Sunday, June 10, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 10th June

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"We live unto the Lord."
Romans 14:8
If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, he might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep his children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are his children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from his lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven? The answer is--they are here that they may "live unto the Lord," and may bring others to know his love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the "salt of the earth," to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for him, and as "workers together with him." Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to "the praise of the glory of his grace." Meanwhile we long to be with him, and daily sing--
"My heart is with him on his throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
Rise up, and come away.'"

Evening

"They are they which testify of me."
John 5:39
Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of him. At the creation we at once discern him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of him in the promise of the woman's seed; we see him typified in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as he sees Messiah's day; we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way--they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God's great propitiation. Still more manifestly in the New Testament we find our Lord the one pervading subject. It is not an ingot here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered, but here you stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejewelled with the Redeemer's name. We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the word to be as a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into it, see his face reflected as in a glass--darkly, it is true, but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing him as we shall see him face to face. This volume contains Jesus Christ's letters to us, perfumed by his love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are the swaddling bands of the holy child Jesus; unroll them and you find your Saviour. The quintessence of the word of God is Christ.

===

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 32-33, John 18:19-40 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
    1 After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. 2 When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to wage war against Jerusalem, 3 he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. 4 They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” they said. 5 Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields.
   6 He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: 7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8 With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.
   9 Later, when Sennacherib king of Assyria and all his forces were laying siege to Lachish, he sent his officers to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah king of Judah and for all the people of Judah who were there:
   10 “This is what Sennacherib king of Assyria says: On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? 11 When Hezekiah says, ‘The LORD our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst. 12 Did not Hezekiah himself remove this god’s high places and altars, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before one altar and burn sacrifices on it’?
   13 “Do you not know what I and my predecessors have done to all the peoples of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand? 14 Who of all the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? 15 Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!”
   16 Sennacherib’s officers spoke further against the LORD God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17 The king also wrote letters ridiculing the LORD, the God of Israel, and saying this against him: “Just as the gods of the peoples of the other lands did not rescue their people from my hand, so the god of Hezekiah will not rescue his people from my hand.” 18 Then they called out in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city. 19 They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as they did about the gods of the other peoples of the world—the work of human hands.
   20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. 21 And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.
   22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side.23 Many brought offerings to Jerusalem for the LORD and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded by all the nations.
Hezekiah’s Pride, Success and Death
    24 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. 26Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.
   27 Hezekiah had very great wealth and honor, and he made treasuries for his silver and gold and for his precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuables. 28 He also made buildings to store the harvest of grain, new wine and olive oil; and he made stalls for various kinds of cattle, and pens for the flocks. 29 He built villages and acquired great numbers of flocks and herds, for God had given him very great riches.
   30 It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. 31 But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.
   32 The other events of Hezekiah’s reign and his acts of devotion are written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 33 Hezekiah rested with his ancestors and was buried on the hill where the tombs of David’s descendants are. All Judah and the people of Jerusalem honored him when he died. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.

2 Chronicles 33

Manasseh King of Judah
    1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.
   7 He took the image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and regulations given through Moses.” 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites.
   10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.
   14 Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah.
   15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the LORD, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the LORD their God.
   18 The other events of Manasseh’s reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel. 19 His prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty, as well as all his sins and unfaithfulness, and the sites where he built high places and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself—all these are written in the records of the seers. 20 Manasseh rested with his ancestors and was buried in his palace. And Amon his son succeeded him as king.
Amon King of Judah
    21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. 23 But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the LORD; Amon increased his guilt.
   24 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.

John 18

The High Priest Questions Jesus
    19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
   20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
   22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
   23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
    25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
   He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
   26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Jesus Before Pilate
    28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
   30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
   31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
   “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
   33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
   34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
   35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
   36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
   37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
   Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
   38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
   40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

===

Spurgeon-NewParkStreet-Header-3

Christ manifesting himself to his people

“Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” John 14:22
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
I was reading a short time ago of a Mr Tennant. He was about to preach one evening, and thought he would take a walk. As he was walking in a wood he felt so overpoweringly the presence of Christ, and such a manifestation of him, that he knelt down, and they could not discover him at the hour when he was to have preached. He continued there for hours, insensible as to whether he was in the body or out of the body; and when they waked him he looked like a man who had been with Jesus, and whose face shone. He never should forget, he said, to his dying day, that season of communion, when positively, though he could not see Christ, Christ was there, holding fellowship with him, heart against heart, in the sweetest manner. A wondrous display it must have been. You must know something of it, if not much; otherwise you have not gone far on your spiritual course. God teach you more, and lead you deeper! “Then shall ye know, when ye follow on to know the Lord.” Then, what will be the natural effects of this spiritual manifestation? The first effect will be humility. If a man says, “I have had such and such spiritual communication, I am a great man;” he has never had any communications at all; for “God has respect unto the humble, but the proud he knoweth afar off.” He does not want to come near them to know them, and will never give them any visits of love. It will give a man happiness; for he must be happy who lives near to God. Again: it will give a man holiness. A man who has not holiness has never had this manifestation. Some men profess a great deal; but do not believe any man unless you see that his deeds answer to what he says.
For meditation: The above account may be a blessing or a temptation to you! If we seek experiences for their own sake, Satan will ensure that we get some; our business is to seek to know Christ more and more (Philippians 3:102 Peter 3:18).
Sermon no. 29
10 June (1855)
===


Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Sin laid on Jesus

‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ Isaiah 53:6
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:22–25
There was a relationship between our Lord and his people, which is too often forgotten, but which rendered it natural that he should bear the sin of his people. Why does the text speak of our sinning like sheep? I think it is because it would call to our recollection that Christ is our Shepherd. It is not, my brethren, that Christ took upon himself the sins of strangers. Remember that there always was a union of a most mysterious and intimate kind between those who sinned and the Christ who suffered. What if I say that it is not unjust but according to law that when a woman gets into debt her husband should bear it? And with the church of God sinning, it was but right that her Husband, who had espoused her unto himself, should become the debtor on her behalf. The Lord Jesus stood in the relationship of a married husband unto his church, and it was not, therefore, a strange thing that he should bear her burdens. It was natural for the next of kin to redeem the inheritance, it was most seemly that Immanuel, the next of kin, should redeem his lost church by his own blood. Recollect that there was a union closer even than the marriage bond, for we are members of his body. You shall not punish this hand of mine without making the sentient nature which dwells in the brain to suffer therewith; and does it seem strange to you that when the inferior members of the body have transgressed, the Head should be made to suffer? It seems to me, my brethren, that while substitution is full of grace, it is not unnatural, but according to the laws of everlasting love.
For meditation: The identification of the Lord Jesus Christ with sinners whom he would call his brothers was entirely appropriate (Matthew 3:13–15Hebrews 2:10–14,17 ). For God to forgive repentant sinners is not a matter of justice abandoned but of justice applied (1 John 1:9).
Sermon no. 694
10 June (1866)

===


TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

Teaching in Parables

Matthew 13:34-35 "All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable" (v. 34).
Matthew pauses his record of Jesus' kingdom parables in today's passage to summarize His teaching method. Emphasizing His use of parables, the first evangelist reveals that the Savior's teaching fulfills prophecy (13:34-35).
Before we exegete (examine the original meaning of) verse 35 , we need to look at what it means that Jesus "said nothing to them without a parable" (v. 34). Some scholars read this verse absolutely, as if Jesus only told stories and never used discourses such as are found in the gospel of John. Consequently, they say, John's gospel contains original doctrine not in line with Jesus' teaching. This view is untenable. If Matthew thought Jesus taught only in parables, why did he record a discourse like the Sermon on the Mount (chap. 5-7)?Matthew 13:34 simply means that parables were essential to Jesus' teaching. He never usually spoke on a topic without, at some point, telling a parable about that topic.
Matthew 13:35 says that Psalm 78:2 is fulfilled in Christ's teaching ministry. The psalm's author, Asaph, retells the history of Israel from exodus to exile in Psalm 78, drawing out lessons that might not be crystal clear even to those who know the history. For example, because Ephraim successfully established its own kingdom (1 Kings 11:26-12:20), the tribe might falsely believe that this act was acceptable to the Lord. Asaph's psalm corrects the Ephraimites, reminding them of what they should already know - that God chose Judah, not Ephraim, to be the ruling tribe ( Ps. 78:67-68; see Gen. 49:8-12).
Similarly, Jesus' parables drew out lessons that should have been plain to His hearers even though they usually missed them. Based on Israel's past transgressions, the people should have known that not every Jew would embrace the Messiah (Ex. 32Matt. 13:1-23). That the Messiah would be David's greatest son and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 should have been clear to Israel because the line of David had to suffer for the sins into which they led the nation (2 Sam. 7:4-17Isa. 53Matt. 21:33-46). Jesus' parables reveal truths that might have otherwise been hidden, fulfilling the intent of Psalm 78, albeit on a grander scale. For the truth Christ reveals is the inbreaking of God's kingdom.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The Bible does not say that there are secret truths that only certain believers can find in Scripture. Those things that we do not see upon our first reading of a text are not invisible; rather, incomplete knowledge is often what prevents us from seeing the full implications of a passage. That is why we need the teaching ministry of the church to help us. Do you support your church's teachers with encouraging words or faithful Bible study attendance?
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

===


In Celebration of Human Life

Psalm 139 is the Bible's celebration of God's creation and providence as they pertain to human life. Like the psalmist, author Walter Wangerin Jr. reflects on the marvel God works in utero between conception and birth:
Are children a gift to their elders? No-not till children are grown and their elders are older indeed. Then they are the gift of the [fifth] commandment, honoring hoary heads which have begun to feel past honor. But until then, it is we who are given, by God's parental mercy, to the children! And it is we who must give to the children-by lovely laughter, by laughter utterly free, and by the sheer joy from which such laughter springs-the lasting memory: You are, you are, you are, my child, a marvelous work of God!
And in his heartrending words to a child who has been ravaged by physical and sexual abuse, Wangerin clearly has this psalm in mind:
You, child: you are as soft as the blue sky. Touch your cheek. Do you feel the weft of life there? Yes: God wove you more lovely than wool of the clouds, smoother than petals of lily, sweeter than amber honey, brighter than morning, kinder than daylight, as gentle as the eve. Listen to me! You are beautiful. You are beautiful. If you think you're ugly, you've let a fool define you. Don't! Touch your throat. It is a column of wind and words. Stroke your forehead. Thought moves through its caverns. Imagination lives in there. You are the handiwork of the Creator. You are his best art, his poem, his portrait, his image, his face-and his child.
God caused the stars to be, and then bent low to make you.
God wrapped himself in space as in an apron, then contemplated the intricacy of your hands; he troweled the curve of your brow; he fashioned the tug of your mouth and the turn of your tongue; he jeweled your eye; he carved your bones as surely as he did the mountains ...
You are not an accident. You were planned. You are the cunning intention of almighty God. Well, then, shall you think ill of yourself? NO! You shall think as well of yourself as you do of any marvel of the Deity.
Please, my sister, do not allow a sinner to steal you from yourself. You are too rare. No matter what filth has befouled you, your soul is unique in the cosmos. There is none like you. Whatever thing you admire-a leaf, a little cup, a sunset-you are more beautiful.
Sleep peacefully, you. God loves you. And so do I. And so ought you in the morning light, when the dew is a haze of blue innocence. But sleep now, child, in perfect peace. You are God's-and he spreads his wings above you now.

Think About It

  • In what ways are you a gift to children?
  • What does it mean to you to know that God has woven you together, that he knows you intimately and loves you?
  • How can you share the love of God with others who need to know that they are perfectly formed and made by him?

Pray About It

Lord, you have made me perfect just the way I am. I praise you for your work. I rejoice in the love and care that brought me into being. Help the knowledge of this depth of love to sink into my soul.
NIVSocialicons

===


SSTS_Devotional_header

MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Over and over the Scriptures direct us to meditate on God’s Word. This activity takes time and discipline but brings much spiritual benefit and reward. Meditation is focused thinking about a Bible verse or passage in order to discover how we can apply its truth to our own lives.
In applying Scripture, we need to ask three primary questions.
• What did it mean to the original hearers?
• What is the underlying timeless principle?
• Where or how should I practice that principle?
Here are six specific ways to meditate on a verse or passage:
• Picture it. Visualize the scene in your mind.
• Pronounce it. Say it aloud each time, emphasizing a different word.
• Paraphrase it. Rewrite the verse in your own words.
• Personalize it. Replace the pronouns or people with your own name.
• Pray it. Turn the verse into a prayer and say it back to God.
• Probe it. Ask the following questions:
- Is there any sin to confess? Is there any promise to claim?
- Is there any attitude to change? Is there any command to keep?
- Is there any example to follow? Is there any prayer to pray?
- Is there any error to avoid? Is there any truth to believe?
- Is there something for which to thank God?
When Laos was taken over by a communist government, the leading pastor, Rev. Sail was put into a prison camp for three years of “re-education.” He referred to it later as his university experience. During that time he led five men to Christ in the camp. He had no Bible so he discipled these new believers on scriptures he had memorized and internalized. Later those men became leaders in the church.
RESPONSE: Today I will learn to meditate on God’s Word.
PRAYER: Pray for Christians in prisons of the world where they do not have a Bible.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

BGiOS-300x250-2
twitter-sstts facebook_small_email
Join us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter for
real-time persecution updates

===


40-Day Journey with Bonhoeffer Header

Day 9

Every additional Beatitude deepens the breach between the disciples and the people. The disciples' call becomes more and more visible. Those who mourn are those who are prepared to renounce and live without everything the world calls happiness and peace. They are those who cannot be brought into accord with the world, who cannot conform to the world. They mourn over the world, its guilt, its fate, and its happiness.... No one understands people better than Jesus' community. No one loves people more than Jesus' disciples․that is why they stand apart, why they mourn; it is meaningful and lovely that Luther translates the Greek word for what is blessed with "to bear suffering." The important part is the bearing. The community of disciples does not shake off suffering, as if they had nothing to do with it. Instead they bear it. In doing so, they give witness to their connection with the people around them. At the same time this indicates that they do not arbitrarily seek suffering, that they do not withdraw into willful contempt for the world. Instead, they bear what is laid upon them and what happens to them in discipleship for the sake of Jesus Christ. Finally, disciples will not be weakened by suffering, worn down, and embittered until they are broken. Instead, they bear suffering, by the power of him who supports them. The disciples bear the suffering laid on them only by the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross. As bearers of suffering, they stand in communion with the Crucified. They stand as strangers in the power of him who was so alien to the world that it crucified him.

Biblical Wisdom

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."Matthew 5:4

Questions to Ponder

  • Practically speaking, what does it mean to "mourn over the world"?
  • How can a "community of disciples" bear suffering in a way that is healthy and redemptive?
  • How can individual Christians and communities of faith not be conformed to the world and yet not hold the world in contempt?
  • As Christians bear suffering for the sake of the world, how do they engage "the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross"?

Psalm Fragment

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
   you have taken off my sackcloth
   and clothed me with joy,
   so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:11-12

Journal Reflections

  • List the times when you have mourned "over the world."
  • Reflect on your experience of such mourning. What was it like? What did you do? How did you feel? What resources helped you live through your mourning?
  • Have you ever had to bear suffering because of your Christian faith? Write about the experience. What did you learn from the experience?

Intercessions

Pray for world, "its guilt, its fate, and its happiness." Pray for those who suffer from the world's injustice, that they may find justice. Pray for the unjust, that they might experience repentance, find forgiveness, be filled with compassion, and begin to do justice.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, give me such compassion and love for our hurting world that I might truly mourn for all who suffer in any way.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
Missed the first couple devotionals in this series, or want to re-read an earlier devotional? You can find a complete online archive of Bonhoeffer devotionals at BibleGateway.com. The first devotional can be found here.
ADVERTISEMENT

db-book-image40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Buy a copy here!

One of the most widely admired theologians of the 20th century, Bonhoeffer was a profound yet clear thinker. Klug selects significant passages from his works, pairs them with appropriate Scripture, sets up a journal-writing exercise, and concludes with prayer.

More Titles from Bonhoeffer!
Interested in learning more from and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? The Bible Gateway store has a special page filled with his books and devotionals as well as biographies and videos about him!
db_small


===

COUPLESenewsheader-Bibles-Sep2011

Appreciating Each Other

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
Luke 24:31
My friend and her husband had been married for a few years, and though she still loved him dearly, the humdrum of day-to-day living had lulled her into taking him for granted. Sure, he was loving, steady and dependable, but the romance was gone.
Then at a yearly awards banquet at her husband’s company, my friend was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the accolades heaped on her husband. Superiors spoke of him in glowing terms. Coworkers gushed about what a great guy he was. Even the custodian made a point of telling her what a likable man her husband was.
My friend found herself swelling with pride—and a little shame—wondering why she hadn’t noticed this side of her husband. Did he act differently at work, or was she just not seeing what had been there the whole time?
Cleopas and his friend, who were walking to Emmaus two days after Jesus was crucified and buried, had a bit of the same problem. To be sure, they were depressed, tired and drained from what had happened in Jerusalem. A great teacher who had promised so much had been arrested, beaten, crucified and buried. Now his body was missing. Certainly they were not expecting that the man who joined them on the road was that very man—Jesus.
They didn’t acknowledge Jesus as Messiah either—likely because they were disillusioned that the one they had expected to deliver their nation from Roman rule was now dead. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people,” they said of Jesus (Luke 24:19). But they didn’t have a clue that he was Savior of the world.
As we read this, we want to cry out, “How could you not see Jesus as Messiah after all the wonderful things he did? And how could you not recognize him as he explained the Scriptures to you and your hearts burned within you?” (see verse 32) But until they broke bread with Jesus and the Spirit of God opened their eyes, these men were blind to Jesus’ true identity.
Isn’t that the case with many of us today, in both marriage and our walk with Christ? Seeing Jesus as a living, vibrant presence in our lives comes before anything else, of course. Only when our eyes are focused on him as our Savior can we begin to truly appreciate a spouse who also believes in Christ. When we study the gracious attitudes and actions that Christ pours out on his church—loving, caring, cherishing, submitting even to death—we ask ourselves, “How does my spouse show these same attributes to me and to others? Have I shown appreciation for those Christlike qualities being lived out in him? Am I being Christlike to him?”
It’s easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other’s strengths.
Let’s pray for open eyes before sickness, loss, separation—or accolades from others—force us to pay attention.
Valerie Van Kooten

Let’s Talk

  • What attributes in each other have we sometimes taken for granted that others have helped us see?
  • What qualities of Christ do I see working in you?
  • What are some ways we can keep our eyes open, keeping Christ the central focus of our marriage?
NIVSocialicons
Post a Comment