Today is Wednesday, the 23rd of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you today!
Thanksgiving is tomorrow!
Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his site at the link provided.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
(Psalms 119:32 ESV)
Some translations of the above verse have the second part saying something like, “You have broadened my understanding.”
Lord our God, we thank you for ruling us with your shepherd’s staff so that again and again we can be refreshed and can delight in what you are doing for us. We thank you that we can have eager, joyful faith even when sorrows come, looking again and again to the good you give us. We are thankful and want to be thankful always. Be a mighty Lord over the peoples, we pray, and protect our country. Show your sovereignty by guarding the flock close beside you and by pouring out your grace to give life to the dying and resurrection to those who have died. O Lord God, hear and bless us. May your will be done on earth as in heaven, so that your kingdom may break in and everything may come right, according to your great purpose. Amen.
I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. John 10:11–12, TEV
Today I am grateful:
- for the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ
- that “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need” (Psalm 23:1 NLT)
- that God knows everything there is to know about me, even before I do, say, or think it; yet still He loves me
- that Jesus, in spite of what we think we see, has overcome the world
- for the forgiveness of God, with which we must also forgive all
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
(2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
(2 Peter 1:16-18 ESV)
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalms 139:1-18, 23-24 ESV)
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22:39 ESV)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)
Last night, in Chesapeake, VA, a shooter left seven people dead at a Walmart store, including himself.
This past Sunday, five people were killed and many more injured when a lone gunman opened fire at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.
On November 13, three UVA football players were killed by a gunman.
On November 12, four Idaho students were stabbed to death while they slept.
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The four news items I have listed above are not there to make any kind statement about guns or weapons or even violence. They are to illustrate the turmoil that is quite easy to see in our world, these days.
As some have indicated, it seems as though the world is burning. Are these not “signs of the times,” though?
I am far from a doomsday prophet. Nor am I a fear-mongerer. In fact, I am quite the opposite. I do not want to instill peace and hope into everyone’s minds.
“How can you see hope in any of this?” you may ask. And well, you might.
But I see it in the words of Jesus. He knew. He was able to tell us, through His disciples, two thousand-plus years ago that we will have “tribulation.” But then, He reminds us, He has overcome the world. Note that that statement is in present tense.
“I have overcome the world.”
Not, “I will overcome the world.”
Even before He died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave, Jesus Christ had already overcome the world.
And He has given us all we need to do the same. We have all we need to “rise above” the world and overcome. This doesn’t mean that we are going to get rich and always be healthy. This is not a “name-it-claim-it” religion or a “prosperity gospel” (which is no gospel at all).
Peter tells us, in the Scriptures above, that we have received everything we need for “life and godliness.” David, in the most famous of psalms, says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” I lack nothing. Period.
And just relish that Psalm 139. Read it and read it again and love the words of David, telling us how deeply our God knows us, and how there is nowhere we can go where we are not in His presence!
He has overcome the world. Even though there be shootings and stabbings, murders and arsons and whatever else, out there. He has overcome the world, and we can, right along with Him.
That is why I’m not afraid. Sure, I say that . . . sometimes I do let fear creep in. But in the long run, in the “Big Picture,” I am not afraid. Because my Savior has overcome the world; and my God knows me more deeply than I know myself, and He loves me, still.
Thank You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for these encouraging words in some of the darkest times. It is tempting to look around and lose hope. It is tempting to despair. But I refuse. I will lift my eyes up to the heavens and give You thanks, praising You that You, Jesus, have overcome this world, and that You, Holy Spirit, dwell within my soul, and that You, Almighty Father, really do have “the whole world in Your hands!”
There is nowhere I can go that You are not. There is nothing that I can do, say, or think, that surprises You (even though I certainly surprise myself, sometimes). I praise You for these thoughts and truths, Lord. And for this knowledge that is too high; so high that I cannot attain it. Yet You have revealed it to us and given us everything we need for “life and godliness.” All we have to do is make full use of what You have given us, and depend fully on You for our lives.
All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. (Kyrie)
Grace and peace, friends.