Good morning. Today is Thursday, February 14, 2013. Oh, my. It’s Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? Having been married more than 27 years, my wife and I really don’t make a big deal about this any more. She got me a cinnamon lollipop, and I got her a little bag of Lindor truffles. We might go out to Hoffbrau tomorrow night, since they are having their prime rib special for Valentine’s Day (it lasts four days, so you don’t have to be there on the actual day to take advantage of it), and Christi loves prime rib.
Today is also National Organ Donor Day. I’ve already donated my heart…it belongs to Christi. (HAH! See what I did there?)
Stephanie and I went to the gym again last night, while Christi stayed home and made spaghetti for dinner. YUM!! It was frustrating though, at the gym. We found a parking place quickly, which is unusual, but they have a lot of broken equipment right now. I couldn’t find a working elliptical or treadmill, so I had to use a recumbent bike again last night. I don’t like those for two reasons. 1) They are hard on my knees, and 2) they don’t burn as many calories. Oh, well. I burned 451 calories in 42 minutes. Normally, I can do over 600 calories in 45 minutes on the elliptical. The difference in time is due to the different “cool down” time programmed into the equipment.
Today, Stephanie has a training session, so we will get our fourth workout in a row. I’m also planning to stop by our other building this morning to weigh in for the Biggest Loser contest. I dropped into second place last week. I think I’ve lost about 2 pounds since my last weigh in, which isn’t bad. That’s pretty much my weekly goal, so I’m happy with that. On my home scale, I’ve lost 17.8 pounds this year.
(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1400, King Richard II of England died. Maybe. No one’s really sure how or when he died. While he was king, he made a trip to Ireland, during which Henry Bolingbroke invaded England, rallied support, and stole the throne, becoming King Henry IV. He incarcerated Richard in the Tower of London. Richard was determined to be too dangerous and was “locked away in secret so that he could never be found or rescued.” He was forced to leave the Tower and was shuffled about “from castle to castle and eventually imprisoned in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.” In January of 1400, a group of supporters conspired to rescue him, and restore his kingship. That was the final straw for Henry IV. “What happened next is debated.” Shakespeare’s account has been pretty much debunked. After Richard’s body was exhumed, there was no evidence of an axe blow to the back of the head. There are some sources that say he starved himself to death, but the most reliable sources believe that King Henry ordered his food supply cut off. Two weeks after he died, his body was taking on a procession to prove that he was really dead. Originally interred at “the Dominican church at King’s Langley,” he was transferred to Westminster Abbey during the reign of Henry V. He was the “eighth and last of the direct Plantagent kings of England.”
Today’s birthday is…okay, wow. Today has been the most difficult to choose because there really aren’t any that stand out to me. So…I’ll pick Simon Pegg, born on this date in 1970. Pegg is a British comedian and actor. My first exposure to him was in the movie, Shaun of the Dead. He was also in Hot Fuzz and Run, Fatboy, Run, among others.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1-3
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4
Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning as I look into your Word.
Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Prayers in Eternity.” It is the last of the series on the discipline of prayer. The scripture reading is Revelation 5:6a, 7-8; 8:3-4.
5:6a And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…
7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,
4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
In this scene from Revelation, we see the “four living creatures,” along with the 24 elders, holding harps and golden bowls containing incense, which is said to be “the prayers of the saints.” In chapter 8, the smoke of the incense, “with the prayers of the saints,” rises up before the Lord. “Our prayers are honored beyond anything we imagine here on earth.” This scene from Revelation shows us that these prayers break through barriers of time and space to “join the eternal worship. Angels bring them before God with honor and reverence and tenderness.” As I sit here and read this, I’m almost moved to tears. I don’t know how many times I’ve read this passage in Revelation, but today, it has struck me with a freshness that is indescribable. I believe that my prayers are heard, but I’ve never considered that they would be offered up to God in this manner. I think that having this passage in mind during prayer would certainly alter the mood of my prayer time before the Lord. It should cause me to think more clearly and to be more serious about prayer. Sometimes, especially when I get in a hurry, my prayer time gets just a bit cavalier. Maybe that’s too strong a word, because I certainly never intend to appear arrogant before God. Maybe aloof is better. I don’t know. But I’m challenged to approach my prayer time today with “a feeling of gratitude and assurance” that my prayers are heard. That they matter. Even if I do not receive what I have asked for, they still matter, and they are heard.
O most merciful God, incline your loving ears to our prayers, and illuminate the hearts of those called by you, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, that they may be enabled worthily to minister to your mysteries, and to love you with an everlasting love, and to attain everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.~~Charlemagne
Father, I thank you today for this picture that will now stick in my mind. I pray that, from now on, whenever I bring my prayers and petitions to you, this image, this vision will be at the front of my memory, the angels, living creatures, and elders, holding up their bowls of incense before you, all the prayers of all the saints (mine included) rising up in the smoke before you. Thank you, Father, for the assurance that my prayers and petitions are heard by you, and that they are important to you. Let me, by the same token, make sure that my prayers and petitions are serious! Let me never approach prayer in a manner that is irreverent and aloof. If I have little time, then may I make that time count with my prayers.
I pray for this day today. I pray that Christi and I will have a good work day today, and that you will protect us, by the power of your Spirit, from excessive stress and anxiety. Keep us looking to you for the grace we need to accomplish whatever needs to be accomplished during this day. Thank you for our jobs, and I pray that they will remain secure until you have something else for us. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would draw her close to your heart.
I thank you that I received an update from Andy in California, and that he is okay. I continue to pray for decent shelter and provision for him.
Your prayers matter. This truth should make them that much more powerful. Our prayers matter to God. Try to envision those angels holding up bowls of incense before the Lord…our prayers to him, sweet incense.
Grace and peace, friends.