Good morning. Today is Thursday, the fourth of November, 2021.
Peace be with you!
Eight days until C’s birthday!
Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I didn’t get enough sleep, but that was because I woke up sneezing like crazy. The whole day was one of those days when my nose wouldn’t dry up at all. I took several doses of over the counter meds (Sudafed and Dayquil), and there were brief periods where things dried up, but I emptied at least two boxes of Kleenex, during the day.
Needless to say, I didn’t get much accomplished. I took Nyquil before going to sleep, last night, and had a really good night’s rest. I’m definitely feeling better, this morning, so we’ll see what happens.
I have found myself experiencing mild anxiety over what I should be doing today. C and I agreed that this is silly. There is really nothing that needs to get done. I feel like I should practice some music or write a song or something. And if that happens, great. But I need to stop allowing myself to feel guilt or anxiety if it doesn’t happen. After all, retirement is not supposed to create anxiety, right?
I don’t work today, and, barring special events, will not ever work on Thursdays. Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays are days when I will always be off. Tuesday evenings and Fridays are the days that I will always work. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the “every-other-week” days.
I’m currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber.
I watched the movie, The Haunting, yesterday. I was pretty impressed with the way they followed the book. You don’t see that much, these days. It was made in 1963, so special effects really didn’t exist. The sounds were not very realistic (there’s a lot of banging on walls and such in the book), but for when it was made, it was a pretty good movie. They changed the names, slightly, and the whole reason for the doctor’s wife showing up at the house was changed. Plus the teacher/headmaster, Arthur, wasn’t in the movie at all. In my opinion, the best acting was done by the person who played Theodora (Claire Bloom). Although, I will say that Julie Harris did a pretty good job of crazy, playing Eleanor.
Today is Men Make Dinner Day. Well, I’m already doing that, because I started a soup in our crock pot this morning. Hah!
The word for today is bellwether, “a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.”
Today’s quote is from Mignon McLaughlin, an American journalist. “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”
Birthdays on November 4:
Augustus Montague Toplady, English hymn writer (Rock of Ages), 1740-1778 Will Rogers, American humorist and actor, 1879-1935 Walter Cronkite, American journalist and news anchor, 1916-2009 Art Carney, American actor (The Honeymooners), 1918-2003 Freddy Heineken, Dutch beer brewer, 1923-2002 Loretta Swit, American actress (MASH), 1937 (84) Laura Bush, U.S. First Lady, 1946 (75) Markie Post, American actress (Night Court), 1950-2021 Matthew McConaughey, American actor (Interstellar, Dazed and Confused), born in Uvalde, TX, 1969 (52)
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
His divine power; Precious and great promises; All I need for life. (2 Peter 1)
You are my God,
and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God;
I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that You are my God 2. that I am alive and breathing 3. for Your divine power, Your great and precious promises, all I need for life and godliness 4. that You have led us away from the love of money and wealth 5. for creating a generous, open-handed spirit within me
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FIVE
“This God is our God forever and ever;
he will lead us for all time to come.”
(Psalms 48:14 GNB)
As I pause, during this quiet moment, I am considering God’s divine power, which has given me everything I need for life and godliness. He is truly my Shepherd, and I truly lack for nothing!
A song of ascents.
I call on the LORD in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, LORD,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.
What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.
Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
(Psalms 120:1-7 NIV)
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich,
their abundance permits them no sleep.
I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, a read these passages again, attempting to notice how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on a word or phrase that jumps out at me, allowing my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation. I take refreshment in His presence.
There is some real depth in both of these passages today. Just as the unnamed psalmist, I think we should all be wary of “lying lips and deceitful tongues.” There is a problem in our culture, today, though. It is reflected by a single statement I saw a rather ignorant person post on Facebook, the other day.
“All liberals are liars,” he said.
What a ridiculous statement. What an ignorant statement. Unfortunately, it reflects the mindset of approximately half of the country today.
Any statement about any group of people that begins with the word “all” is not even worthy of consideration. Blanket generalities are ignorant and lazy. As tempting as it is to say “all politicians are liars,” that would be no different.
On the other hand, I dare say that 100% of all humanity has told a lie at some point, so it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that “all humans are liars.”
“Save me, LORD, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.” That’s a worthy prayer. But diligence and wisdom are required, that we might know whose tongues are deceitful and whose lips are lying. Great discernment is needed, and this is something we can gain from the Holy Spirit and meditating on God’s Word.
The psalmist closes out this “song of ascent” with a chilling statement. “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” He prefaces this by calling out “woe” because he dwells in “Meshek,” among the tents of “Kedar.”
What on earth does that mean? It is likely a euphemism for rude and barbaric people. Suddenly, I have images from January 6, 2021, in my head.
I, too, find that I seem to dwell in the midst of people who hate peace. My desire, in life, these days, is love and peace. Anyone who has read this effort, regularly, knows that I keep coming back to that idea of loving one another. And I know a lot of people who speak words like that out of one side of their mouth, but out of the other side, they spew nonstop hatred toward anyone who thinks differently than they do about pretty much any issue.
“All liberals are liars.”
That’s the kind of nonsense that comes out of people like that.
I am for peace; they may not be for “war,” but the are certainly not for peace. I guess they would be for peace if everyone agreed with them.
And from that, we move into a passage about the love of money and material wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10 is spot on. “Whoever loves money never has enough.” We know that Paul tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Throughout the years, people have misinterpreted/misread that to say that money, itself, is evil. Again, that’s taking the lazy way out.
I love what Dallas Willard says about money. In one of his books, he recommends making as much of it as you can. So you can give it away.
But if we love it (the Hebrew word in that verse indicates having affection for something), we can’t get enough of it; we are never satisfied with our income. And I love the question the Teacher asks in verse 11, regarding “goods.” “What benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”
This is a question that deserves some serious pondering. It’s also one of the reasons that, a number of years ago, I essentially stopped “collecting.” What good are all these things? As someone else has mentioned, it will just be a bunch of stuff that someone has to clean out of the house after I die.
Believe it or not, this is not leading me down a path toward depression, this morning. More or less, I am simply “thinking out loud,” doing what the “dwelling” portion recommends. These are lines of Scripture that have “jumped out at me,” and I am pondering them, meditating on them, expressing my thoughts with my fingers on the keyboard.
There is, inherently, nothing wrong with “collecting.” If it makes you happy, knock yourself out. More power to you. It is just something that I have ceased to see any value in. I don’t need to “feast my eyes” on all of my stuff any more.
I also don’t want to be the person mentioned in verse 13 . . . “wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners.” Again . . . there is nothing wrong with saving money, maybe for that “rainy day,” or maybe for some kind of special event or something. Or, in the case of a few of us, for the eventual helping of someone who is in dire need of something. We actually do save money for that purpose.
But, there is a warning, as well, here. The Teacher speaks of wealth lost through some misfortune. This would, I believe, cautious us against saving money in any form that is too risky.
The bottom line is in verse 15. I was naked when I came out of mother’s womb, and I will, effectively, be naked when I leave this plane. “You can’t take it with you,” is essentially what the wisdom of the teacher is telling us. Saving money just for the sake of saving money is meaningless. Hoarding is useless. It is “a chasing after the wind.”
Father, thank You for these reminders. Naked, I came into this world, naked I will leave. Nothing that I have worked for and toiled for, in this life, will exit this world with me. While there is nothing wrong with leaving some kind of “inheritance” for my children, all things need to be tempered with moderation and good sense. I do confess that I have never claimed to have an overabundance of that. So I can always use Your help when it comes to common sense things. In all seriousness, though, I am grateful that Your Spirit has led me down a path of generosity and open-handedness. Help us to have our eyes and hearts open, though, so that we might see any need that we can help meet. As the year draws to a close, I would like to not have anything left in that “tithe” fund, at the end of the year. I’m not treating that as a “hoard” or “emergency fund.” That money, in my heart, belongs to You, so help us to use it wisely.
I do truly pray that You would deliver us all from lying lips and deceitful tongues. It’s too easy to say that all of a certain class or type of people are liars. Please lead us away from that kind of lazy and ignorant thinking. Give us discernment to know when someone is not speaking truth. Most of all, help us to not put our trust in humans instead of You and Your Word. Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth, and show us the path on which to walk. Help us to love one another more than we love our politics or our money.
I pray for spiritual renewal in Your Church, and in our land. May You grant Your people deep repentance and point us in the good direction. May You strengthen any relationships that I might have with “non-Christians,” that I might have some kind of positive influence on them, showing them Your true nature, and Your love.
"Covenant God, money is a blinding, demanding master, never satisfied, and a thief of joy. Remind me that what doesn't possess me I'm free to give away. Uncurl my grip on money and its clutches on me, springing open a generosity that shares with those in need. In my true Master's name, amen."
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
(Matthew 5:10 GNB)
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
(Exodus 3:14 ESV)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
(John 6:35 ESV)
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)
I am the door.
If anyone enters by me,
he will be saved and will go in and out
and find pasture.
(John 10:9 ESV)
I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)
I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”
says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come,
(Revelation 1:8 ESV)
You are enough.
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious,
(Psalms 112:4 ESV)
The night is far gone;
the day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 ESV)
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!
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.