Good morning. Today is Saturday, January 4, 2015. 92 days until Opening Day.
Today’s Word of the Day is “pantophagist.” That sounds scary. And perhaps it should. A “pantophagist” is defined as, “A human being or animal that devours things (esp. food) of all kinds; an omnivore.” The fact that it has to be qualified with “esp. food” is the most disturbing part, I think.
Today is Pop Music Chart Day. I used to care about such things, back in the days when KFJZ 1270 AM was the reigning pop/rock radio station in the DFW area (we could pick that up in Mineral Wells). I would faithfully grab the “KFJZ Top 20” from the local record store every week to see how my favorite songs were doing. Today, the Billboard Hot 100 is topped by Taylor Swift, with “Blank Space.”
This is followed by “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars) and “Take Me To Church,” by Hozier. Surprisingly, I actually like all three of those songs. Do you like any of the Billboard Hot 100 songs? Do you even care? 🙂
Yesterday was an interesting day, to say the least. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, here, but suffice to say that we certainly experienced some blessings yesterday, that were completely unexpected. One of these involved increased care for Christi’s mom, at no extra expense, due to Medicare, which is a huge answer to prayers. Another involved switching TV providers, which will save us a bit of money each month.
Then we went to church. After we got things set up, we had our usual “Anchor” prayer gathering, and the usual six people were there. It was a neat time, as we prayed for each other, then spent some time praying for the main event of the evening, which was to be our worship and prayer gathering. I expressed that I was very nervous about the evening ahead, which was certainly true. As each person prayed over our service, all the topics that we would be praying about were covered, and there was a strong feeling that something special was about to happen.
I believe it truly did. The only “hitch” in the entire service was right at the beginning, when the wireless mic that the pastor was trying to use wouldn’t work. He was talking briefly at the beginning, to explain what the night was going to be about. Then he started losing his voice. Someone brought him a glass of water, and then the sound engineer got the mic working. After that, everything went very smoothly. I felt very much at ease, during the times when it was my turn to lead prayers, and the words that I spoke seemed to come out of nowhere! I have great confidence that the Holy Spirit led me through the whole thing, step by step. The songs went perfectly with the prayers. Afterward, I commented to a few that it was the most humbling thing I have ever experienced. Humbling, because I know that, as I deliberately “stepped out of the way,” so to speak, and allowed God to work, it all went very well. I believe it was a great way to kick off the new year for The Exchange.
After church, we stopped by Subway to get dinner, and then went home, where I watched Baltimore beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. That was certainly fun.
Today, after Christi gets the groceries (she wound up not doing that yesterday, as we spent a long time on the phone with AT&T regarding the TV service), we are going to the gym! Another way to kick off 2015. We may or may not go bowling today. We will certainly make sure we leave time for rest this evening, because the coming week will be the first full five-day work week we’ve had in quite some time. We definitely need to rest up for that!
(Source: I Love History)
It was on this date in 1896 that Utah became the 45th state of the United States of America.
Today’s birthdays include Sir Isaac Newton (physicist), Jacob Grimm (folklorist), Louis Braille (teacher/inventor), James Bond (ornithologist), Sterling Holloway (character actor), Don Shula (football coach), Dyan Cannon (actress), Julian Sands (actor), Matt Frewer (Max Headroom), Michael Stipe (R.E.M. singer), Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins guitarist), and Julia Ormond (actress).
Matt Frewer is an actor who has had many roles in his career. However, the one I remember him most for is Max Headroom, that strange eighties icon. He turns 57 today, just a few months before I will turn the same age.
(From Knowing Jesus)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The angel’s announcement to young Mary (perhaps just a teenager at the time), was astonishing in several ways. The first, and probably most astonishing, was that this young girl would give birth to a son while still a virgin. This son would not be a mere human son, but would be “the Son of the Most High.”
We found, in yesterday’s reading, that the name Jesus means “God saves.” We can trust him for our salvation. Because he is “Son of the Most High,” we can also trust him as Lord, as he “exercises divine power for us.” When we confess our belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, “we enter into a new relationship with God. He forgives us and we relinquish all our rights.” Well, at least that’s what is supposed to happen. How often do we attempt to insist on those “rights” that we have supposedly given up?
The angel’s announcement also teaches us that Jesus’s mission is tied to Old Testament prophecies. “God keeps his promises to his people in all ages and generations, even though it may appear at times that he is doing nothing.”
Trying to understand everything that the angel announced to Mary, sometimes makes me feel rather ignorant. I started on this journey, years ago, by calling on his name, thereby becoming “saved.” But, even now, some forth-plus years later, I’m still learning. In the last few years, I’ve learned how little I knew and understood about prayer, and praying in his name. “His name combines both saving and intercessory power.” I’ve learned how small my faith in him really is, especially as I grow into this ministry of intercessory prayer. I’ve learned more about worship in the past few years than I’ve understood during the rest of my life. Yet, I am aware that there is still much to learn. What I have discovered about service to others, in the name of Christ, in recent times, is staggering. At the age of 56, and getting close to 57, I am aware of how much I simply do not know or understand, and that is very humbling.
“Jesus’s exalted position as God’s Son guarantees our security and our freedom from worry and fear.” That is a huge statement! How many of us truly grasp this? I know I don’t, because I find myself being afraid and/or worrying on pretty much a daily basis! So, based on that, what have I truly learned? I can’t help but think that my God is asking the same question, all the time shaking his figurative head.
This Jesus, though, is currently at the right hand of the Father, and he prepares a place for us. “One day he will usher in his everlasting kingdom on earth, not as the suffering Servant but as the triumphant King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
“When he comes, our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!”
(Philip P. Bliss)
For further thought:
What appears most striking to you about Gabriel’s announcement to Mary?
How can meditating on Jesus’s mission and position deepen your relationship with him?
“Grant, O Lord, a deeper understanding of
who Jesus is and what he can do for me.
Thank you for saving me by faith and giving
me a place in your everlasting kingdom.”
Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “Hope for Imperfect People.”
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
“This verse is full of encouragement for imperfect sinners like us, and full of motivation for holiness.”
Note that the phrase “he has perfected” is in past tense. It does not say, “he is perfecting.” It says, “he has perfected.” This means that our current standing with our Father in heaven is that we are perfected and completed by the “single offering” of Jesus Christ! It is not because I am perfect at this time, because I’m not. In fact, it is precisely because I am not perfect, but in the process of being made holy, that I am “moving away from [my] lingering imperfection toward more and more holiness.”
If my faith makes me “eager to forsake sin and make progress in holiness,” then that same faith can, in the midst of my imperfection, “look to Christ and say: ‘You have already perfected me in your sight.'” That faith looks to Christ and says, “Today I have sinned. But I hate my sin. For you have written the law on my heart, and I long to do it. And you are working in me what is pleasing in your sight. And so I hate the sin that I still do, and the sinful thoughts that I contemplate.”
This is faith that saves. “it is not the boasting of the strong. it is the cry of the weak in need of a Savior.”
And it is in that weakness that I trust Jesus Christ; trusting him in his exalted position that is discussed in the segment above from Knowing Jesus. (I love it when two or more unrelated sources work together in my devotions!) It is in this weakness that I trust that Christ is preparing a place for me. It is in this weakness that I look to him to strengthen me against those fears and worries that he has already freed me from.
“Hallelujah! What a Savior!”
Father, Hallelujah! What a Savior, indeed! I thank you for Jesus, who has guaranteed me freedom from fear and worry (even though I still, too often, submit myself to those same fears and worries). I thank you that I am perfect and complete in your eyes, because of one single offering that Christ made with his life. I thank you that he defeated death by rising from the grave. I thank you that I can boldly utter these ridiculous phrases without a single care that anyone thinks I’m a fool. Father, I implore you to continue to draw me away from my “lingering perfection,” and toward a more perfect holiness. Lead me toward surrender in 2015.
I pray for this day, that our activities will be productive and safe (and even, perhaps, fun). I pray that you drive us toward a more healthy year, this year. I pray for continued provision as we work our jobs. I pray that we will get good rest this evening as we settle in for the “long haul” of work days without holidays. May you teach us all about your grace and mercy. Give Stephanie more understanding of your place in her life.
Teach us your way, that we may walk in your truth.
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.