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Posts tagged "Hopelessly Devoted"

Hopelessly Devoted: First Timothy Chapter Two Verses Five and Six

This morning’s devotion comes to us from the Rev. Jim Munroe. 

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as the ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6, ESV)

In 1492, there were two prominent families in Ireland, the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds. They were in the midst of a bitter feud.

James_Butler,_1st_Duke_of_Ormonde_by_William_WissingSir James Butler and his followers took refuge in the chapter house of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. They bolted themselves in, seeking protection from Gerald Fitzgerald and his men.

As the siege wore on, Fitzgerald had a change of heart. Here were two families, living in the same country, worshipping the same God, in the same church, trying to kill each other. So Fitzgerald called to Butler, inviting him to unbolt the door and come out. Butler, understandably wary of treachery, refused.

So Fitzgerald seized his spear, cut away a hole in the door large enough for his hand, and then thrust his entire arm through the hole. Fitzgerald’s arm, extending into the chapter house, was completely vulnerable, totally undefended, and utterly available for being chopped off.

James Butler grasped Gerald Fitzgerald’s hand with his own and then opened the door. The two men embraced, and the feud was ended. Thus was born the expression, “Chancing the arm.”

That door and that hole still exist today. You can go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and see that evidence of chancing the arm.

But you don’t have to go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to be encountered by the one who chanced his arm for you. For you, and whatever feuds you face with whatever enemies stand behind your door, that arm through the door is the arm of Jesus Christ. Chanced for you, his arm through the door bears on its hand the scar of a nail hole. It is offered to you, barricaded inside all of your own inner-chapter houses.

Hopelessly Devoted: Second Corinthians Chapter Five Verses Seventeen through Twenty One

Today’s page from the Devotional comes to us from Justin Holcomb. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, ESV)

Paul here talks about the reconciled becoming reconcilers. God reconciles Paul to Himself through Christ and, second, He gives Paul the ministry of reconciliation. Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the noun “reconciliation” and verb “to reconcile.” Reconcile means “to bring back to friendship after estrangement, to harmonize.” The picture is to re-establish an original peace that once existed. In Paul’s writings, God is always the reconciler. The initiative is God’s, who changes a relationship of enmity to one of friendship, and this is accomplished through Christ, through his death on the cross.

The recipient, he then says, is the world. This means that reconciliation is comprehensive and all-encompassing. God’s reconciliation is done in forgiveness—by not “counting against us” the amount of a debt we owe. Like late charges on a credit card for which we are legally responsible, God doesn’t post the debts to our account that should rightfully be ours. This is because Christ so closely identified with the plight of humanity that their sin became his.

This is our great hope—that Christ’s death took the consequences of our sins, that his perfect life is attributed to our account, that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more, that where we are weak, God is strong. This is what it means to be an ambassador of Christ, simply and honestly communicating our weakness, helping others with the pressure they feel to display to the world their infinite and paltry successes. If it’s already covered, and the account is settled, why are we wasting so much time and energy displaying our self-righteousness? Why not boast in weakness?

From Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians (Chapter Two Verse Five)

“We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”

-1Human reason can think only in terms of the Law. It mumbles: “This I have done, this I have not done.” But faith looks to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given into death for the sins of the whole world. To turn one’s eyes away from Jesus means to turn them to the Law…

On the question of justification we must remain adamant, or else we shall lose the truth of the Gospel. It is a matter of life and death. It involves the death of the Son of God, who died for the sins of the world. If we surrender faith in Christ, as the only thing that can justify us, the death and resurrection of Jesus are without meaning; that Christ is the Savior of the world would be a myth. God would be a liar, because He would not have fulfilled His promises. Our stubbornness is right, because we want to preserve the liberty which we have in Christ. Only by preserving our liberty shall we be able to retain the truth of the Gospel inviolate.

Some will object that the Law is divine and holy. Let it be divine and holy. The Law has no right to tell me that I must be justified by it. The Law has the right to tell me that I should love God and my neighbor, that I should live in chastity, temperance, patience, etc. The Law has no right to tell me how I may be delivered from sin, death, and hell. It is the Gospel’s business to tell me that. I must listen to the Gospel. It tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me.

Hopelessly Devoted: Romans Chapter Fifteen Verse Seven


Today’s entry in The Mockingbird Devotional comes to us from Dylan Potter:

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7, NIV)

The topic of Romans 14:1-15:13 is love and Christian liberty. Those who are “strong,” Paul says, tend to look down upon the “weak,” and their attitude is counterproductive to genuine Christian community. It’s certainly no less tempting now to gauge others: in the work place or in church Bible studies, the everyday appraisals are everywhere. In the previous chapter, Paul reminds the church in Rome not to allow their familiarity with grace to become a “stumbling block” to other believers— I shudder to think that he is writing about me.

Acceptance is a word we value in principle, but we’d rather not act on it. Acceptance simply goes too far for our tastes: we talk about “tolerance” or “hospitality,” but to think of acceptance in terms of Christ’s self-emptying kind of acceptance is veritably repulsive. At every corner we are inclined to say we have earned our stripes, that we have merited the privileges we so quickly withhold from those around us. A pastor once told me we only invite presumption and promote despair when we impose metrics upon others. He is correct because the word “accept” in 15:7 seems as if God is asking me to accept others as I’ve been accepted, and that acceptance isn’t one of my character traits.

The New Testament records numerous accounts when the early believers stumbled over this very same stone: Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free. In fact this section is essentially Paul’s call for the Jewish believers in Rome to accept their Gentile counterparts, not as interlopers, but as brothers and sisters. The curious thing is that there is something about accepting the other that brings praise to God, perhaps because it best summarizes the condescension of Christ—to accept the other in Christ is to tell another person that we are just as shocked that God would welcome us. To view ourselves as Gentiles—this is still our stumbling stone! But most importantly, who knew that his resurrection was itself the confirmation that we are accepted by the Father every bit as much as he is accepted?

Hopelessly Devoted: Isaiah Chapter Six Verses Five Through Eight

Hopelessly Devoted: Isaiah Chapter Six Verses Five Through Eight

This morning’s devotion comes to us from magician and pyro, Jim McNeely.

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! / Because I am a man of unclean lips, / And I live among a people of unclean lips; / For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Then I heard the voice of the…

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Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Fifteen Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion comes to us from Bonnie Poon Zahl. 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me…(John 15:1-5, ESV)

The_Tree_Pruner_by_Eric_Oberhauser_Web_I_2012.341145054_stdWhen we think of being “pruned” by God, it’s easy to think of minor cuttings, small challenges that do us good, but perhaps harder to think of the severe changes that might drastically affect our lives in too painful a way.

To the gardener, however, pruning a plant looks like cutting off living branches—taking significant lengths off of a perfectly healthy branch to encourage new growth. This is true of what Jesus is saying, too: being pruned oftentimes feels very painful, as if some large part of you that was once deeply connected to life has been severed. It can feel as though one’s wounds have been left raw to face the elements. It can feel like God has deliberately disconnected Himself, and one’s protests are met only with silence.

We can take heart from Christ’s words: God prunes every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, so that it will be even more fruitful. Every saint who has been “fruitful” has dealt with the emotional loss of having been pruned. The Gardener is lovingly ruthless. He severs parts of our connection to the vine—even connections that do not appear in need of pruning—so that we can bear more. Because He abides in us and we in Him, we can be certain that even the most painful pruning experiences are for the sake of His great love.

Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Thirteen Verses Eighteen through Twenty One

Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Thirteen Verses Eighteen through Twenty One

This devotion comes from Ethan Richardson.

He said therefore, ”What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, ”To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-21, ESV)

When asked what God’s kingdom is like, Jesus says it is like…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Fifteen Verses Seventeen through Twenty Four

Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Fifteen Verses Seventeen through Twenty Four

This morning’s devotion comes from Jonathan Adams:

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Ephesians Chapter One Verses Eighteen and Nineteen

Hopelessly Devoted: Ephesians Chapter One Verses Eighteen and Nineteen

This comes from Mockingbird Magician-in-Chief, Jim McNeely.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Going to the Mountain

A couple of years ago I went with my friend Bart Shadbolt to Baker Lake, which a is an absolutely stunning glacier-fed lake near Bellingham Washington which is…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter One Verse Twenty One

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter One Verse Twenty One

June 8’s reading begins the New Testament section of the Devotional. It comes from DZ.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, NIV)

The poet W.H. Auden once wrote, “Nothing that is possible can save us / We who must die demand a miracle.” This is a bold statement, and one whose truth might not be self-evident in everyday life. Many of the daily problems we face can be fixed, or at least addressed: if our car breaks down, we can take…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Nahum Chapter One Verse Thirteen

Hopelessly Devoted: Nahum Chapter One Verse Thirteen

Good morning! Our June 1 devotion comes to us from Gil Kracke. 

Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away. (Nahum 1:13, NIV)

At first glance, a linguistic barrier seems to cloud this passage. More than just the cultural inexperience we have with yokes and shackles, it seems our modern sensibility affirms our personal and bodily freedom. The seeds of autonomy are sown deeply into our nature, and those seeds are nurtured carefully by our surroundings. We are oriented to narratives that make us the “master and commander” of our soul, of our decisions, and of…

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Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Ten Verses Eleven Through Eighteen

Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Ten Verses Eleven Through Eighteen

A privilege this morning to share a reflection from The Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher, Bishop Suffragan of Texas, adapted from a sermon given last month at Trinity Episcopal Church in The Woodlands, TX, “Not Your Grandma’s Good Shepherd”. You can read more of Bishop Fisher over at his blog.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it….

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