Today is Sunday, January 3, 2021, the tenth day of Christmas.
Peace be with you!
Today is the Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
I want to start out that my friend, Tommy Womack, has given me permission to use another one of his beautiful photos as part of my header rotation. It will be evident, as it will have his name in the upper right corner. It is this one, though.
It’s been a lovely time off from work, over the past few weeks, but it is near over. And I’m okay with that. A new year of work begins tomorrow, and I will likely immediately submit PTO for the week of my birthday, in March. I won’t use up all of my PTO quite so fast, but there are certain times/events for which I want to make sure I am off. My birthday falls on Saturday, this year (as will Christmas and New Year’s Day 2022), so I will have to decide which week I want to take off. I’m leaning toward the week after, so I have all the time off after my birthday.
This morning, we have our Zoom church “gathering” at 10:15. That’s all that’s planned for today. We’ll probably have our traditional Applebee’s lunch, although we just had that on Thursday, I think. But that’s okay. And, of course, there will be Sonic drinks.
I did not reach my 100 pound mark, yesterday. In fact, I even registered a gain of 1.4 pounds. I have no idea, no explanation, nor does anyone else, as to why that happened. Our bodies are strange beings and do weird things sometimes. I didn’t do anything “wrong,” other than for several days, I did not drink as much water as usual. Other members were very supportive, and I kept a “stiff upper lip” about it, vowing to keep my focus forward and move on.
We have, apparently, been quite the inspiration to a number of people, which is a humbling experience. I mean that in all sincerity, too. I’m not a very self-uplifting person, so the thought that I could inspire anyone does not often cross my mind.
So, as it stands, I now need to lose 2.8 pounds to reach my 100 pound “mini-goal.” Which reminds me, I need to sign us up for next Saturday’s Workshop.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Prayer to the Most Holy Name of Jesus By St. Bernard of Clairvaux Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills the breast! Yet sweeter far Thy face to see And in Thy presence rest. No voice can sing, no heart can frame, Nor can the memory find, A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name, The Savior of mankind. O hope of every contrite heart! O joy of all the meek! To those who fall, how kind Thou art! How good to those who seek! But what to those who find? Ah! this Nor tongue nor pen can show The love of Jesus, what it is, None but His loved ones know. Jesus! our only hope be Thou, As Thou our prize shalt be; In Thee be all our glory now, And through eternity. Amen.
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
CHRISTMAS – DAY 10
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)
BIBLE SONG: PSALM 2:1-6, 10-12
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalms 2:1-6, 10-12 NIV)
BIBLE READING: TITUS 2:11-14
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
(Titus 2:11-14 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
The first noun in the passage is the jumping off point for the whole thing. “Grace.”
“The grace of God has appeared,” and it “offers salvation to all people.” Because of God’s grace, salvation is available to all.
This grace also instructs us. How do we combat “ungodliness and worldly passions?” God’s grace should be teaching us to say “No.” It should be teaching us to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Granted, we live in a different age than Paul. However, it is “this present age,” right now. All over the world, regardless of what “time” it might be, due to manmade time zones, right this minute, it is “now,” everywhere. In fact, that is the only “time” it ever is. It is never anything other than “now.”
Sorry to get philosophical on us, here. But the point is, no matter what age we live in, it is “this present age,” and God’s grace should be teaching us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives within that present age, regardless of what the various temptations are.
While we live in this way, we are waiting. The Church is in a constant state of waiting, waiting “for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Father, help me to do better at saying “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. That could look like a lot of different things, but You and I know what it means for me. May Your grace teach me more concerning living self-controlled, upright and godly life, especially as I head back into the workplace this week. May Your grace be visible in my life, as other people look on me. I have already seen, in recent days, that my life has the potential to be inspiring to others. May that inspiration be more than just in health/weight loss. May it be in spiritual health, as well.
"Gracious God, Jesus is the center point of history, and his presence is my new beginning. Center my life on your lavish grace that not only saves but renews me to be like Jesus. May my godly living be a fitting testimony that draws others to the joyful reign of the newborn King. Amen." (Heidelberg Catechism 86)
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 ESV)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV)
“A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?
“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.
“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
“Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?”
(Matthew 10:24-33 MSG)
In these last few passage, we see a common theme: fear. There are many things that we can and do fear in our lives. The past year through which we have lived has much that we have feared. We might fear being exposed to Covid-19, and the potential seriousness of the virus.
There are many who are fearful of the effects of politics on our nation and world.
There are also many other things that people fear. Some so much so that they seem unable to even leave their homes. But the Lord promises His presence, in Isaiah 41:10, which has become one of my favorite verses in the past few years. The Psalmist says that, when he puts his trust in God, there is nothing that man can do to him (56:3-4). And Paul reminds us that God does not give us a spirit of fear.
Then Jesus also, in His words to His disciples, admonishes us repeatedly to “fear not.” In fact, it is said that, perhaps, the most oft repeated command in the Bible is “fear not,” or “be not afraid.”
The big question is, how do we do that? How do we “fear not?”
I wish there were an easy answer. From my experience, it helps to know the Scriptures. It helps to meditate on the Word of God and His presence. To know and have confidence in the presence of God is a great help in times when fear threatens my state of mind. But it is a choice of attitude that one has to make. It is truly a matter of belief.
Father, in this day, and in the coming week, I pray for increased fellowship with the risen Christ in my life, and in Your Church. I also pray for renewal and refreshment, both for myself, and for Your Church.
I pray that You would help us all to know Your presence and to “fear not,” when circumstances and people threaten our peace. May we find peace and comfort in Your Word, and learn how to better meditate on passages that provide comfort in Your presence and Your protection.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- For the Most Holy Name of Jesus
- For Your grace, which teaches me to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions
- For Your salvation, offered to all people
- For the promise of Your presence and protection, which helps me to “fear not”
- For this day of rest and refreshing before returning to a full week of work
Today’s Challenge: “Today, step out of your old ways, habits, and steps. Do what you’ve never done before but should have. Walk in the newness of the Spirit.” (From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.