Be An Encourager

Today is Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Third week of Advent.

Day 22,196

SIX DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
P.J. O’Rourke, American political satirist, 1947-
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is joyance, “joyous feeling; gladness.” (Dictionary.com)

I got my thing cooked for our company’s potluck last night. It’s a “Pull-Apart Crescent Christmas Tree.”

It was supposed to have chopped fresh parsley sprinkled on it, but that was too hard to do. Chopping parsley leaves isn’t as easy as you might think. So C came up with the idea of sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top. The crescent rolls are cut in half, rolled up with Boursin Garlic and Herb Gournay cheese in them. I hope they taste as good as they look. I tasted the cheese while I was making them, and it’s really good. The recipe is linked above.

C had a good time at her dinner. She brought home some of her $55 dollar steak, a bone-in ribeye. I had a bite. It was quite tasty. I think it had Gorgonzola cheese on it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
Psalm 109:30

Today I am grateful:
1. That I enjoy cooking. I had a really good time making that Christmas tree last night.
2. For the songs of the season. For some reason, I have “Holly Jolly Christmas” as an earworm, this morning.
3. For the grace and mercy that the Lord has lavished on us.
4. People that I love in my life.
5. Photographs of memories.

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Praise, Song of the Three Young Men, 29-34)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:19-25

A brief reminder, this morning, that we need to be encouraging one another. Not just other believers, either. There are a lot of people out there who need some encouragement, especially during this time of year. And especially when we are tripped up by some circumstance in life. So often, we act like we have it all together, when, in reality, we do not.

So, may we find ways to encourage someone today. And may we also be encouraged as we know that “he who promised is faithful.”

Father, remind me, today, when the pressures begin, that You are faithful in keeping Your promises. Then, remind me to encourage people in any way I can, rather than tear them down or show them their mistakes. Sometimes, we have to point out mistakes, but we can be gracious about it. Help me be an encourager today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Advertisements

ASK!!!

Today is Tuesday, December 18. Third week of Advent.

Day 22,195

SEVEN DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!! One week!

“We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt.”
Walter Scott, Scottish novelist, 1771-1832
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is lachrymiform, “Having the shape of a teardrop.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Tonight, C has a work dinner thing. It’s their annual leadership team Christmas dinner. She gets to have dinner at Truluck’s Seafood and Steak House. I don’t know what S and I will do, but I bet it involves Sonic.

I’ll be cooking my appetizer for tomorrow’s potluck at my work. The company is bringing in turkey and ham from a BBQ restaurant (because that’s all anyone knows how to have catered in Texas), and we have to bring sides. This is in lieu of them giving us either a turkey, a ham, or a $15 gift card for Christmas. In other words, they aren’t “giving” us anything at all, because we’re having to provide food for the potluck. Don’t get me started. I’ll still eat it, because it will be “free” meat.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
Psalm 108:3

Today I am grateful:
1. For dear friends and family in Christ. People I can pray for, knowing that they are praying for me when I need it, as well. We have one who will be going in for a full body PET scan, this morning. We are praying for his cancer to be gone.
2. For hope in a life everlasting. I have a cousin who lost a young niece to cancer this week. There is hope in the face of tragedy.
3. For the Psalms. Oh, the treasure that God has given us in those songs and prayers!
4. For the challenges God brings my way. Some of them I overcome, some of them I don’t. But I learn from all of them.
5. For things that make me laugh.

III The People of God

Let the people of God glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O priests and servants of the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Doxology

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 
Mat 7:10  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:7-11

Short and sweet. Great promises in this passage, but there is a condition. ASK!! And, dear brothers and sisters, this is true all the more for each other! God knows what we need, before we ask. But I don’t! Your brothers and sisters don’t! Don’t sit back and wait for someone to figure out what is wrong and minister to you! Ask!

There is no shame in admitting to one another that we need prayer. None at all. We are so proud, sometimes, and we don’t want to seem weak. But if I don’t know you need help, I can’t help you. If you don’t know I need help, you can’t help me. So part of the obedience of this promise from Jesus is that we ask.

Ask God. Ask each other. But ask.

Father, may You help us all to feel free to ask one another when we need prayer. May we feel free to ask You when we need something. It’s simple, yet so hard, sometimes. My problem is that I often feel that my needs are too trivial for You to care about. In my heart I know that is wrong, though. So teach me to pray in all circumstances.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

He Who Dwells . . .

Today is Monday, December 17, 2018. Third week of Advent.

Day 22,194

EIGHT DAYS until Christmas!!!

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, English botanist, 1825-1895
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is grinch, “a person or thing that spoils or dampens the pleasure of others.” (Dictionary.com)

We had very nice day, yesterday. The worship gathering went quite well. C spent a large part of the afternoon in the bathroom. Working. She was working. She finished painting the walls, which look very nice. She found that the light fixture and mirrors that she had gotten wouldn’t fit quite right, so she returned those and ordered more.

I had a nice conversation with my mother, part of which included discussion on our plans for the Christmas weekend. Our decision was that we will go to Mineral Wells on Christmas day. R & J will come to our house Christmas Eve evening (she has to work Christmas Eve, and I might have to) and spend the night. We’ll get up and have our traditional Christmas morning, then go to Mineral Wells for lunch. We’ll all have to go home that evening, because we all have to work the next day. That’s what happens when Christmas falls in the middle of the week.

We’ll have Christmas dinner with C’s sister and family on Sunday evening, December 23. If I don’t wind up having to work on Christmas Eve, that day will be a nice relaxing day with nothing going on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 107:1

Today I am grateful:
1. That I started doing this, because it forces me to be intentionally grateful for something every day.
2. For wrapping Christmas presents. I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy doing it, because it’s a symbol of the giving and I think about each person for whom I am wrapping a gift. I got all of mine wrapped yesterday. Except for the four in this box I just saw on the floor to my left.
3. For collections of prayers by the saints of old, so I can learn from them.
4. For baseball. I’m missing it right now, but still basking in the Red Sox World Series win.
5. For faith and hope that makes it possible to keep on in times of trouble.

II The Earth and its Creatures

Let the earth glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams,
O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild,
and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord,
praise and highly exalt him for ever.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psalm 91:1, 9-10

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Psalm 27:8

How does one “dwell in the shelter of the Most High?” How does one seek the face of Him who cannot be seen? How does one make the Lord his dwelling place?

These are valid questions. We often speak of the “face” of God. But this is what “they” call anthropomorphism, “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.” God is a spirit. He has no “face.” But even He speaks of His own face in scripture.

And where does God “dwell?” He’s everywhere. There is no place that I can go where He is not also there.

I’m about to paint myself into a corner, so I’ll stop with the philosophical questions. The point, here, is that, in order to truly seek God’s face, and to truly dwell in Him, we need to find time and space where we can be truly alone with Him. Jesus said, at one point, that we are to go into a closet to pray, rather than pray out in the open, to be seen by others.

I’m still seeking that “special” place where I can be alone with God. Sure, I’ve got this study, in the morning, but I’m not really alone. C is there in the next room, getting ready for work. And she likes to talk in the morning. I’m certainly not going to discourage that. I also have my morning drive to work. I’m “alone,” true. But not really, because there are hundreds of other cars on the roads at the same time, and I have to pay attention to them. I need to find a spot where I can go, not necessarily every day, but at least once a week, maybe; a spot to be in solitude, as well as silence, when necessary. These are important disciplines that we can utilize to “meet God,” to “seek His face,” to “dwell in Him.”

Great God,
In public and private, in sanctuary and home,
may my life be steeped in prayer,
filled with the spirit of grace and supplication,
each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood.
Help me, defend me, until from praying ground I pass to the realm of unceasing praise.
Urged by my need,
invited by thy promises,
called by thy Spirit,
I enter thy presence,
worshipping thee with godly fear,
awed by thy majesty, greatness, glory,
but encouraged by thy love.
I am all poverty as well as all guilt,
having nothing of my own which to repay thee,
But I bring Jesus to thee in the arms of faith,
pleading his righteousness to offset my iniquities,
rejoicing that he will weigh down the scales for me,
and satisfy thy justice.
I bless thee that great sin draws out great grace,
that, although the least sin deserves punishment because done against an infinite God,
yet there is mercy for me,
for where guilt is most terrible,
there thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep.
Bless me by revealing to me more of his saving merits,
by causing thy goodness to pass before me,
by speaking peace to my contrite heart;
Strengthen me to give thee no rest until Christ shall reign supreme within me,
in every thought, word, and deed,
in a faith the purifies the heart,
overcomes the world,
works by love,
fastens me to thee,
and ever clings to the cross.

(The Valley of Vision, “Meeting God”)

Father, show me to a place where I can be alone with You for an extended period of time. I have some ideas, but have not yet managed to find the place. Am I afraid? Is this the dreaded pusillanimity in me? What do I have to be afraid of?? I pray that I might find this place, that I might truly seek Your face in uninterrupted silence and solitude, that I might then be an interactive part of my world, displaying for all Your mercy and grace and love.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Constant in Prayer

Today is Sunday, December 16,2018. Third week of Advent.

Day 22,193

NINE DAYS until Christmas!!!

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Yogi Berra, US baseball player, coach, and manager, 1925-2015
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is vivify, “to enliven; brighten; sharpen.” Also, “to give life to; animate; quicken.” (Dictionary.com)

We got a good bit accomplished, yesterday. We got all the groceries we need for Christmas weekend (at least most of them . . . I think we forgot the milk). C got more of the bathroom done, finished peeling wallpaper off and one wall painted. She also went out and got another light fixture, as well as two mirrors to replace the giant one mirror that we had in there. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the old mirror.

I got some more practice in for this morning’s worship gathering, and then spent some time in one of my favorite places, right in front of the TV holding that PS4 controller.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. The worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my Church family
2. That I get to help lead in that worship gathering
3. For a heart that is drawn to worship the Lord
4. For a pastor who is desperately trying to “get it right”
5. That I have a willingness to listen to God and try to change what needs to be changed, or at least to allow Him to change it

“Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

I The Cosmic Order

Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord,
O heavens and all waters above the heavens.
Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew,
all winds and fire and heat.
Winter and summer, glorify the the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold,
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.”

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65)

I had to look up this reference to “Song of the Three Young Men.” I found that it is some writing that is not included in the canon of Scripture, that references Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, both during and after their time in the fiery furnace. The “Song of Creation” will continue tomorrow and Tuesday, as it has three sections.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 
Romans 12:12

The second half of Romans 12 consists of a bunch of bullet-point-like statements of conduct or behavior. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another . . . Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” And so on. Verse 12 comes in there with, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” The NRSV translates that “persevere in prayer.”

There is a bit of difference between being constant and prayer and persevering in prayer. As I am not a Greek scholar, I don’t know which is more accurate. The KJV renders it, “continuing instant in prayer.” I’m not even sure what that means. The NIV says, “faithful in prayer,” even more simplified. The ESV has been my version of choice for more than a decade now, so I’ll go with what it says, but at the same time give a nod to the NRSV translation, because sometimes we need to persevere in prayer, not giving up.

There are always going to be circumstances in our lives that threaten our constancy in prayer. We must persevere through those. And I don’t think that Paul’s phrases are random through this section of Romans 12, either. There seems to me to be a bit of connection in the three rapid-fire statements in this verse. Tribulations stands in the middle with hope on one side and prayer on the other. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I don’t think so.

When we experience tribulation, if we have not hope, we are lost. We will fall. But if we have hope, then, on the other side, we can pray. I have considered this many times in my life. If I’m praying at all, then it means I have hope and faith in something. If I didn’t have faith, I wouldn’t pray. What would the point in that?? Why would you pray to anyone or anything if you didn’t have at least a spark of faith or hope?

But, to me, the crux of the message is in the last phrase. “Be constant;” “persevere.” Elsewhere, Paul would say, “Pray without ceasing.” Not as hard to do as you might think.

So, today, let us consider how to do that in our lives. First, rejoice that you have hope. Then, when the tribulation comes, have patience. This, too, shall pass. And in that hope, in that patience, be constant and persevering in prayer.

Father, help me to be more constant in prayer. I pray for Your Spirit to lead me in this. I’m still asking You to teach me to pray, even after all this time, because I know that I have not learned everything there is to know about prayer. Give me hope in all things, that I might rejoice. If I experience tribulation in any circumstance, give me patience (that’s a tough one for me). But above all, help me persevere in prayer, not giving up, but always believing.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Grace and peace, friends.

Arise, Shine

Today is Saturday, December 15, 2018. Second week of Advent.

Day 22,192

TEN DAYS until Christmas!!!

“The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.”
Oswald Chambers, Scottish theologian, 1874-1917
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is nidus, “a nest or breeding place; especially : a place or substance in an animal or plant where bacteria or other organisms lodge and multiply.” Also, “a place where something originates, develops, or is located.” (Merriam-Webster)

I got a good bit accomplished yesterday. I did not wrap presents, as I thought I might, because C had mentioned we were running out of tape. I had already gone out to run a couple of errands, and did not want to go out again, so I put that task off. I did get my library card renewed (and, of course, checked out two books that I have no extra time to read), and picked up another thing that I wanted. Oh, and got lunch for S and me.

After lunch, I holed up in the study and worked on music for tomorrow. I got some nice sounds set up in my keyboard to play tomorrow. Then, of course, I played games. I’m currently playing Dragon Age: Inquisition on the PS4.

Today, we have to pick up groceries between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. We’ll have lunch or something around that time, as well. I’ll be getting in a bit more practice at some point, as well. I also need to lay down keyboard tracks for another song for my buddy’s album project. I’m not sure when that’s going to happen, though. That may have to wait until after Christmas.

The annual Yuleslide event is in Grapevine today, but I elected not to attend, this year. I have stuff I need to do today that is more important. Hopefully, it will work out next year. It’s going to be nice weather for it, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1

Today I am grateful:
1. For a beautiful day outside (I won’t be out much in it, but it will still be beautiful)
2. For opportunities to “sleep in.” I actually made it to 8:00 AM!
3. For time to spend with God each morning
4. For a fun sense of humor
5. That I am able, most of the time, to simply enjoy life

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land;
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise,
and his glory will appear upon you.
Nations will stream to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Your gates will always be open;
by day or night they will never be shut.
They will call you, The City of the Lord,
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Violence will no more be heard in your land,
ruin or destruction within your borders.
You will call your walls, Salvation,
and all your portals, Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day;
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.
The Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.”

(The Book of Common Prayer, The Third Song of Isaiah, Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19)

The world sure seems like a dark place, these days. And I’m just thinking about my own country. There are places in this world that are much, much darker than we could ever imagine. There are places where children are taken and forced to fight in armies. There are places where cruel dictators rule with no boundaries. There are places where women and children have no rights whatsoever. And there are places where religious freedom is nonexistent.

But there is a light that has shined upon us. It began shining a little more than two thousand years ago. The glory of the Lord dawned upon us with the birth of Jesus Christ. The Lord has risen and His glory has appeared.

What can this Scripture passage have for us today? Of course, we can celebrate that this light has already come and has shined in our hearts, resurrecting our dead spirits. That’s what we are doing during this season of the year. But look at verse 3 of Isaiah 60. “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Are we shining so brightly that nations are attracted to our light?

Admittedly, the passage is probably talking about Jerusalem. But I believe strongly that it can be applied to God’s people today, the Church. We are to shine with the glory of Christ. We should be attracting nations with our light. Naturally, there will always be some who are repelled by the light. These are they who Scripture speaks of, who love darkness more than light, who plan their dastardly deeds for the nighttime when no one can see.

Verse 11 speaks of gates that will never be closed. “Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.” Then, in verse 14, “they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” Yep. Definitely Jerusalem. But wait. Is this the Old Testament Jerusalem, or the “New Jerusalem” of Revelation 21?

“Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” (18-19)

That sounds an awful lot like something “otherworldly.” Something totally new. Even at this very moment, I am overwhelmed with longing for this “New Jerusalem,” whatever shape it may take. I am longing for the cessation of violence, devastation, and destruction. I am longing for the end of sin and shame. I am longing for the Lord to be my everlasting light and my glory.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!!

Father, You have, in a sense, hi-jacked my devotional this morning, and I am perfectly okay with that. I didn’t see it going in this direction at all. I pray for Your light to shine on our nation, on this world, and let that light come through Your Church. I pray that You will take down all who would deceive Your people, and that includes so-called pastors who are preaching politics and power, who are deceiving for financial gain and power. Bring all who would shame Your holy name down. Grant us repentance when we fall short or veer off the path. Show us the truth if we are misunderstanding. Bring Your light to all, and hasten the day when violence, devastation, and destruction are no more.
EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS!!!

Grace and peace, friends.

Seek the Lord While He May Be Found

Today is Friday, December 14, 2018. Second week of Advent.

Day 22,191

Eleven days until Christmas!!

“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
Maya Angelou, American poet, 1928-2014
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is zibeline, “a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair, alpaca, or camel’s hair.”

I’m off work today, but did not, as it turns out, go to Mineral Wells for breakfast with Mama. They cancelled the breakfast because of the weather forecast. I suppose there was a chance of some snow or otherwise “wintery” weather. It didn’t turn out that way, but I guess it was better to be safe than sorry, as they say. I’ll plan to do this another Friday in the Spring, sometime.

I do have a couple of plans for the day, though. One is to go out to the library, after 10:00 AM, and get my card renewed. I got an email last week that said it would expire in fourteen days. Apparently, all I have to do is visit the library with my driver’s license, and they will renew it. I will also take the opportunity, probably, to wrap some presents that I have for C. And I need to go over some music for Sunday, as well, and even think ahead to Sunday, the 23rd, which will likely be a more simplified worship time, with strictly Christmas songs.

I’m sure I will also go out and get something to eat for S and me. Or we may order it to be delivered. That remains to be seen.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Psalm 105:1

Today I am grateful:
1. That it didn’t snow or ice or anything like that. C still had to drive to work, as did many others.
2. That the Lord has seen fit to allow me to participate in leading worship on Sundays (I have been asked to lead the worship time on January 13)
3. For art that expresses the soul
4. That I have the kind of personality that can appreciate such art, for example, poems like “She Walks in Beauty,” by Lord Byron
5. For a day at home that’s not a normal weekend day

“Seek the Lord while he wills to be found;
call upon him when he draws near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the evil ones their thoughts;
And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion,
and to our God, for he will richly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as rain and snow fall from the heavens
and return not again, but water the earth,
Bringing forth life and giving growth,
seed for sowing and bread for eating,
So is my word that goes forth from my mouth;
it will not return to me empty;
But it will accomplish that which I have purposed,
and prosper in that for which I sent it.”

(The Book of Common Prayer, “The Second Song of Isaiah,” Isaiah 55:6-11)

As I read the passage above, and re-read it in the ESV, I am filled with hopefulness for life. We may seek the Lord, and, thus far, He still wills to be found. We are told, in various places, that there will come a day when He will no longer be “seekable.” The Bible describes a terrible “Day of the Lord.”

I have sought the Lord, and found Him. Each day, I seek Him more. Why seek something that you’ve already found? Because I haven’t found all of Him, yet. I know. That doesn’t make much sense. But you see, there is so much to God, so much that I don’t understand, or, as Robert Heinlein coined, “grok.” Therefore, I seek Him daily.

I need His strength to forsake my wicked ways on a consistent basis. My flesh fights against my spirit, leading me toward sin. But I fight along with my spirit, that I might daily turn to the Lord and see His compassion and pardon, and try to know His thoughts.

Verse 11 is a verse that I used to hear my pastor pray every Sunday. When I was a child, Pastor Don Turner was my pastor. I still remember him praying that God’s word would accomplish the purpose for which it was sent, and, as the KJV puts it, “it shall not return unto me void.” Honestly, this is not something that we need to pray for; it is a promise. “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” It shall accomplish . . . it shall succeed!

This morning, I continued reading the passage beyond verse 11. “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

May this happen for us, in our lifetime.

Father, help me to seek You today. Remind me that there is still plenty of You that I have not found. I look forward to the day when there is no more seeking. I look forward to the day when there is no more temptation to sin. I look forward to the day when Your people will live in peace and harmony, when there will be no more hatred and fear; the day when we will know as we are known.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

God With Us

Today is Thursday, December 13, 2018. Second week of Advent.

Day 22,190

Twelve days until Christmas!!

“Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”
Mae West, US movie actress, 1892-1980

The word of the day is nummary, “of or relating to coins or money.”

As previously mentioned, today is equal to Friday for me, as I will be taking my final day of PTO for the year. Thankfully, that all resets on January 1, when I will, once again have eighteen days (not three weeks), and one “personal holiday.” I think I’m going to immediately request my birthday, as well as December 31 for PTO days in 2019. Hah!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Psalm 100:4

Today I am grateful:
1. For the ability to find beauty (remember yesterday?)
2. For the way Scripture works in our lives
3. For the prayers of the saints
4. For love, real love
5. For the music of the season

“Surely, it is God who saves me;
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say,
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples;
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,
for the great on in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.”

(The Book of Common Prayer, The First Song of Isaiah, from Isaiah 12:2-6)

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)

“And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.
“Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out – as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.”
(From Mere Christianity)

So much truth, here. It is a truly mystical experience, when we stop and think about it. Lewis is right. It is so much more than just trying to carry out the words of Jesus, or even trying to live my life the way Jesus would live it if he were me. Sure, there is an element of these things, but if it were not for His spiritual presence within me, that would be impossible. Dallas Willard truly believed that, when we start praying, Jesus comes into the room and stands or sits with us to listen. Perhaps that is over-simplified, but I believe it’s true, as well. Jesus is with me when I pray. God the Father is with me all the time, and the presence of the Holy Spirit is within me. If I could only remember those truths all the time, life would be so much easier. Even when it’s not easy.

Father, remind me, today, that You are present; that Jesus is present; that the Holy Spirit is present. Remind me that I have the support and power of the Holy Trinity with me at all times. Not to “use” for my own benefit. But to strengthen me to do what You want me to do in the moment; in the hour; in my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.