Today is Friday, the 17th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.
May the peace and love of Christ dwell within you, and shine forth from you, today.
Today is my day in the computer center. I have dinner in the crock pot, cooking. I want to be finished with this by 8:30, so no time for trivial, peripheral matters.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes. (Psalms 119:124 NRSV)
Lord our God, we thank you from our hearts, from the bottom of our hearts, that you consider us worthy to work with you so that redemption may come to the world in Jesus Christ. Already today many are rejoicing in their Redeemer. They are full of hope and comfort because the end is approaching – that evening when your glory shall be revealed, when the whole world and all nations shall glorify you, O great God and Father in heaven. Come into our time, we pray. Help us, Lord our God. Day and night we look to you in the hope of beholding the time of your glory, in the hope of receiving the peace that is beyond all understanding and of finding redemption, the great redemption from heaven, through you, the God over all flesh. Amen.
A Psalm. O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. (Psalms 98:1-3 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the forgiveness of sin, through Jesus Christ our Savior
- for the “chesed” of God; steadfast love, mercy
- for the wonderful works of God toward humankind
- that He is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him
- that He consoles us in our afflictions, that we might, in turn, console others (2 Corinthians 1)
For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalms 25:11 NRSV)
Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love. (Psalms 109:26 NRSV)
he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. (Psalms 107:20-22 NRSV)
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: "O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head." As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, "How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine." But Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time." Then Eli answered, "Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him." And she said, "Let your servant find favor in your sight." Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer. (1 Samuel 1:9-18 NRSV)
"It is the LORD; let him do what seems good to him." (1 Samuel 3:18)
O LORD, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear (Psalms 10:17 NRSV)
"I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NRSV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NRSV)
All of us are guilty of something. Every single one of us. Last Sunday morning, during the sermon, Pastor Malinak queried the congregation. “Raise your hand if you have never sinned.” Of course, no one raised their hand. We are all guilty.
In Christ, God has forgiven our iniquities, our guilt. Our guilt is not only pardoned, it has been historically erased. Let us be grateful for the “chesed” of God; the steadfast love; the mercy of God.
Hannah experienced this mercy. But before she did, she prayed in anguish before Him. So much anguish, in fact, that the priest thought she was drunk. There’s a lesson there for us.
There is always something we do not know about another person’s struggle. When someone does something that we consider to be uncaring or mean-spirited or selfish, we have no right to judge them (I’m preaching to myself, here, as well), because we have no idea what is going on in their lives. And, more than likely, that action was not directed toward us, personally.
News flash: not everything is about me!
I read a good quote, this morning, in a book by Eugene H. Peterson. The book is a compilation of the introductions to the various books of the Bible, in The Message. This was written in his intro to 1 and 2 Samuel:
” . . . we don’t have to fit into prefabricated moral or mental or religious boxes before we are admitted into the company of God–we are taken seriously just as we are and given a place in his story, for it is, after all, his story; none of us is the leading character in the story of our life.”
That last statement is an eye-opener. “None of us is the leading character in the story of our life.”
That truth will come as a shock to a lot of people, even many Christ-followers.
It’s not about me. It’s about Him. It is His story. And no, I’m not trying to make a play on words with “history.”
Father, how freeing it is to know that this story of life is not about me. I don’t have to worry about my part in it; that is up to You. Everything is up to You. As I walk through this world today, as I encounter patrons in the library, may Your Spirit remind me that they are all going through things that I am not aware of, or do not understand. Their frustration or whatever, even if directed, momentarily, at me, is not personal.
Help me, in all things, in all situations, at all times, show kindness and compassion. Clothe me, Father, with patience, compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness. In addition, continue making me a generous person. You have blessed me that I might bless others.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.