Day 172 – June 21

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 21-22
Acts 5:22-42
Job 16

…calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. – Acts 5:40-42

Suffering. No one likes discomfort, let alone to be in pain. In today’s reading from Job, we hear of his turmoil, not understanding why this devastation befell him. He has thoroughly examined his conscience, and in his heart he can find no reason for the punishments he is enduring. Yet, he holds on to the hope he will be vindicated by God.

From the Book of Acts, we find the disciples of Jesus rejoicing in their suffering, that “they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Here, we find two examples where people are enduring pain of some sort, both having done nothing evil to deserve their current condition. We know people in our lives who live this reality and when approached with the question of ‘why bad things happen to good people?’ we are at a loss to make sense of it all. It is one of the great mysteries facing humanity as we contemplate the attribute of God.

Does God bring calamity? In Job’s case we are privy to see the background to what is happening. We see God so confident in his creation – Job – that he allows Satan to have his way. God is confident that through Job’s suffering Satan will be put to shame and God will be glorified. But if we look at it from Job’s perspective, it would be reasonable that he would begin to doubt God’s goodness. Job’s saving grace is a thread of hope that he holds on to. Despite his current condition, he finds the strength to trust in God’s wisdom, knowing in humility he doesn’t see as God sees.

What do we say when we meet the Jobs in our lives? Those in a state of questioning must come to find the answers on their own, but we can help them immensely by journeying with them, supporting them in their uncertainty. And pray. The story of Job is not finished, and when it is, all will be revealed. And the same for those we love who find themselves or someone dear to them in a similar state. Our stories are not over, and God is working through our misery, knowing full well through His entering into our human story giving us the sign of the Cross. Yes, God understands fully our suffering, and takes it upon Himself to help us carry the burden until all is revealed in Eternity.

May God bless you.

Day 170 – June 19

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 17-18
Acts 4:23-37
Job 14

When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God… – Acts 4:23-24

We’re picking up from yesterday’s reading of Peter and John being imprisoned, and they return to the small Christian community to tell of their experience. Naturally the others were happy and relieved that their companions have returned, but in the back of their minds they must have realized that this could have turned out badly for them. They could have gotten discouraged at seeing the path of following Jesus was not an easy road to walk. Rather than be taken over by fear, they lift their voices in prayer and praise to God.

This is the compelling message of the true Christian, and this message lives on today in the stories we hear of ISIS and terrorist groups who threaten and kill those who will not denounce Christ. Peter and John left a compelling message when they left their jail cell; they would not change their story to save their life. It pointed all the more to the truth of Jesus – that He was real and for them to denounce Him, who is Truth, would be worse than death.

Let us ask for the boldness of the early Christian community to live today in a spirit of the Early Church, a spirit of trust, prayer, and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God bless you.

Day 125 – May 5

Today’s Readings:

1 Samuel 27-28
Luke 23:1-25
Psalm 119:145-176

I call with all my heart, O Lord;
answer me that I may keep your statutes.
I call to you to save me
that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry out;
I put my hope in your words.
My eyes greet the night watches
as I meditate on your promise. – Psalm 119:145-148

Today we conclude Psalm 119, the longest of the Psalter. It is a psalm of praise to God for the gift of the Torah; it is also a psalm of intercession asking God to protect from sinners. It is a psalm of lament that looks at the cost of obedience, and reminds us how good the Law of God is. As in the section quoted above, there is an underlying theme of wonder at how God’s word directs and guides human lives.

Going back over the Psalm, there is a pattern about it, an acrostic, with each of its twenty two stanzas, of eight lines each, are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet.  It is lost to us in the English translation, but the author meticulously arranged the words so that each of the eight verses in a stanza begins with the same letter, with each verse containing one word for ‘instruction’.

The words used for instruction are: law, edict, command, precept, word, utterance, way, decree, and teaching. The difficulty is, there are only 8 versus per stanza, but nine words for instruction, so the consistency isn’t exact.

What can we gain from reflecting on this Psalm? We can look for words of encouragement, to put our trust in God in all circumstances. Today, we can become psalmists too, writing down our words of praise to the Lord. What would you like to say to someone who is discouraged? To someone who is fighting a tough battle due to illness, or moral/political battle (such as fighting for the right of the unborn and the elderly)?

Let us take five minutes today and set ourselves before the Lord, to sing His praises.

May God bless you.

cb365

Day 124 – May 4

Today’s Readings:

1 Samuel 25-26
Luke 22:47-71
Psalm 119:121-144

…the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. – Luke 22:60-62

The pace of the Gospel is picking up. Just the day before the disciples were bickering over who was greatest, and now, faced with the arrest of Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, and Peter’s denial, they are thrown into confusion and fear. It is under such intense moments in our lives the truth of who we are comes out. No longer are they vying to be ‘greatest’; they are faced with a greater challenge, to acknowledge their weakness in the face of something beyond their own strength.

Would we fare any better? Would we remain firm in our faith, or crumble in our fear?

Yesterday we reflected on the spiritual readiness with which we must strive, seeking to grow in a consistency in our prayer. When the moment of testing comes, will we be found wanting? Or, will we find ourselves ready to endure the trial before us. Let us start today, accepting the small challenges in the light of the Cross, offering them with Jesus. As larger challenges come, we will find a capacity not only to endure, but to be a tower of strength to others in such moments.

May God bless you.

cb365

Day 114 – April 24

Today’s Readings:

1 Samuel 5-6
Luke 18:1-23
Psalm 114

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Luke 18:7-8

In the parable of the widow and the judge, the judge was a character that could be won over with a bribe. But the widow, having no money to offer, knew that her case would never be served unless she persistently pestered the judge until he was tired of her. The judge was worn down by her constant pleading.

Using and unjust person in the parable does not liken God to him, but rather sets a contrast to what God is, a loving Father who cares for the needs of His children. He knows what we need before we even begin to ask, yet wants to hear our voice calling out to Him in prayer, like any parent would for their child. And, like a parent, God does not grant our requests for those things that are not going to help us obtain our heavenly goals.

Yes, we are to be persistent in prayer, but also we are to seek the things that are right for us, that will bring us, and those we pray for, closer to God.

May God bless you.

cb365