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.
And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
2 Kings 5: 10-12
Short note: For those of you able to construct your own ark, or tag along in a friend’s ark, and make it to church Sunday morning, you’re sure to recognize part of the Scripture reference. You’ll see its significance shortly, but I need to share this really quick: the Holy Spirit had already given me the inspiration for this week’s SUPV, harkening back to the Sunday School discussion Pastor Kevin led us in on May 10th, but I had not sought a bible verse or two to include here. So I prayed Sunday morning for Him to reveal it to me, and lo and behold, there it was in this morning’s Scripture reading! Choir and Nancy, if you wondered why I had a silly grin on my face as Kevin read this passage, this is why! God is so good!
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and was confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?” Acts 2: 4-8
But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.
Psalm 102: 27
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
My grandmother was born in 1910, and passed away in 2002. We were quite close, as I lived in the same city as she did (as did her sister, my great aunt who passed away not too long ago at the age of 104 and whose funeral I wrote about not too long ago in an SUPV. She and Grandma had a love-hate relationship, as do many twin sisters. But that’s a whole other story…or devotional). Occasionally Grandma and I would talk about all of the inventions and experiences that were available that she didn’t have in the early 20th century when she was growing up—television, commercial air travel, computers, cell phones—so many to mention! It always amazed me when we would chat about those things to think about what she has lived through and wonder what more was to come.
I was praying the other morning when I heard the newspaper delivery person driving through the neighborhood, throwing newspapers onto my neighbors’ driveways. I don’t get my news that way, and I wondered if my life was better or worse for it. I then pondered the impact of the digital devices I used so much and how normal I felt my life was. I thought about the lives my kids had, and marveled at whatever next big game changer product would be out there that they will adopt so easily (that I will probably struggle with learning how to program or use. I still occasionally have to ask one of the kids to show me which remote to use to get the TV to do what I want it to do after someone has watched a movie on the PS3. “It shouldn’t be so difficult!” I tell myself. But I digress.) And yes, even though my mind wandered during my prayers, the path I went down was relevant, as it led back to Him, as I contrasted the frenetic pace with which things were changing and His constancy and unchanging nature.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A co-worker, Brian, reached out to me a couple of weeks ago for a one-time mentoring session. I’d just recently gotten a promotion, and Brian wanted to ask me the same questions he had asked of others in the same position and beyond, all of us being in the User Experience (UX) domain. I was open and frank with him, telling him that the route I’d followed into UX was a circuitous and seemingly atypical. There were others in our job class who had 15-20+ years of design experience, and were I truly honest, I felt that my measly 9 years paled in comparison. When I first went into the job, I struggled with confidence in my own head, as I was so worried that people would discount my position because of my lack of expertise. I kept waiting to be discovered for the fraud I thought I was, and truthfully, still am to a certain degree. There are scads of others who are more deserving of a promotion than I feel I do, and that’s not just me being humble.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James 1:26
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20
Robin asked me to write the devotionals for the youth mission trip based on the book they are studying in Sunday School Jesus > Religion, with the subtitle of Why He is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough. It was written by then twenty-three year old Jefferson Bethke, based on the overwhelming response he got to his YouTube recorded poem “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus” back in 2012 (here is a link to a page that has the video and the words to the poem). Two excerpts of the poem are below:
If grace is water, then the church should be an ocean,
Because it’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken
I no longer have to hide my failures I don’t have to hide my sin,
Because my salvation doesn’t depend on me, it depends on him.
Because when I was God’s enemy and certainly not a fan,
God looked down on me and said, “I want that man!”
Which is so different from religious people, and why Jesus called ‘em fools
Don’t you see he’s so much better than just following some rules?
Now let me clarify, I love the church, I love the bible, and I believe in sin
But my question is if Jesus were here today, would your church let Him in?
Remember, He was called a drunkard and a glutton by “religious men”
Because Religion says do, Jesus says done.
Religion says slave, Jesus says son,
Religion puts you in shackles but Jesus sets you free.
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus lets you see.
This is what makes religion and Jesus two different clans,
Religion is man searching for God, but Christianity is God searching for man.
Which is why salvation is freely mine, forgiveness is my own,
Not based on my efforts, but Christ’s obedience alone.
Because he took the crown of thorns, and blood that dripped down his face
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
There was a couple at a church I used to go to, a long time ago. The fact that the couple was so much in love could not escape anyone’s notice. He was a very attentive husband, handsome and funny, and she was beautiful, kind and with a gentle spirit. When she was pregnant with their first child, he doted on her, love and concern for her spilling out in the way he drew her into him as they shared a hymnbook, his hand on the small of her back. I recall sitting behind them, envious of their relationship, and feeling guilty for feeling so in church.
Over the course of several years, their family grew with the addition of another son, both boys handsome like their father. They seemed to be the perfect family, going on ski vacations, youth group outings, and being stalwarts in the church. When the husband contracted a serious illness, the church rallied around the family, taking care of their emotional and spiritual needs. It was an honor to pray for them, even after I changed churches. I knew that their faith would get them through the health challenges the husband would experience, from medical trials to sickness to the disease being treatable but not curable. She stayed strong, her gentle spirit reflecting the determination to rely on Him to see them through. I found myself in the position of envy again, wanting that quiet gentle spirit that shone so evidently in her.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Two projects I am currently working deal with the facets of someone who has had an automobile claim where his or her car is totaled—when the amount to repair it exceeds the value to replace the vehicle. When that happens and the vehicle is financed, the insurance company needs to have customers sign a Power of Attorney (POA) for them (the insurance company) to be able to sign, on behalf of the customer, the seller’s part of the title they receive from the finance company. The customer has to sign the POA the exact way his or her name appears on the title. (thus endeth the lesson in insurance. Forgive me—I might have gone a little too in depth).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ~Galatians 5:22-23a
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the season of Spring—where the renewal of life is evident in the greenness of the new grass, the chirping of the birds, budding of fruit trees, promising the bearing of fruit for harvesting later. It is around this time of year that the scripture reference above is set—Jesus, just the day before, had entered the city of Jerusalem, atop a donkey, to the cries of “Hosannah!” (and it should be noted that we are celebrating Palm Sunday this coming Sunday!). He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and drove out those making money in the temple. He healed the blind and the lame, all to the chagrin of the chief priests and scribes. He knew the eventuality of his death, soon, at the hands of the Jews.