Devotions for Lent–God wants to hug you!

Please don’t hide it from me! Don’t push your servant aside angrily– you have been my help! God who saves me, don’t neglect me! Don’t leave me all alone! Even if my father and mother left me all alone, the LORD would take me in.  (Psa 27:9-10 CEB)

Have heard about a recent outbreak in a school in New Jersey? No, it’s not measles or some other disease, it’s hugging. Students at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., have discovered the benefits, physical and emotional of giving a hug to a friend while respecting each others space, personality and gender.

Scientists have discovered that babies that receive no affection, even though they are receiving nutrition, stop growing and could even die. In this psalm, David is calling out to God, pleading that God doesn’t remove the affection, and love that David so desperately needs and craves. Some of you have never associated God with hugger, but the story of the Prodigal so shows the father running to, hugging and kissing his wayward son.

So he got up and went to his father. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. (Luk 15:20 CEB)

So, this is your hug, and it’s coming your way. “X:” “:)X”

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Devotions for Lent. March 20

LORD, listen to my voice when I cry out– have mercy on me and answer me! Come, my heart says, seek God’s face. LORD, I do seek your face! (Psa 27:7-8 CEB)

“Your presence fills every space of a heart that seeks to find; Your love is here to save us, and Your name is love defined.” ― Lisa Mischelle Wood, Just Believe: A Collection of Christian Poetry

The LORD made sure that the Egyptians were kind to the people so that they let them have whatever they asked for. And so they robbed the Egyptians. The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth. They numbered about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A diverse crowd also went up with them along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds. (Exo 12:36-38 CEB)

600,000 men plus women and children, yet only one climbed the mountain of God. We might think that everyone would want to be in God presence and to experience the fullness of God, but that isn’t the case. “Faith should be an adventure and seeking God a quest to end all quests.” (Ron Valadez, 2019)

In Ezekiel’s river of God the water starts out shallow, that were the crowds are, but God wants us to experience the deep things of God.  Getting into the deep water means that you have to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us. Lent should be a time when we seek God with our whole heart.

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Devotions for Lent–lift up your head and sing!

Now my head is higher than the enemies surrounding me, and I will offer sacrifices in God’s tent– sacrifices with shouts of joy! I will sing and praise the LORD. (Psa 27:6 CEB)

My Head is higher.

The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children.  But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him. (Rom 8:16-17 CEB)

“When we lift our hands in praise and worship, we break spiritual jars of perfume over Jesus. The fragrance of our praise fills the whole earth and touches the heart of God.” ― Dennis Ignatius

The enemy will never remind you of who you are in God. Bombarding you with words of despair, doubt, fear and causing your gaze to fall. Isaiah says, “Don’t fear, because you won’t be ashamed; don’t be dismayed, because you won’t be disgraced.” (Isa 54:4 CEB) Look up child of God, raise your voice in praise, shout, jump for joy, God is on your side.

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Devotions for Lent. March 18

I have asked one thing from the LORD– it’s all I seek– to live in the LORD’s house all the days of my life, seeing the LORD’s beauty and constantly adoring his temple. (Psa 27:4 CEB)

Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you? (1Co 3:16 CEB)

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.— Maya Angelou,

Yesterday Ann and I went to church as we always do. Though we are both ordained ministers within a Pentecostal denomination, we don’t feel that is always necessary to find a Pentecostal fellowship when we’re away from home.  We attended All Saints, Cottenham. A friendly Anglican fellowship with a sweet spirit, good worship, and a great word given by Rector, Rev’d Lynda Davies.

I realize that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit, but then so are millions of other Christians from various denominations, cultures, and colors.  For me to assume that what I have is exclusive would be arrogance.  Everyone has something to bring to decorate the sanctuary, a psalm, hymn, or a spiritual song. How I long, as does every human being, to be at home (in the sanctuary of God) wherever I find myself.

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Devotions for Lent. March 17

Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The LORD is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything? When evildoers come at me trying to eat me up– it’s they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall! (Psa 27:1-2 CEB)

The only thing we have to fear is . . . fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.— Franklin D. Roosevelt, first inaugural address

It’s easy to get caught up in the worship and the reading of Ps 27, yet we go home and the cares of life, home and work, compounded by the events in the news and fears creep in. What if? Perhaps? Well? Are all familiar questions that at times we have processed in our minds. FDR was right when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is . . . fear itself.”

Reality is in God! We just need to remind ourselves that God’s light always illuminates our way, embraces us with love, and protection.

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Devotions for Lent. March 16

I’ll fill you full with old age. I’ll show you my salvation.” (Psa 91:16-92:1 CEB)

This last line of Psalm 91 may seem insignificant, but it probably has more to say that all the other verses.

Salvation reveals something about the nature of God. First, it shows the love of God.  God pours the essence of Godself into human flesh, being totally man and totally God, to redeem mankind from the effects and consequences of sin.

Second, salvation shows God grace. The Orthodox view of the nature of Grace is that it is the very energies of God Himself. Through the Trinitarian ministry of the Holy Spirit–a ministry involving both general and special activities–these energies are mediated to mankind. Perhaps this is that life and life more abundantly.

Finally, the holiness of God is manifest through the work of the cross. The barrier that once separated us has been removed. The relationship and fellowship with God restored, and we are, and we’re being the holy people of God.

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Devotions for Lent. March 15

Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer. I’ll be with you in troubling times. I’ll save you and glorify you. (Psa 91:15 CEB)

According to WHO, approximately one million people commit suicide each year worldwide, that is about one death every 40 seconds or 3,000 per day. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempts to do so. Suicide has a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people.

The 1966 song Eleanor Rigby, written by Paul McCartney, and sung by The Beatles sums up the life of the millions of lonely people, many with mental health issues that suffer from loneliness and depression.

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been, lives in a dream. Waits at the window wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for?
All the lonely people where do they all come from? All the lonely people where do they all belong?
Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear, no one comes near. Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there, what does he care? (McCartney, 1966)

God promises to answer the questions that people like Eleanor or Father McKenzie, or others just like them. God promises to be there with them, using people that have been through the valley of the shadow of death. Those that know the dark places of loneliness and depression. It doesn’t require a degree in counseling, nor diagnosis. It needs a cup of coffee, listening ear or just being there. The ministry of presence is powerful when God shows us through you.

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Devotions for Lent. March 14

CEB Psalm 91:14 God says, “Because you are devoted to me, I’ll rescue you. I’ll protect you because you know my name.

Through the practice of devotion to God, I was coming to learn that preserving loving relations in this world required much forgiveness, tolerance, patience, gratitude, and humility. An essential virtue of humility is to accept others for what they are, despite differences. I contemplated again how the tendency to judge others is often a symptom of insecurity, immaturity, or selfishness, and I yearned to rise above it. Everyone is a child of God. God loves all of His children. If I wish to love God, I must learn to love those whom He loves. Radhanath Swami.

Precious no other name I know, say the name
Am Jesus say the name
Am Jesus say the name
So precious no other name I know that can go your
fears and dry your tears and wipe away your pain.
When you don’t know what else to pray
When you can’t find the words to say, Say the name.
Say the name of Jesus
Say the name of Jesus

When someone calls out your name, the immediate reaction is to look around to see who that might be. It has to be someone you, after all, they called you by name. If it is somebody that you’re in a love relationship, there might be a special name by which you know each other.

Loving the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength (devotion). (Deu 6:5 CEB) Such love will always invoke a response from God, just call on his name.

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Devotions for Lent March 13

I say to the LORD, “You are my refuge, my stronghold! You are my God–the one I trust!” God will save you from the hunter’s trap and from deadly sickness. God will protect you with his pinions; you’ll find refuge under his wings. His faithfulness is a protective shield. Don’t be afraid of terrors at night, arrows that fly in daylight, or sickness that prowls in the dark, destruction that ravages at noontime. Even if one thousand people fall dead next to you, ten thousand right beside you– it won’t happen to you. (Psa 91:2-7 CEB)

The protection of God is not just physical, not just spiritual, but multi-dimensional. The key is making sure we’re in the right place, at the right time. So, if we were to go touring through the northern regions of Afghanistan or Pakistan, though they can be dangerous areas, the key question is, ‘has God told us to go there?’ Are we fighting powers and principalities that we don’t have a call to fight? Are we eating the wrong food, and damaging our health? The natural danger is not a problem if God has called us to go there or to do what we’re doing; our security and safety are in him.

To chose safety, and avoid danger at any cost can be the most dangerous place if we’re outside of God’s will.

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Devotions for Lent–Psalm 91

Pinnacle of the Temple

No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands, they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. (Psa 91:10-13 NKJ)

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. “For it is written:`He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ “and,`In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said,`You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'” (Luk 4:9-13 NKJ)

If the Jews found a heretic, they would take the person up to the pinnacle of the temple and throw them off and down into the Kidron Valley below.  The devil thought he could tempt Jesus to perform a show by jumping off and being unharmed or worse still seen to be taking his own life. The enemy even had a verse of scripture to back up his challenge.  To perform such a fete would nullify the cross, and Jesus knew that nothing need detract from God’s will to save mankind.

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