Today is Sunday, September 11, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you today!
We wound up not making it to Mineral Wells, yesterday, after all. It was probably a good thing, looking at the bigger picture, because C wasn’t (and still isn’t) feeling great. But she got to Budget rental to pick up a truck. After filling out all the paperwork and getting the truck, the “check engine” light came on. She took it straight back to them, where she was initially told to just go ahead and drive it anyway. She declined that advice.
They wouldn’t call another location for her to see if there was another truck available. That location (in a strip shopping center, mind you) had at least five broken trucks sitting in their lot. She got no satisfaction from customer service, either, where she was told that they had to send a service technician out to see if there was really a problem with the vehicle before issuing a different vehicle. At that point, I advised her to cancel it, get a refund, and we would wait two weeks until the next Saturday I am off work.
And we will most certainly not do business with Budget again.
The rest of the day was spent doing pretty much nothing, and C got some good rest.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord our God, our Father in heaven, we thank you for letting our failures and sins come before you and for giving us One who steps in to help us just as we are, with the right help for the good and the evil things in our lives. We thank you that our whole age can be comforted, and even the terrors of our days can be turned to the good because everything has already come before your holy eyes. Salvation will come out of disaster, life out of death. Praise to your glorious and almighty name! Protect our faith in your Servant. May we always find strength and courage, even when we are in pain. The time is coming when your loving-kindness will be revealed among all nations on earth. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
(Isaiah 53:11 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- that salvation comes out of disaster; life out of death
- that our Father in heaven will remember our sins no more
- that Jesus, who went to prepare a place for us, His disciples, will return to take us to Himself, that where He is, we may be also
- for the promises of Jesus regarding faith and prayer; Lord, help my unbelief!
- for God’s constant admonition to “fear not,” possibly the most often-stated command in Scripture
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:1-14 ESV)
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 ESV)
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
(Mark 11:24-25 ESV)
Sometimes, what winds up being typed here is nothing more than me “thinking out loud,” or, as the case may be, with my fingertips. In other words, I am in the process of working through thoughts and ideas as I type.
As I read these Scriptures today, as well as Andrew Murray’s reading in Power in Prayer, I am forced to consider some things.
That verse in John 14 has always caused me some . . . “distress” isn’t exactly the right word, but it might be the best that I can come up with.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
(John 14:12 ESV)
“Greater works??” How on earth is it possible for us, mere humans, to do “greater works” than Jesus? I will admit that, so far, I haven’t received a wholly acceptable answer to that question. The general consensus, at least among people whom I trust, is that He meant “greater” in the sense of the scope of impact on the world. Jesus’s works, while physically greater than any we could ever do, had a small scope in terms of world impact. He worked primarily in Israel and the surrounding areas. His disciples would eventually carry His works to the uttermost parts of the earth.
But then He gives that powerful promise in13-14.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
(John 14:13-14 ESV)
We see similar promises elsewhere.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 ESV)
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
(Mark 9:23 ESV)
And, of course, immediately after that last one, we have the famous quote of the father of the demon-possessed child, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”
How often I find myself quoting that dad.
Andrew Murray has an interesting perspective on all of these sayings of Jesus.
“The tendency of human reasoning is to interpose here certain qualifying clauses – ‘if expedient’; ‘if according to God’s will’ – to break the force of a statement that appears presumptuous. Beware of dealing this way with the Master’s words. He wants His Word to penetrate our hearts and reveal how mighty the power of faith is and how our Father places it at the disposal of His children who trust Him.”
I have been guilty of that, especially the bit about “if according to God’s will.” But Murray is right . . . that is “human reasoning.” Sure, it makes logical sense, but it’s still human reasoning. And it is adding something to the Word of the Lord . . . something that isn’t necessarily there.
Now understand this: Murray is far from a “name-it-claim-it” kind of guy. I don’t see that kind of thinking anywhere in his writings. He isn’t into the so-called “prosperity gospel.”
But he believes in the power of prayer. I mean the book I’m reading is called Power in Prayer.
So as I ponder and meditate on the things I’ve read, this morning, I will be thinking heavily about this . . . pondering the level of my faith and belief when it comes to these statements of Jesus. How do I work this?
Right before that verse in Mark 11, the disciples had commented on the fact that a fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before was now withered and dried up. Jesus’s response was:
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
(Mark 11:22-23 ESV)
“I believe! Help my unbelief!”
Father, I confess that I don’t really know what to do with some of Jesus’s statements. It’s not that I don’t believe Him (or You), but more along the lines of “this sounds too good to be true.”
But, if we believe Jesus, and we claim to, then we should be believing these words too, and we should be seeing some pretty mighty works in our world, today. And I’m not seeing very many.
Or am I? Just today, I saw a Facebook post from a person who may or may not be a Christian, about someone paying for his dinner at a restaurant. I don’t know if the person who paid for his dinner was a Christ-follower or not, and neither does he, because he doesn’t know who did it. But it inspired him to “pay it forward.”
We spend too much energy, it seems on trying to figure out how to “pay You back” for what You have done for us, which is, of course, ridiculous, because we simply cannot do that. It’s impossible. The best we can do is “pay it forward,” extending the same kind of grace to others that You have extended to us. For forgiving others, as You have commanded us, that we might consider ourselves forgiven, and that our prayers might be answered.
Today, Father, I have already seen, and will continue to see posts of people declaring “never forget!” I wonder, when I see those . . . what if You took that point of view? Praise Your holy name that You do not, as You have declared over and over and over again, that our sins will not be remembered, because they have been cast into the depths of the sea, or thrown as far as the east is from the west. Hallelujah!
Yet we insist on “never forgetting” what a few radical terrorists did to our nation. Or at least that is allegedly what happened.
Father, as I walk through this world, on this journey of life, I pray to forget. I want to forget. I want to be able, like You to forget any wrongs that have been done against me, no matter how deep or how trivial. (Perhaps it is often the most trivial that we remember the most.) I want to be able to be that person that Jesus describes when He says, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.“
I believe, Lord! Help my unbelief!
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
(John 14:23 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.