Today is Monday, the 2nd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the ninth day of Christmas.
May the peace of the Lord be with you always!
For a lot of people (unless you happen to work in retail or restaurant industry), today is the observed holiday for New Year’s Day. As far as I know, the banks are closed, and there will be no mail delivery. C is off work today, and will be headed back in tomorrow after a whole week off, as she took vacation between Christmas and yesterday. I don’t ever work on Monday, so it’s just another day for me. “Just another manic Monday.”
I don’t really feel that way. It’s just a line from a song.
I wondered, this morning, how many sermons were preached, yesterday, on 2 Corinthians 5:17?
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have humbled me. (Psalms 119:75 NRSV)
O Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers. I am praying, this morning, for many who need healing of some kind. I am praying for some who need guidance in life, and success in new goals that they have begun. There are many, many who are grieving . . . may You give the comfort of the Holy Spirit to their hearts and souls. There are some who seek familial reconciliation; may You intervene in their situations. O Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers!
Lord our God, we have gathered in your sight. We thank you that through your words you have given something of your very self to help us be your disciples, your children, who stand firm in faith and trust throughout our lives, whatever our lot may be. Help us in these times, and when days grow difficult and full of grief, hold your people securely in your hand. Help us to be firmly rooted in faith, however dark it is on earth. You can give us strength and courage; we can do nothing in our human strength. But the power of your Spirit can renew us, make us alert, and fill us with lasting joy. For we are your people, your children, and when held in your hand, we can rejoice in spite of all grief. Amen.
With this in mind, then, I kneel in prayer to the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, that out of the treasures of his glory he may grant you strength and power through his Spirit in your inner being, that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts in love. Ephesians 3:14–17a, NEB
Today I am grateful:
- that Jesus shares Himself with us, in order to help us be His disciples
- that the Lord gives us strength and courage, for we can do nothing in our human strength
- for daily renewal in the Holy Spirit
- that even our smallest efforts can yield large results, when God is involved
- for the faithfulness of God to act on our behalf, when we commit our ways to Him
O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalms 34:3 NRSV)
Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds. (Psalms 57:9-10 NRSV)
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. (Psalms 106:47 NRSV)
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, He is mindful of his covenant forever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, (Psalms 105:1-5, 8-10 NRSV)
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
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.
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 NRSV)
“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”
(Luke 16:10 NRSV)
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
(John 6:9 NRSV)
Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; he'll do whatever needs to be done: (Psalms 37:5 MSG)
The tiny mustard seed becomes a huge plant. Whoever is faithful in little is also faithful in much. The young boy’s five loaves and two fish feeds a multitude. “Little is much when God is in it.” Even the smallest acts of faith can yield huge results.
For us, we need not worry about the magnitude of our actions. Some are hindered by the mindset of wanting to do “huge things” for God. But that’s not what God is after. He is after the willingness of the boy with the sack lunch, who is willing to share it with Jesus. He is after the one who is willing to pray, faithfully, alone in her closet, no one ever knowing. He is after the one who is willing to give her two “mites,” as opposed to the one who throws noisy coins into the coffer, out of his abundance.
One of the most seemingly small and insignificant things we can do, especially for one another, is to listen. This world is an exceedingly noisy place, and it is growing ever more so by the day. “We are surrounded with noise: telephone, radio, television, stereo. Messages are amplified deafeningly. The world is a mob in which everyone is talking at once and no one is willing or able to listen.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)
But, in the midst of all of this noise, God listens. The popular Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” Peterson renders this to say, “Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done.“
Most followers of Christ are aware that God speaks to us. Primarily, this comes through His Word, but there are other avenues, as well. However, we aren’t quite as aware that God listens to us. He hears us. And, in ways that we cannot comprehend, somehow, He is able to hear all of us at one time. The fact that He listens to us is even more amazing than Him speaking to us.
Finding someone who listens to us at all, much less “carefully and thoroughly,” is rare. “When it happens we know that what we say and feel are immensely important. We acquire dignity. We never know how well we think or speak until we find someone who listens.” (ibid)
It has been said many times, that, when we are involved in conversation, we all too often, rather than listen when the other is speaking, are considering what we are going to say next. And how often do we interrupt?? I’m guilty of it, and I hate when I do it. It’s almost automatic, seeming to be out of my control. But it is not. We are a society of interrupting people.
Knock Knock Who's there? Interrupting cow. Interrupting cow w-- MOOOO!
So today, consider two things. One, that God listens to you. Your thoughts, your words, your feelings are important, and have dignity. Two, consider listening to someone else. If you find yourself engaged in conversation today, listen. Let the other person speak full sentences. Don’t try to finish their sentences for them. Don’t interrupt. And don’t let your mind stray to what you want to say next. I might forget what I was going to say next. But that’s okay. I’m not the most important person in the room. You are.
"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, I pray,t he love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen." (The Divine Hours - Concluding Prayer of the Church)
Father, help us to be more aware and confident that You hear us when we pray. And, in that knowledge, help us to pray more and better. When I lift up the prayer requests that come to my attention, may my attention be fully with them. May my prayers be sincere and not cursory, and may Your Holy Spirit help me know the best way to pray for all.
I also pray that You help us, in turn to listen to others when we are in conversation with them. It is so important to listen. It gives others dignity and it gives them confidence. It also gives them feelings of hope and importance. So give us all the ability to listen, which goes hand in hand with not thinking we are the most important person in the room.
In Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)
Grace and peace, friends.