Today is Saturday, the 12th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!
Today is C’s birthday! Happy birthday to her!
Today’s header photo was taken by Romanian photographer Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided to see more of his beautiful photos.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments. (Psalms 119:21 ESV)
Lord our God, we hold to you and to your promise. Though much is hidden from us, your voice comes clearly to us proclaiming, “Watch and pray. You are to await the day of Jesus Christ your Lord, and you can rejoice now in the midst of strife, distress, fear, and need.” We thank you for your powerful Word. However long the time of waiting may be, your Word remains eternally and will be fulfilled. Your name shall be honored in the proclamation of your Word, your kingdom shall come, and your will shall be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night...But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 1 Thessalonians 5:2,4–5, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- to be celebrating a birthday with the love of my life
- for the great and precious promises of God, through which we can rejoice, no matter what our circumstances
- for the love of God, fully unconditional, based solely on His desire
- that God, by His Spirit, replenishes and refreshes the weary soul
- that the presence and work of God in my life has nothing to do with how I feel
Based on my human thought With guilty vision see I can’t get past the thought That you love me fully And I feel you smile And speak to me gently Let’s share in a prayer In this moment be Let go of the past Of future don’t worry Just be of this moment In presence here with me I forgive your sins All of them completely Feel my grace within Joy in my mercy I love you here and now Repeat these words with me I love you, I love you The Word, eternally
Such a beautiful poem, expressing so well God’s love for us. When I first read it, I wondered aloud, why do we struggle so much with accepting and embracing God’s unconditional love for us? Is it because we are incapable of the same kind of love, and our love always has strings attached? I don’t know, but I struggle with it, as well. I do know this: When I allow myself to embrace it, it is the most wonderful experience possible.
Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided, to see more of his inspirational poetry.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)
“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
(Jeremiah 31:25 ESV)
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalms 127:1-2 ESV)
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalms 27:14 ESV)
As usual, when it is a morning when I must go to work at the library, I seem to be running out of time. It’s one of my weaknesses, my flaws.
But what I want to focus on, this morning, is something that Andrew Murray points out. And I believe this thread runs through some of the other Scriptures that I have shared, this morning, as well as the poem from Daryl Madden, above.
And that is that this love of God, this unconditional, steadfast love, so often represented by the Hebrew word “chesed,” is absolutely and utterly independent of how we feel at the moment.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging feelings. I remember back when I was in seminary, contemporary worship songs were just beginning to show up on the scene (at least in adult worship . . . we sang them in youth when I was a teen). They were looked down upon, in general, by the music students of the seminary because they relied so heavily on feelings. There was even one that said, “Let’s take this feeling that we’re feeling now outside these walls and let it rain” (Sometimes Hallelujah, by Chuck Girard).
But feelings are important. Everyone has them, and if we attempt to suppress them, we run the risk of harming ourselves, mentally.
But where they don’t matter is in our recognition of God’s work and love and power in our lives.
God loves me unconditionally. God is working in my life every moment of every day.
It matters not one iota how I feel about this!
“We are in such a habit of evaluating God and His work in us by what we feel that it is very likely that on some occasions we will be discouraged because we do not feel any special blessing. Above everything, when you wait on God, you must do so in the spirit of hope. God in His glory, His power, and His love longs to bless you.” (Andrew Murray, in Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer)
So we wait. We wait for the Lord. It is tempting to let our feelings get in the way, but we must not do so. We must wait in confidence that He will do what He says He will do, and that He will keep his very great and precious promises.
“It is strange that though we should so often have experienced it, we are still slow to learn that waiting on God must and can be the very breath of our life, a continuous resting in God’s presence and love, a constant yielding of ourselves to Him to perfect His work in us.” (ibid)
Father, there are many times in my life when I do not feel Your embrace, I do not feel Your love, and it doesn’t feel as though You are working in me or through me. Help me to ignore this lack of feeling and have the faith and confidence to know that You are still there, still working, and always loving me.
Help me to embrace this unconditional love today and every day, to feel You “arms” wrapped around me like I did that day so many years ago out in front of my grandmother’s house. I know that I cannot recreate that scene, but I will never forget it. I know, deep in my heart, that You love me. So help me, not necessarily to always feel that love, but to know that it is there, regardless of what I feel at the moment.
And then help me to spread that love everywhere around me by obeying Your greatest commands and walking in the words of Jesus, my Savior.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.