Today is Sunday, January 17, 2021, the second Sunday after Epiphany.
Peace be with you!
I lost 2.2 pounds at my weigh-in at WW, yesterday morning, which negated the weight gain over the previous two weeks. I know need to lose 1.4 to hit that 100 pound mark! But I am not hyper-focused on that. I know I will get there, and beyond, so it’s really not important when that happens.
I have a doctor checkup in a little over a month. I’m hoping that my meds will be reduced, this time. I’m also hoping that, when I go back again this coming August, maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to get off of the diabetes medication, at least.
As far as my final weight goal, I don’t have a projected time frame on that, just yet, although it would be nice to be there by the end of 2021.
The rest of yesterday was pretty much nothing. I did spend some time messing with ProTools, but nothing productive happened. I also played the guitar for a few minutes. My fingers have gotten so soft, that was all I could do. Small steps, right?
C is feeling better, this morning, she says. She is hoping to get a walk in today. I’m supposed to get a new pair of New Balance walking shoes today. If they fit, I plan on getting back on the treadmill for a walk.
We have our Zoom worship gathering, this morning at 10:15. We will be beginning with Acts 24. We usually manage to make it through a couple of chapters. We should finish Acts next Sunday. So far, there has been no talk of where to go next.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Today I am grateful:
- That I am alive and breathing
- That I am immersed in Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwells within me
- That You show no favoritism (and expect the same from us)
- That in Christ, You have not only forgiven my sins, You have changed my past: my sins are not just forgiven . . . they are GONE
- For our future in Christ, for our reward in heaven, unchanging, imperishable, and eternal
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
EPIPHANY – DAY 12
The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)
A psalm of David.
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
(Psalms 15:1-5 NIV)
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
(Acts 19:1-7 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I try to “dwell” in these passages, there are mixed thoughts and feelings. Psalm 15 has always unsettled me a bit. It sounds like you have to be perfect to “dwell in [God’s] sacred tent.”
A blameless walk; only doing what is righteous; speaking truth from the heart; uttering no slander; doing no wrong to a neighbor; casting no slur on others. That’s a hefty list, there.
And then there’s that bit about despising a vile person. That seems to fly straight against everything Jesus teaches us.
But wait, there’s more. Keep your oaths, and even it hurts or causes you loss, don’t change your mind. Lend money to the poor without charging them interest, and don’t take bribes against the innocent.
I won’t try to reconcile all of this, today. I’m not that wise. But I will say that I believe that, in Christ, if we truly follow Him and walk with Him, then we can fulfill these requirements. My walk is “blameless,” if I am following Jesus, because my sins are forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west. (For more discussion on that topic, see this previous blog post.)
I will say that I have caught myself loathing one whom I perceive as “vile.” But it makes me feel uncomfortable. Because Jesus says to love my enemies. I think that’s one of the reasons that we struggle with the psalms that fall in the category of “imprecatory.” You know, the ones that call upon God to bring down judgment or curses on our enemies. Psalm 137 is a classic.
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
(Psalms 137:8-9 NIV)
I could never pray for that to happen to anyone!
The other passage, at least this morning, doesn’t draw me in, really. I do note the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism in Jesus.
John’s baptism was one of repentance. That is what he called the people toward. “Repentance” is often misconstrued as only being sorry. That’s not the only meaning of the word. I am not called to simply be sorry for my sins. I am called to turn around, to go a different direction. To change my mind about something.
In John’s case, he called people to change their direction, in preparation for the One who was coming, who would bring the Gospel.
The baptism of Jesus is one of freedom. In Jesus, because we have repented, changed our minds, turned around, we are forgiven and free. We are also empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
I’m sure an official “theologian” could do much better than me at explaining this.
Father, I thank You for the two baptisms. I thank You for the call to repentance, which can only be successful if You gift me with the act of repentance. I cannot do this in my own strength, because, if left on my own volition, I would continue down a path of sin. As it is, I still struggle with sin, even in my redeemed state. If it were not for Your grace and gift of repentance, my path would be totally wrong. I thank You for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, and for the freedom that His baptism provides. I also praise You that, in Christ, as You look at me, You see one who is wearing the righteousness of Him, and therefore, walks blamelessly. May my walk truly be blameless, though, that I might be worthy of the name of Jesus.
I praise you that I enjoy
all the freedom and privilege
of being your child -
the spirit of adoption,
unhindered access to you.
and provided for,
disciplined but never cast off,
kept for eternity where I will
inherit the promise of your everlasting salvation.
(Westminster Confession 12)
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
(James 2:1 NLT)
“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”
(Deuteronomy 10:17 NLT)
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)
But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
(James 2:9-10 NLT)
Let’s go back and consider Psalm 15 again. Specifically that part about walking blamelessly.
When Jesus turned water into wine, His first recorded miracle, He did more than change the flavor of the water. He even did more than change the molecular structure of the liquid.
He changed its past!
You see, good wine (I’m not a wine connoisseur, by any stretch . . . not even that fond of it) has to age. It has a past. When Jesus turned the water into wine, He gave it a new past.
Can a piece of cloth that has been dyed with color be turned white again? I think that would be very difficult, if not impossible. That cloth’s past is, by human terms, permanent.
Yet, in Christ, something happens to us, something miraculous.
“If God can give a past where there was no past, then He can remove a past where there once was one.”
When our sins are forgiven, something more happens. We aren’t just forgiven. Our past is changed! “God doesn’t just forgive the scarlet cord or pretend it isn’t scarlet. He changes its past and, by that, changes its reality. He undyes it.” (Emphasis mine)
When I was growing up, I used to hear a preacher say, in defining the justification of God, that being justified meant that it was “just as if I’d” never sinned. Clever and cute.
And also not quite accurate.
This is important. Perhaps more important than I have ever realized until this morning.
“It’s not just as if we never sinned but in His redemption, it has become that we’ve never sinned. In salvation, the impossible becomes the reality, the guilty become innocent, the tainted become pure, the rejected become those who were always beloved children, and our sins, which were scarlet, become . . . as white as snow.” (Emphasis by author)
“The Mission: Soak in the undyeing. Receive from heaven your changed, innocent, pure, and beloved past, a past as beautiful and as white as snow.”
And maybe this sheds a little more light on the difference between John’s baptism and Jesus’s.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)
When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
(Luke 7:37-47 NLT)
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
(1 John 1:8-9 NLT)
Father, this truth is affecting me, this morning. Perhaps I have never considered that, in freeing me from my sins, in forgiveness, that You literally changed my past. It is not as if I had never sinned. The fact that I sinned was erased! My feeble brain cannot wrap itself around this truth very easily. I need time to consider it, ponder it, chew on it. But I thank You and praise You for the truth. Help me to live in it and walk in it, as well!
Lord, as we cry out to You, may You uncover the idols that reside in my heart. If there is anything in my life that takes precedent over loving You, please remove it. May I truly know and experience Your forgiveness, and may I also be faithful in extending that same forgiveness to anyone who has wronged me in any way. Help me to show the same kind of grace that has been extended to me. I thank You, Father, for the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.
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!
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
Grace and peace, friends.