Christ, Be With Me

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ, be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie,
Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise,

Salvation is of the LORD (repeat 3x)

This is a part of the Catholic prayer called “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” My devotion today is based on this prayer, and I find it to be a very powerful and compelling prayer. I’m sure any Catholics who read this will find it familiar, but for those of us who are not Catholic, it could be our first exposure to it. The prayer puts in plain language the omniscience of GOD. He is with me. He surrounds me with His Presence and Protection. He never leaves me.

But what does it [Righteousness] say? “the WORD is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the WORD of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth JESUS as LORD, and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. for “whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved .” – Romans 10:8‭-‬10‭, ‬13 NASB

Is CHRIST with you? Have you called on His Name and claimed your gift of salvation from Him?

(Prayer is from the Catholic Bible School devotion, found on the Bible App by YouVersion.com)

And When You Pray …..

AND WHEN YOU PRAY, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:5‭-‬15 ESV

In verses 7-8, it seems to me that JESUS is rather condemning of us Gentiles here for being wordy and full of ourselves, but I don’t believe He’d want me to focus on that. In fact, as a young person growing up in church, there were a couple of people that, when called on to pray, caused me to cringe inside. Why? Because they were exactly as JESUS describes: using many words and heaping their prayers with empty phrases. Looking back, I feel sure that these people meant well in their prayers, and I’m certain they were sincere in their pleas before GOD. This is not a condemnation of their prayers. I am also certain that they would not have been called on for the benediction or any other time, had they not been in love with our LORD.

When we do pray in public, it seems imperative to be cognizant of the Words of JESUS. I believe it is important to have someone to lead in us prayer during worship services for a couple of reasons. First is our Focus: we are so easily distracted from the reason we gather together that is good to have someone remind us where our minds should be. Second is having no words: there have been many times when I wasn’t able to form my own prayer, and the guidance provided by the pastor or other leader was just what I needed. There are also times when the opportunity to pray for someone (in public) comes up, and I believe that when that happens, we are to seize the moment. Praying quietly and privately with or for someone in public is a mighty witness. Simply bowing our heads and whispering a prayer goes a very long way towards defeating the enemy. He hates – with a passion – those moments when we call on JESUS and utter His Name out loud, even in the quietest voice.

Conclusion: pray often. In public, pray quietly and to the point. In private, pray softly, pray loudly, pray constantly. It’s a conversation with the CREATOR. I know, it’s mind-boggling that the LORD of the Universe wants to talk with me! And when you cannot say a word, just say JESUS. He knows.

Image from https://www.beliefnet.com

Delighted!

We all have places, people, and things that bring us delight. Babies laughing, puppy and kitten antics, majestic views, beautiful flowers and trees, music, food, children, spouses, friends, loved ones. These things, these delights, as much as we enjoy them and search for them, are all momentary and fleeting. On the opposite side, we also have our fears and frustrations, especially when when we are struck with physical, personal, or monetary crises. When disasters strike the righteous person, we question why. Why does the Almighty, Omnipotent GOD let His people suffer, but He allows the sinners and the lawbreakers, the evildoers, to (apparently) prosper?

I fervently believe that we will have it explained to us one day; the day we stand face-to-face with our LORD JESUS. Meanwhile …… it is important, critical, that as followers of the CHRIST we study and absorb His Word. There are numerous promises in both the Old and New Testaments that everyone will receive a final judgement in front of the Throne of GOD. The enemy of the LORD, the Father of Lies, the instigator who brought evil into our world, will receive his due – and it will not be pretty. All of the fallen, both people and supernatural beings, everything natural and supernatural, will receive their condemnation at that time. Read the Revelations of John! This is what I know to be true:

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:4‭-‬9 ESV

One day soon, Psalms 37:9 will come to pass. All evil that exists will be washed away and removed from earth, and those who have chosen to follow the LORD will be rewarded with a new home – one where heaven and the true, the real, Holy City will actually reside here on earth with us! My conclusion? Fretting and worry on our part indicates that we don’t think GOD can handle the little stuff. I’m guilty, too! Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalms 37:7 ESV

I know, easier said than done! There’s a song done by Natalie Grant that pretty well sums up what often we do instead of waiting and placing our reliance on the LORD. What do you think?

When we stop trying to contain GOD, then we are able to delight in Him! Amen!

GOD Still Speaks

I love the ways God uses the Old and New Testament writers to speak to us today. Even when it is not something I particularly want to hear, it’s always something I need to hear. Is that true for you, too?

“In this is Love, not that we have loved GOD but that He Loved us and sent His SON to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if GOD so Loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen GOD; if we love one another, GOD abides in us and His LOVE is perfected in us. By this is Love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.” – 1 John 4:10‭-‬12‭, ‬17 ESV

Notice the word John uses to start the sentence that I highlighted above: Beloved. That one word sums up how the GOD Who created the universe – not just our little earth and and everything in it, but every galaxy, every planet, every star, down the the most minute particles and atom and beyond – this word says how He feels about each and every one of us! Mind-boggling, don’t you agree?

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your GOD.” – Leviticus 19:33‭-‬34 ESV

There are two points I see here. I think John is referring primarily to our brothers and sisters in CHRIST, but also to our brothers and sisters in humanity – everyone on earth is part of my (our) family, and I (we) should love them. Love the PERSON, not being swayed by the life choices or lifestyle, ethnicity, or social or financial status.

Secondly, GOD specifically tells His People of Israel to treat the foreigners among them as they treat their fellow Israelites, but I don’t believe He was limiting His Voice to Israel. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: “Love thy neighbor as yourself” in Matthew 22:37-40. ( Anyone who loves the LORD should be practicing these commands.) Who is my neighbor? It is not just the person who lives next door or in my neighborhood. My “neighbors” consist of every person I come into contact with – each shop clerk, every irritating person in line or traffic, co-worker, study group…. all neighbors, even the family member you really just don’t like. Do you see how this ties together? We have neighbors and strangers among us. They could be from another country, or a different religion, or value system, or lifestyle. They could be a recovering addict. Even in our immediate family we can have “strangers and foreigners”.

Look around. Are there “foreigners” around you? How do you treat them? I have to look at myself, and examine how I treat the foreigners around me; I need to love them and pray for them daily. Here’s a great way to remind ourselves!

Image from: https://scpeanutgallery.com/2017/10/29/21st-sunday-after-pentecost-29-oct-matthew-2234-40-the-bottom-line/

Note: This post is not politically motivated, nor is it in favor of granting illegals asylum in the United States. That is an ENTIRELY different subject!

Resolutions

When I place my Hope in the LORD, He takes my fears and replaces them with Peace. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know Who controls the future, and it isn’t me – and I’m thankful I’m not the one in control. Remember Who holds the future! I am incredibly Blessed with more than I ever dreamed – and Thankful, because He has provided more than I ever imagined I could have. I have friends, family who actually like me (or they put on a good act 😎 ), and a home to call my own. That’s so much more than many have.

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:1‭,3‭,9 ESV

“The LORD is Good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His Steadfast Love; for He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men.” – Lamentations 3:25‭, ‬32‭-‬33 ESV

“Draw near to GOD, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the Law and judges the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a doer of the Law but a judge. There is only ONE Lawgiver and Judge, He Who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:8‭, ‬11‭-‬12 ESV

I am so guilty of ignoring these verses! My plans, my work, my tongue ….. how has all that worked out for me? Really, not so good. It’s a new year, a time of resolutions and good intentions. How many times have I said “I resolve …..” only to break the resolution within hours? My resolutions are like my plans. Without the plan GOD has for me, my plans don’t work out very well. To achieve success, we must commit our plan and our work to the LORD. “Draw near to GOD ….

That’s my resolution for 2019.

“I’m alive, I’m alive, because He lives! Because He lives, I can face tomorrow! Amen, amen!” – Matt Maher sings “Because He Lives” … Such a beautiful truth!

Remember the Sabbath and Keep It Holy

“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” – Luke 23:56 ESV (Exodus 20:8-10)

Keeping it honest: I am not very good at resting on the Sabbath, or Sunday, as we observe it. With jobs and the demands of family, laundry piling up and cleaning needing done; meals to cook or restaurants to go to – requiring others to work; pastors and staff at church, employees at the stores we shop at …. how many of us really are resting? My family has always had busy Sundays for as far back as I can remember, because even before my Dad surrendered to preach, he was very active in the church. My Mom had the task of preparing breakfast for (eventually) six kids, getting us all dressed, herself dressed and ready to go – without any of us getting dirty, and to the church on time for Sunday School and morning service. No drama or stress there! Then “the girls” preparing lunch – which often included unexpected guests, cleaning up, afternoon activities; repeat the morning with supper, Training Union, Sunday evening service … not very restful! Not that I would really change much, except to somehow make it easier on my Mom!

Even now in a household of one (plus animals!) I find myself busy busy busy on the day of rest. It seems to be ingrained into us and it’s difficult to slow down. Working retail for many years, I found myself working more Sunday’s than I was off. Now, more often than not I seem to be at restaurants with family on Sundays after church. Personally, I would love to see more and more businesses follow the examples of Hobby Lobby, Mardels, and Chick-fil-A and close on Sundays, giving their employees the chance to have a day with family. But that’s just me ….. or is it just GOD …..

Socialism – GOD’s Path or Man’s

“When JESUS heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ” – Luke 18:22 ESV

By definition, “socialism (so·cial·ism) is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole:

  1. A policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
  2. (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.

People have taken this passage in Luke (and others) to advocate socialism as a way of life for all Christians. I don’t believe that that is what JESUS is saying. This verse, as well as all of Scripture, must be read in context, because any action – any action – can be justified by taking a verse or two out of context. We have to be on guard about this! Using this case, I don’t see JESUS espousing socialism for the whole. He is speaking to one individual about his life. We don’t know why JESUS told the young man to sell everything and give it to the poor, just that in this instance, it was what the LORD required. He might require it for you or me, and He might not. Much good can be done with wealth (money or time), but wealth can also be a hindrance to our lives with CHRIST. As Christians, our concern should be to search the scriptures for the message to each of us as individuals. We can’t expect non-Christians to understand, because as Paul says:

“For the Word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of GOD.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

But for us, those of us who are coming to Christ and those who are already in Christ, the Word is where He shows His Will for us to follow. For unbelievers who are without GOD’s Love, the Word, when we share it, is like “a clanging gong:”

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬3 ESV

We can try to reach the lost by creating a socialist society with everyone on the same financial footing, or we can glorify our GOD for the diverse talents He has given us, and give thanks for the different paths He has set us on. Our blessings don’t come from following a way of life set out for us by the enemy – and if it doesn’t come from GOD, it comes from the enemy! Whether the path GOD puts us onto is a life of missions, or selling everything and giving it to the poor, or serving in some capacity in His church; using wealth to help those in need; or being the best wife and mother – or husband and father – that we can be, as long as we are on GOD’s path and in His Love we will be overflowing with blessings.

“But You, O LORD , are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head.” – Psalms 3:3 ESV