The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: March, 2020

Lent Devotional: Acts 20:17-34

Today’s devotional is authored by Brad Brown 

Acts 20:17-34 (You can read the entire passage here)
And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)

Reflection
It’s good to remember that the Apostle Paul lived with a lot of uncertainty. In our text for today Paul reveals that he is being guided by God to go towards Jerusalem. Yet, it is a journey of uncertainty. He does not know the exact purpose or what will happen to him. It seems that all he knows is that suffering awaits (If I had to pick one thing to know, I’m not sure that would be it).

Still…Paul does not know what will be the end of his suffering… Will this lead to death? Once again… He doesn’t know… but he is certainly prepared for that possibility.

One would think that this knowledge of suffering would lead Paul in a different direction. But it doesn’t… Why? Paul remarkably does not see his own life as a possession to hold onto at all costs. For Paul, what matters more than his own life is finishing the course that God has prepared for him… No matter the end.

As I read Paul’s speech here, he almost feels like an otherworldly figure… The call on his life, and the suffering he was faced with, feels so far removed from my daily christian existence (I type this as I sit in my office wishing the temperature was 72 degrees rather than 73).

I need to be careful though because to make this all about what Paul did would be to remove myself from God’s story of redemption… It would be to make myself an audience member instead of a fellow actor called to take up my cross.

I need to be reminded that God has gifted and placed all of us in a specific moment to accomplish his purposes in creation whether we are a student, stay at home mom, plumber or retired.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

Here, Paul is telling the readers that when they become Christians it doesn’t mean that have to change what they are doing in their life – marriage, parenting, social station or job in order to live holy and pleasing lives before the Lord.

In the context of the chapter it’s clear that Paul is talking about everyday work. He uses the words “assigned” and “called” to refer to everyday tasks in society. Just as God calls people into faith and gifts them for building up the church so God calls and equips believers with various abilities and talents to work for the good of the community.

All of us, no matter how ordinary it may seem, are called with Paul to lay down our lives for the ministry that God has given us… All of us in our various vocations have a singular mission: the Glory of Jesus Christ. With this calling there will inevitably be uncertainty and a particular type of suffering.

So let’s mediate and wrestle with the reality that our lives are not our own. Lets ponder together what it looks like for us in our various vocations to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. All of us have been called. All of us have a race to run. All of it matters. Amen.

 

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Acts 2:42-47

Today’s devotional is authored by Brad Brown 

Acts 2:42-47
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reflection
What is the church?

Is church a building we go to on Sunday mornings? Is church a service we attend to sing praises and hear preaching?

If there’s one thing quarantine in the midst of a global pandemic is doing for me, it’s reminding me that the church is a people. Jesus’ people. This is why we can say in a time like this that the church isn’t “closed.” The church’s building may be closed. The church’s service may be live-streamed. But the church, the body of Christ, is very much open.

I’ve loved this passage in Acts 2 for many years. It warms my heart and brings me joy to think of how the first church operated—they devoted themselves to studying the apostles’ teaching (which is now written down for us in the New Testament), praying, eating together and taking communion. We’ve continued these practices as the church. I always feel convicted, though, when Luke tells us: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing proceeds to all, as any had need.”

By “all things in common” he doesn’t mean that all members of the church liked the same sports teams or had the same favorite foods. The church was made up of all walks of life, both sexes, and all social statuses. He means that the church members shared what they had with one another. No one held too tightly to their money or possessions. Luke goes on to say that people sold their possessions to have money to give the poor in their body.

I believe this generosity has fallen out of practice in many of our churches, unfortunately. The American mentality of “what’s mine is mine” often reigns in our greedy hearts. I know it does in mine. But if there was a time to repent of this, it is now.

How can we be the church in a global pandemic? Yes, we continue to fellowship with one another—albeit virtually—and continue to study Scripture and pray. But perhaps now is the time to take a page from the early church’s book and make sure that none in our body go hungry. Now is the time to consider the needs we can meet. This can be buying someone’s dinner or giving a lonely friend a phone call.

Jesus came not just to heal people spiritually, but physically as well. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He showed compassion to the poor and the outcast. Let us serve the Lord Christ by loving his body well. You can contact the church office, office@shadesvalley.com, if you would like to be an errand-runner for those in our body who need to stay home. This is a tangible way we can serve Christ’s church! And it is my prayer that even in the midst of a pandemic, the Lord will add to our number daily those who are being saved.

 

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lenten Sermon: Philippians 4:2-9

The Path to Peace
Philippians 4:2-9 (click here to read the entire passage)

On Sundays during Lent, there will not be an email devotional because a sermon will actually be preached on the passage for that day. Today’s sermon has been posted and may be found by searching for “Shades Valley Community Church” in your podcast app or by simply clicking here.

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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