Read Psalm 139:13-16
Anyone who has studied the human body must be amazed by it. All of the parts work and interact in a way which creates such synchronicity. Whether we examine how the body moves, the way food is digested for energy and cell building, or how the brain serves to make life possible while creating all levels of thought, there is nothing haphazard about the creation of the body. The human body should cause each of us awe whenever we consider it.
The psalmist raises our awareness of this awe in the wards of Psalm 139. Credit for the creation of a human being is given to God. Not only the physical aspects of the human but the mental and spiritual components of the person are acknowledged as being made by God. The psalmist names the creation of the person as wonderful, made in a way that leaves an observer awestruck (fearful).
I encourage you to consider what it means to have been perfectly made in every detail. This perfection is not how humanity might define perfect but instead here meant there is purpose and meaning in every little detail of what and who we have been created to be. Ponder the truth that you have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by the Almighty One. What you may see as imperfections and unworthiness are viewed by your Creator as exactly what should be for you to be you. God has been purposeful in making you just as you are. God deeply loves who you are.
Read John 14:25-27
In light of recent events in our world, Russia’s attack and invasion of Ukraine, I went to Scripture for guidance. The desire of most people throughout the world is to live a life in peace and fulfillment. While we have different understandings of what those words mean or look like, the general desire is to have what we need to survive without concern for our safety. This seems to be something which should be easily attainable. The problem is that human sin is a part of life. Greed, deception, hatred, and selfishness inject themselves into daily living. These sins lead to actions which do not ensure the peace and safety of all people.
The passage which I was drawn to today is a portion of a conversation which Jesus is having with his closest disciples. In John’s version of the gospel, Jesus is always trying to prepare his disciples for his death. He seeks to assure them and provide them comfort. Here Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit. He also tells them that he will leave them a peace far different than the world’s peace. This peace is enduring unlike the fleeting peace we experience in our lives. This peace is not just an absence of conflict and physical violence but a calmness of spirit even in the midst of conflict and violence. The peace which Jesus provides, and the Holy Spirit reminds us about, is one which overcomes worry and fear.
While world leaders attempt to bring the latest eruption of violence and death under control, we are mindful that our Lord overcomes all violence and death. We are offered a peace of spirit and reassurance that transcends our earthly experience. It is wise, and our duty, to continue to pray for Ukraine’s people in the midst of these events. We also pray for the overcoming of human sin and its impact upon us and all people. Even as we pray, we know that what the world offers is fleeting but what the Lord offes is eternal. The peace which Jesus gives to us provides us comfort and reassurance because it reminds us that he has already overcome the sin of this world.
Read Numbers 6:22-27
In most of the southern states of our country, you can often hear a phrase, “bless your heart.” This phrase can also be used in reference to a third person, “bless his/her heart.” When used, the phrase can be a sincere blessing but sometimes it can be a sarcastic way to express displeasure or unkind thoughts toward another person. Placing a blessing or curse upon another individual has been common among all human civilizations.
Our reading for today comes from a set of instructions which God is giving to Moses. We read here God telling Moses a blessing which the priests, Aaron and his sons, are to use with the Israelites. God indicates that by the use of this prescribed blessing, the leaders will be in essence placing the Spirit of God on the people.
Our interactions with people can be extremely varied. Some of them may be formal in nature while others may be exactly the opposite. Circumstance and the type of relationship dictate how we interact. Imagine what impact may occur in regard to our interactions if we verbally or mentally bless each person who we have contact with during our day. If we utilize the blessing found in the passage each time, we would in essence be placing God’s Spirit upon the other person. Having done this, we may alter the manner in which we treat and speak to the individual.
I challenge you to attempt to make this a practice. The blessing God gave Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons is an easy one to memorize. Use it either out loud or just in your mind as you engage with others throughout your day. See if it changes the direction of those interpersonal situations.
Read 2 Timothy 1:6-7
After an extended hiatus due to moving and complications related to the move, I am back. The difficulties which we experienced easily could have defeated my spirit. I have even considered whether I would resume my writing of online devotionals. What gave me the strength to push through the challenges, and also return to writing, has been the Spirit of the Lord. Through frequent and earnest prayer, I was able to be enveloped in the Spirit. The spirit gave me strength when I was emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. This same Spirit has nudged me to resume writing devotionals.
In our focus passage for today, Paul is giving instruction to one of his proteges, Timothy. He writes in his letter to Timothy that he must fan the gift he has received from God until it becomes a burning flame. Paul reminds Timothy that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline, not one of timidity. Paul’s words are intended to urge Timothy to boldly develop and use the gift which comes from God.
Each of us have moments when we do not think we can push forward. We have times of doubt in which we may not find value in a gift, or gifts, God has given to us. Giving up, quitting, may seem appealing. We may even attempt to convince ourselves that ceasing our efforts is the best course of action. These periods in our lives is when Paul’s words speak to us the strongest. Being reminded of the importance to expand and use God’s gifts is the prompt which we need. Receiving the assurance that God has not placed a spirit of timidity in us but one of boldness in power, love, and discipline encourages us. I know it does me. Maybe it does you as well.
For the next two weeks, I will not be posting new devotionals. We will be in the process of moving and I will not have the time to properly write. Expect to see the devotions returning on the week of February 14. Blessings to all of you faithful readers.