Wednesday, January 5, 2022

           In the Bible, Paul’s life was marked by moments of profound elation and moments of gut-wrenching frustration.  He experienced an assortment of highs and lows from the first moment He encountered Jesus personally on the Road to Damascus.  From prison, Paul wrote, “rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).  With the grace of God, Paul found that he could live out what he wrote.  He could rejoice and rejoice always.  He never let circumstances overwhelm him.  He kept his vision on Christ and moving ahead in his faith.  We might think that Paul overstated his troubles but a reading of his letters reveals all the challenges this man faced.  You could especially read Paul’s summary in 2 Corinthians 11:16-35 to see a portion of what he endured.  But again, Paul met these challenges and circumstances with a focus on Christ and how the Lord’s grace and power were totally sufficient for him.
            Sarum Primer is a collection of prayers and worship resources developed in Salisbury, England, during the 13th century.  It also had a wealth of richly worded prayers that have influenced Christian worship ever since these prayers were written.  Last month, I received a Christmas card with the words to a prayer.  The prayer reads as follows...
God be in my head,
and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes,
and in my looking;
God be in my mouth
and in my speaking;
God be in my heart,
and in my thinking;
God be at my end,
and in my departing.
            The prayer is for God to fill our head, eyes, mouth and heart with Himself and His grace.  This prayer could be a good resource to help launch you into 2022.  Take time today to reflect upon it.  Take time to recite it as a prayer of your own.  The prayer teaches us what Paul learned personally—Christ is with us, in us and for us.  He has not departed from us.  He has not forsaken His people just because a new year has come and the calendar has changed.  Consider how you offer your thoughts and decisions to the Lord.  Ask God to touch your eyes so that you see with faith as well as with literal eyesight.  Ask God to fill your mouth with words that heal, offer hope, extend an open hand and speak grace.  Ask God to fill your heart with His Word and ways.  May our hearts be filled with good things so that from the overflow we live in ways that are both good and gracious.
            Paul knew by faith that God was always with Him and always around him.  His enemies could attack him but not destroy him.  His enemies could inflict harm and mischief—but only for a season.  Paul knew his life and destiny were secure and in the hands of the Lord who died for him.  We need great confidence and certainty today in a great God and Savior—the Lord Jesus.  Let the greatness of God still your anxiousness, calm your fears and encourage your weariness.  Rejoice in the midst of trials and even in the face of enemies who may mean you harm.  Rejoice because of the One who is in you.  Remember, He who is in you is greater than anyone who is in the world (I John 4:4).  Rejoice today!

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