“Through Duty Toward Joy”

Good morning. It is Monday, September 28. Two more days until my favorite month.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pod person. I suppose this could be a bit of a reference to Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” as it means, “A person considered to be conformist, unoriginal, or emotionless; one who lacks personality or individuality.”

Today is Family Day. I find this to be troubling, as it is yet another “holiday” that should not be “celebrated” on a work day, especially on Monday! Ironically, I will not be able to spend much time at all with my family today, as it is band practice day. Oh, well. If you are able, spend some quality time with your family today.

Yesterday was challenging, but we got or grocery shopping done. After that, we settled in for an evening of relaxing.

One thing we did do, though, is spend some time outside, watching the Super Blood Moon Eclipse. I got some pretty decent pictures, which I put up on Facebook. I will try to get them up on my other blog, at some point during the week. When I get that done, I will make sure and link it in this blog.

As a result of all of that, however, I’m a bit sleepy, this morning, falling about thirty minutes shy of my nightly sleep goal. The bad thing about that is that I won’t get home from band practice until at least 9:30 tonight. It’s a busy week, too, as I have Huddle tomorrow night, and we have a special PAT meeting on Wednesday, to make plans on our upcoming move to Sunday morning services at a local YMCA facility! Of course, Christi and I have mixed feelings about this change, because we have certainly enjoyed having Sunday mornings free. But now we will have Saturday nights free again, and will be able to do some things that we have not been able to do. The change is coming quickly, and we may have our first gathering on Sunday, October 11. Of course, we will be in Playa del Carmen on that Sunday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.
Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.
And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left.
Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.
But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.

Psalm 106:1-13

“This passage ought to be well considered, that men, when once they have yielded submission to God, may not deceive themselves, but may know that the touchstone of faith is when they spontaneously receive the word of God, and constantly continue firm in their obedience to it.
“We must here observe what we have seen elsewhere, that the only cause why men are so ungrateful towards God, is their despising of his benefits. Were the remembrance of these to take fast hold of our hearts, it would serve as a bridle to keep us in his fear.” (p 272)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Today, I begin part four of the book, called “Deepening Prayer.” Chapter ten is “As Conversation: Meditating on His Word.”

We have looked at meditation before, in this book, but Keller gets a little deeper into it, in this chapter. Meditation has become almost a lost art in today’s Western culture. In fact, there are many Christians who run screaming in the opposite direction at the mere mention of “meditation.” Frankly, I do not understand this, as the Bible explicitly commands us to meditate on it. “If prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture.”

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1

It is well-known that the Psalm are the “prayer book of the Bible,” but it is worth noting that the first Psalm is not a prayer, but is, in fact, a meditation. “In fact, it is a meditation on meditation.” In his book, Answering God, Eugene Peterson notes that the Psalms are edited and “Psalm 1 is the entrance to the rest.” He says, “The text [of the Psalms] that teaches us to pray doesn’t begin with prayer. We are not ready. We are wrapped up in ourselves. We are knocked around by the world.”

There are many of us (myself included) that, in our devotional lives, jump straight from some kind of Bible study/reading into prayer. We skip over this “middle ground,” or bridge, between the two.

There are three things that Psalm 1 tells us we will gain from meditation. The first is stability. we will be like a tree, “planted by streams of water.” Trees that are rooted close to streams do well, even if there is not much rain. “This is an image of someone who can keep going in hard, dry times.”

The second thing is substance, or character. “Persons who meditate become people of substance who have thought things out and have deep convictions, who can explain difficult concepts in simple language, and who have good reasons behind everything they do.” People who do not meditate tend to “skim everything, picking and choosing on impulse, having no thought-out reasons for their behavior. Following whims, they live shallow lives.”

Ouch.

This kind of meditation does not simply make us feel closer to God. It changes our lives.

The final thing is blessedness, “a very fulsome idea in the Bible. It means peace and well-being in every dimension. . . . Meditating on the law of the Lord, the Scripture, moves us through duty toward joy.”

Father, I pray that you teach me this kind of meditation. I am, so often, guilty of moving straight from this devotion into prayer, with no thought of what I have learned or read, both in your word, as well as in the helpful tools that you have provided for me. Move me away from this practice, into a more deliberate style of meditation into prayer. I don’t want to be one who lives a shallow life, following whims, based on impulse. Turn from from a “skimmer” into the stable person characterized by the tree in Psalm 1.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and home will be smooth. May our work day go well, today, and may we display your kingdom. I pray for Christi’s leg, that it will not get worse, but that the pain would recede today. I pray that Stephanie will experience your love and mercy today in her life. May you show grace to Rachel and Justin in whatever they do, and bring strength and peace to my mother.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Meditation is important to the Christian who desires a stable life of character and blessedness, and who desires a prayer life that moves “through duty toward joy.”

Grace and peace, friends.

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