Today is Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!
Tomorrow is Labor Day, a holiday in the US. C will be off all day and has promised that she doesn’t plan to open her work computer. I don’t work on Mondays, anyway, so it’s just another day for me, except that we won’t get any mail.
Yesterday was a warm one, getting up to 94 in our area. I swear I opened my weather app, while I was at the library, and it said 97, but the official history for the closest airport says it reached 94. There was no rain, yesterday, which is not surprising. There is some chance of rain today, with possible afternoon thunderstorms, with an expected high of 95. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, and was 110 degrees! We have had 1.1 inches of rain in the past 72 hours, at our house. The ten-day forecast shows five days of 90+, and five days in the upper eighties. Summer will not go quietly, it seems.
There was a steady stream of patrons at the library, yesterday, which made it go by fairly quickly. The book drops were quite busy, as we filled up about six carts of books that were returned. There were two carts of youth (that means children’s in library lingo) books and two carts of adult fiction/non-fiction. One cart is DVDs and “talking books,” and the other cart is books that go on the new book display in front of the circ desk.
The Texas Rangers lost again to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, and all three of those were scored in the top of the eighth inning. One of the bullpen pitchers started the game, and it was one who has not done well of late, so I’m scratching my head over that one. The Rangers are now at 58-74, still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. They are 26.5 out of first place, with a division E number of four, and 14.5 out of a Wild Card spot, with a WCE of 17.
The Red Sox improved to 66-68, but remain in last place in the AL East, still six games behind the Orioles. They are 13.5 out of first place, with an E number of 16, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot with a WCE of 23. The Rangers and Red Sox play one more time today, at 12:35 CDT.
Not much has changed in the playoff picture. New York, Houston, and Cleveland lead their divisions. Tampa and Seattle are in a virtual tie for the first two Wild Cards, and Toronto has the third spot. In the NL, the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards lead their divisions, and the Braves, Padres, and Phillies currently have the WC spots.
The Dodgers won, improving their MLB leading record to 91-41. The Nationals won, as well, but still have the worst record at 46-84. They are only 2.5 behind the Athletics, though, who have lost four in a row. The Mariners continue to streak, having won six in a row, now (the Rays have won five), and our Texas Rangers continue to lose, now having lost seven in a row. The Dodgers will likely lead the run differential for the remainder of the season, now at +289. The Nationals, though, do have a chance to not have the worst differential, currently at -212, but the Pirates are at -208. The Rangers, after losing 9-1 to the Red Sox a couple days ago, are now at -8, and the Red Sox have improved to -43.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord our God, let your light shine in our hearts, the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled. May the higher nature born in us become ever stronger so that the lower and perishable nature does not rule over us. Grant that we may overcome and that our hearts may rejoice in being allowed to strive for the highest good because we are your children who can share in what is eternal. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:5-7 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the light that shines in our hearts, “the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled” (Plough.com)
- for His great and infinite mercy, by which He has saved us
- for the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through jesus Christ
- that God desires to be gracious to us and bless us
- for the conscience; a gift from God that helps me determine right from wrong
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
(Isaiah 48:17-19 ESV)
But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
(Luke 6:46-49 ESV)
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:25 ESV)
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
(Romans 9:1 ESV)
And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
(Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV)
“God waits to be gracious” (Isaiah 30:18). The Hebrew word for “gracious,” in that verse, is chanan. The literal meaning of the word is “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, to bestow.” The NIV says, “the LORD longs to be gracious . . .”
The words “waits” and “longs” imply that there is a reason, though, that He is prevented from being gracious. Something is delaying God’s graciousness to His people. Now, in the Old Testament, this is speaking to a nation that is God’s people, the nation of Israel.
We no longer have a nation that is considered “God’s people.” God’s people is no longer a nation, but is now the Church, the Body of Christ. I think it is fair to read verses like Isaiah 30:18 and Jeremiah 29:11 and apply them to the individual within that body.
God seriously and sincerely desires, longs, waits, to be gracious to us and to shower us with blessings.
But something delays this blessing, sometimes. Isaiah 48 sheds some light on this. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!” There it is. And this should be no surprise to anyone who has read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, because He says, multiple times, that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments, or that if we abide in Him and abide in His Word, we can ask for whatever we desire, and He will give it to us.
“Abide” means “to dwell, to live within,” and if we are dwelling in Christ and in His Word, we will obey His commands.
And what are His commands? If you have read this blog before, you know the answer.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.“
(Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)
So, if I believe, or find, that God is not, in fact, being gracious to me (which is absurd, because the very fact that I just took another breath is grace . . . everything that allows my life to continue is grace), it is because there is some point in my life where I have not been obedient.
This is not to induce guilt or shame. Especially not shame, because I am a firm believer that shame is a terrible thing, a tool of our enemy.
However, it is to force us to take a look at ourselves and be honest with ourselves.
I know no person who is 100% obedient to those commands, 24/7. I know a person or two that are close. But we are all human, and we all fail.
And this is where that gift of conscience comes into play. Look at that verse from Romans 9 up there, where Paul talks about his conscience bearing witness. What is “conscience?”
“An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”
Here’s what Andrew Murray has to say about conscience: “If the voice of conscience tells you of a course of action that is nobler or better, and you choose something else because it is easier or pleasing to self, you ill-equip yourself for the teaching of the Spirit by disobeying the voice of God.”
Keep in mind that Brother Murray is writing to Christians, here. Not to say that the unbeliever doesn’t have a conscience; of course they do (unless they are a psychopath), and I find that some of them do a better job of obeying that conscience than some believers.
I have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within me. Therefore, my “conscience,” as it were, as Murray implies, is equal to the voice of God. It tells me if something I am considering is right or wrong. Or, perhaps, it also tells me if there is something that I should be doing that I am not doing.
“You really ought to help that person. Give them something.”
“You shouldn’t do that thing you’re thinking about doing.”
You should do that thing you’re thinking about not doing.”
Murray then gives us that verse from Deuteronomy 30 about God circumcising the heart. He advises us to “claim this promise.” If we allow God to “circumcise” our heart, then we will, it says, love Him with our entire being, “and live.”
And we will experience the full extent of the graciousness with which God longs and waits to bless us.
“Believe in the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trust the Spirit that is in you, enabling you to love and so cause you to walk in God’s statutes. In the strength of this faith, and in the assurance of sufficient grace, which is made perfect in weakness, enter into God’s love and the life of living obedience it enables.”
It is only the continual presence of Jesus and His love that can enable this continual obedience in us.
Father, strengthen this conscience within me, that I might hear Your voice more readily, and be more obedient to Your commands. Help me to truly live, letting that life come to me because I have loved You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, in doing this, help me to love my neighbor as myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.
Let the love of Christ be continually fueling my own love, as I allow it to channel through me, driving my every behavior. This is a tall order, Lord. I am not asking for perfection; well, maybe I am, knowing Your desire for me is to be “perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Yet, I know that I cannot be, at least not as long as I dwell in this mortal coil.
But my desire is to strive for this perfection. Not so that I can boast; for I want to have no part in boasting of anything that I have done. Rather, I desire to boast only in You and what Christ has done in my own weakness. Let my weakness be seen, that You might be seen to be strong. Let my foolishness be known, that You might seen to be wise.
I pray for the Body of Christ, that we might do a better job of heeding the conscience that is the voice of Your Holy Spirit, that we might follow the commands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and might feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the prisoners, and stop oppression in His name.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.