Today is Monday, the eleventh of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you, today.
Wow, I’m really not moving very quickly at all, this morning. It’s almost 11:00 AM, and I am just now starting this. I’ve been up since just after 8:00, maybe closer to 8:30, and been just piddling. But there is really nothing important to do today, I guess.
Oh, and today is also 7-Eleven. And to honor their 95th birthday, you can get a free Slurpee today, if you have the “7Rewards” app. I don’t, but I don’t really want a free Slurpee, either. And, since 7-Eleven is one of the sponsors of the Texas Rangers, I understand that there are $7 and $11 seats for tonight’s Rangers game. But I’ve also been told it is sold out.
And, now, I’ve done the grocery shopping. I didn’t actually go anywhere, it’s being delivered this evening, between 5:00 and 6:00. I’ve also planned the menu for the whole week (at least for dinner). Since I only work Tuesday evening and all day Thursday, this week, I’ll cook dinner tonight, Wednesday, and Friday. Tonight will be chili (made with Rotel Chili Fixin’s); tomorrow, we’ll have Subway, which I will pick up at lunchtime; Wednesday, we will have Spaghetti Pie ; Thursday, it will be our Chicken Ranch Crockpot Soup (I don’t have a recipe for that); and Friday, we will have Chicken Taco Rice Skillet.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord our God, grant us true unity with your Son Jesus Christ, so that his power can be revealed in us and we may find new life in which we can truly serve you. Protect us from all error. Be among us with your Spirit to make us people who are genuine. Let your will be carried out more and more in this age. Let your will again intervene so that a new creation may come, a new heaven and a new earth, as we have been promised. May your name be great among us, may your kingdom come and everything in heaven and on earth be done according to your will. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. (Hebrews 10:22, TEV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for a good night's sleep/rest last night 2. that I am alive and breathing 3. for the possibility of true unity in Christ (I still believe in this, for the Church) 4. that God has claimed me, and I belong to Him 5. that God historically used, and continues to use, tremendously flawed people to bring glory to Him and do His will on earth 6. that no matter how flawed I am/have been, the Cross has made me "flawless"
Today’s word, in Pray a Word a Day, is mine. The word is actually, “mine,” not that it belongs to me.
But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.”
(Isaiah 43:1 NLT)
We’ve all (probably) had some experience with two-year-olds. You know how everything, to a two-year-old, is “mine!” Some folks never seem to outgrow that.
But today, that is not the meaning of “mine.” Today, it is the meaning of God claiming us. The above Scripture is one of those that is explicitly to Israel, yet I believe it applies to the Body of Christ, as well. That line, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you,” can be applied to me, and to everyone who calls the name of Jesus. “I have called you by name; you are mine,” says the Lord.
And I believe this, and believe it applies to every one of us. If our God can call the stars by name, then He should certainly have no problem calling each of His children by name, as well.
I have expressed this before, here, that I believe that there truly is nothing to fear in this world, and it is because of truths like we find in Isaiah 43:1. Some of the promises that God made to Israel can surely be transferred to the entire Body of Christ, and that includes Isaiah 41:10, which has been a favorite of mine for a number of years.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)
This carries with it, however, a responsibility to act differently. If I am not my own, but belong to God (to the completeness of the Holy Trinity), then there are some consequences to that. I cannot act however I want (although we tend to do that anyway). Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)
The context of this passage is that of sexual immorality. If I belong to the Lord, and not to myself, then I don’t have the right to do whatever I want with my own body. (This is NOT a response to the political happenings of the past couple of weeks, so don’t read it that way.) I don’t have that “right,” because I have surrendered that right to the Lord.
I really like this excerpt that I got in my email, yesterday morning, from Plough magazine, and their “Daily Dig.” (Warning: If you click that link, you will get today’s Daily Dig, for whatever day you happen to be reading this.)
"Do we believe that the Holy Spirit will be increasingly poured out over the church? Do we believe that Jesus comes into our midst, that he opens his heart to us so that we may live as he did and have an influence in society as he did? Do we dare to carry out the task as his church in his coming kingdom, to be a corrective within society through the grace of the indwelling Christ? Do we dare to live a life of love in the midst of the world, giving up all privilege and even the right to our possessions? Are we ready, completely defenseless, to follow Jesus?" (Eberhard Arnold, in Plough's Daily Dig, emphasis mine)
Do we dare live as though we are completely His? Do we dare try to live a life that indicates that we have given up all privilege and “even the right to our possessions?” The answer to that question, in general, appears to be painfully obvious. On the other hand, that observation is based solely on the people who make the most noise. I do make the concession that there are a lot of good “Christians” out there, who are quietly going about the business of following Christ. We just don’t here from them, and will only see them if we are looking really hard for them.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)
That’s one of those verses I memorized as a child. I can still remember saying it, along with the rest of my Sunday School class, with Miss Juanita Sullivan leading us. KJV, of course, because that was all we had back then.
It comes from what is, the older I get, one of the more fascinating chapters in the Bible. I would expect some folks groan when they get to the chapter in Psalms that has 176 verses, divided up into eight-verse chunks.
But that’s a topic for a different day. I want to follow along with Buck Storm, in today’s Daily Guideposts reading. He, too, has memories of Sunday School Bible verses and stories.
But there comes this time, as we grow older, that we realize that a lot of those Sunday School stories were just a little bit “sugar-coated,” if you will. The story of Sampson, for example, who, in reality was no “hero,” but, in fact, a class-act jerk of a guy! Here’s a quote from Buck about memories of Bible stories from his grandpa.
“The stories he told weren’t about cartoon giraffes or smiling, perfect people. No, this was darker stuff. Battles and blood. Angels and devils in a great wrestling match over mankind. Here were lion killers, prostitutes, heroes, and liars. If it had been a drive-in theater, my mom would have shoved my head down behind the back seat and told me to stay there. In my grandpa’s living room, I heard the Bible unfiltered. Men and women flawed to the core but loved wildly by their Creator and used for His glory.”
I am in tears, here, because that is what it’s about, folks. And while there is certainly cause to sugar coat these stories for the “wee folk,” there comes a time when we must all realize the truth.
God used imperfect people. The examples that we have in Scripture are of terribly flawed people “loved wildly by their Creator and used for His glory.”
I could write all afternoon, giving examples, but there are other things I kind of want to do today. I’ll just name some names. I already named Sampson. Jacob, David (yes, that David), Balaam, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, James, John. The only person in the Bible that I really can’t find anything negative about is Daniel. He seems to have been quite an exemplary character.
So, yes . . . God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my heart, because it shows me these truths. It shows me that no matter how badly I screw things up, or how far off of His path I wander, He can still bring me back and use me for His glory. And a huge part of the reason for that is because He has claimed me and called me His!
And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
(Leviticus 26:12 ESV)
Father, how glorious You are! I don’t have enough words, this afternoon, to express my praise and gratitude. Thank You for claiming me, I believe before I was even formed in the womb, and calling me Yours. Thank You for arranging things so that I would one day choose to follow You, for I believe that is true, as well. I can’t explain any of that. No. But I believe it.
I praise You for the truth that people throughout history whom You have used are terribly flawed and imperfect. Some of them weren’t very nice/good people at all. I keep coming back to Sampson on that one. But You worked through him, just as You worked through the deceiver Jacob, and the murderer David. You took a man who was actually killing Your followers and turned him around to make him the most powerful Gospel preacher, perhaps in history. And You took the wimp that was Peter and made him a legend.
I don’t want to be a legend. I don’t want to be the most powerful Gospel preacher. But what I do desire is to be known as one who loves You and loves people. I need a lot of help with that, because I’m a pretty flawed individual, as well. I don’t like people very much, in general. But You can help me with that. You can help me love and follow You, and You can help me love people so that I am obeying Jesus’s two greatest commands.
All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Grace and peace, friends.