Today is Monday, the 24th of October, 2022, in the 30th week of Ordinary Time.
May you know the peace of Christ, that passes all understanding, today!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that with our poor, faulty, sinful, and death-ridden lives we may find shelter in your love. We thank you that we are your children. We thank you that whatever we are, however depressed we are about ourselves and the inadequacy of our own nature, we are still your children. Give us your Spirit, we pray. Give us your Holy Spirit, penetrating our whole nature, our flesh and blood, keeping us firm in faith under all temptation and distress. Give us your Spirit to fill us with hope as we look to the future, to fill us with certainty in our Lord Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come, whose victory is before our eyes so that we never waver or become afraid. Give us your Spirit so that we may live in this certainty and prepare ourselves more and more for your coming into the world. May we come to know that your loving-kindness is at work today, that in the end your deliverance will come quickly, to the glory of your name. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. John 16:27, RSV
Today I am grateful:
- new “adventures” in worship and faith
- that, in spite of our faults and inadequaces, we are still children of God
- for the Holy Spirit, who helps keep us firm in our faith
- that the Lord is a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3)
- for Psalm 119
For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger, though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain. Ah, the thunder of many peoples; they thunder like the thundering of the sea! Ah, the roar of nations; they roar like the roaring of mighty waters! The nations roar like the roaring of many waters, but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away, chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind and whirling dust before the storm. At evening time, behold, terror! Before morning, they are no more! This is the portion of those who loot us, and the lot of those who plunder us. (Isaiah 17:10-14 ESV)
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water. (Psalms 114:7-8 ESV)
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
(Psalms 3:3 ESV)
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. (Psalms 118:22-26 ESV)
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
(Philippians 4:5 ESV)
“We must understand how our communion with the Father is conditioned by the active and personal presence and working of the Lord Jesus. It takes time to become fully conscious of the need we have of Him in every approach to God. But we can have confidence in the work that He is doing in us and assurance of His intimate love and presence as we make intercession.
“So too the Holy Spirit, working in the depth of our heart, is the One who is able to reveal the Son within us. Through Him alone we have the power to know what and how to pray. Through Him we have the assurance that our prayer has been accepted.
“Dear Christian, it is in tarrying in the secret of God’s presence that you receive grace to abide in Christ and to be led by His Spirit. What food for thought–and worship!”
(Andrew Murray, The Best of Andrew Murray on Prayer, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love. My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly. (Psalms 119:97, 159, 167 ESV)
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. (Psalms 119:106 ESV)
Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible, in the midst of the longest book in the Bible. If you took a standard Bible, with no concordance or extra material in the back, and opened it up in the exact center, you would be very close to this chapter. You might find yourself in Psalm 119, depending on the version you have.
I have long said that I do not think it to be coincidence that the Psalms are in the middle of the Bible. Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to it as the “Prayerbook of the Bible.” I love the Psalms, and it has been my favorite book of the Bible for many years.
Psalm 119 is an incredible chapter, the more I learn about it. Long ago, I learned that it is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet. Naturally, that doesn’t show up in our English translations. But it is divided into sections of eight verses each. Each section is headed up by a letter of the alphabet, and I have read that every verse in that section begins with that letter. For example, here are the first eight verses.
Aleph. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! (Psalms 119:1-8 ESV)
Here is a screenshot of that segment in Hebrew and English, side by side.
Considering that Hebrew is read from right to left, you can see (I realize it is small, but maybe it will enlarge if you click on it) that each verse begins with the same letter.
Don’t misunderstand me . . . I am far from an expert in Hebrew. I’m not even a “rank amateur.” I just know how to look stuff up.
Another thing that I find fascinating about Psalm 119 is that, out of 176 verses, almost every single verse refers to the Word of God, in some fashion. It might be called precepts, commandments, or law, or any number of other designations.
So what we have here, besides being rather artistic in nature, is a huge work of homage to the Word of God, the very book in which it finds itself in the center.
Andrew Murray has also noticed this. “Those who would like to know how to study the Bible according to God’s will ought to make a careful study of Psalm 119.” (Murray, The Believer’s Daily Renewal, quoted in Power in Prayer) “The Word of God becomes a rich and inexhaustible basis for holding communion with God.” (ibid)
As we meditate on God’s Word, His promises, commands, and precepts, as indicated in Psalm 119, we become more dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit within us, as He reveals Christ to us and in us, as the previous quote by Murray says. We learn more of this God, before whom Psalm 114 tells us to tremble.
I wonder when the last time any of us trembled before God Almighty.
I know it’s been far too long for me.
Heh. I just remembered an old, old commercial for Wolf Brand Chili (still my favorite canned chili), in which an old cowboy says, “Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steamin’ bowl of Wolf Brand Chili? Heheh. Well, that’s too long.”
One more quote from Murray (in case you can’t tell, I rather like him). “Begin to work into your morning prayers the devotional life found in this Psalm. Let God’s Word lead you into communion with God every day and before everything else.”
That’s why I’m here, writing this blog, every day.
Father, while I can’t claim to love Your Word as much as the psalmist who penned Psalm 119, I do love Your Word. I love it all, but I especially love the “prayerbook” in the center. And I love Psalm 119, which speaks of one particular psalmist’s own love for Your Word. Thank You for this lengthy discourse on Your Word, Father. Help me to, once again, make it a daily part of my life, going forward.
Help me to love Your law, and meditate on it daily! Help me to love Your precepts, and by them, know and revel in the love that You have for me! Help me to love and obey Your testimonies, Your “righteous rules.”
May these words lead me into intimate communion with You, daily. May these words also lead me into more of a relationship with You, that causes me to tremble in both reverent awe and adoration. I love You, Lord. May that be reflected in everything I do.
Thank You for being a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Help me to make my “reasonableness” be known to everyone. Help me to always be gentle with all people, and to love all people as Christ has loved me.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
(Psalms 119:1 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.