Today is Saturday, the 26th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ fill your body, soul, and spirit, today!
Advent begins tomorrow, and there are 29 days until Christmas!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. (Psalms 119:35 ESV)
Lord our God, in our times too you hear the prayers and cries of your children. We need to cry out, for humankind has not become your own but still lives in pain and under judgment, and many thousands have to die or undergo terrible things. They should be yours, every one of them. They should all be your children. So we cry out to you: Reveal and glorify your name on earth so that a new time may come and great wonders may be done by your hand. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! Isaiah 64:1–2, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- for a very restful day, yesterday
- for the heart of gratitude that God has developed in me
- for rain received this week
- for the constant presence of Christ among us
- for the available relief from worry and anxiety; may I avail myself of this more often
- for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus
A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living." Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me. (Psalms 142:1-7 ESV)
Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
(Exodus 3:5 NRSV)
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)
Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NRSV)
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
(Matthew 8:23-27 NRSV)
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 NRSV)
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 NRSV)
A couple days ago, one of the central passages was one where Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” (Paraphrased)
We are entering one of the most anxious seasons of the year. The holidays are a source of anxiety for many people, and for many different reasons. I’m not even going to begin to try to list them all.
The psalmist appears to be a bit anxious in Psalm 142, doesn’t he? And Jesus’s disciples were certainly anxious in that little boat in Matthew 8. What makes their anxiety even more preposterous is that Jesus was in the boat with them! And they knew it!
We find ourselves in that same “boat,” don’t we? We start worrying about things (I’m not exempt from this, believe me), and Jesus is with us, in the form of the Holy Spirit. Okay, the Holy Spirit is not “Jesus,” and vice versa. But all of them are “God,” as they make up the Holy Trinity. That’s another one of those mysteries that we will simply be unable to comprehend until we meet Him face-to-face.
Jesus also gave us many promises of His presence, one of which is above, in Matthew 18. Now, granted, these days it seems to be quite difficult to get two or more to agree about anything! But Jesus promises His presence in our midst.
In Galatians, we have that wonderful and popular verse that declares that our lives are actually lived by faith in Christ, as we are crucified in Him, and He lives through us. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”
Many people desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what is their motivation? Sometimes we seek Him for “obtaining more power for work, more love in our life, more holiness in the heart, more light on Scripture or on our path.” I fear, sometimes, as well, that many seek the Holy Spirit for attention; if you have the more visible gifts of the Spirit, people will notice you.
Andrew Murray says, “But all these gifts are subordinate to the great purpose of God. The Father bestowed the Spirit on the Son, and the Son gave Him to us for the purpose of revealing and glorifying Christ Jesus in us.
“The heavenly Christ must become for us a real and living personality who is always with us and in us. Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.” (Andrew Murray in Living a Prayerful Life, quoted in Power in Prayer, emphasis added)
I want to emphasize that one sentence even more.
“Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.”
Now, to be clear, this is not something that is easy or can happen automatically. This is one of those things that reflects the need for Spiritual Disciplines in our lives. We have to practice this presence, as indicated by Brother Lawrence in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Frank Laubach also had the belief that it was possible to acknowledge the presence of God constantly in one’s life. He wrote a little pamphlet called The Game with Minutes, in which he encourages us to acknowledge God’s presence at least one second in every minute of our waking day.
Again, this is not something that is easy to accomplish, because we are “trained” differently. We are accustomed to being anxious. In fact, we seem to be encouraged to be anxious about things. We are taught to always be in a hurry (at least in Western society; there are other societies that are much better at time management than we are). We are encouraged to always be accomplishing something. My own wife struggles with this. She feels guilty for simply sitting and relaxing for any length of time, on weekends.
But anxiety is a mental thing. Again, Dallas Willard tells us that humans have the unique capability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. Therefore, we also have the ability to direct our minds to dwell on Christ and His presence in our lives. We can have that unbroken fellowship of which Andrew Murray speaks!
Father, I thank You for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus! I pray that I might realize this through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines in my life. I realize that this is not something that can happen instantly, nor is it automatic. Perhaps it should be almost automatic for the believer/follower of Christ, but, alas, because of worldly influences, it is not.
Help me to practice this rightly. Let Your Spirit remind me, constantly, of Your presence in my life. I pray for the influence of the Trinity, constantly, daily. And then let this influence, this presence, shine out from me like the brightest of lights in a world that seems so dark.
There are many of us, Father, who look around us and simply see a world that is “on fire.” “The world is burning,” we seem to be saying, constantly. But let us not focus our eyes on this. Rather, let us focus our minds, our spirits, our souls, on Your presence, so that we might light our world on a different kind of fire!
I desire that unbroken fellowship, Father, but I’m not whole-hearted enough. I pray that You “fix me,” because I’m broken. As are we all, Lord. Heal our brokenness with the salve of Your grace and mercy, and fix our eyes on You, the author and perfector of our faith.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV)
Grace and peace, friends.