Today is Monday, the 12th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.
I pray that the peace of Christ finds you, today!
Thirteen days until Christmas. Tomorrow, the month will be more than half over.
The writing prompt for today is “Who do you envy?” Honestly, no one. I really try to avoid envy, as it is, as some know, one of those seven deadly vices. Envy causes no small amount of problems for people, and it manifests itself in a myriad of ways. Now, if you were to ask me who I admire, I might have many answers. But envy is a bad thing, and my mind won’t easily be changed on that subject.
Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his site at the link provided to see more of his wonderful photos (especially his beloved Maya).
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD. (Psalms 119:52 ESV)
Lord our God, we thank you for allowing us to be called your children. We thank you for giving us the power to become more truly your children, so that there may be a witness to your name on earth, so that again and again in the name of Jesus Christ new power may come for body and soul, for the happy and unhappy, for all who are still following false paths, for all who suffer so much grief, fear, and need. We thank you and we praise your name. Help us on our way. Help us weak people who often grow anxious and afraid. Help us in everything. Help us especially in the concern we have deepest in our hearts, that your name may be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:11–12, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- for the right to become a child of God
- for the strength to be a witness to the name of Jesus on earth
- for the help God gives us as we walk on His path, especially when we are weak, anxious, and afraid
- that God will finish what He started
- for faith that is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 NRSV)
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. (Psalms 107:8 NRSV)
Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.
(John 5:6-9 NRSV)
God will finish what He started. That’s a paraphrase of Philippians 1:6. I remember an old song, from the early eighties, I think, by The Imperials. It was actually, I just learned, written by Phil Johnson. I also just learned that it was 1979, from the album, “Heed the Call.” It’s called “He Didn’t Lift Us Up to Let Us Down.”
Admittedly, it didn’t age, well. Heh. But the lyrics still fit. Here’s the chorus:
He didn't bring us this far to leave us He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown He didn't build His home in us to move away He didn't lift us up to let us down
God will finish what He started. And this plays into the Hebrews 11 verse. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I haven’t seen the ending; I have not seen the finished product of what God has begun, either in the grand scheme of things, or in my own experience. But my faith, that assurance of things hoped for, gives me the conviction that He will do it, that He will finish the work.
Let’s be clear on something else. It is God who will finish the work, not me. This is where we manage to get way off course, sometimes, when we get this “bright idea” that God needs us to help Him finish the job. God never needs our help. What He does expect us to do, however, is “get up and walk.”
See the man at the pool in the passage from John 5. He was waiting for someone to carry him to the pool at Bethesda, so he could be healed. But Jesus came along, asked him if he wanted to be whole, and then told him to get up and walk.
He probably didn’t immediately run a marathon, mind you, but he got up and “began to walk.” This can apply to all areas of our lives. Does God want you to pray more? Then begin to pray. Just start. He will work in you what you need to excel at it. Does God want you to give more? (Time, talent, treasures?) Then just start. Kind of like the old Nike motto, “Just do it.” God will enable you, and He will bless the effort that you give in faith. Just don’t start trying to pray for hours at a time or give your whole month’s paycheck, right off the bat, okay? Just like the man who got up and began to walk, we must start slowly.
“Rise and walk each day in the confidence that He is with you and will help you.” (Andrew Murray, The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)
But also walk in the confidence that He did not bring you this far to leave you.
Father, I thank You for this example from Scripture, along with others, where Jesus simply told the man to get up and walk. I pray that in whatever it is that we need to do for You, that You give us the faith and courage to start. Give us the confidence that You will finish what You have started in us, that You didn’t “lift us up to let us down.”
I know how difficult it is, as we look around this world, to remember this truth. Things don’t look good. They don’t look like You are in control, much of the time. But we must have confidence that You are in control, and that everything is working out according to Your plan.
Help us to pray, to give, to walk, and, eventually, to run and fly in Your kingdom.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.