St. Luke's United Methodist Church

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8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 a.m. - Traditional
9:30 & 11:00 a.m. - Contemporary

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4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32819
407.876.4991

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Weekly Devotions – June 12 – 16, 2017

Posted on June 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm in .

June 12, 2017

The Refiner’s Fire

Read: Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the LORD whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the LORD, presenting a righteous offering. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in ancient days and in former years. I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against the sorcerers, the adulterers, those swearing falsely, against those who cheat the day laborers out of their wages as well as oppress the widow and the orphan, and against those who brush aside the foreigner and do not revere me, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Malachi 3:1-5 (CEB)

Think about: I know each person’s experience when first deciding to follow Jesus is different, but when I think of my initial experience, I remember the Refiner’s fire. God didn’t waste any time letting me know that he was taking my promise to follow him seriously. Little did I know He was on a roller coaster at the time.

I often tell people that if they had known me before Jesus, they would find me to be a very different person. That’s because of the fire. I am very different from the person I was even during the first few years with Jesus, the roller coaster years. The ups and downs, the glorious highs and devastating lows. But that’s what God had to do just to get me where I am now, on a much more level path.

He’s not finished with me yet, but I have stopped resisting. I know what he’s up to. I know I’m not quite there yet, but because I love him — and even more because he loves me — the fire is more a source of warmth now, not something to fear or resent. I want to be the person he made me to be. And the refiner’s fire is the tool he promised he would use to take me there.

Pray this prayer: Father God, I thank you for the fire, for the roller coaster ride, for making me someone I can love, for I needed to learn to love myself. Thank you for loving me in spite of myself. Amen.

 

 

June 14, 2017

A Righteous Offering

Read: Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the LORD whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the LORD, presenting a righteous offering. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in ancient days and in former years. I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against the sorcerers, the adulterers, those swearing falsely, against those who cheat the day laborers out of their wages as well as oppress the widow and the orphan, and against those who brush aside the foreigner and do not revere me, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Malachi 3:1-5 (CEB)

Think about: Holiness is a major theme in Wesleyan theology. We believe that the Holy God cannot coexist with unholiness. So, if we are to spend eternity in his presence, we must be made holy. We cannot make ourselves holy, not as long as we yield to our own will. But when we choose to do his will, we are on the road to holiness. The Holy Spirit, given to us at the moment we decide to become Jesus followers, works within us to help us reach God’s goals for us.

The refined and purified us, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection, become righteous offerings to God, and he is pleased with our decisions to sacrifice our wills and choose his will instead.

That’s really what it’s all about. To restore the love relationship God made us for, he must purify us so that we recognize that living according to his will is much better for us than living according to our own will. In Gethsemane Jesus set the example. He gave into God’s will.

Pray this prayer: Heavenly Father, I want to be a righteous sacrifice and give up my will, choosing to do yours instead. I want to please you. Create in me a clean heart so that I will find joy in spending eternity with you. Amen

 

 

June 16, 2017

The Messenger

Read: Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the LORD whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the LORD, presenting a righteous offering. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in ancient days and in former years. I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against the sorcerers, the adulterers, those swearing falsely, against those who cheat the day laborers out of their wages as well as oppress the widow and the orphan, and against those who brush aside the foreigner and do not revere me, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Malachi 3:1-5 (CEB)

Think about: Who is the messenger? Many of us might automatically think of Jesus as the messenger. Handel, the composer of The Messiah, believed this messenger was Jesus. Earlier, Christians taught that this messenger was John the Baptist, based on a reference made by Jesus himself in Matt. 11:7-10.

Does it matter if we know who the messenger is? From a Hebrew perspective, this prophecy has a much different purpose than it does for the church. Apparently, at the time this was written, the Jews were not meeting their tithe commitments as required under their covenant with God. The priests (Levites) would have to recognize their responsibility in getting the Jews to meet their commitment.

However, there are actually two messengers with different tasks in this passage. The second messenger is the messenger of the covenant. It is he who will be the refiner, the purifier, and he is the Messiah, Jesus.

When we promise to follow Jesus, we are not making a half-hearted commitment. Jesus makes it clear several times in the Gospels that following him is not a simple task. It is a fulltime job with no time off. And so the fire is used to burn away those self-indulgent aspects of our lives that may prevent us from meeting God’s expectations for us.

Is the fire painful? We might think so as we go through it, but God is a gentle Parent. He takes us lovingly through what we must do to become what he made us to be. And when it is over, he shares in our joy at knowing that we are becoming more like the One we are following.

Pray this prayer: Father God, I cannot fathom the depths of your love. Even when I think I’m beginning to understand, I remember what you did on the cross and can only marvel at your willingness to sacrifice for me. Now it’s my turn. Amen.


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