Today is Wednesday, the 11th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.
May the peace of Christ be with you always!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All your commandments are enduring; I am persecuted without cause; help me! (Psalms 119:86 NRSV)
As previously noted, I am not enduring persecution, as the psalmist, here, was. However, I find that the last two words in the verse are sometimes the most potent prayer one can offer up.
Our dear Father, we ask you to come to us from heaven and surround us with your goodness and mercy, with your light and life. We are weak, poor, and lost just when we need to stand firm and hold on. But you are faithful. You stay by us and help us. Continue to help and sustain us, we pray. Do not let our lives be lived in vain. May something of eternity be with us in all we have to face in life, so that over and over again we may find courage to start anew. Amen.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the infinite faithfulness of God; He will never react the way humans will, when we fail; it is perfectly safe to rant or vent to Him, because He will not rant back or lash out the way a human will
- that, because the Lord is my light and my salvation, I have nothing to fear
- that I am known by the Lord
- for His provision in my life
- that I take refuge in the Lord, rather than in mortals
O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. (Psalms 34:8 NRSV)
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. (Psalms 86:4 NRSV)
With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments. (Psalms 119:10 NRSV)
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. (Psalms 7:17 NRSV)
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33 NRSV)
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: "The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly." (Psalms 118:8-16 NRSV)
Let me seek the Lord while He may be found. I will call upon His name while He is near.
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)
Let mutual love continue.
(Hebrews 13:1 NRSV)
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (Psalms 139:13 NRSV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV)
Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 1:11-12 MSG)
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
(Exodus 1:8 NRSV)
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong.
(Exodus 1:15-20 NRSV)
But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.
(Exodus 3:13-15 NRSV)
There’s a phrase in the passage from Matthew 6. “Your heavenly Father knows . . .,” Jesus said. And while any form of the word “know” is not present in Psalm 139:13, it is found in other verses in that great psalm.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. (Psalms 139:2-6 NRSV)
In His words to Jeremiah, God told him that He knew him, even before he was formed in the womb.
We are known by God. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find this to be very comforting. God knows me. He knows everything about me. He knows what I’m going to say next. He knew I was going to type that. He knows what I need, not only before I can pray for it, but even before I know I need it!
God knows me; God knows you. And this doesn’t just apply to people who are believers in Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that God knows everything about every human on the planet, past, present, and future.
The benefit of that knowledge is great. One benefit is given us, by Jesus, back in Matthew 6. Because of our Father’s knowledge of us, we ought not worry, we ought not be concerned about what we will eat or what we will wear. We should be confident of the promise that, if we seek His kingdom, all of the things we need, that we are worried about, will be given to us.
Another benefit is love. When we feel that we are known, it promotes more of a feeling of being loved. The person who knows us best should be our spouse, if we are married. It could be a parent, but once we are adults, and, perhaps, become married (or intimately attached to another person), we become known by that person.
But look what happens in Exodus. Chapter 1, verse 8. A new king arose, and he did not know Joseph. And because he did not know Joseph, he became afraid of Joseph’s family, the Hebrew people.
When people don’t know you, they may be more likely to mistreat you, misunderstand you, abuse you, say mean things about you, and so on. But when those things happen, hopefully someone who does know you will defend you.
God knows us. And He will defend us. It may not always look like we would like it to (for example, He probably won’t smite our “enemies”), but He will defend us. More importantly, He understands us and loves us. And He hears us when we cry out to Him. Because He knows us.
Father, I praise You that I am known. I am known by You, most importantly, but I am also known by a few other people. That gives me great comfort. It is nice to be known. It is comforting to be known. It is encouraging to be known. So I am grateful for that.
Help me to be a friend to someone else. Help me to know others the way I am known. Help me to love others the way I am loved. This is challenging, because prejudices get in the way; self-righteousness gets in the way; misunderstandings get in the way. These are the kinds of things that are dividing not only our nation, but also Your Church, during these days.
I pray for unity, for knowledge, and for love.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.