Today is Saturday, December 28, 2019. The Commemoration of the Holy Innocents. Peace be with you!
Four days until New Year’s Day, 2020.
Today is Card Playing Day. “The holiday season has come and gone, and the end of the year is in sight. You know what you need to do now? That’s right, you need to sit back and play out a few rounds of solitaire, or maybe get the family together for a night of Texas Hold’em, Slap Jack, or War. Whatever your pleasure, Card Playing Day is a chance to wind down from all the kerfluffle of the season by engaging in a card game or three.”
As mentioned, yesterday, I’m running late today with this blog, because we had a meeting of our “scattered” church leadership at 8:30 this morning. That went very well, I think. We had a good time recapping our Christmas experience, then got down to business, discussing previous scattered meetings and what to expect going forward. After we got done, I grabbed the obligatory Sonic drinks on the way home, then C and I got our Kroger pick-up order placed, which will be picked up between 4:00 and 5:00 PM, this evening. So, now I have time to get into my “morning” devotional.
Work, yesterday, was nice. There were a lot of people on PTO, and our client pretty much shuts down between Christmas and the New Year, so there were no phone calls or emails. It was a stress-free day, which is nice, for a change.
My knee is feeling much better. I hope it keeps that up. It still hurts a little and is a bit stiff, at times, but I can walk around without a cane, right now. I still carry it with me, though, because you never know.
There aren’t any other plans for today. I need to make sure I take a good look at the Bible passages for tomorrow’s Church time. And I have to pick up the groceries, later. But that’s about it. Should be a nice, relaxing afternoon.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Today I am grateful:
1. For the fellowship and discussion with my brothers in Christ, this morning.
2. For the hope of new beginnings that a new year brings.
3. That I am able to sing praises to the Lord.
4. That God is with me, and will never forget me or forsake me.
5. For times of reflection on Scripture.
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
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.
“Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
I have the strong sense that someone needs this today.
When I read this passage in today’s Our Daily Bread devotional, it struck a chord within me.
You see, there have been times in my life when I said exactly what Zion says in verse 14 above. “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” Or perhaps it was more like, “God has abandoned me.”
But he had not. And he never will. There is promise after promise after promise, all throughout Scripture, that proclaims the truth that God will not ever leave or forsake us. The above passage in Isaiah is just one of those.
Here’s another one. Deuteronomy 31.6. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
I don’t need to be reminded that these Scriptures were written specifically to Israel. I know this. But why would they not be applicable to the Church of today, the Body of Christ?
Are you in a place today where you think God has forsaken you? I promise you, he has not. If you are in Christ today, God is with you. Consider Psalm 139, a Psalm of David. It is one of my favorites, and was one of my father’s favorites.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
And finally, the promise of our Lord Jesus, from Matthew 28.20. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
So take heart. Be encouraged. You may be experiencing what St. John of the Cross called the “Dark Night of the Soul.” The Father may be, in a sense, hiding his face from you. But he has not forsaken you and there is something to learn from the experience. There is always something to learn.
God has not forgotten; he has not forsaken.
He is with us, always and forever.
Father, thank you for these promises, especially when we get into circumstances or times in our lives when your presence seems far away. Remind us, in these times, that you don’t leave us; you don’t forget us; you don’t forsake us. Remind us of the promise of Jesus, when he said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3.17
Grace and peace, friends.