Secretly


When you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you. -Matthew 6:5-6 TLB


Much of life is done secretly. Our unvoiced thoughts. Things done when no one is around. Cries of our hearts offered to the One who knows our secrets. In truth prayer is so much more than the words we utter out loud. In a very real sense it is an inner (and secret) expression of our love and worship of the One who speaks to us in the secret places.

So today I offer a challenge to anyone reading here. Find moments to pray in secret. Be aware of secret places. Pray in your car. Offer praises in the shower. Cherish your moments of solitude. Be still and know that the Holy Spirit is with you when you feel alone. Cry out to God in your still moments. In dark times invite his light. And offer thanks to God.

Grant us grace Lord that we might make time to go away. To be all alone. To shut the door to all and open a door to you.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Blessed


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Mathew 5:3 NRSV


In the passage described as the beatitudes Jesus lists eight things that invoke a blessing. He mentions meekness, mourning, mercifulness, purity of heart and peacemaking. He mentions blessings of kingdom inheritance, comfort, mercy, adoption and divine vision. Nowhere to be found in this list of blessings is wealth or any other earthly thing.

This list of blessings is so counterintuitive. It goes against the grain of what many consider to be blessings. Perhaps it is because the word 'poor' (πτωχός) used in this verse means 'reduced to being a beggar'. In this upside down divine kingdom, spiritual beggars are blessed. Spiritual pride is vanquished and spiritual beggary is rewarded.

I am proud. I repent. Forgive me Lord. Create a beggar heart in me that I might see the kingdom of God.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Truth


Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6


Truth is a word that is sometimes discussed in religious circles. These days it seems that many use the word in a variety of contexts. Some use it in connection to the scriptures. That connection reminds me of this question that I once read:
“Is a thing true because the Bible says it is, or does the Bible say a thing because it is true?”
The question seems to present truth in a way that seems to miss the point of this verse in John. Jesus is truth. Any image of God in the bible that agrees with Jesus agrees with truth. Anything that does not is not truth. It is that simple.

For example. Many read of evil acts done at the direction of God and see this image as a true picture of God. Others read of that same evil, compare it with the image of God that we see in Jesus, and recognize that it is not true.

Open our eyes Lord, that we might accurately discern things that are true from those that are false.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Freedom


The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. -Corinthians 3:17 (NCV)


Not sure that many think of it this way, but I think freedom is a really spiritual word. For sure image of America's fight for liberty from an oppressive British monarchy comes to mind when folks ponder the word. But, in a sense, freedom from one oppressor often delivers us to a different oppressor. We are never really free unless we are spiritually free.

I am not speaking of religious liberty - sometimes religion and religious texts can enslave. As Paul tells the Romans:
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.
Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
When we follow the Spirit we are truly free. Sin is no longer our master. Love has set us free to love freely. No longer are we mastered by hate. No longer by bitterness. No longer bound by carnality. Christ has set us free. We are free indeed.

Help us Lord to stay free in You and not return to the bondage of sin.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Mystery


Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. -1 Timothy 3:16 NLT


Religious people sometimes use the word mystery when they are confronted with a part of their theology that they do not understand. Yet the word used in the New Testament does not really communicate that. Consider this:
The word mysterion (μυστήριον) is used 27 times in the New Testament. It denotes not so much the meaning of the modern English term mystery, but rather something that is mystical. In the biblical Greek, the term refers to "that which awaits disclosure or interpretation".
I like that. In a very real sense God was a great mystery until He was mystically revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. No longer did humanity need to wonder about the nature and character of the Divine. In three short years Jesus gave us an image of God that trumped every other image. He was revealed in a human body that we might know who God is.

Open our inner eyes Lord, that we might see the mystical and unfolding revelation of Christ in our lives.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Logs


You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. -Matthew 7:5 GNT


The dictionary offers this definition for the word pharisaical: a person "marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness". I think that this captures the essence of what Jesus speaks to in this verse and the ones that precede it. In truth there is no one qualified to judge another person. Logs obscure our vision. Logs of sin. Logs of bad attitudes.

And most importantly these logs seem to be invisible to the one who is blinded by them. For sure others can see the logs. The hypocrisy is in full bloom. Self-righteous behaviors are seen by others but seem transparent when the one afflicted looks into the mirror. Personally, the removal of my own embedded logs have been so painful. I was such a young pharisee. I judged so much when I was younger. It took a lot of painful experiences to find the grace of God.

Lord, help us to daily remove the splinters from our inner eyes before they become logs.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Generously


Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. -2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV

I once fully embraced the tithing dogma. I think that I liked the certainty of it. To be in leadership in the church of my younger years one had to commit to it. Yet I think that it spoke to dark place in my ego that made me feel a bit superior to those who did not tithe. I mean really, once I gave my ten percent I had fulfilled my obligation. Such a limiting perspective.

In contrast this idea of giving, living and being generous is so much more challenging. It seems to stretch every part of me because generosity is not just about money. It cannot be calculated with our heads. It is a heart issue. It is fluid. Comparatively speaking, one can give a little and still be generous. Giving generously embraces a beautiful life attitude.

You have been so generous Lord. Help us to be mirrors of that generosity.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.