Refreshing

Today is Monday, the thirtieth of May, 2022, in the seventh week of Easter. It is Memorial Day in the U.S.

May the peace of Christ find you, today.

Day 23,454

I can’t remember if I mentioned that our house church did not meet, yesterday. I didn’t attend anywhere else, and didn’t get done blogging in time to participate in an online service, which I had considered. It seems that I spent a great deal of time writing, yesterday morning.

We had our usual lunch of BBQ from Lone Star BBQ, a wonderful local establishment. Mama and I watched an episode of Midsomer Murders, while we ate, then settled in to watch the Rangers game.

That turned out to be disappointing, as they pretty much handed the win to the Athletics, yesterday. The went ahead early, 4-0, but Oakland chiseled away at that lead, tying the game, and then going ahead 5-4. Texas tied the game, in the top of the ninth, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it, and the A’s won on a walk-off hit by former Red Sox player Jed Lowrie. So we didn’t sweep, and we didn’t make it to .500. The Rangers are 22-24, still in third place in the AL West, seven games out of first place.

That’s all I have time for, this morning, as I am planning to meet a dear friend for breakfast at 9:00, and I still need to shower and stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, O Holy One, we thank you that we may lay aside our own nature and be lifted in spirit above all that is temporal and human and have joy in you. In spite of all the evil surrounding us, in spite of the thousandfold misery of humankind, we may still rejoice in you, in all you do and will yet do for us. Grant that we may go on rejoicing, having joy together, helping instead of burdening each other, until this earth is filled with the jubilation of those you have so richly blest. Forgive us all our sins. Heal us in mind and body. Deliver us from all the corruption that tries to take hold of our souls. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Let all that I am praise the LORD; 
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 
Let all that I am praise the LORD; 
may I never forget the good things he does for me. 
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
(Psalms 103:1-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the joy that we can have in this life, in spite of outward circumstances
2. for the place of undeserved privilege (grace) in which I now stand because of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2)
3. that the Lord God, who shows me unfailing love, is my refuge, a place of safety
4. for the refreshing received from the Lord, when He comes to us like spring rains
5. that, because of what God has done for and in me, I am labeled a "saint"

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
(Romans 5:1-2 NLT)

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.
(Romans 5:17-19 NLT)

But as for me, I will sing about your power. 
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
 For you have been my refuge, 
a place of safety when I am in distress. 
O my Strength, to you I sing praises, 
for you, O God, are my refuge, 
the God who shows me unfailing love.
(Psalms 59:16-17 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “spring.”

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
(Hosea 6:3 ESV)

As someone who lives in the DFW area of Texas, “spring” is a somewhat foreign concept. We don’t really have “seasons,” per se.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, and I’ve seen similar posts from people in other states, so I guess we aren’t unique, after all. But if we do have “spring,” we might have maybe a week. Or, rather, seven days, but not all in the same week. We came very close to triple digits during May, which is ridiculous. May is supposed to be spring, but it’s been acting like summer. Then we had a couple days of below-eighty-degree temps. And now it’s summer again.

We typically have a little bit of winter in February. I hate February, which you know if you have read this blog for very long. February was when we had “Snovid-21” in Texas. The entire state was frozen for a week.

The writer of today’s reading apparently lives in northern Idaho. Based on his writing, it sounds like their spring is really still winter. I’ve been in Wyoming in June, and there were snow drifts higher than the van we were driving.

So what is the point of all of this? How does this word “spring” fit into my prayers, today? Here’s what I’m taking away from it. Refreshing. I see in that verse from Hosea the promise of God coming to us, just like spring rains, after a dry season, to refresh us.

This doesn’t mean that we can only get refreshing from God in a certain season. It’s a metaphor. When God comes to us (remember that idea of “meeting” from yesterday’s blog?) and we come to Him, we get refreshed. And that can happen at any time, during any season. It can even happen multiple times a day. But we can be assured that it can and does happen, if we but avail ourselves of His constant presence in our lives.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 1:1-2 ESV)

“Paul calls us saints.” (Technically, he called the Christians in Ephesus saints, but he also uses the same label in Philippians and Colossians.) Other translations, rather than “saints,” say “holy people.” The Greek word is “hagios,” which means “sacred, holy, saint.”

Eugene Peterson wonders, “Does he mean it? Does he know us at all? Or is this cynical sales-pitch flattery?”

Certainly, we have been called by a lot of labels in our lives, but rarely have I been called a “saint.”

There are other ways we are used to being labeled. There are intellectual labels (underachiever, average, gifted and talented). There are psychological labels (introvert, extrovert). There are social labels (lower-, middle-, upper-class). There are size and weight labels (short, medium, tall, underweight, average weight, overweight). And there are legal labels (guilty, acquitted).

But this? “Saints?” “This is a new label.”

“Our usual labels direct attention to what we can expect from each other; this one directs attention to what we can expect from God. Saint doesn’t name what we do or can do; it names what God has done and does – in us.”

(From On Livine Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, all the way back up at the top of this thing, I see that verse that speaks of us being made right with You, which is because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. We stand in this position of undeserved privilege because of Jesus; this grace, this beautiful, marvelous, infinite, matchless grace. And I emphasize “undeserved,” because people sure seem to act like they think they deserve it, sometimes. I know better. I know that any “privilege” I have in this life is fully and utterly dependent on You and what You have done for and in me.

Your action in my life has made me what Paul calls a “saint.” I am far from holy, in this flesh. But, because of Christ’s sacrifice, I am seen as holy. This is beyond comprehension, yet we seem to walk in such a way that says we take it for granted. My prayer, my heart’s desire, is to walk in this mystery, in constant acknowledgment of the wonder of it. As the Psalmist said, “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!”

So, let Your presence be to me like spring rains, today, Father. May I know this constant joy that comes from You being my refuge in times of distress, and my confidence when things are not distressful. There are certainly times of great distress in this land, right now, but very little of it affects me personally. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, as the Psalmist says in a different place.

Grant us Your peace, Father, us, Your saints. May we live in such a way that, as the opening prayer asks, we help one another, rather than burdening one another, that the whole word may know Your joy. Let the earth be filled with Your glory, as the waters fill the seas.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

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