Today is Monday, the thirteenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you, today!
We had a very nice worship gathering, yesterday morning. Most of our folks were in attendance, and we actually managed to include all four of the essential components. We had some great discussion, and took the Supper at the end. We’ll be missing a couple of weeks around July 4th, but should be able to meet together next Sunday.
During lunch, we watched an episode of a show called Our Flag Means Death. It’s comedy, on HBO Max, about pirates. I hear that Leslie Jones and Fred Armisen, from SNL, show up later. After that, we watched the Texas Rangers until 4:00 PM when the PWBA BVL Classic stepladder finals came on CBS Sports Network. That was great fun, yesterday, as Bryanna Cote narrowly missed not one, but two perfect games, as she climbed the ladder to win the title. She was locked in, defeating Diana Zavjalova 289-202, Stefanie Johnson 243-166, Shannon O’Keefe 278-224, and then, with what CDB called a “mediocre 212,” beat Danielle McEwan in the final match. D-Mac suffered some really bad luck in that match, getting three 7-10 splits, two of them in a row, from what were not at all bad shots.
Meanwhile, the Rangers, in twelve innings, managed to beat the Other Sox 8-6. The went ahead 6-3 in the eleventh, but Joe Barton blew another save, and the Sox tied the game. And, as a result of what is probably my biggest pet peeve in all of baseball (yes, even bigger than the ridiculous “zombie runner”), Barton gets the win because he was the “pitcher of record” when the Rangers went ahead. So the Rangers are 28-31 for the season, still staying just below .500. They are in SECOND PLACE in the AL West! They’re a half game ahead of the Angels, and 8.5 behind the Astros, who roll into town tonight for a three game series.
The Red Sox beat the Mariners 2-0, yesterday. They are now 32-29, three games over .500, but still in fourth place. Shows how much better the AL East is than the west. The Sox are 3.5 behind the third place team, and 12.5 out of first. They start a series against the Athletics tomorrow night.
I haven’t done this for a while, but the Yankees continue to dominate the world, with a 44-16 record. The Mets, who have been rolling, lately, are five games behind them. The Athletics have dropped below the Royals, with a 21-41 record. While they have won one more game than the Royals, they have lost two more. Their percentages are identical, but the Athletics are a half game worse.
The Atlanta Braves hold the longest current winning streak, at eleven games! Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are tied with the longest losing streak, at six games. The Yankees (anyone surprised?) have outscored their opponents by 127 runs, so far, this season (they must be cheating, right??), and the Pirates are back at the bottom, having been outscored by their opponents by 91 runs. The Rangers currently have a +4 differential, and the Red Sox, who seem to be doing pretty well, lately, are at +40.
Today being Monday, I don’t work at the library. It’s also “chore” day, not that I have that many, but there is laundry to be done, floor vacuuming (done by a robot), and a small grocery order. I’ll be cooking chili for the family, this evening.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord our God, in the grace of Jesus Christ we turn to you, our Father in heaven and on earth, for we know your truth and your saving power. Grant that all may learn to look upward to you in faith and in trust that your will is being done on earth, even though so much seems to be the work of humans alone. But your will is behind everything and we put ourselves under your will. We hope in your will. In your will we are certain that everything will be made right and good, to the glory of your name. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.
(Psalms 40:10 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
1. that God is working His will and that everything will eventually be made right 2. that He has given me boldness to speak of His faithfulness and saving power 3. for the Good New of Jesus Christ, which is that the Kingdom of God is here, now, available for all to enter 4. that, for the most part, my "treasure" is in heaven, and I don't care what the world thinks of me (I don't have that perfectly nailed down, yet, but I'm getting there) 5. that walking in Christ and meditating on His words and life gives deeper meaning and joy to the ordinary things of life
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
(Mark 1:14-15 NLT)
It is worth noting that the “good news,” in this case, is that “the Kingdom of God is near.” That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.” The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. Azariah was called Abednego.
(Daniel 1:3-7 NLT)
I have always found it interesting (not to mention inconsistent) that we know Daniel by his Hebrew name, but we know the other three by their Babylonian names. I wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” is more fun to say than “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.”
Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is “money.” I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:20 NLT)
I have to confess, after reading the selection, I’m a bit puzzled. I understand the gist of the reading. Treasure is spiritual, not physical, not material. If we follow the teachings of Jesus, we don’t focus on earth’s treasures, but store up our treasures in heaven, for, as Jesus said,
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Matthew 6:21 NLT)
Why, then, is the prayer word “money?” Perhaps “treasure” would have been a better choice.
And, thinking about treasure, and where our hearts are, let’s consider our social media accounts. If you have one, what is it filled with? Take a look at the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/TikTok accounts of your friends. What are they filled with?
Many are filled with new “toys” which they have acquired. These days, many are filled with griping and complaining and calling everyone who believes differently and “idiot,” because, somehow, a lot of people on social media are “experts” about whatever they have an opinion about.
Has anyone stopped to think that our Father in heaven is not an idiot? And that He can actually see our social media accounts?
It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
(Matthew 6:21 MSG)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 NIV)
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.
(Galatians 6:14 NLT)
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
(1 Timothy 6:7-8 NLT)
I find the NLT of Galatians 6:14 to be interesting. It ends with “and the world’s interest in me has also died.” Going back to the social media topic, it also seems that one of the primary uses of social media is to get the world to be interested in us, to take notice of us.
But Paul doesn’t care about such things. He totally does not care if the world is interested in him.
In our relationship to the ordinary things of this life, there is a fine line. We definitely need to recover the spiritual dimension in our lives, on a daily basis. however, John Main says, “a commitment to spiritual values is by no means a rejection of the ordinary things of life. Indeed the exact opposite is true. Commitment to the spiritual reality is simply commitment to reality and it is the way to really appreciate the wonder of all life.”
To bring this into focus, we are speaking in terms of one of the outward spiritual disciplines, solitude. Says Main, “It is certainly my experience that, if you set out on the path of meditation with this commitment to enter deeply into your own interior hidden life, then every day for you will become a revelation of new dimensions to that life and a deeper understanding of it.”
(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)
My takeaway from this is that, if I am walking in Christ, and spending time in solitude (and, by default, in silence), meditating on His words, His life, and how it all applies to my own life, I will walk better in this world, appreciating the “ordinary” things of life even more, rather than trying to completely distance myself from them.
Brother Lawrence, after all, found great delight in the ordinary task of kitchen work. When we are walking in God’s Kingdom, which, as stated above, is here, now, and available for all to enter, even the most ordinary, mundane tasks, like laundry and dishwashing, can be acts of delightful worship, and we can walk in that joy everlasting and pleasure forevermore that the psalmist wrote about.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)
And, as I move to the last of my daily readings, I am, once again, stunned by the way God sometimes speaks through unrelated sources. Eugene Peterson also writes about money and material things. He writes, in a sort of humorous way, about learning the value of money in the church at an early age. As a student, he was preaching a sermon in a Dutch Reformed church. As he preached, he noticed six men standing across the back of the sanctuary, glowering at him, seemingly getting more angry as he continued. He couldn’t figure out what on earth he might be saying that was making them so angry.
After the benediction, one of the men approached him and said, “You forgot to take up the offering.”
“I have never forgotten to do it since,” says Peterson.
Money is, of course, an important necessity in the church. Unfortunately. But there is another, more important, truth to note. “Giving money is an incredibly joyful act.”
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
(2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT)
I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
(2 Corinthians 9:7 MSG)
Peterson also decided, early on, that he would not be a fund raiser. “Fundraising is not pastoral work; it contradicts the spirit of the gospel of grace.” At the same time, though, the pastor must communicate, somehow, the good news of giving. Why? Because, even though it is largely spiritual, the Gospel also deals with the material, and we need to know how to “generously enjoy the rich materiality of the gospel.”
This, my friends, goes hand-in-hand with what John Main was talking about. And it also is applicable to the passages about “treasure.”
Peterson goes on to say, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most materialistic religion the world has seen. Biblical religion is saturated in the material, in the flesh, in things. But to delight in materiality the way God does means to handle it the way he handles it, which is by generously giving, not stingily gripping.”
These are bold statements, indeed, but I find that, when taken in the right perspective, I totally agree. We err when we move too far to the spiritual side, as the Gnostics did. Things, in and of themselves, are not evil. They can’t be. Inanimate things cannot possess such qualities.
So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
(Ecclesiastes 2:24 NLT)
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT)
Once again, there is a fine line between our relationship with the material and the spiritual. And, if we are walking correctly, the line is very blurred. As I finish this lengthy treatise, I return to one of my favorite Psalms.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)
Those “pleasures” do not have to be entirely spiritual.
Father, I am very grateful for the teachings and truths that I have encountered today. It is a great reminder that, in our walks with Christ, we do not have to be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” That’s a terrible cliche, but it gets to the point. You have given us many good gifts. Your Word tells us that every good and perfect gift comes to us from You. That means that the things that we are able to enjoy in this life are “good and perfect,” as long as they do not take Your place. When we begin to delight more in the things than we do in You, then we have crossed that blurred line in our relationships.
But as long as we are delighting in You, walking in the path of life that You show us, we are able to enjoy those gifts, and the “ordinary” things of our lives become so much more meaningful and joyful. I praise You for that, Father. May I constantly remember those things as I walk in Your Kingdom and proclaim Your Gospel in this world.
Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!
"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see. Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear. Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand. So shall I turn to You and be healed." (Traditional)
Grace and peace, friends.
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