The Upper Room Devotion for Monday, September 4, 2023, was written by Sam Whatley of Alabama.
1 Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it — not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:1-11 NRSV
Years ago, I worked at night. It was a hectic life. I took my two childeren to and from school and then to sports or afterschool activities. I seldom slept well; I was always grumpy and completely exhausted by the weekend. So I asked my family to please keep the house quite until 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays, hoping to get needed sleep.
Early one Saturday I awoke to the shrill voice of my four year-old, Andrew, singing at full volume. I bounded from our bedroom, half-asleep and irritated. But as I came to Andrew's bedroom, his words pierced my soul. He sang, "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, my God." He was sitting on the floor looking up at me, his hands full of plastic toys.
As I stood there, still recoiling from irritation, my attitude suddenly changed. I told him how beautiful his song was. He had revealed an important need in my life that I had overlooked. In my haste to take care of my family's earthly needs, I had neglected to keep my heart filled with the peace, love, and joy that only God can give. In the many years since then I have been reminded of that lesson each time I think of my son's morning song.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
It is easy to become distracted and consumed by our many responsibilities that we neglect taking time to commune with God. Yes, it is important that we fix lunches, coordinate schedules, and arrange transportation for our families. Sam's reflection reminds us, that when we forget or neglect to nourish our spiritual connection with God, we can fall prey to the "prowling lion" waiting for us to become overwhelmed and weakened. We must deliberately dedicate time everyday to spend communing with God, so that our spirits will be refreshed and strengthened.
God, our parent, as we try to meet the needs of our family, help us remember that our greatest need is staying close to you and showing your love to those around us. In Jesus' name. Amen.