Forest Lake Talks

9/21/22 Devotional from Ed

September 21, 2022

Text: Romans 12:9-13

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal; be ardent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; pursue hospitality to strangers.

Devotional:

Have you ever left the sanctuary feeling led by the Holy Spirit to go and live a life of service to others? Have you ever left the sanctuary feeling inspired and hopeful after one of Ellen's sermons? If so, this devotional is (hopefully) for you.

If you're at all like me, you do leave the sanctuary feeling hopeful and inspired, but then something may happen over the next hour, day, week that leaves you wondering (perhaps frustrated, bitter, angry) that things just won't change. If you're at all like me, you look around and wonder why things have to be "this difficult." Perhaps you reach the sixth inning of the week and you've forgotten that feeling you felt on Sunday. If you even think of it, you long for it to return. Someone or something has tested you, and you're struggling to navigate.

Paul's text reminds us that it is never easy to be a disciple. One of my favorite preachers, Scott Black-Johnston at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in NYC, closes his sermons with these exact words from Paul. It's a powerful move, and I bet many in his congregation can recite these words due to familiarity. But, if they're anything like me, they also have a hard time getting discouraged at times.

Hang with me here, but here's a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that I think is relevant:

"Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go."

What if we made Jesus our "giant?" What if we chose to keep Jesus with us along with that self that is getting discouraged in the middle innings of the week? What if that version of ourselves we dream of in the sanctuary continues to exist during the week?

Every one of us knows that the weeks and days are hard, but what if we kept this reminder from Paul that it is hard to be a disciple of Jesus, it is easy to get discouraged, but it isn't hard to remember that our God suffers with us? Does that change things a little?

Maybe we should finish with the text again:

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal; be ardent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; pursue hospitality to strangers.

Prayer: Holy God, may your Spirit fall upon each of us this day and beyond to instill these words from Paul into our hearts. Amen.

Emerson quote: From Self Reliance, available at http://depts.washington.edu/lsearlec/TEXTS/EMERSON/SELFREL.HTM

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