Stone of Help

Today is Friday, March 17, 2017. Seventeen days until Opening Day!

Quote of the Day

“Decisions are made by people who have time, not people who have talent.” ~ Scott Adams, Dilbert, 10-26-07

Word of the Day

Effulgence ~ radiant splendor: brilliance. Reminds me of a poem I once heard.

“My heart,
Tis grown a bulge in it
Inspired by your beauty,
Effulgent” (William the Bloody)

Since celebrating “World Sleep Day” is pretty much out of the question, we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is probably the most well-known of the patron saints of Ireland, and this is his day. To celebrate, we wear green. And somehow, a lot of beer got thrown into the mix.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
Psalm 34:9
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3
But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Psalm 88:13
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:10-12

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12

Carol Knapp gives a brief summary of the story behind the above verse. Israel had been invaded. The ark of the covenant had been stolen and resided at Kiriath-jearim for twenty years. In 1 Samuel 7:3, Samuel told the people, “direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” All of Israel put away their false idols and gathered at Mizpah to pray. The Philistines decided to attack them at Mizpah. Israel continued to pray. Samuel prepared a lamb for a sacrifice. As Samuel made the sacrifice, “the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel” (7:10) Then Samuel placed the stone and named it “Ebenezer,” which means “stone of help.”

Carol writes of naming three boulders that surrounded a fire pit that they had. “The flat one was Sky for times of lying back and searching out God’s wonders in the sky. There was Story, a perch for the telling of tales around the fire’s embers. Sparrow got its name from a little fox sparrow that landed there, reminding me of Jesus’s words about His Father’s knowing even the sparrows (Matthew 10:29-30). Those rocks later became a circle of meeting where I cried out to God for help in a fierce battle of the soul.”

The stone in Samuel’s story is not the “main attraction.” It stands for God’s deliverance, which is the main attraction. Our lives can be full of such “Ebenezers,” if we simply pay attention. “Rescues from fear, sorrow, failure, disillusionment, regret–the list as elastic as human frailty.” Our “stones of help” stand firm.

I’ve never named a rock; never even considered it. I do have a memento, however, in a box in the garage, that represents the power of God’s love to me. Once upon a time, standing between some giant pine trees in the front yard of my Grandmother’s house, I asked God if I was really his child. His response was a flood of love so strong that I almost couldn’t stand it. It was as if he reached down and hugged me. I looked down and saw what I guess is a feather from a Blue Jay. I have kept that feather ever since, as a reminder. That feather is a “stone of help” to me. I didn’t name it, but that’s okay. I know what it stands for.

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?
Deuteronomy 4:7
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. 
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Psalm 71:3-5

Father, you have, indeed, rescued me from many crises in my life. You have rescued me from fear, sorrow, failure, disillusionment, even regret. I praise you for your mighty hand in my life. For you are near to me, and all I need do is call out to you. Forgive me for when I’m too stubborn to do that, for the times when I think I can handle whatever happens on my own. I pray that your Spirit will make me more attentive to those “stones of help” in my life. Keep the eyes of my heart open, that I might see them every day. You are my rock of refuge, my rock and my fortress. I dwell in that fortress, O God! You are my hope and my trust.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.” (Robert Robinson)

Grace and peace, friends.

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