Sunday Devotional: Romans 15:5-7

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

We live in a world with a lot of discord and disharmony.  There is a lot of division.  Sin divides us.  But Jesus brings us together.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome and reminded them of this.  On their own, there is division and strife.  But with God, there is unity.

God gives us the endurance and encouragement.  He gives us the hope to come together united.  This is possible through the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, is able to bring together people from all walks of life.

The other big thing in this passage is accepting.  Paul is not saying we are to accept sins but we are to accept sinners because we all are sinners.  But through the grace and glory of God, we have been accepted by the work on Jesus Christ and we can repent and turn to Him.

This week let us encourage one another.  Let us live in harmony and let us show love and acceptance to others and as we do point them to Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 52:13-15

“See, My Servant will act wisely;
He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Just as many were appalled at You—
His appearance was so disfigured
that He did not look like a man,
and His form did not resemble a human being—
so He will sprinkle many nations.
Kings will shut their mouths because of Him,
For they will see what had not been told them,
and they will understand what they had not heard.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

These are the words from the prophet Isaiah.  He wrote these words hundreds of years before the One who would come to fulfill this prophesy.  That One was Jesus.  Isaiah wrote about how Jesus would be lifted up and exalted.  He wrote that he would be disfigured which Jesus was as He was beaten and flogged to the point of death before His crucifixion.  But this was done so that all nations could be reconciled unto God.

These verses are prior to the “Suffering Servant” chapter.  Though these verses are not as well known, they as well portray how Jesus suffered for us so that “they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard.”  Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and has been raised up and greatly exalted in His rightful place as the Son of God.  This week let us remember and be thankful that Jesus did that for us.

Sunday Devotional: Lamentations 3:31-33

“For the Lord
will not reject us forever.
Even if He causes suffering,
He will show compassion
according to His abundant, faithful love.
For He does not enjoy bringing affliction
or suffering on mankind.” (Lamentations 3:31-33)

The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah.  If there was someone who understood lamenting, it was Jeremiah.  He was a prophet who was charged with speaking God’s truth to the people.  But the people would not listen. And because they would not listen and repent, judgement came and the people suffered including Jeremiah.

Even throughout the book of Lamentations where there is lamenting and grief throughout, there is also hope.  These verses are a part of that hope.  Jeremiah reminds the people that God does have abundant, faithful love for his people.  He does want to bring His people back from suffering and pain.  He “will not reject us forever”.

Sometimes when we are going through painful times and we are in that valley of suffering, we feel that it never ends.  Months or even years may pass and the suffering we feel never ends.  But these verses remind us that even though it seems never ending, it is not.  God will bring it to end.  He loves us and though we may deal with suffering, we have hope because of Jesus Christ.  We are not rejected forever because we have been accepted through Christ’s work on the cross.  We may still endure pain and suffering on this Earth but it will not last forever.

This week, as we may going through our own pains and sufferings, let us rest in the hope that it will not last forever.  That the steadfast love of God endures and He will deliver us.

 

Carrying Pain: Some Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it did not disappoint.  There were a lot of great moments in the film and it reminded me why I loved the first one.  It has joy and heart and humor and when it’s serious it connects.  And at the heart of it is hope.

There are a lot of things that could be talked about in this film but there was one point that really resonated with me once I left the theater.  (Minor spoilers but nothing major)

One of the underlying plot points in the film carries over from the first film.  This is the rivalry/fight between Gamora & Nebula.  In the first Guardians, Gamora had the chance to kill Nebula and didn’t.  In this film, Nebula returns at the beginning.  She is first captured by the Guardians and then later escapes.  Later she finds Gamora with the expressed intent of “besting her”.  She comes in guns ablazing (literally) in a spaceship and crashes with Gamora having to save her again.

Later on, Nebula expresses all the rage and anger she had to Gamora was because Thanos would “repair” Nebula with cybernetics when she lost to Gamora and that’s why she hated Gamora.  Nebula raged because deep down she didn’t want to win.  She wanted a sister.  And so that pain built up inside Nebula and made her what she became in the 1st Guardians film and bled into this one.  And Gamora realizes that and tells Nebula that she was just trying to survive.  She didn’t mean to hurt Nebula.  And there’s a great scene where Gamora hugs Nebula and at first Nebula is stiff but finally she returns the hug.

Nebula still carries the pain of her past.  And at the end of the film, she doesn’t let it go just yet as she jets off to go after Thanos.  And Gamora lets her know that she’s welcome with them because she is family.

We all carry pain of some kind.  We are all hurt by people.  Sometimes the pain is unintentional and sometimes unfortunately it’s very intentional.  However we are hurt, we each carry that hurt with us.  Sometimes that pain can be used for good.  We see how we are hurt and we care for others so that they do not feel that kind of pain.  Peter Quill throughout the films carries the pain of seeing his mom die and fights for others.  Nebula rages with anger at the pain she carries and while she is not the same as she was at the beginning of the first film, she still is consumed by the pain and the anger that comes from it.

Like I said earlier, what I love about this series is that at the heart of the films is hope.  Hope for change.  Even if one carries such deep pain, there is hope for change.  I am very much looking forward to Vol. 3 and seeing how the character of Nebula is carrying her pain.  Because it reminds me of the pain that I carry and how I can’t let it carry me.

Thursday Quote Day: Bart Simpson

For this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” and for Star Wars Day, here is a quote from Bart Simpson:

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, contrary to what you’ve just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.” (Bart Simpson The Simpsons)