Today is Sunday, the 8th of January, 2023, in the third week of Christmas.
May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today and always!
Today is also celebrated as the day of The Baptism of our Lord.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
My soul languishes for your salvation; I hope in your word. (Psalms 119:81 NRSV)
Father in heaven, we thank you for the many ways you strengthen us and reveal your life to us. We thank you for all your protection, also for your protection of our faith and hope. Grant that your Spirit may penetrate us more and more, enabling us to be your witnesses in this evil and unhappy world. May your Spirit give us hope for this life and for the life to come. Amen.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:5–6, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- for the faith given to me; may it be strengthened within me
- that God continues to keep my faith and hope alive and well
- for an opportunity to worship with the saints, this morning
- that Jesus Christ, Son of God, has made the Father known to us
- for the provisions of God; may I be faithful to share them
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart. (Psalms 32:11 NRSV)
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us (Psalms 67:1 NRSV)
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. (Psalms 50:2 NRSV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14 NRSV)
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. (John 1:16-18 NRSV)
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David: 'I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.'" [Selah] Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and awesome above all that are around him? O LORD God of hosts, who is as mighty as you, O LORD? Your faithfulness surrounds you. (Psalms 89:3-8 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen." (The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2 NRSV)
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:34-40 NRSV)
Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.
(Colossians 3:23-24 NRSV)
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
(Hebrews 13:16 NRSV)
Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love.
(Romans 8:39 MSG)
Because of the fact that “absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love,” we have nothing to fear . . . ever. We will be afraid. We can’t help it, because we are humans. And the things that cause each of us fear are different for each of us. I fear confrontation. I’m the Toy Story dinosaur. I have known people who obviously thrive on confrontation. I don’t like being around those people.
Nevertheless, because of God’s love for us, all of our fears are unfounded. They are not based in reality.
Because we have nothing to fear, we can, then, follow the admonition of the author of Hebrews and “not neglect to do good and to share what you have.” And that second verse of chapter thirteen has always intrigued me. Show hospitality to strangers. They might be angels.
What kind of place would this world be if only followers of Christ, even, followed that principle?
In today’s Walking in Grace (formerly Daily Guideposts) reading, newbie Gabrielle Meyer bursts on the scene with a shout. She makes a great first impression, in my opinion. She writes of going through the normal activities of the week after having found a lump while showering on Sunday morning. As she awaited test results, she was more aware of potential life circumstances of people around her. As she walked around the grocery store, she was wondering to herself: “How many of them are waiting for a biopsy result? A financial breakthrough? A relationship to heal? How many are fighting hardships we cannot see?”
ALL OF THEM!! Every one you see, every day, is fighting some kind of battle that you cannot see.
How we react/respond to these people is a great reflection of our relationship with Jesus.
Keep in mind, none of us will be perfect, ever. Because there will be time when each of us will be so entrenched in our own circumstances and fears (which are not based in reality, remember) that we will either not react/respond at all, or we will respond poorly.
But the good news is that God remembers that we are dust, made out of mud. (Psalm 103:14)
I have to believe, even though there is no real information to support this belief, that Enoch, as he “walked with God,” was kind to people that he met, and that he shared his resources with those who were less fortunate than him; that he took into consideration, when someone was rude to him, that they might be “going through something.”
“Going through something” is never an excuse to treat someone badly. But that principle is for me, not for everyone else. It is something that I can only control in myself. No matter what I might be going through, it is still my responsibility to be kind to people, to share what I have with people, to love people.
Father, in this coming week, I pray that You would help me to not forget, to not neglect, to do good to people and share what I have with them, whenever an opportunity arises. Help me to show hospitality to others, especially strangers, whenever possible. This could be something as simple as smiling and nodding at someone, acknowledging their existence, or something more tangible, such as providing financial support or food or clothing for someone. May we never be stingy with what You have given us.
I pray for Your Church, that all who profess to be followers of Christ would treat people with kindness and compassion, considering others to be more significant than themselves. Help us to get out of ourselves, Lord. Help us to be more willing to surrender our “rights” in order that someone else might benefit. In short, make us more like Jesus.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 NRSV)
Grace and peace, friends.