Here we go! Today is Monday, the third of January, 2022. It’s the tenth day of Christmas. It is also considered “The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” on the Church calendar.
May the peace of Christ be with you!
Twenty days until Hamilton!
I don’t really have much to write about, this morning. No news, really. C is at work, and things are moving back into more of a normalized schedule. This is my week to work four days. Or three and a half, I guess. I work tomorrow evening for four hours, Wednesday all day, Friday all day, and Saturday all day. The floor has been swept (by the new Robot Vac we got for Christmas), and a grocery order has been placed, for delivery this afternoon.
We’ll be back to having our Monday night chili for dinner, and I’m back to tracking my food intake on the WW app. I gained roughly twenty pounds between Thanksgiving and now, but have actually dropped a couple in the past week, so we are back on track.
I have some laundry to do today, and, at some point, I need to get some go-juice in my car. But, honestly, that could even wait until tomorrow, if I don’t have to go anywhere today.
I decided on January 1 to do a whole Bible reading plan on the Youversion app. My plan, this year, is to listen to the entire Bible in those readings, as it will read some versions out loud. I’m listening to the ESV, which is still my favorite version.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
We give You praise, adoration Love and affection In awe of Your glory The wonder of who You are We give You praise, adoration Love and affection In awe of Your glory The wonder of who You are We're building You a throne upon our praise We're building You a throne upon our praise (Building You A Throne, by Maximilian)
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. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for the awe of the glory of God and the wonder of who He is 2. for the ability to count others as more significant than myself (and the struggle that goes along with that) 3. for the holiness of God, and that this holiness affects every part of my life, because He is present with me (Leviticus) 4. that I can place every part of this life before God as an offering (Romans 12:1-2) 5. that, even though I am just one, when we work together, we can do wonderful things
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 2:5-11 ESV)
How is my mind similar to the mind of Christ? How is it different? To be honest, I don’t see that many similarities. I see a lot of differences. Sure, I am working on that bit about considering others more significant than myself. I’m struggling with the part about doing nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit. But I live in a society that does nothing but try to train me to do otherwise. Everything in this culture points to ME, ME, ME!
I suppose I do try to look out for the interests of others, but even that is a challenge. So how, exactly, is my mind similar to that of Jesus Christ? That’s a good question, and I will be reflecting on that more, during this day. There are major differences, the most obvious being that I am not God; I am not perfect, therefore, my mind is not perfect. But I am striving, at the beginning of this new year, to bring everything about my being into subjection to Jesus. I know, there are people who would cringe at that language. But here’s the thing. God is my Creator; He is the Center of everything; He is the reason we exist! So, it is my duty to live for Him, not for myself.
The question, then, is what do I need to let go of in order to make more space for God to act within me? The answer is in those Scriptures, in the second chapter of Philippians. I need to let go of those selfish ambitions; that conceit; I need to let go of think of myself as the most significant, and begin to think of others as more significant than myself.
I listen to this Scripture reading again, imagining myself approaching the manger that holds the infant Jesus. What words do I find on my lips and in my heart?
Lord Jesus, I worship You. I cannot imagine what words would have been on my heart, had I been present at Your manger. I thank You for the fact that You emptied Yourself in order to identify with us. I cannot begin to imagine what pain this was for You, how alienated You must have felt. I pray for the ability to empty myself, this year, today, this moment. Help me to consider others more significant than me. Help me to ditch the arrogance of my culture and begin to live for You and for the benefit of others. Help me to empty myself. Help me to align my life with Yours.
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
(From Pray As You Go)
Today, I consider a reflection question from Spiritual Classics. To view the reading click back to yesterday’s edition. It was an excerpt on Godly meditation, by Thomas More. The question today is, “How can I be more single-hearted in my attachment to God?” This is an excellent question for meditation, and hearkens me back to my life verse, which is Psalm 86:11.
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)
As I consider that verse and the question, I look back at More’s meditation. The beginning of it says:
"Give me thy grace, good Lord, To set the world at nought, To set my mind fast upon thee. And not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths."
This is one way I can be more single-hearted. As I pray for my divided heart to be united, I can strive to “set the world at nought,” and to set my mind fast upon Him. I love the phrase that More uses, “the blast of men’s mouths.” That is truly what it is. Nothing but a blast of hot air, coming from most humans, especially those in any kind of authority or leadership position.
It helps, as well, to look back up there at that passage from Philippians. I cannot have the same mind that is in Christ Jesus if I am hanging on “the blast of men’s mouths.” In order to be single-hearted toward God, I must shut them out, completely. Even if I agree with them! Do you see that? The last thing I need, in the midst of this struggle, is to have my human opinions validated! My opinions need to be squashed! Only the truth of God matters. Unfortunately, this “truth” is not always as clear as some folks would make you believe. This is the reason for meditation and contemplation.
Father, I pray Psalm 86:11 again. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth, and only Your truth. Unite my divided, selfishly conceited heart, to fear Your name! Show me the way of love and peace, the way of Christ. Teach me to walk in His steps and in His words, that I might live this life in love, love for You and love for my neighbor, considering them to be more significant than myself. Help me to not hang upon the blasts of men’s mouths.
As I move on into the reading from Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, today’s reading focuses on what is probably the least popular book of the Bible, Leviticus. Tell me I’m wrong. If you are person who loves Leviticus, more power to you.
The opening paragraph of the reading says, “One of the stubbornly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God. We are determined to tame him. We figure out ways to harness God to our projects. We try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes.”
Oh, yes! Isn’t this the truth??
But “God cannot be fit into our plans; we must fit into his.” He is not a tool; He is not an appliance; He is not a blank check or credit card, regardless of what some TV evangelists might try to tell you.
"Do what I tell you; live what I tell you. I am GOD. "Don't desecrate my holy name. I insist on being treated with holy reverence among the People of Israel. I am GOD who makes you holy and brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am GOD." (Leviticus 22:31-33 MSG)
There is a recurring word in that passage that tells us that God is set apart from us. He is “other.” He is “above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfillment fantasies or our utopian schemes for making our mark in the world.” He is alive on HIS terms, not ours.
What we can learn from reading Leviticus in a different light (not just a list of rules) is “that this holy God is actually present with us and virtually every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God.” We stand in His presence at every moment. Just read Psalm 139, one of my favorites.
Paul even helps us with this a little, in Romans.
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life— your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life— and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)
"I'll set up my residence in your neighborhood; I won't avoid or shun you; I'll stroll through your streets. I'll be your God; you'll be my people." (Leviticus 26:11-12 MSG)
Father, I am grateful for Your presence in my life, Your holy presence! I am so thankful for the effects that Your presence and Your holiness has on every aspect of my life. Help me to be more cognizant of this, as I walk through each day.
“I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.”
(John 13:15 MSG)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24 ESV)
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-16 ESV)
Today’s word, in Pray a Word a Day, is “together.”
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” ~ Mother Teresa
I am only one person. You are only one person. Sometimes, I feel like my prayers are like little mosquitos around God’s head, just puny little annoyances. But that’s just our enemy talking, and he talks through a lot of different sources.
Consider the humility of Mother Teresa. She said that she never does great things. But most of the world knows who Mother Teresa was. Only a handful of people know who I am. But it doesn’t matter who knows who I am. What matters is that I do my part in trying to bless those around me.
Very seldom does it feel like all of my devotional materials line up the way they have today. When it happens, it is mind-blowing. And I’m going to end where I started, in Philippians. Back to Philippians 2:3-4.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
(Philippians 2:3-4 MSG)
Can you imagine what this world would be like if we all did this? Heck, even if, say, ten percent of us did this??
Father, I pray for the pattern of Jesus Christ to become evident in all of our lives. I pray that, as I live in this world, as I walk around in this world, that people would be able to tell, by my actions and attitudes, that I have been with Jesus. Open our eyes, Lord, to the damage we do when we do things out of selfish ambition or conceit. Open our eyes to the harm we do to the Gospel of Christ when we act selfishly. Take our ears and diver them from the blasts of men’s mouths! Help us to hear only You. Thank You for Your holy presence in our lives and in our world. And help us to do more good in this world, “together!” All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. (Kyrie)
Grace and peace, friends.