Today is Tuesday, the twenty-seventh of April, 2021, in the fourth week of Easter.
Peace be with you.
Twelve days until Mother’s Day
I had a really rough morning, yesterday, but things got better throughout the day. This admission is given in the spirit of maintaining a sense of vulnerability, due to my current reading of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. I struggled with emotional health, yesterday morning, largely driven by a difficult person within our client. What makes this worse is that I expected the encounter, and tried to be prepared for it. Some other folks jumped in and helped, though, so it got better. And by the afternoon, I was feeling more like normal. Needless to say, the spiritual aspect of my day suffered.
So here I am again, back in front of this computer, trying to prepare myself for another day.
C is working from home today, because our new pool heater is supposed to be delivered. After it gets delivered, we have one more set of valves to arrive, and then the work should begin. Of course, after all of that work gets done, then we will find out if there was any damage to the actual pool structure or pipes around it. We may or may not have a working pool for this summer.
Footstool problems. It’s inconvenient and a little costly, but, in the long run, it’s not really important.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
A Moment, by Daryl Madden
So busy this morning With much to do here Claiming a moment To dwell in a prayer Simple the pausing Of soul to prepare Finding a moment With God that we share Peace of descending The Spirit reveal A moment of being One that is real A moving beyond Of here to above A moment transforms Into eternal love A change of direction Of this new day begun A moment of Presence Becomes a moment of One
I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the LORD for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?
I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
(Psalms 56:10-12 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
- for Your help in working through vulnerability issues
- for Your constant presence around me, in me, through me
- for the growth I am experiencing, lately
- that no one took Your life from You; You freely gave it
- that there is always a way out when temptation comes
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
EASTER – DAY 24
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 NIV)
I am pausing, briefly, to quietly reflect on some of God’s promises. Matthew 6 comes to mind.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 NIV)
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth. A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
LORD, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
(Psalms 88:1-3 NIV)
I call to you, LORD, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
(Psalms 88:9B-11 NIV)
But I cry to you for help, LORD;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
(Psalms 88:13-14 NIV)
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
(John 10:14-18 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, lingering over them, asking the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts and meditations, and asking Him to speak to me, speak into me.
I am struck by the passion in the plea at the beginning of the psalm. “Day and night I cry out to you.” The psalmist feels that he is close to death because his troubles are so overwhelming.
I can’t say that I have ever felt close to death, but I can say that I have been so anxiety-stricken over “troubles” that I have felt tightness in my chest. These are times when I simply whisper, “Jesus, help me,” sometimes over and over again. This happened yesterday morning. And guess what! He did!
“In the morning my prayer comes before you.” I have long done away with the legalistic “requirement” of a “Quiet Time.” I remember when that became a big thing. I think it must have been back in the seventies when the “Quiet Time” became a thing. The problem is that it became a legalistic thing; ritual without substance; a box to check on the daily checklist.
Who else is old enough to remember those Sunday School envelopes? They had check boxes for different things, all adding up to 100%. That may have been one of the worst ideas ever. Who are we trying to please? Do we really believe that God cared if I was able to achieve 100% on the front of that envelope? Read Bible. Check. Tithing. Check. Attending worship. Check. All of these things combine to create a legalistic mindset. We have to do all of these things or God is not pleased with us.
But I digress. Back to the phrase at hand. “In the morning my prayer comes before you.” That’s why I’m sitting here. It’s not ritualistic. Well, maybe it is, but in a good way. It’s not a box I’m checking off. It’s a vital part of my day, and if I don’t do it, I suffer, both emotionally and spiritually. I find that the best time of day for me is early in the morning, before the day’s noise begins. I don’t call it “quiet time,” but it is quiet. Usually, I just call it my devotional. Some days, I have referred to it as worship time, because that is truly what happened. Point is, it doesn’t matter what I call it. What matters is that I am putting myself, intentionally, in God’s presence, soaking in His Spirit, in a sense, getting fuel for the day. Holy fuel, as it were, but I don’t want to sound cheesy, you know.
It is a centering process, I believe. I’m centering my day on Christ. And I tell you truly, even with that happening in the morning, sometimes my days are still scattered as heck!
Quickly, a thought from the passage in John. Jesus lays down His life, and He takes it up again. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” This is huge. No one but Jesus had the authority to take His life. In fact, if you read this carefully, you see that Jesus’s life was not taken from Him. He laid it down! Jesus was in complete control, down to those final words, “It is finished.” And note what the Bible says happened after He said those words.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 NIV)
Father, there is a lot to think about, this morning, but the gist of most of it is that I’m spending time in here with You, preparing myself for the day ahead. But it is even more than that. I’m not just in here so I can receive. I’m not just “fueling up,” as it were. I am also giving to You; surrendering to You. There are other things I could be doing with this time, like, you know, sleeping. But I am giving that to You, and I am doing this primarily because I want to be with You; I want to go where You are taking me, and, to my knowledge and understanding, this is the best way I can do that.
Help me to always use this time wisely, keeping distractions off to one side as much as possible, until it is finished. And maybe, if it is not “finished,” let’s carry on out to the car and onto the road for the drive to work. Stay with me, as You promise. Stay right in front of me as I go, influencing my every thought, word, and action. Teach me Your way that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. Show me that fulness of joy that is in Your presence, those “pleasures forevermore” that are at Your right hand!
Good Shepherd, keep me alert to your unconventional friends and followers, wherever they may be found: people of faith who stand against what is wrong and pursue what is right; people who love God and serve their neighbors; people who nail pretense and pride, ego and arrogance. Where your church is, make it recognizable by its likeness to Jesus. Amen. (Belgic Confession 29)
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Matthew 26:41 ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
(1 Peter 2:21 ESV)
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Help me to follow in Your step, wherever I walk today. Help me resist temptations that would pull me away from those steps. You are the only imitable person in my life. May I look at no one else.
Lord, keep me faithful to the calling to serve You as I go out into my neighborhood and my workplace. Help all of us in Your Church be mindful of serving the “common good.” May Your presence especially be with all who serve in colleges and universities.
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.