God’s Word and Christ’s Prayer

Scripture Focus: John 17.13-22
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Reflection: God’s Word and Christ’s Prayer
By John Tillman

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5.16) Jesus is the definition of righteousness. And, my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus, the righteous man, prayed for you. That prayer has power and is effective for everyone who believes.

If you are a believer, Jesus prayed for you. He prayed that you would have the full measure of his joy despite being hated by the world. He prayed that God’s word would be your lifeline while living in the world, to protect you from evil. He prayed that God’s word would sanctify you in the truth and that you would be sent into the world, as Jesus was, to testify to that truth.

If you are not a believer, Jesus prayed for you. He prayed that you would be able to see and hear the truth of God’s Word. He prayed that you would be able to overcome obstacles to belief.

God’s Word, the Bible, is the key to so much of Jesus’ prayer. It is a lifeline of breathable air to believers plunged in the depths of this world. We are in this world but not of it, like a diver walking the floor of the ocean. The Bible carries the testimony about Jesus that the world is to hear. 

If we want to live and walk in the power of Jesus’ prayer and see its effect in our lives, we need to devote ourselves to his Word. The Bible is our air supply in a world flooded by sin. Let us stay connected to it and breathe deeply and well.

There are many metaphors like this for God’s word in the Bible. God’s word is our light in a dark place. It is manna in a land with no food. It is our stream in the waterless desert. It is our shelter in a world of hostility.

God’s Word and Christ’s prayer are powerful and effective. Let us continually recommit ourselves to Jesus and God’s Word. The Word he has given us comes from the Father and we live in it and act from it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” (John 17.7-8)

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Whoever holds my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.” — John 14.21

Today’s Readings
Genesis 18 (Listen 4:59
John 17 (Listen 3:40)

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Considering all of Scripture together without breaking it apart requires patience and a deep familiarity

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O Come All Ye Faithful — Carols of Advent Love

Scripture Focus: Revelation 1:4b-6
4b Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

John 17:24-26
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Reflection: O Come All Ye Faithful — Carols of Advent Love
By Jon Polk

Adore, verb, /əˈdɔːr/: to love someone very much, especially in a way that shows a lot of admiration or respect. (Cambridge Dictionary)

“O Come All Ye Faithful,” is a timeless Christmas carol, beckoning the faithful who have sung it across the ages to join together with the shepherds and others who gathered in Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of the king!

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him, born the king of angels.

The original Latin text of the song is credited to John Frances Wade and consisted of the four verses commonly sung today. Wade was an English exile living in France, having fled due to discrimination against Roman Catholics in the mid-1700s.

Wade taught music at an English college and also hand copied chant and hymn manuscripts for private use by wealthy families. In the 1740s, he produced the song, “Adeste Fideles,” having either written the text himself or discovered words written by 13th-century Cistercian monks. 

Three additional verses were later added by French Catholic priest Jean-François-Étienne Borderies, which give depth to the song. One verse describes the visit of the shepherds, one recounts the journey of the magi, and one centers all of us in the manger along with the holy child.

Child, for us sinners
Poor and in the manger,
Fain we embrace thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?

Note that there is no comma after “sinners.” Punctuation matters. Instead of the “child poor and in the manger,” the structure suggests it is “us sinners poor and in the manger.” In our poor and wretched state, we are included in this intimate moment to embrace Jesus with love and admiration.

And who is this infant Jesus and why should we display such unbridled affection for him?

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, begotten, not created.

The song effortlessly reaches back through church history to 325 AD, mirroring the words of the Nicene Creed, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.”

We are reminded that this baby is God in flesh and, knowing the rest of his story, who would not want to love him after he has loved us so dearly? 

So come, all ye faithful sinners poor and in the manger, come and love Jesus so very much, especially in ways that show your tremendous admiration and respect for him. Come. Come and love.

Listen: O Come All Ye Faithful by Take 6
Listen: Adeste Fidelis by Andrea Bocelli
Read: Lyrics from Hymnary.org

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Know this: the Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100.2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 10 (Listen – 3:01)
Revelation 1 (Listen – 3:43)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 11-12 (Listen – 6:00) Revelation 2 (Listen – 4:59)
2 Chronicles 13 (Listen – 3:56) Revelation 3 (Listen – 3:53)

Read more about Supporting our Work
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Read more about Ennobled by the Incarnation
Jesus is not a spirit-alien wearing a flesh-space-suit. Jesus is the most “real” human to ever have lived.

Mirrors and Sanctification

Exodus 38.8
They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

Reflection: Mirrors and Sanctification
By John Tillman

The first observation from today’s reading is that the women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting gave up valuable hand-held devices, polished brass mirrors, to create a basin for ceremonial cleansing used by priests entering the tent of meeting. The modern analogy is obvious.

Can we be persuaded to give up, even for a short period of time, the valuable hand-held devices that reflect back to ourselves so much about us?

We pour our identity into our devices, and they give us back a river of reflective content. They show us an irresistible, aspirational self-portrait—just click “add to cart.” They sing us a song composed by an algorithm that knows us better than ourselves through granular data culled from our wants, lusts, and preferences.

Narcissus never faced such a captivating image. Sailors never heard such siren songs. No wonder we find it hard to turn away. No wonder we steer inexorably closer to shore.

It is appropriate that mirrors were transformed and used for ceremonial cleansing. Confession is self-reflective. May we follow the example of these women to transform our use of technology for spiritual purposes. May our devices cease to be vehicles of vanity or vain pursuits, but basins of reflective repentance and redemption.

The second observation today, is that the women who gave these gifts served in a special position at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Some, unwilling to admit that these women have a legitimate role in the tabernacle, translate the Hebrew tsaba’ as “assembled” rather than “served.” But even when tsaba’ is translated as assembled in other places, it is still in the context of official service, usually conscripted military service as in Jeremiah 52.25. Tsaba’s most common translation is to fight or defend.

Regardless of what their exact duties were, these women were not randomly gathering around the entrance. They were assembled for a purpose. Tsaba’ implies that they served in an official capacity and were conscripted in a manner similar to Levites or soldiers.

No one is exempt from being conscripted to serve, calling our communities to enter in and meet with Christ. Being sanctified through the washing of the Word, as with the water of the basin, is a prerequisite to our ministry.

Sanctify and transform your technology in ways that deliver the word of God to you. Our devotionals are just one part of that. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to transform your interactions with all the technology you encounter.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.  — Psalm 43.3-4

Today’s Readings
Exodus 38 (Listen – 4:23)
John 17 (Listen – 3:40)

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Read more from Where Judgment Falls
Eli’s sons were corrupt in the extreme. They stole from the offerings of the people, committing financial sins and threatening violence toward those who objected. They used their spiritual positions of power to manipulate and pressure women at the tabernacle for sexual favors.

Read more about Further up, Further in
In Christ, there is no priestly barrier—all are priests with him as our high priest. There is no genealogical barrier, for we are made sons and daughters in Christ. In Christ, there is not male or female, but we are one in him. In Christ there is no abled or disabled, for our weaknesses are transformed in his glory. In Christ racial barriers are destroyed and the division of Babel is reversed. In Christ nationalism is meaningless for we serve a King of Kings and have citizenship in a higher kingdom.

Making Him Known :: A Guided Prayer

John 17.26
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

Reflection: Making Him Known :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Making Christ known is the essence of Epiphany. When Christ’s identity is made known to the nations, our identity is made known as strangers and aliens in the world.

Today we read and pray through Christ’s prayer from John 17. May all the words of his prayer for us be fulfilled in his name.

Prayer for Unity and Love

We thank you, Lord, for your Advent.
We thank you for coming to us.
We thank you for your gift of life and joy.

You granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life…Now this is eternal life: that they know you…and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. — John 17.2-3

To know you, Lord, is eternal life.
May we be one, as you prayed, so that the world may know you.

I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. — John 17.13

We need your joy in all circumstances.
For we are hated by the world because of your word.

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. — John 17.13-14

May your prayer for us be fulfilled, Jesus.

I pray for those who will believe…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…I will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. — John 17.20-26

Through your Word we know you.
Through knowing you…
You put your glory in us.
You send your love through us.
You work your power in us.
And we can be one with you, one with the Father, and one with each other.

Father for the sake of your Name and the salvation of the nations…
Glorify your Son, Jesus Christ, through us no matter what we may suffer…
Show the world your love through us, no matter what it may cost us…
And help us make you known, no matter how much the world will hate us.

May your prayer for us, be fulfilled, Lord Jesus.
We pray in your Name…

On the second day of Christmas, Christians across the world celebrate the life of Saint John, referred to in scripture as, “the beloved disciple.”

Prayer: A Reading
This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and had written them down, and we know that his testimony is true. There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written. — John 21:24-25

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Zechariah 14 (Listen – 3:52)
John 17 (Listen – 3:48)

Additional Reading
Read More about Good and Pleasant Unity? A Prayer for Election Week
Even among God’s people, unity is described as “good” and “pleasant,” implying that it is not automatic or constant.

Read More about The Spirit of the Lord :: Epiphany
The Holy Spirit, paraklētos, who made Christ’s earthly body, now makes in our individual bodies Christ’s mind and spirit. But more powerfully, we are knit together as a community, The Church. into the physical body of Christ in the world.

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