Today is Tuesday, August 30, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!
It is the last day of August. No it’s not. That’s tomorrow. Oops.
Princess’s (guinea pig) eye is much better! The vet said that there is basically just a scar there, now, which may take some time to go away. She recommended putting the ointment in the eye for another week, but we don’t have to go back and re-check.
Yesterday, we hit a high of 93. The forecast was for 95. The record high for that date, from 2011, was 104. I’m glad we aren’t breaking those records! Today’s high is forecast to be 89, and as of right now, the highest temp over the next ten days is 90. There appears to be much chance of rain and/or thunderstorms over the next ten days, with the highest chance of rain being tomorrow. Even after last Monday’s monsoons, we could still use some rain.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for moving our hearts so that we may know we are your children. Even in the midst of turmoil and evil, fear and pain, you bring us happiness; we can know that you are holding us with your right hand and will finally deliver us from all evil. Let your Spirit be at work everywhere. Give us patience when time is needed in our own hearts and in the hearts of all people, who also belong to you. Continue to strengthen us so that even the heaviest burden does not crush us and we may exult in hope because you right every wrong, to the glory of your name. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:27-28 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- that my eternal destiny is secure; I cannot be snatched out of God’s hand
- that, because of God’s strength in us, even the heaviest burden will not crush us
- for forgiveness; it is the great work of love among us who love poorly (Henri Nouwen)
- that the Truth (which is Jesus and no one or nothing else) sets us free
- for the miracle that is life
"Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family." (Henri Nouwen)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31-32 ESV)
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
(John 8:42 ESV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
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. (Lamentations 3:22-25 ESV)
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
(Matthew 9:37-38 ESV)
There’s a lot of talk about freedom, these days. Having lived in the USA all my life, it has been impressed upon me that this is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” But what is real, true freedom?
Jesus talked about freedom, and he related it to truth. He said something that has been quoted many, many times. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There are many people who have grabbed onto that statement.
However, I fear that many people are missing a key component of that “truth.” There was a condition that we tend to miss when we quote John 8:32. And that condition is seen in John 8:31. “If you abide in my word . . .”
To “abide” means to “live” or to “dwell.” The KJV uses “continue” to translate the Greek “meno,” which can also mean “to stay.”
There is so much to be unpacked, here, that I probably don’t have the time or space to do it. I’m sure entire books have been written on this. But there is one thing of which I am convinced. Very few of the people who are shouting the most loudly about “freedom” are abiding in the words of Jesus.
There seems to be some confusion about what “freedom” really means. In Jesus’s teachings, it does not mean the right to do whatever you please. And the way that I know that those people aren’t abiding in the words of Jesus is that they are not doing what Jesus commanded. They are not loving; not only not loving their neighbors, but most of them aren’t even loving “one another.” Essentially, we, as Western human beings, are mostly loving ourselves. We have a “me” problem.
Another result of abiding in the words of Jesus is that we will know the truth. The Greek word, there, is “aletheia,” which literally means “truth” or “verity.” And the same word is used when Jesus proclaims that He is the truth in John 14:6.
Jesus is the Truth. So, if we dwell, live, stay in His words, we will know Him, and He will set us free. And I think that the freedom of which Jesus speaks is more of a “freedom to” than a “freedom from.” Of course, Jesus sets us free from sin. But He also sets us free to serve.
When we experience the true freedom of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we learn how to deny ourselves. We are free from selfishness and self-centeredness, and free to spend ourselves and our resources doing the things that Jesus commanded us to do. We are free to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, release people from slavery and oppression, care for the sick and the refugees and the widows and the orphans, and so on.
And we are free to love extravagantly, not unlike the woman who dumped a vial of perfume worth a year’s salary on Jesus’s feet.
Father, help me to truly abide in the words of Jesus, that I might be free to do the things that He has commanded us to do. I pray for the freedom to step outside of myself and my comfort zone, that I might serve others. Show me new ways to do this, as I continue to suss out the meaning of retirement life.
I pray for all of Your people in this world, in this land, that You might show us how to truly be free. Teach us to love sacrificially, like the woman who anointed Jesus. Teach us to care more about others than we care about ourselves. Teach us to care for “the least of these,” and, in doing so, care for Jesus, Himself, as He taught us.
Thank You for Your mercies that never end, for Your steadfast love that is fresh and new, eternally, every day. It never runs out; it is always new. Help us to abide in this, that we might know Jesus, and, in knowing Him, know You. May we experience, as much as we can handle it, the fullness of You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)
Grace and peace, friends.