Today is Tuesday, the 1st of November, 2022, in the 31st week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! (Psalms 119:10 ESV)
Dear Father in heaven, we seek you and your kingdom. We gather to hear your Word so that we may receive strength for our own lives and for all our relationships with others. We want to stand firm, believing that in everything great and small your will is being done and that we may yet experience a new coming of your glory on earth. Then earthly concerns will no longer torment us and wear us out, but heavenly things may surround us and everything become new in accordance with your good, merciful, and perfect will. Amen.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Colossians 3:16 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the inexpressible gifts of God
- for psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
- for the promised presence of God in Christ; “behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20)
- for the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39)
- for the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us, according to the Father’s will (Romans 8:26-27)
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 ESV)
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”
(Matthew 1:23 ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27 ESV)
Today seems to be all about “presence.” It begins with Paul’s prayer that the word of Christ dwell richly within us. One might think that he is simply speaking of Scripture when he says this. And, while he definitely is speaking of Scripture, I believe there is more to it than that.
The context of that particular verse (Colossians 3:16) is that of relationships within the body. He tells the church to “put on” compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. He tells us to bear with one another, forgive one another, and, above all of these other things, to “put on love.” Love, he says, “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
He then says to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. And then he gets to verse 16, where he says to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, followed by the admonition to do everything in the name of Jesus.
How do we do all of this? We would not be able to, were it not for the presence of Christ with us. That presence was promised by Jesus, Himself in Matthew 28:20. That promise is not a new thing, either. We see all the way back in Joshua, the Lord telling His people that He will be with them wherever they go. The sons of Korah, in Psalm 46, tell us that God is a “very present” help in trouble. “Very present.” I don’t know how someone can be “very present,” but God manages it.
Even Jesus’s name promises the presence of God.
Immanuel. “God with us.”
That presence is so sure that nothing can separate us. That wonderful eighth chapter of Romans, that so many of us know so well, promises us this. Look at that list of things that cannot separate us:
Death Life Angels Rulers (governments) Things present Things to come (the future) Powers Height Depth Anything in creation
I would add to that, things past, and, most importantly, sin.
I believe, of course, that “sin” falls into that “anything else in all creation” category. But know this. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your sin does not separate you from God. If anyone ever tells you that, it is a lie, and is not found anywhere in Scripture! Jesus Christ has taken the full penalty of that sin, past, present, and future. It has been cast as far from you as the east is from the west; it has been tossed into the bottom of the sea, into the Marianas Trench. God says “I will remember it no more.” I said this last week, and I’ll say it again, today:
God said it, and I believe it.
He deliberately forgets my sin. Therefore, it cannot possibly separate me from Him.
Shame over past sin is one of the devil’s biggest tools against us. Our enemy wants us to feel separated from God, because it makes us feel powerless.
But we have God’s presence within us, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, and we see part of the Holy Spirit’s work, again, in Romans 8. Romans 8 is such a marvelous chapter!
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; and the Spirit intercedes for us, when we do not know how or what to pray. He does so, according to the will of the Father. He is present, even, as the Sons of Korah said, “very present.”
Here are some words from Andrew Murray, about the Holy Spirit:
“The Holy Spirit, above all, is a Spirit of prayer. He intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. As we pray in the Spirit, our worship is as God desires it to be, in spirit and in truth. Prayer is simply the breathing of the Spirit in us; power in prayer comes from the power of the Spirit in us as we wait on Him. Failure in prayer is the result of a human spirit that is not yielded to the Spirit of God. In this sense, prayer is a gauge that measures the work of the Spirit in us. To pray aright, the life of the Spirit must be active in us. For praying the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man, everything depends on being full of the Spirit.”
(From The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)
Father, I thank You so very much for Your powerful presence within us, Your “saints.” Were it not for Your Word, I would never refer to myself as a “saint,” but You say I am one because of my belief in Christ Jesus, so I will use that word. I am not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination . . . not even close.
But Your presence within me sanctifies me. The Holy Spirit, third Person of the Trinity, dwells within me as the Spirit of Christ, who then allows me to communicate with You. Further, You dwell within us by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, of which we partake each time we participate in Communion.
Thank You for Your presence! I thank You that there is nothing that can separate me from Your presence in the love of Christ. I praise You for the forgiveness of sin, and that You somehow can forget my sin, on purpose. My mind boggles at that, because I am unable to forget anything deliberately. I forget things all the time. But the things I would like to forget, I am unable to.
Help us, Father, to walk in this forgiveness. Make us also to be full of Your Spirit, that our prayers might be fervent and effective, that we might glorify Your name on the earth. May Your presence with us become more dear to us than anything in all creation. Be our “very present” help, Lord! Make us aware of this presence, constantly.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.