Today is Thursday, the 9th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.
Peace be with you.
I slept late, this morning, until almost 9:00 AM. And I woke up in a bit of a fog. I wonder if that is a sign that I should have gotten up at 7:30, when I was awake for a few minutes. Plus I had a really bizarre dream right before I woke up. So I’ll confess right off the bat that I’m not exactly in a good mental place, this morning.
We may or may not be taking S to her Club Metro tonight. If not, I have a recipe ready to cook for dinner.
C woke up not feeling well, so she is working from home again, today. And that’s pretty much all of I’ve got, so I will see if I can wax spiritual for a few minutes, now.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD. I will keep your statutes. (Psalms 119:145 NRSV)
Can I ever truly say that I have cried out to God with my “whole heart?”
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you as your children, whom you know how to gather. You have brought us into community with you in a wonderful way, in the midst of a world full of unrest, full of misery, and full of sin. For you know your children and lead them into community with you. You comfort them. You give them strength of faith, and confidence in your rulership and your kingdom, which will prevail over everything evil and deathly that still seems to control humankind. But your dominion reaches far, far beyond. You will keep us in your hands. For the sake of those who trust in you, you will send your grace and your help into the whole world. Amen.
but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- that God, in this world of unrest, misery, and sin, leads us into community, where He comforts us and strengthens us
- for my morning coffee
- that God expects us to ask Him for things; if we call to Him, He will show us great things (Jeremiah 33:3)
- that Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, cares for us
- for the reason Jesus gave His disciples for asking, that they may receive, “that your joy may be complete”
"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8 NRSV)
To get wisdom is to love oneself; to keep understanding is to prosper. (Proverbs 19:8 NRSV)
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me. (Psalms 86:5-7 NRSV)
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Psalms 80:7 NRSV)
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued. (Psalms 71:23 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, as you have done for us before. (Psalms 68:28 NRSV)
O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow. Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains so that they smoke. Make the lightning flash and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them. Stretch out your hand from on high; set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hand of aliens, whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hands are false. (Psalms 144:3-8 NRSV)
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice. (Psalms 55:17 NRSV)
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.
"O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant that I, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear my cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalms 145:18 NRSV)
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
(Jeremiah 33:3 NRSV)
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
(John 16:24 NRSV)
“With my whole heart I cry,” says the psalmist. I’ve already said that I don’t really think I have ever succeeded in crying out to God “with my whole heart.” Because my heart, just as most people’s, I am confident, is divided; divided between many things. My “life verse” speaks of that.
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. (Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
I have prayed that verse so many times, in my life. So, has God not answered it? I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. I believe that my heart is less divided today than it was a decade ago. More and more I am finding that I am more satisfied with just the idea of being with God. That subject has come up several times, recently.
There is a “humility of heart,” of which someone in Renovare spoke, recently, that creates this preference, this desire to be with God more than talking about Him like He’s not in the room.
He is, of course, in the room. But how often do we sit around in our small groups and talk about Him as if He isn’t? And how often, as we sit around and talk about Him, do we get it wrong?
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:14 NRSV)
Several times, in today’s Scriptures, we are admonished to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you,” said Jesus. I believe that it is implied, in Proverbs 19:8, that we need to be asking for wisdom, especially if we love ourselves. How else do we “get wisdom?”
Psalm 144 echoes the question of Psalm 8.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalms 8:3-4 NRSV)
What are we, that God cares for us?? We are mere humans; He is infinitely higher and greater than us! Yet, He does care for us, which is why the psalmists are asking this question! They don’t get it. And if I sit and think about it for very long, neither do I.
The God of the Universe, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and everything in between, cares for us, puny little things that are like the sands of the seashore.
This is a miracle. And this God, who has come to us in human form as Jesus Christ, bids us ask Him for things.
Psalm 145 declares that this God is near to all who call upon Him. That one does add the condition “in truth.” God is near to all who call on Him in truth. What is truth?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6 NRSV)
Jesus is the truth. Therefore, God is near to all who call on Him through Jesus. I am, as far as I can tell, in Jesus. Therefore, when I call upon God, He is near me. I can’t explain how God, who is always here, can be any more near me than He already is. But I will tell you something from experience. It certainly feels like He is more near sometimes than others. Right now, as I am typing this, I feel Hes presence so close to me that is almost disarming. Not in a scary way; in a positive way.
All of the “fogginess” that I started this day with seems to have evaporated. Because I have done what His Word tells me to do. I have called upon Him and He is near me, embracing me, strengthening me, helping me.
Jesus told His disciples that they hadn’t asked anything of Him, yet. Or, rather, that they had not asked anything “in my name,” He said. “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
What better reason for asking than that one?
Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear/revere Your name! Help me, O God, to call out to You with my whole heart. I suppose it is normal for my heart to be divided. There are many things in this world that I like. Most of them are not harmful. Reading, for example. Playing my video games. but when I pray, Father, I need my heart to be fully Yours. When I am meditating or contemplating Your beautiful presence, I need an undivided heart. Help me to do this; help me to accomplish this. Unite my heart, Lord.
And help me to be more confident in my asking. I believe that I am “in Christ,” and, therefore, when I am asking, calling upon You, I am calling upon You “in truth.” But so often I hesitate to ask. I am unsure of my own motives for asking. So make my motivation for asking be that thing that Jesus told His disciples; that my joy may be complete.
You are good, Lord. You are the only true good. Every good and perfect gift that I receive comes from You. I have nothing in my possession that I can call my own. I have nothing to bring to Your table other than my sin, for, as Horatius Bonar said, that is the only thing that I have that I can call my own.
Take my sin, Father; forgive it. Do that thing You said You would do; forget it; cast it as far as the east is from the west; cast it into the bottom of the depths of the sea. And maybe help me to forget that I did those things, too? Memory is a curse, sometimes.
I praise You, my God, for all that You do for all mankind. You make the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Your compassion flows over into those who even refuse to acknowledge Your existence. All praise and glory to You, Father.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Psalms 86:12-13 NRSV)
Grace and peace, friends.