Eager For His Coming

Good morning. It is Wednesday, May 27. Three more days in May.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is gainsay. I’ve heard this word before, but was not sure of its meaning. It is a verb, meaning, “to deny, dispute, or contradict,” or, “to speak or act against; oppose.”

Today is Cellophane Tape Day. If it weren’t for a “banjo playing inventor,” who worked for the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (we know them as 3M), we would still be wrapping our presents with string. Cellophane tape was invented in 1930.

We had more thunderstorms and rain, last night. I’m not sure how much we got, but it seems to have rained for a while. It looks like our area has gotten about a half inch in the last 24 hours, and Mineral Wells got closer to .75 inch. According to my “Weather Underground” app, we have a 60% chance of more thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. I guess I was wrong about this almost being over.

I don’t have much else to write about, this morning, so I will move right on into the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

For you will render to a man according to his work.
Psalm 62:12b

(From Solid Joys)

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:28

Today’s reading is “Authentic vs. Phony Faith.”

There is a question in front of us. Are we counted among the “many” of which Jesus bears the sins? When he comes to save, will we be one of those? The answer is “Yes” if we can be said to be “eagerly waiting for him.” “We can know that our sins are taken away and that we will be safe in the judgment if we trust Christ in such a way that it makes us eager for his coming.”

There is a kind of faith that is, more or less, phony. This kind of faith is more like “fire insurance.” These people “believe,” simply to escape hell, and have no true desire for Christ. In fact, they would rather him delay his coming so they can enjoy more of the world’s pleasures. This is a heart that belongs to the world, not to Christ.

Do we eagerly long for Christ’s coming? Or do we wish that he would wait a while? This question tests “the authenticity of faith.” Let us be more like the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:7, so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Or the Philippians of Philippians 3:20, But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“That’s the issue for us. Do we love his appearing? Or do we love the world and hope that his appearing will not interrupt our worldly plans? Eternity hangs on this question.”

Father, give me more of a desire for the coming of Christ. I have long been one who openly desires that Jesus would go ahead and return. I do eagerly long for the coming of Christ. But, at the same time, there are reasons on this earth that I don’t mind if he waits a while. It’s not like I’m sitting on the fence, but there are definitely things in this world to which my heart is drawn. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name! Take away any unholy desires that I may have, that cause me to love this world more than I love Jesus.

I pray for this day, Father, that our passage to work would be safe and smooth. I pray that our work day would go well, and that we would faithfully represent your Kingdom in this world today. I pray for relationships at Christi’s job, and I pray that you would guide her through the day and give her confidence that she knows what she’s doing. I give you thanks that Stephanie seems to be feeling better, finally, and pray that this trend will continue. Give her confidence in herself and in her faith in you. Show your great love to her. I pray for Rachel and Justin, that you would provide for and protect them, drawing them into your great love for us.

I pray for Rob and me. You know.

I do eagerly await his coming. However, there are things on earth that I love, too. These must become fewer. My love and eagerness for Christ must increase.

Grace and peace, friends.

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According To His Glorious Might

Good morning. It is (stops to think a minute) Tuesday! Yes. Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Only four more days in May.

Today’s word of the day from Dictionary.com is quidnunc. This is a noun, meaning, “a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.” Yeah, we have a few of those, at work!

Today is World Lindy Hop Day. I’m not much of dancer, myself. I mean, I can (or at least used to be able to) get on a dance floor and bounce around to the beat pretty well . . . in other words, “I got rhythm.” But, I’ve never learned any true dance forms, especially one called Lindy Hop. Here’s a clip of some young folks doing the Lindy Hop, and they must be pretty good, because it says it’s the 2014 “Strictly Lindy Hop Finals.”

We had an awesome visit with my mother, yesterday, along with Rachel and Justin, as well. Stephanie didn’t make the trip, as she was not feeling up to it. I do believe she might be feeling better today, however. I’m only basing that on some food consumption that I’ve noticed. But we had a great time, looking at some old pictures, which I have brought home and hope to have scanned by the end of this week. They are pictures of my parents’ wedding, along with some pictures of me as a baby and young child. There are also some pictures of my beloved aunt Nancy, who died at the age of 19, as a result of a car accident.

We had a great lunch at the Mesquite Pit in Mineral Wells, before and during which it rained quite heavily, again. Afterwards, we went back to the house, and just talked. That’s pretty much all we did. My mother had some great recollections of 58 years ago, and we all just had a great time. Oh, and Christi went and got some new shoes at Payless! :-D

I don’t want to speak too soon, but, judging from the forecasts, our “wet season” may be close to being over. There is only a 20% chance of rain today and tomorrow. The rest of the week, the percentage depends on the app you look at. At any rate, we might get a few days without rain, which would be nice, as there are some places, especially in central Texas, that are flooding badly.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.

Psalm 62:11-12a

(From Solid Joys)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.
Colossians 1:11

Today’s reading is “Strength to Wait.”

In this prayer, Paul prays for the believers at Colossae. He prays for strength for them, that they might have patience. “Patience is the evidence of an inner strength.”

“Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports — like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts.” They might make a lot of noise that would indicate otherwise, but that noise is simply a “camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.”

For us, the strength comes from God. It must come from God. And this is one reason for Paul’s prayer, “asking God to empower them for the patient endurance that the Christian life requires.” But note that Paul says, “according to his glorious might.” There is more to this than simply meaning that the strength for patience comes from a divine source. It also means that the channel through which this comes is faith in this glorious might.

While we do know that patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), we also know that the Spirit empowers us by “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). So Paul prays that believers might be connected with that glorious might, through which we are empowered with patience. “And that connection is faith.”

Father, I do not pray for patience. I pray for faith. I pray for the strength that will lead to patience through faith in your glorious might. That phrase, “according to his glorious might,” is packed with power, because your glorious might is infinite. Therefore, if we pray that we would have strength, according to your glorious might, we are praying for strength that cannot be matched by anything else! I pray for that strength through faith. And through that faith and strength, patience will arise, along with the rest of the fruit of the Spirit. As I move toward a new work week, may that strength abound in me and all other believers around me, and around the world. May we not be so petty as to depend on those “external supports,” those “schedules that go just right and circumstances that support [our] fragile hearts.” Let us rise above those circumstances with the strength that comes from faith in your glorious might!

I pray for this day, that we might have safe passage to and from work, and that our work day would be exemplified by this strength and faith in you. May patience rise for us, and those circumstances not matter. May we show love and mercy as we display your Kingdom in all areas of our lives. I pray for your great love to display itself in Stephanie’s life, as well as the lives of Rachel and Justin. Continue to hold up my mother, as you have, giving her the strength to do what she needs to do to carry on. I pray for Stephanie’s grieving process, that you would make yourself known to her in a might way, showing her the clarity of your Light.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all show strength today, that results in patience, but is connected through faith in his glorious might!

Colossians 1 11

Grace and peace, friends.

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Never Wasted

Good morning. It is Monday, May 25, 2015. Today, we observe Memorial Day, in the United States. It’s really on May 30, but Congress changed it to the last Monday in May, so people could have a three-day weekend. Priorities, you know.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is callithump. This is a noun, meaning, “a noisy boisterous band or parade.” No doubt there will be a number of callithumps around the land today.

As already stated, today is Memorial Day. Originally set on May 30, to honor the lives of soldiers killed in the Civil War, it was later expanded to include all wars, and then moved to the last Monday in May. Over time, it has become just another excuse to have a BBQ and drink beer. There are many, though, who are faithful to remind us what the real purpose of the day is. As for us, since May 25 is also my parents’ wedding anniversary, we will be “celebrating” with my mother in Mineral Wells, later today. I have family members who served in different wars, but all returned safely. This day is not about them. This day is about people who died in those wars and military conflicts. Veterans Day is the day that is about anyone who served in a war. Memorial Day is just what it says. A memorial, a remembering, of those who paid the “ultimate sacrifice” for their country.

I feel much better this morning. I didn’t eat a whole lot yesterday, not until the evening. We went to our church meeting at 3:00 PM, after getting our groceries, as well as some for Christi’s mom and step-dad. We were a bit late to the meeting, but we got there. I ate some of the snacks there, and felt fine afterward. When we got home, we ordered Italian food to be delivered from our favorite local Italian place, Tony’s Pizza and Pasta. It’s our favorite because they deliver. :-D I had something different, last night. I had what they call a “Northern Italian pizza.” It has Alfredo sauce, chicken, broccoli, and sweet red peppers. I had them add pepperoni, because it’s not a pizza without pepperoni. :-D It was delicious!! I never thought I would like broccoli on a pizza, but I do. Plus it’s a vegetable, which makes the pizza healthy, right? Right?? Ahem. Anyway . . .

The meeting that we went to was actually great fun and very informative. Our pastor led it, and it was called a “Deep Dive.” The purpose was to gather and ask questions about a certain theological concept. For yesterday’s meeting, the topic was predestination. I already suspected as much, but last night confirmed that I’m pretty much straight down the line in agreement with our pastor on the subject, as well as all other areas of what might commonly be known as “Calvinism.” There were a lot of good questions, and nobody got tense, irritated, or threatened.

Weather-wise, we are looking at a strong possibility of more thunderstorms today, but probably not until later this afternoon/evening. There are warnings that some could be severe.

Yesterday, there was a historical note about Mt. Everest. Today, there is another. On this date in 2001, Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person to reach the summit. On this date in 1985, a cyclone hit Bangladesh, killing around 10,000 people. On this date in 1977, the first Star Wars movie was released. And on this date in 1895, writer Oscar Wilde was convicted of “committing gross acts of indecency” and sentenced to two years in prison.

Today’s birthdays include Ralph Waldo Emerson (philosopher and writer), Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (tap dancer), Bennett Cerf (TV personality), Claude Akins (actor), Robert Ludlum (writer), Beverly Sills (soprano), W.P. Kinsella (writer, Shoeless Joe) Tom T. Hall (singer/songwriter), Ian McKellen (actor, Gandalf), Dixie Carter (actress), Jessi Colter (singer), Karen Valentine (actress), Klaus Meine (singer, Scorpions), Mike Myers (actor), Anne Heche (actress), Octavia Spencer (actress), Demetri Martin (comedian), and Cillian Murphy (actor).

Tom T. Hall is an American country singer who was born on this date in 1936, making him 79 today. He is a favorite of my mother, as I recollect, and one of her favorites of his, I believe, was his song, “I Love.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

Psalm 62:1-10

(From Solid Joys)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

Today’s reading is “God’s Design in Detours.”

How often have we been desperately looking for something that we have misplaced, something that we really need? We pray desperately for God to reveal its location to us, yet he allows us to keep looking, obviously in the wrong places. What is going on? Why does God allow this?

John Piper speaks of a time when he was looking for a quote to use in a book he was writing. He thought he knew exactly where it was, could even envision its location on a page, yet he could not find it. While he was looking, however, he stumbled upon a reading, a reading not necessarily for him, but for “parents of broken children.”

Those of us who are parents of “broken children” are constantly asking the Father “why, why, why?” Here is the reading that Piper landed on that day, as he was “wasting” moments looking for something else.

In a home for retarded children, Catherine was nurtured twenty years. The child had been [mentally handicapped] from the beginning and had never spoken a word, but only vegetated. She either gazed quietly at the walls or made distorted movements. To eat, to drink, to sleep, were her whole life. She seemed not to participate at all in what happened around her. A leg had to be amputated. The staff wished Cathy well and hoped that the Lord would soon take her to Himself.

One day the doctor called the director to come quickly. Catherine was dying. When both entered the room, they could not believe their senses. Catherine was singing Christian hymns she had heard and had picked up, just those suitable for death beds. She repeated over and over again the German song, “Where does the soul find its fatherland, its rest?” She sang for half an hour with transfigured face, then she passed away quietly. (Taken from The Best Is Still to Come, Wuppertal: Sonne und Shild)

“Is anything that is done in the name of Christ really wasted?”

Piper’s futile search for that quote was not wasted. Singing hymns to this child was never wasted. And whenever God sends us on a detour, what we might consider a “wild goose chase,” it is not wasted. Not if we look to him “for his unexpected work,” and do whatever we must in his name. “The Lord works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).”

Oh, Father, help me take this to heart. While I am aware that there is time in my life that truly is wasted, I also must acknowledge that some time that I think to be wasted, truly is not. When I got to work and go through the mundane tasks that must be done each day, it is not wasted if I do it in your name, and try my best to display your Kingdom while doing so. When I do things as tedious as pay bills, it is not wasted if it is done in your name, faithfully completing my responsibilities before you. And all that I do in your name, as I interact with Stephanie is never wasted, Father. I pray for her spirit, Lord, that you would draw her ever closer to your heart. She is truly grieving, right now, and it is affecting her physically. I pray that you would comfort her and show her that her Grandpa is in a far better place, wrapped in your loving arms, and that he is, finally, ultimately, healed.

I pray for this day, that our travel to Mineral Wells and back will be safe. I pray that the potential storms might be averted. I pray for less rain in areas that are over-saturated. I pray that people will be kept safe, Lord. But whatever we do, and whatever happens, I pray that we will do everything in your name, by the blood of Christ and in his Spirit.

Your grace is sufficient.

Colossians-3-17-web

Grace and peace, friends.

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Bedrock

Good morning. It is Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is erudite. This is an adjective, meaning, “having or showing knowledge that is gained by studying : possessing or displaying extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books.”

Today is the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. I hope the weather is better there than it is here.

I had a rough night last night. After church, Christi and I stopped by Lee’s Grilled Cheese to pick up a sandwich for Stephanie. I decided to get a bowl of their mac ‘n’ cheese to take home, and put some tuna in it. About halfway through that bowl, I started feeling weird. After eating, I seriously though I was going to barf. It settled down a bit, though, and I finally went to bed around midnight. Around 1:00 AM, I woke up, feeling barfy again. (My spell-checker doesn’t like “barfy.”) Once again, I got it settled down, but stayed up for an hour or so, just to be sure. I finally got back to sleep, but didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night. We got up around 9:00, and I’m having a cup of coffee, which seems to be settling okay. I’m not hungry, though.

It rained really hard for a good thirty minutes while I was up last night, and there’s 80-90% chance of more today. According to one weather app, we’ve accumulated 1.62 inch, already, today. We’ve been in flash flood warnings for days. There is currently more rain down around Stephenville, and it looks like it is headed this way. We have anywhere from 40-80% chance of more tomorrow, depending on which app you look at.

We are still planning to go to Mineral Wells tomorrow, and I can literally say, “Good Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise!” :-D

On this date in 2004, North Korea banned mobile phones. In 2001, Sherpa Temba Tsheri became the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest, at the age of 15. In 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland. And, in 1935, the first night baseball game was played in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.

Today’s birthdays include Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, H.B. Reese (Peanut Butter Cups), William F. Albright (archaeologist and Biblical scholar), Roger Peterson (pilot who flew the plane on “The Day the Music Died”), Tommy Chong (actor/comedian), Bob Dylan (songwriter), Gary Burghoff (actor, Radar), Patti Labelle (singer), Priscilla Presley (actress), Rosanne Cash (singer, Johnny’s daughter), Kristin Scott Thomas (actress), John C. Reilly (actor), Barolo Colon (pitcher), and Brad Penny (pitcher).

Bob Dylan . . . who doesn’t know who he is? Born on this date in 1941, Dylan is one of the most famous songwriters in the world. He turns 74 today. Here is a clip him singing “Mr. Tambourine Man” at the Newport Folk Festival of 1964.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Of David. Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah.
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.

Psalm 61

(From Solid Joys)

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:13

Today’s reading is “The Bedrock of Your Assurance.”

There are many Biblical passages that speak of our salvation as being “conditional upon a changed heart and life.” This brings to mind a questions, primarily because there are many times when my life and heart do not appear to be changed at all! “How can I have the assurance I will persevere in faith and in the holiness necessary for inheriting eternal life?”

The answer to this question “is rooted in our election.” Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:10) When God elected us, he guaranteed that he would complete “by sanctifying grace what his electing grace has begun.”

In this New Covenant, God does not simply command obedience; he gives it! And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6) And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:27) And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

By our election, we are assured that we who have been justified will be glorified (Romans 8:30). “Election is the final ground of assurance because, since it is God’s commitment to save, it is also God’s commitment to enable all that is necessary for salvation.”

Father, help me to know my election is certain; help me to recognize and acknowledge the work that you have done in my heart, that enables me to be obedient and do the works that you have prepared in advance for me to do. I want to see a difference in my life, in my heart. I spend too much time trying to justify myself by the way I think about others. Give me a servant’s heart, a servant’s attitude, just like that of my Savior, that I might truly display your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

I pray for this day, that we all might feel better. Christi’s throat is hurting, and I had a bit of an ordeal last night. I pray for healing and strength, that we might be good for tomorrow. I pray for a good time at the church activity we have this afternoon, and that you would guide us through our discussion, by your Spirit. May you give clarity to the topic being discussed today.

Give us hope, Father. We all need hope and assurance that we are secure in you. Let us not keep our eyes on ourselves, but be focused on you, that we might be “other-centric.”

Your grace is sufficient.

The thing that gives us solid assurance is our election in Christ. Whenever we have doubts, we should always fall back on that.

John102730

Grace and peace, friends.

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Is Christ Worth It?

Good morning (or, perhaps, afternoon). It is Saturday, May 23, 2015. Only seven more days in May.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is apothegm. The “g” is silent, which, of course, begs the question, why is it even there? Apothegm is a noun, meaning, “a short, pithy, instructive saying; a terse remark or aphorism.”

Today is Title Track Day, celebrating those recordings that are defined by a single track that has the same title as the album. The first one that came to my mind is “Aqualung,” by Jethro Tull. Sometimes, the title track is the first one on the album. Sometimes, it is not. Occasionally, as in the case of Black Sabbath, you get a title track that is also the band name.

Well, we made it to the weekend. There’s not much to write about yesterday. Work was work, and it went okay, I think, for both of us.

Stephanie continues to feel a little ill, but we sincerely believe that she is struggling with grief. As an Autistic, she really doesn’t have the “tools” to process grief well. Heck, do any of us? I’m struggling with it, too, but I don’t think it is affecting me physically. Or is it? I seem to be much more tired, in the past few weeks. For example, last night, we barely made it past 9:00. We used to stay up until midnight or later on Friday nights!

Today, as usual, we will have our prayer and worship gatherings, beginning at 4:45 this afternoon. I think we have decided that we prefer to do the grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon, so that will wait until tomorrow. Other than that, we don’t really have any plans, until Monday, when we will go to Mineral Wells, to spend Memorial Day with my mother. Hopefully, Rachel and Justin will join us.

It was on this date in 1995 that the first version of the Java programming language was released. On this date in 1945, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi SS, committed suicide. And on this date in 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed in Black Lake, Louisiana.

Today’s birthdays include Ambrose Burnside (Civil War Union General), Douglas Fairbanks (actor), Artie Shaw (clarinetist and big band leader), Scatman Crothers (actor), James Blish (writer), Rosemary Clooney (actress/singer), Joan Collins (English actress–I did not know Joan Collins was from England!), Robert Moog (pioneer of electronic music), Buck Showalter (baseball manager), Drew Carey (actor/comedian/game show host), Jewel (singer), Ken Jennings (record Jeopardy winner), and Tristan Prettyman (musician).

Robert Moog was born on this date in 1934. Moog was, as stated above, a pioneer in electronic music. He invented what is probably the single most popular synthesizer ever used, the Minimoog. In this video, he shares a brief demonstration of the Minimoog, the descendant of what was first heard in the likes of Switched On Bach, and, later, in the seventies, ELP. I still remember seeing Emerson’s eight-foot-tall synthesizer in the TV broadcasts of California Jam, in, I believe, 1974 (my memory is fuzzy).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: according to Shushan Eduth. A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.
O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us.
You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair its breaches, for it totters.
You have made your people see hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah.
That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
God has spoken in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

Psalm 60

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

I am reminded by today’s Daily Guideposts that it is important to savor life and all that it has to offer us. We are in far too big a hurry.

(From Solid Joys)

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26-27

Today’s reading is “Is Christ Worth It?”

Jesus tells us the worst, upfront. He pull no punches when it comes to telling us the cost of accepting his invitation. There is a painful cost to being a Christian: hating family (v. 26), carrying a cross (v. 27), and giving up (or renouncing) possessions (v. 33). “There is no small print in the covenant of grace.”

Satan, on the other hand, hides the “small print.” He puts forth his best: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), and “All these things I will give to you, if you fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). But in print so small that it can only be read “with the magnifying glass of the Bible,” we find, “And after the fleeting pleasures, you will suffer with me forever in hell.”

Why is Jesus willing to show us the worst, along with the best? It is because the worst that we can face will be more than abundantly counterbalanced by the best, which, in the opposite case of Satan, is not true. All of the fleeting pleasures that this life has to offer could, in no way, counterbalance eternity in the punishment of hell, whatever form that may take. Another thing I have noticed, during my life, that Piper does not mention, is that modern evangelism tends to hide the worst, especially in the “charismatic” denominations. They preach a great life, full of victory and blessing, and in some cases, health and prosperity, but don’t bother to talk about the cost that Jesus so explicitly mentions. So my question is, does modern evangelicalism actually play into the hands of the enemy?

We also note that Jesus’s call to us is not a call to suffering and self-denial. It is a call to a banquet. This is the point of Luke 14:16-24! Jesus promises a glorious resurrection where we will be repaid for all of the losses that we endure in this life; he promises help in enduring the hardships; he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit; he even promises that, if we are killed because of our faith, “not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18).

All of this together means that, when we calculate the cost of following Jesus, it is well worth it. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

With our enemy, Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel. (Proverbs 20:17)

Father, by your grace, I have seen the cost and counted it worthy, more than worthy. However, I also acknowledge that there are areas in my life where I have not renounced all possessions. I have made decisions in the past that indicate that I don’t value Jesus more than family or personal comfort. I have struggled for years with the question of whether I can actually succeed in being a disciple. But I have also seen the grace that you have provided, which tells me that you will take care of these questions; you will make sure that I succeed in being a disciple! I praise you for this truth, and I praise you for your grace and mercy, so abundantly lavished on me, even in the times of my darkest sin. I pray for your help, though, in the Spirit, to consider all things rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ. Teach me, Father. Teach me the way of truth, that I may walk in it, and lead others in it, as well.

I pray for this day, that we will lift you up in whatever we do. I pray for our worship and prayer gatherings this evening. I also pray for the people of FBC in Mineral Wells, as they prepare to worship in their gym tomorrow morning. I pray that inspections will find that there is no structural damage to their sanctuary, that they might be able to continue worshiping in there, next week. I pray for strength for the pastor and other staff members as they work through this crisis. May they have the grace and mercy to be encouraging to their church family. I pray that you continue to hold up our family, as well, and ask for extra grace for Stephanie, that she might be able to work through her grief and think of the positive things that memories of her Grandpa will bring her. Give Christi and me grace to help her. I pray for your arms of mercy to continue to hold up my mother, along with Rachel and Justin, as well, especially as Rachel continues to work through what her future will hold for her.

Your grace is sufficient, Lord!

Following Christ is costly, and, at some point, might even become physically dangerous. May God give us the grace to always count Christ worthy of whatever following him may cost us.

Romans 8-18

Grace and peace, friends.

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Grace

Good morning. It is Friday, May 22, 2015. There’s only a 40% chance of rain today.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is nepotism. This noun is usually used in connection with hiring, and means, “favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship.” Some companies strictly prohibit it, others embrace it.

Today is Don’t Fry Day. Get it?? You might think this has something to do with eating fried foods, but you would be mistaken. It is actually a day to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer from too much sun-bathing.

Christi’s Huddle was cancelled, last night, so we had our usual Thursday dinner (our own concoction that we call “Mexican soup”), and got caught up on one of our new favorite TV shows, “Battle Creek.” We talked a lot, during watching, which was nice. For me, I’m trying to suss out what I’m feeling emotionally, because, I’m at a point where I don’t know what I want, any more. Again, I realize that this is a normal piece of the grieving process, so I’m not panicking, just trying to verbalize it and work through it. I won’t belabor it, either, because I know that people will get weary of it.

The weekend is near! I’m not sure what we will do on Sunday. Thunderstorms are predicted again, so anything outdoors is probably off the table. Monday, as I have said before, we will be traveling to Mineral Wells to spend Memorial Day with my mother. Who knows what kind of “trouble” we will get into? I know one thing: I am really looking forward to this three-day weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD,
for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see!
You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah.
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips— for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!
For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter,
consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah.
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill.
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59

(From Knowing Jesus)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:1-10

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Showcase of God’s Grace.”

We all know what it is like to receive grace. Perhaps it is the grace allowed on a bill payment, giving you extra time. Or maybe when we were in college, we got extra time to turn in a research paper (which is really a good example of grace, because the due dates are given weeks, if not months, in advance).

“The central theme of the Bible proves conclusively that all of us need grace from God.” None of us has ever achieved the holiness required by God. None of us would ever be “fit to stand in his presence and claim righteousness.” We all fail; none of us does good all of the time, and quite often do just the opposite. “We have been selfish, unkind, pushy, lustful, and greedy–if not worse.” And that’s just in the last fifteen minutes!

But God . . . Ephesians 2:4. I think those are my two favorite words in all of Scripture! But God . . . “God did something to bail us out of our predicament.” God has every right to condemn us, but he offers grace and forgiveness. During this “grace period,” we have the opportunity to say yes to Jesus.

But in order to fully accomplish this, we must say no “to all other efforts to please God and gain his favor.” We must realize that we cannot do anything to gain God’s favor! It’s either Jesus, or it’s nothing.

“Jesus proves God’s grace. When we focus on Jesus, we lose sight of our impoverished, sickly, insulting ways of trying to earn credit with God. When we focus on Jesus, we confess that even our pious thoughts and deeds–our churchy religion–fall far short of making it with God.”

Jesus, being the grace of God in action, paved the way for us, the way to forgiveness and eternal life. “His grace smashes our pride.”

This grace not only forgives us, but it also prepares us for heaven (being the only way we can be “good enough”), and enables us to “represent him on earth.” We are his workmanship, as Paul says in verse 10.

There is a danger, though, in the pride that believes that we could possibly add something to this grace. We still keep thinking that we can gain favor with God. But we must embrace the truth that there is nothing that we can do that can cause God to love us any more than he already does. Neither is there anything that we can do to make him love us less. Even in the depths of our deepest, darkest sin, when God looks at us, he feels only love!

God told Paul that, “My grace is sufficient.” We need grace for salvation; we need grace for our pain and afflictions; we need grace for life. And we that grace in Jesus Christ.

Father, I praise you for grace! How well I know this grace! But yet, I still, sometimes, fall into the trap of a works mindset, thinking that I can somehow either repay you, or at least make you happy with me, by doing something “good.” I forget that the “good works” that you have prepared for me are just that . . . works that YOU prepared, and that you enabled me to do. In fact, you are the one who is actually “working!” Let me never think that I can add anything to the great grace that you have lavished on me. As the title of this blog suggests, let me revel in that grace, Lord. Let me bask in it, and let it feed me, nourish me, heal me, and cleanse me! I celebrate your grace today!

I pray for our day, Father, that we would have safe passage to and from work. Give us just enough grace and mercy for this day, that we might be true representatives of your Kingdom in our work places. I pray for Stephanie, Father, that you would touch her with your healing hand and remove whatever is making her not feel well. I pray that you would draw Rachel and Justin closer to you, and that you would continue holding up my mother. Thank you for the wonderful friends that she has through her church. I also pray for the people of FBC in Mineral Wells, as they begin the painstaking process of rebuilding what the tornado destroyed. Your grace is sufficient for them, as well.

We all need grace. We need it for everything. Those who are in Christ Jesus possess all the grace they need, every day, every minute.

Grace and peace, friends.

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All Night Long

Good morning. It is Thursday, May 21, 2015. We have thunderstorms and more rain, this morning.

Today’s word of the day, from the OED, is moodle. This is a verb, meaning, “To dawdle aimlessly; to idle time away. Also with about, on.”

Today is One Day Without Shoes Day. Not to be confused with a day not too long ago, I think it was Go Barefoot Day, this day is to remind us that there are a lot of people in the world who don’t have shoes. Unfortunately, if I show up at work without shoes, I will be sent home. Hmmm . . . I may have just stumbled onto something there . . .

Yesterday morning, I found that I was feeling slightly sad (or at least contemplative), and couldn’t really pin point why. Then, suddenly, at one point in the morning, it hit me. Yesterday was one month since my father passed. Stephanie had already realized that, I’m sure, as she texted me in the afternoon, saying, “It’s an emotional day.” She is really struggling still, probably more so than the rest of us. I’m sure she would appreciate prayers for comfort as she misses her Grandpa a great deal. We all miss him, of course, but we have better coping mechanisms than Stephanie does. Autistic people don’t cope as well with loss like this.

Christi’s Huddle group isn’t meeting tonight, so we will have tonight together.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David.
Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods? Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
No, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence on earth.
The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
so that it does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter.
O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Psalm 58

(From Solid Joys)

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Psalm 121:1-3

Today’s reading is “God Works For You.”

“Do you need help? I do. Where do you look for help?”

The Psalmist looked to the hills and asked, “From where does my help come?” The answer was not, “from the hills,” but, “from the Lord,” the one who made the hills! There are two great truths, here. One is that God is the great Creator, who reigns over every problem of life. The other is that our God never sleeps!

“God is a tireless worker.” We can think of God as one who works in our lives. We tend to think the other way around, in our human pride. We like to think that we are “workers in God’s life.” But look at Isaiah 64:4. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. The word “acts” could be rendered “works.”

“God is working for us around the clock. He does not take days off and he does not sleep.” In fact, 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that God is constantly on the lookout to find those for whom he can work! For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

Jesus was the most important way that God showed his desire to work for us. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

If we believe these things, we will be able to “rejoice always” (Philippians 4:4), “give thanks in everything” (Ephesians 5:20), possess “the peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7), “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6), “hate our lives in this world” (John 12:25), and “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:39).

“What a truth! What a reality! God is up all night and all day to work for those who wait for him.”

Father, I remember thinking, at last Saturday’s Anchor prayer gathering, how baffling it is to me to try to fathom that you hear all of our prayers; all of them that rise up to you, millions at a time. Yet you, somehow, hear, comprehend, and act on all of them (at least the ones that are according to you great will and plan). Today’s truth is almost as equally baffling, that you never sleep or slumber; you are always awake, always looking for ways that you can work for us! I remember a reading from this same source, back a week or so ago, that reminded us that the Gospel is not a “help wanted ad.” You work for us! This is a concept that we are slow to understand, because we like to be the ones who do all the work. Help us to relax and know that you are working for us. Even the good works that you have prepared in advance for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), are “prepared” by you, that we might “work” in your strength, as if you are truthfully doing the work through and in us. Father, help me to realize this throughout this day.

I pray for safe passage to and from work today, especially this morning, in the midst of thunderstorms and rain. I pray that our work day will go smoothly. Please shelter Christi from undue stress. She has an employee that is giving her trouble; I pray for your intervention in that situation. I pray that your love, mercy, and grace will surround Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama today. Keep them safe and show them your great love, holding them up in your merciful arms.

I pray for your protection over little Andrew, Lord, that these night terrors that he is experiencing will stop, once and for all! Shield him from whatever is causing these, Lord!

Your grace is sufficient.

psalm_121

He never sleeps!

Grace and peace, friends.

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