Very Present

Today is Tuesday, the 1st of November, 2022, in the 31st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,609

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

With my whole heart I seek you;
 let me not wander from your commandments!
(Psalms 119:10 ESV)

Dear Father in heaven, we seek you and your kingdom. We gather to hear your Word so that we may receive strength for our own lives and for all our relationships with others. We want to stand firm, believing that in everything great and small your will is being done and that we may yet experience a new coming of your glory on earth. Then earthly concerns will no longer torment us and wear us out, but heavenly things may surround us and everything become new in accordance with your good, merciful, and perfect will. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Colossians 3:16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the inexpressible gifts of God
  2. for psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
  3. for the promised presence of God in Christ; “behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20)
  4. for the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39)
  5. for the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us, according to the Father’s will (Romans 8:26-27)

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)


And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 ESV)

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”
(Matthew 1:23 ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27 ESV)


Today seems to be all about “presence.” It begins with Paul’s prayer that the word of Christ dwell richly within us. One might think that he is simply speaking of Scripture when he says this. And, while he definitely is speaking of Scripture, I believe there is more to it than that.

The context of that particular verse (Colossians 3:16) is that of relationships within the body. He tells the church to “put on” compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. He tells us to bear with one another, forgive one another, and, above all of these other things, to “put on love.” Love, he says, “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

He then says to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. And then he gets to verse 16, where he says to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, followed by the admonition to do everything in the name of Jesus.

How do we do all of this? We would not be able to, were it not for the presence of Christ with us. That presence was promised by Jesus, Himself in Matthew 28:20. That promise is not a new thing, either. We see all the way back in Joshua, the Lord telling His people that He will be with them wherever they go. The sons of Korah, in Psalm 46, tell us that God is a “very present” help in trouble. “Very present.” I don’t know how someone can be “very present,” but God manages it.

Even Jesus’s name promises the presence of God.

Immanuel. “God with us.”

That presence is so sure that nothing can separate us. That wonderful eighth chapter of Romans, that so many of us know so well, promises us this. Look at that list of things that cannot separate us:

Death
Life
Angels
Rulers (governments)
Things present
Things to come (the future)
Powers
Height
Depth
Anything in creation

I would add to that, things past, and, most importantly, sin.

I believe, of course, that “sin” falls into that “anything else in all creation” category. But know this. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your sin does not separate you from God. If anyone ever tells you that, it is a lie, and is not found anywhere in Scripture! Jesus Christ has taken the full penalty of that sin, past, present, and future. It has been cast as far from you as the east is from the west; it has been tossed into the bottom of the sea, into the Marianas Trench. God says “I will remember it no more.” I said this last week, and I’ll say it again, today:

God said it, and I believe it.

He deliberately forgets my sin. Therefore, it cannot possibly separate me from Him.

Shame over past sin is one of the devil’s biggest tools against us. Our enemy wants us to feel separated from God, because it makes us feel powerless.

But we have God’s presence within us, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, and we see part of the Holy Spirit’s work, again, in Romans 8. Romans 8 is such a marvelous chapter!

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; and the Spirit intercedes for us, when we do not know how or what to pray. He does so, according to the will of the Father. He is present, even, as the Sons of Korah said, “very present.”

Here are some words from Andrew Murray, about the Holy Spirit:

“The Holy Spirit, above all, is a Spirit of prayer. He intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. As we pray in the Spirit, our worship is as God desires it to be, in spirit and in truth. Prayer is simply the breathing of the Spirit in us; power in prayer comes from the power of the Spirit in us as we wait on Him. Failure in prayer is the result of a human spirit that is not yielded to the Spirit of God. In this sense, prayer is a gauge that measures the work of the Spirit in us. To pray aright, the life of the Spirit must be active in us. For praying the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man, everything depends on being full of the Spirit.”

(From The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I thank You so very much for Your powerful presence within us, Your “saints.” Were it not for Your Word, I would never refer to myself as a “saint,” but You say I am one because of my belief in Christ Jesus, so I will use that word. I am not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination . . . not even close.

But Your presence within me sanctifies me. The Holy Spirit, third Person of the Trinity, dwells within me as the Spirit of Christ, who then allows me to communicate with You. Further, You dwell within us by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, of which we partake each time we participate in Communion.

Thank You for Your presence! I thank You that there is nothing that can separate me from Your presence in the love of Christ. I praise You for the forgiveness of sin, and that You somehow can forget my sin, on purpose. My mind boggles at that, because I am unable to forget anything deliberately. I forget things all the time. But the things I would like to forget, I am unable to.

Help us, Father, to walk in this forgiveness. Make us also to be full of Your Spirit, that our prayers might be fervent and effective, that we might glorify Your name on the earth. May Your presence with us become more dear to us than anything in all creation. Be our “very present” help, Lord! Make us aware of this presence, constantly.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


I catch you digging in my trash for stuff I’ve long thrown away. You bring it back on a tray.

Grace and peace, friends.

Dear Shame

Today is Sunday, August 23, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,809

Fifteen days until Labor Day

We had a nice day, yesterday. I went grocery shopping after I finished the morning blog, (and WW Workshop) while C continued her working. It was a somewhat stressful experience. Primarily, I suppose, because I haven’t been to that particular store in a while, and I was unfamiliar with the layout. So I had to keep going back for things I missed.

But the second reason, somewhat related to the first, was the directional instructions in the store. Walmart Neighborhood Market, like Albertson’s (unlike Kroger) has made all of the front-to-back aisles in the store one-way. Back and forth, alternating directions. I’m okay with that. Unfortunately, I was on about the third or fourth aisle before I noticed, and was going the wrong direction. Being a conscientious person, I immediately turned around. The other person on the same aisle as me did not. She kept going, and I kept meeting her going the wrong way on several successive aisles.

The thing that made this more stressful is the number of people who simply ignored those instructions. I think part of the issue with our society right now is illustrated by the fact that we seem totally incapable of even following simple instructions in a grocery store. It’s not that much of an inconvenience to go down an aisle on which I don’t need anything so I can come back on the next aisle which does contain something I need.

Anyway, I got the groceries, and the only thing I couldn’t find was C’s cherries. They were completely out of cherries (fresh ones). We may have to make a trip to Sprouts or somewhere today. In general Walmart NM’s produce is pretty poor quality, I’ve found.

The rest of the day was nice. I cooked eggs and stuff for brunch after getting home, and we watched an episode of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. After that, C went to the extra bedroom to work, and I settled in in front of the TV for an afternoon of gaming.

Not much on the agenda for today. This morning, we will have our Zoom worship gathering/Bible study at 10:15, and then something will happen for lunch. At this point, we are undecided on what that will be.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

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.
(Psalms 146:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You have put it into my heart to sing praises to You “while I have my being”
  2. For all of Your benefits (blessings) to me
  3. That You have cast all of my sins into the depths of the ocean and posted a “No Fishing” sign
  4. That Your hands hold the ocean depths and the mountain peaks
  5. That You are the great God, the great King above all gods

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.
(Psalms 141:3-5 ESV)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
(Psalms 115:1 ESV)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
(Psalms 116:12-14 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
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)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

A Song of Ascents.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
(Psalms 130:1-8 ESV)

Amy Boucher Pye, in today’s reading from Our Daily Bread, writes of something Corrie ten Boom said in her book, Tramp for the Lord.

Corrie said that one of her favorite mental pictures was that of God casting our sins into the depths of the sea. I have to agree with that, myself. I, too, love that image. That, and the one from other passages that says our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west (that is an infinite distance, in case you haven’t figure that one out).

Corrie said, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. . . . I believe God then places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed.”

This is truth that we often fail to grasp, I think (based, of course, on personal experience). “When God forgives our wrongdoing, we’re forgiven fully! We don’t have to keep dredging up our shameful deeds, wallowing in any mucky feelings. Rather we can accept His grace and forgiveness, following Him in freedom.”

Psalm 130 reinforces this idea. Even though God is just, He forgives.

I’ve said this many times in this blog, and, no doubt, will say it again. Our enemy’s biggest tool against us is deception, lies, trickery. When we are trapped in this feeling of unworthiness, because of sins that have been forgiven, “we can’t serve God with our whole hearts.” We are bound, restricted by living in the past.

We need to embrace the forgiveness of God. I know how hard this is, trust me. I’m one of the worst. Nevertheless, it is necessary in order for us to truly walk in the freedom that God has ordained for us.

There’s an old song by the group, The Newsboys. It says,

I catch you digging in my trash
For stuff I've long thrown away
You bring it back on a tray

And I hear you wheezing in the hall
Spreading germs and old news
You always love to confuse

I flee the light just to live in your shadow
I'm needing mercy and you offer me blame

Dear Shame . . .

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
(Psalms 95:1-4 NIV)

If ever there was a reason to do this, it has been described above!

Father, I praise You today that my sins are buried deep in the deepest part of the ocean, and that You have, indeed, posted a “No Fishing Allowed” sign out there. Please, by Your Holy Spirit, keep me from dredging up old sins. It happens so often. I’m doing great, things are going well, and then here comes Shame, saying “remember this?” And I remember, and I say to you, “Remember this?” and You say, “Remember what? I don’t remember anything!” All praise to You, our most glorious Father and Redeemer! All glory to You in Jesus Christ!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.