Today is Thursday, December 10, 2020, in the second week of Advent.
Peace be with you.
Fifteen days until Christmas
I don’t have much to write about today. Yesterday was a busy, challenging day, again full of opportunities to “lose it,” so to speak. I did not go down that path, but there were a few moments during the afternoon when I felt somewhat defeated, as my email inbox continued to grow faster than I could respond to them. It felt like all I did was respond to emails, yesterday. I’m sure my wife can relate.
I have my second (and perhaps first “real”) therapy session today at noon. I feel like I have some “ammunition” for the session, as I have taken some notes about my feelings and mindset throughout the past week. I need to add to them the fact that, when I got up at 4:00 this morning to use the bathroom, I never really went back to sleep.
Moving toward the weekend, I don’t know of any plans that we have. We are looking forward to getting away for a few days next week, as we have Thursday and Friday off, booked at our favorite cabin in Glen Rose. No better place to isolate ourselves. We plan to do something similar to what we did in Oklahoma, food-wise. We will pack our cooler with breakfast food and cook our own, each morning. I doubt we will “eat in” at any restaurants on this trip. And we may not have, even if there weren’t a pandemic going on. Since we are trying to eat more healthy, we don’t want to mess that up, you know. There is a Subway store down there, so we may order out from there, and we may also take something else that we can cook down there. Mostly, we are looking forward to the deck, rocking chairs, and hot tub. At this point, the weather forecast looks very nice.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen." (The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)
Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
(Psalms 96:9 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- The peace in my soul, in spite of everything else
- For the light of Your countenance, shining upon us
- That if I delight myself in You, You will give me the desires of my heart
- For Salt of the Sound and their delightful music
- That You hold my hand
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
(Psalms 67:1 ESV)
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
(Psalms 119:164 ESV)
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
(Psalms 25:21 ESV)
One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
(Luke 20:1-8 ESV)
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalms 37:1-7 ESV)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant us Your peace. (Agnus Dei)
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.
"Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen." (The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
(Isaiah 41:13-20 ESV)
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
(Matthew 11:11-15 ESV)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
(Colossians 3:2-3 ESV)
This is, perhaps, the best advice one could get during these days. We keep talking about how horrible 2020 has been, and, yes, it is one of the worst years that I can ever remember. It even surpasses 2016 (the celebrity apocalypse year, also the year my mother-in-law passed, I think). Between the pandemic and the circus that has been the political arena this year, it has just been a terrible year.
And still there are people vainly hoping that everything will somehow magically get better on January 1.
But if we follow Paul’s advice in Colossians 3, none of this really matters. Oh, sure, it matters that we try to take good care of ourselves during this pandemic, and, in doing so, also try to protect the health and safety of others, most especially those who are more susceptible.
But here’s a shocker. The politics, in the long run, truly don’t matter at all. My life is not going to change very much, if at all, because of who occupies the White House over the next four years. And even if it did, if I’ve got my eyes on “things above,” or “heavenly things,” it won’t matter.
Followers of Jesus have a true edge on non-believers, here. And while they might consider us to be oblivious, I’m anything but oblivious. I can see what’s going on around me. Apparently, I see other things than a lot of my friends. Nevertheless, I am aware. But I choose to hang the hat of my hope on something more durable and eternal. I will keep my eyes on things above, not on things of the earth.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace."
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 ESV)
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 22:4-5 ESV)
Father, keep my eyes on You! It is tempting, so very tempting, to let the things that are going on in our world and our country, right now, occupy my thoughts and get me depressed, disturbed, and cause me to lose hope. But I will not do those things. I will, I WILL, keep my eyes on things above, that the things of the earth will grow strangely dim. Thank You that Your face shines on us. Thank You that if I delight myself in You, You will give me the desires of my heart. Hallelujah!
I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.