May 19, 2020
by Don Hesson
Romans 8:26, 27, 34
Today’s devotional is about the power of intercession. I’m not referring to our intercession and prayers to God on behalf of others; that is for another time. I am referring to the intercession of God on our behalf.
Recently, as a product of the world’s fallen state, my family was dealt what could be termed a very poor and untimely hand of cards. Both of my parents are hospitalized at the time of my writing this. One has been diagnosed with cancer, and the other is awaiting results. As my wife and I continue to share the unfolding of news with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are receiving various encouragements. One of those came in the form of a song entitled “I STILL BELIEVE.” This very morning (05-19-2020), I sat and listened to the recording of this song in the parking lot prior to entering the hospital to split my time between the rooms of my folks.
As I listened, and worshiped, I joined in the refrain, and sang to the dashboard of my parents’ Prius. I’m known in some circles as “the voice” due to my booming reverberations when handed a microphone in order to address our congregation. The production team in control of sound can readily attest to this, and I’m sure they are doing some fancy technological footwork, scrambling to adjust whenever I approach the platform.
Today was as polar opposite from that as one could imagine. As I sang in the car, it was a feeble, and faint whisper, barely audible to even myself, and mingled with subtle tears and blubbering. I like to sing, and I like to sing LOUD; and in the moment, I admitted to myself that “loud” this was NOT. At exactly THAT moment, the Holy Spirit interjected His thoughts on the matter. The knowing impression given to me was in the form of a word; the word was “amplify.”
As I pondered this, I was immediately aware of what He was saying. In essence, it was this: “Don, your words, your worship and your prayers may seem nearly inaudible to you, but rest assured, they are ringing like a bell at the throne of grace!” Further contemplation led me to this conclusion of perspective: As loud as I may seem to myself, and to others with a microphone in my hand, it is nothing in comparison to the amplification of my heart's cry by God unto Himself.
THIS is the power of intercession. Not only does the Holy Spirit make sense of our prayers, he also makes them sound aloud, clarion clear as they are taken to our Heavenly Father (see Romans 8:26). The Father of course is able, willing and ready to act upon what He receives (see Romans 8:27). And as those heart cries arrive, there too sits Jesus, also making intercession (see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
Every member of the Trinity is actively creating the best that could be offered! It comes in the form of His love, it is delivered in the perfect balance of grace and truth, and it manifests in ways and means that are above our pay grade, and certainly beyond our understanding. Of course, some are easily distinguishable; encouraging words, prayers, Scriptures, or even songs attached in a text or an email. Other packages of power, provision and peace may not be as readily recognizable, or as easy to unwrap. Nevertheless, God is always actively accepting our worship and our prayers; and He is just as readily responding, and releasing His answers.
We need not concern ourselves with how loud, or how lucid our cries to the Living God may seem to us; or to anyone else for that matter. Our weaknesses serve to move us out of the way of ourselves in order to receive from Him (see Romans 8:26; II Corinthians 12:9-11). God hears, God sees, God knows, God cares, and most importantly, God loves! God IS love, and it is from the resources of His unlimited self that He answers, intercedes and intervenes.
When I don’t understand, when my emotions are at once both raw, and completely numb, when I can’t be loud, or lucid, when I can’t pray with ease, or eloquence, because God is God, I STILL BELIEVE!
BELIEVE WITH ME!
May 16, 2020
by Don Hesson
Today’s devotion is particularly relevant as we continue to play the waiting game with government imposed restrictions, medical quarantines, self isolation discretions, and social distancing observances. The space required for the full text of the passage above does not allow for its inclusion here. Nevertheless, as one reads, there are a number of small realities that have their consummation in one universal truth. Please take a moment to read this Scripture before moving on with the reading of this devotional...
... This seems to be a passage that is quite redundant in its message. Perhaps that fact alone is enough to give us pause in the context of our present COVID-19 reality. We’ve heard a great deal about getting back to “normal.” Perhaps a slightly more enlightened phrase, which we are also hearing, speaks of the “new normal.” To be sure, as we emerge from the corona virus crisis, there will be prudent, and perhaps mandatory adjustments to the rhythms of our physical existence. But today’s focus is on the spiritual counterparts or parallels to those tangible variants.
If you’ve read and pondered the passage for today, no doubt you’re picking up on the tenor of the message. First, night and day variation did not matter to the children of Israel. Second, location was not a point of emphasis. Whether they were in the camp or on the road was irrelevant. Third, duration was of no consequence. One day, or several, there was no blip registering on their radar. Day or night, staying or going, a day, a week, a month or even a year- none of these details held any significance.
What was the compelling factor, and what was the issue that was utmost on the minds, and in the hearts of the Israelites? It was the cloud and the fire. Whether it was the cloud by day, or the fire by night, this was the manifestation of the Presence of the Lord. As a single, living, breathing organism, the whole nation of Israel acted according to the Presence of God. They were committed to sanctification; the setting apart of themselves unto the Lord. A single, living, breathing organism; sound familiar? I hope so. This is a picture of the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Church. Wherever He goes, we are to go. Whatever He speaks, we are to say. Whatever He does, we are to do. Day or night, stay or go, for a brief moment or an extended season, we are to be in His Presence, taking our lead from Him.
Truly, dwelling in the Presence of the Lord is its own reward. David understood this well. Two passages of Scripture come immediately to mind.
“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4, NKJV).
“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1, NKJV).
In both of these passages, David was writing of being in intimate communion, fellowship and deliberation with God. In fact, at the time of the latter of these two passages, the tabernacle was not the one described in Exodus as the tent of meeting which was a forerunner of the temple to be built by Solomon. Rather, this tabernacle was closer in size to a tipi. There were no formalities, no religious rituals; it was a one room dwelling, and a person was either in or out with no progression or degrees of intimacy.
God knows our human frailties; the mortality of our bodies, the limits of our understanding, the fragility of our emotions and the invalidity of our wills- He knows them all, and He is gracious in picking up the pieces and taking care of the details. David knew this too!
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV).
Centuries later, Jesus, known as the Son of David, spoke to this as well in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 6:25-34), which He summarized with, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).
COVID-19 is real. Both it, and the peripheral issues it presents are real, and they affect real people! There is no excusing insensitivity to this fact. The intent of today’s message is not to minimize the realities of anyone’s difficulties. Rather it is to magnify for everyone the power, provision and peace manifested in the Presence of the Living God.
We are experiencing something new in the form of this virus. No, it is not pleasant, and this is a gross understatement. But God is bringing us through something new because He is calling us to something new. The “new normal” is a return to the old normal. Modeled, patterned and taught to us by the Israelites in Numbers Chapter Nine, King David, and the King of Kings, we are being drawn into the Presence, the Passion and the Purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not walk, but RUN toward the event horizon, the point of no return with Jesus, as wise virgins in waiting for the Bridegroom, with Holy Spirit oil to burn, and then some! This IS our “new normal!”
As a final encouragement, let us return to the familiar words of a hymn written by Helen Howarth Lemmel:
“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.”