Today is Thursday, the 24th of
Thanksgiving (oops) November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.
I got a little ahead of myself, there.
May the peace of Christ dwell within you today, and cause you to be thankful.
And, yes, today is Thanksgiving, in the U.S. Canada already had theirs. And this year, Thanksgiving falls on one of those days that I always think Thanksgiving should be on, November 24, 25, or 26. The weather is not the best, today. It’s chilly and rainy, out there. Which doesn’t really bother us, so much, as we aren’t planning to go anywhere. But there are people planning to travel to our house.
And, it is 31 days until Christmas. Believe it or not, I actually have two Christmas presents, already.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. (Psalms 119:33 ESV)
O Lord God, give us new hearts, teach us a new way on earth, so that through your commandments all people may act in accordance with your Word and may become one. Only you can do this, working through your promised Holy Spirit, and you will do it in order that the earth may become a paradise, a heavenly kingdom pleasing to you. Let your words be written in our hearts, and help us to fulfill your commandments in our daily life. Only by carrying out your commandments may we foolish, sinful people be made perfect, our sins be forgiven, and everything become right and good in your sight. Stay with us, Lord God, our Father. Help us in everything. Let something new, something pleasing to you, soon come into our time. Put your commandments into our hearts, that peace may be restored to the glory of your name. Amen.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them...For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17, 20, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- for this day, when our hearts are specifically drawn to giving thanks to God; may we be thankful beyond today
- for the promise that our God is always doing something new
- for the hope and promise of peace
- that the perfect love of our God casts out fear
- that the Lord is my perfection, Jesus is my righteousness; in Him, I am made blameless
- that God, in His mercy, does not remember our sins, once we have laid them at the foot of the cross
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah. Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet. The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah. I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD! O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle. Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah. As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them! Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise! Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily! I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence. (Psalms 140:1-13 ESV)
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
(Jeremiah 33:3 NIV)
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. (Psalms 18:31-32 ESV)
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 ESV)
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 ESV)
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV)
My gratitude, on this day, is immense. Perhaps I am focusing more on it, today, since it is the day of Thanksgiving. As anyone knows, who has regularly read this blog, I am grateful, every day, as a practice of spiritual discipline. But today, that gratitude is heightened.
As I read the various Scriptures today, I find that I am most grateful for things like the promise of Jeremiah 33:3, the promise that, if I call to the Lord, earnestly, and in humility, He will answer; He will show me things that I have not known. And trust me, there is plenty that I do not know. The older I get, the more I know that I don’t know much.
I am also very grateful (is it possible to be “very” grateful?) for the truth of the passage from Psalm 18.
Let’s talk about “perfection,” for a minute. The harder we work to be “perfect,” the farther short we fall from the goal. And, it causes us great stress and anxiety, two things that Scripture tells us are bad. Jesus has told us to be anxious for nothing, because worrying cannot add a second to our lives or an inch to our stature. In fact, medical science has shown us that worry and anxiety not only do not lengthen our lives, they shorten them!
Great. There’s another thing to be anxious about!
But, as the psalmist tells us, God has made our way “blameless” (some translations say “perfect.” I rather like the way Eugene Peterson said it:
Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction?
(Psalms 18:32 MSG)
Exactly how has God made me perfect or blameless? How has He pointed me in the right direction? Through Jesus Christ.
Who didn’t see that coming?
Seriously, though, it is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to our account, that has made us blameless. This is one of those mysteries. I love mysteries. The Communion Table (the church we are currently attending calls it the “Table of Grace”) is a mystery. How is the bread and wine also the body and blood of Christ? I don’t know. But He said it is, so it is. Once again, God said it, and I believe it.
God has also told us that the righteousness of Christ has become our righteousness. He has, in Jesus, removed all of our sin from us.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
(1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:8-11 ESV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12 ESV)
How much more encouragement do we need? And why? Why can’t we get this? Why can’t we embrace this? This is something that I must contemplate. It must have to do with arrogance and selfishness or something.
But there it is. And I am so very thankful for these truths today. God remembers my sin no more. None of it. He doesn’t remember that thing I did when I was a teenager, even though I can’t seem to forget it. He doesn’t remember the awful way I treated someone (many times, sadly), even though those memories pop into my brain at the most inopportune times. God forgets our sins, intentionally. His ability to do that is, quite frankly, unfathomable.
I am driven, as Paul, to declare,
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)
Father, my cup overflows, this morning. As we get ready to partake of the table that You have prepared for us, we are thankful for all of the things that I have mentioned, this morning. And, in addition, not only have You prepared a table for us, You have given us, in abundance, that we might share with others. And I am grateful that You have given us generous hearts, that we might share with “the least of these,” whom Jesus proclaims represent Him in this world.
I pray for all the world, this morning, that all would know Your presence; that all would know Your great salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray that Your Kingdom will come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that everyone would know the joy of realizing this great forgiveness of sin, the healing from anxiety and worry, Father. Help us to know Your great love for us, and be thankful in all circumstances.
I pray for the many people I know, this morning, who have lost, or are about to lose, loved ones. It is such a difficult thing to lose a family member around holidays. It taints the holidays forever. I pray for comfort and peace for those, Father, that Your grace and mercy would overflow in their hearts.
I praise You that Christ is our righteousness, and that, when You look at us, You look through His sacrifice, through His blood, and You see His perfection. This does not, of course, clear us to do whatever we please. On the contrary, it motivates us to try to do better in this world. At least it should.
Thanks be to You for Your indescribable gift, Father! And may You be glorified in all the earth, today and every day.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.