The Big Picture

Good morning. It is Friday, September 18, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is circumlocution. This noun means, “the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea,” or, “evasion in speech.” You are probably familiar with how some people are guilty of circumlocution about the shrubbery.

Today is Cheeseburger Day. Well, I didn’t get an guacamole on Guacamole Day. Maybe I can manage to have a cheeseburger on Cheeseburger Day.

We had a nice visit with R.J. and family, yesterday evening. As an added bonus, we also got some fried chicken from Babe’s, as they were overrunning with food that someone had brought over for them. Jen even sent home a plate for Stephanie. She insisted. It was a very good visit, and we had some great conversation with them, as well as with another couple that showed up while we were there.

It’s interesting how death, the great separator, brings people together.

Tonight, we have nothing planned. We have a few things we need to get done this weekend, as well as a garage sale that is being held by our church, in order to raise funds for an orphanage in Zimbabwe, which we are supporting directly. I don’t know if we will make it over to the garage sale or not. We are not donating anything for it, as anything that we had considered donating is too big to get there without a truck, which we do not have.

The Texas Rangers swept the Houston Astros in a four game series, which put the Rangers in first place by 2.5 games. I think Stephanie may be the only person who expected this. She has been firmly optimistic about her team all season. There are sixteen games left in their schedule, thirteen of them in the division.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 104:5-26.

He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.
O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.
There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

Concerning verse 15: “As the prophet in this account of the divine goodness in providence makes no reference to the excesses of men, we gather from his words that it is lawful to use wine not only in cases of necessity, but also thereby to make us merry. This mirth must however be tempered with sobriety, first, that men may not forget themselves, drown their senses, and destroy their strength, but rejoice before God, according to the injunction of Moses (Lev. 23:40); and, secondly, that they may exhilarate their minds under a sense of gratitude, so as to be rendered more active in the service of God.” (p 262)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

We have looked at what prayer is and what prayer requires. The next set of prayer touchstones is called “What Prayer Gives.” The first thing that prayer gives is “Perspective–Prayer Reorients Your View toward God.”

“Prayer in all its forms–adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and petition–reorients your view and vision of everything.” It does this because it gets God “back into the picture.” Just the fact that we are addressing God, verbally, “forces us to think differently about” the things about which we are concerned.

Consider being on a hike or journey and getting to the top of a mountain, where you can see all of the terrain around you. In one case, you might realize that you have made more progress than you thought you had. However, there is also the possibility that you find you are not as far along as you thought. It is the same way in prayer. We might find that “we are more loved and cared for than we had felt,” which will lessen our fears. But we also might see that “we are more foolish and self-absorbed than we thought,” and in prayer, we eliminate anger and self-pity.

Psalm 73 is a good illustration of how prayer can change perspective. In this prayer, Asaph complains about people who “abuse and exploit others and seem to never pay for it.” His life us full of trouble, while those who abuse and exploit are thriving. In verse 13-14, he says, All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. Anyone else ever felt this way? I know I have!

But then, what happens? He goes into the sanctuary; he enters into a time of communion with God, and it changes his perspective. until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. (17-20) Prayer gives him the sense of waking up from a nightmare into reality.

“Prayer brings perspective, shows the big picture, gets you out of the weeds, reorients you to where you really are.”

Father, I frequently need this reorientation, and, sadly, the times I need it most are the times that I fail to come into your sanctuary for intimate communion with you. I pray that your Spirit be more active within me to remind me that, when I am spiraling into anger or dissatisfaction, what I need more than anything is prayer! Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. I keep saying that, but it means so much to me. It is something that I am constantly needing. Give me this perspective, Lord! Show me how things really are, from your vantage point. Remind me that, regardless of what I see around me, you are in complete control of all things, and you are working your plan. Help me to have a firm grip on reality.

I pray for this day, that our trip to work will be safe. May our work day be full of positive accomplishment today, and may we be able to display your kingdom as we work. I pray for Stephanie, that you show your great love to her today; show her that she matters to you. I would pray the same for Rachel and Justin, that you reveal to them that they have importance in your kingdom. Show your great peace and comfort to my mother.

I also continue to pray for the same peace and comfort to R.J. and his family. My heart hurts for them, Lord. May you be so very real and present to them, especially to those who don’t truly know you.

I pray for your hand of deliverance in Burkino Faso, Father, and your protection on the missionaries in that country who might be in danger. Hold them close to your heart, Father.

Discover the perspective that prayer can bring. Let God show you the big picture.

Grace and peace, friends.

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