Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for April 23, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 14: 1-7.

Text: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. (v. 1)

I find this reading to be one of, if not the, most reassuring passages in the Bible. It occurs on the last night, after Jesus showed His disciples what discipleship means by washing their feet–the lowest of all household tasks.

And then He assured them not to be afraid because God’s love is neverending. A place has already been prepared for them in the Presence of God. A nameplate has been placed at their seat in the Kingdom. They are already checked into the Eternal dwelling place, so what is there to be afraid of?

Jesus went on to answer Thomas’s question by reminding the 12, and us, that He has shown us a new Way of life, a better Way of life. In the early days His disciples were known as “people of the Way.”  They lived in the Way of Jesus, their Lord; a Way marked by forgiveness, generosity and unconditional love.

There will be stumbles along our journey. There will be times when we will betray, deny and maybe even leave the Cross of Jesus, but we are never separated from His Love, despite ourselves. Because, you see, in the end it is not about us, but God.

Lord, let not my heart be troubled. Give me the strength and the courage to walk in the Way so that everyone that I meet will know that You are God and that I am Your child. Amen.

Christian, devotion, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for April 20, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 15: 12-27

Text: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15: 12)

Jesus only gave one commandment in His life: that those who would take Him seriously, who would be His followers walking in His footsteps, would Love. The distinguishing mark of His followers would not be how they talked or the clothes they wore or the jobs they held. No, they would be known by how well they loved–those in their community as well as those outside their community. It would be known by how well they loved their immediate family as well as the Least, the Last and the Lost.

A Jesus’s love is not a squishy love. It is a hard love. It is a self-sacrificing love. It is not a love that does the easy thing just “to be done with it” but digs into the roots of situations and works toward systemic change that works for the betterment of all. It sees the “big picture” as well as the small individual. It sees the “other” as a person, as a child of God created in the Divine Image.

Jesus’ love is not based on emotion or feelings. It is not given just when “we feel like it”, but even when we do not feel like it. It respects the other person. It does not take advantage or look for its own gain at the expense of another. It is self-sacrificial as well self-respecting. It does not allow another to take advantage, nor does it take advantage.

As I said, it is a hard love. It is a God love.

Lord God, let me see others today as You see them. Let me look for the best in those with whom I share this life but don’t let me be blind to their darker side. Let me see clearly and at the same time love thoroughly with a Jesus-like love. Amen.

Baptism, Christian, devotion, faith, Lenten Devotion, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for the 32nd Day of Lent, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 10: 19-42. Morning Psalm 27; Evening Psalm 126

Text: No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. (vss. 28b & 29)

I remember the elderly parents who were nearing the end of their life. They were worried for their only son. They couldn’t have biological children so they adopted their son as a toddler. Unfortunately, he had already been scarred by life. Nevertheless, they loved him dearly. This is why they were afraid, not just what would happen to him after their death, but forever.

Faithful in the rural Presbyterian church that my wife and I served, they had somewhere in the later years of their faith journey fallen under the influence of a radio evangelist. The concern they expressed to me was that their son, while a good husband, father and faithful in church and community, had not said “the believer’s prayer.” I asked the couple if they loved their son. They said that did. Then I asked if they thought that God loved their son any less than they did. They didn’t. Next I reminded them of their son’s baptism. Baptism is the visible sign of an invisible Truth–“We love God because God first loved us”. (I John 4: 19) In baptism we acknowledge the mystery of this love and commit ourselves to raising a child in Christian nurture.

Salvation is not our story but God’s. It is not about us, but about God. Our salvation is secure. It was secured on a hill far away over 2000 years. It is this truth that seems to lie at the heart of John’s gospel; God’s love–for the world, for you and for me. “No one can snatch them out of my hand,” Jesus said. Grace is unconditional and irrevocable.

I believe that we need to remember this during the season of Lent as we prepare for Easter. We need to tell others, too, because there is no greater news to share. Our challenge, as followers of Jesus, is to live into our baptism,

Lord God, remove ALL fear from my heart. Show me how to live into my baptism and give me the strength to do what You show me to do. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Lenten Devotion, Love, The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for the 31st Day of Lent, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 10: 1-18. Morning Psalm 5; Evening Psalm 27.

Text: I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (Jesus, John 10: 16)

Protestant Reformer John Calvin once said that there are two Churches–the Visible and the Invisible. The Visible Church is the one that gathers on Sunday morning. The Invisible Church is the True Church known only to God. It could be that not everyone in the Visible Church is in the Invisible Church and vice versa. Reality is known only in God’s Heart.

I’ve always liked John 10:16. It reminds me not to judge the legitimacy of another’s faith journey. I believe that God often speaks to us through the circumstances of life. My job as a Christian is not to judge another person but to learn to love them. The epistle of I John tells us that God is love and that perfect love casts our fear. It goes on to say that all who abide or live in the presence of God, lives in love. If we want to grown closer to God, we must learn to love more.

In this season of Lent you and I need to exercise our spiritual muscles of love. through the disciplines of regular worship, prayer, fellowship with a faith community, and the sacraments. We also need to consciously do loving acts, expecially to those who do not agree with us, with whom we have little in common with, and those that we do not like. The more we consciously exercise this spiritual muscle, the more muscle memory we will develop. The more muscle we develop, the more natural our love will become.

Lord, you have given me a loving heart. Help me to strengthen it. Help my love grow so that others will see You in what I do, for Your glory. Amen.