Personal and Family Devotions
Monday, March 23rd
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!
Today’s Reading: John 17:1-6; Psalm 1; Philippians 3:7-11
So many things we believe our lives consist of have been removed from us in a matter of days. From net worth and well-planned retirements to steady jobs and predictable schedules, and from school exams, sports, and commencements to stopping to simply hug a friend at church, we find ourselves bereft of so many joys. For some this morning, their very physical life and health feel deeply threatened and fear crouches at the door, ready to steal peace at any second.
And yet, these things are not our life.
There are a number of Greek words that are translated ‘life’ in the New Testament (it was originally written in Greek).
‘Bios’: life in the physical, biological sense
‘Psuche’: often translated as ‘soul’, it speaks of the interior dimension of our personal existence. This is the word from which is derived ‘psychological’, and it has to do with our emotional, intellectual, and volitional life: what we feel, think, desire and decide.
‘Zoe’: this is life in the absolute sense, something eternal; life as God has it in himself.
‘Zoe’ is the word John records Jesus employing when he prays, “This is LIFE, that they may know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” – John 17:3
That’s a verse we’d do well to memorize just now.
Life, John’s Gospel tells us, isn’t merely biological or psychological, but spiritual and eternal. It is life in connection to God himself. “I came that you might have LIFE (zoe) and that more abundantly’, said Jesus (John 10:10). John wrote his Gospel with a specific intent: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you might have LIFE (zoe) in His Name” (John 20:31).
We tend to think of the phrase ‘eternal life’ as designating endless existence. ‘Everlasting life’ and ‘Eternal Life’ include that idea, but they have far more to do with a Quality of Life in Relationship with God that we have right now than they do with what happens after our bodies run out of strength. ‘Eternal Life’ (zoe) is what we have right now in Jesus rather than simply a reward we receive at the end of the race. We will have life then because we have life now.
“Life” in this sense is deeply relational. ‘THIS is life”, Jesus says, ‘KNOWING God…’ Again, ‘knowing’ here is not an intellectual understanding of God but rather an intimate relationship with God. If we say we ‘know’ someone, that means we have some kind of relationship with them. ‘Knowing God’ means we are in a relationship with him and that in this relationship we have life in the eternal absolute sense. Our bodies and souls may fail but our relationship with God cannot be broken and this is LIFE itself. It is life stronger than the grave, more powerful than any disease we face, and richer than any loss we endure.
Read Philippians 3:7-11
What was Paul’s supreme desire?
What was Paul willing to give up in order to find this desire?
How might our current experience be teaching us to embrace Paul’s value system of losses and gains so that we too might ‘know God’?
“I KNOW NOT THE WAY GOD LEADS ME, BUT WELL DO I KNOW MY GUIDE.” – Martin Luther
Read Psalm 1
Turning to sleep, thank God for his word that gives you deep roots in dry days. Meditate on Jesus’ words, ‘This is eternal life, that they may know Thee…’ As you do, ask God to grant you an ever-deepening and richer relationship with him through Jesus the Savior. Say with Paul, ‘That I may know him…’ a few times and then let God give you rest and joy.
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
What a Beautiful Name – with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
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