Tuesday, June 27, 2017

500,000 views and counting :)

Yesterday, the blog broke through the 500,000 mark. Thank you to everyone who has ever visited, read, or commented on the blog. Here's to getting through the 1 million mark!

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26 devotion - Acedia - Romans 5:5

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. (NIV)

I came across a new word the other day: acedia. It means ‘spiritual languor.’ I guess it’s like belief burnout or compassion fatigue. It’s when you lose your connection to God, His church, or His people, and you end up feeling isolated, vulnerable, and maybe even abandoned.

Acedia is like being in a spiritual wilderness with no sense of direction, focus, or meaning. It’s a hard state to be in and a difficult experience to endure. Souls can feel lost in acedia, but it seems to be an important part of our spiritual journey and Christian growth.

The Desert Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries experienced a lot of this, especially when they chose to be isolated from the rest of the Christian community. They went out into the desert to find themselves because they were too many distractions around them in the towns and cities where they lived. They found the peace and quiet, solace and tranquility they were looking for, but slowly and surely acedia wormed its way into their hearts and minds. For a time, their souls became depressed and their grasp of God weakened. Some of them went mad with despair, whilst others were overwhelmed with a spiritual malaise.

So, how did they overcome acedia? They kept on praying. They kept on meditating about God. They kept on reading the scriptures. And even although this was hard to do, they persevered; bringing their souls through that acediac wilderness to a realization of a new hope in God’s overflowing love, through being reconnected to the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps, you are feeling the same acedia. Maybe you’ve felt disconnected to God for a while and have lost some of that peace, presence, and spiritual strength you so desperately need at this time. You’re not alone; others have walked that wilderness path before you. Keep praying. Keep reading. Keep persevering. You’ll one day discover that God still holds you in His hand and that He keeps pouring out His love to you day by day, hour by hour, second by second.

Point to ponder

How am I spiritually feeling today? How am I spiritually feeding today?

Prayer:            Father God, sometimes we feel that we have lost our grasp of faith and that things are not the same. Sometimes we wonder if You are really there, or if we are really that important to You. As we struggle with acedia, keep on loving us. Continue to guide us by Your grace and lead us with Your love. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at www.erinpresbyterian.org.

Today’s image is one of John’s Christ drawings called “Eternal Savior.” If you would like to view a larger version, click on this link: Savior.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21 devotion - Promises, Promises - Genesis 21:1

Genesis 21:1    Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. (NIV)

            My Grandma Stuart had a saying about people who disappointed her: “He’s a great promiser, but a bad fulfiller.” She came from a small Scottish religious community who were known as Rechabites. Her direct family members were all teetotalers who abstained from drinking alcohol and smoking, which is funny, because of her grandfather, James Doyle, who made his money manufacturing clay pipes for tobacco users. She was a strong-willed person who had a lot of gumption and determination. I guess I get most of my stubbornness and religiosity from her side of the family.

            Throughout the Bible, God constantly makes promises and never fails to fulfill them. In Sarah’s case, from the events described in Genesis 21, He sees to it that she bears a child even in her old age. The same blessing is also accomplished in Luke 1 when the elderly Elizabeth gives birth to John the Baptist. It’s all part of God’s way of completing the work of His salvation for the people on Earth. God is not only a great promiser; He’s also a great fulfiller.

            Every day, we experience the promises of God in our individual lives and across the entire Earth. His promises are both personal and global, as well as being current and historical. In Jesus, we have the greatest promise of salvation that humanity has ever known; in Christ, we also see the greatest fulfiller of God’s holy words.

Points to ponder

When and where have I experienced God’s promises in my life?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, through Your complete obedience to God and the fulfillment of all His promises, we have been given the sacred opportunity of forgiveness of our sins and being eternally restored to God. In response, we dedicate our lives to You and to Your continuing ministry of salvation throughout the world. In Your Holy Name, we cheerfully serve and thankfully pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the Scottish pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at: www.erinpresbyterian.org.

Today’s image is one of John’s church bulletin covers called ‘The Promise.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click the following link: Promise.