Today is Thursday, the 29th of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas.
It is the fifth day of Christmas.
May the peace of Christ reign in your life today!
Three days until 2023!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. (Psalms 119:71 ESV)
This is a state of mind that seems to have been, for the most part, lost in recent years. As a society, instead of stopping to try to learn anything from our experiences, we seem to be spending all our energy whining and moaning about them.
Dear Father in heaven, whose might is over all the earth, we thank you for all the love you show us. We also thank you for everything that seems hard, but which you change into help and strength. We want to thank you in life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, for you are the great and mighty God, who calls us to life again and again, who leads us to fuller life. You have given us great love in Jesus Christ, our Savior. He shall always be before our eyes and remain in our hearts. Through him we can cry out in joy, “Abba, dear Father!” Amen.
Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- for the love of the Lord, that endures forever
- for those things which seem hard, but God works out for our good
- that our Father calls us to life, again and again
- for the faith with which we not only begin our life in Christ, but continue to abide in Him
- to be clay in the hands of the Master Potter
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, "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." And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:16-21 ESV)
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:1-4 ESV)
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:8-9 ESV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 NRSV)
But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 NRSV)
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.
(1 John 2:24 NRSV)
“Continue.” To persist in an activity or process. To remain in existence or operation. To remain in a specified position or state.
It can also mean to recommence or resume after interruption.
All too often, the notion of faith is only used in reference to the beginning of salvation. You know, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” But that is not the end of the matter. And if we see the beginning as the end, we shortchange ourselves, and we don’t do God any favors, either.
The beginning of our walk with Christ happens through faith. But a key word in that sentence is “walk.” Walking requires movement, from one place to another. Unless one is walking for simply exercise (for example, on a treadmill), a destination is implied.
Unfortunately, for a large number of people who get “saved,” the destination is seen as heaven, that “place” we wait to go to when we die.
But there is so much more to it than that. And the modern evangelical movement has not done a good job of explaining that, because the goal has been to get as many “decisions for Christ” as possible. Notches on the proverbial belt. I can’t help but believe that this was never what Christ intended for His Church.
The Kingdom of Heaven is here. It arrived with Christ, and it continues here in His Church. We are to be walking in that Kingdom, here and now, by faith, as we continue to do the works that Jesus, Himself began.
Yes, it is by faith that we begin that walk. But it also by faith that “we are to be rooted and established in our union with Christ.” (Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, quoted in Power in Prayer) In that union with Christ, we are said to be “abiding.” “It is astonishing how such faith will work out all that is further implied in abiding in Christ. There is in the Christian life a great need for watchfulness and prayer, of self-denial, obedience, and diligence.” (Murray)
We are instructed, by Paul, in Colossians, to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. In Western society, all of these traits are seen as weakness. How does one clothe oneself with these things? I suppose I could get a shirt made (I bet I can buy one that already exists) that has those five words on it. And there might be some people out there who really believe that wearing a shirt with those words on it satisfies the instruction.
But I cannot physically wear compassion. How do I clothe myself with it? Through faith! Through the same faith that led me and enabled me to believe in Christ, to begin with.
The fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity (“goodness” in some translations), faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those characteristics can only exist in my life by faith!
“It is faith that continually closes its eyes to the weakness of the creature and finds its joy in the sufficiency of an almighty Savior that makes the soul strong and glad.” (Murray)
“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you,” says John. Don’t stop at the beginning. Don’t let your “salvation” be nothing more than “fire insurance.” That is a mockery to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Take that same faith, that gift from God, that no one should be able to boast, and let it take you deeper, let it propel you into abiding.
Father, I am grateful for my salvation, more grateful than words could ever express. But, in the spirit of John and Paul and Christ, I want more. I desire more. I don’t desure to just get in the door and stay put. I want to, as the group Deliriou5? once sang, “go deeper.”
Take the faith that brought me into Christ, to begin with, and help me to abide in Him, to go deeper, to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and humility. Make the fruit of the Spirit to be strong in me in all ways. help me to close my eyes to the weakness, and to that which the world believes to be weakness, and be strong in Christ.
In all things, Christ is sufficient. In my supposed weakness, He is found to be strong. Yes, I am weak. I confess it. The treasure of faith, the love of Christ and You, the Father, is housed in this jar of clay, that which You remember is only dust. But Christ is sufficient. Yes. Help me to continue.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.