Devotions

October 2021

(October devotions continued)

new set of dispositions. We are encouraged to disbelieve that anyone could or should be fully aligned with God’s image. The promise of God is that losing our way and abiding in God’s will bring a fullness that can be described as having our souls saved. For God is life, and truly there is no life apart from God. God disciplined life in this world wells up to life that is everlasting. We are blessed to become holy, God is committed to our maturing, and disciplined path.

I am certainly aware of some element of holiness in which I am currently deficient and while God is invested in disciplining me, there is a participation in my edification which belongs to me. I can show up for class, do my homework, and seek to be well fed, rested and ready to learn from the master.

Lord, discipline me and feed my desire to be always holy and right with you. Amen

October 2nd
Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Jesus is back from the dead! This is the foundational witness of the disciples who saw him alive again, and who went on to face death themselves with eager anticipation that life followed. Our shepherd leads His sheep for pastures beyond our current vision, and the hope of such future feeding means that we may find greater completeness in the “everything good” during this age of preparations. I find comfort in a playful proverb which helps me to hear the word of God and pursue what is pleasing in our Lord’s sight amid the challenges of this day: “In the end, every will be okay, if it is not okay, it is not the end.”

Lord, grant me the faith to look beyond what my eyes see, and trust that your vision is the best sight. Amen

October 3rd
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

The pursuit of maintaining my preferred status quo may not be the most advantageous path. My best life may very well require capacities that I currently do not have and thus endurance, and new competencies are required for the better adventures in which God would invite me to abide – both in this life and the next. Trial times considered in conversation with faith invite us to believe that our loving Lord has a good plan for us, and that while the path to greater authenticity is likely neither straight nor smooth, it will be fruitful. Our attitude must get over the idea that if when we are in distress that somehow this is a sign that we are being punished or are no longer loved. God is preparing us for greater life, and some days that require us to let go of the “good” life we have in order to receive the life which lacks nothing.

Help me Lord, so that I may grow in confidence that you will see me through and that I will see you on the other side. Amen

October 4th
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. James 2:26

We must work “out” our salvation in fear and trembling; humbly acting in the ways we honestly believe to be the will of our Lord. Aspirational, spiritual contemplation without an applied, outward expression of the “inward grace” is missing much that is “life.” To love God and ignore those who God also loves is not really to love God. Salvation is a gift, as love always is, but a gift not received as lost something crucial. A relationship is always more than acknowledging the idea of a relationship, there must be a there, there.
Pragmatic pursuits of care and compassion, though well intentioned, may not always feel good to the giver or receiver. Still, we are to look for ways to work our faith into an outward expression. I must seek to serve, love and witness. I must also be willing to allow others to serve, love and witness to me.

Lord, let my faith be from you and for you, and let my works be from you and for you. You are all in all and I know I am only in you when I seek to see you in my neighbor. Amen

October 5th
For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. James 3:16-17

Life direction, even motivation, can emerge from outside ourselves. We are confronted by a steady invitation to evaluate our lives in comparison to the perceptions, expectations, and values of others. The problem is that our own self perception and those of others are ever moving messages, easily manipulated by the news feed hunger, hurt and/or hope stories which move up our chain of awareness. Abraham Maslow suggested that the momentary satisfaction of one “need” is the precursor for the next, and without a north star destination of “self-actualization” we will ever be in the needy world of envy and short-sighted ambition, never pure or peaceable by any definition. The ever-flowing push of the “needs” leads to disorder because it misses wisdom from a centered place of value and stability. If we have no destination which is outside of us, and no rudder, then our only option is reacting to the wind of this moment. Not surprisingly, we will experience a life of being blown from neediness to nowhere in particular and the wake of our travels will be inconsistency, hypocrisy, envy and despair. God’s “land” has content, but arriving at purity and peace requires a willingness to yield our perceptions and social priorities to God’s definition of good fruits.

Lord, help me to seek your will and surrender to your vision of what is right, especially when that is uncomfortable. Amen.

October 6th
Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. James 4:17
for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:23b

The orientation of the heart not only directs the rationalizations of the head and the activity of the hands; it is the definition of the person. Our attitudes direct the capacities that we have and those which we are open to having. To seek what is right and to act on it – this is the path of joyous integrity. To negotiate “truth” in order to explain away justice, even or perhaps especially when the explanation is plausible, is sin.

We are wise to acknowledge the advantages and disadvantages of being clever and ultimately renounce cleverness as lord in any way. The willingness to do right is the life of faith, even when others will call these actions foolish and the consequences of such limit us today. We are to hope in and for God’s will and to recognize that what is not seen in this world is still seen.

Oh God, give to me the will and courage to know the right and the grace to do it, so that you may see and be pleased. Amen

October 7th
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

God is pleased and there is much rejoicing over one sinner who repents and returns. More pleasure than over the constant piety of 99 who did not need to return. This concept is difficult to grasp in “a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush world.” Difficult until I consider what my experience is when one of my children is out while the others are safe at home. God doesn’t want to lose any of God’s kids, any!
Jesus is the ultimate “special forces” invader. He comes not only to rescue but to dominate a world of death in order that all captives might be free. Our trouble is that we can become comfortable in captivity, even excited by our place in a pecking order of “at least I am better off than…” death. Jesus doesn’t cut losses, and no one is written off. We are recruited for special forces duty as well and love is the means and the end.

Lord, let me grow into maturity, being generous to the ungrateful and merciful to the wicked. Amen

October 8

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.
Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.
For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future.
But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrew 3:1-6.

I sometimes worry that I’m not living faithfully enough. I wonder if you feel the same way from time to time. In those moments, one practice that helps me is to look for the ways that God has been faithful to me in my life. I find this helpful for two reasons. First: seeking out God’s work in our lives is in and of itself an act of faithfulness. Second: I’ve found that when God goes to work in our lives, it’s usually because God’s trying to get our attention, because God’s got something new in mind for us. As you go forth into the world this day, I invite you to join me in looking around to see how God is being faithful to you and then to wonder how God might be calling you to faithfully respond.

October 9
“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. Ruth 1:16-19.

How many times have you done something kind and generous for someone just because you loved them, but then felt the need to make up some other reason to justify your actions? “I owed you one.” “You’d have done the same for me.” “It was no big deal, really.” I say things like that all the time.

But Ruth doesn’t. She says, “I don’t want to leave you. I’d rather live life with you, because I love you.”
The next time you do something for someone just because you love them, I invite you to own it. Let that be reason enough. Don’t rationalize. Don’t try to make your act of love sound like a product of obligation. Give them the real reason: “You’re important to me. Our relationship brings me peace and joy. I love you.” When you do, you’ll be reflecting a bit more perfectly the one whose totally irrational love has brought the promise of salvation to us all.

October 10
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves[h] in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. James 1:22-25.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? I must admit, most of the time I consult my reflection for aesthetic reasons. Hair combed? Check. Clothes match? Double check. Yes, by the grace of God, I look presentable today.

Occasionally, though, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror prompts a deeper kind of, ahem, reflection. Dressed and poised for the day ahead, I catch a glimpse of the person that I’ve become. In some ways, that person is who I’d expected him to be, but there are also things about him that surprise me. I wonder if the person you see when you look in the mirror surprises you from time to time, too.
The author of James reminds us that whenever we look in the mirror, a beloved child of God—a hearer and doer of the Word—is staring back at us. The trick is not to let ourselves forget it after we’ve made our final outfit adjustments and gone about our business. May we never forget what it means to be made in the image of God. Amen.

October 11th 
“I made a mistake. Without doubt, an oppressed multitude had to be liberated. But our method only provoked further oppression and atrocious massacres. My living nightmare is to find myself lost in an ocean of red with the blood of innumerable victims. It is too late now to alter the past, but what was needed to save Russia were ten Francis’ of Assisi. Vladimir Lenin
Lenin Letters on Modern Atheism (Sojourners December 1981)

October 12
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. [One] to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder or stand in rapt awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. Albert Einstein “What I believe” (Forum October 1930)

October 13th
Prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16

Peter challenges us to focus our attention on and pursue action consistent with a holy life. Recognize that the values and priorities of a materially oriented life are literally a dead end. Entropy works – rust, moth and thieves will have the last word, if the word is “for this world I live.” Hope in keeping what is of this physical place is ultimately a fool’s errand. Some will say this is the only reality that can be known and the best we can do is get what we can in this age, but Jesus proclaims a reality beyond this realm. He invites us to hope in the graciousness of God both for this life and all eternity. Holiness is to experience and become united with God’s will, and to grow in the joy of what God values.

Resigning from the values of this world requires discipline and it will be difficult to resist the pressure to conform to the popular thinking. However, virtue is its own reward and the promise is that love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and kindness well up to a treasure beyond the reach time’s bandits.

Lord, be lord in my life today. Help me to be true. Amen

October 14th
Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

As John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” If this attitude is pursued, we can more fully abide in Christ as a living stone, built and infused into glory and equipped with God’s holiness. The path of transformation into righteousness is the will of God for each of us, and it is also a choice which each of us can make. I am often captivated by the pursuit of things that do not bring me or others life. Oddly enough we can be burdened by the successes of “fruit” that we have grown. With eyes on ourselves, or on “our fruit” we can forget that only in Christ will the yearning of a right heart find expression. Appetites must be surrendered, and our palettes re-formed so that we develop a taste for holy food.

Lord Jesus, make me hungry for holy food and encourage my participation in my own path toward righteousness. I want to be built into your Kingdom and blessed block in your witness of love. Amen.

October 15th
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:13-16a

It is difficult to experience being lied to or treated with contempt. It is even harder to experience these things without retaliating or even acknowledging the record of wrongs. To suffer for doing right and to have insult added to injury as some conclude that your suffering is proof that you deserve to suffer – very challenging. The encouragement of the Apostle is not to fear, be intimidated or offer a word of “self-defense,” rather to receive such occasions and an opportunity to share your hope in the Lord. Sharing even when the “questions” are insincere with gentleness and reverence offers not only words but a confidence that God can love in every situation.

Change my heart oh Lord, for I can even become proud of my humility. Teach me how to care without caring if my care is appreciated. Let me value you as the sole judge, and above all others. Amen.

October 16th
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17

“If you know what’s good for you…” Thus said my mother on numerous occasions when I was young, and not so young. “If you know what is good for you, you will come down and empty the dishwasher, if you know what’s good for you, you will do your homework, If you know what’s good for you, your will stop poking your brother.” In my early adolescence I made an important discovery – that I did in fact, not know what was good for me. I had not done anything particularly heinous, but rightly discerned that I could not see the consequences that would follow my choices or the circumstances which would emerge apart from anything that I had power to affect. I also learned something far scarier, that not only did I not know what was good for me, but neither did my mother. She was far wiser than I, but her discernments were not perfect either. It is humbling to acknowledge that we are not good predictors of good. It is also empowering to know that our heavenly parent loves us and sees with a vision beyond what we could ask or imagine. I believe the foundation of wisdom is to try and remember that I don’t know, and to lean into the one who does.

Lord, give me the courage to be guided by you today. Amen

October 17th
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:7-11

It’s a jungle out there, so cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. The idea that we should be out of harm’s way if we simply do the right thing is a regularly talked about expectation, and has some truth, but not complete truth. Suffering is a part of every journey and sometimes the powers that we contend against are way out of our league, but that is no reason for despair. For God’s provision fosters our preparation and when the time is right, both in this life and in the next, we receive the support and strength which establishes us into eternal glory. I don’t know what that exactly means, but the invitation to believe God and count on our receiving the capacity to resist what we need to resist and grow into what God knows we can be. The devil challenged Jesus with the words “If you are the Son of God… take charge” Jesus cast himself upon God’s provision, and so can we.

Oh Lord, increase my will and capacity to trust you. Amen

October 18th
Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked. 1 John 2:4-6

Jesus grants and and increases the dispositions and the capacities to abide in him and to live in the life that is life. God is all in all and Jesus has come to transform or reform all things into their proper righteous order. The commandments to love are expressions of foundational authentic truth. I am a liar if I proclaim or live as if any other way is THE WAY.

All of our lives are meant to be an expression of God, a reflection outward and visible expressing God. Our best reflection is to look as Jesus looks – to abide in Christ is to resemble Him.

Lord, sow your seed in me and give me the will to let you grow me as you choose. Amen.

October 19th
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. I John 3:14-16

Love is the revelation of life; the expression of God’s essence which is, and was, and always will be. To find ourselves directed outside of love and “loving” is to be living dead. To abide or find meaning in the limitations of less than love is ultimately to pursue non-existence, for only that which is of love remains. To love is to look for the God bestowed value and to recognize that God has made everyone valuable – each one is an expression of the creator – in God’s time.

In very practical ways our call is to look for and expect to find that which is lovely and worthy. Our looking is even an expression of God’s capacity to work and witness through our weakness. New Creation in Christ is to see and be “in love.”

Lord, direct my dispositions and enhance my capacities to love. Amen.

October 20th
“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

Jesus Christ is the Word of God! Scripture is God’s gift of revelation about the one who is Word. All praise and devotion is properly directed toward Christ, the eternal and life giving one. A desire to control by means of interpreting scripture is actually a challenge to the Lordship of Jesus. Such a manipulation is not a threat to Jesus, it is a threat to the reception of truth. Our story can be, “I did it my way” which leads to truth not being in us, and a likely limitation in the ability to recognize the lie.

A relationship with Jesus Christ is personal to me and while I suspect and conclude that it is personal for others as well, the relationship is not properly the object of my meditation or devotion. Jesus must be the center and always the goal. Even my yearning for a positive relationship experience with Jesus can become an idol. My definition of a good relationship becomes the focus which only Jesus rightly holds. The one who loved and gave himself for me/you will give us everything else as is all in all. However, the gifts are not the goal, the Lord is and must be the center.

Lord, Jesus increase in me, push aside every sin or longing for that which is not devoted to you. Amen

October 21st
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51

Jesus is life – holy life. He makes holy and whole, and his life is eternal. The world of material is redeemed by him as he takes on flesh and transforms flesh into an everlasting spiritual “receptacle.” There is no life in flesh apart from spirit, apart from Christ. Our lives are bound up with Christ regardless of whether we seek to live in him or not. There is no life apart from him. Our path to the fruitfulness and joy which God wills for us is to choose to align and abide in Jesus to the best of our ability. With this comes the expectation and acceptance that God will change us, grow us. We will develop new capacities and take on new dispositions. Holiness leavens and fills us; these clay jars with everlasting treasure. Jesus gives more than what we have seen, and we are called to expect more.

Lord Jesus, reign over all and in particular me. Grant to me the awareness and courage to turn my every breath into a righteous reunion with you. Show me how I may come closer to you and live my life for you. Purify my heart and will. Thank you for bringing me this far and for the promise that you will see me through. Amen

October 22nd
I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10-9-10

Jesus is the way into being fed and filled. He cares for his sheep and is committed to our being fed and filled. Others are willing to exploit in order to seek a short lived feeding and filling for themselves. This will not work for them, but it is the wide path that many find and leads away from life.

Jesus came for you and me, so that we may have life in all its fullness. I can be a thief to my own life, killing and perhaps destroying my own joy because I reject the gate. We can come and go in abundant pasture and be satisfied. This truth will not be understood by us and others when stuck in a world view in which we are responsible for our own abundant life. Jesus is preparing us and providing for us an abundant portion which we cannot see on our own.

Lord, help me to believe that you have a good life for me. In this time and time beyond time. Amen

October 23rd
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Jesus is the measure! There is no one else who is worthy! As we look for direction or a metric, we need look no further than the example and will of the Lord. My status as a student (disciple) of Jesus is properly evaluated by the teacher himself. The opinions of other students are interesting and helpful only is as much as they point to what has been received by the teacher. Love is not just an aspirational idea. I am commanded to love, first, foremost. Anything that does not resemble the love of Christ for me is something less than love. The command to love is also a gift, for to love as Jesus loves is to live; to participate in life at its core.

Lord, command me according to your will and grant me the capacities to do what you command. Amen.

October 24th
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10-12

The capacity to abide in Jesus, in his love, is associated with the will; the yearning to obey commandments so that we are pleasing to God. The desire to experience the Lord’s joy is first a gift of God, and our participation in seeking that joy in fuller ways is a steadily reinforcing spiral that wells up to eternal life. This is in part the meaning of “To one who has shall more be given.” The right kind of joy (and in truth there is only one kind, everything else is a short term pretender) abides toward completeness.

The broad pursuit of life is the obedient surrender of our will and the expectation that God will remake us and bring fullness to the good work which God has begun in each of us, and among all of us. In an odd way, the righteous pursuit of our life is our joy, and the only way to that joy is keeping our loving God’s commands, abiding in love.

Lord, help me to decrease that you may increase with faith filled assurance that as I will to be less you will give me more. Let me be transformed in the joy of growing up to be like you. Amen

October 25th
I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:33

Jesus teaches, leads, and is present to us so that we may be true, authentic, essentially grounded and full of all things good. We do not inherently know “life,” nor grasp “light.” Jesus, the word become flesh is not only “informed” mentally with such “knowledge,” he is the very form of eternity incarnate. When we see Jesus and recognize something of ourselves in his form we see dimly in a mirror, but in truth what we are to see is not ourselves in Jesus, but Jesus in us. Growing into ourselves is to recognize that “truly human” is what Jesus is, and that we are not as yet, truly human. This situation is far from peace, but Jesus offers the way to become like him and know peace. Such a journey puts us at odds with the many who resist, but ultimately, the Son of God is all in all and everything will find its reality in him or not at all.

Christ must be the centerpiece if we are to know the peace that centers. Peace is not even the goal – it is a manifestation of abiding in the one who is the all in all originator and conqueror. The aim is not to fit into the world and help others to do likewise. The aim is to fit into Christ and abide in what he makes.

Help me Lord to will your life in and over my life. Amen

October 26th
“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Revelation 1:17-18

Fear is a powerful and pervasive motivator. Many spend the majority of their time pursuing and reacting to fear. In fact we can call it wisdom to anticipate and ruminate over the ideas and things we are afraid of. Death and the fear of death is often first on the list. Love is a more powerful motivator and it turns to faith as its foundation. To trust that a loved one will be there for us can give us courage to try new things, explore places and possibilities which we would avoid on our own. Jesus tells us that he loves us and wills our abundant life. He invites us to have faith; to trust that he who is first and last, alive though once dead, is in control of what would be most fearful. When our lives are wrapped around this confidence they are motivated and empowered in a way that fear can never match.

I want greater faith. I want less focus on clever anticipations of unwanted futures and more confidence that “all things do work together” in God’s times for good. My role is to seek, knock, and ask which practically translates into not hiding, closing off, and assuming that I already know the particulars of what is possible.

Increase my capacity to believe in you, Lord Jesus, and to find my life in your promises. Amen

October 27th
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5

First things first! Good theology, clear communication, active programs, consistent administration are all important, but love is first. A deep yearning for God’s joy to be complete – that all the world know God and abide in God’s love. This is the character and motivation of the Church, and without this, regardless of the exterior signs, the community is something other than Church.

Lord, help me to let go of the pursuit of justification or security from any other source. Remind me of the permanent value of virtue grounded and sustained by your life which enlightens into your glory. Keep me from selfish ambition and feed me on the hope of your dominion over my life and filled full in all of your creation. In Jesus Christ, Amen

October 28th
I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. Revelation 3:19-20

Jesus comes to help and heal those whom he loves. This help is sometimes experienced as reproof and discipline. To open the door to Jesus is to invite correction. Fellowship is putting ourselves out there with whoever we would connect and if the connection is real we should expect to be changed by it. To fellowship with the Son of God requires that we acknowledge that we are under his authority. To open to him is to surrender any notion that we lead our own life and that Jesus primarily works for us and our agenda. Christ’s love is correction.

It is hard to surrender and find life outside of my short-term perceptions and preferences. I will resist in places deeper than my consciousness because sin is at work in my life, but I can also consciously resist as well. Awareness of resistance is a helpful pathway to transformation. We can be tempted to celebrate our wisdom while not being wise enough to wonder about the source of wisdom. Though generally undesired, humility is required. Wisdom is to listen for the Lord and to be ready and willing to allow him to feed us; to mess with our menu. Such is what earnestness, repentance and listening require.

Lord, help me to let go of my pride and be open to you. Amen

October 29th
The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts. Revelation 9:20-21

Sin is stubborn and humans can be stiff necked and hard hearted. The clear evidence revealed in pain and loss are not enough for some to reconsider their way. In fact, that very distress can come to be seen as a sign of strength and perseverance, but is based on pride and grounded in deception. The assumptions that we cling to, the beliefs that we hold will hold us and have lasting and deep consequences. We, consciously or not, choose every day who we will follow. The idea that with a little time and presumably better information the truth will emerge is misguided. We can all stand stubbornly in the center of our blind spot and rail against any notion that we have been foolish. Our call is to love because that is the will of our Lord. Loving is also offered with awareness that some will not receive what is Holy or consider that the wide and easy road which most take is bound for destruction. Still, love is the call… we are not those charged with carrying out judgement.

Lord, grant me the endurance to persevere in love and the resilience to walk in faith especially when others will not. Amen.

October 30th
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.[e] Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36

The actions of the Lord’s servant are not determined by the worthiness of those who receive them. Actions are an expression of the character and content of the actor. God is merciful, good and generous. Kindness is not the reward for generosity; kindness is the expression of the kind and is not hindered even by the wicked.

We are to seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness; yearning for the transformation of my person to receive the capacities and disposition of God. On this way I become an example of God, a child of the most high. “Righteous” is an adjective which flows from integrity and to be so described is a treasure for the bearer. Love of enemies, goodness and generosity have no other end than Godliness.

Lord, make me your child yearning to reflect you in all that I am and do. Amen.

October 31st
Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” Luke 8:18

It is not just “what” we hear that is valuable but what we listen for. The way we listen ; the “how” which orients , affirms and challenges our perspectives determines in large part what can be received. If Jesus is my servant and works for me, then I will evaluate Jesus; his word, witness and life based upon outcomes I judge to be in my best interest. If however, I work/live for Jesus then my understanding of what benefits me in the short term is unnecessary and often a distraction.

Faith and hope are the foundation of “how.” Understanding “what” the Lord requires may not make much difference for me. Especially, when I recognize that I honestly do not know how to live well, nor have the power to make life abundant regardless of whether I have some idea of “what” such life might be. The first step is learning “how to surrender life to the one who is life rather than clinging to my ignorance and definitely arguing over the nuances of a “what” which I cannot achieve. To have this is to be given more. To lack this is to lose everything.

Lord, give me the courage to turn my life over to you. I am tempted to pretend, within the community of pretense, that I am capable of living well without your steady guidance. Amen