Sunday, February 26, 2012

Journey to the Cross

Day 15 - Friday, March 9
Mark 8:34-38  "Cross Carrying"
"If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." 
      We live in a me-first society, a keep-up-with-the-neighbors, how-many-cars-in-your-garage, do-you-have-latest-technological-gadget type of society.  Our focus becomes much too "inward".   Yet, how many can claim true happiness or a sense of substance to life?
"Pump yourself up with God,
not possessions!"
      Crosses are heavy.  Suffering can be painful. But is our cross any heavier than all the other "stuff" with which we burden ourselves?  To deny oneself without purpose is also meaningless, but to deny oneself FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST can fill us with immeasurable glory!  Bonnie Cassida's message in for this scripture reminded me of the Scribble I drew for a line in Psalm 4:  "Pump yourself up with God, not possessions!"   If we can focus on the bigger picture as God does, we will find carrying JUST the cross much easier in the long run.  

Day 14 - Thursday, March 8
Mark 8:31-33  "Hard Stuff"
"Jesus then began explaining things to them: 'It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.'  He said this simply and clearly so they couldn't miss it.   But Peter grabbed him in protest.  Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. 'Peter, get out of my way!  Satan, get lost!  You have no idea how God works!' "  (The Message)
        We, like Peter, don't like to deal with the "hard stuff" - to listen to or face suffering.  It's so much easier and painless to dismiss it, pretend it isn't happening, and move on.  But that isn't how God works!  We can't ignore the poor, the war refugees, the immigrants, - the suffering - because it is hard or dirty or unpleasant or because it makes us uncomfortable.  We can't sweep it away, out of sight.  We must see the face of Christ and his suffering as we confront the suffering in our world.  There is the ultimate hope of the resurrection, but we must deal and respond to the "hard stuff" in this world, within the current limitations of this world.  God doesn't expect any less.    

Day 13 - Wednesday, March 7
Genesis 17:15-16  "Think Big. Act Small."
"And Sarai your wife: Don't call her Sarai any longer: call her Sarah.  I'll bless her - yes! I'll give you a son by her!  Oh, how I'll bless her!  Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her." (The Message)
     Just change one letter in the name, make the i an h, and you change the whole premise of the name Sarai from a personal term to one that encompasses the world.  How often does changing just one letter change the total meaning of the word?  Often!  Sarah and Abraham are to have just ONE baby.  How can many nations result?  Because God can take one small action and change the world!   He does it over and over!  
     God doesn't ask us all to be great orators or statesmen.  He doesn't often ask us to travel to other countries and make the headlines.  He asks us to perform small actions that HE can make great.  We might even be tempted to ask, "Is that ALL you want from me, God?" because our ego wants something bigger, something more earth-shattering.  But God will take all the small pieces of the puzzle and put together a world that is beyond our wildest imaginations.  We just need to obediently do our small part and leave the puzzle up to God.   

Day 12 - Tuesday, March 6
Genesis 17:3-7  "Look to the Future"
"I'm establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants." (v.7 Message)
     God made a covenant with Abraham and blessed him and all generations to come.  Abraham did not live to see all that would result from this covenant with God.  We can't imagine the future any more than our grandparents could imagine all the changes that have taken place in the last century.  But we do know this - the future holds God's blessings.  We do know that the choices and decisions we make today are helping to create the future our children will have.  What am I doing to bless my future descendants?  What am I doing to assure them a world that still manifests all of God's glory?  What am I doing to help create a future world filled with hope and compassion, filled with love?  What am I doing TODAY!? 

Day 11 - Monday, March 5
Genesis 17:1-2   "It's Never Too Late!"
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, 'I am the Strong God.  Live entirely before me, live to the hilt!  I'll make a covenant between us and I'll give you a huge family." (The Message)
     Usually we think our life is pretty well determined (and over) by the time we are nearing 100, but Abraham was really just beginning in his service to God!  The mistakes of the past weren't in the way of his new future.  We remember Abraham for what he was AFTER this conversation, this covenant.  It's never too late with God!  God can and will "bless us with a new identity and hope for the future." (bc)  May we see ourselves as God sees us: beyond our past, beyond today, to all the possibilities of our future.  God has something in mind - today IS the first day of the rest of our life.  Let's begin to live it!  

SUNDAY, March 4  - FOR THE NATIONS featured author this week is Bonnie Cassida. 
"It's hard, mostly impossible, to see the world the way God does." 
We focus on the narrow view our own lives reveal and fail to see the whole picture.  This week's devotion will help us see what God sees and hear his message for all Creation.  

Psalm 22:23-28  "Love the Afflicted"
"He has never let you down, 
Never looked the other way when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing; 
He has been right there listening."  (Message v. 24)
or as the NIV translation puts it, 
"For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one.."
     God loves us all in our imperfections, our brokenness, our "afflictions" - whether we be poor, outcasts, rich, immigrants, or sinners.  When we are able to sense and perceive that love for OURSELVES then we are better able to show compassion and love for others different from us in their afflictions.  For whether it is overt or not, we all carry some sort of affliction.  We are all God's children and are loved.  

Day 10 - Saturday, March 3
Psalm 25:6-10  "Follow the Signs!"
Bruce Reyes-Chow ( returns to Psalm 25 to end the week.  Verses 8 and 10  from the Message read: 
"God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected.
Sends them in the right direction...
From now on every road you travel will take you to God.
Follow the Covenant signs;
Read the charted directions." 
We are on a continuous "trip" to find God and the heavenly relationship he has for us.  God forgives our stumbling along the path, our "wrong turns" and continuously sets us back on the right path.  He has given us a guidebook, The Bible, he has given us mentors and leaders to show us the way.  He sets his signs to keep us from making wrong choices.  What an incredible tour guide we have in God!  Why do we struggle to "sign up" for the tour?  The destination is heaven and a right relationship with none other than God himself.  Wow!  Count me in for this vacation!  It is life itself! 
The benediction for the week from will serve as a fitting conclusion:
Go now with open eyes.
Go now with listening ears. 
Make your way with the assurance
That God is leading you. 
God is providing the signs you need
To see,
To hear,
To find your way.  

Day 9 - Friday March 2
Mark 1:14-15  "The Time Is Now!"
"John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the message of God: "Time's up!  God's kingdom is here.  Change your life and believe the Message."
It's so easy to procrastinate - to put off until tomorrow, especially when the task doesn't have a firm DUE DATE.  My list is filled with "have to do todays" with all the "sometime" tasks at the bottom.  Where do I put God on my TO DO list?  In Mark, Jesus is telling the people, "The time is now!  You can't wait any longer! Repentence is due today! "  Bruce Reyes Chow writes, "God calls us every day to be different and better than we were the day before."  I can't put God on my list, do it once, cross it off, and say "That's done!" - because God must appear again tomorrow on my list....and everyday.  No more procrastination!  The Project of ME is due today...and again tomorrow... and all the tomorrows to come!  
PS.  I redrew the Scribble for Day 8!  

Day 8 - Thursday March 1
Mark 1:12-13    "Into the Wilderness"
"At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild.  For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan.  Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him." (The Message)
Struggle helps us grow; steel is refined in the fire; wise choices are learned as a result of poor choices.  Without some conflict, we don't learn to trust God.  When we strip away all the comforts and distractions of life, we are left with God....and our relationship to him.  We are left to discover that God is present, especially during our wilderness moments.  This made me think of Jesus going out on an Outward Bound experience!  What is my wilderness?  My trials?  How did/do I find God ever present?  

Day 7 - Wednesday February 29
Mark 1:9-11  "You are my son!"
The Message says, "The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God's spirit looking like a dove, come down on him.  Along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." 
As children, didn't we love to hear those words, "I'm proud of you" from our parents?  Especially when they occurred, not after some sports victory, but when we had made a good choice or decision. We tell our own children, "You make me so proud!" when we see decisions that show them growing into the person God intended.  Jesus heard those words from HIS father upon his baptism - as Jesus was publicly declaring his role as a "child of God".   We, like Jesus, have been "chosen and marked by love".  God longs to tell us he is proud of our choices, our actions, our deeds of compassion. God longs for us to make decisions that help us grow into the persons he created.   We are chosen!  We are marked in love!  What a gift! What a responsibility!

Day 6 - Tuesday February 28
Genesis 9:9-17  REMINDERS!
God put the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of his promise.  We fill our lives with "reminders" of people, events, relationships, and shared love - Christmas ornaments, pictures, tokens of affection.  This reminded me of Joshua's "stones of memory" the Israelites erected after crossing the Jordan to remember God's mighty acts in the wilderness.  With what reminders do we surrounded ourselves? More importantly, do we actively seek to recognize God's reminders or signs of his constant presence and love?  Seek the signs and then may we all REMEMBER to give thanks and praise to God for his enduring love.  

Day 5 - Monday February 27
Genesis 9:8-11  PROMISES!
I have just realized that the devotions must follow the Lectionary to a degree, since this is the same scripture we had yesterday in church!  
"The rainbow is the sign of the covenant that I've set up between me and everything living on the Earth." (The Message, v. 17)
God alone initiates a covenant, unlike our many legal contracts today.  God pledged to uphold his promises, but he also expects certain commitments from his people.  
God doesn't break promises.  The rainbow is our sign that God is present, that God's promises are forever.  God is with us.  Always.  

For this season of Lent, inspired by my son Luke who has committed to writing everyday, I shall commit to at least a Scribble every two days!  I finished my series of drawings and study on the Psalms on Ash Wednesday, so it must be God's desire that I find another avenue for expression.  I realize that this blog is for "Rembolds on the Road", but since I am using as my inspiration an online devotion called "Journey to the Cross" ( I am still traveling - towards God.  I also found my devotional journal looked really bland when it was all writing and no pictures!  I am such a visual person!  

Ash Wednesday - Day 1
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 - Ambassadors of Christ
I went to the Ash Wednesday service, received both ashes and a confirmation of baptism plus communion.  How much more blessed can one person feel?  Ash Wednesday marks a time to unite with God on a deeper level, to reconcile with God and with our world.  In, Shannon Kelly writes, "This is a day of reconciliation, of being joined back together with God, of being reunited with the one who made you.  This is a day of intentionally stopping to remember that we are made in the image of God and we are to treat others AS the image of God." I especially like the last part - if we see God in everyone person we encounter, would we treat them differently?  I think so!  

Day 2 - Thursday, February 23
Matthew 6:1  - Do not flaunt your piety!
The Message phrases this "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you shouldn't make a performance of it.  It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding."  In other words, "Don't toot your own horn!"  But Jesus also said to "Let your light shine!"  How can we do both?  It is a matter of attitude and intent.  AB Bruce offered a good formula, "Show when tempted to hide and hide when tempted to show."  

Day 3 - Friday, February 24
Matthew 6:2-4  - Do not flaunt your giving! 
The Message says, "Just do it, quietly and unobtrusively."  This is how God operates within us ....behind the scenes and without recognition most of the time.  Share.  Give.  Remember that gifts come in all shapes and sizes: money, time, listening, rides, food, helping hand.  Kelly ( writes that changing someone else with whatever gift you share will change yourself as well.  

Day 4 - Saturday, February 25
Matthew 6:5-6  - Do not flaunt your prayers!  
The Message  says "Find a secluded place so you won't be tempted to role play before God.  ....The focus will shift from you to God and you will begin to sense his grace." 
Jesus prayed in public.  We can pray in public. But so often we become self conscious about the ME in the prayer and fail to sense or convey God's presence.  Shannon Kelly advocates STEALTH PRAYING.  Behind the scenes, hidden, just you and me God, type praying.  Find time for stealth praying and "you will find God sneaking into your life in transformative ways." 
(I pondered my devotional subject matter when I had to Google an image of a Stealth Bomber for my scribble!)
Each devotion ends with a benediction for that week.  This week's, by Shannon Kelly, reads:
"Move now into the broken world. 
Travel with intense determination
To find your way into healing.
to take the message of reconciliation
With you,
Within you.
For everyone."

Sunday, February 26
Psalm 25 - "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths."
Bruce Reyes-Chow is the featured author on Journey to the Cross this week.  To make quotations from the feature author easier I am going to include them in colored print from now on.  
Reyes-Chow's focus today is on how we treat those who abuse and slander us.  When we want to strike back at someone with angry words, follow God's path: Show our enemies that we live differently, a way that shows God's presence in the world. Is this easy? Never, but then again, living as God intended never is.  
God has laid the signs out for us.  The path is there.  It is up to us to follow it, to find our way.  

No comments:

Post a Comment