Friday, September 26, 2008

e-devotional 092608

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. This week was really packed with activities from day break to day end. But it was a good feeling to know that my potentials were fully utilized even though the body was tired. I don't know how long will I procrastinate my exercise plan before my body finally quit on me. I know that doing exercise is important for my heath, but I allow either my laziness or many urgent activites to take over or weaken my determination. I felt like I had 'no time' to waste on this 'luxury item' in my daily life. But I know that eventually, this luxury item will become my 'survival necessity' in life. Please remind me from time to time to work out.
As I read Paul's comment on his spirituality in 2 Corinthians again, I believed that this is a critical preparation for a martyr. "I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows--was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses" (12:3-5). Paul was talking about a spiritual reality that had occured within his spirit or soul. There was a glorious joy that sprang out from within his soul. For whoever that had experienced such kind of spiritual encountering would identify with Paul's description here: an inexpressible joy and experience that are beyond words can fully explain. Of course, such encountering is a bonus or gift from above. It is not something that we should demand from the Lord. Just as Jesus said to His disciples, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father" (Matt 20:23), we cannot demand special favor or honor from the Lord, but to faithfully do our part to follow His footsteps (drink His cup of sufferings).
I always wondered what went through the mind of a martyr when they faced a violent death. Would they curse God for not protecting them? I doubt it. Would they try to convince themselves that God would stop the execution by His miraclous intervention? They might. Or they would simply focus on a spiritual reality that was beyond human words can explain. When Stephen was in the face of execution, Dr. Luke recorded an interesting expression of this martyr, "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'" (Acts 7:55). Is it a similar encountering to what Paul described in 2 Corinthians? The world, especially his enemy, could not or chose not to understand Stephen's proclamation at that time. But this seems to be a spiritual reality that God may grant to some whom God choose to reveal His glory or fulfill His plan through death.
Pay attention to Paul's description again in verse 5, "I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses." In another word, Paul chose to treasure this spiritual reality or the glorious gifts from God, than his own weaknesses in the body (physical illness, handicaps or inadequate conditions). To him, if his weakness would invite the gifts from above, he would rather prefer unpleasant experience in his body, so that he could enter into this spiritual glory to be with the Lord. Paul baisically said the same thing as he wrote to the Chruch of Philippi, "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Phil 1:23).
Let's learn not to pursue some kind of supernatural experience like Paul described as though it is a norm or goal of our spirituality. We learn to pursue Christ as our ultimate goal in life for each day. So that we will gradually shift our desire from the world or from our body to our spiritual union with Christ.
Hope you will enjoy a restful and meaninful weekend to be with your Lord.
Love you in Christ,
Ps. Hopefully, I will create a blog over this weekend with Dorothy's help. I will give you direction to access my devotional through my blog if I succeed:)

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