Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26, 2013 … Staying Vertical

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 177

 Passage of the Day #1: 1st Peter 2: 21-23 [Jesus held to the Vertical no matter what!] [NLT] 21 This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, Who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps. 22 He never sinned, and He never deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God, Who always judges fairly.  
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: 1st Peter, Chapter 2 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: 2nd Cor. 12: 9 [Going vertical in the midst of horizontal challenges.] [NLT]  
9 Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Hear Joni Lamb singing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
Sing the chorus along with her ...
 Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
 Look full in His wonderful face;
 And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
 In the light of His glory and grace.

My Journal for Today: In the midst of all the horizontal demands and challenges from this world and from our own horizontal perspective on life, it’s so hard to remain focused on our vertical relationship with God, isn’t it? … And anyone reading along with me here today, knows that is true, don’t you?

Jesus faced that very human dilemma when He walked this earth; but our Savior, as documented in today’s highlight passage from 1st Peter 2: 23 never lost His focus on His vertical relationship with His Father’s will for Him as well as on the Spirit’s presence and power in that Godhead relationship to give The Son all He needed to handle His very horizontal trek to the cross as the Lamb of God. Oh, yes, … as the 1st Peter passage documents, when He was being spat upon, scourged, and marched to the cross, with the horizontal demands of Satan and the world were at the heaviest upon our Savior, Jesus could have called down a legion of angels to intervene on His behalf. He could have relented to the horizontal expectations of the people of His time, who wanted Him to become their warrior King to defeat the Romans and take over as “The King of the Jews,” as He was labeled on that cross.

But (and it’s an enormous BUT), in that passionate moment of extreme horizontal trial, Jesus remained totally focused on the Vertical demands of His Father; and therefore, He became our most salient model to do all we can to remain in the Vertical in the midst of the horizontal.

One of my favorite true stories in the New Testament involving a very human figure exhibiting this principle was the story of Paul dealing with that “thorn,” which God allowed Satan to give him just after the Apostle had been given a very vertical image of heaven. And then, immediately thereafter (see 2nd Cor. 12: 1-11) Paul was thrown into a very human and painful horizontal challenge, being overtaken by some physical/emotional pain, which was almost overwhelming. And Paul responded just as almost any of us would have to this horizontal attack. He humbly prayed to God, over and over again, that the Lord would lift the “thorn” from him.

But then Paul remember something Jesus had said to him (at sometime in their interaction); and Jesus’ red-letter words are quoted from that challenging time for Paul, when Jesus said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” And in remembering that message from His Lord, Paul realized that in the very horizontal pain he had experienced from the “thorn,” he had taken his eyes off of his vertical relationship with Christ; and he was able to see that he, Paul, needed that “thorn” to keep him humble enough to receive God’s enabling/empowering grace from his vertical relationship with the Lord.

What about us? In the midst of all the horizontal demands of this world as well as from any horizontally focused personal trials, do we have trouble keeping our eyes vertically focused on Jesus … as the song to which I’ve linked you above exhorts?

If you haven’t done so, please go back and use that link above to hear and sing along with Joni Lamb, who so lyrically leads us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.” Because in the midst of all the horizontal of this world and our own personal pain, that’s the only way that we’re going to hold on to our vertical focus in our relationship with God.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to stay focused on You! … Amen

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