Daily Devotions

It's Not Beyond Your Strength

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"For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.”

(Luke 18:32-33)

 

Jesus had a tough job. And at this moment I am not talking about his impending suffering and death on the cross. I am talking about the struggle he had preparing his Apostles for their role as followers of a controversial Messiah. Following Jesus means following him in wisdom, grace, and mercy, but also into struggle, suffering and death. No wonder the disciples had so much trouble understanding and accepting Jesus' words. It shouldn't be surprising so many of us struggle with Jesus' words today.

 

Theologian Elisabeth Koenig gets to the heart of the passage. "The themes of discipleship and faith are renewed here too, because Jesus’ approaching passion and death will demand that the Twelve adjust their understanding not only of God and Jesus, but also of who they themselves are and of what they believe." Jesus' life, death, and resurrection wasn't just something that happened to this itinerant preacher from the Galilee. The Apostles, the Reformation leaders, the Civil Rights pioneers, and each of us are likewise called to adjust our understanding of who we are and what we believe.

 

A faithful life is not free from struggle, humiliation, and even suffering. God often puts the most faithful people in the most difficult situations. God is less likely to put weak people in unfavorable circumstances because they often are not capable of getting the best results. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a passage I have lived by my entire adult life. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." Through the Almighty power of the Holy Spirit, God will guide you safely through life and death and ultimately bring you the same resurrection as Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Today, honestly offer God your deepest struggles. Share your fears and desires. Then, listen to your thoughts throughout the day. God will often find a moment later when you are relaxed and not expecting it. God will give you the feelings and/or thoughts necessary to bring support to your present challenges. God is all powerful, loving, and cares about you. Your struggles are not beyond God's ability to heal. Trust! Have Faith!

 

I Want It All  

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“'Then who can be saved?' He replied, 'What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.'” (Luke 18:26b-27)

 

Jesus is so demanding. The apostle Paul gets a bad rap, being judged for cultural comments I am sure he would not say today. The apostle Paul gives believers theological comfort over-and-over-again. "Justification by Faith" was not some concept invented by the great reformer, Martin Luther. Luther took the idea that we do not earn our salvation from Paul's letters.

 

Jesus was much harder on us. Today's verse is framed by the story of the wealthy ruler who wanted to follow Jesus, but was turned away because he wouldn't give up all his riches. Then Jesus seems to simply go off on anyone who doesn't make the faith the first priority in their lives. Jesus challenges us with the statement, "Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” This is followed with an announcement, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

 

If your motto is, "I want it all," you will end up with nothing in eternity, according to Jesus. This is because God's motto is, "I want it all," or said even better, "I want all of you, your whole being!" Today, prayerfully contemplate how much of yourself you give to God, and whether there are parts of yourself you keep from God. Does God have your attention at home? Does God influence your decision making at work? Then pray for God to guide you to a deeper relationship, which places the divine in every aspect of your life.

 

Don't let this passage frighten you away. Let it motivate you to include God at a deeper level.

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