PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Luke 5:17–19 (NIV)
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
One day Jesus was teaching,
We are back in the village today—Capernaum—right there on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is being hosted in someone’s home and he is teaching. What is he teaching? We don’t know in this instance. However, I have a working theory I want to test by you. Anywhere and everywhere Jesus is teaching, he is teaching about one thing and one thing only. This one thing takes on the shape of many things, indeed it extends into everything. All of Jesus’s teaching comes back to divine love. He is teaching and training on the three most essential realities of life: 1. How to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, 2. How to love ourselves in the manner with which God loves us, and 3. How to love others (i.e. our neighbor) with the self-same love with which we love ourselves which finds its source in God’s love for us. Not only is the holy love of God the foundation and capstone of the Law and the Prophets, it is the generative core and movemental circumference of the kingdom of heaven now coming on earth.
and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.
Jesus is ever and always interpreting, extrapolating, illustrating, and demonstrating the holiness of divine love. He is dealing, as every age and generation must, with the misunderstanding, and consequent caricatures, of holiness being advanced by the religious establishment. In every era, this establishment entrenches itself all along a worldly spectrum ranging from conservatism to progressivism and from legalism to licentiousness as it both contends against, aligns with, and thereby conforms itself to the surrounding culture and one or another of its many factions.
Jesus will not adopt any ideologies nor align with any faction, though all will court and quote him to advance their interests. Jesus is the embodied presence of divine love—the only ruler (aka Lord) who can live and move and have his being in this world without becoming of this world. And this is precisely because he is not from this world—hence his most central prayer: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. He’s looking for people who will join him; who will be born again—not from below but from above.
Anyhow, all this to say there is a reason Jesus did not set up headquarters in Jerusalem. The religious establishment, however, was keeping tabs. They came to him.
I know. That was a lot to say and maybe I should have put it in the notes, but I wanted you to think and pray with me about it. The world context is always complex. Jesus has a way of stepping into it and bringing it back to the simple complexity of divine love. It’s what I love about the next line:
And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.
Translation: Kingdom at hand! Awakening immanent!
Call to action: Wake up, sleeper!
Just then, the ceiling above Jesus begins to crumble and fall to the floor.
Our Father, as we think through the complexity of this world and even our own nation and society, we find ourselves skeptical. I have lived long enough now not to be naïve or to buy into an overly simplistic solution like Jesus healing one leper or another paralyzed man as somehow becoming translated into the answer to the many fires of crisis raging all around us. Yet I am drawn to him in an irresistible way and something deep in my soul tells me the solution could be as simple as small awakenings becoming great awakening—complex as that may seem. Something tells me Jesus is not the big, simple, idealistic answer but millions and billions of solutions, small in scope but mighty in divine love; maybe like one church taking in one refugee family for the next thirty years and then another church and another family until there’s a million of them. I don’t know. I just know my mind and heart keep wandering away from political feuds and ideological fault lines and back to Jesus, to listen to him speak, to watch him work, to behold him acting for the one and somehow revealing the solution for the many. I don’t want to sit with the scribes and the Pharisees. I want to be in the group of four friends on the roof trying to get the fifth in front of Jesus. Holy Spirit, I yield myself to you as a vessel for your translation of my life into the solution of Jesus. Praying in his name, amen.
Do you find my working theory frustrating and obfuscating, or interesting and hopeful—maybe even raising your curiosity? How does it shape or even shake your thinking? What do you think awakening might look like in today’s complex context? Can you begin to fathom it? Pray for the imagination of divine love to flood your heart and mind with vision and hope, with all the possibilities of the kingdom of heaven coming through the ceiling.
It’s time to get back to “Shine Jesus Shine” again. Today let’s sing the chorus, verse two, and the chorus again. It is hymn 217 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
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… And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick…..
In this verse, can I substitute GOD for Lord? To read…
And the power of the GOD, HIS FATHER was with Jesus to heal the sick.
I agree with the context of your devotion, JD. Simply, Jesus was teaching about Himself. He always points in speech, character, and action, the epicenter of His being, Divine Love.
A question about loving others as ourselves. Our love for ourselves comes from a selfish, me-first stance, where we strive for things, and positions before our concern for others. Our well-being is placed ahead of others. If I’m having any type of surgery, it’s a major ordeal, thiers?-minor. Would I be as concerned for my neighbor if his furnace breaks during freezing temperatures as I would if mine broke? Am I as concerned about my neighbor’s salvation as I am mine?
Here’s what I’m leading too, when we turn that motivation of self-love we have for us, from us, through Christ, does it become divine love?
Staying 💪’n Christ,
When the religious roof starts falling miracles happen!
The various forms religious establishment have something in common. They all want to be followed. But Jesus said: “Follow Me.” After Judas caused the roof to fall in and the religious establishment had Jesus executed, He rose, ascended, and returned as the invisible Spirit–“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Today helping people follow the invisible Leader (the risen Jesus) is simple. It doesn’t require weekly lists of explanations, theology, and steps. Simply identify the Leader. Then step aside and let people open their heart to Him to listen to and obey Him together (instead of following their self-focused desires or fears) as they seek first the kingdom of God and His right living.
Jesus’s teaching about self was simple. He taught deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me. He also said that if we lose our life, we will find it. Self wants to find and maintain comfort. It fears the religious establishment and feels great pressure to conform to its form of godliness that too often ignores the invisible Leader. By setting aside the demands of self, people are empowered to focus on and follow the invisible Leader together.
If you’ve ever played “follow the leader” you get this. It’s so simple that lectures that load people down with instructions are redundant. There’s no need for a lot of verbal directions. It’s hands-on learning. People are taught to play “follow the leader” by getting them started, allowing them to play, and offering caring oversight (like a basketball official) to help keep people focused on the leader.
My heart longs to see pastors and other church leaders begin to allow follow-the-invisible-Leader sessions in their services. That’s what I think awakening might look like in today’s complex context. I can fathom it because I frequently experience follow-the-invisible-Leader sessions with other people where we listen to and obey the living Jesus together. Those sessions are always amazing!
What spoke to me most was this in your prayer:” Yet I am drawn to him in an irresistible way and something deep in my soul tells me the solution could be as simple as small awakenings becoming great awakening—complex as that may seem. Something tells me Jesus is not the big, simple, idealistic answer but millions and billions of solutions, small in scope but mighty in divine love;”
To recognize Him moving, or speaking to me through scripture or answered prayer in the simple things in my life that are really very important to me and repeatedly assures me of His power and His love and draws me closer to and yearn for even more of Him.”
JD, concerning what an Awakening might look like: I envision individual small fires being ignited as the Holy Spirit begins to transform surrendered hearts. What begins as a small cluster of flame’s begins to spread out until it becomes a raging inferno. Meanwhile the entrenched religious establishment is attempting to extinguish it with water pistols.