Eyes and Ears

Today is Sunday, the fifth of December, 2021, the second Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,278

Twenty days until Christmas!

C and I had a most wonderful day, yesterday, at Six Flags Over Texas. We left before dark, though, so we didn’t get the full benefit of the Holiday in the Park theme. We’re going to have to get over there one evening to walk around after the sun makes its exit.

I have to give props to Six Flags, though. They have streamlined the process of season pass activation to an art. They had staff people at the front of the entries with tablets and stacks of season pass cards, and everything (assuming you paid online and had your barcode, which we did) was handled right there. Took maybe one minute per person. Literally. At the most two minutes. It was truly amazing.

We rode the Runaway Mine Train first. And even though I have gained a few pounds back since I retired (recently, there is a good reason for that, but at first, it was, and still is, a bit baffling), I could fit comfortably in each ride that we rode. I haven’t been on most of those rides in years. I stepped out of my comfort zone and rode the Riddler’s Revenge.

It was fun. I was fine. Until about the last twenty seconds or so, then I was done . . . ready to quit. It was all good, though. The wheel turns slowly as the pendulum swings, but it changes direction twice during the ride.

The next thing was the Superman Tower of Power.

I didn’t take that video, but my experience was similar. The worst part is not knowing when you’re going to be shot up into the air, or drop down in free fall. It was great fun.

We stopped at a nearby restaurant for some delicious cheesesteak sandwiches and waffle fries. Yes. I said “delicious.” The quality of at least some of the food at Six Flags has gotten better over the years.

We wanted to make our way over to the Titan, but stopped along the way to ride the Shock Wave. Neither of us had ridden that in quite a long time. As we waited in a pretty short line, we smiled as we realized that some of these people were actually riding for the first time.

Let me tell you, those lap bars are there for a reason. On many of those “short hops,” I was a few inches off of my seat. Great fun. After the second loop, it takes at least until the next curve for my brain to realize I’m right-side up again.

From there we headed over to the Titan, stopping along the way to get a couple small bags of cinnamon roasted pecans. We were sorely disappointed, though, when we encountered this.

At that point, we decided we were good to go home. It’s been a long time since we have done that, and we were tired. In all, we got close to eleven thousand steps on our trip to Six Flags, and we plan to make it a regular thing over the course of the next year. We also bought a couple of drink cups that get us free refills all season. They were about $25 each, but it will only take four or five refills to pay for that, and the rest will be truly free.

I’m not sure what’s “on the table” for today (there is, literally, a plant on the table). I think we might finally get the Christmas ornaments on the tree. There will, no doubt, be lunch from Applebee’s. And our church will be meeting via Zoom again. There might be a trip to the grocery store, too. Other than that, it will be a day of rest. C is up, and actually feels pretty good after a good night’s sleep. She was afraid that she would be really sore.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“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)

May the LORD give strength to his people! 
May the LORD bless his people with peace! 
(Psalms 29:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You do great, unsearchable, and marvelous things without number
2. that You bless Your people with peace
3. that You call us to not make judgments based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but based on righteousness
4. that You call us to seek Your kingdom first, and to be peacemakers
5. for the call to shout for joy and play songs to You on instruments of praise

And behold, the star 
that they had seen when it rose 
went before them until it came to rest 
over the place where the child was.
(Matthew 2:9 ESV)
But seek first 
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you. 
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! 
Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice; 
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
(Psalms 33:1-5 ESV)
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 
giving thanks always and for everything 
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
(Ephesians 5:19-20 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY EIGHT

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation— 
whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to ponder the thought of peace; the peace that Christ is able to bring to a soul. But the soul must be receptive to the peace.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD my God,
 I put my trust. 

Good and upright is the LORD; 
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 
He guides the humble in what is right 
and teaches them his way. 
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful 
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. 
For the sake of your name, LORD, 
forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 
(Psalms 25:1, 8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, 
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, 
or decide by what he hears with his ears; 
but with righteousness he will judge the needy, 
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. 
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; 
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 
Righteousness will be his belt 
and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 
(Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages a second time, noticing how He might be speaking to my soul. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and take refreshment in His presence.

Father, along with David, I can say that I do put my trust in You. It is not perfect trust, for I am not perfect. Yet it is trust. I believe I can truthfully say this because of how You have moved my heart and soul, in the past few decades.

You are, indeed, “good and upright.” As Jesus stated, You are the only being who can be described as “good.” Only You are good. For the rest of us, Isaiah nailed it when he said that all our “righteousness” might as well be filthy rags. We are sinners, and You instruct us in Your ways. You guide us (when we humble ourselves) in what is right and You teach us Your ways. And Your ways are loving and faithful toward us, if we keep Your commands.

At this point, I remind myself that Your commands are that we love You and love one another.

As Isaiah describes Jesus in chapter 11, verses 3 and 4 call out to me, as though I had never seen them before. We are told in verse 3 that the “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” will “not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears.” Rather, “with righteousness He will judge . . .”

This is like a flash of illumination in this era of social media. Father, we are, in general, spending way too much of our time deciding and judging based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, rather than making judgments based on righteousness. We should be seeking Your kingdom, along with its righteousness, first and foremost. We should be seeking justice for the poor, and we should be concerned with making peace in our land, not division.

May Your people experience Advent hope, peace, and joy. May we have the courage needed to share the good news of the Gospel.

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.

"Redeemer God,
in righteousness You will judge all people.
Keep me from making eternal pronouncements on others' lives,
and help me trust that the coming day of judgment will reveal the glory of Your wide mercy and firm justice.
Keep me vigilant to work against evil and injustice,
and yet hopeful for all people,
trusting that Your justice never fails and Your mercy is fresh each day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.