Don’t Wait For the Music to Start

Today is Saturday, September 28, 2019. Blessings to you!!

Day 22,479

14 days until Galveston and our 34th anniversary!!

We worked until about 6:00 PM last night. That allowed me to get caught up on some of my backlog, but I’m still a bit behind on some other stuff. But that’s enough about work. It’s the weekend.

Tonight, we have our monthly (sort of) Night of Worship gathering. It starts at 6:00 PM, at 4033 Jackie Lee Street, in North Richland Hills. If you’re in the area, you are more than welcome to join us. We bring snacks to eat during the time, we sing songs, we pray together, and we fellowship together. It’s sort of a worship party, I guess.

The Rangers lost to the Yankees, last night, which is, of course, no surprise. I’m not sure whose idea it was to close out Globe Life Park’s history against the second best team in the AL. The final score was 14-7, in a game that doesn’t even matter to the Yankees. The Rangers are 76-84.

The Red So lost to the Orioles, which is surprising. The score was 4-1. The Sox are 83-77. That game mattered to no one.

In games that did matter, Minnesota clinched their division by winning number 100 for the season. I’m not sure when the last time all three AL division winners had 100+ wins, but I just saw that this postseason will make history, as we have a record four teams with 100 or more wins. The aforementioned Twins, the Dodgers, the Astros, and the Yankees all have at least 100 wins. The Braves had a shot, but they are at 97 today, with only two games left.

Sadly, the Cleveland Indians lost their way out of the playoffs for this season. So the AL Wild Cards will be Oakland and Tampa. Bleah! Bleah! Bleah!! So, if I pay attention to the playoffs at all, I will be cheering for Minnesota as long as they are in the running.

In an unexpected, radical move, I think I am going to actually go physically buy our groceries today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 
The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. 
God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Psalm 67:5-7

Today I am grateful:
1. For the weekend to rest for the upcoming work week.
2. For the Night of Worship tonight
3. That we can walk in the river of God’s grace every minute of every day
4. That, if we but pay attention, we can know and see God working in our lives on a daily basis
5. For the beauty that is everywhere around me

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea,
We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,
We thank you, Lord.

for minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, Thanksgivings, 2. A Litany of Thanksgiving

I’m not sure where this is going to wind up, this morning, so bear with me. It began as I read from another blog that I follow (I use the term “follow” loosely, because I’m not really a faithful reader of any of them). The blog is called “Waking Eve,” from Sheerah Ministries: A Journey of Women Reclaiming Eden.” Today’s post is called “God Encounters of A Different Kind.”

The author begins by explaining that a real God encounter is not like a “high,” or a feeling of euphoria that lasts for a day or two, like you might get from a rock concert, or even an event by your favorite worship band/team. A true God encounter “quickens a hunger inside you that is never satisfied this side of eternity. God encounters lead you to a person not a feeling. The soul that is desperate for the person of Jesus will never be placated by fanfare and vain glory. It sees the truth because it’s met the Truth.”

This is a truth that the modern church desperately needs to hear. “God encounters lead you to a person not a feeling.”

She writes that these encounters generally happen in the quite moments. But those “quiet moments” can even happen in the midst of noise. The reference used here is that of Elijah as he waited to meet God in the cave after running from Jezebel for roughly eight weeks. The story is well known. As Elijah waited for God, there was an earthquake, then there was what was, essentially, a hurricane, then a fire. But God was not in any of those noisy violent acts. He appeared in what we like to call the “still, small, voice.” The ESV calls it “the sound of a low whisper.” When God heard the voice of God, he wrapped his face in his cloak (or mantle) and went out to meet God.

When we find God in that quiet place, no matter where we are, we can, like Elijah, step out of the noise to meet him. And the thing is, that quietness is available every minute of every day, just waiting for us to realize it.

Then, here is where the author of the blog nails it. “Don’t wait for the music to start or the worship band to hit the chorus or even the preacher to start preaching. Sometimes the noise is just another distraction we give ourselves to help justify why we can’t hear him. True worship begins in the heart and not with the band. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the object of our worship but God always knows.”

When Elijah stepped out of that cave, he stepped into the river of God’s grace. We can live in that river, and if we can manage to do so, we don’t need to constantly be seeking that one-night-worship-stand euphoria. God is not a one-night-stand kind of God.

That led me to today’s Our Daily Bread reading, which started with Ephesians 1:15-23.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Take a moment, if you want, to read this passage out loud. I think it’s helpful.

In the reading, Amy Boucher Pye remembered a time when she was at a retreat center in Lancashire, England. As she gazed out over a beautiful scene of stone fences enclosing sheep in the hills, she “inhaled deeply, drinking in the sight.” As she commented to a woman working at the retreat center, the woman said that she had never really noticed the beauty of the scene until guests began to point it out. “We’ve lived here for years;” she said, “and when we were farmers, this was just the office!”

How easy is it for us to miss the beauty that is part of our everyday lives? This is not just about our physical surroundings, but is easily applicable to the ways God works in our lives on a day to day basis. But, as we read the words of Paul, we see that we can pray as he prayed, asking for the “eyes of our hearts” to be enlightened that we “may know what is the hope to which he has called” us. We can see more readily how he is working in our lives. The things that we do every day don’t have to be “just the office.”

How does this relate to the previous blog article? The whole point of both of these is learning how to hear God speaking to us! I’m not necessarily talking about an audible voice from God, although I still believe that is possible. He is God, after all, and there aren’t a whole lot of things he can’t do. I’m just talking about listening for him, however he chooses to speak to us. I fail miserably at this, mind you. I’m still learning. I still let the noise get in my way. And it’s not always audible noise, either, just like his voice isn’t always audible. Sometimes that “noise” is stress and anxiety caused by situations at work or in traffic. Or when the Internet won’t work.

Daily Guideposts led me to the first three verses of Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

And Isaiah 55:12.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

How would I summarize all of this? What is the theme for the day?

I believe that it centers around becoming more aware of God’s presence and working in our lives all of the time; constantly. He’s not just here when the worship band starts playing or when the preacher starts preaching or when the prayers begin. We need to open the eyes of our hearts and look around; pay attention.

Don’t wait for the music to begin to start worshiping.

Ironically, I’m reminded of a song. Hey! I am a musician, after all. This song, by Charlie Hall, called “Constant.”

Just like the sunshine
You have been our light
Leading us into beautiful places
We’ve walked through fire
But You made us brighter
Leading us into beautiful places

Faithful Jesus, healing savior
Compass, center, bread of life
Faithful Jesus, cherished treasure
Our portion, wisdom God’s great light

And just like the starlight
You shine in the black night
Leading us into beautiful places
And just like the atmosphere
You’ve come to surround us here
Leading us into beautiful places

Faithful Jesus, healing savior
Compass, center, bread of life
Faithful Jesus, cherished treasure
Our portion, wisdom God’s great light

God You are here with us
Constantly here with us
You are our everything
Faithful and true

God You are here with us
Constantly here with us
You are our everything
Faithful and true

Faithful Jesus, healing savior
Compass, center, bread of life
Faithful Jesus, cherished treasure
Our portion, wisdom God’s great light

Father, I praise you for these truths. This is truly something I needed, this morning, as I have felt myself drifting away from your constant presence. I know you never leave me, that’s your promise. But I drift away. I forget. I stop listening. God, open my ears; open my eyes; open my heart; open my brain. Let me see your presence daily; let me hear you speaking to me everywhere; help me to love you more; and purify my thoughts, directing them toward meditation and contemplation on your word.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.

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