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Lent Day 38 – Dead in Christ

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance / Valpo FUMC

According to the United Methodist Church website, Maundy Thursday is an alternate name for Holy Thursday, the first of the three days of solemn remembrance of the events leading up to, and immediately following, the crucifixion of Jesus.

The English word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “commandment.” As recorded in John’s gospel, on His last night before His betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34). This is why services on this night generally include the washing of feet or other acts of physical care as an integral part of the celebration.

While John’s gospel does not record the institution of the Lord’s Supper among the events of this night, the other gospels do. Luke 22:7-38 outlines this in great detail. Christians therefore keep this night with celebrations both at the basin (foot washing) and at the Lord’s Table (Holy Communion).

What’s interesting is that I’ve been told that many past Maundy Thursday services here at FUMC, haven’t included the ritual celebration of John 13:1-17. Considering how much precise ritual emphasis is placed on Ash Wednesday services, Palm Sunday services, Good Friday services, and of course Easter Sunday services, my wish this Lenten season is that a return can be made to Maundy Thursday services that are celebrated with equal precision.

DD

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Lent Day 32 – “It Will Cost You Nothing”

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance / Valpo FUMC

I have to be completely honest concerning today’s reading. I was a bit disappointed. Unlike the reading from March 1st, today I was left wanting. I so badly wanted the author to elaborate in so many ways, that I felt like I hadn’t consumed much at all. Not to impugn Tozer’s attempt to relay the obvious message that coming to Jesus does come with a personal cost. However, I would have been much more satisfied with an explanation or interpretation of what those costs may be.

Case in point; How many times have you been told that all you have to do is pray for something, and God will give it to you? Now then, compare that to how many times you have been told that prayer is a two way street between you and God that requires your participation as well as His? If you are completely honest with yourself, I imagine those answers are, almost always, and almost never.

Too many times are we told that ‘It will cost you nothing’ in regards to your personal relationship with God. Personally, I believe that it costs you everything that you can put into it and that you should be willing to give it all without reservation. Too many times are we told that all you must do to receive is pray. Personally, I believe that is only half of the equation. I don’t believe that God arbitrarily gives you patience just because you asked Him for it. I don’t believe that He gives you strength simply because you want Him to give it to you. And I don’t believe that He gives you wisdom all because you prayed for it. I believe that God doesn’t grant these things to you solely because you’ve asked.

I believe that He hears your prayers, and He in turn gives you opportunities to be patient, strong, and wise in His name, as He walks with you in your life, along with your desire to grow deeper in your personal relationship with Him. So you see, I believe that prayer does cost you, your walk with God costs you, and thereby your faith costs you….. as it should.

DD

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Lent Day 26 – The Fruits of Obedience

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance / Valpo FUMC

Upon completion of today’s reading, I had to pause momentarily, take a much needed cleansing breath, and while savoring the comfort of the celebratory exhale, I simply captured in my memory the feeling that this brought to me. Finally…… I felt a genuine sense of a truly elevated closeness to Jesus. I felt like I was chosen to be intentionally reminded of that which I know I must do, yet sometimes fail to practice in my daily walk. Thank you Jesus for putting this on my heart !!!

What I love most about this reading is the absolute cut and dry, no grey area information concerning what is real, opposed to what we would like to be real. Let me elaborate please. In the New Testament, there is absolutely NO contradiction whatsoever between faith and obedience. Between faith and law-works, yes. Between law and grace, yes. However, between faith and obedience, such contradiction simply does not exist. The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith.

The trouble today is that so many are trying to believe without the intention to obey. It’s like the author analogized, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. So many Christians today have dismissed the obedience to God’s word, all the while proclaiming to be a believer. To be successful in one without the other is a mere impossibility. One would be simply ‘talking without walking’, concerning their faith.

Perhaps it is the Church’s fault for soft-peddling the doctrine of obedience, a dynamic similar to my blog entry on coddling versus crucified. The good news is that the ‘Fruits’ of obedience are so easily found in the Word. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, and eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him. A powerful message indeed…

DD

 

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Lent Day 20 – The Gaze of the Soul

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance / Valpo FUMC

When I finished today’s reading, I immediately noticed that there was a significant scripture noted, yet not given in the text. And even though Psalm 27:4 speaks to the ‘Gaze of the Soul’ while we are here, I find it more appropriate to mention that John 17:3, the significant scripture mentioned yet not given, speaks directly to the ‘eternal life’ of our soul.

Eternal life is by far the greatest treasure ever offered to any person on this spinning blue marble we call Earth. Jesus makes it clear that Father God’s intent is that we come to ‘know’ Him personally. The Apostle John uses the word, ‘know’ more than any other gospel writer. Obviously Jesus used the word much since it appears 71 times in the Olivet Discourse alone. This of course refers to Christ’s teachings at the Mount of Olives. The Greek word ”ginosko’ appears 223 times in the New Testament, and is translated with three English words ‘know, perceive and understand.’

Understanding that, why so much focus on ‘knowing’? Well, in the first century when John wrote his Gospel, that Greek word ‘ginosko’ was a ‘hot’ word loaded with meaning. Biblical historians tell us that John lived to be almost 100 years old. Therefore, he had the opportunity to watch this newly founded Church of Jesus, and make its first steps of growth. But that also means he lived to see counterfeits, and early cults arise too. Anti-Christian cults like the Gnostics (Greek also meaning ‘know’) flourished and those writings are creeping again into our own culture, by way of popular books and films. This Gnostic cult movement fooled many from the late first century to the fourth century. To its followers, Gnosticism promised a secret knowledge of the divine realm in that only those who had this special knowledge could have interaction with God. Of course we know this to be untrue. However, John records the words of Jesus’ high prayer to come against that idea of ‘special knowledge.’ Jesus said, ‘that they may know You, the only true God.’

With that given, what would you say eternal life means? Is it nothing but eternal existence going on and on infinitely? Is it floating on cloud nine strumming a harp? Is that eternal life? No, the definition is this reading’s ungiven text of John 17:3, “and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’ It’s that simple. So, eternal life is not as much about quantity of life, but is primarily about quality of life. Eternal life can be defined in two words, ‘knowing God.’ Eternal life is an eternal relationship with God, and this eternal relationship with God is ours simply on the basis of our faith in Jesus. The joy of the next stage of eternal life, when we see Jesus face to face, is not just that all of our Earthly problems are behind us, but knowing God is the thing that lasts. It’s the single most important thing that we will be doing….. forever.

DD

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Lent Day 14 – Coddled or Crucified

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance / Valpo FUMC

Six of the most powerful paragraphs that I have read in decades, adorn the pages of today’s reading. When I finished this reading, all I could muster to express was…. Heaven help us !!! If you truly consume today’s reading and aren’t immediately moved by its message and instruction, you may not have a heartbeat.

Tozer writes; “No one is so dead as the man who has turned the very thunders of judgment into a lullaby to soothe him into a sound sleep and has made the sacred Scriptures themselves a hiding place for reality.” Take a moment and read that one more time.

Now, although I understand that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, this literally frightens me to my core. In today’s world, have we really become complacent and comfortable in our walk with Christ? We as Christians all know the essence of Christ’s passion, and we all understand its significance. However, do we tend to forget that the cross is the same savage implement of destruction as it was in Christ’s day? Or do we take comfort in the softness and beautification that poets and artists bestow upon it today?

According to Luke 14:33…. ‘those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’ We should be seeking holiness, not comfort. And holiness doesn’t always come with a padded pew.

DD

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Lent Day 8 – God Is Easy to Live With

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance/Valpo FUMC

Why do people do some of the things that they do? The first two lines of today’s reading are: From a failure properly to understand God comes a world of unhappiness among good Christians even today.

The Christian life is thought to be a glum, unrelieved cross-carrying under the eye of a stern Father who expects much and excuses nothing.” As I read this, my blood begins to boil. I will admit it. I was quickly becoming down right upset. As I continue on, I learn that the author is stating what he finds to be libelous notions that must be a parody on the true life of Christ. Whew !!! Once I came to calm, I paused for a moment to really think about that. Just reading those first few lines moved me so that I couldn’t help but to seriously reflect on it.

I asked myself, how could a ‘good Christian’ live in a world of perpetual unhappiness? That thought brought to mind the fact that for all of the years I have worked in a church, I can tell you without hesitation that if you’re looking for someone who displays this kind of unhappiness, with discord, strife, hatred, and discontent, simply go to church. You will find them there. Without exception, never have I worked in a church when those elements were not present in some capacity, by at least one member of the congregation.

It’s quite a sad thought, I know, but perhaps this stems from their failure to properly understand God. Or is it perhaps a failure to properly know God? It makes perfect sense. Knowing about Him and personally knowing Him are in fact two different things. In my experiences, I find that this dynamic is what separates those who function with the negativity I spoke of, and those who choose to walk in God’s image.

I firmly believe that God is easy to live with. He gives us everything necessary to accomplish that, so that we may execute it in our daily lives. Therefore, my question is this; why is it that even though some of these self-proclaimed Christians know what God’s will is, and how to walk in God’s grace, they still choose to function otherwise? It makes me wonder….

DD

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Lent Day 2 – Faith Is a Perturbing Thing

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintanence/Valpo FUMC

What exactly do you believe when it comes to God? Is it the simplistic understanding of His commandments? Is it the complex understanding of the walk of Christ? Or perhaps it’s somewhere in between? Do you believe that everything happens for a reason, and is that reason according to divine creation? Is it perturbing to think that God has already ordained all things that have happened, as well as all things yet to come, or do you prefer to think that we have some say so in the matter?

Case in point; the 12 disciples all came together at the same time, in the same place, and the results of their gathering changed the world in amazing ways. Did God put this together? It would certainly be easy to believe that.

However, another example of a dozen people coming together all at the same time, and in the same place, took place in 1893. They all changed the world in dramatic ways as well. J.P. Morgan, Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Samuel Clements, George Westinghouse, Gale Ferris, Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Sigmund Freud, and Theodore Roosevelt all attended the same entertainment event at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. All twelve of them intermingled, collaborated, invented, advocated, taught, and shared together in some capacity, for the greater good of our world. Just by reading the names, you know the world was changed by these people. On a side note, the entertainer they all saw was the unknown son of a Jewish Rabbi named Erik Weisz. We know him today as Harry Houdini. So, was this gathering merely a coincidence, or was it God that had a hand in it?

Well, that answer would be determined entirely by your faith. Personally, I have faith in that just like the disciples, God most certainly had a hand in this gathering as well. In my opinion, such a faith should not perturb people, it should comfort them.

DD