Today is Wednesday, the 14th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.
May the peace of Christ be with you always!
Eleven days until Christmas!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. (Psalms 119:54 ESV)
Thank you, Father in heaven, for gathering us together and opening a door which can be entered by all who are like children. You open the door for all who have the childlike hope that you are carrying out your purpose, that in the midst of the ruin and sin of world history, life remains, the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, life for all the world. No one can destroy this life, which will soon gather power until all people see him, Jesus Christ, who for the salvation of humankind is the same yesterday, today, and in all eternity. Amen.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Hebrews 13:8, RSV
Today I am grateful:
- that Christ has opened a door for all to enter into God’s Kingdom
- that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever
- for God’s Word, which lends itself to singing
- for the mystery of God’s Holy Spirit, abiding within us
- for the example of Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11 ESV)
My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. (Job 23:11 NIV)
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 6:7-8 NIV)
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
(John 5:19 NIV)
“In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
(John 14:19-20 NRSV)
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(Jeremiah 31:33 NRSV)
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 NRSV)
“This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
(John 14:17 NRSV)
When I read that verse from the book of Job, I am skeptical. That’s a very bold statement. I don’t know that I could ever say that. Sure, I have tried to follow closely in the steps and ways of the Lord. But have I “kept to His way without turning aside?” That’s almost laughable.
But then, we see the mystery. I love mystery. I like to read mysteries (full disclosure, I’m a big fan of the paranormal type of mysteries, more than the “cozy” type). But this is a different kind of mystery. This is similar to the mystery of the body and blood of Christ being present in the communion elements.
Jesus Christ, in the person of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us. God, himself, in the Trinity is a mystery. And these are mysteries that we are not going to solve, at least not on this side of paradise. Word is that we will someday understand it. But not in this lifetime.
That passage in John presents a great mystery. Jesus is in the Father. We are in Jesus. Jesus is in us. And if we are in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father, then we, also, are in the Father.
Head spinning, yet?
Keep reading. God tells His people that He will put a new spirit within them. He will take away the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, a living heart. He will also write His “Law” on our hearts.
And then Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit, says that He will be in us, and will abide in us.
The words of Job were spoken before Christ, before the Holy Spirit was sent to earth to dwell in the hearts of men. Job’s sin was not yet propitiated. He had to perform animal sacrifices to atone for his sins.
We live in times that are post-Christ. Because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, all of our sins, past, present, and future, are atoned for. They have been cast as far as the east is from the west, and cast into the deepest part of the ocean (figuratively). In reality, God Almighty promises that He remembers them no more. It is as if they never happened, and, perhaps, in the same way that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are present in the Eucharist, they truly never did happen.
Which means that, in the spirit of this mystery, maybe I never have turned aside from His path, at least not in His eyes.
I’m shaking my head in wonder, right now, even as I’m typing this, because it is difficult to take in. And I’m going to have to consider it for a while, and maybe even talk to someone wiser than I. As the psalmist proclaimed, such knowledge is too high for me, I cannot attain it (Psalm 139).
But I know that it is a mystery, and something for which I can be thankful, in these days.
Father, I praise You for the mystery of Christ in You, us in Christ, and Christ in us. I praise You for the mystery of the Holy Spirit, sent to dwell within us and being present in us. I thank You for the forgiveness of the entirety of our sins, past, present, and future.
I pray for the ability to abide in this, to live in it, fully, and to truly walk in Your path, never straying from it.
Help me to have that mind of Christ, that does nothing out of selfish ambition, and that empties self, taking on the form of a servant. Help me to embrace the truth that whoever would be first, must be last and servant of all. Abolish all pride within me. Make me Your servant, and make me a blessing to all.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.
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