Wonderful Revelation

Today is Wednesday, the tenth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in you today!

Day 23,526

Only nine more days until S turns 29! And we have a day planned for that day. Lunch at Martha’s Mexican Cocina, pedicures, bowling, a cookie cake, and there will be presents! Should be quite a day.

We did hit 100 degrees, yesterday, but almost immediately after (shortly before 3 PM), the temperature dropped about twenty degrees as some light rain moved into the area. So that was our 42nd day of 100+, and began a new streak of two days. Today’s high is also predicted to be 100, followed by four days of less than 100. S’s birthday is the last day visible in the ten-day, and it is currently predicted to be 93! Let’s hope that holds true!

The Texas Rangers lost to the Astros, last night. They started out strong, but faded quickly, and Martin Perez had a rare loss in the game. Final score 7-5. The Rangers are now 48-61, thirteen games below .500. They are still in third place in the AL West, 22 games behind first place, and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Astros again tonight at 7:10 CDT, in Houston. They aren’t likely to win because a) Glenn Otto is starting, and b) Justin Verlander is pitching for Houston. He is 39 years old and has a 1.73 ERA.

I think we need to have his DNA checked, because I’m pretty sure he is not human.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox lost to the Braves, 9-7, to drop to 54-57 for the year. Significantly better than the Rangers, but still in last place in the AL East. Seventeen games out of first and five out of a Wild Card spot. They play again tonight at 7:10 EDT, in Boston.

The Dodgers remain on top of MLB, with 76-33 record (the Yankees have dropped to fourth), and the Nationals remain on the bottom, with 37-75. The Dodgers are still winning, now with a nine-game winning streak. The Athletics now have the longest losing streak, with four straight losses. The Red Sox just ahead of them, with three. And the Dodgers are still on top with a run differential of +233, and the Nationals remain on the bottom with -198. The Rangers dropped to -3, and the Sox to -32.

It’s my light week, this week, so I’m off today. I don’t know what I have planned for the day, other than a “surprise” meal for the family dinner, tonight. I’ll give a small hint . . . it involves macaroni.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God! What can separate us from your love? Can trouble or fear or persecution or hunger or nakedness or peril or the sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Dear Father in heaven, we long for courage. You will answer our prayers and again and again grant us strength, the power of your Spirit, the only power that can strengthen us. We thank you for all you have done for us. Help us onward from victory to victory until everything on earth is won for the good, to your honor among all humankind. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
(Romans 8:35, 37 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ!
2. for the power of the Holy Spirit, from which we gain all strength in this life
3. for the "still, small voice" of God
4. for the confidence that, if we ask according to His will, God hears our prayers
5. that Jesus came to make His Father our Father

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
(2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV)

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
(Habakkuk 2:18-20 ESV)

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
(1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 ESV)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:15-21 ESV)

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.”
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)


When we acknowledge our weaknesses, it makes us stronger. Paul learned that, and tried to teach his churches the same thing. Our modern culture resists that, though. We flaunt things that make us appear “manly” or “tough,” forgetting the things we are taught by God’s Word.

God, of course, has no weaknesses. Yet, when He deals with us, He deals with us gently (except for a few exceptions, like when Jesus knocked over the tables of the folks who were cheating people).

There are connections in the above passages. A solid reason that we should “keep silence” before God is shown in the passage from 1 Kings. An important point of prayer is that silence is involved. Why? Because, when we are always talking, we are not listening! Note that the voice of God was not in the fire, not in the earthquake, and not in the boisterous wind. There are, certainly, times that God must speak loudly to us, but that is usually because we are not paying attention.

As Elijah waited patiently for the Lord to reveal Himself, the voice of God finally came through in that “still, small voice” the KJV references, or, in this translation, a “low whisper.”

The first thing that Jesus teaches us, in His model prayer, is that God is in heaven, and that His name should be hallowed. What does “hallowed” mean? “Greatly revered and honored.”

Jesus, the master of prayer, gives us words to use when we are praying. He not only taught us how to pray, He demonstrated it, as well. There’s a whole chapter in John (17) that is a complete prayer of Jesus.

But in this model, Jesus gives us “a prayer that breathes the freshness and fullness of eternal life, so simple that a child can learn it, so divinely rich that it covers all we need.” (Andrew Murray) I don’t believe that, when Jesus said, “Pray then like this,” that He meant “pray these exact words every time you pray.”

I believe He was giving us a pattern to use. There aren’t many things that we can pray for that wouldn’t fit somewhere in this pattern.

Of course, there is certainly nothing wrong with reciting this prayer. I do it frequently. It has a centering and calming effect when I do it.

There’s another important thing, though, here. That word “Father,” preceded by the word “our.” The word “our” may be the most important word in the prayer. Why? Because, up to that time, no one in Scripture, none of the saints of old, had ever referred to God as “Father.”

“The invocation places us at once in the center of the wonderful revelation that the Son came to make His Father our Father.” (Murray, emphasis his)

“The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest–but also the last and highest–lesson in the school of prayer. It is in personal relationship to the living God and fellowship with Him that prayer begins.” (Murray)


Father, thank You for this revelation. I give praise to You for making this relationship possible through Jesus Christ. This is, truly, a “wonderful revelation,” as described by brother Murray. Help us to walk in this knowledge, to know this “Father-love” that is so readily available to us. The thing that amazes me is that this love of Yours is lavished on everyone on the planet . . . not just the people who acknowledge it! As Scriptures says, you send rain on the just and the unjust alike. There is air for the atheists to breathe, as well as the believers.

And You could very easily make it not so.

Your patience with mankind is staggering. I pray for the same patience, that I might love people as You love them. Help me to be a channel of that love, that, as it passes through me, it might spread out, fan out into the world and touch everyone around me.

Help me to keep silent before You, when appropriate, that I might hear Your “low whisper.” Teach me the ways of meditation and contemplation that I might know Your presence without having to speak, that I might gain knowledge of You in the stillness of Your presence. I want to be immersed in You.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” ~ L.R. Knost

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Name of Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the ninth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,525

Ten days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday’s procedure went quite well, I think. And I must have been dreading it a lot more than I thought, because I was in better spirits, yesterday afternoon, than I have been in quite a while. Anyway, the procedure went smoothly, and they found only a couple of polyps, which were removed and sent to pathology. The doctor did not seem at all concerned that they might be cancerous. The nurses and techs were all very friendly and treated me very well. Best nap I’ve had in a long time. I tried to get them to give me some of that stuff to take home, but they wouldn’t do that. Propofol. That’s it. Best anesthesia ever.

Afterward, for lunch, I had a double cheeseburger (with a fried egg and bacon on it) and fries from OC Burger, followed by one of their gigantic chocolate chip cookies. It was delicious, and, at that moment in time, it was the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. Hah.

Let’s see. Weather. It hit 101 yesterday, for our 41st day of triple-digit temperatures, this summer. Hopefully, there won’t be a streak to count, because it is not supposed to hit 100 today. In fact, the predicted high today is 97! And, if the forecast holds true, we have six straight days coming, below 100. And tomorrow, there is almost a 50% chance of rain! The record high for yesterday’s date is 106. The record low is 58. Now there’s a record I’d like to break!

There was no baseball that mattered to me, yesterday. I’ll take a look and see if any of my stats changed. Likely not. There were only seven games played, yesterday. The Nationals lost, so they will still be the worst in all of the categories. The Dodgers didn’t play, but will still be the best in all of the categories. The Rangers and Red Sox did not play, so they didn’t lose, and their run differentials didn’t get worse. For today, the Rangers play the Astros in Houston, and the Red Sox play the Braves in Boston. The only thing the Rangers have going for them is that Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch.

Since it is Tuesday, I’ll be working at the Hurst Public Library from 4:15-8:15, tonight, shelving books and/or DVDs. Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we praise you because we are allowed to have community together in the name of Jesus, who has opened our eyes to see you and who has promised to be among us when we are gathered in his name. May our hearts remain unshadowed, even when our lives seem to grow difficult and the future looks dark. Protect us whenever we are tempted and have battles to fight. Deliver us. Make us free people who know we belong to you and who are allowed while still on earth to have a share in eternal life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Matthew 18:20 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of Jesus, when we gather together in His name
2. that I belong to Jesus, and have freedom in Him that can never be taken away by any government or earthly power
3. that God is constantly showing me the path of life, as I seek the "ancient paths" (Jeremiah 6:13)
4. for the fullness of joy in His presence, the eternal pleasures at His right hand
5. for the promise of Jesus, that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it; may I understand this promise correctly and walk in it

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV)

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
(2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
(John 12:26 NLT)

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:14 NIV)

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

“Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6 ESV)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
(John 14:12-14 ESV)

When we speak a person’s name, we are (or at least should be) speaking more than just a proper noun. Names conjure up different things for different people. I could say the name, Jimmy Carter, and it would mean something different to everyone. But to me, it brings thoughts of integrity, honor, and extreme generosity. It speaks of his character and his nature.

The name of Jesus Christ “means His nature, His person and work, His disposition and Spirit. To ask in the name of Christ is to pray in union with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

Later on in this same discourse, Jesus tells His disciples that if they abide in Him, they can ask whatever they desire. (John 15)

“As we live in Him, we receive the power to avail ourselves of the authority of His name.” (Murray)

One of the things that Jesus showed us, while He walked on the earth, is the nature of true prayer. “To pray in His name, we must pray as He prayed.” Not necessarily in exactly the same words. But in the same Spirit, certainly. He is my example, my teacher, and my intercessor. And through Him, one of my goals is to receive from the Father, just as He did.

Things to consider, though, when we are asking. 
Is the nature of my prayer of the flesh or of the Spirit? While there are certainly material things that the Lord wishes to grant us, we must consider the words of Paul, up at the top of this entry, remembering that we do not "wage war according to the flesh." 
Can it be said that I am praying "in union with Him," when I ask for something? This is where the "prosperity gospel," the "name-it-claim-it" theology falls completely apart. If I pray for a Maserati, am I praying in union with Jesus. Is there any possible rational need for a $215,000 car when there is so much poverty in this world?
Am I asking so that I will look good? Any boasting that I do must not be in myself, but in the Lord. If I commend myself, that is all the commendation I will get. If I pray to look good to others, that is all the reward I will receive, as well, according to Jesus.

According to Jesus, the Father honors those who serve. “No time or effort is too great to serve others through prayer and intercession.”

Praying in Jesus’s name requires much more than simply tacking on “in Jesus’s name” at the end of our prayers. This is a practice that has sadly cheapened pray, over the decades. There is nothing wrong with saying that. Nothing at all. However, if we think that the act of saying validates everything that we prayed, we need to think again.

Because praying in Jesus’s name means much more than that. It means praying in union with Him, which, to me, means praying for things that He would want. I just cannot make myself even imagine Jesus praying for a Maserati or a mansion. I can, however, easily see Him praying for a friend’s surgery recovery, or for a friend’s marriage, or for even something as small as success in a weight-loss journey.

So before I pray for something, I stop and think . . . (no, I’m not going to say “What would Jesus do?”) can I envision Jesus praying for this?

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible app/reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, as I consider praying in the holy and mighty name of Your Son, I ask that I would always stop to think about things, about His character and nature, about His prayers, and about whether I can think of Him praying the things I’m about to pray. This, however, does not meant that I might simply confess to You the way I am feeling about something or someone, at the moment. But when it comes to what I ask for, I commit to evaluating those requests based on the Scriptures that we have before us.

I pray that You would always help us to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and no human being is our enemy. Even in the physical realm, I commit to not considering any human being to be my true enemy.

I commit, as well, to not seeking to commend myself, or seeking the commendation of others, and only seeking Your commendation. May any boasting I do be in You, and You only, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I praise You that You have put me on the road to life; that You have shown me this path, and that in Your presence is that fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore. May I be satisfied with these, Father.

As we seem to have departed from some of the more “ancient paths,” Father, I pray that You would help me to find them again. I will, as Jeremiah stated, seek those ancient paths, by looking back at teachers of old to see how they lived their lives and how they meditated and prayed. I also pray that You will help me pray only in union and agreement with Jesus Christ. Teach me to pray, Lord. Help me to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking for whatever I find to be needed.

And thank You for giving me everything I need for life and godliness.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Intimate, Spiritual, Personal, and Uninterrupted

Today is Monday, the eighth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,524

Only eleven more days until S turns 29!

We only hit 99 degrees, yesterday, for the second consecutive day of under-100 temps! The record for yesterday’s date was 105. Today’s high is predicted to be 101, but that is followed by five straight days of below-100 highs. The bad news is that Wednesday’s chances of rain have dropped.

The colonoscopy prep is going fine, I suppose. I just drank my second dose about thirty minutes ago, and am waiting for it to take effect. I’m working on my second glass of water, as I am required to drink two 16-ounce glasses within an hour of the dosage. After 8 AM, this morning, I am not allowed anything to drink or eat. The procedure is scheduled for noon, and I am due to arrive at 11 AM. My post-procedure lunch is going to be legendary.

The Texas Rangers lost the series finale with the Other Sox, 8-2, to split the four-game series. They are now 48-60 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still 21 games out of first place, and now ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They have today off, and will begin a three-game series in Houston tomorrow.

The Red Sox seem to hitting a new low, as they lost to the Royals again, 13-5, yesterday. So they lost that series, 3-1. In spite of all of this, they are still only two games below .500, at 54-56, but they remain in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and now five games out of a Wild Card spot. They also have today off, and will begin a series against the Braves tomorrow in Boston.

The LA Dodgers continue to roll along as the best MLB team, at 75-33. The Washinton Nationals continue to stumble as the worst MLB team, at 36-74. The Dodgers also have the best ongoing win streak, now at eight games (the Cardinals are right behind them with seven). The Nationals and Yankees (HAH!) still share the longest current losing streak at five games. The Dodgers, for the hat trick (trifecta?), continue to have the best run differential, now at +226, while the Nationals have a reverse trifecta with the worst run differential of -196. The Rangers have dropped back into the negative with -1, and the Red Sox have dropped to -30.

It’s Monday, so I’m off work today (the main reason that the procedure was scheduled for today), and it’s my “light” week, so I only work tomorrow evening and all day Thursday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come before you in the great name of Jesus Christ. We thank you that while we are still living on earth you give us hope and joy in this great name. May something be born in us through your Spirit to make us of one mind with Jesus Christ. In all our relationships with others may we learn that it is better to submit in patience than to dominate, better to serve than to rule, better to be the weakest than to bring pressure to bear on others. Give us this attitude. Let this attitude arise in many so that they may be Christians not only in their words and thoughts, but Christians at heart, loving their neighbors and at one with the Savior on every step of the way. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 2:3-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that it is "better to submit in patience than to dominate, better to serve than to rule" (Plough.com Daily Prayer)
2. for the possibility of having the mind of Christ
3. that Jesus is the exact imprint/representation of the nature/character of the Father
4. for the great works that we can do because of our faith in Christ
5. for the disciplines of meditation and contemplation, by which we truly come to a more intimate knowledge of our Father

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8 ESV)

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(Psalms 43:3 ESV)

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 
(John 14:1, 12 ESV)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
(Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)

Do I believe in Jesus, or do I just believe in the documents that I have read about Him?

In some ways, all I have is those documents. But that’s not 100% true, because I have His Spirit, which is not contained in any document or building. Nevertheless, I don’t have the benefit of those first disciples, who walked with Him personally.

How is it possible that we (whoever believes in Christ) will do the same works as Jesus did, and even greater works?

Through the faith that leads us to know that Christ and the Father are one, so are we in Christ, and Christ is in us.

“It is this intimate, spiritual, personal, uninterrupted relationship to the Lord Jesus that manifest itself powerfully in our lives today, and especially in our prayer lives.” (Andrew Murray)

And how do we experience this? By allowing God the time to reveal Himself and His will to us during our times in the secret place of prayer. Also by bowing down to Him in worship. “Allow our Lord to take full possession of you and to show you how you may live and walk in abiding fellowship with Him. . . . It has not entered into the heart of man what God can do for those who love Him.” (Murray)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I thank You for the knowledge of You that You have given me. Yet I pray for more. I want to know You more, know You better, know You as You know me. I realize that this will not be fully possible until I stand before You, someday. Nevertheless, I pray for it now.

I pray to know the faith that comes from the understanding of the relationship between You and Christ and the Holy Spirit. I pray that this will manifest itself powerfully in my life, and in the lives of all of Your people, as we navigate the treacherous waters of life, in this day and age.

I confess that I struggle with the possibility of doing “greater works” than Jesus did. I have always struggled with that, wondering how on earth we could possibly do anything greater than Jesus did. And then, right after that statement, He told His disciples that if they ask anything in His name, He will do it.

Father, I desire that “intimate, spiritual, personal, uninterrupted relationship” with Jesus that brother Murray talks about. Help me to accomplish that, to maintain it, and to let it work its way within me, daily. But I never want to do “greater works” for my own name’s sake. My name is nothing. The name of Jesus is everything.

May I have the mind of Christ as I engage in relationships in this world, knowing that it is better to “submit in patience than to dominate, better to serve than to rule.” It is better to appear to be weak and follow the commands of Christ, than to appear to be strong and fail in the quest of loving one another.

And finally, Father, I am grateful for Your provision in my life, and that You have created within me the spirit of a cheerful giver, making us generous with the resources with You have provided. We are aware and believe strongly that we have nothing that You did not give us. Therefore, we are generous with that which You have provided.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
(John 14:15 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humbled or Exalted

Today is Sunday, the seventh of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,523

Only twelve days until S turns 29!

We didn’t hit 100 for a high temp, yesterday. I knew that, when we were leaving the library, yesterday, one of my friends there commented that it had only hit 99 there. The official report closest to my house says it only got up to 98. Today’s predicted high is 100. Beginning next Tuesday, we might see four straight days of below-100 temps, and a possible high on Wednesday of only 94, along with some possible thunderstorms that evening.

Dane Dunning had a tremendous outing, last night, as the Texas Rangers defeated the Other Sox 8-0. He pitched seven innings, giving up no runs and only one hit. Adolis Garcia had five RBIs in the game. I started to say they won the series, but they have one more game with them this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, in Arlington. They are now 48-59 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, 21 games behind first place, and nine out of a Wild Card spot.

Boston lost another game to the KC Royals, 5-4 on a walk-off home run. They are now 54-55 on the season, still in last place in the AL East. They are 16.5 games out of first place, and now four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play KC again, this afternoon, at 1:10 CDT in KC.

The LA Dodgers are now decisively the best MLB team, with a 74-33 record. The Washington Nationals continue to be firmly entrenched in the cellar, with 36-73. The Dodgers also have the longest current winning streak, at seven games. The Nationals and the (hahahahaha!!!) YANKEES are tied for the longest current losing streak, at four consecutive games. The Dodgers also have the best run differential, at +222, while the Nats have the worst at -184. After last night, the Rangers are back in the positive column with +5, and the Red Sox continue to go backwards, now with -22.

The big news of the day, which I have avoided mentioning, is that I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow at noon. My diet has been moderately restricted since Friday (no raw fruits or vegetables, no high fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread, no nuts or legumes of any kind), and, as of noon today, I can have no solid foods at all. Oddly, Jell-o counts as a “clear liquid” (scratching my head over that one), but I don’t have any anyway, so I will be drinking lots of water today. I also have to start drinking the prep this evening at 6 PM. One dose then, and another dose tomorrow morning, at 6 AM (five hours before my 11 AM arrival time). After 8 AM tomorrow morning, I can have nothing even to drink.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we come into your presence so that you may lead us with the light that streams out from you. We come to your light seeking an inner birth to make us what your children ought to be. Bless us as we thank you for all your goodness and for the powerful help you have given many among us. Accept the thanks we offer you, and grant that we never forget the good you are doing for us. Help us to go forward, always forward, until your kingdom is completed. May it not be in vain that we live in the Lord Jesus and in love to you, the God and Father of all. May it not be in vain that we bring you our requests and prayers for your kingdom to come soon. Yes, Lord Jesus, come! Come soon to this earth so that all people may acknowledge the true God and may love you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
(John 12:36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the light, streaming out from God, that leads us into His Kingdom
2. that the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed
3. that "if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all"
4. that "everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened"
5. for the Holy Spirit, and His many ministries in the lives of the saints

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:9-10 ESV)

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 ESV)

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:9-13 ESV)

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.”

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

These are statements, truths, that would lead us to humility, if we are paying attention. If the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, we would do well to pay more attention to the oppressed and come to their aid. The words of Jesus scream in our ears about this.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

The body of Christ is in much need of humility, these days. Even when directed to ask, that we might receive, seek, that we might find, and knock, that the door might be opened, we need to do those things with great humility.

And it is far better to humble oneself willingly than for it to be forced upon one.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)

Today’s source was Daily Guideposts 2022


Father, I pray for more humility in my life. I realize the dangers of this prayer, as it is akin to praying for more faith, which brings about more testing. But I know that I need to be more humble in all things, so please make it so.

Help me also to have the faith (in humility) to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, that I might find You and be more intimately connected to You. May Your Spirit reign in my heart and in my life, that I might know You more.

I pray for this procedure coming up and for the preparations that come with it. I confess that I am dreading this, and pray that everything goes well for it. I also pray for good results from the procedure, itself.

But more than that, I pray for the body of Christ, that all we do in Your name will draw people toward You, rather than push people away.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

A Good Return on an Investment

Today is Saturday, the sixth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,522

Only thirteen more days until S turns 29! Less than two weeks!

We hit a high of 103, yesterday, apparently a new record for that date, as the previous record was 102. That makes 40 days of 100+ temps and six in the current streak. Today’s high is projected to be 100. There are now only four days in the ten-day forecast that are predicted to be below 100. However, the highest temperature in that ten-day forecast is 101. There are chances of rain next Wednesday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for establishing us on the firm foundation of your Word and your promise, your promise that expresses the great longing and hope in so many people's hearts. For they do not want their lives to remain base and petty but want to look toward something higher, rejoicing that the promise can be fulfilled for them. So today we too stand ready for the coming time you are bringing, and we exult in our expectation of the future. We rejoice in the expectation of the time when you will give your Spirit to us and to all those who answer your call and become your helpers. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
(Isaiah 44:22 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord has swept away our offenses like a cloud, our sins like the morning mist
2. for the firm foundation that is His "excellent Word"
3. for the very great and precious promises of God
4. that God was willing to sacrifice His only Son, in order to gain a multitude of children
5. that the designation "child of God" can never be taken away from me

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”
(2 Kings 19:15-19 ESV)

But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.”
(1 Samuel 1:22 ESV)

And Hannah prayed and said, 
"My heart exults in the LORD;
 my horn is exalted in the LORD. 
My mouth derides my enemies, 
because I rejoice in your salvation. 
"There is none holy like the LORD: 
for there is none besides you; 
there is no rock like our God. 
Talk no more so very proudly, 
let not arrogance come from your mouth; 
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
 and by him actions are weighed. 
The bows of the mighty are broken, 
but the feeble bind on strength. 
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, 
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. 
The barren has borne seven, 
but she who has many children is forlorn. 
The LORD kills and brings to life; 
he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 
The LORD makes poor and makes rich; 
he brings low and he exalts. 
He raises up the poor from the dust; 
he lifts the needy from the ash heap 
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. 
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
 and on them he has set the world. 
"He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, 
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, 
for not by might shall a man prevail. 
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
 against them he will thunder in heaven. 
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; 
he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed."
(1 Samuel 2:1-10 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, 
which is yours in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, 
by taking the form of a servant, 
being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 
Therefore God has highly exalted him 
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
 so that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess 
that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 ESV)

I can’t say if I have ever considered this, or been taught this before. I may have forgotten. I am getting on in years, and do forget things that I learned or heard about decades ago. But here we have an apparent “type” of God in Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

The story of Hannah is familiar. She had no children, while Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, had many. One of the times they made their yearly visit to Shiloh, for their sacrifices, Hannah prayed desperately for a son. She vowed to give him up to the service of the Lord.

God heard her prayer, and soon after, she had Samuel, who would become one of the greatest judges and prophets Israel ever saw. She kept her vow, and as soon as Samuel was weaned, Hannah presented him to Eli, the priest, to be trained up in the priesthood.

And then Hannah had three more sons and two daughters.

God Almighty gave up His only Son, Jesus, in order that He would, in turn, receive a multitude of children. I will never look at Hannah in quite the same way again.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022

Father, how can I adequately thank You for this blessing? All the songs in the history of time are not enough to praise You for making me Your son by giving up Your only Son. I am nearly devastated, this morning, as I consider this. It’s not something new to me, of course. But seldom do I simply sit and contemplate the wonder of it all.

Today, You have changed that with the simple story of Hannah and Samuel. Yes, there was a specific purpose for Samuel, as he became a great judge and prophet for Israel. But there is a deeper meaning to the story, as I have been made aware of this morning.

Thank You for showing me this, today.

I pray that I will be a worthy son to You, following in Your paths and obeying Your commands. Keep teaching me, Lord, to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. Give me heart full of peace, that I might love my brothers and sisters as Christ has loved me.

Finally, Father, I pray that You would avenge Yourself. How long will You continue to allow the world to go in the direction it is going? How long will You allow people to attack Your holy Name and claim that You don’t exist, or that You aren’t going to do anything?

I see the prayer of Hezekiah, this morning. You are God, You alone, Lord over all kingdoms of the earth. You are Creator of heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, open Your eyes; hear the voices of those who mock You and Your people. Destroy the “gods” of men, the works of their hands that are not gods at all. Save Your people from the hands of those who would destroy us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


"God will help us, even if it’s in an unexpected and shocking way, by swooping down on us to wrestle with us. And in the midst of the wrestling we, too, will be able to cry out, “Bless me!” I am certain that God will bless me, but I don’t need to know how. When we think we know exactly how the one who made us is going to take care of us, we’re apt to ignore the angel messengers sent us along the way."
(Madeleine L’Engle, from A Stone for a Pillow, today's Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Ambassadors for Christ

Today is Friday, the fifth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,521

Fourteen days until S turns 29!

I’m off to a late start today, because I needed to get a grocery order in for this afternoon. Also, I picked out a couple of new recipes to try next week.

Our heat wave continued with a high of 101, yesterday. That was our 39th day of 100+ temps for this summer, and the fifth in the current streak (the longest streak, so far, was fourteen days). There was no rain, yesterday. However, the high had been forecast at 104, so we caught a slight break, there. Today’s high is also projected at 104, followed by 100 tomorrow. Over the next ten days, the current forecast shows five of them possibly being below 100. However, the chance of rain seems minimal. Yesterday’s record high was 104.

The Texas Rangers managed to win a game, last night, beating the Other Sox 3-2. This makes them 47-58 for the season. They remain in third place in the AL West, 21 games out of first place, and nine games out of the Wild Card race. They play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox lost to the Royals. I need to let that sink in for a second. If that’s how the rest of the season is going to go, it may be best to stop looking. Final was 7-3. The Sox are in last place in the AL East, but would be in third or fourth place in every other MLB division. The AL East has four teams over .500. There are only two other divisions that have three teams, and the other three only have two. Anyway, the Sox are 53-54, 17.5 out of first place, and only four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Royals again, tonight, at 7:10 CDT, in KC.

The Dodgers continue to be the best MLB team, with a 71-33 record, while the Nationals are holding firmly at the bottom, with 36-70. The Padres still have the longest current win streak, at five games, while the Rockies still have the longest current losing streak, also at five games. I’m thinking there weren’t many games, yesterday, because most of these stats seem to be the same as yesterday. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 208 runs, while the Nationals have been outscored by 172. The Rangers are now at -3, and the Red Sox have dropped to -20.

It’s Friday, so I am off work today, and will be back at the library tomorrow in the circulation department.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come to you and seek communion with you because we know that all life comes from you, all progress among us depends on you, and our innermost being can be strengthened through your Spirit. Protect us and renew our strength time and again so that your will may be done among us and we may all find courage for our lives, even when many difficulties loom up around us. Grant that we may remain your servants and go joyfully to meet what is to come. Bless us today and every day according to your promises. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
(John 6:68-69 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the communion with God that is available in Christ and by the Spirit
2. that all life comes from our Father in heaven
3. for the inner strength that comes from His Spirit
4. that God pardons iniquity, passes over transgressions, does not retain His anger forever, and delights in steadfast love (Micah 7)
5. for the light that shines in darkness, and that darkness cannot overcome it

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ESV)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
(Micah 7:18-20 ESV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
(Psalms 31:14-15 ESV)

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.
(Psalms 37:5-6 ESV)

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
(Psalms 118:8-9 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 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 we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 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. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:7-21 ESV)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
(Matthew 6:5 NIV)

What is an ambassador?

When I was a young boy, there was a group in the church called “Royal Ambassadors,” also known as “RA’s.” Apparently, it still exists, for boys in grades 1-6. It was, and still is, a mission-minded organization, designed to help boys develop a “Biblical worldview.” It used to fall under the auspices of the “WMU,” otherwise known as “Women’s Missionary Union.” There used to be a corresponding girl’s organization, which was called “GA’s,” which, I believe, stood for “Girls in Action.” Apparently, they still exist, as well.

I don’t really remember much about the program. And I’m really keying in more on the word “ambassador.” See the verses above in 2 Corinthians 5.

The standard dictionary definition of ambassador is, “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.” The second definition goes like this: “a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.”

Neither one of those definitions fits Paul’s writing, exactly, but if we combine the two together, we might get close. And Webster simply calls it, “an authorized representative or messenger,” which works better, as it doesn’t say anything about a “specified activity.”

We are, says Paul, ambassadors for Christ. We are His representatives or messengers, and I think it’s fair to say that we are even “authorized.”

One of the jobs of an ambassador is to be a diplomat for person or organization/country he or she is representing. So let’s look up diplomat.

“An official representing a country abroad.” “A person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way.” Webster calls it someone who is “skilled in diplomacy,” which forces us to look up yet another word.

Diplomacy is “skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.”

You might already see where I’m going with this.

Basically, I’m getting at what I have been harping about for a while, now, and that is the blatant failure of the “evangelical church” as “ambassadors for Christ.”

As ambassadors, we have several responsibilities. And those responsibilities could easily be summed up by those two greatest commands that I talk about so often. But we also get a great picture of that in the lengthy passage from 1 John 4, above, about loving one another.

And, in Matthew 6, during the first major bit of teaching that Jesus gives His disciples, we learn a lot. We learn that God is not only King, but Father. We learn that “He not only gives all but is all.” (Andrew Murray) We also learn that knowledge of and fellowship with God are truly all the reward we need.

If you think about it, there really wasn’t a lot of teaching on prayer until Jesus hit the scene. We certainly didn’t get any from Moses, or much from the prophets. “It is Christ,” says Murray, “who teaches us to pray.”

He teaches us that we need a “secret place for prayer.” He has also taught us that worship is not confined to a specific time or place, but comes “from within the spirit and life of a believer.”

However, if, during our times of worship, we “are primarily occupied with our own thoughts and exercise, we will not meet Him who is Spirit. But to the one who withdraws himself from all that is of the world and the flesh and prepares to wait upon God alone, the Father will reveal himself.”

What does all this have to do with being an ambassador? I believe that, if we are truly following the teachings of Jesus regarding prayer and worship, that we will be good ambassadors, and be able to represent Christ and His message in a pleasing and positive manner “without arousing hostility.”

Honestly, it seems that some people’s primary goal in life is to arouse hostility. They are not, in my opinion, good ambassadors for Christ.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray that I might be a good ambassador for Christ, in my life. I pray that, as I engage in these daily times of worship and prayer, in my “secret place,” that I would shut out the things of the world, so I can wait on You alone, that You might reveal Yourself to me, fully. Or at least as fully as I can handle.

I also pray for the multitudes that call themselves by the name of Jesus that seem so set on creating hostility in their world. They are always angry about something, and are not, in my opinion, representing You and Christ well in this world. Again . . . I am open to the possibility that I am wrong, and will accept any correction You might send my way. But I pray for a people to rise up and vigorously represent You in this world, showing the world that You are a God who doesn’t hold a grudge, and that You delight in steadfast love.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus.


“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

What Is Fruit?

Today is Thursday, the fourth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,520

Fifteen days until S turns 29!

We hit a high of 104 yesterday (predicted 105), for our 38th day of 100+ for this summer, and fourth in the current streak. It looks like it was a new record high for the day, as the previous record was 102. Today’s high is predicted to be 104, as is tomorrow’s. However, Saturday is currently forecast at 99, and there are three days next week that may be below 100. There is also a chance of rain, possibly, next week.

The Texas Rangers were swept by the Orioles, as they lost, yesterday afternoon, 6-3. Martin Perez did not get the loss in the game, as that was accomplished by bullpen pitcher, Jose Leclerc, who has been disastrous, lately. So the Rangers are now 46-58 for the season, but somehow still in third place in the AL West, now 21 games out of first, and nine games out of the Wild Card race, which is slowly moving out of reach, I believe. Frankly, I sincerely believe it is time for a new manager. They begin a four-game weekend series with the Other Sox tonight.

The Red Sox lost to the Astros, yesterday, 6-1, but won the series. It was the first series win in over a month. They are now back at .500, 53-53, seventeen games out of first, and three games out of the Wild Card race. They begin a four-game series with the Royals tonight.

The Dodgers remain the best MLB team, with a 71-33 record, and now have the most wins of any MLB team. The Nationals are still the worst, at 36-70. The current win streak belongs to the Padres, at five straight wins, and the worst losing streak belongs to the Rockies, also five straight games. The Dodgers have also overtaken the Yankees in run differential, now at +208. The Nationals are still the worst in that category, as well, at -172. The Rangers have dropped to -3, and the Red Sox to -20.

It’s Thursday, so I will be at the library computer center from 11:15-8:15, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Look, Listen, Be, Pray,” by Daryl Madden

Look until you see
Become fully aware
Through the light to view
All surrounding here

Listen ’til you hear
A whisper deep within
To the still small voice
Of stirring to begin

Be until you feel
His grace to impart
His overwhelming love
Let it fill your heart

Pray until you know
His calling to reveal
How God is blessing you
With His love to share

I love the order, here. I really like how “pray” comes after all of the other actions. We are so quick to simply start talking before we look or listen, or even take time to just “be.” Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided above.


Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the blessings you give us on earth, for it is through your gifts and work, and through the work of your children, that we can believe and be saved. Protect us here in our household. Let us make allowances for one another in love and spare no effort to maintain unity in the Spirit through the bond of peace. Grant us new strength and new gifts whenever we need them on the path you have set for us. Grant that we may rejoice and trust in you until we reach the goal. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the blessings we receive from the Lord on earth, so many of which come from our brothers and sisters in Christ
2. for the protection of God in our lives
3. for the bond of peace in the unity of the Spirit
4. for the "light momentary affliction" that is "preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4)
5. for the fruit of the Spirit; may I be faithful in exhibiting that

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
(2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:6-8 ESV)

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:10 ESV)

“Serve nobly, wish for nothing else, and fear nothing else: and let Love freely take care of herself! For Love rewards to the full, even though she often comes late. Let no doubt or disappointment ever turn you away from performing acts of virtue; let no ill success cause you to fear that you yourself will not come to conformity with God. You must not doubt this . . .” (Hadewijch of Antwerp)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
(John 15:16-17 ESV)

What is “fruit?”

When I was younger, it was hammered into me that “fruit” meant new Christians. To the “evangelical” mindset, the only way to “bear fruit” is to go out and talk to people about Jesus. I’ve even heard people claim that the Bible says we are supposed to tell “everyone we meet” about Jesus.

No. It certainly does not.

And that mindset creates a pressure on an individual that I am convinced God never intended. The Gospel is not about peer pressure. The Gospel is not about checking off a box so that we can feel as though we have fulfilled a requirement.

The Gospel is about walking in God’s Kingdom, which is here, now (ever since Jesus arrived on earth), and available to anyone who desires to walk in it.

“Fruit” can mean a number of things. It certainly can refer to new disciples. Jesus did tell His disciples to go make disciples. But a “disciple” is more than just a new convert. Making disciples is hard work. It takes relationship, which telling “everyone we meet about Jesus” does not. Modern-day evangelism seems to think that just ambushing someone with the information that they’re going to hell and Christ died for their sins is all they need to do.

Andrew Murray would not agree, either. Of course, Murray was a huge proponent of intercessory prayer. He wrote a number of books on that subject, and believed that “intercession is the primary power by which God moves and opens heaven.”

I believe that intercession is “fruit.” I also believe that an individual’s character is “fruit.” Up there, Paul said, in Galatians, that we should “do good to everyone.” That is fruit. Paul also gave us a list, in Galatians, of what he called the “fruit of the spirit.”

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Gentleness
Faithfulness
Self-control

Right there is some very attractive fruit, beloved.

And if we were to exhibit that fruit to “everyone we meet,” and “do good to everyone,” we might see a lot more disciples as a result.

That verse up there, from 2 Corinthians 5 should scare us. Paul declares, there, that we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. ALL. I distinctly remember hearing people proclaim, back in my college days, that Christians would not have to face judgment. That’s not what I see in Scripture.

And it is there, that our fruit will be examined, I believe. I don’t believe it will be about whether we “get in” or not. That’s already been decided. That verse is talking about reward, or receiving “what is due” for our actions . . . for our fruit.

Did we do good to everyone? Did we, as Micah prophesied, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly? Did we exhibit, consistently, the fruit of the Spirit?

Or did we complain about every little thing? Did we demand our “rights” and “freedoms?” Did we cast hatred toward everyone we didn’t agree with? Were we abusive toward people?

There’s another little passage in 2 Corinthians 4 that I didn’t share yet. I think now is a good place for it.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
(2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)

Jars of clay are easily broken; they are very fragile. They have imperfections. To say that we are “jars of clay” is not a compliment, just as when Jesus called us “sheep.” But it’s fair and true.

I am easily broken. I am imperfect. And all of this is to keep me humble. And to help me to remember that the “surpassing power belongs to God.”

Today's sources:
YouVersion reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray for Your help to bear more acceptable fruit in Your Kingdom. I acknowledge that, while fruit is definitely more disciples, it is also character traits that I could most definitely do a better job of portraying.

But it pains me, daily, to see the kind of attitudes and actions being displayed by people who claim to belong to You. Conversations that I have had with people who are either not believers at all or struggling believers have been good examples of the truth of this. The attitudes and actions of people who claim to belong to Christ are not drawing people to You; not creating new disciples; not bearing good fruit.

We simply are not being a sweet aroma to You in Christ, not as a unified body. So I pray that Your Spirit would surround us and teach us, Father. I pray that the Spirit of Christ would inhabit Your people and show us how to live and bear good fruit, and produce that pleasing aroma to You.

And if I am wrong, please show me, Father! I am humbly open to correction. All of my thoughts and opinions, though, are coming from reading Your Word and reading others’ commentary on it. As well as from observations in the world around me.

Help us, help me, to do the things that Micah said, to do justice, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly before You. Remind us, daily, that we are but jars of clay, that we are dust, and that we are merely sheep.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

An Aroma of Christ to God

Today is Wednesday, the third of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,519

Sixteen days until S turns 29!

We hit 102 for a high, yesterday, our 37th day of 100+ temperatures for this summer, and third in the current streak. There was no rain, but at least we got a little bit last week. The current ten-day forecast shows some possibility next week, around the weekend. There are three days at the end of that forecast with highs below 100. Today and tomorrow are expected to be 105 and 104.

The great Vin Scully has died. He was 94 years old. He was the broadcaster for the LA Dodgers for, I believe, 67 years.

The Texas Rangers lost again, to the Orioles, this time 8-2. It’s like they’ve given up, or something. But Martin Perez is pitching today (miraculously, they didn’t trade him), so maybe they will win. But they have to score runs to win. They are 46-57 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play an afternoon game against the O’s today, in Arlington.

The Red Sox beat the Astros again! 2-1. Which is why the Rangers are still twenty games out instead of more. and with that, they have won their first series in over a month. They still have one game, but if they lose, they still win the series. They are now 53-52 for the season, but still in last place in the AL East, thanks to the Rangers continuing to lose to the O’s. There’s some kind of wicked trade off going on here. Anyway, the Sox are seventeen out of first, and now only two out of the Wild Card race.

The LA Dodgers are now a full game ahead of the Yankees, with the best MLB record at 70-33. The Nationals continue to hold the worst record, at 36-69. There are three teams sharing the best current win streak. The Braves, Padres, and Reds (??) have all won four consecutive games. The Miami Marlins now have the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +210, but the Dodgers are only five runs behind them. The Nationals still have the worst, at -168. The Rangers have dropped to a zero run differential, while the Sox improved to -15.

It’s my Wednesday to work, so I’d best get moving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we may be your children. We thank you for giving us your Spirit so that we may truly be your children. Gather us into community with you so that our minds and hearts and all that is in us may realize what joy can come to us through your gifts. Though the world today is in turmoil, in doubt, lost in material things, grant us inner quiet to receive from you the power of faith. For through faith we can learn to know what you are and what you will be to all humankind one day, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
(John 1:9-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the true light of the world, Jesus Christ
2. for the joy that comes to us through the gifts of god
3. for the power of faith in a world lost in material things, doubt, and turmoil
4. for the possibility of being "the aroma of Christ to God" (2 Corinthians 2)
5. for the strength God gives us to move forward and not get bogged down in whatever light affliction we may be experiencing

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:15-17 ESV)

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:2-4 ESV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
(Exodus 14:15 ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV)

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV)

I sit here, day after day, doing this ritual of devotion. Not because I want to become famous on WordPress (I don’t mean to brag, but this blog is read by well over ten people, world wide), or TikTok (I have a whopping less-than-three-hundred followers there), but because I desire true fellowship with God in Christ.

This is a place of relative quietness, occasionally disrupted only when S wanders in to see how I slept last night and ask “what’s the plan for today?” It is a place where I can be alone with God and strengthen my spiritual life.

Why do I blog it? I started doing this instead of keeping a handwritten journal, a couple of decades ago. So my “journal” is online instead of on paper. And, I figured, maybe someone might be inspired by my ramblings.

Andrew Murray says, “The superficiality of our Christian service comes from having so little real contact with God.” I believe this. Way back up there, look at that first Scripture that I shared, from 2 Corinthians. See that bit about being “the aroma of Christ to God?”

I read that, this morning, and all I could think about was the number of people out there, who claim to be Christians, who do nothing but whine and moan and complain, as well as spread anger and hatred toward people who think differently about world issues than they. It seems that they are most certainly an “aroma” in this world, but it certainly isn’t a pleasant one. “Stink” is more like it. They are a stink that drives people away from Jesus, rather then draw them toward Him.

Not that I’m perfect, mind you. I complain plenty, although I try to only do that among my immediate family and with the Lord, Himself.

I can’t help but wonder how much “real contact with God” these folks have?

“If it is true that God alone is the source of love, goodness, and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence, His fellowship, and His blessing is our highest joy, then surely to meet Him alone in the morning ought to be our aim.”

I don’t necessarily believe that it has to be “in the morning.” That idea can become quite legalistic, and has been in the past. I mean, I’ve heard sermons that declared that “You must have a ‘Quiet Time’ every morning!” “Quiet Time” was the cliche name that we gave our morning devotional, beginning back in the seventies.

It is important, though, to spend some real time along with God, at some point during the day. It might even be wise to both begin and end the day in such a manner. The ancient folks had this practice at the end of the day, called “Examen,” in which they took a look back at the day, looking over their failures and successes.

Anyway . . . that’s why I’m here. That’s why I do this. I want to be an “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Today's sources:
Daily Guideposts 2022
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, please help me be an aroma of Christ, today, in the world around me. May I be a pleasing aroma to all in the world, to those who are being saved, to inspire them to carry on and move forward in their lives, and to those who are perishing, that I might, in some way, draw them to Christ.

I pray that all who call the name of Jesus would have this same desire, and that Your Holy Spirit would have free reign in our hearts.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Inseparable

Today is Tuesday, the second of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,518

Seventeen days until S turns 29!

I realized early this morning that I totally forgot to update the weather for Sunday. After having a slight relief, as well as some rain, over the past couple days, Sunday was back up to 104 for a high. The forecast had called for 103. Yesterday, we hit right at 100, which was the forecast high. That puts us at a total of 36 days of 100+ temps, and a current streak of 2.

For the past few days, the forecast had called for below-100 temps beginning Friday, for about four days, but that is no longer the case. After projected highs of 103 today and Thursday, and 105 tomorrow, the next seven days are either 100 or 101.

The record high temperature for July 31 stands at 108. Unfortunately, the chart I am looking at doesn’t give me the date for that record.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Orioles, 7-2, last night, and were never really “in” the game. The starting pitcher got pulled from the game after only getting one out in the second inning. Apparently, he had some kind of muscle cramp in his left side. He left the game with the bases loaded and one out. The Rangers are now 46-56 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. Some of these numbers seem to be static, lately. They play Baltimore again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

With the trade deadline looming today, the Rangers traded Matt Bush to the Brewers for one of their top prospect LH pitchers and a utility player.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 3-2. This puts them back at an even .500, 52-52, for the season. They are still in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first, and only three out of the Wild Card race. They play the Astros again tonight, at 7:10 CDT, in Houston. While batting practice was happening, the Sox traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros. That really has to be weird, getting traded to the team you are getting ready to play against, while you are in their stadium.

There’s no loyalty in baseball, any more. We all know that the days of a player playing out his career with one team are long gone. The older I get, the harder it is to be a baseball fan. Sure, the fan loyalty is for a team, but you can’t help but get attached to certain players. As a Rangers fan, my two historical favorite players have been Ian Kinsler (we saw him get his first major league hit with the Rangers) and Elvis Andrus, with whom part of my family had a really sweet encounter the one time we went to Spring Training. Both of them are long gone. Kinsler, I believe, has retired, and Andrus now plays for the Rangers’ rivals, Oakland.

The LA Dodgers continue to be on top of MLB, by mere percentage points, with a 69-33 record. The Nationals remain on the bottom, at 35-69. The Mets still hold the longest current win streak, at seven games. The Pirates retain the longest losing streak, also at seven games. The Yankees hang on to the best run differential, having outscored their opponents, now, by 212 runs. The Nationals, on the other end, have been outscored by 172. The Rangers are now at +6, and the Red Sox are at -16.

It’s Tuesday, so I will be working at the library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving books and/or DVDs. This is my “heavy” week, so I will also be working Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then, I have the dreaded colonoscopy scheduled for Monday, so Sunday is going to be super-weird, as I cannot eat any solid food after noon on Sunday, and have to drink the yucky prep stuff during the evening, and will likely not get very much sleep that night.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Father in heaven, we thank you that we may feel your leading, your lordship, for you have blessed us with every spiritual and heavenly gift in Christ. We thank you that we may be among those who receive true life always anew, who praise and glorify you, exulting even in difficult days. For it is just in the difficult days that we need to belong to those who are thankful and joyful, who always find new certainty in their lives. With them may we experience the good you give on earth so that humankind may be blest and come at last into your hands. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I feel; this may sound vague, but I mean more than just physical sensations; I am grateful to be able to feel anything, whether it be physical or emotional
2. for the lordship and leadership of Christ in my life
3. that no matter who rejects me in my life, I am always accepted by God, in Christ; in Him, I belong
4. that, in Christ, we also have a family that can never be separated; the bond of the blood of Christ is permanent and unbreakable
5. for forgiveness; may I be faithful to forgive as I have been forgiven

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV)

The “evangelical” church of today has most definitely shifted away from this mindset.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV)

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
(Ruth 1:14-17 ESV)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
(Luke 15:20 ESV)

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
(John 16:22 ESV)

“Be on your guard, therefore, and let nothing disturb your peace. Do good under all circumstances, but with no care for any profit, or any blessedness, or any damnation, or any salvation, or any martyrdom; but all you do or omit should be for the honor of Love.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
(Mark 11:25 NIV)

Through the Scriptures found above, we find a community that is inseparable. While we may be separated, physically, at times, the bond of the blood of Christ goes far beyond physical distance, and it even goes beyond the constraints of time. In Him, we are included in the family, the community of saints, past, present, and even future.

This is, indeed, a somewhat mystical concept, but I believe in it, wholeheartedly. Every time I take the Supper, I think about the spiritual connection with everyone else who has ever taken the Supper. There are many saints who have passed on, yet we are still connected with them.

And, as Ruth clung to Naomi, and refused to leave her side, we have that kind of connection with the community of saints. And that connection remains, even if we don’t like each other very much. There are a handful of people that I don’t care to spend any time with. But they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and that bond is unbreakable, and, in that, I love them.

The word for today is “belong.” And I can see that idea running through several of the Scriptures that are shared today. The Church (the true body of Christ, not the institution made up by men) is a place where we belong, we can feel included. The Church should be a place where all feel welcome, regardless of race, sex, class, or anything. We should bond together the way Ruth and Naomi bonded. We should feel the same way about each other that Paul felt about the Corinthians, that our suffering can result in the comforting of other people.

We can “do good under all circumstances, as suggested by Hadewijch of Antwerp, and not care the slightest bit about any reward or recognition. Because we belong.

And, also because we belong, we can obey the command of Jesus in Mark 11:25. If I am praying, and I remember that I’ve got something against a brother or sister, I am commanded to immediately forgive that person.

“In prayer everything depends upon our relationship to God being clear. Our relationship with others must also be uninhibited. Love for God and love for our neighbor are inseparable; prayer from a heart that is not right with God or that cannot get along with others can have no real effect. Faith and love are interdependent.” (Andrew Murray)

We know the truth, that if God dealt with us according to what our sins deserved, not only would our prayers not be heard, we probably wouldn’t be alive. “The ground for answered prayer is God’s forgiving love.”

“If an injury or injustice is done to us, we must seek first of all to maintain a Christlike disposition – to be kept from a desire to defend our rights or to punish the offender.” (Emphasis mine)

Because we are accepted in this community of faith, because we are accepted by Christ, because we “belong” and are inseparable, we can truly live a life as suggested by Andrew Murray and Hadewijch of Antwerp.

I’m not sure what it would take to see the contemporary church live up to this, but, beloved, we are a long way away from it.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray for myself, just as I pray for the Church, that we would be able to obey the commands of Jesus and live the kinds of lives that are suggested by Andrew and Hadewijch. The community of faith is severely divided. We need unity, badly. We seem to have fallen into the “me-verse” that the rest of the world has fallen into. The sad thing is that there are many alleged atheists who are doing a better job of taking care of others than the church is. That ought not be, Lord.

Please help us come together. I pray, if necessary, that pruning be done, and I believe that this is already happening, as people seem to be leaving the institutional “evangelical” church in droves. I believe they see through the facade and are tired of the “me-centricality” that is going on, right now.

We need to care more for one another; we need, Father, to obey the commands of Jesus to love You and love others. We need to exercise this truth of acceptance and belonging so that we feel like a community of saints, not a smattering of individuals doing their own thing.

Along with all of that, though, please help me to forgive those who are working against the unity that we need. I am struggling with that, Father, so I need the help of Your Spirit in this.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

God’s Goodness – Greater Than Our Failures

“Anyone who is truly faithful will know that the goodness of his Beloved is greater than his own failures.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

Today is Monday, the first of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,517

Eighteen days until S turns 29!

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. I finished a PS4 game that I had been playing for a long time. It was one of the most difficult games I have ever played, but I stuck with it and finished the story. Then, later, I finished a book, as well.

The Texas Rangers beat the Angels 5-2 to win the series. So they are back, again, at nine under .500, 46-55. They are still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and 7.5 out of the Wild Card race. The trade deadline is tomorrow evening, and I’m waiting with great apprehension to see if they trade Martin Perez, the only decent starting pitcher they have, right now. Maybe that’s not fair . . . Jon Gray is pretty decent, but Perez has been stellar, this season. They begin a home stand, this evening, with a three game series against the Orioles. That should be interesting, seeing how the O’s have been surging, recently.

The Boston Red Sox managed to win one game out of three against the Milwaukee Brewers, winning yesterday 7-2. The Red Sox lost or tied every single series in the month of July. They are 51-52 for the season, still in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first, but only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race. That AL East division is something, this year. They begin a series this evening, unfortunately, against the cheaters in Houston.

The Dodgers continue to have the best MLB record, by percentage, at 68-33. The Nationals, back to losing, still have the worst record, at 35-68. The New York Mets have the longest current win streak, at six games, and the Pirates are still on that losing streak, now at seven games. The Evil Empire, though, still has the best run differential, at +207, and the Nationals remain on the bottom with -168. The Rangers are at +11, and the Red Sox are at -17.

Today being Monday, I am home all day, as I always have Monday off.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, bless us all through your Spirit, that we may find certainty of heart in community with you under your rulership. May we keep this certainty, whatever course our lives may take, whatever battles and suffering may come to us, for we belong to you and you rule and guide us as your children. Watch over all who are still far away from you but who long for you. Watch over all who are good-hearted and sincere, even if they often do not understand you. Protect them, and let your kingdom come so that your will is carried out more and more by the many who feel compelled to seek for you and for the goodness and truth which are your will. May we and many others serve you with our whole lives. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
However, as the scripture says, "What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him." But it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit. 
1 Corinthians 2:9–10a, TEV

Today I am grateful:

1. that I finished a really hard video game, yesterday (not everything in life is spiritual, you know)
2. that I inherited a love for reading from my parents, and they nurtured that within me
3. that God watches over all of us, even those who refuse to acknowledge Him
4. the God has blessed us in Christ "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3)
5. that the goodness of God is greater than my failures

So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
(2 Kings 13:20-21 ESV)

See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
(Isaiah 49:16 NLT)

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 NLT)

I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
(Psalms 116:1 NLT)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
(Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV)

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 6:9-15 ESV)

“Anyone who is truly faithful will know that the goodness of his Beloved is greater than his own failures.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

That quote from Hadewijch of Antwerp is a game changer. How often do we wallow in our failures, believing that we have somehow managed to mess up God’s plan for our lives?

Beloved, we are not that powerful.

We need to take to heart so many different verses from God’s Word that reassure us. In Isaiah 49, the people of God thought that God had forsaken them and forgotten them. Part of His reply was verse 26, in which the Lord says, “I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

The passage in 1 Peter 5 assures us of His care for us, and reminds us that “at the right time,” if we humble ourselves before Him, He will lift us up. Humility and patience are necessary, both of which seem to be in short supply in our culture, these days. We are then admonished to give all our worries and cares over to Him, because He cares for us. It’s a simple word, “all.” The Greek word is pas. The meaning is given as, “including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:—all (manner of, means), alway(-s), any (one), × daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no(-thing), X thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.”

So, what part of “all” do we not understand?

And guess what!! When Paul says that God has blessed us with “every spiritual blessing,” it’s the same Greek word. Pas! All!

“Life and blessing are inseparably intertwined. Abiding in Christ means abiding in the heavenly places and in all the spiritual blessings with which God has blessed us in Him. Faith in Christ is meant to be nothing less than unceasing dependence and fellowship with Him and receiving from Him every grace the soul can possibly need.” (Andrew Murray)

Just as I need air for my physical life, I need fellowship with Christ for my spiritual life. And God, in Christ, has provided me with everything I need. It is truly possible, as Dallas Willard wrote a book about, to live a “life without lack.”

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
(Psalms 34:1 ESV)

If we believe we are lacking in something, perhaps we need to spend more time in the “adoring worship of the Holy Trinity. It is upon God the Father, who has blessed us in Christ Jesus that our expectations rest. It is in Christ that blessing is to be found if we continue in close and unceasing fellowship with Him. It is through the Holy Spirit that the presence of the Father and Son in divine power can be known and experienced.” (Andrew Murray)

Through this, though, let us not underestimate the importance of forgiveness. And I speak of our forgiveness of others more than God’s forgiveness of us. That forgiveness is also inseparably linked to our spiritual lives, as Jesus stated at the end of His “model prayer.”

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emelie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I recognize the need to be in continuous fellowship with Jesus, for my own good. I know, in my mind, that You have blessed us with all the spiritual blessings we need in order to have a great life and relationship with You. The question becomes, how do I so easily forget this on a daily basis? How do I get so caught up in things that simply do not matter?

Oh, they might matter right at the moment, as somethings do. But they do not matter in the “big picture” of spiritual life with You. They are small things, “footstool problems.”

So help me to be more aware of this, and to always be, in some way, worshiping You, the Son, and the Spirit, in my life.

I thank You that You have given us everything we need. I praise You that Your great, infinite goodness is bigger and more powerful than any of my failures. That one is really huge, because I know that there have been times when I foolishly believed that I had messed up Your plan for my life. But I know that You are much wiser and have infinite knowledge, so there’s no way that could happen.

Thank You for the way You care for us, and help us to always cast those cares upon You, rather than trying to carry the weight of them ourselves.

Also, please help us to always be forgiving toward others. I cannot pretend to completely comprehend those frightening words of Jesus, concerning forgiveness. But I do, to a degree, understand the importance of extending grace to others, just as You have extended grace to us. That parable about the guys who owed money to another is pretty clear about that.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.