Today is Monday, May 25, 2020, in the seventh week of Easter. Peace be with you!
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is the day when we remember all military service people who have died. To my knowledge, I had two grandfathers and an uncle who served. There may be more that I’m unaware of.
We had a great virtual worship gathering, yesterday morning. We discussed three passages in Paul’s epistles, each one being a different prayer that he prayed for those who would read the letter. Then we finished by looking at the “Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew 6. We spent a good deal of time praying for each other, afterward. And we have planned to reunite next Sunday at Brandon and Kristin’s house. A Zoom gathering will still be available for those who are not ready to meet together, yet. Those who wish to wear masks will do so. “Social distancing” will be encouraged.
C and I have been watching a show from the WGN network, called “Almost Paradise.” It features one of our favorite actors, Christian Kane, as a “retired” DEA agent who has bought a gift shop in a beachside resort in the Philippines. The problem is, he just can’t seem to get away from the crime and drama, so he winds up helping the local police department in each episode. Christian Kane plays Eliot Spencer in “Leverage” (which, by the way, is scheduled to come back sans Timothy Hutton), and Alex Walker, his character in “Almost Paradise,” seems to be pretty much the same character, except in this show, he doesn’t take all the ammo out of the guns. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Kane first appeared on our radar when he played Lindsey McDonald in twenty-one episodes of “Angel,” the “Buffy” spin-off.
Today, there are no plans. We are, of course, off work. There’s a nice steady rain going on outside. Actually, according to the forecast, it’s going to rain pretty much for the rest of May. Yesterday, the forecast showed rain all the way until June 2. That has backed off a little, as of this morning.
As mentioned, previously, today is also the 63rd anniversary of my parents’ wedding. My father passed from this life to the next a little over five years ago. My mother was actually able to get out of the house last Thursday, when she went to Stephenville with a couple of friends. I don’t believe she got out of the car. Her friend’s son needed to take care of some business down there (I think it’s “down”), and suggested that his mom and mine travel with him. She had a great time. That makes me happy.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"Father, I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you. I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul. I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father." Charles de Foucauld
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
(Psalms 96:2-3 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- For the gentle rain outside
- For the good discussion we had in yesterday’s worship gathering
- For Your commandment to love one another
- That You call us “friends”
- That You have not rejected my prayers or withheld Your love from me (Psalm 66:20)
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 ESV)
Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
(Psalms 21:13 ESV)
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 ESV)
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
(Luke 1:39-45 ESV)
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
(Psalms 147:7-11 ESV)
Even so come, Lord Jesus!
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; and that your Church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
(John 15:9-17 ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:7-11 ESV)
I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
(Psalms 66:17-20 NIV)
There are two principles of prayer represented in this passage. First, praise should always accompany petition. The psalmist cries out to the Lord, but also has praise on his tongue. “Expressions of need should go along with confession of God’s greatness . . . and thanks to him ahead of any answer for whatever his wise response and timing will be. This settles the heart even before you get any answer.”
I like this notion of settling the heart. If I decide, ahead of time, to be satisfied with whatever answer God gives me, in response to my prayer, it will be that much better for me.
The other principle seen is “not perfect holiness but a sincere willingness to turn away from sin” (see verse 18). Joshua learned, in chapter seven of the bible book named after him, that it is useless to ask God for something when you are being disobedient.
“Lord, show me my ‘cherished’ sins–the ones I confess but into which I keep falling. This is because I want to stop but I don’t want to stop. Don’t let me dishonor you by being divided in my loyalties. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)
Father, as I have prayed countless times, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name. Help me to stand firm against temptations to fall into the same old sins again and again. I do not cherish them in my heart. To be sure, I loathe them. Yet, as Paul describes in Romans 7, I find myself doing what I do not want to do. Yet, if I truly did not want to do it, I would not do it. Mold me and make me, after Thy will!
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us praise as we petition.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)