Today is Tuesday, the twenty-second of June, 2021.
Twelve days until July 4th
I actually don’t have anything to write about, this morning, that I can think of. Nothing memorable from yesterday. I could whine about the stress level at work, but I’m choosing not to.
I will say one thing about some thoughts that I have had, recently, regarding Jesus and politics. I need to do some studying and research before I come to any conclusions, but it seems to me that Jesus had very little involvement in politics. At one point, He said, “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and render unto God what belongs to God.” And when He was asked if His disciples should pay taxes, He simply asked whose picture was on the money. That’s pretty much it.
As I said, I need to do more study and research to follow up on this, but it could be some interesting study. The only reason I’m even having these thoughts is because of my intense frustration with my brothers and sisters in Christ who seem obsessed with things political. I’m pretty sure I’m going to discover that Jesus couldn’t care less about politics.
But that’s a topic for another day.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"O Lord, you have mercy on all. Take away my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit. Take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake. Amen." (Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.
(Psalms 32:7 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
1. that You truly are my hiding place; may I run to You when I feel threatened during the day. 2. that, if I only pay attention, I can hear Your songs of victory that surround me! (Zephaniah 3:17) 3. for the hope of understanding the width, depth, height, and length of the love of Christ, and to know that which surpasses knowledge. 4. that nothing can separate us from this love. 5. that I don't need to worry if I'm "good enough." You have already made that determination! Help me to trust You!
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
ORDINARY TIME – WEEK 5 – DAY 3
“You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”
(2 Samuel 22:29-30 NIV)
I pause, briefly, quietly, resting in Your presence, meditating on the fact that You are my hiding place, and that You light the way of my path, so that my feet know which way to go.
A psalm of David.
LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
(Psalms 143:1-2 NIV)
Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
(Psalms 143:7 NIV)
For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
(Psalms 143:11-12 NIV)
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I remind myself that I am in Your presence, I read these passages, asking Your Holy Spirit to guide me in prayer and meditation. I am laying the foundation for my day, at this moment.
There are things in my life that would lead me to cry for mercy. Spiritual things, physical things, mental things, things involving work, things involving family. You know what these things are, Father. I don’t need to air them out in this forum.
If the Lord were to hide His face from us, we would dissolve into nothingness. No one is truly righteous before Him, outside of the righteousness of Christ, which is added to our lives because of His work.
Do we consider our motivation when we ask for things from the Lord? In verse 11, the psalmist asks out of a desire to make the name of the Lord famous. “For your name’s sake, O Lord,” he prays. We pray, often times, out of selfish desires. And saying certain words in those prayers doesn’t help. Do we think for a moment that we can “trick” God by tacking on, “in Jesus’s name, amen” at the end of a prayer?
As it says in other places in Scripture, do not be deceived, God is not mocked.
Be honest and forthright in prayer. Let your motivation be pure. If it is selfish, it is selfish, and that’s fine. Don’t try to hide that. Sometimes, I pray out of selfishness, and sometimes I pray with a heart’s desire to see God’s name glorified. Both prayers are fine. Really. What’s not fine is trying to hide that selfishness with “magic words.” You might as well say “abracadabra” in your prayer.
Speaking of prayer, that prayer in our Ephesians passage today is one of the most wonderful and marvelous and powerful prayers in Scripture. While it may not be more so than Jesus’s model prayer (the one we call The Lord’s Prayer), it ranks right up there among my favorite Bible prayers. I have prayed this for people before.
My favorite part begins in verse 13 (I’m not sure why we have a verse division in the middle of a sentence when a new sentence starts in the same verse).
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV)
I remember the old Sunday School song, “Deep and wide.” “There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” That fountain is God’s love. Paul writes these words, praying that we, along with all the other saints, would grasp the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ. And then he says something spectacular. He prays that we would “know this love that surpasses knowledge.”
How can you even do that?
Can you know something that you can’t know??
I don’t know. But I sure want to try.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, its width, length, height, and depth, and that love surpasses all knowledge. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty to attain.
But I will still attempt to know it, and to attain it.
Father, I love You, and I love Your love for me. Help me, along with all of Your saints, to know this love that surpasses knowledge, and to comprehend, to grasp, to “grok” the width, the length, the height, and the depth of this love. Help me to know something that cannot be known. And if I can’t know it on this side of the veil, get me as close as I can possibly be.
Father in heaven, make my life a Christ-home, fully furnished with his grace, beauty, and strength. Today I guard in my heart the gospel declaration that I am approved and accepted in Christ. In faith, I claim for myself the righteousness of Jesus and apply all his power and riches, the fullness of God in me. Fill me with your love. Amen. (Belgic Confession 22)
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV)
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
(Exodus 3:11 NLT)
“O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
(Jeremiah 1:6-8 NLT)
O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right.
(Psalms 31:1 NLT)
“You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.”
(John 15:16 NLT)
Are you worried about whether you’re “good enough?” You are. And let God decide that!
Father, I have struggled with thoughts of whether I am good enough for You and Your work. Help me to trust You, for You have already decided that, yes, I am good enough. In You, I am more than adequate for the work that You have prepared for me. All glory to You, Father! For Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me in the paths that I should follow!
Lord, this morning, I pray to be able to work out the calling to serve and follow You into the workplace and community. I pray for the well-being of my community. Help me to make it a better place to live. I pray specifically, this morning, for all people who struggle to maintain commitments in their lives.
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!
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)
Grace and peace, friends.