Your Life Is A Miracle

Today is Thursday, January 21, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,960

The work week has gone pretty smoothly, this week. I don’t know if it is because it hasn’t been quite as busy or if my mindset has been better. I do believe it is a bit of both, as I have been trying to approach each day with a better frame of mind.

Yesterday, especially, as I began thinking about this concept of the “footstool.” (You will have to read yesterday’s post to get that.) Truthfully, yesterday was one of those rare days when I actually succeeded in thinking about my morning devotional frequently throughout the day. That concept and its ramifications continue to have my spiritual head spinning. In a good way, mind you, as I am thoroughly enjoying this.

Nothing really special going on around here, this week. For a moment, yesterday, I thought that I had a therapy session this evening, but it is next Thursday. I will probably get in a walk on the treadmill, this evening.

And for some reason, my coffee is extra good, this morning. I’m drinking Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend, purchased from Coffee Icon.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Giver of all good things, we thank you:
for health and vigour,
for the air that gives the breath of life,
the sun that warms us,
and the good food that makes us strong;
for happy homes and for the friends we love,
for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,
by cheerfulness and kindliness,
and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received;
 let us freely give,
in the name of him who gave his life for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  
Amen. (Giver of All Good Things, Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For Colossians 3:1-2: “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”
  • That You have done great things for us, which fills me with joy
  • That the heavens declare Your glory; how I love to look up!
  • The reminder, this morning, that I am in Your presence
  • That my life is a miracle; I will cease taking it for granted

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 16

INVITATION

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:3 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
(Psalms 19:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.
The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
(Isaiah 62:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read and ponder these passages, this morning, I am initially struck by the contrast. The psalm speaks of the heavens declaring the glory of God, while the Isaiah passage speaks of the “land,” part of the earth.

The heavens reveal knowledge; without words or speech, the proclaim His glory. I know this to be true. I have stood out on the balcony of a cabin in Glen Rose, and looked up. With no light pollution, the stars are magnificent! I love to look up!

There are probably a number of ways that people interpret this passage in Isaiah, and most of them, I dare say, are probably wrong. He is speaking, in this passage, to Israel. I believe, however, that it can also apply to the Church.

If we perceive of the Church as the Bride of Christ, it certainly can apply. Our “Builder,” who is Christ, will marry us. Our God will rejoice over us! Verse 2 carries some excitement for me, for some reason. “You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.”

No longer will we be called “Desolate” or “Deserted.” Instead, we will be called “Hephzibah?” Wait, what? According to one reference, that name is only seen twice in the Old Testament. Once in this passage, and once in II Kings 21:1. Apparently, she was the wife of Hezekiah.

However, the name literally means, “My delight is in her.” Hence, the last part of verse 4, “for the Lord will take delight in you.” The other name in that verse, “Beulah,” translates, according to one reference, as “espoused,” or “married.”

So, all of this relates to the final scenes of the book of Revelation, I think, as we see the Church, the Bride of Christ, finally being married to our Savior, our Bridegroom.

Looking at these things in light of yesterday’s reading about the footstool, brings even more meaning to that idea for me. These are eternal ideas, things that will take place after this “footstool,” along with its “footstool issues,” is gone.

Father, I praise You for the picture that is given in this passage in Isaiah, a joyful, positive, encouraging picture of our future with our Savior! May I rejoice in this truth, especially when confronted with the footstool problems that I will encounter in this brief, twenty-four-hour period. This problems hold no weight in eternity. These problem have no bearing on my eternal life. Help me to remember that as I walk through this day.

"Jesus,
the way,
the truth,
and the life:
you have called me to love you
with all that I am - 
heart, soul, mind, and strength -
and then to love my neighbor as myself.
How can I fulfill this call
but to be filled with your delight in me
and humbled by your sacrifice for me?
In that gospel joy I live today.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 4)

BLESSING

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)


Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
(Exodus 15:11 NIV)

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 NIV)


“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
(John 3:16-17 MSG)


Today, Jonathan Cahn would have us consider the rock. Not the Rock, just a simple rock, picked up from the ground. It has no heartbeat, no life. It just is.

As we contrast that with ourselves, we see a vast difference. I have a heartbeat. If my heart ceases to beat, I, at least physically, cease to exist. My soul/spirit goes on, of course, but that is a different discussion.

“Rocks just exist. But life never just exists. It must strive to exist, fight to exist. Your heart must keep beating, every moment of your life. Even if you do nothing, your heart beats. Even when you sleep, it keeps beating every moment so that you can remain alive. If you waste your moments on earth, still it beats that you can waste your time. When you sin, when you gossip, when you covet and hate, still it beats while you do so. When you weep, when you give up hope, still it beats so that even in your tears and despair, it still fights for you to live and to be able to cry.”

“Your life is a miracle. Your every moment is a miracle. Your joys are a miracle. Even your tears are a miracle. Your life is a gift from God. Every moment is sustained by Him. Every moment is a miracle.”

“You cease taking your life for granted. You stop wasting it, mistreating it, treating it as something less than the miracle it is. You cease to allow your life to be given to sin and what is less than God’s will. You treasure the existence with which you were entrusted. You stop throwing away your moments. You treat your life and your time on earth as a treasure. You treat your every moment as if there was a heart beating behind it, striving for that moment to exist. In short . . . you live a life worthy . . . of every heartbeat.”

The Mission: Live this day in the miracle of your existence. Take account of every heartbeat and make your moments worthy of each one.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
(Psalms 139:14-17 NLT)


Father, this book continues to throw my for spiritual loops. Today, may I not take this miracle of life from You for granted. May I look at every event as some kind of opportunity to shine in Your grace and mercy, and to glorify You in some way.

Lord, I also pray today, that You would give me, as well as the rest of Your Church, eyes to see Your work in our world around us. Help us to look for Your hand in all things around us, rather than looking for things to complain about and be unhappy about. There is too much good in this world, Father, too much YOU, to spend our time in negativity! I pray for Your care and comfort in this world that is physically decaying. Your creation groans, as it awaits the coming of Your Son.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Footstool

Today is Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,959

Yesterday evening, after dinner, I got on the treadmill again, and walked through a “foresty” path in Costa Rica, ending up at a lovely, blue waterfall. The walk was just under thirty minutes and involved walking intervals, five minutes of more intense walking, followed by two minutes of slower walking, repeating that, and then switching to intervals of one minute intense, two minutes slower, for three more times. The faster walks were around three to three and a half miles per hour, which is a pretty good clip for a walk.

I learned, also, how to keep up with the treadmill on a walk that fast. You have to swing your arms faster. That sounds like it would happen without thinking, but I’m not used to walking that fast, and I’m also not used to walking that fast on a treadmill, which gives you no grace, like solid ground does. I have to be careful, or I will find myself in the bookshelf behind the treadmill.

I’ve scheduled my six-month check up at my doctor’s office. Once again, I am excited to appear there, and show them my progress. There’s the weight loss, and then my blood sugar, in my home tests, has been averaging below 95, which is great. Some mornings, like today, it is even below 90. I’m hoping they will reduce my meds.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.
(1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For a new day in which I woke up, alive and breathing
  • That the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, in whom I take refuge
  • That Jesus will bring the best to my life
  • My coffee
  • That this earth and its problems is only a “footstool”

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 15

INVITATION

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:3 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
(Psalms 18:1-6 NIV)

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
(Psalms 18:16-17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
(John 2:1-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Psalms like the one above are among my favorites. I love the passages that use language like this, stating that God is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my refuge, and other such words. He is my strong tower; when I stay in His shelter, I am safe and protected from all things. Even pain and death cannot truly harm me.

A word that draws me in, in the passage from John, is the word “best” (verse 10).

Dallas Willard once said that Jesus was the smartest person who ever lived. That’s not something we often consider, but it has to be true. In the case of the Cana wedding, He changed the molecular structure of the liquid in the stone jars. He not only changed the water into wine, it was the best wine that had ever been made.

The Bible doesn’t say that last bit, but I have to believe it is true. If Jesus made it, it would have been the best. At any rate, the master of the banquet declared it was the best wine of the evening.

When we invite Jesus into our lives, as He was invited to this wedding, He will bring the best to our lives. I know . . . this may sound cheesy, but bear with me. Also know that I am not a fan of the concept of “inviting Jesus into your heart.” That idea is found nowhere in Scripture.

When I step into the “easy yoke” with Jesus, at His invitation, I also invite Him to have control over my life, over my circumstances, and over the burdens that I bear. He is the stronger person in this yoke, so my burden immediately becomes easier, lighter. And He proclaimed that His burden is light.

He will bring the best to my life, more than just what is good. Sometimes, we settle for “good” when we could have had “best.” Walking with Jesus will bring us the best of whatever it is that we get.

This doesn’t mean that we will have the best car or the best house. We’re not talking material things, here. However, if my perspective is changed by the Holy Spirit, perhaps the car and house that I have are the “best” . . . for me.

Father, thank You for being my rock and fortress, my refuge to whom I can run and take shelter. Thank You for the “best” that Jesus brings to my life, especially when I acknowledge this and walk with Him in that easy yoke. Help me stay in that yoke with Him, and not step out on my own, thinking I can do an okay job of things. Because inevitably, I will mess it up.

"Joyous God,
I confess my disordered heart seeks out joy
in so many dead ends.
Remind me today of the primary purpose
of my life - 
to glorify you and enjoy you forever.
You make that easy because you have
replaced tired religion with gospel joy.
You are the Lord of the feast.
Amen."
(Westminster Shorter Catechism 1)

BLESSING

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)


“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
(Mark 10:14 NIV)

Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:4 NIV)


“God’s acceptance of a man is for God’s own reasons, and he will not be dictated to by our own ideas of who is fit for the fellowship of his house.” (Eugene Peterson, in A Month of Sundays)


Scripture speaks of the earth as God’s “footstool.” Heaven is His throne, and earth, His footstool. Consider this:

“You live in a footstool world. The earth is just a footstool. It isn’t the place on which you can rest all your weight or your well-being. Its possessions are only footstool possessions. Its issues are only footstool issues. Its problems are only footstool problems. And its glory is only a footstool glory. You don’t sit on a footstool; you just place your feet on top of it . . . on top of its problems, on top of its issues, on top of its glories. You rest your feet on it . . . lightly. That’s the way one must live in a footstool world.”

The Mission: Today, see the world and everything in it in a new way, as the footstool world, with only footstool issues, and live accordingly.”

Lord, today, as I walk with Jesus, may I have fellowship with Him, the risen Christ. Help me to be continually mindful of His presence with me. Give me spiritual renewal and refreshment, even throughout the anxieties and burdens of a day at work. May You also strengthen and refresh Your Church.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

But Still He Loved Me

Today is Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,958

Jumping right into the devotional today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, 
I have sought you. 
I became weary and I labored. 
O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and 
never to cease seeking you. 
Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance.
 Give me the strength to seek you, 
for you help me to find you and you have more and more 
given me the hope of finding you. 
Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. 
Preserve the first and heal the second. 
Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. 
Where you have opened the door to me, 
welcome me at the entrance; 
where you have closed the door to me, 
open to my cry; 
enable me to remember you, 
to understand you, 
and to love you. 
Amen.
(Prayer to Seek God Continually, St. Augustine of Hippo)

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For this time of quiet and meditation, this morning, seeking Your face in the Scriptures
  • That, because of the work of Christ, You have probed my heart and found it to be clean (this is stated in great wonder and humility, not in pride)
  • That, in spite of all of my sins, You still loved and continue to love me
  • That You are showing me the higher path, day by day

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 14

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of David.
Hear me, LORD, my plea is just; listen to my cry. Hear my prayer— it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.

Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed.
Though people tried to bribe me, I have kept myself from the ways of the violent through what your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
(Psalms 17:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
(John 1:43-51 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The connection between these two passages is stunning. The psalmist writes, “Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed.” (Verse 3) Then, in the passage from John, Jesus speaks of Nathanael as “an Israelite in whom there is no deceit” (verse 47).

Of whom can it truly be said, “”My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled?” (Psalm 17:5) I don’t feel that I could honestly declare that. At least not in totality. My feet are still on His paths. But I have most definitely stumbled, and there have been days/weeks (months?) when my feet weren’t anywhere close to the paths.

Yet He has continued to love me. I was reminded of an old choir solo/anthem that I have loved for years. “But Still He Loved Me.” I tried to find a decent video of it on You Tube, but didn’t find any that I liked. The song is from the perspective of one of the soldiers who participated in the torture and crucifixion of Jesus. After everything this man did to Him, at the end, “but still He loved me!”

Nathaniel. A little sarcasm in his response to being told that Jesus was from Nazareth. Not that there was anything wrong with Nazareth. Nazareth, you see, was simply an insignificant little town. Pretty much nothing came from Nazareth, good or bad.

Nathaniel, resting under the fig tree. Jesus saw him there, even before Philip told him. Jesus probed his heart, just like the psalmist wrote, and found no deceit in him.

And then, when Nathaniel proclaims the truth before Jesus Christ, Jesus tells him, “You will see greater things than that.”

The psalmist prays for the Lord to show him the wonders of His great love. He then proclaims, “you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.”

Father, I praise You that, because of the work of Jesus, when You probe my heart, You find it to be clean from sin, because Jesus, by His sacrifice, has erased my past. I thank You that You have and will continue to show me the wonders of Your great love, and that You have saved me with Your righteous right hand. I take refuge in You, my God! I hide in the shadow and shelter of Your wings. What can man do to me? And, in spite of that past, which Jesus erased, You still love me!

"Living God,
your knowledge of me is infinite
while mine of you is tiny.
The mysteries of your being and your ways
are always beyond me.
So in humility and reverence,
help me to rest content as a follower of Jesus.
Give me the loving trust to learn
what you show me in your Word
without going beyond those limits.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 13)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”
(John 14:1 NLT)

And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NLT)


The Hebrew word for climbing or going up is aliyah. It is also the word used to describe the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as well as when the Jews returned to land of Israel in the mid-twentieth century. The Aliyah.

But this word has spiritual meaning as well. What is our Aliyah?

“Your life. Your entire life is the Aliyah. Your life is a journey, but in God it is to be an upward journey . . . an ever higher ascending. How do you do that? The same you you ascended the mountain. Every day you will be given choices. Every choice will give you the chance to go lower, to stay the same, or to go higher. Choose the higher path, even if it’s harder, take the highest step . . . let each of your steps be higher than the step before it, each of your days be higher than the day before it. And you will end up walking on mountain heights . . . and your life will be an Aliyah.”

This reminds me of what a former pastor, Joel Engle, called “the one-percent grade.” The level of the increase is not so important, as long as we are, in our lives, making progress and going higher.

The Mission: Today, choose the higher step, the higher act, the higher ground, the higher path in every decision. start making your life an Aliyah.”

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NLT)


Father, teach me to go higher. Today, as I walk through this day, on this journey, show me the higher path, the higher action, that my life may truly be an Aliyah!

Lord, I pray, this morning, that the Church of Jesus Christ will flourish, in our land, and in this world . . . everywhere. I pray for all of Your followers who are musicians and artists, that their talent would be multiplied and that grace would flow from their fingers and voices, from their pens and paint brushes, and whatever else their medium of choice. And for those who have made it to retirement, or are close to that point in their lives, may You show them the next step in their ministries for You. I longingly look forward to that day, myself!

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

“What Do You Want?”

Today is Monday, January 18, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,957

Today is the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle.

Today is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the U.S.A.

Nothing much happened, to speak of, yesterday. It was a pretty chill day. C and I finished The Night Stalker on Netflix, a short mini-series about the reign of terror of Richard Ramirez, during the mid-eighties. His eventual take-down and capture is one of my all-time favorite true crime stories.

On August 31, 1985, Ramirez got off a bus in East LA, after having visited a relative. As he went into a liquor store (which was surrounded by newspaper displays bearing his photograph), he was recognized and pointed out. So he ran back out and got back on the bus. People on the bus began to recognize him. He ran across a freeway, into a residential area, tried to steal two cars (unsuccessfully), and was eventually chased down by the residents of the neighborhood, beaten with metal rods, and kicked as he lay on the ground. Had the police not shown up to arrest him, the mob may have actually killed him.

I played the guitar a little bit more, last night, and it didn’t hurt as much as the previous day. Oh, and my new walking shoes arrived, so I walked on the treadmill for about twenty minutes. I plan to keep working on the guitar fingers.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For a new work week, full of opportunities to serve and worship
  • For the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., in fighting racial prejudice in our country
  • That “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)
  • That You have become our Yeshua, “our rescue, our help, our freedom, our healing, our victory, and our salvation” (Jonathan Cahn in The Book of Mysteries)
  • That You have made known to me the path of life, and that there is fullness of joy in Your presence (Psalm 16:11)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 13

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

A miktam of David.
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
(Psalms 16:1-2 NIV)

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
(Psalms 16:5-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
(John 1:35-42 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The first thing that draws me in, this morning, is the last verse of the psalm.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

The ESV is translated like this:

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

NLT, like this:

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

A slight difference in each translation, but pretty much the same meaning. I celebrate the fact that my Father shows me the path of life; He directs my steps, especially when I am paying attention to Him, but isn’t it possible that He directs my steps even when I’m not listening to Him? Food for thought, there.

But my favorite part is that bit about fullness of joy in His presence. That is such a complete thought, such a glorious truth. There is joy in His presence, and not just a little bit, that might leave me unsatisfied. There is enough; fullness of joy! Lasting joy, not fleeting happiness. And then, we see, not only joy, but pleasure! Eternal pleasure; pleasure forevermore!

Honestly, one thing I don’t ever remember hearing about in church was pleasure! In fact, almost the opposite was preached. If there was pleasure in it, it was probably sinful, right?

But my Father gives me pleasure in His presence! Fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore!

In the Gospel reading, I am initially amused at the reaction of Andrew and the other disciple. Upon John’s recognition of Jesus as the Lamb of God, they begin to follow Him. Whether they were following at a distance or closely, we aren’t told.

Whatever the case, though, Jesus notices, turns around, and asks them, “What do you want?”

The best they could come up with was, “Where are you staying??”

Obviously, they had not thought that through. I have this humorous picture in my head of them stammering like little kids who got busted doing something wrong. Truthfully, they may have not been all that old, anyway. We aren’t really sure how old they were when they became disciples of Jesus.

And, to be fair, I may not have done much better.

Whatever the case, Andrew figured out quickly that Jesus was someone special, because he went and grabbed his brother and said, “We have found the Messiah.” Andrew becomes the first “missionary.”

“What do you want?”

Is it possible that Jesus asks us that question every day? What do you want?

How do you answer it?

Father, as I ponder that question, many things come to mind, some worthy, some not. I quickly shove aside those that are mundane, or possibly even just a bit evil. I push away the ones that are worldly or material. This leaves thoughts such as, “I want to be more like You.” “I want to shine out into the world with Your love and compassion.” “I want to show people the same grace that You have shown me.” Work in me today, Lord, to be more cognizant of the answer to that question.

"Lord God,
given the chance,
I choose to be my own master,
following my own way.
Thank you for calling me to Jesus,
drawing me into fellowship with him
where I know your approval and experience
the grace that changes and keeps me.
I glorify you.
Amen."
(Canon of Dort 1.7)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 NIV)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 12:13 NLT)


The name we see as “Jesus” came from the Hebrew “Yeshua.” This was translated into Greek as Iesous, which then became the English, Jesus. Yeshua “literally means God is my salvation. The ancient hope was that one day God would become our Yeshua. And so He has. Yeshua means God has become our rescue, our help, our freedom, our healing, our victory, and our salvation. God has become Yeshua to become the answer to every need. So the key is to take every need in your life and join it to that name, to Yeshua, one word . . . and the answer to everything.”

The Mission: God has become your Yeshua, the specific answer to your deepest needs. Let that get inside your heart and live accordingly.”

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
(Exodus 15:2 NLT)

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.
(Psalms 118:14 NLT)

See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”
(Isaiah 12:2 NLT)

And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:21 NLT)


Father, I praise You that You are our Yeshua, “our rescue, our help, our freedom, our healing, our victory, and our salvation.” May we all walk in these truths today, and whenever we feel a need, may we acknowledge that You are the answer to that need.

Lord, may we all walk in wonder at the sacrifice made for us by Jesus Christ, especially that part where our sins have been erased from our history. May we also live with the capacity to suffer as others suffer, to empathize with their pain and suffering, and to share their joy as well, even if it threatens to make us envious. I also pray, this morning, for all people who suffer from some kind of mental health issues, as well as those who care for them. May they find peace today.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Past Is Gone

Today is Sunday, January 17, 2021, the second Sunday after Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,956

I lost 2.2 pounds at my weigh-in at WW, yesterday morning, which negated the weight gain over the previous two weeks. I know need to lose 1.4 to hit that 100 pound mark! But I am not hyper-focused on that. I know I will get there, and beyond, so it’s really not important when that happens.

I have a doctor checkup in a little over a month. I’m hoping that my meds will be reduced, this time. I’m also hoping that, when I go back again this coming August, maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to get off of the diabetes medication, at least.

As far as my final weight goal, I don’t have a projected time frame on that, just yet, although it would be nice to be there by the end of 2021.

The rest of yesterday was pretty much nothing. I did spend some time messing with ProTools, but nothing productive happened. I also played the guitar for a few minutes. My fingers have gotten so soft, that was all I could do. Small steps, right?

C is feeling better, this morning, she says. She is hoping to get a walk in today. I’m supposed to get a new pair of New Balance walking shoes today. If they fit, I plan on getting back on the treadmill for a walk.

We have our Zoom worship gathering, this morning at 10:15. We will be beginning with Acts 24. We usually manage to make it through a couple of chapters. We should finish Acts next Sunday. So far, there has been no talk of where to go next.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
(Psalms 50:14 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That I am immersed in Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwells within me
  • That You show no favoritism (and expect the same from us)
  • That in Christ, You have not only forgiven my sins, You have changed my past: my sins are not just forgiven . . . they are GONE
  • For our future in Christ, for our reward in heaven, unchanging, imperishable, and eternal

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 12

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
(Psalms 15:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
(Acts 19:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I try to “dwell” in these passages, there are mixed thoughts and feelings. Psalm 15 has always unsettled me a bit. It sounds like you have to be perfect to “dwell in [God’s] sacred tent.”

A blameless walk; only doing what is righteous; speaking truth from the heart; uttering no slander; doing no wrong to a neighbor; casting no slur on others. That’s a hefty list, there.

And then there’s that bit about despising a vile person. That seems to fly straight against everything Jesus teaches us.

But wait, there’s more. Keep your oaths, and even it hurts or causes you loss, don’t change your mind. Lend money to the poor without charging them interest, and don’t take bribes against the innocent.

I won’t try to reconcile all of this, today. I’m not that wise. But I will say that I believe that, in Christ, if we truly follow Him and walk with Him, then we can fulfill these requirements. My walk is “blameless,” if I am following Jesus, because my sins are forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west. (For more discussion on that topic, see this previous blog post.)

I will say that I have caught myself loathing one whom I perceive as “vile.” But it makes me feel uncomfortable. Because Jesus says to love my enemies. I think that’s one of the reasons that we struggle with the psalms that fall in the category of “imprecatory.” You know, the ones that call upon God to bring down judgment or curses on our enemies. Psalm 137 is a classic.

Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
(Psalms 137:8-9 NIV)

I could never pray for that to happen to anyone!

The other passage, at least this morning, doesn’t draw me in, really. I do note the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism in Jesus.

John’s baptism was one of repentance. That is what he called the people toward. “Repentance” is often misconstrued as only being sorry. That’s not the only meaning of the word. I am not called to simply be sorry for my sins. I am called to turn around, to go a different direction. To change my mind about something.

In John’s case, he called people to change their direction, in preparation for the One who was coming, who would bring the Gospel.

The baptism of Jesus is one of freedom. In Jesus, because we have repented, changed our minds, turned around, we are forgiven and free. We are also empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

I’m sure an official “theologian” could do much better than me at explaining this.

Father, I thank You for the two baptisms. I thank You for the call to repentance, which can only be successful if You gift me with the act of repentance. I cannot do this in my own strength, because, if left on my own volition, I would continue down a path of sin. As it is, I still struggle with sin, even in my redeemed state. If it were not for Your grace and gift of repentance, my path would be totally wrong. I thank You for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, and for the freedom that His baptism provides. I also praise You that, in Christ, as You look at me, You see one who is wearing the righteousness of Him, and therefore, walks blamelessly. May my walk truly be blameless, though, that I might be worthy of the name of Jesus.

"Abba Father,
I praise you that I enjoy
all the freedom and privilege
of being your child - 
your name,
the spirit of adoption,
unhindered access to you.
I'm pitied,
protected,
and provided for,
disciplined but never cast off,
kept for eternity where I will
inherit the promise of your everlasting salvation.
Amen."
(Westminster Confession 12)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
(James 2:1 NLT)

“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”
(Deuteronomy 10:17 NLT)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
(James 2:9-10 NLT)


Let’s go back and consider Psalm 15 again. Specifically that part about walking blamelessly.

When Jesus turned water into wine, His first recorded miracle, He did more than change the flavor of the water. He even did more than change the molecular structure of the liquid.

He changed its past!

You see, good wine (I’m not a wine connoisseur, by any stretch . . . not even that fond of it) has to age. It has a past. When Jesus turned the water into wine, He gave it a new past.

Can a piece of cloth that has been dyed with color be turned white again? I think that would be very difficult, if not impossible. That cloth’s past is, by human terms, permanent.

Yet, in Christ, something happens to us, something miraculous.

“If God can give a past where there was no past, then He can remove a past where there once was one.”

When our sins are forgiven, something more happens. We aren’t just forgiven. Our past is changed! “God doesn’t just forgive the scarlet cord or pretend it isn’t scarlet. He changes its past and, by that, changes its reality. He undyes it.” (Emphasis mine)

When I was growing up, I used to hear a preacher say, in defining the justification of God, that being justified meant that it was “just as if I’d” never sinned. Clever and cute.

And also not quite accurate.

This is important. Perhaps more important than I have ever realized until this morning.

“It’s not just as if we never sinned but in His redemption, it has become that we’ve never sinned. In salvation, the impossible becomes the reality, the guilty become innocent, the tainted become pure, the rejected become those who were always beloved children, and our sins, which were scarlet, become . . . as white as snow.” (Emphasis by author)

The Mission: Soak in the undyeing. Receive from heaven your changed, innocent, pure, and beloved past, a past as beautiful and as white as snow.”

And maybe this sheds a little more light on the difference between John’s baptism and Jesus’s.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
(Luke 7:37-47 NLT)

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
(1 John 1:8-9 NLT)


Father, this truth is affecting me, this morning. Perhaps I have never considered that, in freeing me from my sins, in forgiveness, that You literally changed my past. It is not as if I had never sinned. The fact that I sinned was erased! My feeble brain cannot wrap itself around this truth very easily. I need time to consider it, ponder it, chew on it. But I thank You and praise You for the truth. Help me to live in it and walk in it, as well!

Lord, as we cry out to You, may You uncover the idols that reside in my heart. If there is anything in my life that takes precedent over loving You, please remove it. May I truly know and experience Your forgiveness, and may I also be faithful in extending that same forgiveness to anyone who has wronged me in any way. Help me to show the same kind of grace that has been extended to me. I thank You, Father, for the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lamb

Today is Saturday, January 16, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,955

After a day of The Running Nose, I’m feeling quite a bit better. There must have been a higher level of Mountain Cedar in the air, yesterday, and this seems to happen roughly once a week, lately. I woke up sneezing and sniffling, and my nose ran pretty profusely all day. I got little to no relief from any over the counter meds that I took. I didn’t feel terrible. And there was no fever, or even a cough.

I got a good night’s rest/sleep, and am breathing fine, so far, this morning. C, on the other hand, has a bit of a cough. No other issues, though. She can still taste and smell, and there is no fever. She says it feels more like asthma. Nevertheless, she will not attend our WW Workshop, this morning. S isn’t going again; she still doesn’t care for the mask. I will be by myself, today.

As far as what I am expecting, weight-wise, today, I’m thinking it will be close to what it was before I gained for two consecutive weeks. Possibly a little below. I’m not stressing about it.

As of right now, that workshop is the only thing planned for today. And that’s the way I like my weekends.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people, not diminish them; I will honor them, not despise them.
(Jeremiah 30:19 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For the weekend, to rest and refresh for the coming work week
  • For the peace that passes understanding, as I channel my anxieties through the Holy Spirit
  • That I am Your son, whom You love
  • That by Your Spirit, I may call You “Abba! Father!”
  • For a lifetime of graces, and the memories that accompany them
  • For the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 11

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the LORD.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
(Psalms 14:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
(Matthew 3:13-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read this passage, I am drawn to several things. One is the mystery of verse 15. “Let it be so now,” says Jesus. “It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” I’m looking at other versions of this verse. The NLT says, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” Eugene Peterson, in The Message, says, “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.”

I believe both of those translations give it additional, valid meaning. This is the beginning. It all starts now, with the baptism. Jesus needed no baptism, for He had no sin. But it was something that had to be done, a sort of “inauguration,” if you will.

The other thing that draws my attention is in verses 16 and 17. As soon as He was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended, looking like a dove, and then the voice came. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Here, we have what may be the first appearance of the Holy Trinity, all three persons appearing simultaneously. Jesus, the Son, the Spirit as a dove, and the Father as the disembodied voice.

What a glorious moment!

The world as we know it was changed forever, at that moment. God, the Triune God, has revealed Himself in His fullness, to mankind.

Father, I thank You for this revelation in Matthew’s Gospel. There will be other instances where something similar will occur. I praise You for the mystery of the Holy Trinity. I will never fully comprehend (at least this side of heaven) this mystery, but I accept and embrace its truth and its glory. I also pray, Lord, that someday, You might be able to say of me what You said of Jesus, that day, that I am Your son, whom You love, and that You are well pleased with me.

"Gracious God,
to think you have declared me the object of your affection!
Thank you for the wonder and power of my baptism,
how your Holy Spirit has descended upon my life,
washing me clean from all my sin.
Stamp on my heart
my new identity as your dearly love child
through the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 34)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


You will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see . . .
(Isaiah 62:2-3 NLT)

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David. See how I used him to display my power among the peoples. I made him a leader among the nations. You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”
(Isaiah 55:1-13 NLT)


Today’s reading in The Book of Mysteries speaks of a Hebrew word, taleh, which means “lamb.” Jonathan Cahn speaks of the significance of the lamb throughout biblical history.

But the word, taleh, also means “covering.” “The Lamb will be our covering.”

“What the lamb means is this: There will be One who is entirely pure, innocent, without blemish, without evil . . . and this One will give His life to save those who are not innocent.”

“The mystery of the lamb . . . is the mystery of God. The mystery is that God will give His life to save us. For God is love. And the nature of love is to give of itself. The Taleh, the Lamb . . . is God.”

The Mission: Today, live in the spirit of the Lamb. Let everything you do be done in love. And live to make your life a blessing to others.”

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.
(Isaiah 53:7 NLT)

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
(1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT)

Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
(Revelation 5:6-13 NLT)


Father, thank You for the Lamb. Help me to live in the Spirit of the Lamb today, doing all that I do in love, with a sense of service to others.

Lord, I pray for all communities, both locally, and nationwide. May we join together to help one another, and may we be encouraged to cry out for help, when needed. Prompted by my devotional, today, I pray for the continent of Antarctica. While it may be populated mostly only by research staff, they need prayers, too, especially in such a lonely, cold, and often dark environment. May Your Spirit be active in their lives. Finally, I lift up our government services, that they may continue smoothly and uninterrupted, throughout the coming transition of Presidents.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Choose Kindness!

Today is FRIDAY! January 15, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,954

Yesterday was one of those day. One of those “orange” days. But at least this time, there was a reason. Not a good one, mind you. It all started with Facebook. Go figure. Read something that I disagreed with. If that wasn’t enough, I read the comments. Then there were little things at work that aggravated the already souring mood.

But at one point, I stopped and cried out to God. The slide was arrested. The day was still a struggle, but it got gradually better. Then, about thirty minutes before time to go home, I returned to my workstation to find a little note that someone had made on a label maker.

“Have a blessed day, Jeff!”

A dear friend had stealthily blessed me.

God and I had a conversation on the way home from work. Some progress was definitely made, and maybe even a decision or two. More on that, when it’s more firm.

I finished a book, yesterday. It was number 17 in The Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher. Battle Ground. It was pretty fierce. And it made me cry at the end. Actually, it also made me cry in the middle, too. Part of this was because I really thought (although why, I’m not sure) that this was the last book in the series. But I checked the author’s Internet site and he has an estimated eight more planned. And that’s good, because there were definitely some loose ends to tie up at the end of this one. I’ll be posting a review, this weekend on my other blog.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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)

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
(Hebrews 13:15 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • That it is Friday!
  • For the peace that passes understanding
  • For Your unfailing love
  • For the baptism of fire (Luke 3)
  • For the opportunity to choose kindness over evil
  • That someone chose kindness to me, yesterday
  • That You called me out of darkness, into marvelous light

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 10

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 13 (NIV)

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.

BIBLE READING: LUKE 3:15-17 (NIV)

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

My thoughts, this morning, are captivated by both readings. In Psalm 13, I was especially caught by verse 2. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” Now, I don’t have sorrow in my heart every day, necessarily, but I assure you, I most definitely “wrestle with my thoughts,” pretty much every day. That is what causes those moods like I had yesterday. That is why I’m seeing a therapist.

But I am also looking to God for answers, and Psalm 13 is an excellent passage to pray back to Him. I am, as anyone who has read this blog for very long will know, very much in favor of praying Scripture back to God, especially Psalms. They are, by inspiration, His very words. So why not pray them back to Him?

But then, verse 5 comes along. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Yes. Amen. So be it.

In the other passage, which is almost the same as the passage read yesterday, the word “fire” catches my attention.

All John can do is immerse in water. But One is coming; One who has more power than John. Water can only wash off the outside dirt. But the Holy Spirit has access to the heart and soul, our very being. And fire, used in the casting of precious metals, melts down the metal, separates it from the “dross,” or impurities, and allows it to be molded into a different shape.

But then the fire has a different purpose. The “chaff” is the hull of the wheat, that which is inedible. The fire that cleanses, purifies, and helps to mold us, will burn up and consume the chaff.

Father, I thank You that, when I wrestle with my thoughts, I can bring them to You, praying Your own words back to You. I pray for this constant immersion in the Holy Spirit, and that You would continuously “baptize” me with fire, always cleansing the dross from my heart and my soul. All glory to You, Lord!

"Holy God,
you promised the renewing presence of the Holy Spirit,
and today I ask you to fill me again.
Renew my life,
deepen in me a humble repentance for my sins,
and empower me to pursue a holy life.
May your beauty in my life
be obvious to all.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 70)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:21 NIV)

She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
(Proverbs 31:12 NLT)

Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.
(John 5:29 NLT)

She must be well respected by everyone because of the good she has done. Has she brought up her children well? Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?
(1 Timothy 5:10 NLT)

Every day, we have multiple choices to make. Will we choose kindness? Or will we choose to be unkind? I daresay, I have made both choices multiple times, throughout the day.

Yesterday, a friend chose kindness in leaving that little note for me. It blessed my soul, and it completed the turnaround from the morning’s mood.

We have the ability and opportunity to be kind to someone today, and to have a drastic impact (we never know how much that can be) on their life.

Choose kindness.

Holy Spirit, help me to choose kindness today. Every time.


Jonathan Cahn, in today’s reading, discusses something that I have been fascinated with for a number of years. That being the difference between the Western day and the Hebrew day.

Our day, in the West, is typically though of as going from day to night. Our “day” begins in the morning and ends in the night.

But the Hebrew day began at sunset. Why? Look at Genesis, friends. When God created the world (and this is not a debate about how long it took), “evening and morning were the first day.”

Words are important. Evening came first. Thus, the Hebrew day begins at sundown.

Says Cahn, “The children of this world live from day to night. But the children of God live from night to day. They are born again in the darkness and move to the day. And if you belong to God, then that is the order of your life. You are to go from darkness to light, from weakness to strength, from despair to hope, from guilt to innocence, from tears to joy, and from death to life. And every night in your life will lead to the dawn. So live according to God’s sacred order of time . . . that your entire life be always moving away from the darkness and to the light.”

The Mission: What darkness is in your life, the darkness of fear, of sin, of problems, of gloom? Today, turn away from it and to the light of day.”

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
(Genesis 1:3-5 NLT)

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalms 30:5 NLT)

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
(Ephesians 5:8 NLT)

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 NLT)

Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
(2 Peter 1:19 NLT)


Father, thank You for the truths learned today, and the inspirations that will color and affect my life today. May I constantly live as though moving from darkness to light, as You have called me out of darkness into Your marvelous light!

Lord, I thank You for the calling You have placed on my life, to follow Christ in my home, my neighborhood, and my workplace. Strengthen me to fulfill that calling today. Give us all a better capacity to serve the “common good,” and not just our own desires. I also pray for those who work in service to others would be lifted up and made strong for their daily tasks.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends!

Kiss

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), January 14, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,953

C is up early, this morning, as she has to actually go to the office, today. The boss wants to have an in-person meeting with a few of them. The animals aren’t quite sure how to deal with this.

I did not work out on the treadmill, last night, as my feet and legs were a little sore. I have also determined that I need a new pair of walking shoes to use on it, so I’ve ordered a new pair of New Balance shoes for that. They should arrive on Sunday.

Early this morning, I had another one of those episodes where I got up to use the bathroom at 3:36, and couldn’t go back to sleep. My sleep graph (Fitbit) shows me being awake for three different stretches, 12 minutes, 20 minutes, and 14 minutes, between 3:36 and 4:28. There were two small lines of sleep, 2 minutes and 3 minutes, in the middle of that. It’s quite frustrating. Yet I don’t feel tired or sleepy, this morning. I have speculated that I might not need as much sleep as I thought.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.


(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
(Colossians 4:2 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For our technology, which allows us to reach people in ways that we never could before
  • That, though this world seems to be falling apart, things in God’s Kingdom are better than we could ever imagine
  • For trees
  • For dogs and cats, even the one that just jumped up on the desk, between my monitor and me
  • For Jesus’s command to love one another as He loves us; Lord help me do better at that
  • For the physical resources that God has provided us, in His creation

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 9

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 12 (NIV)

For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.

May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—
those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.

BIBLE READING: MARK 1:4-8 (NIV)

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The first thing that I get from this passage is “not worthy.” John may be knowledgeable about his role in God’s purpose, but he has no delusions about his importance in the big picture. He proclaims that he is not worthy to even stoop down and untie the sandals on Jesus’s feet.

We would all do well to mimic John, at this point. We tend to get a heightened sense of our own importance, even to the point that we believe the world revolves around us and our plans and desires. “Needs” don’t even really enter into the picture, as we, as a society, seem to have firmly confused “want” and “need,” for a while now.

I am not worthy.

But Jesus has made me worthy. And that is something to proclaim with humility, not pride. I have done nothing to merit God’s grace and mercy. It is only the sacrifice of Jesus that makes me worthy of anything at all.

The second thing I see is “baptize,” and “baptism.” I’m not going to debate whether the physical act of water baptism is necessary to be saved. I’m merely talking about the word, this morning.

The word means “immerse.” What John tells us, is that when Jesus comes, he will baptize, or immerse us, in the Holy Spirit.

That is just something that I will ponder today. (Hopefully, I will . . . I am depending on Him to remind me, throughout the day.)

Father, I thank You for the work of Jesus Christ, the only thing that has made me worthy of any of Your gifts to me. I do not think myself worthy of anything that You have done for me. I do not overly denigrate myself, but I certainly am comfortably aware of my unworthiness in Your kingdom. I also thank You for the Holy Spirit, and the fact that Jesus has immersed us in Him. Help me to be more aware of this immersion, and take it seriously, seeking His help, day by day, minute by minute.

"Triune God,
every day as I wash up or do dishes,
I have a fresh reminder of your baptismal promise:
as certainly as water washes away dirt,
so does the blood of Jesus and his Spirit
scrub away my soul's stubborn stains -
all my sins.
Thank you for immersing me into Jesus,
his sacrifice for me,
and his everlasting life.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 69)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
(Matthew 25:40 NLT)


One of the Greek words translated as “worship” in the New Testament is proskuneo. The word means “to kiss.”

“True worship is to kiss. And what does that reveal? What is a kiss? A kiss is the most intimate of acts. Therefore, worship is to be the most intimate thing you can experience.”

We “kiss” God from our hearts, from our innermost being. And not because we have to, but because we want to. We also kiss out of joy, and most importantly, out of love.

True worship is an expression of love.

The Mission: Today, draw near to God in worship, in love, in joy, in the deepest of intimacy. Learn the secret of kissing God.”

I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.
(Psalms 42:7-8 NLT)

Young Woman: Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.
(Song of Solomon 1:2 NLT)

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
(John 4:24 NLT)


Father, as I walk through this day, and the challenges it will bring, may Your Spirit remind me to kiss You frequently, from the depths of my soul and being. May I truly worship You with my life, every minute of every day.

Lord, I pray for the role humanity has as caretakers of this world You have given us. Help us to be better stewards of it, and all of the physical resources that You have provided to us, along with Your creation.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

East and West

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), January 13, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,952

I used our new treadmill again, last night. I think I may have finally landed on a plan, but it’s not what I would call a “routine,” just yet. There are some evenings, when I get home, that C has dinner ready, since she is working from home, still. Last night was one of those. We had our awesome Rotel chili, last night.

We had our dinner, watched an episode of “The Crown,” and I was ready for a workout, since it was maybe a few minutes after 7:00 PM. I did a roughly twenty-five minute walk around the Charles River, with a guide telling me historical tales of how Cambridge and Harvard University were started. It was a nice walk, not too challenging, but still useful, and the information was both entertaining and kept my mind off the fact that I was exercising. It was a perfect kind of walk as I begin to acclimate myself to the usage of the exercise equipment. The first two that I tried were a little too intense for beginning.

On nights when we cook something after I get home, I probably won’t do a walk on the treadmill, because, when I did that Monday night (after we cooked Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken), I wound up getting to bed later, after eating, working out, showering, and so on.

It’s a work in progress.

Tonight, we will probably have crock pot soup, so I will more than likely get in another walk. I’m hoping that this sudden increase in movement will help me get past that one hundred pound weight loss mark, this coming Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the LORD with these words: “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD.
(2 Chronicles 5:13 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For Your never-ceasing grace in my life
  • That this is a day that You have made, and You are actively working in it to make Your purposes come to pass
  • That it is possible to walk closely enough with You that we can know which path to take
  • For the forgiveness of sin, and that my sins are removed from me as far as the east is from the west
  • That You have placed us in community, that we might be able to help share one another’s burdens

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 8

INVITATION

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 11 (NIV)

For the director of music. Of David.

In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 2:19-23 (NIV)

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are a couple of things that speak to me, in this passage, this morning.

First, is the instructions Joseph receives in dreams. First, it is to tell Joseph that it is safe to return to Israel. But then, once they get to Israel, there is another dream warning them not to return to Bethlehem, but to stay in Galilee, in the town of Nazareth.

Which leads to the second thing, which is the same as yesterday’s. “Fulfilled.” God is working His purpose out (sounds like a hymn). It is my belief that He does nothing without purpose. He is not like we humans, who are constantly diddling around, doing useless things.

That’s not necessarily a criticism. I don’t think that it is possible for every single thing I do to have life-affecting significance.

But God is different. He is “Other.” He does not think like us, which is, quite obviously, a really good thing.

Have you ever had a dream from God that has given you instructions? I have not. At least not that I know of or remember. But what if we walked so closely with God that we were able to get instructions from Him in that way or similarly? What if we walked so closely with God that, when a fork in the road came, we just knew which way we should go?

I believe this is possible. I am far, I think, from that place in my journey, but I believe that it is possible.

These two ideas are related, in my mind, as well. Because, if I walk closely enough with the Lord that I am constantly hearing His voice, receiving His instructions, and following them, then the majority of the things that I do would be fulfilling His purpose, as He is constantly fulfilling His purpose.

Father, as I walk through this day, help me to be more aware of, not only Your presence, but Your guidance, as well. My heart’s desire is to walk closely enough with You that, whenever a choice of direction arises, I will simply know which path to take, because You have shown it to me. In addition, I pray for the faith to believe and follow when You do show me the way. And then, my life will be fulfilling Your purpose, not only for me, but for Your creation.

"Lord Jesus,
the thought of angels can seem sentimental or fanciful.
But maybe they're the best explanation
for those late night dreams,
those murmurs of something more.
How much of reality do I miss simply because
I fail to acknowledge unseen hosts?
Thank you for your angelic messengers
who do your bidding and serve your people.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 12)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)


Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 NLT)


Okay, here is some philosophical wonderment for you. Something mystical to ponder for your day.

“How far is the north from the south?” he asked. “It’s finite. All north comes to an end at the North Pole. And all south ends at the South Pole. If the Temple had been built on a north-south continuum, then sin would have been removed a few thousand miles from the sinner. But how far is the east from the west? East and west have no poles. Therefore, they never end. East and west are infinite. They go on forever. In fact, the Hebrew word for the east, kedem, also means everlasting.

“So in Messiah, how far does God remove your sins from you? An infinity away . . . an eternity away. And if you had all eternity, you could never find them again. As it is written, ‘So far has He removed our sins away from us . . . as far as the east is from the west.'”

“The Mission: Today, take time to ponder and take in the love of God that removed your sins as far as the east is from the west – and live accordingly.” (Emphasis mine)


Father, I thank You for these truths today. And may I truly ponder this mystery of “kedem,” the fact that east and west are infinite, which means that my sins are infinitely removed from me, never to be seen again. Help me to truly believe this, rejoice in it, and celebrate it. And then, help me to walk in that truth!

Lord, I pray that I, as well as all of Your children, might experience the joy and hope of the resurrection in their lives today. And I pray for opportunities, courage, and strength to share the Gospel of the living Christ, as I walk in this journey.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
(Psalms 103:10-12 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fulfilled

“The greatest possible manifestation of love has already manifested . . . on our planet . . . God has put Himself in our place. and so there is no greater love . . . no greater love you could ever know. When you feel it and when you don’t, it doesn’t matter – it doesn’t change anything. Nothing you can do can alter this love. No good work can increase it. And no sin can lessen it. When you feel it and when you don’t, it’s there nonetheless. We cannot change it – we can only receive it and be changed by it. We can only let it change us. For the greatest possible love has already been manifested. God has come down. It is only for us to receive it and to do likewise.”

Today is Tuesday, January 12, 2020.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,951

We continue to enjoy the new treadmill in the house. I’m afraid C is going to use up all the videos by the end of the week, though. Not really . . . there seem to be thousands, and I hope they are constantly coming up with new ones. They would have to be to justify the price for the membership. However, our first year is free, so we will decide by 2022 if we wish to pay for it. I’m impressed, I have to say. However, their insistence that your trainer/guide has to talk non-stop throughout the entire workout is somewhat annoying. Sunday evening, I hiked part of the way up Mount Fuji, and yesterday, I walked through a park in Utah. Both of those are still a tad more intense than I want to start with. The park in Utah had a steep hill that the trainer went up and down about four times. And at one point, I figured out how to slow down the speed, because it was going a bit too fast for me. That was a very fast walk. But, fortunately, you can manually change the speed to a more comfortable pace. At 3.5 mph, I felt like I was going to wind up in the bookshelf behind the treadmill, especially when the incline went up to 10!

Well, time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, so I’d best get started on the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!”
(1 Chronicles 29:13 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For the assurance that Your will is going to be accomplished, and that no power in all creation can thwart it
  • For Your great love, manifested in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
  • For the fact that there is nothing that I can do that can change that love, either for the better or the worse
  • For the admonition to love one another as You have loved us

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

EPIPHANY – DAY 7

INVITATION

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. . . . The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Titus 2:11, 13 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 10:1-6, 14 (NIV)

Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 2:13-18 (NIV)

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The word that stands out to me, in this passage is “fulfilled,” seen in verse 15 and 17. There are many places in the stories of Jesus, where that word is used to indicate what prophecy He was fulfilling at the time.

But I see something a little bigger, there. I’ve never been one who is obsessed with prophecy, because I take seriously the proclamation that no one will know the day or the hour that the Son of Man will return. We are simply told to be ready.

But what I get out of this reading today, is the assurance that whatever God has planned for Creation, the universe, the Earth, the USA, Texas, Fort Worth, and little ol’ me, is going to be fulfilled! There is no question about it.

God will do what He says He will do, and His plans and purposes will not be thwarted. His will is unchangeable and eternal, and it will come to pass.

There are, of course, times, when I have to step back and reassess my own “will,” in order to get to align with what has become apparently His will. There are also times when I may not like His will, at least at first. But I can assure you that the Holy Spirit will help me acquiesce.

Father, I thank You for this assurance that Your will is going to be accomplished, fulfilled, regardless of any external circumstances. This give me great comfort in the midst of pandemics and election turmoil. No matter what happens in this world, or in Washington DC, or in Fort Worth, Texas, I can be sure that Your will is alive and well in all creation, and that all creation still sings Your glory and praises! I do pray that my will will always line up with Yours. Change me where it doesn’t, and help me accept Your will, whatever it appears to be.

"Jesus our Master,
with evil intent
many would till like to do away with
any recognition of your reign.
However,
we faithfully call on you,
worship you,
and serve you as the King of kings
because you are the true eternal God,
the Almighty.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 10)

BLESSING

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)


I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
(Isaiah 65:24 NLT)

How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
(Psalms 36:7 NLT)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NLT)


“The greatest possible manifestation of love has already manifested . . . on our planet . . . God has put Himself in our place. and so there is no greater love . . . no greater love you could ever know. When you feel it and when you don’t, it doesn’t matter – it doesn’t change anything. Nothing you can do can alter this love. No good work can increase it. And no sin can lessen it. When you feel it and when you don’t, it’s there nonetheless. We cannot change it – we can only receive it and be changed by it. We can only let it change us. For the greatest possible love has already been manifested. God has come down. It is only for us to receive it and to do likewise.”

“The Mission: Today, practice the divine and cosmic love. Put yourself in the place of another – your feet in their shoes, your heart in their heart.”

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:12-13 NLT)

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
(Romans 5:6-8 NLT)

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 NLT)


Father, help me to do this today. Thank You for the love already manifested to us, both in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the arrival of the Holy Spirit to be our helper. Now, help me to walk in someone else’s shoes today, to put myself in their place, to understand where they are, maybe even how they got there. But at least help me to try to comprehend, and, thus, show compassion for their lot in life, no matter what the circumstances.

I also praise You for the truth that there is nothing I can do that can cause You to love me more than You already do, and nothing I can do to cause You to love me less. Thank You, my Father!

I pray for true worship, in spirit and truth, that glorifies You, as well as gathering, uniting, and blessing Your people. I pray that Your Church would be a place where people can experience love, care, and community. I also pray, where applicable, that those in charge of church finances will be good stewards of what has been entrusted to them.

Even so, come quickly, 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.