Not Wishful Thinking

Today is Thursday, December 17, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,925

Eight days until Christmas!

It’s a PTO day, as is tomorrow, as C and I will be heading down to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, later today, a Christmas gift to each other. In terms of pandemic safety, I dare say we will be much more safe than we were in Oklahoma, and more isolated than a typical day. We don’t plan to leave the cabin very much, and when we do, we will be seeking places to walk, preferably away from anyone else. We won’t be eating in at any restaurants, and we may not even visit the beloved Pie Peddlers shop. That is still a bit undecided, at the moment, but leaning toward not.

This is a pure relaxation, self-care trip, to get away from everything, and spend a lot of time in the hot tub. I’ve got plenty of books to take, some paperback, many electronic. My Kindle is loaded up. I’ll be taking the iPad along, from which I can also read Kindle books.

There may also be Geocaching.

We still haven’t figure out what Christmas is going to look like, this year. We badly want to see family, and we will have gifts for all. But we haven’t sussed it out, yet. (My browser spellchecker does not like “sussed.” I suppose I could go to the trouble to add it to my dictionary.)

I have my therapy session in a little bit, and will likely have to interrupt my writing for it. After that, between 11:00 and 12:00, we have a small grocery order to pick up, a few things S requested, as well as some more grapes to take with us, and eggs and bread for our breakfasts in the cabin. C may make a quick trip to the library to grab a few books. Then, this afternoon, we will be on our way.

Oh. I’m not sure if there will be a blog entry for the next three days. I always take my devotional materials with me, and I will have the iPad, which is more conducive to blog writing than an iPhone. If I do, it will look different, as I won’t have the same tools available that I have on my home computer.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 51:15 ESV
(15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Today I am grateful:

  1. For some time away, to relax and refresh, to take our minds off of things
  2. To hopefully use said time for spiritual refreshing, as well
  3. That You calm us with Your love and delight us with Your songs (Zephaniah 3:17)
  4. For Your provision, as You cause rain to fall on the earth, and food to grow
  5. That our faithful prayers can have an impact on the world around us

Psalms 86:1-2 ESV
(1) Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
(2) Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalms 90:1-2 ESV
(1) Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
(2) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalms 85:9 ESV
(9) Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.

Mark 1:1-4 ESV
(1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
(2) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,
(3) the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”

(4) John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Psalms 66:5 ESV
(5) Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

Psalms 66:7-9 ESV
(7) who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
(8) Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
(9) who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

“Be, Lord, my helper and forsake me not.
Do not despise me, O God, my savior.”
(The Short Breviary)

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.

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Nineteen

Zephaniah 3:14-18 ESV
(14) Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
(15) The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
(16) On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
(17) 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.
(18) I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

Luke 1:39-45 ESV
(39) In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,
(40) and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
(41) And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
(42) and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
(43) And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(44) For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
(45) And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Leviticus 23:22 ESV
(22) “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

Psalms 147:8 ESV
(8) He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.

Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV
(10) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
(11) so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Acts 14:17 ESV
(17) “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Psalms 140:1-13 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men,
(2) who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.
(3) They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah.
(4) Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet.
(5) The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah.
(6) I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
(7) O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.
(8) Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah.
(9) As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
(10) Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise!
(11) Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!
(12) I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.
(13) Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

There’s a theme that I see flowing through this morning’s Scriptures. The passage read in Our Daily Bread finishes with the verse in Leviticus, in which the Lord told His people to leave the corners of the field unharvested, so that the poor could come along behind and gather food for themselves. This was known as “gleaning,” and it is what Ruth was doing in the fields of Boaz.

This kind of practice would be unheard of in today’s culture of greed and “me, first.” The idea of not collecting every single possible penny of profit and leaving something behind for the poor would be considered a terrible business practice.

Yet, it is what our Lord expects from us. Generosity. Hand open, not closed. Compassion for the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, these are things the Lord desires from us.

And, in order to help us along in that regard, the verses from Daily Guideposts 2020 remind us of His provision in our lives. God blesses us with rain and crops, with food, that we might have enough for ourselves, but that we might also have enough to share.

I don’t grow crops or animals. Jolly good thing, too, because we would starve if we had to rely on that. Nevertheless, the Lord has provided for us by making it “rain” in different ways. We have plenty. We have excess. And He has given us generous hearts and open hands that we might share that with others, graciously and willingly.

I don’t keep track of the times when we help people. I believe that would be wrong. I think God does, though, and His “book” would be more accurate than mine, anyway. I dare say there will be entries in that book that would surprise me. That kind word I shared with someone who was discouraged. The challenging questions I asked someone to make them think about their beliefs, to solidify them in their hearts. There is more than just economical and physical generosity.

But we have, figuratively speaking, not harvested our corners.

The last piece is from Psalm 140, which doesn’t seem, at first glance to go along. However, if you look more closely at the latter verses of the psalm, you see the proclamation that the Lord maintains “the cause of the afflicted and will execute justice for the needy.”

This goes hand in hand with attitudes of generosity. In addition, there are some prayers in the middle of the psalm that say a great deal about our attitudes in our culture.

We should pray, along with David, that the desires of the wicked not be granted. Unfortunately, many of us have different ideas about who those “wicked” might be. I’m not going into that, today. Except to say that, for me, the “wicked” are those who would deny the poor, needy, and afflicted what they need.

“David prays to change the world. He prays that the plans of the exploitative and violent will not succeed and that the poor and downtrodden will be lifted up – and we should pray for the same thing. Affecting world events through prayer is not wishful thinking; we influence the course of current events through appealing to our Father in heaven to intervene.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, help me to be more faithful to pray in these ways. Cause me to be more ready to pray for my world to change. I do pretty well, or so I think, at praying for those things that people ask me to pray. But there are things that I don’t pray intensely or frequently enough. And one of those things is for the desires of the wicked to fail, and that my world be changed toward more generosity and care for the afflicted and needy, those to whom Your heart leans.

Thank You for Your bountiful provision in our lives. Thank you that our jobs continue to hold up and that we have money coming in. Thank You that You have turned our hearts toward generosity. When I boast about this, I boast in You, Lord, because I have done nothing other than to do what You command, to love You, and to love others.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.