A Pattern for Abiding

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ unite us all in harmony and love!

Day 23,560

There are only nine more days until my favorite season begins. The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22, this year. And soon, it will be my favorite month, the month of October. Our wedding anniversary falls in October, and C and I have a weekend planned, back in Glen Rose at our favorite cabin on the Paluxy River. We will be there, October 7-10.

The temperature reached 85, yesterday afternoon, a degree shy of the predicted 86. There was no rain, and there is none predicted over the next ten days. The highs are all 90 or above (none higher than 93), until September 22, when the predicted high is only 87. The record high for today’s date is 105, back in 2011.

The Texas Rangers split the double-header with Miami, yesterday. They won the first game 3-2, but lost the second 10-6. That makes them 61-80 on the season, and it got them in a tie with LA for third place. They are 30 games out of first place (eliminated from division contention), and 18 out of the Wild Card race (WCE# is 5). Today, they are back home to play the Athletics, at 7:05 CDT. Cole Ragans, who threw three innings of no-hit ball last time, will start. The Rangers have 21 games remaining.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and will begin a series with the Yankees tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 PM EDT. The Red Sox are 69-72 on the season, 16 games out of first place (E# 6), and ten games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 13). They also have 21 games remaining.

The Dodgers, at 97-43 (MLB leading), are still the only team to have mathematically clinched a playoff berth. They have not clinched the division, yet, but the E# for San Diego, the second place team, is only 2. The Nationals are at 49-92, trailing MLB, but only two games behind the Athletics. The Cleveland Guardians have a four-game win streak going, while the Nationals, Braves (uh-oh), Rays (YAY!), Twins, and Reds all have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers lead the run differential column, with +316, while the Pirates still have the bottom, with -211. The Rangers dropped to -17 with that second game, yesterday, and the Red Sox remain at -33.

Today being Tuesday, I will be at the library, shelving, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. This is also my “busy” week, so I will be working eight hours in circulation both tomorrow and Saturday. My Computer Center day is now Friday, every week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we know that we are your children, and in this certainty we gather in your presence as a community. Grant us your Spirit, the Spirit who works in us and frees us from the many evils that still torment us. Be with us and let the power of your great grace and mercy be in our hearts so that we may gain the victory and lead joyful lives on earth in spite of our many shortcomings, blunders, and sins. For your grace is great, much greater than all our failings. You are our God and Father, and we want to keep our consciences clear today and always through your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For it is by his grace you are saved, through trusting him; it is not your own doing. It is God's gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of. 
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the power of God’s great grace and mercy in my life, that I might lead a joyful life here on earth, in spite of my imperfections
  2. for God’s gift of grace, by which I am saved
  3. for the unspeakable love that invites me to come and converse freely with God
  4. for the privilege of abiding in Christ
  5. that His power is made perfect in my weakness, about which I will gladly boast

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."
(John 15:4-14 ESV)

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 ESV)


“Abide in me,” says Jesus. I’ve discussed what “abide” means, in previous entries. It means to dwell, or live, in something, usually for an extended period of time. The NIV translates it “remain,” which isn’t a bad rendering of the word, either. The idea is to stay, to remain, to dwell, for a long time, in this case, preferably, permanently.

What joy it is to abide! What a privilege to be invited to do so! “As you enter a time of private prayer, let your first focus be to give thanks to God for the unspeakable love that invites you to come to Him and to converse freely with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

What I am attempting to do, every morning, here, is exactly that; to abide. My ritual remains relatively constant, although the appearance in this forum may change, from time to time. I begin with a prayer. Then I enter into a time of Bible reading/study. I seldom do any literal “study,” these days, as I have come to believe that that isn’t as important as I used to think. I realize that may sound like heresy to some . . . “study to show thyself approved,” and so on.

I rather enjoy the closing words of Ecclesiastes:

Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 ESV)

I will also point out that the word translated “study” in 2 Timothy 2:15, is only rendered so in the KJV. Both the NIV and the ESV say “Do your best.” The NLT says “work hard,” and the MSG says “concentrate.” All of these are acceptable translations, based on what I can tell from the Greek word in the text.

What I believe is that meditation and contemplation are as good as or better than literal “study,” whatever that means. Most people, when they speak of “study,” think it means to sit down and look at a passage of Scripture and read tons of commentaries about it and try to learn everything about it that they can. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this. However, I know one person who has studied very hard and probably knows the Bible better than anyone that I know. His heart, however, does not reflect intimate knowledge of the Trinity. He is not a very nice person. That, to me, is tragic, and it is why I believe that meditating on the Scriptures is at least as helpful, if not more so, than “study.” And you can work hard at meditation and contemplation, too.

Here’s what Murray says:

“Prepare yourself for prayer by Bible study. Read a few verses. Take what you readily understand and apply it. Then ask the Father to enlighten all of the passage to your heart and make it applicable.” (Emphasis added)

What he calls “Bible study” sounds a lot like meditation and contemplation to me.

And that’s what I try to do, here. After reading the Scripture passages that I quote above, I then spend a few moments sussing them out, generally typing while I’m thinking. Sometimes I use material from the various devotional books, but, lately, outside of those quote from Murray, it’s my own thinking emerging from my fingertips.

That may or may not be a good thing. But I tend to look at it as a form of meditation.

Then, I turn to prayer. The prayers that I type in here are generally related to what I have contemplated. There are also prayers from individuals that I lift up, as they have requested. I should probably do more of the bit where Murray suggests that we “Remember His greatness, holiness, and love.” He also recommends that prayers be specific. I try to do that, as well. “Let your prayer be specific, originating either from the Word you have just read or from spiritual needs that you are sensing at the time.”

One thing that is important, though. This prayer that begins in the private place should be carried out into the world. This does not, in my opinion, contradict the words of Jesus. Remember, in context, Jesus is warning His disciples against praying for show, as “the hypocrites” do. When we take the spirit of prayer out into the world, we are doing what Paul tells us at the end of 1 Thessalonians, praying “without ceasing.” We begin here, in the private room. But we don’t leave it there; we don’t stop there.


Father, it is truly a joy to be able to do this; to abide (help me to be more consistent at this), to pray (help me, there, also), to meditate on Your Word and to consider the greatness of Your mercy, love, and grace. When I consider all of these things, along with the moon, the stars, the magnificent heavens, along with the mountains and oceans that dwarf us on earth, I sing, along with the psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

It is truly amazing that You, the Creator of all things, condescend to fellowship with us, Your creation. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

I thank You that You have placed it in my heart to desire to delight in You. And this desire for delight is not totally driven by the desire to get whatever I want. Sure, I would love for my prayers to be effective, to be answered the way I pray them, so that everyone who gives me a prayer request gets what they want.

But that is not the driving force behind my abiding. You are. Christ is. The Holy Spirit is. It is a sincere desire to know You as fully as I can. Help me to abide better. Help me to pray better, to pray without ceasing, and to take this spirit of prayer out of this room with me. Let that color and influence everything that I do in my life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Have the patience and courage to begin again anew each day, and trust in God’s help; his mercy is new every morning. Then you will understand that life is always a matter of becoming or growing, and that you must always look forward to the greater things. Even though you stand in battle with dark powers, the victory will be yours, since in Christ every evil is overcome."
(Eberhard Arnold, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

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