Today is Wednesday, the 30th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent. The last day of November.
May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today.
25 days until Christmas!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. (Psalms 119:39 ESV)
Lord our God, let your miracles be done among us, and bless us through your deeds. Bless us in Jesus Christ, the Savior of so many people. May your kingdom come to us and at last bring the great miracles that carry out your will and that do what is pleasing to you. Lord God, Father in heaven, we praise you! In you we live, in you we believe, in you we hope, in you we want to live day by day and hour by hour. May your name be honored among us, for you are our God and the God of all the world. Let your light shine among all people so that many millions and whole nations may glorify your name, for in the last days the nations shall come and worship you. So protect and bless us today and in the coming time, and again and again let something happen to bring us new life and strength. Amen.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious... Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! Psalm 66:1–2, 5, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- for the awesome deeds that God has done for mankind
- for the theme of this first week of Advent; hope
- for the light of God that shines through His people, when they are faithful to walk in His commands
- for good news
- for the indescribable love with which our Father loves us
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26 ESV)
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven: (Lamentations 3:40-41 ESV)
"I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, 'Do not close your ear to my cry for help!' You came near when I called on you; you said, 'Do not fear!' (Lamentations 3:55-57 ESV)
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD! (Psalms 146:1-10 ESV)
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:23-24 NIV)
“True faith is much more complex and powerful than the easy answer.” ~ Isabella, in Pray A Word A Day
Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:19 TLB)
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. (Psalms 34:14-15 NRSV)
For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.
(2 Peter 1:5-9 NRSV)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
Our God is indescribable. The works of His majesty defy description. We try, but we fall short.
Another thing that is indescribable is the love that He has for us.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
(1 John 3:1 ESV)
He pours this love into us, through Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. How tragic is it when we fail to spread that love around us?
Andrew Murray makes a bold statement concerning intercession. “It is only love that can enable us for the work of intercession.” (From Absolute Surrender, quoted in Power in Prayer) I had honestly never considered this before.
I can’t remember how many years it has been since the Lord drew me into the ministry of intercessory prayer. It was definitely a drawing of the Holy Spirit, and I felt it quite deeply. I contemplated it long and hard, and it might even be said that I resisted it. After all, the main thrust of my life, up to that point, had been worship.
But that is where God led me, and continues to lead me. I will be quick to confess that I don’t think I’ve done a great job of it. At least until more recently, that is. (Don’t be mistaken, I am still not “tooting my own horn,” here.) And I believe that one thing that has made the difference, in the past couple years is this concept of loving one another.
A couple years ago, I was listening to a podcast called “True Tunes,” in which John Joseph Thompson was interviewing Amy Grant, who had recently turned sixty (how on earth was that possible??). In this podcast, Amy said something that changed my life; changed my perspective on everything.
She said that people were always asking her opinions about things, and her response had become to say that she has two jobs. You probably know where I’m going with this. Those two jobs are (say it with me) love God and love people. That’s what the commands of Jesus boil down to, right? Even Paul says that to love fulfills the entire law. Jesus said that loving God and loving one’s neighbor as oneself fulfills the entirety of the Law and the Prophets.
Amy went on to say that her opinion about certain things, especially “hot topics,” is not in the job description for those two jobs.
I felt like that eighties song by Dead or Alive, “You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record, baby . . .” And from that day forward, I have adopted that philosophy. I believe it’s biblical, and I believe it is spot on.
I have opinions. Occasionally, I share them. But I try to keep the political ones to myself, because what I think about controversial issues is not part of my “job description.” And, moving forward into 2022, and thinking about 2023, this is even more important. Because I am asked to pray for people for whom I have sharp disagreements in opinion. But that doesn’t matter. I am called to love them.
And, as Andrew Murray stated, I can only truly be successful at intercession if I have love. In that quote up there from 1 Timothy, Paul urges us make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” for “all people!” I believe I may have addressed this recently in another blog entry.
The Greek word for “all” is “pas.” Here are the Strong’s definitions for it: “pas; including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:—all (manner of, means), alway(-s), any (one), × daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no(-thing), X thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.”
In other words, “all” means “all.”
I cannot successfully intercede for “all people” unless I love “all people.” And this is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing that we have been called to do. It seems like a burden, right?
But here’s the thing. And I could easily drift off into a discussion about “burnout,” here. If I am walking with Christ, properly, nothing is ever a burden. Things are only burdensome when we allow them to be, and when we try to take them on in our own power or strength. What did Jesus say about burdens?
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV)
The love of God is amazing . . . it is truly indescribable. And it is the same love with which we are called to love “all people,” and to intercede for “all people.” What joy it gives me to consider this! What pleasure I get out of considering that love and considering the task of intercession! It is indescribable.
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalms 16:11 NRSV)
Father, I thank You for these revelations. I thank You for that testimony from Amy Grant from that podcast. I thank You for causing me to listen to it, and for making me pay attention to it. I thank You that, since then, You have increased my capacity for loving others. I’m far from perfect, and I still struggle with loving some people, but I also confess and acknowledge that You expect me to love those people, as well. So help me, Father.
I do believe! Help my unbelief!
As we prepare to launch into another year, Lord, things still are pretty upside-down in this nation and in this world. We are still suffering the effects of a pandemic that began almost three years ago, and, in spite of our thinking, may not truly be over. But there is one of those opinions that doesn’t figure into my job description. Lord, I’m seeing a lot of people spout out some pretty outlandish opinions, but You have called me to love them, anyway, and You have called me to intercede.
So I continue to acknowledge this calling, and I commit myself to it even more, today, than before. I still love to worship You, and look forward to doing this on Saturday night, with the brothers and sisters who gather for Night of Worship. But intercession is where You are directing me, with the emphasis on loving one another.
With that in mind, I pray for Your Church, especially in America, that we would do a better job of fulfilling that command from Jesus. First, that we would love You with all of our being. Second, that we would love our “neighbor” as ourselves. And, third, that we would love one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, more intensely and more intentionally. Pour Your love into us, that we might pour it out to others!
All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.