Psalm 51, Day 4

Devotional for Thursday, May 21

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.

The Creator didn’t stop creating—the work goes on. Jesus demonstrated this when he used dirt and his own spit to create vision for the man born blind. Our inner life and being, symbolized by the heart, are new creations of the Holy Spirit, who remains at work in the world today.

Loyalty implies alignment with the will of God. The goal of opening ourselves to sanctification is pretty straightforward; we hope to be so aligned with God that sin becomes as unnatural for us as it is for our creator. At that point, we are again fully made in God’s image, a small-but-perfect reflection.

The psalmist was rightly anxious, though. Few experience holy transformation all at once, even as we profess our faith in Christ more and more. We remain mindful of our past sins and our tendency to return to sin. Proverbs 26:11: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

We sense the fool still living within, and we seek protection from that part of ourselves as we trust this transformation to continue. Oh, for the day when obedience to God is as natural as breathing!

Lord, we submit ourselves to be guarded and contained, knowing you ultimately will give us boundless freedom and eternal life. Amen.

Those Who Will Lead

Devotional for Thursday, May 14

2 Timothy 1:1-7 (NRSV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.


Lucas

Today is my grandson’s second birthday. Bright as he is, Lucas is not old enough to read this, but he and the other members of our youngest generation are on my mind.

Looking at our little ones, be they children, grandchildren, or just people we care about, we are bound to wonder what the future holds for them. In the midst of our current crisis, we initially might feel a little pessimistic.

Our pessimism would stem from what is basically an economic assessment. There is much uncertainty right now regarding how hard we are going to be hit financially, what kind of jobs will be available in the coming years, and maybe even what kind of government will be in control. Large-scale events like this COVID-19 crisis tend to be followed by huge social and political shifts.

Paul’s letter to a young Christian named Timothy makes me feel more positive, however. Timothy was old enough to have taken a leadership role in his church community, but he still needed a lot of advice from his father figure regarding how to proceed in difficult times.

Paul re-rooted Timothy in what really mattered—a faith that had passed from two prior generations, grandmother to mother to son.

Paul was telling Timothy to rely on the Holy Spirit, who moves through this world and works in it regardless of economic or social circumstances. In whatever kind of situation you find yourself in, know that God’s power remains with you. Trusting that power, you will speak as you need to speak and act as you need to act.

Love will flow through you, too, and the world always needs to see love in action, in good times and in bad.

I do not know if Lucas’ generation will on average have houses, retirement plans and freedom equal to what their parents and grandparents experienced. I want those things for them, but much more, I want them to be a generation of great faith, the kind of people who will pass on the truth of Jesus Christ to their children and grandchildren.

In the meantime, let’s remember them in our prayers night and day.

Lord, until such time as we stand before Christ in full, may the truth of who Christ is remain in our lineages. Amen.