Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Tinder Box – Devotional Series
Welcome Friends & Comrades. Thank you for taking a few moments to think about, worship, and communicate with our God. No matter where you are sheltering in place or serving, take a couple deep, slow breaths and get lost in this popular prayer song. The resulting attitude will be important to the message we will share in a moment. Inner stillness and peace from God will be especially crucial, as we prepare to venture out into a world that is beginning to open, after much sickness, and amid great turmoil.
“Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.
Come bow before Him now, with reverence and fear.
In Him no sin is found. We stand on holy ground.
Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.”
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice and the forgiveness and mercy it affords. Holy Spirit, thank You for Your power and love that unites us and strengthens us for days such as these. Please draw especially close to us during these moments. Amen
Devotional thought: Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Tinder Box
We know that the world is extremely tense these days, with people sitting on the edge of their seat while waiting to see what is going to happen next. It is as though we all took in a quick breath and have been holding it for months now. Our bodies, minds, souls and spirits cannot go on indefinitely with that type of stress. You hear quite often, the phrase “That (insert an event) really rocked her world!” Now, this coronavirus has literally rocked our whole, collective world. “Rocked” is a way of saying that all the things we count on have been pulled out from under us. I would specify, everything except God. Sure, our enemy, the deceiver, would like us to believe that God has also left us, but it simply is not true.
So how do we behave when everything and everyone around us is so shaken up and tense? I say we should proceed very carefully, and in accordance with God’s word.
My favorite license plate, and scripture are the same. MICAH 6-8 on the license plate, representing Micah chapter 6, verse 8 in God’s word. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV) This is an answer to a question about what would please God. I think most of us have asked “What do I need to do to be right with God?” Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “I don’t want to get in trouble with the Man upstairs.” The sentiment is the same, and God’s recipe for right-ness or righteousness really is that simple, as spoken through the prophet Micah. Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. I would be amiss if I didn’t say that these three things are only sufficient for being right with God, after receiving forgiveness through Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to shed His love abroad in our heart.
So why do some unbelievers seem to do justice, mercy and humility better than Christians at times? I propose that sometimes Christians abide by the “Contemporary English Version” of “act justly,” and take it out of context. “See that justice is done.” Be careful what you do with that! We don’t want to become self-righteous, just because we know Jesus. Do we always know what is right? I believe that God is saying to us that we should each take care of our actions and decisions, knowing that He has the final say. Living out a day of this Biblical kind of righteousness in our homes and communities and institutions helps one sleep at night. Help those that have no job, care for the widows and orphans, promote fair wages, and make sure you sell a full three yards of fabric in your store if that is your claim. Make sure your words are full of mercy, as we are all judged by the same God. We don’t want our words or actions to be the spark that sets off the fire in this tinder box. (For those who are without Girl Scout Training, tinder is the very small, dry sticks that burst into flame easily.)
In contrast, true Christian living, not just when people are looking, but in all facets of our lives, will have a ripple effect. Biblical righteousness (life without a gnawing guilty conscience), allows us to exhale and relieves some stress, consequently allowing God’s inner peace to rule. And this peace, (when we don’t have to always worry about getting the last word and trying to remember which version of the story we told to which people), allows us to be honest and more loving. Yes, we may even be able to enjoy others, seeing them as unique creations of God. Friends, this can lead to joy. You may say “Major Hughes, you have gone too far. Joy in these circumstances?” I say to you “definitely!” The peace that flows from Micah 6:8 righteousness, makes us want to do more to help others instead of putting them down or judging. That clears the way to see how God works, and the beauty therein. The scales fall from our eyes, and we notice more and more blessings from God. My concluding thought is this. A little joy is infectious and draws others into the Kingdom. Are you interested?
My blessing over you today is from Psalm 62:5-8. Please receive this Benediction.
May your soul “find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”[Need a little joy- the joy that will help us as we begin to hear first- hand what our friends, comrades, congregation and community members have been through? I recommend worshiping with Ron Kenoly. See if you can find him singing about “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost- that’s the Kingdom of God!” Another song he sings, which is appropriate is Mourning into Dancing. Just beware that these songs are contagious and may make you want to congregate in groups of more than 10- don’t do it! And if you rush out to tell others about the Kingdom, remember social distancing.]
written by Major Tracy Hughes, Overseas Children Sponsorship Bureau Director, Mission and Culture Department, USA East