Sunday, December 12, 2021

HORSIE RIDES WITH HAMAN - Isaiah 61 Devotional #11

 
"... The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them ... the garment [mantle, cloak] of praise for [instead of] the spirit of heaviness [grief, fainting, despair]..."
– Isaiah 61:1b-3d
 
"When Haman entered, the king asked him, 'What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?'

"Now Haman thought to himself, 'Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?' So he answered the king, 'For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”'

"'Go at once,' the king commanded Haman. 'Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.'

"So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'

"Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

"His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, 'Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!'"

- Esther 6:6-13 (NIV)
* * *

Today's Isaiah 61 devotional comes direct from Holy Scripture's grandest "fairy tale" love story -- complete with handsome young king, scumbag villain, and lowly damsel who becomes queen through a series of serendipitous events. The best part is that it all happened in REAL LIFE -- a treasure box of allegory and inspiration from the pages of Bible history.

But what makes this particular scene from the Book of Esther most poignant is its backstory.  Mordecai's niece -- now the grand Queen Esther of Persia -- had him mobilize the city's entire Jewish population to three days of affliction, fasting, and prayer against Haman's murderous extermination plan ... a plan that would not stop at the palace gate, but would include the death of the queen herself, since she was a Jew.  

The king, of course, was blissfully oblivious to all of this when he ordered his trusty minister to parade Mordecai the Jew through the streets of the capital, wearing the king's own cloak and seated on his royal steed.  (Oh say, can you say ... "irony"?)

But, how does this relate to Isaiah 61?

As our Lord Jesus made known in his great inaugural speech -- Luke chapter 4 (quoting from Isaiah 61) -- He was anointed and sent forth by the Father to rescue those "Blessed Mourners" (that's us!) who lament the sinful state of mankind and afflict their souls in prayer to see His saving hand.  And one of the first things He'll do?  Give them "the mantle of praise" in exchange for their heaviness and grief.

What does this look like?

Think of a time when you were alarmed by a news story or appalled by a revelation on social media. When you felt the needle of disgust, grief, and -- yes, despair -- stab deep into your gut or, as it says in Acts 2:37, you were "pricked to the heart."  I mean, to the point where your jaw went unhinged and your knees went limp with heaviness and grief ... and all you could think was, "God, how can this be?"  And, "God, PLEASE ... DO something!"  (Remember September 11?)

As Nehemiah reacted, when he was first apprised of the desperate conditions under which the repatriated captives in Jerusalem were living: "I sat weeping and mourning for DAYS, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven." (Nehemiah 1:4)   Or, as Ezra the Priest reacted when they told him how quickly the people had backslidden into sin with their idolatrous neighbors: "When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled." (Ezra 9:3)  Or, as Mordecai reacted in today's passage from the Book of Esther, wrapping himself in sackcloth and leading the Jews of Shushan in three days of desperate appeal to God for their lives ...

When you have that sort of a Nehemiah moment -- Ezra moment -- Mordecai moment -- THAT'S when you know you've joined the ranks of the Blessed Mourners.  THAT'S when you've become a mighty intercessory hammer in the Master's hand.  The kind of that is "made powerful by God to tear down strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4) in prayer.

And it's from the very womb of that gripping backstory that the transcendent episode of today's passage is birthed.

Picture Mordecai, still swathed in sackcloth, passed out on the floor after three days of passionate prayer and fasting.  And at sunrise, a knock on the door -- his archnemesis, Haman!  Who proceeds to clothe him in the king's own mantle, set him on the king's horse, and herald him all through the city as "the man the king delights to honor!"  (And the true spectacle here was not Mordecai, but Haman -- humiliated beyond recovery, as his own wife and advisers were quick to point out upon his return home.)

Unspeakable joy! ... and, incidentally, a profound allegory of the dawn of the Messianic Age almost five centuries later.  After three days in the valley of grief and impending death, Mordecai is wrapped in the king's own mantle -- symbolic of the king's delight.  After three days in the tomb, Christ arose victorious, making a public spectacle of principalities and powers, so that -- IN HIM, wrapped in the mantle of His Spirit -- we too, may burst forth to joyous abundant life. 

Now, as we continue Jesus' work on Earth -- "Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21b, NASB) -- let's employ all the mighty tools He's equipped us with, INCLUDING the "mantle of praise in exchange for heaviness."   It's a powerful cloak of transcendent joy, reserved for the Blessed Mournful, who have obtained it ONLY in exchange for heaviness -- grief, fainting, and desperate intercessory pursuit of God.

As the psalmist said, "He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalms 126:6)

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, I thank You for calling me to take up Your yoke, to share Your intercessory heart for a lost and dying world.  So, whatever specific yoke You have for me TODAY, please lay it on me thick!  And help me bear it faithfully and fervently, so I'll be worthy to exchange it tomorrow for Your glorious mantle of joy. 
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 12/12/2021.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

JOE COOL & THE GOLD RUSH GIRLS - Isaiah 61 Devotional #10

 
"... The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them ... the oil of joy for mourning..."
– Isaiah 61:1b-3c
 
"So [King David] got the Covenant Box from Obed's house to take it to Jerusalem with a great celebration. After the men carrying the Covenant Box had gone six steps, David had them stop while he offered the Lord a sacrifice of a bull and a fattened calf. David, wearing only a linen cloth around his waist, danced with all his might to honor the Lord. And so he and all the Israelites took the Covenant Box up to Jerusalem with shouts of joy and the sound of trumpets.

"As the Box was being brought into the city, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and jumping around in the sacred dance, and she was disgusted with him. Afterward, when David went home to greet his family, Michal came out to meet him. 'The king of Israel made a big name for himself today!' she said. 'He exposed himself like a fool in the sight of the servant women of his officials!'

David answered, 'I was dancing to honor the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family to make me the leader of his people Israel. And I will go on dancing to honor the Lord, and will disgrace myself even more.'"
- 2 Samuel 6:12b-22 (GNT, excerpts)
* * *

To fully appreciate what was going on in King David's head, we first need to rewind about three months, where there's quite a different scene being played out.

The "Covenant Box" -- you know, the Ark of the Covenant ... the Indiana Jones thing -- had been captured in battle quite some time ago by Israel's arch-enemies, the Philistines, who had then reluctantly given it back after God struck them with a plague. Since then, it had been sitting in a sort of prolonged quarantine at Abinadab's house, while Israel went through a period of mourning and licking their wounds.

What King David needed was a morale-booster event, and he knew just the thing. He would be the One Who Brought Back the Box! He'd lead a pompous procession to outshine all other pompous processions ... ushering the Covenant Box back to its rightful place in Jerusalem. So, David had convened 30,000 noble men for the occasion, along with a marching orchestra with himself at the head -- most likely playing the finest of instruments, and most likely singing, in five-part harmony, ceremonious psalms that he himself had written for the occasion -- as he solemnly led the procession from Abinadab's house.

To make a long story short ... well, in fact, God did make the long story short! The somber procession which, though well intentioned, was both illegal and ill-conceived, quickly came to a tragic end. In His eternal righteousness, God was forced to cut it short with a lightning bolt from heaven, resulting in the death of one of Abinadab's sons, Uzzah, who was driving the ox-cart. Ox-cart?? Yeah, that was the illegal part: because God's Law strictly laid out the method for transporting His holy Covenant Box. It was to be borne by the priestly class, not the beastly class. 

But ill-conceived? Though a bit more subtle, King David "got it." See, his morale-booster event was all about HIM -- David -- leading HIS procession, leading HIS music, with the Covenant Box meekly following the oxen back to its assigned place in HIS capital. 

But something snapped in King David's brain (and heart) that day. Call it a God-snap ... something like that white-hot lightning bolt he'd witnessed! And NOW, fast-forward three months later, and he was ready to try this thing again. To get it RIGHT this time!

"The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them ... the oil of joy for mourning." That's our Lord's own heart for his people, and that's the heart we see in David when it comes time for the Parade Sequel, in 2 Samuel chapter 6, starting at verse 12 -- this time bringing up the Covenant Box from Obed's house instead of Abinadab's. 

He'd come to realize that it wasn't all about David himself, but about God Himself. Yes, the idea of a morale-booster was born in his heart by God Himself. God was turning Israel's page from the failed reign of King Saul to a new beginning with David. From oppression to praise. From MOURNING to JOY.

This called, not for a solemn procession, but a wild parade! God was figuratively bringing back the captivity of Israel, breaking the yoke of the Philistines from their neck, and turning their mourning into dancing! Sure, there was music this time, but it was music you could really rock to. 

And rock they all did! Back to our lead-in Scripture, we now see David rocking it out in front of them all, not seeking to make himself the hero, but rather wildly praising God -- the True Hero of the day. Cross-referencing details of this event in 1 Chronicles chapter 16, we understand that David started the parade wearing a fine royal robe, but as things got joyfully hot, he shed the robe and continued with just a linen cloth around his waist, whirling, leaping, and shouting joyful praises to Almighty God, Who had delivered His Covenant Box, and His people, from their mourning.

To grasp the impact of King David's un-kingly behavior -- which left his wife (Saul's daughter) horror-stricken as she observed the parade from the security of her window -- think of "Joe Cool" Montana, greatest of the great, the impeccably-mannered quarterback, ready to throw his historic pass against the Cowboys in January 1982. Montana lines up at the five ... on third down and three ... He's got the ball! Montana rolls right, looking, looking to throw! NFL history is about to be made....

But then something snaps. Joe drops the ball carelessly on the field, sprints over to where the Gold Rush Girls are standing, strips down to his boxers and tee shirt, and leads them in a wild sequence of cheers for the crowd, cheers for the teams, cheers for the love of Football!

You're probably thinking by now how we've strayed a long way from the topic of Isaiah 61. But think again! Our Lord Jesus was anointed "... to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them ... the oil of joy for mourning..." It's HE Who came to turn the page. It's HE Who came to die and atone for our mournful state of Sin, to rise again, and to ascend to the Father's right hand, where He ever lives to make intercession for us. Hallelujah! If that doesn't call for stripping off our three-piece suits and dancing in joy and worship in our undies!... (Well, you get the point. And, maybe your "secret prayer closet" is the place for such exalted worship.)

Christianity is not about church, not about the worship band, nor the choir ... not even about the sermon. (Horrors! Dare we say that?) It's all about Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Deliverer of His people.

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, thank you for Jesus' triumph over Sin, the Grave, and Mourning. Thank you that -- as 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, 'Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.' Please help me respond with abandon, with a dancing heart to honor the Lord and 'disgrace myself' even more, as King David did, to spread the oil of joy to those around me, and so continue the Isaiah 61 work of my Lord Christ.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 11/21/2021.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

SMOKEY BEAR SAYS, 'LET IT BURN!' - Isaiah 61 Devotional #9

 
"... The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes ..."
– Isaiah 61:1b-3b
 
SMOKEY BEAR. More American than Thanksgiving turkey or Casey at the Bat, at 77 years and counting, Smokey Bear is the longest-running PSA (public service announcement).

Some SMOKEY Trivia ...

- MOST RECOGNIZABLE MUG: According to the American Ad Council, the source of PSAs, Smokey Bear's image was correctly identified, and the ad campaign messages recognized, by 80% of "outdoor recreationists."

- NO MIDDLE NAME: By solemn act of Congress (The Smokey Bear Act of 1952), his name was established as "Smokey Bear" -- NOT "Smokey The Bear."

- ALIVE BEFORE HE WAS BORN: We've all heard how Smokey Bear (as a cub) was rescued from a forest fire and came to live at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. -- where he became the living mascot for fire safety. The truth, however, is that the U.S. Forest Service's first Smokey Bear campaign poster was issued in 1944 -- fully six years before our little cub was rescued from the Capitan Gap Fire in New Mexico.

- HIS FAMILY: While living at the National Zoo, Smokey Bear had a wife named Goldie Bear and an adopted son (because they were childless) whose name was Little Smokey.

- HIS OWN ZIP CODE: That's right! By 1964, Smokey Bear was receiving so much fan mail -- over 1800 pieces per day -- that the U.S. Postal Service had to assign him his own ZIP Code: 20252.

- BUT SADDEST OF ALL: During his 26 long years on Earth, Smokey Bear only learned to say one thing: "Remember ... only YOU can prevent forest fires." And HE WAS WRONG! Read on and find out why....

On our last Isaiah 61 visit, we met a new breed -- the "Blessed Mournful" -- who are so appalled by the ravishes of sin on the people, the nation, and the world they love that they are moved to weeping, prayer, and decisive action. Jesus came, not only to comfort these Mourners, but to shape them into a new world order -- His Kingdom order. And, in fact, the rest of the chapter is a playbook for how He makes that happen.

But verse 3 is all about how He COMFORTS them. And where does this comfort begin? "Beauty for ashes."

"Ah, yes! A pleasant thought," you say? No. Read it again. "Beauty for ashes. Beauty FOR ASHES." It's a trade: to get His beauty requires our ASHES FIRST.

This "ASHES FIRST" thing is an eternal truth. A Kingdom law with no exceptions and no shortcuts. If I sincerely desire life in abundance -- in all its fullness, shimmering with all the BEAUTY of His purposes made perfect in me -- then I must be ready for the part where my own schemes and dreams get reduced to ASHES.

Which leads to an uncomfortable thought!... Just as, "Where there's smoke, there's fire" ... "Where there's ASHES, there has surely been FIRE!" And FIRE means DEATH. Death of, not only my schemes and dreams, but -- get this! -- death, even, of my human efforts toward becoming the person God needs me to be. It must all be tried by fire, leading to death, leading to ASHES. And yet, ashes now is better than ashes later!

"Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (I Corinthians 3:13-15, NKJV)

So, I have a choice: submit to God's plan of FIRE, DEATH, ASHES during my lifetime ... resulting in His true BEAUTY blossoming forth in my life; or else skip all that uncomfortable stuff and muddle through on my own efforts. In the latter case, sure, I may still pass "the [Judgment] Day's" fire test, but I'll be left standing there naked and ashamed. So what it really comes down to is "ashes now (with an abundant life of God's BEAUTY) or ashes later (with nothing to show for it but REGRETS)."

All of which brings us back to the gospel according to Smokey Bear: "Remember ... only YOU can prevent forest fires." Interestingly, the Ad Council realized that Smokey's message was misfiring, and they quietly amended it in 2001 to be: "Remember ... only YOU can prevent WILDFIRES." See, ever since the 1940s, Smokey and his friends -- especially Bambi, who was another Forest Service spokesman -- had burned into our consciousness the images of FOREST FIRES, set by MAN, destroying innocent woodlands and the creatures that live there. Evil, evil, EVIL!

However, modern forest conservation science was quickly learning that forest fires can be beneficial. No, not the wildfires set by arsonists or accidentally kindled by careless campers. But controlled burns, whether initiated by nature or by human hands, are both helpful and essential to maintain healthy woodlands. Take Yellowstone National Park, for example. NPS.gov tells the story:

"Fire suppression in Yellowstone began with the arrival of the US Army, which was placed in charge of protecting the park in 1886. The Army, which was in Yellowstone until 1918, successfully extinguished some fires in the belief that suppression would help save the forests.... Records indicate fire was almost completely excluded (suppressed) from the Douglas-fir, sagebrush steppe, and aspen communities on the northern range from 1886 until 1987.

"By the 1940s, ecologists recognized fire was a natural and unavoidable change agent in many ecosystems... In the 1950s and 1960s, other parks and forests began to experiment with controlled burns. In 1972 ... two backcountry areas in [Yellowstone] park totaling 340,000 acres ... were designated as locations where natural fires could burn. After three years, during which 10 fires burned a total of 831 acres in the two natural fire zones, the non-suppression area was expanded to include most of the park.... From 1972 to 1987, 235 fires were allowed to burn 33,759 acres in Yellowstone."

But the average Joe and Jane American were left scratching their heads. How could the U.S. Forest Service be flouting the advice of their very own expert, Smokey Bear?

All of us must be open to new learning, even Smokey Bear, whose message finally changed in 2001 (posthumously, it would seem) to focus on wildfires, rather than forest fires in general. He learned that nature's law of forestry includes periodic forest fires, either set by lightning or intentionally by man, for a number of very good reasons:
- Clearing dead trees, underbrush, and leaves from the forest floor so new vegetation can emerge
- Allowing more sunlight through
- Returning nutrients (as ashes) to the forest topsoil
- Aiding certain trees that actually REQUIRE FIRE in order to release their seeds, for example, the lodgepole pine.

Scripture gives us numerous examples of heroes of faith whose prophetic vision of God's plan for them first had to be reduced to ashes before it could emerge in its full beauty. Think of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David. Or, how about Joseph? Remember those splendid dreams, where his brothers were falling prostrate before him? Actually, they DID bow to him later, but not before he had been roughed up, cast into a pit and left for dead, sold as a slave to an alien land, falsely accused of a crime and locked up in prison. Talk about ashes! But -- on close examination -- each account reveals a deeply flawed human who had to run the gauntlet of adversity, seeing all his dreams and schemes reduced to ashes, before God could use him.

Hear Jesus' call today: "O Blessed Mourner! I treasure your heart of prayer and zeal for the Kingdom. Come join My army. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me. I'll make a man (or woman) out of you! Come experience DEATH ... ASHES ... and finally My BEAUTY as rivers of living water flow from you to a thirsty world!"

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, help me live each day in perspective of "that Day." I don't want to enter Heaven with my tail between my legs, having relied on my own plans and efforts, only to see them burnt to ash at the last Judgment. Please bring on the fire, death, and ashes NOW, so Your beauty can burst forth as the seed of the lodgepole pine -- a tree of righteousness in your Kingdom's fine woodland!'
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 10/3/2021.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

PALMER'S DISEASE? I'M GOOD WITH THAT - Isaiah 61 Devotional #8

 
"... To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion ..."
– Isaiah 61:2c-3a
 
"Why should I believe that life up there in your world is any better than life down here on Goliath?" said McKenzie, "... You know, I can't help feeling that if a spaceship were to land upon Earth from another planet and aliens said to the people, 'We have come to rescue you,' the answer might be, 'Rescue us? From what?'"

Now, if that isn't a novel thought...!  

But, in case you don't recognize the memorable quote, it's from the B movie "Goliath Awaits" (Columbia Pictures Television, 1981).  The fiction flick is about the Goliath, an ocean liner much longer than the Titanic, sunk by Nazi torpedoes in 1939 and discovered by divers 40 years later with ... more than 300 survivors still aboard!  

But when the rescue expedition arrives, as described in the original movie blurb: "The big problem is not bringing them to the surface ... but convincing their leader to let them go!"  See, living in the crumbling hulk of a ship, where life support systems were failing and people were dying of "Palmer's disease" (a mysterious malady that dispatched its victims -- usually the elderly, the weak, or the injured -- within minutes) was an okay existence for some ... such as their magalomaniac "leader" Paul McKenzie, the henchmen who helped create and maintain his "special world," and some of the younger generation who knew no other reality.

In the face of violent opposition and sabotage, the protagonists were able to isolate those who lamented their ghastly estate and set them free.  (It's actually well worth the watch! Hint: YouTube.)

Continuing our Isaiah 61 adventure, we come to the part of our Savior's job description where He "comforts all who mourn."  In fact, not only does He promise to comfort these mourners, but He actually seems to commend them: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

But why, "blessed"?  On the contrary, when I think of "one who mourns," I picture a moody, self-pitiful, peevish little boy whose uncle "comforts" him by tossing a nickel, saying, "Go buy yourself a pack of gum and get out of my hair!"  Sort of a backhanded blessing, right?

But the Isaiah 61 "those who mourn" crowd aren't doleful little people.  Rather, they are profoundly grieved by all that is unjust, tragic, and deplorable.  Think of the prophet Jeremiah's lamentations ... in the book by that name.  Think of creation itself that "groans and travails" (Romans 8:22) because of the sinful state of this world.  Think of someone you know who is so appalled by injustice, crushed by oppression, or doubled over in empathy for another's pain as to say, "I can't take this anymore!"

NOW you've found the "blessed mourner" that Jesus came to comfort!  Not the old Paul McKenzie in love with his "special world" of sin because, though it's crashing down around his ears, at least he's still at the center of it.  Not the woke young person parroting "tolerance, diversity, and peace" while watching friends, family, and society spinning down the toilet.

Jesus said, "I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance...." (Luke 5:32, Amplified)  

As we continue Jesus' work on Earth -- "Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21b, NASB) -- let's be on the lookout for those Blessed Mourners.

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, help me go through life with my eyes open. Help me recognize the souls that Your Holy Spirit has softened up to where they're crying out, 'I can't take it anymore!' And then, with the holy boldness I get from a whispered prayer [see Nehemiah 2], help me open not only my heart, but also my mouth, to say, 'I'm going to pray for you because I can attest to the fact that God cares, He listens, and He can both comfort AND rescue you!'
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 9/5/2021.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

TRUMAN'S BEARD AND THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE - Isaiah 61 Devotional #7

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim ... the day of our God's vengeance ..."
– Isaiah 61:1-2b
 
In Mike Beard's own words, "How many times can you interview the same subject, even if he's Harry Truman...?"

Beard was the lone reporter assigned to cover scientific happenings around Mount St. Helens during the cold spring of 1980.  "It wasn't the most glamorous assignment," he says in retrospect.  "It was an hourlong round-trip drive from Portland; not much was happening other than the earthquake swarms, and I wasn't the only reporter quickly running out of fresh story ideas."  But then there was Truman....

Harry R. Truman -- No, he was NOT named after our 33rd president! -- was a crusty octogenarian World War I veteran, Prohibition bootlegger, prospector, pink-Cadillac owner, and 50-years proprietor of a magnificent mountain lodge at Spirit Lake.  

As March wore on and geologists' warnings intensified, everyone abandoned the mountain -- property owners, residents, campers, thrill-seekers.  Everyone, that is, except Truman.  When one of the tremors knocked him out of bed at night, he simply moved his mattress to the cellar.  "The mountain's a mile away, and it ain't gonna hurt me!" he said.  

State officials and other emissaries showed up at Harry's lodge.  "That mountain is a giant clock," they said. "No one knows when it will strike twelve; but when it does, your number's up!"  They tried ordering him to leave, reasoning with him, imploring him.  But none was as persistent as Mike Beard.  Plying his skill a newsman, Beard pressed the old curmudgeon with his most pursuasive arguments in the form of interview questions, but still nothing could sway him.  On the contrary, Truman seemed to enjoy his new stardom -- as the news articles resulted in stacks of fan mail, even marriage proposals.

Until May 18, 1980 ... when Mount St. Helens struck twelve.  Harry R. Truman, folk hero and mountain man, became part of his beloved mountain ... instantaneously buried, lodge and all, under 150 feet of volcanic material.

* * *

So far, we have been following the epic Messianic prophecy that is Isaiah 61.  To launch His public ministry, Jesus took the synagogue podium in His hometown of Nazareth, unfurled the Isaiah scroll, and read from chapter 61: just the first two verses, nothing more.  As a matter of fact, He stopped mid-sentence in verse two: "...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor..."  Then He sat down, never finishing the thought: "... and [to proclaim] the day of our God's vengeance."

WHY?

According to the Gospels, Jesus' earthly message could be summed up in a single sentence: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"  He was here to proclaim -- to announce -- what was about to take place when the King of the Universe, God Almighty, would start the great clock of the Messianic Age of Grace through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.

But what about the "day of our God's vengeance"?  Did Jesus just invalidate, or at least gloss over, the portentous and much-alluded-to "Day of the Lord" -- when He Himself should sit in judgment at the end of the age?  What's up with that?

Actually, no mystery here.  As the wise author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."  See, it wasn't Jesus' moment to announce the end of an age that had not yet begun, the striking of a clock that had not yet begun to tick.  Rather, His message that day, and throughout His three-plus-years of earthly ministry, was the Amazing Grace soon to be available through His own shed blood.  Hallelujah!

Jesus Himself clarified what His ministry was, and wasn't, focused on.  A couple of examples:

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." - John 3:17 (NIV)

"If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day." - John 12:47-48 (NIV)

WHO, THEN, WILL SOUND THE WARNING ABOUT THE DAY OF JUDGMENT?

Yet again, we are reminded of Jesus' commission:  "Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21b, NASB)

But in this case, we've been ordained not only to continue His ministry that began with the first verse-and-a-half of Isaiah 61, but the whole rest of the chapter as well -- including warning our world about the coming Day of the Lord.  

Beginning with the very first apostolic sermon -- Peter's, in Acts 2 -- we hear the message loud and clear of the "... coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord," and the call to "Repent..." as "...with many other words he warned them...."

Paul echoed the warning, for example, when he admonished Governor Felix about the "judgment to come" (Acts 24:25), and in his Mars Hill sermon: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead." - Acts 17:30-31 (NIV)

The Age of Messianic Grace is ticking away and, when it strikes twelve, it will be a "doomsday clock" indeed for those who have spurned their Savior's love.  Tragically, Harry R. Truman is alive and well -- living next door, walking the halls of government, teaching in our schools and universities: "The mountain's a mile away, and it ain't gonna hurt us, nohow!"  But, as God's grace would have it, for every Truman there is a Mike Beard.

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, thank you that You so loved the world as to send Your precious Son to save us from ourselves.  Cause me to feel Your urgency for a world that's closer to its Day of Vengeance with every tick of the clock.  In whatever capacity You have set me, by Your Holy Spirit anointing, and -- like Mike Beard -- by means of whatever skills and giftings You have endowed me with, please help me communicate Your gospel of love to those who need to hear.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 8/8/2021.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

PEACE, BEAVER! - Isaiah 61 Devotional #6

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor ..."
– Isaiah 61:1-2a (NIV)
 
"...One of the leopards approached Aslan and said, "Sire, there is a messenger from the enemy who craves audience."

"Let him approach," said Aslan.  The leopard went away and soon returned leading the Witch's dwarf.

"What is your message, Son of Earth?" asked Aslan.

"The Queen of Narnia and Empress of the Lone Islands desires a safe conduct to come and speak with you," said the dwarf, "on a matter which is as much to your advantage as to hers."

"Queen of Narnia, indeed!" said Mr. Beaver. "Of all the cheek ..."

"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan. "All names will soon be restored to their proper owners."

(From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe {1950}. Chapter 13. C.S. Lewis.)
* * *

My most cherished stories -- books and movies -- have always been the classics. But especially those featuring the displaced protagonist in a long and bitter struggle to reclaim what is rightfully his (or hers).  This formula was especially popular with nineteenth-century novelists, handing us many exceptional tales such as: 

Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace (1880)
The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain (1881)
Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope Hawkins (1894)

Of course, C.S. Lewis's allegory The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was "based on a true story" ... the greatest of all time ... which was Jesus' coming to Earth to reclaim what was rightfully His -- the human race.  Just as the white witch, Jadis, had illegitimately crowned herself "Queen of Narnia" and oppressed Aslan's people, our enemy of old, Satan, fashioned himself "Ruler of Earth," confiscating all that belonged to God's children: life, liberty, happiness ... everything. 

We have hung out for many weeks in the opening verse of Isaiah 61, where Jesus (in His Luke 4 reading) announces His ministry to free the poor, the brokenhearted, the bound, and the desperate.  

BUT HE DOESN'T STOP THERE, HALLELUJAH!  He goes on to tell what these newly freed captives will RECLAIM.

See, Jesus' audience that day had no trouble understanding what was meant by "to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor." It is a clear reference to the Levitical "Year of Jubilee" -- when slaves must be released to their rightful life of freedom, and when properties must be released to revert to their rightful owners.

"And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family." (Leviticus 25:10, NKJV)

It was so named "the Year of Jubilee," not because it was to last for just one year, after which all those slaves could be recaptured and properties seized once again.  NO, rather, it was the year when all those people and properties should become -- in the words of Abraham Lincoln -- "then, thenceforth, and forever free."  Or, as Aslan put it, it was the year when "all names [would] ... be restored to their proper owners."

The Apostle John writes, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (I John 3:1a, NKJV)

And Peter: "Once you were nobody. Now you are God's people." (I Peter 2:10a, CEV)

As the Jews sing at Passover, "Dayenu!" -- meaning, "it would have been enough" -- if God had just set us free from Egypt.  But He has done so much more.  Whereas Isaiah 61:1 is the Red Sea crossing out of captivity, verse 2 is the Jordan crossing into the promised land.  Where verse 1 springs us from the "Queen of Narnia's" prison, verse 2 restores us to our rightful place from the dawn of creation -- as God's own people.  Not just for one blessed year, but henceforth and forever.  Amen.

Once again, let's remember that Jesus started this whole Isaiah 61 / Luke 4 ministry ... just to hand us the reins.  "Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21b, NASB)

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, thank you for Your amazing grace, which not only freed me from sin, but also restored me to my rightful inheritance as a child of God! Let me never lose sight of my commission, but rather light within me an ever-increasing flame of passion to carry on Your ministry of modeling and proclaiming the Isaiah 61 message of deliverance and reconciliation to all those You send my way.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 5/2/2021.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

ALOFT IN A BODY BAG - Isaiah 61 Devotional #5

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim ... release from darkness for the prisoners.."
– Isaiah 61:1e (NIV)
 
As the curtain lifts on Chapter 20 of The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas, 1844), the protagonist, Edmond Dantès, has been imprisoned fourteen years in the darkest dungeons of the Chateau D'If (a 16th-century French Alcatraz ... on steroids!) after having been framed for a political crime he did not commit.  And now, the pious Abbé Faria -- Dantès' only dungeon companion, and the only glimmer of hope in his desperate plight -- has died, and is lying still in a body bag waiting for the prison guards to come haul him off.

"They will forget me here," laments Dantès in his despair, "and I shall die in my dungeon like Faria.... None but the dead pass freely from this dungeon ...”

At which moment, our hero has an epiphany.  Why not bring on death forthwith?  And so, he drags his friend's corpse away through a tunnel and stuffs himself into the body bag instead.  When the guards show up, they carry him out and launch him off the cliff on which Chateau D'If is perched, and into the sea below -- their standard method of burying their hapless dead.  Dantès, naturally, had provisioned himself with a knife, so he promptly cut his way out of the body bag and swam off to start his new life as the fabulously rich Count of Monte Cristo.  (As for how he came by such fabulous riches ... you will have to read the book.)

By happy accident, our monthly trek through Isaiah 61 brings us on Easter Day to the end of verse one: "The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim ... release from darkness for the prisoners..."

In previous weeks, we have sounded the depths of this verse truth by truth, the latest having been "...to proclaim freedom for the captives."  We explored various means by which the great enemy of our soul holds his captives in bondage, such as:  comfort, entertainment, wealth, security, and the fear of man.  

However, it is important to note that our Lord, Whose every word is carefully chosen -- He is not given to pointless redundancy -- says that He not only came to proclaim "freedom for the captives," but also "release from darkness for the prisoners."  Because, not only are there satanic powers that hold us captive to vice, but there are those that would further imprison the soul in the deep darkness of despair.  Think of it this way.... If Captivity is a landslide that blocks our path toward the "life in abundance" our Savior came to gift us, Dark Despair is a Mount Everest landed squarely on top of us, ending all hope of getting there.  It is the Chateau D'If, from which dungeon the only way out is in a body bag.

But, just as Abbé Faria provided the only means of escape for Dantès -- with his own body bag -- our Lord Jesus Christ descended into the grave in order that, through His resurrection, He would set us free from the power of death.  And, not only death -- which is the ultimate dungeon indeed -- but all other dark prisons that confine us.  This is, of course, the miracle of Easter.

But what shall we do with this glorious freedom?  

Certainly not to imitate Edmond Dantès, who devotes the remainder of his life to exacting revenge from those who sent him to prison those fourteen years.  (The Count of Monte Cristo is a bittersweet tale for, without fail, whenever he executes one of his seemingly flawless plots of vengeance, it has the unintended effect of also bringing down sorrow upon those he holds dear ... and, ultimately, on himself.)

What, then?

"As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you,” Jesus said. (John 20:21)  Which means, among other things, that He is sending us "to proclaim ... release from darkness for the prisoners..."  

Jesus never hesitated to go where He could find people bound in darkness.  He left the multitudes behind and made a special journey to the country of the Gadarenes just to free a single wretched soul held in prison by a legion of devils.  And, that is not the only one-on-one house call our Lord made.  There was the Samaritan woman, a lonely outcast of five shipwrecked marriages.  And the widow of Nain, who had lost her only son and hope of provision.

As we reflect on our Lord's incomprehensible love, which sprung us from Satan's dungeon by means of His own body bag, to the glorious new life of Easter morning, let us not lose sight of His compelling commission in Isaiah 61.  "As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for His death and resurrection that set me free, not only from the darkness of sin and death, but also from the many dark prisons in which the enemy would confine me. Please give me a passion to continue Jesus' ministry of setting free those who are oppressed by the devil. And, by Your power I shall!
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 4/4/2021.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

TERTIARY ADJUNCT OF UNIMATRIX ZERO-ONE - Isaiah 61 Devotional #4

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim freedom for the captives..."
– Isaiah 61:1d (NIV)
 
"So quiet!" wailed Seven. "Just one voice."

"One voice can be stronger than a thousand voices," replied Janeway. "Your mind is independent now, with its own unique identity."

"You are forcing that identity upon me. It's not mine."

"Oh yes it is." replied Janeway, her voice brimming with compassion. "I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you. The existence you were denied, the child who never had a chance. That life is yours to live now."

Any serious "Trekkie" would immediately identify this exchange as being from "The Gift" -- one of the opening episodes of Star Trek Voyager's second season. 

"Seven," of course, was short for "Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One" -- her Borg "designation." Borg have no names, only designations. Names are "irrelevant."

Formerly a human child, Annika Hansen, Seven had been captured and assimilated many years ago by the Borg to become a drone in their collective, where, as half-humanoid-half-machine, their minds are technologically interlinked. Each Borg drone hears the thoughts of the entire collective, so they think and act as one. They find strength and comfort in their communal thought world. 

Now, while imprisoned in Starship Voyager's brig, as much for her own safety as that of the ship, Seven is unaccustomed to hearing nothing but her own thoughts within her troubled head, rather than thousands of voices. She has been severed from the collective's "hive mind," and the silence is maddening.

It is at this point that Kathryn Janeway, the captain of Voyager, meets with Seven and tries to convey the magnitude of the gift of freedom she has been given. But it isn't until the end of the fourth season, about seventy-five episodes later, that Seven finally comes to appreciate her freedom and turns down the opportunity of returning to the Borg collective.

Wherever Jesus walked, we see Him setting captives free. But to effectively continue that ministry -- as He commanded us to do -- we must be able to recognize captivity in all its manifestations. Moreover, we must understand the addictive effects of long-term captivity on the human mind and spirit.

Captivity can be a source of identity, security, serenity -- and torpor. Caught in Satan's web, injected with his mind-numbing venom, the captive feels no compulsion to escape. In fact, even after experiencing new birth through our Savior's blood, it may require months -- even years -- for many of us Christians to fully yield to the Holy Spirit's venom-purging action.

Captivity has many "perks" that tempt us away from the purposes of God, away from the glorious existence He has ordained for us, away from His promise of "life in abundance." 

- The Israelites yearned for the "good old days" of their slavery because the fine cuisine they left behind seemed more enticing than the Promised Land ahead. COMFORT.

- Or, we have the rich young ruler who couldn't follow the One he recognized as his "Good Master" ... because he would miss the gold clinking in his counting-house. WEALTH.

- Pilate had repeatedly sought to release Jesus until the Jews played their ace: "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar." Then Pilate washed Jesus off his hands. POSITION, POWER.

- One disciple would not follow Jesus because he needed to "bury his father" -- i.e., he wanted to see the inheritance divided first. SECURITY.

- Even Peter, who had been part of Christ's inner circle for more than three years, succumbed to peer pressure around the campfire and denied his Lord. FEAR OF MAN.

Ponder Jesus' words in Luke 9:23. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Herein is the divine paradox: that the cross, which would seem to rob us of freedom, is actually the source of true freedom. "May I never boast," says the Apostle Paul, "except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14, NIV) It is the power of the cross applied daily to our lives that ultimately releases us from the world's grip of captivity -- with all its deceptive "perks."

As Captain Janeway explained to Seven of Nine, "I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you. The existence you were denied, the child who never had a chance. That life is yours to live now." 

Jesus the Anointed One came to proclaim liberty to the captives. And now He has given us the keys of the Kingdom to go forth and continue the task of setting captives free.

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, open my eyes to see where I'm still held captive by webs of comfort, entertainment, wealth, security, fear of man, and whatever else. Please set me free, that I may continue Your earthly ministry by proclaiming freedom to all those You send my way.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 3/7/2021.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

MR BELL'S FIXIT SHOP - Isaiah 61 Devotional #3

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to heal the brokenhearted..."
– Isaiah 61:1c (NKJV)
 
"Mr. Bell could fix almost anything. Broken locks, broken clocks, broken pans, broken fans, broken plates, broken skates -- he could fix them all. People smiled when they walked past his little shop and saw the sign in the window. It said: 'MR. BELL'S FIXIT SHOP. I FIX EVERYTHING BUT BROKEN HEARTS' -- with a picture of a cracked heart."

So begins the story of Mr. Bell's Fixit Shop (Ronne Peltzman, 1981) -- my children's best-loved Little Golden Book thirty years ago, and now my four-year-old granddaughter's favorite as well. Mr. Bell was a darling septuagenarian who could fix anything and everything that the citizens of his tiny town brought to him. But those qualifications alone don't make for a memorable children's tale. 

What elevates the book to a timeless classic -- and Mr. Bell to the level of hero -- is when Jill, a child who loved to spend her afternoons in his fixit shop, burst through the shop door one day with her favorite doll hopelessly mutilated by the family dog. Our protagonist spends most of the night alone in his shop, applying his near-miraculous fixit powers to the doll's remains. When Jill arrives at the shop next morning, the dolly-love of her life is looking as good -- better, even -- than when she was new.
 
"When you fixed my dolly," says Jill, "you fixed my broken heart too." And, in response to the grateful child's urging, Mr. Bell alters the sign in his window: adding a Band-aid over the cracked heart, and changing the words to: "I FIX EVERYTHING -- *EVEN* BROKEN HEARTS."

A broken heart is, by definition, a state of grief and despair resulting from the loss of something profoundly meaningful -- often a relationship or a person who is deeply loved. And the only way to truly cure a broken heart is either to restore that which was lost (as in the case of Jill), or else to replace it with a new object of profound love, for example, if a child receives a new puppy in place of his beloved dog who died, or a young lady finds true love in place of the weasel who jilted her. 

Continuing our fascinating journey through Isaiah 61, the passage prophetic of Jesus' earthly mission, we see Him as the great Healer of broken hearts. He accomplished this feat, of course, through the cross and resurrection -- restoring what Adam had lost for us in the Fall: relationship with Him Who is deeply loved, our Creator. Through this miracle of reconciliation, He lifted humanity from brokenhearted grief and despair, to the bosom of joy. 

But it doesn't end there! 

In the story of Mr. Bell, Jill tells him, "I want to have a fixit shop of my own when I grow up." So Mr. Bell made her his special helper. 

While on Earth, Jesus had twelve special helpers. And as He prepared to leave them, He said, "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent Me." (John 20:21 CEV) They had grown up, and now they had a fixit shop of their own. A shop that's come down to you and me.

How do we fix broken hearts? Sure, the power of the gospel -- salvation from Sin -- is the greatest healer of all. But there are other wounds of the heart as well. 

Ezra's commission was the rebuilding of the temple. As the foundation was laid, "Many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy." (Ezra 3:12 NIV) Restoration of worship brought healing to their broken hearts.

Nehemiah was sent to the repatriated captives at Jerusalem, who were in a desperate situation of "great distress and reproach" (Neh. 1:3 NKJV) due to their city's wall lying broken and burned. Rebuilding the city wall restored their security, pride, and national identity. The story closes with great joy and celebration (Nehemiah 8) as the people's collective broken heart, now restored, is lifted in praise.

John the Baptist's ministry was to "turn heart of the fathers to the children, and the children to their fathers." (Malachi 4:6) Relationships restored. Broken hearts healed.

What has the great Fixer of Broken Hearts ordained YOU to do? Whether the task be great, small, or in-between, you can -- as the old hymn says -- "be His hand extended / Reaching out to the oppressed."

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, I know You have a special place for me in the corps of broken-heart healers. Help me discover what it is and, in Your limitless strength, make a difference in the lives of those You place in my path.

In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 2/17/2021.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

YOU CAN'T FIT A SQUARE FOOT INTO A ROUND SLIPPER - Isaiah 61 Devotional #2

 

"...The Lord has anointed [and] commissioned Me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted..."
– Isaiah 61:1b (AMP)
 
There, on a hazel tree, sat two pigeons, crying out:
Rook di goo,
Rook di goo!
There's blood in the shoe.
The shoe is too tight.
This bride is not right!
 

Just another sweet little G-rated fairy tale by that 19th-century duo, The Brothers Grimm. When I was six years old, my mother would read me a fairy tale every bedtime. But, purist that she was, they had to be from the same dusty old tomes of Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm that she had cut her own teeth on a few decades earlier. Funny thing ... I never experienced childhood trauma or suffered nightmares with scenes of bloody mayhem such as Cinderella's prissy siblings dismembering their own feet to fit into the golden shoe. (No, it was NOT a glass slipper! I suppose Disney didn't have the budget to write proper slippers -- of pure gold -- into their candy-coated version.)

 

Continuing the story ... once the hazel-pigeons had ratted out those two little angels with their frenetically-modified appendages ...

 

"Don't you have another daughter?" asked the prince.

 

"No," said the father. "Only a deformed little Cinderella from my first wife, but she cannot possibly be the bride."

 

"Oh, no," agreed the stepmother, "She is much too dirty. She cannot be seen."

 

But the prince insisted on it, and ... you know the rest of the story.

 

"The Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor," our Savior said, reading in the synagogue from Isaiah 61. (Or "the meek." Or "the humble and afflicted," as rendered by other translations.)

 

In fact, the Cinderella story has been retold in various forms and by numerous cultures since ... by wondrous coincidence! ... right about the time of Jesus' own life and ministry on Earth. Fairy tales, as a genre, have been common currency across the ages because they contain the stuff of life: the wealthy and the poor, the lofty and the afflicted, good vs. evil, hope vs. despair.

 

This world's wise and wealthy expect divine favor by virtue of their status. Sure, I'll squeeze my foot into the Prince's golden slipper. What's an extra few toes, between friends? But Jesus didn't come to rub elbows with the wise and wealthy (unless they set those things aside to follow Him, of course); He came to bring good news to regular people like you and me. Because those lofty folk had "blood in the shoe."

 

In the Parable of the Great Banquet, after all the influential guests scorned the Lord's invitation, he "... became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'" (Luke 14:21, NIV)

 

The Wise Men sought Jesus in a king's palace ... but the shepherds had already found him lying in a manger. The chief priests and rulers expected a Messiah in shining armor, riding forth to crush the Roman invader ... but the "humble and afflicted" had already found a lowly carpenter riding a donkey into Jerusalem where he would make the ultimate sacrifice and break their yoke of affliction. 

 

What does this mean for us, His disciples? "As the Father has sent me, so also I am sending you," said Jesus before ascending to his throne.

 


Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, forgive me for all the ways I've favored people for their status, their wealth, and all the other things this world values, and ignored the poor, the humble, and the afflicted. Fill me with the love of Jesus so I'll be a bearer of good news to the poor and afflicted who cross my path.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 1/10/2021.