What is S.U.P.V.?
For those new to our church, website and this blog, here's what it's all about: SUPV stands for the Straight Up Prayer Vigil. It is a virtual prayer vigil that happens every Wednesday (God willing). The Straight Up refers to the times of 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m., and midnight--you choose whatever time works for you--and you pray for our church, those on prayer list, and prayer requests that are included in the blog post or are sent by email, normally at the beginning of the week for that Wednesday.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
Psalm 139: 1-4
I was praying the other morning and started thinking about Jesus’s contact with the woman at the well. Her initial reaction at His knowledge of her (“Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet…”) seemed to be guarded, even though He had revealed very personal information about her. It wasn’t until He revealed Himself to be the Messiah that she truly reacted to His revelation of her past. John tells us that she “then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all the things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”..)
I have a penchant for empathizing with people, wondering what they felt or thought during certain experiences. During this encounter with Jesus, her curiosity had to have been more than just piqued to have Him, a Jew, ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink. She had to have been taken aback when He validated her statement of having no husband and then adding that she had had five husbands already, but she seems to have hidden it well. But when Jesus reveals Himself to her as the Messiah, she sees Him for who He is. Can you imagine the joy in her heart? Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One Who would give her everlasting life, looked at her and saw her as she truly was: the daughter of the High King. I imagine that He looked at her, despite His weariness and her sin, with eyes of sincerity and of love. He offered her acceptance and hope, and she ran to share it with others.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I was praying the other day for my friend “Brian”, hoping for him to not be upset with God, or rail against Him, or anything like that due to the recent death of his beloved wife (okay, I confess, I was worried that he might have that reaction. I know it’s silly to worry about that, as it may not even be a thing, and even if it were, there wasn’t anything I could do about it…other than pray). It got me thinking about the writers of some of the comments I have read on Christian blogs, comments that are a vitriolic cocktail of rage, condescension, and pain. It hurt my heart to think of His heart hurting at the intensity of the feeling behind them (in hindsight, I’m now wondering if I attribute too much to the pain of the words, given that He knows if that person will accept Him later—that is, later of us, at the same time for Him—okay, now I’m getting myself in too deep in these theological waters. *waves hands, looking for Jesus, her lifeguard Who walks on water*)
My mind wandered from mulling over His hurt over the comments to the time in my life when I turned my back on Him. I know I’ve shared some of this in my sermonette and testimony, but for those who don’t know or recall, here it is, in a nutshell: got married at the tender young age of 18 to a young man who became addicted to drugs and who was verbally and (a little) physically abusive. I begged and pleaded for Him to change my husband but nothing changed. After a while, I gave up hope, helpless to do anything to change my situation, but darned sure I wasn’t going to set myself up for disappointment any longer by praying to someone who did not answer my prayers.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 12: vv 4-12; 18-20; 27-30
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us,
Titus 2: 7-8
I’m sorry that this devotional is a day late. I’ve got to say that I have two devotionals that are in some semblance of completion, one of which was started last night, but I did not get (or push myself) to finish. I was about 70% sure on both that they were the ones I was called to write, but for various reasons, they remain undone. I also have, at any given time, three to four ideas that are rolling around in my head for topics.
It wasn’t until I attended today’s memorial service for the woman I wrote about in last week’s devotional that I knew what I was to write for this week.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Brian was always a very precise but lovable person, with a quick smile and an even quicker explanation for things. When I was in a meeting, he would always preface a heavy technical discussion with a “sorry, but this is going to get technical”, almost out of deference to my non-technical non-expertise. Brian was a private person and while he did share some family stuff, what he shared was positive and high level.
He and his family went to Disney World over Spring break, and since he was tagged in a number of the photos that his wife posted to Facebook, I and all of his friends got to see Brian, his wife, their college age daughter, and high school age son enjoying all that Disney World had to offer. They seemed to be having a wonderful time at the happiest place on Earth, and I was happy for them.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
1 Peter 1:6-7
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with my dad’s wife Helen (it feels a bit weird to refer to her as my stepmother, though that’s technically what she is to me. I was grown when she and my dad married so she never really mothered me, as it were. But I digress…). She has had innumerable health challenges in the past couple of years—it got to the point that every time I talked with her, she was sick yet again with pneumonia, or bronchitis, or some other infection she was never able to fully shake. She has asthma and chronic migraines as well. She went from doctor to doctor, never able to find a cause for her constant illnesses. She kept her hopes up, though, and her faith was rewarded not too long ago when they diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease, though they don’t know which one exactly yet. But finally, a diagnosis!
This Wednesday she is going to have a treatment called subcutaneous immunoglobulin infusion, in which antibodies from human plasma are injected to a person to help bolster her resistance to infections (from what I can glean from the interwebs). She is quite excited for the possibilities and promises that this treatment might bring. What’s she’s not so excited about, though, are the potential side effects she might experience. As she heard and read about some of the side effects (some of which include headaches, migraines (and as a migraine sufferer, she is more likely to develop more of them), nausea, lower back pain, and a whole host of other more serious but less likely ones), she shared with me that her first thought was that the cure seemed worse than the illness, but that she realized that the side effects were probably necessary but temporary things she would have to experience in order to get better.
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
I was with my boss and a co-worker and we’d stopped in an authentic Italian restaurant in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, jazzed about the work sessions we’d had with a vendor, and enjoying all that the city had to offer. We were sharing stories and wine and delicious food, when talk turned to our families and what they were like and how we got along with our respective families. My co-worker, who is much younger than I am, shared about his family in the valley, and said that his mom’s personality was similar to mine, and went on to share a story. I will admit that I halfway listened to his story, as I was more focused on what he meant by his mom’s personality being similar to mine. Now, I will admit that I can overanalyze with the best of them, and at one time, I was crowned the “quickest overanalyzer in the West”, beating out the best self-reflective cowboys of their time. “Did he appreciate my quick wit? My confidence and self-assurance? Was it my innate ability to see every typo, misspelling, or out-of-place pixel in a design? Or was it my quiet, introspection? My startling high degree of self-awareness?” All of these thoughts were tumbling through my head (all of these I share tongue-in-cheek). I so wanted to know what he meant by that, for while I could infer that it was a compliment by the way he said it, I was curious to know exactly what he meant, so that I could lock that nugget of information away, much like a squirrel does with its berries and nuts, storing them away for a later day. Like the proverbial squirrel keeping his for a day in which food is scarce so that he can provide nutrients for his body, I, too, stored such things away for the time I needed an emotional boost and could call to mind the kind things said about me.
I thought about it more the next day, and the next, not in an obsessive kind of way, but more in a self-reflective “how do I carry myself and come across” to people type of way. Taking it into the spiritual arena, I wondered if my spiritual walk properly reflected who I was in Christ, and who Christ is to me. Do I carry the love of Jesus in my heart when I talk to people? Do I live my testimony for all to see, confident that folks will have no doubt at all when they interact with me? I know who I am in Christ—can others see that?
Sadly, when I look back at the times I was at my worst “self”, or even if it didn’t get that far, I grimace at the realization that my Christianity is lost within the backdrop of the circumstances I was in, or the crowd I was with. Sometimes my actions detracted from the potential unrealized mission opportunity I was on; sometimes the words I said did not bring the glory to God that I intended them to.
I am confident in the fact that those situations occur less frequently than normal, and I am aware enough to strive to be more diligent to avoid being in the situations to begin with. Each day brings with it a whole boatload of opportunity and with the Holy Spirit’s conviction to guide me, I pray that I am able to match the outward person to the inward Christ-filled person, all to the glory of God.
- For our government leaders at all levels, local and global, for them seek His will in all things
- For those who with physical, emotional, or mental conditions (or some combination thereof), and their caretakers, family, and friends
- For those with the church universal who are burned out in the field of service, who may feel underappreciated but feel that they can’t make a change without guilt
- For those within the church universal who are lost
So I’ve shared with you how I look at myself, and in just a few of the areas in which I fall short. My rhetorical question to you is… what about you? How do you think folks see you? Do they see or feel the love of Jesus in you?
“God will convict you in order to change you, but will never accuse you in order to shame you.”
“The Bible is the only book where the author is in love with the reader.”
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ… that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1 Corinthians 12: 12; 25-26
…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;…
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Ephesians 4: 3-4; 11-13
I have adhesive capsulitis, which is also known as frozen shoulder, in my left shoulder. I think I’ve had it for about a year now, though it started out as tendinitis in my rotator cuff (guess there goes my pitching career-drat!). I did not have any trauma or injury to my shoulder or rotator cuff; I didn’t realize anything had happened until I was having a massage and the therapist brought my arm behind my back and it surprisingly hurt! I originally sought pain relief through Airrosti but it didn’t quite cure it, and when the pain got worse, and X-rays revealed no tears, I went to an orthopedist and physical therapist. I’ve been in physical therapy for at least eight months now, dutifully going twice a week. I’ve also had two corticosteroid injections into my shoulder joint. The first one helped with the pain; the second one did nothing. My range of motion is still limited, but it is improving—I can reach a little higher than I used to be able to, and when the pain occurs, it does not last as long as it used to. At my next appointment with my orthopedist, I know the topic of discussion will most likely be what is called an MUA – manipulation under anesthesia where they put you under, move the shoulder joint to break of up all of the adhesions, and then you’re set but with a bear of physical therapy to do—but I doubt I’ll pursue that. It sounds a bit extreme and I think I can just live with this. I just want you to know about all of this so that if I don’t put my left arm around you, or raise it up while we’re all holding hands at the end of the service, you’ll know why!
Each time I see the physical therapist and the orthopedist, they check my range of motion. Try as I might, I cannot lift my left arm straight above my head without leaning back, a subconscious technique called overcompensating. Since my shoulder has its limitations, other muscle groups work harder to offset the limited range. My left arm is noticeably weaker than my right, and the muscles in my right shoulder, neck, and upper back are all under more strain that I’d like them to be.
Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
A couple of weeks ago I was on my way to Starbucks at the Rim, on my way to an offsite work event. My boss had called me to see if I wanted her to get me anything since she was going; I told her that I got a free coffee for each day in January, thanks to the Christmas mug Troy got me, so I would need to get my own. When I pulled into the parking lot, I spied my boss’s car at the front of the line at the drive through, and proceeded to watch her try to get out of her car and go behind it. Thinking she had dropped her Starbucks card or credit card, I walked over to her. But she was going to the car behind hers, as it had jumped the curb and hit the building, and the driver was a man we both worked with! He’d been slumped over in the driver’s seat, and was coming to when she opened the passenger door, not realizing that she knew him until he came to and looked at her. He didn’t recognize her at first. A customer who was a doctor came out of Starbucks, along with the store manager. The doctor attended to our friend in the front seat, and I got into the back seat to be with our friend (we’ll call him Todd), while my boss went to direct traffic out of the drive through lane, as Todd’s car was sitting catawampus, blocking traffic from pulling forward. (We joked later that her strength is logistics, and my strength is compassion.)
Let all that you do be done with love.
And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13: 9-10