service is almost always higher on Mother’s Day (because we often think this would make mother happy), it is not she same dynamic for Father’s Day, is it?
And yet, consider this: Did you know that the strongest predictor of whether children will practice their faith in adulthood is their father’s practice of faith? In fact, in Jewish culture the father was expected to take a prominent role in teaching faith to children.
So here is my devotional thought: We need both male and female energy in our faith expressions and congregational life. We need father love just as much as mother love. Even though our culture does not always help us to see this, we in the faith community need to appreciate it. It says in Genesis 2 that God created them “male and female” and then says “in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” This means that God’s image is both. This past weekend we recognized and appreciated our fathers and may we continue throughout our lives.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. – I Peter 4:14
It hurts to be insulted. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about the collective teasing and ribbing that take place among people who generally get along with each other. I’m talking about that moment when someone crosses the line, takes part of what you are and holds it up for contempt. That hurts.
For many of you who use these daily devotions, those who insult your Christian faith are a fact of life. Perhaps it’s the co-worker who dismisses you for being so stupid and naïve. Perhaps it’s the schoolmate who goes out of her way to flaunt something sinful in front of you. Perhaps it’s the guy down at the gym who picks religious fights for fun. Perhaps it’s the family member who rolls her eyes at you and your “narrow” view of the world. Sure, usually you can ride the waves and take the cutting remarks in stride. But there are times when it gets to be too much. There are times when the insults just hurt.
When that happens, your Lord wants you to remember that such insults mark you as someone he has blessed. Oh, sure, it doesn’t feel like a blessing. But that’s okay, because the truth remains that those insults identify you as someone the Holy Spirit has brought into God’s family, someone surrounded by God’s promises, someone embraced by full forgiveness through faith in Jesus.
So let the insults come. Let the eyes roll. Let the snickers and the sneers do their worst. Jesus says they only remind you that you belong to him. When we keep that in mind, then such insults are not so bad after all.