Today is Monday, the 9th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany. I will be attempting to follow the calendar, going forward, of the church I am attending, which is Lutheran.
May the peace of Christ find you hale today.
It’s going to be a rather busy week, even though I only have two shifts at the library, this week. Part of that is because of new church involvement. S has a therapy appointment tomorrow morning, and is also scheduled for an activity on Thursday evening. I have my first choir practice Wednesday night, and a half-day choir “retreat” at the church on Saturday morning. There is also a men’s Bible study and breakfast on Saturday morning, before the choir retreat. But it starts at 7:30, and I’m not sure I can get myself up early enough to do all of that.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
My eyes fail with watching for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?" For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. (Psalms 119:82-83 NRSV)
In Your mercy, Lord hear our prayers.
Lord our God, we thank you that we are allowed to live in your love. We thank you for your promise that all the suffering on earth shall come to an end. Hear us when we turn to you with all we have on our hearts. We are weak, but you are strong. May we hope and trust in your strength. May our life, with all its practical concerns, remain in your hands until the day when you will act in might and the whole world will know the forgiveness of sins and will praise and thank you evermore. Amen.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- that we are allowed to live in the love of God, through Jesus Christ
- for the promise that, one day, all suffering will end
- for the knowledge that, in Christ, our labor is not in vain; may I be steadfast and immovable, always excelling in His work
- for wonder
- that the Lord on high is mighty and sovereign (Psalm 93)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits— (Psalms 103:1-2 NRSV)
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." (Psalms 16:1-2 NRSV)
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:1-2 NRSV)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7 NRSV)
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
(Mark 1:9-11 NRSV)
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions. Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple. By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. (Psalms 65:1-5 NRSV)
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. (Agnus Dei)
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.
"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen." (The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
(Luke 5:26 NRSV)
"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11 NRSV)
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. (Psalms 33:8 NRSV)
More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD! (Psalms 93:4 NRSV)
It was pretty easy to see today’s theme. Wonder. There are always times, in the lives of believers, when they simply must stop and look around. Now, while it is true that the verse from Luke 5 refers to the reaction of the crowd when Jesus healed the paralytic that was brought in by his four friends, Walking in Grace writer Rick Hamlin uses it as a springboard to think about a time when God arranged a scene of wonder for him to view, while out on a daily run.
I have seen, personally, many such scenes of wonder. Not while running. I don’t run. If you ever see me running, you should probably also run. Away from whatever I am running from.
I have seen majestic mountains in Wyoming, Colorado, Tennessee, and other places. I have seen waterfalls that have left me breathless, in Wyoming and Oregon. I have seen the beauty of the desert, and the majesty of the ocean. As the Newsboys song, “In Wonder” begins, “So much wonder . . .”
Often times in my life, I have simply been astounded that anyone could look around this creation and not believe in a Creator. Personally, I think it takes greater faith to believe that all of this is an accident.
But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today, it is simply about wonder. So I encourage you . . . take a moment today, or sometime this week, and simply gaze at something in wonder. It might be the night sky. It might be a forest or a lovely park setting. It might be your children or grandchildren, for they, too, are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It might even be your own hands. Have you ever done that? Have you ever just looked at your hands, moved your fingers, and been in awe of God’s majesty? I have.
Father, I celebrate the wonder of Your creation today. I praise You for all the beauty which You have given us, and much of it for no other reason than to lift you up and worship You. When I consider that there are creatures in the depths of the sea that no human eye will ever see, it makes me wonder even more. So much that You created simply for Your own pleasure. Perhaps, someday, when we are in Your presence, face to face, we will see some of these things, as we celebrate eternity with You.
I thank You for the calling that You gave us in Jesus Christ, the calling to be Your children. I pray that I will walk with You the way Enoch walked with You. I pray that I will follow the commands of Christ to love You and love my neighbor, and then to love the saints even more deeply.
All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.