Today is Sunday, the 12th of March, 2023, in the third week of Lent.
May the peace of Christ dwell within you today.
We are going to Mineral Wells, this morning, leaving in just over an hour, so I don’t have a lot of time. I will say that we had a great time, yesterday, at IHOP. I got my usual Colorado Omelet (it has all the meat in it), and chose chocolate chocolate chip pancakes as my side. As I was pondering what kind of syrup to put on chocolate pancakes, I finally decided to try butter pecan. I started by dipping a couple of bites in my little syrup cup, and it tasted okay, so I cut up the pancakes and poured both cups of syrup over them.
I swear I am not making this up. My wife validated it. They tasted exactly like brownies!! They were almost better than the omelet! Almost.
We hit up Sonic for drinks, then headed home to chill for a while. I went out to In N Out, around 6:00 PM (that may have still been too early after that huge brunch). The ordering experience was pleasant. They have the burger thing down, it seems. Esentially all they make is burgers and fries, along with some shakes and soft drinks. and there aren’t very many varieties of burgers. Single with or without cheese, then the double double (you can also get triple triple or quad quad). I got a triple triple animal style (mustard instead of their sauce) and fries. The burger was good. The fries were stale. The best thing was the price. We got four burgers, four orders of fries and one drink for $31.50 The double double is $4.90. By comparison, a McD’s double quarter is around $8. But the double quarter is still better, in my opinion.
My stomach was not at all happy with me for all the junk I ate, yesterday. It’s better, this morning, though. I still don’t know what we will have for lunch today.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. (Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the gift of your light in our hearts, allowing us to have faith in you. We thank you for your light, which shows us the many ways you save us from need, darkness, and death. In the midst of this darkness you keep our hearts safe so that we can be faithful until your time comes, the time when you will reveal yourself to the world, and when all voices will cry out as one, “Yes, Father in heaven, we thank you. You have redeemed us all.” Amen.
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- for God’s gift of light shining in our hearts
- that I am crucified with Christ
- for God, my rock, my salvation
- that God knows my weaknesses, remembers that I am dust, and is mighty to save
- for mutual love within the Body of Christ
Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (Traditional Doxology)
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth (Psalms 80:1 NRSV)
The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation, (Psalms 18:46 NRSV)
Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread. Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places. I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink, because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside. My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations. (Psalms 102:1-12 NRSV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2 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.
"Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen." (The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! (Psalms 133:1 NRSV)
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
(John 13:34 NRSV)
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 NRSV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
(2 Corinthians 13:11 NRSV)
Let mutual love continue.
(Hebrews 13:1 NRSV)
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 MSG)
Look, folks, I don’t pick these verses out, myself. I read several resources for my daily devotions, and the verses come from there. I don’t make this up.
And yet, we find ourselves back at this topic, again.
I don’t believe in coincidences.
What I do believe is that there is an entire faction of “Christianity” out there who has completely forgotten about those little verses up there, all coming out of today’s reading in Walking with Grace 2023.
Over the course of the last few years (maybe longer, but I think social media has exacerbated it), the idea has become popular that, if someone doesn’t agree with me, then I should not treat them with kindness or respect.
I also believe that the Bible, God’s Word, knows nothing of this idea. Hence all the verses championing love, unity, kindness, compassion, and so on.
In that same reading, I find a prayer by the writer for today, Gail Thorell Schilling, which says, “Lord of all, may I see Your face in each person I meet. Amen.” Right on. If I’m looking for the face of God or Christ in everyone I meet, how could I possibly be rude or disrespectful to them? So what if they don’t see things quite the way I do?
I think a primary thing that we have missed, though, or put on a “back burner,” so to speak is nailed by Eugene H. Peterson as we consider the passage from Galatians 2. Here’s what he says:
"Crucifixion ends one way of life and opens up another. It finishes a life in which the self is coddled and indulged and admired, and begins a life that is offered to God and raised as a living sacrifice. "Everything that Christ experienced we co-experience. Starting with Christ, the complete revelation of Christ in crucifixion and resurrection, we live extravagantly, boldly, and freely." (Traveling Light, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)
So we seem to be forgetting that we are “crucified with Christ.” We seem to be forgetting that our previous life, the life in which our self was “coddled and indulged and admired,” is over. At least if we are truly following Christ, that life is over.
I confess that I frequently forget that, myself, and step back into self-indulgent ways. And I still find myself being judgmental toward others, at least in my mind. But there are things that I simply would not say in public about anyone, not in person, not on social media. I still need to work on my thoughts, but my actions and attitudes, as they are worked out, are trying to be in line with the teachings of Jesus.
Yesterday’s entry was “Our Life Is for Others.” This is sort of like part 2 of that. We must remember, if we are truly following Christ in this world, that our life is not our own. We have been crucified with Christ, and it is not we who live, but Christ living within us. I love how The Message words that passage. “It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me.”
Let us strive to not be one of the ones whom Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
(Matthew 7:21-23 NRSV)
Father in heaven, these words strike me in the heart, today. They strike me because I am saddened to see the shape that the church is in, today. It saddens me to see the attitudes of hatefulness toward others who do not believe like we do. I hurts my heart to see the division within Your Body.
Although I do not necessarily believe that the majority of those noisy people are truly part of Your Body. Everyone who goes to church is not part of the Church. I bow my knees to You, Lord, confessing my sinful thoughts and actions. I am not always in line with Jesus’s words, I know. But my heart desires to be, and I strive to love others the way He has loved me. Help me to do better at that. I definitely do not want to be one of the ones who hear “Go away from me, you evildoers!”
Help us to remember that You alone can see inside us; You alone know our truest, deepest motivations when we do the things we do. I hope and trust that my actions, my generosity toward people, are never to gain popularity or notoriety. I don’t care about any of those things. I care about pleasing You, about being with You ever day, about knowing You.
"Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You, There is no greater thing."
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.