Daily Lenten Devotion Thursday, March 14th

Thursday, March 14, 2013 – Psalm 102; Jeremiah 22:13-23; Romans 8:12-27 and John 6:41-51

Romans 8:12-27 – 12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — 13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

As I shared in previous devotions, during Lent a couple of friends and I am reading Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life by Jack Levison. I chose this book because of a phone call I received one day in my office. In the book he points out something that I also really believe. God’s Spirit is in all, it’s just that all don’t recognize it or allow it to be turned on. It’s much like a light bulb that is in a lamp. Electricity is there to turn it on and let it shine, but someone has to flip the switch.

In today’s reading from the Old Testament we hear;

Jeremiah 22:13-23 – 16  He (Josiah, King Jehoiakim’s father – Isaiah is speaking to Jehoiakim) judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
says the LORD. ….

21  I spoke to you (Jehoiakim) in your prosperity,
but you said, “I will not listen.”
This has been your way from your youth,
for you have not obeyed my voice.

I find that when we are prosperous we find it hard to hear or sense God’s presence. Why is this? Yet, when we find ourselves poor, we cry out to God; often times complaining because we are poor. I say that, yet at the Stewardship conference I heard stories of very prosperous people who made it their life goal to give away all they had to help the poor. In each case the person or couple was moved by God’s Spirit to see the larger picture.

Going back to our reading from Romans, I find God’s Spirit tapping my heart, mind, soul and spirit. When I let the switch be thrown up, I sense how I’ve been adopted by God; reclaimed by God and that I am a son of God, with full rights as one of his heirs.

I’m struggling with the phrase; “if, in fact, we suffer with him”. Do we then have to seek out suffering? Does suffering simply come our way because we follow? I guess where I end up this morning is, sensing that to suffer with him, with the Christ, is to hang in there as one of his disciples in the bad times as well as the good. Into all our lives will fall some rain, sometimes in downpours. What we’re called to do is endure with Christ when times get difficult and enjoy being in Christ in the good times. So, for me, at least this morning it means to abide with Christ. (I’d be interested to hear from you, how you hear the phrase “if, in fact, we suffer with him”.

In closing I point out a portion of our reading which has been and will continue to be helpful to me in those most difficult times of life.

26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So, when I don’t know what to pray. I don’t have the energy to pray. I can rest assured that the Spirit is praying for me and interceding on my behalf. So it is for you as well. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 102 – 1   Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you.
2   Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.

3   For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4   My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
I am too wasted to eat my bread.

O Lord, hear my prayers and the prayers of your people. Thanks for placing in each of us your Spirit. May you use me this day to flip the switch within others who may not sense your presence, so they can know assuredly that they are a son or daughter of God and that through Christ you have claimed them as your own. Amen.

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