Today is Sunday, the fifteenth of May, 2022, the fifth Sunday of Easter.
Peace be with you!
It was a pleasant day at the library, yesterday. Saturdays are typically a little different, perhaps a bit more laid-back. There aren’t as many people there, throughout the library, unless we have any programs going on, which we did not, yesterday. So we had only three of us in circulation, and there was one Youth librarian, as well as two people in the Computer center, one Adult Service librarian, and one Tech Services librarian. That was it. It never got terrible busy, although I had the privilege of issuing a handful of new library cards, as well as replacing at least one that had been lost. I also had a nice conversation about music with a patron at the end of the day.
The Texas Rangers lost in a big way (even bigger than the night before, unfortunately) as the Red Sox beat them 11-3. Boston scored first, with one run in the top of the first, which Texas quickly answered in the bottom to tie the game 1-1. But then Boston scored four in the top of the second, and the Rangers didn’t answer again until the bottom of the seventh. Glenn Otto got the loss in the game. The Rangers are now 13-19, tied for last place in the AL West, with the Athletics. The Red Sox improved to 13-20, still in last place in the AL East, only a half game behind Baltimore. The two teams will play again, this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT.
I’ve also been following the PWBA, as their season has just kicked off with a tournament in Rockford, IL. The qualifications are over, and the finals will be this afternoon at 5:00 PM. The top five bowlers are Liz Kuhlkin, Breanna Clemmer (who was actually leading most of the week), Kelly Kulick, Shannon O’Keefe, and Stefanie Johnson, who hails from McKinney, TX. Just missing the cut was one of my favorites, Verity Crawley, from England, and another favorite, Birgit (apparently pronounced “beer-hit”) Noreiks, from Germany. I have several favorites, also being a fan of Shannon, who placed fourth, and Dasha Kovalova, from Ukraine, who placed ninth. Liz Johnson, one of the more famous veterans of the game, placed tenth. Several others that I follow, Daria Pajak, Diana Zavjalova, and Jen Higgins, failed to make the top twelve cut.
I might be heading to a church service, this morning, as our group will not be meeting. I’ll need to get moving if I plan to do that.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Father in heaven, may we recognize and acknowledge that you are God. You have made us, and not we ourselves, to be your people and the sheep of your pasture. Baptize us with the truth we need throughout our lives. Give us the gift to discern who we are and what we should become. Free our eyes from all deception so that we can no longer delude ourselves with short-lived, earthly things. Clear our eyes to see what is eternal in and around us. Make us children, true children, who awake to exult and rejoice in what is childlike and who give thanks to you, O God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (Psalms 100:1-5 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I belong to God, part of His people, the sheep of His pasture 2. for the relief that comes in knowing God's forgiveness, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; may we extend that same relief to others 3. that people will know I am a disciple of Christ by the way I love, not by the "causes" I support (or don't support) 4. for my five senses, with which I can experience the fullness of the salvation experience and the Gospel message 5. for the way God continues to show me truth through His Word
Today’s prayer word is “relief.” There’s a word that most of us could probably get behind. Who doesn’t like relief? I can remember when “relief” was spelled “R-O-L-A-I-D-S.”
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
(Psalms 32:1-2 NLT)
Here are the same verses from The Living Bible:
What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.
What a relief, indeed, to know that our sins and guilt are forgiven. It’s even better than this Psalm indicates, because, in Christ, our sins are erased, rather than just covered, as though they have never happened.
(From Pray a Word a Day)
Father, I thank You for the relief of forgiveness. I praise You for grace and mercy, and the shed blood of Jesus Christ that has cleansed us from all sinfulness. Even though I still fall short, daily, I have the relief of knowing that I am in good standing with You because of Christ. Help me to walk in that, free from sin in my daily life.
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.”
(Matthew 7:21 NLT)
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
(James 2:17 NLT)
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
(1 John 3:18 NLT)
We have a lot of words that we use to describe our relationship with Jesus. Besides “Savior,” we also call Him Brother and Friend. While those two words indicate a more casual relationship (and not incorrectly, based on the relationship He had with His disciples), we must not forget that He is also our Lord. And just calling Him “Lord” isn’t enough, as the Matthew passage indicates. We must, as He said, do the will of God.
Does this mean our salvation is by works? This gets confused a lot. My take on this is that, of course, our salvation is by grace through faith. We have done nothing to earn it, and can do nothing to increase or decrease it. But, as “they” say, “the proof is in the pudding.”
How did Jesus say people would know we are His disciples? By the way we love one another.
Yep. Here we are again, pounding that “love” thing. But I tell you three times, I can’t help it! Because that is truly what the whole thing seems to be about! Jesus says that only people who do the will of God will be getting into the “Kingdom of Heaven.” This does not mean that by doing God’s will we earn entry into Heaven. This means that, if we are people who have access to Heaven, we will do God’s will. There’s a difference.
What is God’s will? It is not the “Ten Commandments” that we have to be concerned about. That is not the purpose of the Law, is it? God’s will, all of the law and the prophets, according to Jesus, Himself, is summed up in two commands. Two.
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NLT)
It can’t be any plainer to me.
So, it is safe to assume that if one is not successfully keeping those two commands, one does not have access to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Father, please help us to get this. This world, and more especially, this nation, is in desperate need of people to live out this truth. We are in desperate need of people who are willing to set aside their bigotry, surrender their so-called “rights” and love their neighbors as themselves. We seem to think we’ve got the God-loving part down, but we seem to be going about it all wrong. We seem to think that by trying to work harder to get people to hate us that we are fulfilling Your commands. Jesus did say that the world would hate us, but He most certainly didn’t tell us to try to make that happen. We seem to celebrate when we make people angry and claim that we are fulfilling Jesus’s words when we do that.
It simply baffles me, Father, and I don’t know how we arrived at this place. All I can do is continue to spread this Gospel of love, here, and I believe that this, and the ministry of prayer, is what You have called me to do. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m willing to admit that I might be. I don’t think I am. And I would much rather err on the side of love than on the side of hatred.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ involves all the senses, according to Eugene Peterson. “Every physical sense we possess is brought into play to receive and express the new life.” This, I confess, is not something that I have considered.
“The God who created rocks, trees, torsos, and tongues and became flesh in Jesus Christ recovers and redeems our five senses in the practice of faith, love, and hope.”
There is, of course, a lot that we cannot sense. “We cannot see God, we cannot handle the Spirit, and we cannot hear the angels.” However, there is some great bit of what Peterson calls “sensuality” (how often we see that word in the context of spiritual things??) in the life of faith. “Baptismal waters, Eucharistic bread and wine, and anointing oil.” One psalmist told us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Jesus, Himself, spent a great deal of time “touching and being touched, speaking and listening, seeing and being seen.” While He did forgive sins (one of His main purposes for being here), He also “restored sight and speech and hearing and recovered the use of arms and legs so that men and women could live the faith in their hearts as well as with their bodies.”
I love this next sentence. “Senses dulled by sin are sharpened in holiness.” Jesus’s physical body, as He walked on earth, was how the “life of God was experienced and expressed in revelation to us; our bodies are also the means by which the life of God is experienced and expressed in faith.”
We are not believers that all material things are evil and only spiritual things are good. That is heresy, dealt with in early centuries of the history of Christianity. Jesus taught using the senses, speaking of the taste of salt, and the “phenomenon of light.”
“We become more physical, not less, as we become and mature as Christians. Our physical capacities and the exercise of our senses make it possible for us and for those around us to experience God, who revealed himself in the flesh of Jesus.”
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I thank You for my senses. I am grateful that I have all of mine, with minimal diminishing. I thank You that I can taste salt, and thereby understand what Jesus teaches when He uses that example. I am grateful that I can see light, which also enables me to see colors in creation. In that, I can understand what it means to be the “light of the world.” I am even more thankful for hearing (perhaps my favorite of the senses), because I can hear worship and praise of You being expressed. I am thankful for the sense of smell, in part because it enhances the sense of taste, but also because I can enjoy the scents of nature, like the freshness of rain. And I am thankful for the sense of touch, which is so very important in the human life, as Jesus also illustrated in His willingness to touch even the most “unclean” of persons.
I pray that all of my senses will be used to glorify You in this life, and that they will also help me to experience the fullness of my salvation, as I long for and look forward to the day when I am Home.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
"Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Fifth Sunday of Easter)
Grace and peace, friends.
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