Love, Yet Again

Today is Wednesday, December 23, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,931

It is “Christmas Eve Eve.” And our last day of work for this week. So it feels like Friday, today.

The weather continues to be mild in DFW, but will be chilly in the mornings over the next few days. Christmas day looks to be around freezing in the morning, but up to sixty-two for the high.

It appears that my hopes for a New Year’s Eve snow have been eradicated. There might be some ice, from rain that happens the day before, as the temps drop below freezing, but then it is projected to clear up and be in the lower fifties for the high, both NYE and January 1.

I had a pretty good day, yesterday. The expedite portion of my job stayed rather slow, with only a couple people being active, so I was able to focus on clearing out unreceivables. I’m hoping today will be the same. That also makes it much less stressful.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For my eyes; Lord help me to see more beauty around me
  2. For my ears; Lord help me to listen better
  3. That You were pierced for our transgressions
  4. That Your chastisement brought us peace
  5. That Your wounds brought us healing

Psalms 43:3-4 ESV
(3) Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(4) Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

“Splendor and honor and kingly power are yours by right, O Lord, our God,
For you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(A Song to the Lamb)

Psalms 84:10 ESV
(10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Luke 1:30-38 ESV
(30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
(31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
(33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

(34) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

(35) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
(36) And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
(37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”
(38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Psalms 24:1-6 ESV
(1) A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
(2) for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
(3) Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
(5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(6) Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Isaiah 9:2 ESV
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Psalms 63:3 ESV
(3) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Isaiah 53:1-9 ESV
(1) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
(2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
(3) He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

(4) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(5) But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
(6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
(8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
(9) And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

As I read this passage, this morning, I am moved, almost to tears. Sure, I have read this, perhaps, hundreds of times. But today, as I am considering my points of gratitude, I get stuck in verse 5.

Jesus did not meet the expectations of the masses when He arrived. Isaiah even describes Him as being “despised and rejected.” Also, according to verse 2, He wasn’t much to look at. All of those paintings that depict him as being so beautiful . . . nothing more than artistic liberty.

In spite of all of this, He fulfilled His purpose, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. And then, the kicker. Verse 6. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

In the words of Xochitl Dixon, my favorite Our Daily Bread writer, “Nothing is more beautiful than that.”

1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV
(14) Let all that you do be done in love.

John 13:34-35 ESV
(34) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
(35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 John 4:7 ESV
(7) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Psalms 145:1-9 ESV
(1) A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
(2) Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
(3) Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
(4) One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
(5) On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
(6) They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
(7) They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
(8) The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
(9) The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Verse 8 mirrors what the Lord said to Moses, as He passed by so Moses could see his back, while hiding in the “cleft of the rock.” Jonah also quoted these words back to God in chapter 4 of his story. But Jonah was angry because God chose to spare a people whom he despised.

But verse 9 should make us all stop in our tracks. “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Are we equally good to all? Do we only want God to show love to the people we like?

I shared 1 Corinthians 16:14 (above) on Facebook and Instagram today. Both with the caption, “I’m still working on this.” It’s true. As much as I preach love through this platform, I confess that I still struggle with doing everything I do in love. I also still struggle with loving all whom I know are loved by God.

I’m willing to bet we all struggle with this. But at least some of us are “struggling.” There are many who don’t even seem to consider it, spewing hatred at anyone who differs from them politically, theologically, sexually, or racially. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

And I need to love those people, too. Period. Hard stop.

Father, You have brought me back around to love again, today. The fact that it keeps coming up tells me that I still have much to learn. I am grateful that I don’t read those Scriptures and say, “I’m doing pretty good.” Rather, I read them and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And that is truly my prayer. Have mercy, Lord. Keep working on me, teaching me to love, and to do everything that I do in love. Help me to love with Your love, and show that to all around me, because You love them, too, as You show Your love and goodness to all You have created.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.