Lenten Devotion 03.21.2014

March 21 – Friday
Fasting Item(s): TV, Movies, DVD’s & Videos.
Today’s Scripture: Psalm 5:11-12 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever.  Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.  For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love.” NLT
Question: When was the last time you called someone and said that you love them, just because?
Devotion: I love (Philia) me some Stevie Wonder!!!  A Michigan native who’s earned 25 Grammy Awards, 74 nominations and even an Academy Award!  In a ten year period, he earned 15 or his 25 Grammy Awards – talk about impressive!  He got his first album deal by age 9!  I thought I would state the obvious (to me), Stevie’s completely blind.  In fact, in 1973 he was involved in a near fatal car accident that took away his sense of smell and taste (temporarily).  One writer says that if you think about it, “he really is just a walking pair of ears” (Robin Murray).  Talk about an extreme life, full of really high highs and really low lows.  In 1984, Stevie wrote one of my favorite songs, “I Just Called to Say I Love You“; a song that won him an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.  Why am I going into great detail about Stevie Wonder, AKA, Stevland Hardaway Judkins?  I believe his being born blind gave him an opportunity to see God more clearly than what most of us ever get.  What I mean by that is, we have so many things to be thankful for, it becomes intoxicating to the reality that all these things come from a perfect Creator who loves (Agape) us.  Not making sense yet?  How about this – why is it when you say the word “hippy” we automatically think “tree-hugger”?  I know it’s an unfair stereotype of people who take Genesis 2:15 seriously, but is taking care of the earth really the end goal?  I believe that Stevie took refuge in the LORD and used his musical gifting from God to joyfully sing praises to his Creator.  Although Stevie had his ups and downs with public sins and probably many more private sins, he didn’t sit in that darkness for long.  He was back at it, giving his voice a tuning and praising God for the GOOD things in his life, unlike what many of us today do.  I’ve become more aware of how people talk these days, saying things like, “Why doesn’t Consumers Energy get their act together and get my power back on!”  Or phrases like, “I hate this gas station!  They never have the cigarettes I like.”  I’ve even heard dozens of parents tell their children (perhaps jokingly) that “they’re CRAZY!”  I’m pretty sure those parents aren’t clinical psychologists, so why in the world would you call your child CRAZY?!!!  I’m fully aware of what mental health is all about and an immature child will act as though they don’t have any social mores.  Those lessons are learned over a long period of time.  The point I’m trying to painfully communicate can best be told by James, one of Jesus’ closest disciples.  “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.  Indeed, we all make many mistakes.  For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.  We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.  And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.  In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.  But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.  And the tongue is a flame of fire.  It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body.  It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  Sometimes it praises our LORD and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.  Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!  Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?  Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs?  No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.” (James 3:1-12 NLT)  Now Stevie’s song, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” doesn’t have any qualifiers as to why he’s calling.  “You sent me this awesome gift and ‘I just called to say I love you.'”  He doesn’t say, “I just called to say I love you because you really helped my do my taxes.”  No.  I believe he’s saying this because he’s been loved (Agape) by Christ, forgiven and redeemed and he wants to share that heart-felt love (Agape) to whoever will listen.  So when was the last time you just called to say “I love you”, just because?  Remember what Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (ESV)  However, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6 ESV)  Let us learn how to see the goodness of God, through the eyes of a blind man.  Let us use our tongue to bless and not to curse what God has created.  Let us use our tongues to repent and ask for forgiveness and let us sing praises to our LORD and God forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer focus: Kids and Parents pray for your friends and children in other countries who may not know Jesus.
Here’s the free Lent Calendar to follow along the path God is calling us to.  Take others on the journey with you, but not in a “look at us” sort of way.  This is a humble journey to be endured with the help of God.  Check out this link as a guide (Thesaurus: rudder, pilot, teacher, a small bit) to show you how you can effectively use your tongue to praise God and not call His creation “crazy”.  BTW, I just emailed you to say, I love you.
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