Call to Worship

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and
thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation
of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His
lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt
like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. O you who love the Lord,
hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the
wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in
the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! [PSALM 95:1-5, 10-12]

Father God, you are truly awesome. Awe-inspiring, awful, awe-ful, great, powerful, mighty, creator, destroyer, just, majestic, king, the one, the only true God.

Confession

Almighty God, who is rich in mercy to all those who call upon you; hear us
as we come to you humbly confessing our sins, and imploring your mercy
and forgiveness. We have broken your holy laws by our deeds and by our
words, and by the sinful affections of our heart. We confess before you our
disobedience and ingratitude, our pride and willfulness, and all our failures
and shortcomings toward you and toward our family and friends. Have mercy
upon us, most merciful Father, and through your great goodness grant that we
may from now on serve and please you in newness of life; grant us this, we
pray, through the mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Amen.

Contemplation

GOSPEL READING

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed
has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you,
whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does
not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be
done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you
have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if
you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may
forgive you your trespasses.”

DEVOTIONAL

“James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we
want you to do for us whatever we ask of you’” (Mark 10:35).

How’s that for humble prayer? “Before I say what I want, I want you to say you’ll do it.”
We are good at telling God what we want, but we are not very good at learning what God
wants. That kind of learning takes patience, reflection, study, obedience, and all kinds of
things that require deep humility. It’s much easier just to go with what we think is best.

Jesus entertains the request: “What do you want me to do for you? And they said to him,
“Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (10:36-37).

It was an absurd request, but not to them of course. They had it in their heads that Jesus
would deliver them from their oppressors and establish an earthly reign. Further, they
saw themselves as high-ranking officials in the new regime.

Their perception of reality and their notion of what was good and right prevented them
from understanding what Jesus had just told them: “The Son of Man will be delivered
over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver
him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill
him” (10:33-34).

If you come to God on your terms, expecting him to fit into your worldview and align
with the way you think things ought to be, you are starting off on the wrong foot, and
that will lead you down the wrong path. You’ll end up saying things that are absurd.

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the
cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (10:38).
In other words: “My glory is not what you think it is. And the path of glory is certainly
not what you think it is.” Like we often do, these brothers had mistaken importance for
significance. Importance speaks to the value we derive from things like position, status,
and the esteem of others. It is about building our brand: dropping names, getting close
to popular people, flaunting knowledge, looking busy, defining spiritual maturity by
activity and achievement, exalting public gifts above the others. Significance speaks to
the value we add to people and culture. It’s about building others up: remembering their
name, drawing near to the fringe, teaching others, being accessible, defining spiritual
maturity by love for others, exalting Jesus as the head of the body, and appreciating the
contribution of each member.

“The cup” refers to the suffering that Jesus was about to endure. Before he could be
exalted to his throne, he had to be hung on a tree. The disciples could not die the
mediator’s death, but they would drink from the cup of his suffering. Greatness in the
kingdom always involves a cross.

It was a teaching moment for the disciples, and for us: “Whoever would be great among
you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many” (10:45)

Humility is not the absence of position and power. It is the use of such things for the
good of others. If we can get our minds and affections around the true greatness of Jesus
and his cross – and what that means for us – then we can be great in the kingdom of
God.

REFLECTION

1. How is God’s glory being made visible in your weakness and brokenness? eek… i dunno… I like to think that all the progress that has been made in terms of discipline over the past few months is a huge sign of God working in and through me where I am super weak. But… i dunno if other people see it that way. I hope so.

2. Do you want to be first so you can be seen as great, or to be last where true greatness often goes unnoticed? I like to say I like being last, partly because I’m shy and don’t want lots of attention, and partly because I don’t want people to attribute greatness to me where there isn’t any… buuuut to be honest? I like being recognized for things that I often claim as my accomplishments, like, getting the dishes done when I’ve been struggling for a while, or when I do some huge project around the house–first thing I like to do when my husband comes home is show him and ask him what he thinks. I don’t know if words of affirmation are my main love language or not, but it’s pretty high up there… I don’t know if this is good or bad… :/

3. You may feel like God isn’t speaking to you about various things, but have you let
go of what you want so that you might be able to listen with unbiased ears?
This one is HUGE right now.  I FINALLY talked two of my best friends into talking to each other with the prospect of it possibly becoming more. And the did. And they are. And, part of me is super excited because of the potential, and most of me is terrified because of what might happen. And giving these dearly loved ones over to God is SO hard. And giving the situation into His hands and trusting Him to protect their fragile hearts and lead them is torture. It really is. I KNOW God is good and that He knows them better than them and I combined do! But, it’s out of my hands completely and it’s so so so hard to trust everyone involved to do what is right and best and–I DON”T EVEN KNOW IF THAT”S THEM BEING TOGETHER!!!! so, yeah. Letting go of what I want right now is a huge gigantic struggle. 😛 But, I do try very hard to listen unbiased… I really do… sometimes I don’t even realized I’m biased though… 😛

Closing Prayer

Humble my heart before thee, and replenish it with thy choicest gifts. As water
rests not on barren hill summits, but flows down to fertilize lowest vales, So
make me the lowest of the lowly, that my spiritual riches may exceedingly
abound. When I leave duties undone, may condemning thought strip me of
pride, deepen in me devotion to thy service, and quicken me to more watchful
care. When I am tempted to think highly of myself, grant me to see the wily
power of my spiritual enemy; Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-
tower of faith, and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord; If I fall
let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness, and when I escape, may I
ascribe all deliverance to thy grace. Keep me humble, meek, lowly. Amen. 

Advertisements