Today is Tuesday, the twenty-seventh of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ abide within you today!
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit will be updated today.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for your mercy and for your great goodness and power, revealed to us through the ages and in the present time. We live by your revelation, Lord God Almighty, for you perform wonders on earth and you reign in heaven so that heaven can bless and help us on our earthly pilgrimage. Grant that your loving-kindness and your justice may be revealed through all the world. Come, O Lord our God, bring the light for us who believe in you, and be the light for the whole world. Glory to your name, for you are indeed our Father in heaven and on earth, and you give certainty for our life in time and in eternity. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. (Psalms 138:1-2 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- a new day; another opportunity to serve the Lord, to love Him, and to love others
- for the blessings of heaven that help us on our earthly pilgrimage
- for the promise of Jesus that, if we abide in Him, our prayers will be answered; the catch, of course, is that abiding bit
- that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son
- that truly, my soul finds rest in God
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
(1 John 5:1-3 ESV)
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:9-12 ESV)
Here we have a strong testimony concerning Jesus Christ. He is life. He is the way to eternal life, the gift from God. Whoever has Jesus has life; whoever does not have Jesus does not have life. In fact, the one who does not believe in Jesus Christ, has made God out to be a liar.
I would not want to find myself in that position.
However, the other piece of this testimony gives us a criterion to know if we have Christ. It is love. If we truly love God, we will love whoever has been born of God. The love of God compels us to keep His commandments, which are totally wrapped up in those two commands that I keep harping on, here. And, says John, those “commandments are not burdensome.”
Father, I feel compelled to interject a prayer right now. I must confess that I sometimes find Your commandments to be burdensome. Loving You is not difficult. That part is not burdensome. I owe everything to You; I have nothing that I can call my own, other than, as Horatio Bonar once said, my sin. But loving others is sometimes burdensome. I do not blame them. I could, but I do not. I blame myself for continuing to judge people. I pray for Your Spirit to overwhelmingly intercede for me, to help me to be able to love others, unconditionally, and fully, with Your kind of love, the desperately sought-after agapao.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! (Psalms 92:1-5 ESV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2 NIV)
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
(Psalms 62:1 NIV)
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
(Psalms 78:4 NIV)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
(John 15:7 ESV)
There is a truth that is constantly missed by many well-meaning people. God’s promises, at least most of them, have conditions. There is usually an “if” attached to the promise.
“What He is to us depends upon what we are willing to be to Him. ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8).” (Andrew Murray)
In the case of John 15:7, the condition is simple. Simple, yes, but perhaps a little more mystical than many are comfortable with. You see, the Father always hears the Son. The Son is in the Father, and the Father is in the Son. Therefore, if we are also abiding in Christ, we are in Him, and so our prayers will be heard, as well.
“Fully and wholly abiding in Him, we have the right to ask whatever we will, and the promise that it will be done is ours as well.” (Murray)
But, you might object, this does not appear to be the case. We must examine the state of our abiding. I have frequently discussed, with our brothers and sisters with whom we meet, why our prayers don’t seem to get answered, why we don’t see miracles like the saints of the New Testament Church saw.
Murray’s answer to that question is clear and concise. “Either we do not fulfill the condition, or God does not fulfill the promise.”
Since many believers are not willing to accept either part of that statement, they invent escape clauses. It must not have been God’s will. Jesus never said that.
But here’s the thing. And I do believe that there is nothing wrong with including “if it be Your will” in our prayers. However, if I am, as Murray stated, “fully and wholly abiding in Him,” then my prayers will be for God’s will, and I will not ask for anything that would not be His will. The only reason, ultimately, that my prayers do not get answered as I pray them, is that I am not fulfilling the condition.
And I am very quick to acknowledge that I, most of the time, fail to “fully and wholly” abide. This is why that verse in Psalms is my “life verse.”
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)
My heart needs to be united, because it is divided. There are too many things demanding my attention. Now, the older I get, and the more I meditate on His Word, the less I give allegiance to anyone or anything other than God. But there are still sins that plague me, frequently. I struggle with those, as do most people. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. (I’ve discussed “shame” in other posts . . . it is toxic and disabling.) So I have no trouble acknowledging that the reason my prayers might not be answered is that I am praying outside the will of God because I am not abiding fully in Christ.
Recently, though, I have seen a couple prayers get answered. One of them, I confess, surprised me. Now why would that be, I wonder? Ah, we feeble and fickle humans. Our confidence runs so low that when God does answer a prayer, we are surprised.
If we have the confidence that we have been abiding, we should pray with expectation, not just hoping that God will answer, but believing that He will. But, again, it’s all tied in with that condition. If the condition is met, according to Jesus, the prayer will be answered.
Father, I know full well that I do not frequently succeed in “fully and wholly” abiding. I pray for Your help in this. You are my God. I worship You and I serve You. But my heart is divided, therefore, I continue to pray Psalm 86:11 to You, that You would teach me Your way, and that You would unite my heart. Hopefully, but the time I am ready to meet You face-to-face, my heart will be whole.
In the meantime, help me to abide in Christ, for more than just one reason. One is that I simply desire for that to be the case. I know that the fellowship with the Trintiy would be so precious and amazing if I am truly abiding. There is nothing like it in this world. But I also desire that my prayers be prayers that fully encompass Your will, on earth as in heaven, and that they would be answered in order that You would be glorified on the earth. That is the primary reason. Sure, I want to see my friends be healed and be successful and have good relationships in their lives. I want to see my friends protected from hurricanes (that’s a serious threat, right now, so I pray for their safety), and I want to see them be happy in their jobs. I desire for one friend to have a successful pregnancy to full term. But the ultimate reason for all of these is Your glory!
The Scriptures says that the earth will be filled with Your glory as the waters cover the seas. I pray that You would make this so, Father! All for Your name’s sake; all for Your glory.
Help me to abide in Christ.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
(John 15:12-17 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.