Today is Thursday, the 10th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.
Peace be with you!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! (Psalms 119:19 ESV)
Lord our God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who was and is and is to come, the Almighty, we thank you for this wonderful message, which is meant for us too, even though our lives often seem empty and sad. But behold, you make all things new for each one of us. Even though we have long tormented ourselves, the light of life will dawn at last and we will be able to rejoice. Continue to protect us and our community. Wake us to new life, for you have called us to believe and to endure to the end. Whatever sorrows and hardships may come, we will remain faithful, O Lord our God. This is our promise to you. We will persevere and say joyfully, “Jesus Christ is coming to make all things new.” Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come
- that Jesus Christ will come again to make all things new
- for the grace of God, given that we might be able to work through and for Him
- for the presence of God, as He gives Himself to us, that we might enjoy Him and find rest
- for the true worship of God, in spirit and truth
A Song of Ascents. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalms 126:1-6 ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV)
The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 NIV)
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
(John 4:23-24 NIV)
There is potentially a lot to unpack here, this morning. I’m not going to try to exhaust it. But I want to focus on a couple of things.
The Jeremiah passage, which is a favorite of many people, is frequently taken out of context. God is speaking, through Jeremiah, to a people in captivity. If you keep reading, you get to verse 14.
“I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
(Jeremiah 29:14 NIV)
I believe, though, that this passage still has something for us. It is not unreasonable to read it and believe that our God has plans to “prosper” us. There is some question as to what the means, of course. The word for “prosper” is the familiar Hebrew word “shalom,” which most people think means “peace.” It does mean “peace,” but it means so much more. Shalom is a rich word. It can mean “safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare,” as well as a few others.
In other words, I think it is safe to say that God is looking out for our welfare. Romans 8:28 seems to agree with this, right? Another favorite verse of many people.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 NIV)
The major thing that God did to look out for our welfare, of course, was Jesus. Two weeks ago, I heard a sermon, brief and simple, that asked the question, “How do I know God loves me?” There were various answers given, but at the end, it was all simplified into one, single word.
And this is addressed in Psalm 118, another passage that is frequently taken out of context. While it is true that every day is “a day that the Lord has made,” the psalmist was thinking of one particular day when he wrote that.
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. (Psalms 118:22-26 NIV)
Part of this passage will be recognized as being shouted from the streets when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. And that part that says, “Lord, save us,” which is translated “Save now” in the KJV, becomes “Hosannah!” in the New Testament.
“The LORD has done it this very day!” Or, as some versions translate it, “This is the day that the LORD has made!” What day? The day that the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.
This is great reason to follow the advice of Paul in Philippians when he says, “Rejoice!” It is the way that God has provided for our “prosperity;” our welfare; our “shalom.”
Our response to this, in part, is worship. And Jesus says a lot about worship in His conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.
He spoke of three different kinds of worship. First, He told the Samaritan woman that her people worshiped something that they did not know. This correlates, I think, to a lot of marginal Christians, today, who go through the motions of weekly church attendance and “worship,” not really understanding what they are doing. The benefit, if any, is minimal.
He speaks of His own people, the Jews, worshiping “what we do know,” which is the “truth” piece of the equation. This kind of worship tends to be somewhat “clinical” and rigid.
Then He brings the “spirit” into it. This is what Jesus, Himself, is introducing to us. It was not quite there, yet, you see. Jesus said, “a time is coming and has now come.” As soon as He departed the earth (well, a few days later, actually), the Holy Spirit came on the scene.
In today’s world, we see a lot of “spiritual” worship, much of it not at all based in truth. Not that it’s not worship, but it tends to be rather shallow.
Jesus desires, and speaks, here, of a true worship that incorporates both spirit and truth. This does not mean “from the heart, in sincerity.” You can be sincere and not have truth at all.
Here are some words from Andrew Murray:
“Among Christians there are still three levels of worshipers: some, in their ignorance, hardly know what they are asking. They pray earnestly but receive little. Others, with more knowledge, try to pray with all their minds and heart, but do not attain the full blessing. We must ask our Lord Jesus to take us to the third level: to be taught of Him how to worship in sprit and truth.” (From Teach Me to Pray, quoted in Power in Prayer)
There is something mystical and “magical” (sorry/not sorry) about this true worship. There is a piece to it that we will never understand on this side of “glory.” Yet, we must aspire to it in our own worship, both private and corporate.
Father, I thank You for the things that are taught in today’s Scriptures. I praise You for Your desire to “prosper” us, but understand that that doesn’t mean that You want to make us physically wealthy, necessarily. I mean, I have plenty, but that has not always been the case. And that “worldly wealth” doesn’t mean much to me other than a way to help others, when needed. When I understand that the word is “shalom” in that passage, then it increases my understanding of Your desire to care for us completely.
I thank You, as well, with words that leave much to be desired, for that “day” when Jesus was made the Cornerstone. For that Day that You made for us to rejoice and be glad in it. Certainly every day is a day that You have made, a day for me to rejoice. But that day is a “special” day, worthy of much more rejoicing, worthy of us shouting “Hosanna! Save now!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Thank You, Father! Thank You!
And I thank You for giving us the record of that conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Now, I ask that You help us to comprehend what it means to worship in spirit and truth. Many of us have “truth” and not much “spirit.” Some have “spirit” and not much “truth.” Then there are those who are just there, doing the best they can with their limited understanding, which is pretty much of their own making.
Help us to understand the mystical nature of this worship. Or maybe better, just help us to experience it and know it, and maybe understand it later, when we finally arrive in our eternal rest.
All glory to You, Father, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. (Romans 11:36 MSG)
Grace and peace, friends.