Today is Saturday, the 17th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.
May you know the peace of Christ, and His presence, today.
Eight days until Christmas!
Due to circumstances involving the health of various people in our family, our Christmas Eve gathering has been postponed until January. C’s Covid test from the doctor’s office came back negative, so that’s good news. And it seems that the coughing is somewhat better, as I don’t recall any spells during the night, last night.
It’s my Saturday to work at the library, so I will be in there at 9:30, this morning. Next week, I only work two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. The library is closed Friday, Saturday, and Monday, for the Christmas holidays.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. (Psalms 119:57 ESV)
Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us the light of life, that we can now learn how to live, and that through your great grace we may understand life in direct relationship with the Lord Jesus, who was crucified and who rose from the dead. Grant that the power of Christ may be made visible in us. Grant that his life may become our life, that we may leave behind all doubts and anxiety, even though we are often surrounded by darkness and night. Keep us in your Word. Let your will hold sway over all the world, for your will must be done in heaven, on earth, and down to the lowest depths. Let your will be done on earth as in all the heavens. Amen.
For it was life which appeared before us: we saw it, we are eyewitnesses of it, and are now writing to you about it. It was the very life of all ages, the life that has always existed with the Father, which actually became visible in person to us mortal men. 1 John 1:2, Phillips
Today I am grateful:
- for the light of life, Jesus Christ, the life that “appeared before us,” of which John and His fellow disciples were eyewitnesses; the light that dwells within us, today
- that, because of this Light, we can, at least partially, understand our own lives, in relationship with Him
- for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding
- for love; God’s love for us, our love for Him, our love for one another
- that our God is able to do abundantly far more than all we could ever ask or imagine
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8 ESV)
The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
(2 Corinthians 9:6 NRSV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
(1 John 4:7 NIV)
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 NIV)
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:3-6 NIV)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
(Ephesians 3:14-17 NRSV)
How do we accomplish this thing called love? Even the musicians know that there is something supernatural about love.
Are you ready for the thing called love Don't come from me and you, it comes from up above (Jerry Lynn Williams)
We cannot do it on our own. I dare say that the majority of us know this, by now, from experience. Who among us doesn’t have family members who stretch their capacity to love to its very limits?
Yet we are commanded to love one another. In fact, Jesus tells us, quite bluntly, that if we do not do this, then we do not love Him, and we do not love God. And not only are we commanded to love one another, we are commanded to “honor one another above yourselves.”
Wait. I not only have to love this person, I have to put them ahead of me???
I am a human, a jar of clay, made out of dust. I cannot do this. Not only can I not do this, the society, the world, in which I live encourages me to do the opposite.
I think Paul has some good news for us, though.
First, he assures us that we have not been left alone, and that God will finish what he started in us. When we became believers in Christ, the Spirit of God began to dwell within us and He began to work. And, out of the riches of His glory, He strengthens us in our inner being with power through that Spirit, so that, what? We may be rooted and grounded in LOVE!
Andrew Murray says that every believer should wake up with these words on their lips: “My Father will strengthen me today with His power as He is strengthening me even now in my inmost being through His Spirit.” (The Believer’s Daily Renewal, quoted in Power in Prayer) In addition, he says that “we are to be content with nothing less than the indwelling of Christ by faith, a life rooted in love and strengthened to know more of the love of Christ.”
Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, daily. This is not negotiable. This is something that we truly have no control over, if we are true believers in Christ. It is a plain and simple fact. He is here. He dwells within me.
My role in this is to acknowledge and accept this truth and walk in it, daily. What I can control is my response to it. I can, in fact, ignore His presence. I know this from experience. You probably do, too, if you are honest with yourself.
Can I be aware of His presence 24/7. Not likely, because I do sleep during some of that. However, Frank Laubach believed that we could be aware of His presence by forcing our minds to be aware of Him at least once a minute, during our waking hours.
Trust me, I have not come anywhere close to accomplishing this, but I do believe it to be possible. I believe it because I also believe Dallas Willard’s claim that we, as human beings, have the unique ability to control what we allow our minds to focus on. We can direct our thoughts. Furthermore, we have the possibility of taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10).
This is how we love. This is how we can obey the commands of Christ to love one another, to put others before ourselves, and to love Him unconditionally. This is how we surrender.
“We bow to God the Father in the name of the Son. We ask Him to strengthen us through the Spirit for one purpose: that Christ may dwell in our hearts. The whole heart becomes the scene of the blessed operation of the Trinity through the inner and outer life. As our hearts grasp this truth, we give glory, through Christ, to Him who does more than we can ask or imagine by His Holy Spirit.” (Murray)
Most Holy Father, I ask for this very thing, today. I am finding myself more and more cognizant of Your presence, lately, and I am embracing this. I’m still frail and feeble, and still have moments where I fail. But I feel stronger in You. I feel more capable of love. Help me to keep working to set myself aside in favor of others, in all areas of my life. All areas.
Gayle Sayers famously said, “The Lord is first, my friends are second, I am third.” I would amend that middle part to say “everyone else is second.” I believe that is what You want from us, from me. I cannot control what anyone else does or says or thinks or believes. I can only control me, and I want to allow You to do that.
So strengthen me, Father, through the Spirit, in my inner being, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, and that I may be rooted and grounded in love.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NRSV)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
(Philippians 4:23 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.
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