Personal and Family Devotions
Saturday, March 21st
Grace and Peace to you!
Throughout this crisis, I’ll be sending you devotions/studies with some readings and questions, along with some links for songs and hymns. I’ll try to include some great quotes too (Hey, I love quotes!) to help us discover wisdom from the past to live well right now. These are unprecedented days for us with the unexpected rushing at high velocity into our lives. These are not unprecedented experiences, however, in history, making this a season in which we can draw on the experiences of those who’ve gone before us, together with the hope of the Scriptures, to strengthen our souls against the threats of fear, anxiety, and despair. Let’s get to it!
Quick Note: make sure you gather with your family or a few friends – and I do mean just a few per CDC Guidelines! – and participate on-line with Lord’s Day worship streamed from the Christ Community Church campus.
Jesus Intercedes for His People
Todays Reading John 17:1-12; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Psalm 126
Self-defense and protecting those we love is common and instinctual behavior. It’s why in addition to toilet paper and hand sanitizer the other items disappearing from stores at a record pace are guns and ammo. Apparently, if the apocalypse is upon us we intend to take all the lessons we can from The Walking Dead into the fight.
There remains, however, a yet greater and more powerful line of defense. That’s especially true when it comes to the dark enemies of fear, anxiety, panic, and even death itself. That defense is the Lord God, our Sun and Shield, the Rock and Fortress of our souls. The defense of his beloved comes through loud and clear in Jesus’ prayer for his people.
In beginning to look at what Jesus is praying for us as our Great High Priest and Intercessor, we can’t help but be struck by his loving concern for us. In this prayer, he is seeking our good, especially our protection when surrounded and confronted by danger, just as we are now.
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours… they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost…I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
Does Jesus’ protection of his people mean that we will not suffer hardship, illness, or pain? Certainly not. God’s people have often suffered deeply and greatly, in many ways, from persecution in many forms to the more common ailments that afflict us all. No, this protection points to a more sinister enemy, one that all of these other assaults of our bodies and souls hopes will lead to our abandonment of faith, hope, and love. The goal of Satan in our suffering is the crushing of our faith, the demolition of grace within us. The goal of God in our suffering is the purifying of our faith, securing us even more deeply in his mercy. The Christian suffers, but will not be lost; the Christian weeps but knows those tears will water the seeds of truth that create a harvest of joy.
Jesus is keeping us, guarding us, in life and death. Peter knew personally the power of Jesus’ intercession and wrote that when we experience fiery trials we can rest in the assurance that we are guarded by God’s power and that what is yet to come far outweighs the terrors we may face today.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
- In what ways do we see Satan seeking to destroy our faith when we or those we love endure suffering?
- Gold perishes, and the recent upheaval in global financial markets reminds us of how fragile a foundation wealth can be. What does not perish and is, therefore, to be guarded above all other treasures?
- Compare Romans 8:31-39 with John 17. Note how the Guarding Prayers of Jesus for us correspond to the unbreakable bond of love we have with God.
In our suffering, I am reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr who wrote, “Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian one must take up his cross…and carry it until that very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which only comes through suffering.”
Sometimes no explanation is sufficient to account for suffering. The only decent thing is silence—and the sacraments. – Thomas Merton
Read Psalm 126 aloud together and then pray as follows:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Hymns and Songs
In Christ Alone – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ch6eXkQWU8
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