Daily Devotions

Ministry of Presence

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"For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." (Psalm 100:5)

 

I cannot get over the amount of pain the people around us endure daily. There are people in hospitals and Alzheimer's Units to visit, those in mental health units at area hospitals, or shut-ins who feel desperate in their loneliness. Most recently, I have tried to be there for a good friend who is struggling as he walks through divorce. The anguish, aloneness, and betrayal are nearly overwhelming. Empathy for him makes my heart cry out.

 

Amidst the hardships one can find around every corner, I read Psalm 100. Rather than scoff at the celebratory praise the psalmist has for God while the world hurts, we people of faith need to ask, "How can I bring God's praise to our pain-filled surroundings?”

 

First, be God's "steadfast love" for the suffering person in your midst. Offer a "ministry of presence" by simply being with someone you care about. For my suffering friend, I do not have all the answers. Actually, when I have tried to give advice, it often hasn't worked out. I remain a comfort to him, not by giving good advice, but simply by not being scared away, but by caring and trying to keep some normalcy in his life.

 

Second, we both have brought God's "faithfulness" to the center of his life, amidst this crisis. Today, I helped pick out a new Bible for him, and then we went to lunch. We continue to get together weekly. Over lunch we talk about how God is working in the midst of this crisis in his life. Sometimes, all he can say is that God gave him the strength to get out of bed. Other times it is more hopeful. Over time, my friend will realize that God has been at work the entire time, healing and restoring his heart and soul.

 

As you bring your day before the Lord today, determine your own life situation. What brings you love, faithfulness, and joy? If you can provide answers, you are strong enough to be a spiritual presence for someone else. Who is the person God is guiding you toward? Risk time and discomfort to be God's "steadfast love" for that other person. If you are the one overwhelmed with suffering, pray for God to guide you to a person who can give you the "ministry of presence." God loves you and desires to bring you steadfast love, faithfulness, and joy. God bless you amidst your struggle, or as you faithfully struggle along with another.   

Back on the Throne

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“The Lord is King; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!” (Psalm 99:1)

 

I started my seminary education thirty-one years ago. Looking at the Church at that time, we were just beginning to recognize a cultural shift that Leonard Sweet would fifteen years later categorize as a “SoulTsunami.” The publisher describes it vividly on the back cover of Sweet’s book, “Sweeping in from the cultural sea, a mountainous wave of change threatens to wash the church away. It’s a postmodern flood of mind-boggling techno-culture, problems your grandparents couldn’t have imagined, pluralism that embraces everything except spiritual absolutes. Leonard Sweet calls it a SoulTsunami, and there’s no outrunning it. We Christians can only choose one of three ways to respond to it. We can deny its existence-and drown. We can fight it-and lose. Or we can recognize the unprecedented opportunities it presents-and chart a course across the waters toward reformation.”

 

Now, sixteen years after Sweet’s prophetic book was written, another Tsunami is hitting our spiritual shores. I believe a post-spiritual age is blowing in. Anti-religion, anti-faith, anti-spiritual is becoming a new norm. Perhaps it is part of the atheist movement which attempts to blame religion for all the evil and violence in the world. Rather than see this as frightening, it should be viewed like Sweet viewed the first SoulTsunami, “Or we can recognize that unprecedented opportunities it presents-and chart a course across the waters toward reformation.” Perhaps our churches will have smaller worship attendance, but those attending will feel the call to transformation and the necessity to challenge one’s own beliefs and have the courage to be counter-cultural by boldly affirming God’s eternal reign.


As I’ve read and prepared the last several enthronement Psalms, I’ve realized that a significant number in the ancient culture of that time must have lacked belief in God. This must have been the reason that the psalmist chose to write so many enthronement psalms. Today, sit down and pretend you are talking to someone who has lost their faith, or never had faith to begin with. Pretend you are telling them why faith in God is important to you and a central part of your life. Play out their arguments for why you are wrong to have faith. Provide a rebuttal. Where is your argument weak? What areas do you need to study or ponder in order to better understand and share the faith you affirm? Then offer a prayer of Adoration, offering God your unending love, devotion and gratitude for the blessed faith that allows you to believe.

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