Today is Sunday, the 13th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you today!
It’s eleven days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies. (Psalms 119:22 ESV)
Lord our God, we thank you that you work in us and in our lives and that you show us your compassion, no matter what cross we have to bear. We want to rejoice in you and wait patiently until your purpose is fulfilled and your kingdom arises on earth. Protect each one of us. May our hearts find strength and never-failing joy in Jesus Christ the Savior, always hoping and believing, always looking to you. For you are the almighty God, who will come in Jesus Christ to establish his kingdom among the peoples and at last reveal his truth in its fullness. Then the knowledge of your will shall spread to all peoples, so that good and evil may come before you and be judged according to your mercy and faithful love. Amen. (Emphasis added)
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”
(Daniel 2:44 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the strength and never-failing joy that can be found in Jesus Christ
- for the kingdom of God that will endure forever
- for patience in waiting on God; may I have more of it and wait faithfully
- for the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives; may we walk in Him
- for the presence of God, through which we are made able to obey His commands
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:16-20 ESV)
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
(James 1:26-27 ESV)
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 ESV)
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 ESV)
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 ESV)
“‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.'”
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)
Whenever I read a verse like Psalm 119:22, way up there at the top, my initial reaction leans toward, “Who could ever say that they had faithfully kept all of God’s commands (testimonies)?” That seems like a pretty bold statement from the psalmist.
Personally, I would never make a claim like that. I do believe that, based on the understanding that Jesus gives us regarding God’s commands, I have done a fairly decent job in recent years. I mean, right there in Matthew 7:12, Jesus equates the “Golden Rule” with the Law and the Prophets.
But I’m not perfect, and I must assume that the psalmist was not, either. And maybe, when the psalmist made that statement, the Spirit nudged him and said, “What about _____?”
But then we get this command from Jeremiah, where God tells us that if we walk in the way that He commands, it will “be well” with us.
Once again, we come down to how we do that. How do we keep God’s commands?
Andrew Murray has some ideas on that. “The secret of true obedience, I believe, is a clear and close personal relationship with God. . . . It is God’s holy presence, consciously abiding with us, that keeps us from disobeying Him.“
He points out something that I never really noticed. Whenever God asks for obedience, He usually says something like “Obey me,” or “Listen to my voice.” During the transfiguration, He said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!”
In order to listen to someone, we must be (for the most part) in their presence. Yes, we have podcasts and You Tube and other avenues with which to “listen” to someone without being in their presence. And I fully believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, can be “present” in something like that.
Since God is Spirit, He can be present with us at any time, in any place. And He is. Whether we acknowledge and recognize that presence is an entirely different matter.
So, as we consider things like the Golden Rule and Jesus’s “sheep and goats” parable, we also must consider how the intimate presence of God in our lives is what enables us to obey these words. It is what enables us to love one another. So when I find myself not walking in obedience (and hopefully the Holy Spirit will convict me of this), I must step back and examine my relationship with God. Am I constantly practicing His presence? Obviously not, if I am not loving my neighbor or doing unto others as I would have them do unto me.
Do we trust God? We claim to, yes?
“The true scholar of a great master finds it easy to render him unwavering obedience because he trusts his teacher so implicitly. The student sacrifices his own wisdom to be guided by a higher wisdom. We need this confidence in our Lord Jesus. Just as we have trusted Him as our Savior to atone for our disobedience, let us trust Him as our teacher to lead us out of it and into a life of practical obedience.”
(Andrew Murray, from A Life of Obedience, quoted in Power in Prayer)
Father, may I know, acknowledge, recognize, and practice Your presence in my life, that I might hear and obey Your voice. More so, help me to listen to Your beloved Son, that I might walk in His words. Help me to do unto others as I would have done unto me. Help me to recognize the needs in “the least of these,” that I might serve Jesus.
I pray that all of Your children would recognize the connection between love and the great commands and the summation of all of the Law and Prophets. It’s all wrapped up in love, and I fear we are not doing a very good job of that, these days.
I praise You for the saints who are quietly going about the business of love. They are the ones who don’t get seen or noticed. Unfortunately, the ones who get noticed are the ones making the most noise, and they are the ones who are not practicing love. I would pray, Father, that You simply shut them up.
Your will be done, on earth, as in Heaven.
Even so, come quickly, 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.