Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.
Peace be with you!
I don’t have a lot of time, but I did want to share that Erin McCarthy climbed the ladder to win the U.S. Women’s Open, last night. She won four games (it could conceivably be said that two of her competitors lost the game) to win the title. It was a pretty amazing and fun thing to watch. There were some incredible spares made by several of the bowlers, as well as some unfortunate misses that should have been made. Erin wins $60,000 and a green jacket. Oh, and a trophy, too. The next (and final) PWBA tournament for this season won’t be until the first week of August, here in Dallas. Unfortunately, I am working most of that week, so I won’t be able to attend any of the matches.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Do You Not Believe, by Daryl Madden
I don’t see the way Doubts I perceive I am your God Do you not believe? I am afraid Fear here surrounds Am I your God That lets you down? I will be sorry Is that your viewpoint? Am I your God That disappoints? I keep up my guard Not made a fool of Am I your God That isn’t love? Come rest my child With confidence pray In my arms to trust I’ll show you the way
What a beautiful depiction of a dialogue that I frequently have with God. Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided above.
Lord our God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who is close at our side as the risen and living One, we lift our eyes to you in prayer. Bless us. Bless us through your Word, and let our hearts become quiet in you. Free us from all restlessness and from the turmoil of the present age, for we belong to you, not to the world. We want to find peace in you and remain in you. You will care for us as your children, whom you will never forget in all eternity. Bless us and renew the riches of your grace in us every day, for you, O Lord our God, remain our Father. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
(John 20:21 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for the peace in which Jesus sends us into the world, freeing us from all restlessness and the turmoil of the present age 2. for the great help that God has granted me, all through my life, to get me where I am today (and I'm confident of that help, going forward) 3. for faith; for the ability to believe, yet praying that God help my unbelief 4. for the deep love that exists in relationship with God, and for the command that we love one another deeply 5. for water; cool, clear, water
And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
(Mark 5:34 NLT)
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
(Mark 5:35-36 ESV)
The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is Ebenezer. (I capitalized it, they didn’t.)
There’s a line in an old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, by Robert Robinson. As I search for the original lyrics, I find that they have been altered, several times, by different people. So I consulted my copy of the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. Verse 2 of the hymn goes like this:
Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I'm come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home: Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand'ring from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.
I remember singing that song, as a young lad, always wondering, “what in the world is an “Ebenezer??”
Well, it turns out, this is from a passage in 1 Samuel 7, when God routed the Philistines before Israel.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
(1 Samuel 7:12 NIV)
So here’s the thing. With all due respect (and truly, how difficult is it to come with 365 different words to use in our prayers? I don’t know . . . I’ve never tried), I don’t think using the word “Ebenezer” in a prayer is going to be all that effective for me. While I acknowledge the benefit of praying Scripture back to God, there is no formula, and there are no “secret words” that are going to command God’s blessing. And if one believes that simply using the word “Ebenezer” in a prayer is going to result in special graces, then one probably should be setting up a rock while doing it.
I know. My cynicism is showing.
But here’s another thing. What if we simply do what the word calls for? And that is remembering how much God has helped us in our journey? I don’t need the word “Ebenezer” or a big rock to remember God’s help. At the same time, as I’ve mentioned previously, on multiple occasions, I do have that Blue Jay feather in a box in the garage, as a reminder of that time God hugged me.
There’s nothing wrong with reminders. And when we come to a point in our lives, a sort of “crossroads,” if you will, where God gives us that extra motivation or help to get us through, there is nothing wrong with using something to remind us of that time. And when I come to those times, I am much more apt to remember the line that says “Hither by Thy help I’m come,” than I am “Ebenezer.”
Father, I praise You for Your help in my life. I can look back on many places in my life and see how You have helped me come this far. Even as I type, memories flood in, so much so that I don’t have time to type them all. And I don’t have to type them to remember them or to be grateful for them. I just pray that You never let me forget them, just as I know that You will never forget me, and am confident that Your help will continue in my life, for the rest of my days and into eternity.
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
(Proverbs 17:9 NIV)
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
Love “deeply.” I like the way the NIV words that. “Deeply” seems better than “earnestly” (ESV). However, I also like Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message.
Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
(1 Peter 4:8 MSG)
Father, please help us to love each other deeply, as if our lives depend on it.
Father, as we go through our lives, help us to simply invite people into this wonderful relationship with You and with all the saints. This relationship, this community . . . there is nothing quite like it. There is no club, no organization, no other group that can compare with the true Body of Christ and the relationship therein. There are, unfortunately, some imposters, and, no doubt, there are even imposters that have infiltrated the Body. Nevertheless, the world will know us by our love for one another.
We cannot manipulate anyone into this love, Father. We cannot coerce them into relationship with You or with us. So let us not try. Let us simply invite and demonstrate. Let us show the world how much we love You by showing them how much we love one another.
Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.