My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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This is Not Shame
Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son” at the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
(Is. 50:7 NRSV)
The words from Isaiah are often thought to be prophetic words about the coming Messiah, but these words are also a promise to all of God’s people. We are called to participate in Christ and therefore we can hold onto the promise that it is the Lord God who helps us in our times of trouble. What may appear to be disgrace in the eyes of others, just may be grace-filled loved in the eyes of God. Therefore, this is not shame, or I am not shamed by my circumstances, but instead, I am transformed in the midst of those circumstance into one who reflects the glory of God.
We continue the Lenten journey through this Holy Week. This week will lead us to the cross where we find Christ dying for all the world. Jesus understood his circumstances, and that no matter how others treated him, he would not be put to shame for the Father was with him.
In the story of the prodigal son we find the boy returning home, poor, starving and shamed. He is embarrassed to see anyone, and especially his father. He knows that he has shamed the family, and himself, and should have no rights or privilege. However, in his worst moment, his father rushes to him, takes off his cloak and covers the shame with his robe. He would not allow his son to stand before him, shamed, but covered him with all that symbolized the value which he still had in the family. The Heavenly Father covered Jesus with his love and grace. The Father did not turn away from his Son in the moment of his suffering, but when all the guilt and shame of the world was revealed in the ugliness of his death, the Father covered it all. Neither Jesus, nor any of us need to live with the shame.
In the late fourth century John Chrysostom wrote a series of letters to a woman named Olympias. Evidently, she was going through a period of struggles and he encouraged her in this way, “Therefore, let none of these things that are happening trouble [you], but stop asking for the aid of this or that person and running after shadows (for such are human alliances); persistently call on Jesus, whom [you serve] . . . and in a moment of time all these evils will be dissolved. (LETTERS TO OLYMPIAS 7.2) Just like Olympias, we are to persistently call on Jesus, and not on others. No person has the power to take away our shame, only our Savior. The beauty is that in a moment Jesus also reminds us that though the world may want to shame us, we are not put to shame. This is not shame, because our shame has been covered by the love of a gracious Father.
We turn our faces toward the one who loves us and allow him to draw us to the cross, the place where there is no longer any room for shame.
Lord, may we find freedom from the shame which others may try to hang on us. Thank you for the journey which leads us to the cross. Words of gratitude are never enough to thank you for what you have done for us. Amen.
Scripture: Job 38:1-2 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Observation: Trying to give a reason for Job’s circumstances, his friends had provided every explanation imaginable to the human mind. Now, it was time for God’s response and reality is brought into focus. The friends were bringing counsel to Job, but they did not have knowledge. There was far too much that they did not understand. Following this question God reminds Job that God alone has power over creation, and this knowledge is far beyond Job’s understanding. Therefore, the words of Job’s friends are hollow with misunderstanding. They do not know God, and should not presume to speak for God, for their counsel becomes words without knowledge. Application: If our first instinct is not to run to the Lord in difficult circumstances, we may be allowing ourselves to be counseled by words without knowledge. There are plenty of people who are willing to give us ad…
Scripture: Acts 9:32 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Observation:
In this text by the physician Luke, Paul has just recently been converted. Suddenly the narrative shifts to the Apostle Peter who is, no doubt, the leader of the followers of the Way. This passage sets the stage for the expansion of the ministry to the Gentiles. It is in Joppa that Peter has his vision that eventually leads him to the house of Cornelius but at this moment, Peter has no idea where this is going. Peter is simply going about his business, visiting the believers who live outside of Jerusalem, making it to the town of Lydda.
It is in Lydda, not far from …
Scripture: Galatians 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Observation:
This passage from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is frequently quoted and used to remind us of the unity which is found when we belong to Christ. Any barriers that may have existed are to be brought down. The power of prejudice is to be destroyed and a new life is to be found when one belongs to Christ.
Jerome put it this way, “ When one has once put on Christ and, having been sent into the flame, glows with the ardor of the Holy Spirit, it is not apparent whether he is of gold or silver. As long as the heat takes over the mass in this way there is one fiery color, and all diversity of race, condition and body is taken away by such a garment.” (EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS 2.3.27–28) What happens is that the former…