Today is Thursday, the twenty-second of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ find you today!
I’m up early, this morning, because I’m due at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:00 AM for the annual Hurst Way Conference for all city employees. If I have time, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after I finish my devotional, this morning.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord our God, we lift our hearts to you, for you have given great promises to those who fear you. Let your Word strengthen us in faith, patience, and hope. Be with all those who call upon you, pleading for help in our time. For these times must work for our good, and in spite of sin, death, and all evil we can find joy in what you are doing. We call to you, O Lord our God. Let your hand be revealed, that something may be seen besides human striving and the efforts of human hands. Let the work of your hand be visible to many, to all peoples on this earth. May your name be honored, O Lord our God, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:10-12 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- that God does not treat us as our sins deserve
- that His love for us is as high as the heavens are above the earth
- for the steadfast love, the chesed, of the Lord
- that God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4); He is always watching, always listening
- that Jesus Christ did not seek to enjoy the Father’s love for Himself alone; He passed it on to us” (Andrew Murray)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
(John 21:20-23 ESV)
Here is a good argument that we are not supposed to be so concerned about other people, but to take care of our own business. We are not to be “pointing fingers” at those around us. We need to pay attention to our own relationship with Christ, especially as it concerns our own sin. One of my Facebook friends posted something yesterday, with which I heartily agree. “The TRINITY is more concerned about how you deal with your sin than the laws you support to deal with the sin of others.” (Aaron Smith, professional drummer) Jesus’s answer, when we say, “What about this guy?” is “What is that to you?”
I love the last verse of John’s Gospel.
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(John 21:25 ESV)
I don’t think it unreasonable to add “and said” at the end of the first sentence. Certainly, Jesus said more than just the words that are included in the Gospels.
Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
(2 Chronicles 33:9-13 ESV, emphasis added)
I find great encouragement in this passage of 2 Chronicles. Manasseh was likely the most evil king that Judah had. And even though he waited until he was in desperate trouble before he cried out to God, God heard him and was “moved by his entreaty.” You see, it doesn’t matter how evil and wicked we might be. If we cry out to God, He is compassionate and merciful. His chesed will be shown.
Speaking of chesed . . .
I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness." (Psalms 89:1-2 ESV)
Both times it says “steadfast love,” the Hebrew word is chesed. Many are familiar with the KJV of verse 1 that says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever.” I seem to remember an old Sunday School song from that verse.
Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? (Psalms 89:5-8 ESV)
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalms 121:4 ESV)
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
(Psalms 28:1 ESV)
Most of the time, Psalm 121:4 is referenced when speaking of God’s protection. He is always watching over us; He never sleeps.
But Rick Hamlin, in today’s Daily Guideposts, brings another perspective to this. God is also always listening. He never “shuts off” His listening. He doesn’t “mute” us. Comforting, yes, but it means He also hears all of our rants and complaining. And He continues, nevertheless, to rain down His steadfast love on us.
Just something to ponder, this morning.
Father, as I consider Your Words, this morning, I am comforted and encouraged. I am glad to remember that You never slumber nor sleep; that You are always watching, always listening. The very thought that You care enough for us to extend Your steadfast love and mercy to us, even when we bitterly complain, is astonishing. Were we You, we would have given up on us long ago. I fear some of us have, actually.
I pray for Your people, Father, especially those who have lost their way. For those who might be stumbling or wandering, Father, I pray for Your Spirit to guide them back to Your loving arms, to experience Your glorious chesed in ways that they never imagined. Help us all to know this steadfast love every single minute of every day, Father!
Oh, Lord, You do not treat us as our sins deserve, and have cast our sins as far as the east is from the west! What glorious thought! What wonderful news! Help us to embrace this, Father, as we consider Your great love for us, today!
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
(Job 10:12 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.