“The Entire Forgiveness of All Your Sins”

Today is Monday, the 28th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ find you, today!

Day 23,636

I have an appointment at the vein clinic, this morning, at 11:30, so I’m a little short on time, this morning, as I had a grocery order delivered around 9:00. So, this may not get finished before noon, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; 
and give me life in your ways.
(Psalms 119:37 ESV)

As I try to quiet my soul and get into Your presence, this morning, Father, I pray that You would, indeed, turn my eyes away from “worthless things.” There are a number of things that could fall into that category. May Your Spirit lead me, and continue to give me life as I walk in Your Kingdom.

Lord Jesus, our Savior, we look upward to heaven, for you will come from heaven in the glory of the Father. May we remain true to our calling, watching and praying every day and every hour, waiting for you, who will bring into order everything on earth. Bless us and bless our land. Grant us the joy to see you working through your servants toward the salvation of the peoples. Be with us and bless us. May your living Word work in our hearts so that every Sunday, every festival, and every day from now on may be a day of joy. Protect us. Bless us. May your name be praised in our hearts! Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming – it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise. If he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep. What I say to you, then, I say to all: Watch! 
Mark 13:35–37, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the rain that we have received over the past week (sharing in this gratitude with others who were praying for more)
  2. for the beautiful weather forecast for today
  3. for the healing properties of being in nature, observing Your creation
  4. for the healing powers of music as it works in our lives
  5. that the Lord “will not cast off forever,” but will (and does) have compassion on us, “according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (Lamentations 3:31-33)
  6. for the forgiveness of sin, the beginning of the process of sanctification

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
(Galatians 3:7-9 ESV)


For the Lord will not cast off forever,
 but, though he cause grief, 
he will have compassion 
according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 
for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.
(Lamentations 3:31-33 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 NRSV)


Forgiveness. What does that mean? And do we believe that our sins have been forgiven?

Every Sunday morning, at the beginning of the worship service at Living Word Lutheran Church, after the processional hymn, one of the pastors says something like this:

“By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The first time I heard that, I got both chill bumps and tears. It seems like such a simple statement. But to hear it confidently proclaimed to us is significant and stirring, at least to me.

Forgiveness blots out our sins. It erases them. It literally changes our past, at least in the eyes of God. Nothing can change my past in my own mind. I cannot, it seems, manage to forget the sins I have committed. Trust me, I have tried. And I have dealt with the biggest tool in the devil’s toolbox several times in this forum; shame. Because our enemy tends to dig up some of those heinous things we have done at the most inopportune moments.

But God (there’s those two words again, just about my favorite combination of words in the whole Bible), according to His own Word, has forgotten our sins. This is a mystery. How is the One who is all-knowing able to do that?? I don’t know, but I must believe it.

In His forgiveness, God, in His mercy, acquits us of all of our sins (“the entire forgiveness of all your sins”), and no longer considers us guilty. He has cast them as far as the east is from the west. He has thrown them into the Mariana Trench. It is literally (and I don’t throw that word around like some do) as if they never happened.

But here is what forgiveness does not do. It does not take away the sinfulness of our hearts; it does not sanctify us. Rather, it begins this process.

So, in order for us to move forward in the process of sanctification, it is necessary that we first believe that we have been forgiven. It is necessary that I hear the words of that pastor who has authoritatively declared it to me, and believe it with all my heart. Then I can move forward, feeling no guilt or shame, and not having to worry about feeling “worthy.”

So, “Confess your sins to God, and experience forgiveness now as you spend time in prayer.” (Andrew Murray, in The Lord’s Table, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I thank You, I praise You, and glorify Your Name for the forgiveness of my sins, for the entire forgiveness of all my sins! I cannot praise You enough for this. I pray, however, that the process of sanctification would be allowed to move along in me. Help me to take my eyes away from “worthless things,” and keep them on You; help me to keep my mind stayed on You, that I might be kept in “perfect peace,” according to Your Word. But first, help me to believe in that forgiveness. Your Word has declared it; Your ministers have declared it. Help me to believe it, wholeheartedly.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

What Do You Know?

Today is Sunday, the 27th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ fill you with joy today!

Day 23,635

28 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Incline my heart to your testimonies, 
and not to selfish gain!
(Psalms 119:36 ESV)

Father, as my heart, mind, and soul are drawn into Your Word, this morning, I pray for what this verse from Psalms asks. Incline my heart toward Your Word, and not toward any selfishness.

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we may be your children, led by you. We thank you for guiding us in times of grief and never forsaking us. Now, as of old, you are with us, Lord our God, and you show us the way in every situation. Protect us in this present time, and grant us strength to go on patiently even when our lives hold much suffering and distress. We thank you for your guidance and rejoice in your help for our time. Reveal your hand in power, for soon, very soon, your right hand will change everything. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Good and upright is the Lord;
 therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 
He guides the humble in what is right 
and teaches them his way. 
Psalm 25:8–9, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that we have been given the right to become children of God (John 1:12)
  2. that our God is with us, just as He was with His people of old; and that we are, in Christ, as close to the Father as Christ, Himself is
  3. for the compassion the Lord has on us, His children, that He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103)
  4. that I know the Lord, who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth
  5. for the great “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 11-12)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
(Galatians 2:20-21 ESV)

A Psalm of David. 

Hear my prayer, O LORD; 
give ear to my pleas for mercy! 
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! 
Enter not into judgment with your servant, 
for no one living is righteous before you. 

For the enemy has pursued my soul; 
he has crushed my life to the ground; 
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. 
Therefore my spirit faints within me; 
my heart within me is appalled. 

I remember the days of old; 
I meditate on all that you have done; 
I ponder the work of your hands.
 I stretch out my hands to you; 
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. 
Selah. 

Answer me quickly, O LORD! 
My spirit fails! 
Hide not your face from me, 
lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, 
for in you I trust. 
Make me know the way I should go,
 for to you I lift up my soul. 

Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! 
I have fled to you for refuge. 
Teach me to do your will, 
for you are my God! 
Let your good Spirit lead me
 on level ground! 

For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! 
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! 
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, 
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, 
for I am your servant.
(Psalms 143:1-12 ESV)

As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
for he knows how we are formed,
 he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:13-14 NIV)
My dwelling place will be with them; 
I will be their God, 
and they will be my people.
(Ezekiel 37:27 NIV)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:5-8 NIV)


Thus says the LORD: 
"Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, 
let not the mighty man boast in his might, 
let not the rich man boast in his riches, 
but let him who boasts boast in this, 
that he understands and knows me,
 that I am the LORD 
who practices steadfast love, 
justice, 
and righteousness in the earth. 
For in these things I delight, 
declares the LORD."
(Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)
"Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth!"
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)


I’m sitting here, this morning, in a sort of meditative silence. I’m struggling to find words to put on this “page,” to express what I am feeling. The Scriptures may have to speak for themselves.

The season of Advent is finally upon us. It is a season of waiting, as we begin to “wait” in expectation, on the celebration of the birth of Jesus. This is not a “biblical” season. In fact, we are never expressly commanded to recognize or celebrate that birth, anywhere in Scripture. The only thing that the Bible really tells us to commemorate is the death of Christ through the Supper or Communion.

Nevertheless, we celebrate Christmas, with great joy. We understand (at least most of us) that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25. And, frankly, I don’t believe that He minds that we celebrate it then.

But what do I know?

There’s that phrase. We say that a lot. It’s a sort of admission that I might be wrong about something.

This hearkens back to that verse in Jeremiah 9. I believe I have focused on this, recently, but here it is again, today.

What do you know?

That reminds me of a famous line from Game of Thrones. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” I always loved that line.

And, truly, if we don’t know the Lord, who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, we know nothing, right along with Jon Snow.

I believe I know Him. It has been a lifelong journey, and it continues until I no longer walk this earth. Someday, I will know Him fully, even as He knows me, if Paul knew what he was talking about.

Do you know Him?


Father, I pray that all would know Christ, and, through Him, know the Father. I am grateful for the hymn in Philippians 2, that describes how Jesus didn’t hold on to His own divinity, but poured Himself out for our sake. I thank You that You have drawn me into relationship with You, that I might know You. I desire to know You more and more.

I am looking forward to a worship service, this morning, that heralds the beginning of Advent, Father. I pray that we will lift our hearts to you in glorious worship, today. May all glory be given to You, in all the earth.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Become the Blessing

Today is Thursday, the twenty-third of December, 2021, the fourth Thursday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,296

Only two more days until Christmas!!

It is Christmas Eve Eve. Or as one Facebook friend stated, “Christmas Adam.” If you get that, good on you!

So, yesterday went great at the library, another great day in circulation. I received a couple more gifts from librarians. Our circ manager gave us all a festive pitcher/planter thing, with matching shears and paring knife, along with a bag of crunchy goodness made of pretzels, peanuts, and Chex cereal. And one of the other librarians sneaked in and handed me a bag with some Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar hand soap. She probably doesn’t know this, but Warm Vanilla Sugar practically melts me. It’s my all time favorite BBW scent. Oh, and there was a handful of Lindor chocolates in that bag, as well. Yum!! Next year, I’m going to have to figure out something to give all of them.

Tuesday night, I got a lovely (and quite comfy) pair of soft, warm socks, a wooden ornament, and a little package of magnets with book designs on them.

Have I mentioned, lately, how much I love working at this library?

The Bundtinis that I took to work were quite the hit. I wound up eating the last one, though, because no one would take the last one. Hahaha!

Today, the cooking will begin. This evening, there will be fudge, and at least two crescent roll pull-apart Christmas trees made (one savory, one sweet). We may make four of them, if we have enough pans. If not, then we will make two more tomorrow night, after the Christmas Eve festivities are over.

C is working from home again, today, for which I applaud her. Especially considering that the traffic may not quite be back to normal, yet, today, after this happened, yesterday!

That is Loop 820 in North Richland Hills, at around 8:00 AM, yesterday. All lanes, both east and west-bound, were closed for a while. I passed by at around 9:00-ish, on the way to the library and it was still burning. I could not see what was burning, because there were high walls blocking the view at that particular point of the freeway. However, at that point, the west-bound lanes were still closed, as well as both directions of express (toll) lanes. The walls near the event were completely blackened by the smoke.

Apparently (and this is the best information I could find) there was an accident involving a fuel tanker and an empty animal waste truck (and possibly one other vehicle). There are reports that say one person died at the scene and another person was air-flighted to a hospital with critical burns. As of 6:30 last night, the west-bound express lane was still closed, and traffic was extremely heavy on the normal lanes. I was able to avoid most of that by exiting early.

Later today, I need to take some Social Security documents and fax them to the SS folks. I don’t know why they still insist on faxing, rather than having them scanned to an email. It would be much simpler to do that. I have a printer that will fax, but we have no land line at our house. So I suppose I will go to the Hurst Library to do it, after 10:00 AM. I know how to use that system, and I suppose there is an outside chance that I won’t have to pay, although I probably would not ask for that. If they offer, I won’t turn it down, though. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let Me Forgive, by Daryl Madden

Let me come to
This realization
Here to reset
My expectations…

They were so selfish
So, I sacrificed
Let me forgive them
For not being Christ

They didn’t care
Their love was a fraud
Let me forgive them
For not being God

They gave bad advice
Wish they didn’t share it
Let me forgive them
For not being the Spirit

And forgiving myself
For I’m one in the same
In the love of the Three
Let us remain

The point is, not a one of us is perfect. We are not Jesus, we are not God, we are not the Holy Spirit. We are all flawed, so we all should forgive ourselves and one another.

Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

"I have said these things to you, 
that in me you may have peace. 
In the world you will have tribulation. 
But take heart; I have overcome the world." 
(John 16:33 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace that I have in my soul, because of Jesus Christ
2. for the gift of joy in my life
3. for the love of God that is in my life
4. for the ongoing desire to share that peace, love, and joy with all who live in my world
5. that whatever I have received from God, I must give away to others
So do not fear, for I am with you; 
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever-present help in trouble. 
(Psalms 46:1 NIV)
As you go, proclaim this message: 
'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' 
Heal the sick, raise the dead, 
cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. 
Freely you have received; freely give. 
(Matthew 10:7-8 NIV)
Very truly I tell you, 
whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing,
 and they will do even greater things than these, 
because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 NIV)

“Whatever you have received from God, you must give to others. If you’ve been loved, you must love. And if you’ve been loved without having deserved that love, then you must love those who don’t deserve your love. If you’ve been given joy, your life must bring joy to others. . . . if you’ve received that blessing, your life must become a blessing. And if you received that gift, your life must become a gift.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-SIX

INVITATION

Bring us back, O God! 
Show us your mercy, 
and we will be saved! 
(Psalms 80:3 GNB)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on the peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing God, through the Son, and by the Spirit. I reflect on the perfection of the Trinity and how that plays into my life. I acknowledge that this knowledge is unfathomable.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
 that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever
 and make your throne firm through all generations.'" 

He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, 
my God, the Rock my Savior.' 
And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, 
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
 I will maintain my love to him forever, 
and my covenant with him will never fail. 
I will establish his line forever, 
his throne as long as the heavens endure. 
(Psalms 89:1-4, 26-29 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
(Romans 16:25-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me, lingering over them, giving them full attention. Do I find something I need to ask God about? I pray my life to God, taking refreshment in His presence.

Father, the sense of peace, love, and joy in my heart is almost overwhelming. Certainly, there are things in my life, in this world, that trouble me, that unsettle me, but they seem distant at this moment. C is experiencing turmoil in her work, at the moment, and I pray for Your peace to settle in that place. I pray for Your intervention in the circumstance, that the issue they are furiously working one would be fixed, seemingly out of nowhere.

I will sing of Your great love forever, Father. With my lips I will make known Your great faithfulness, and Your mercies, Your great mercies, which never fail and are new every morning when we awake from our sleep. The mercy exists in the fact that we wake up at all! I will sing of the joy in my soul, and the peace in my heart. These are things that will be sung from my heart for all eternity. I so look forward to the days when I will be singing them in person with You.

Thank You for the encouragement and admonition that I have nothing to fear. You are my eternal help; I fall down, You pick me up; I stumble, You are there to catch me. Sometimes, I intentionally walk off of the path, and You gently guide me back. I am spared from Your wrath by the gift of Jesus. Help me to gift that back to others, as well. Your steadfast love never fails.

Help me to be a blessing and a gift to others today. Give us spiritual renewal and refreshment as we walk in Your kingdom. Help us to truly understand the full meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bring about racial peace and reconciliation in our world. And may You lead us into new relationships with people who do not share our beliefs.

"Wise God,
thank You that Christ's incarnation was not a quick reaction to surprising circumstances but part of Your eternal purpose,
the unfolding of Your long-ago decreed will.
To think that my salvation is part of Your grand eternal purpose leaves me stunned with joy-filled awe.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Come and See what God has Done

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of December, 2021. 12/22/21, a palindrome. It is also the fourth Wednesday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,295

Only three more days until Christmas!

I’m pretty sure that, as of right now, all the Christmas gifts have been delivered, except for one, which is now showing a delivery date of 12/28. Oh, well. Unfortunately, that particular one goes along with three or four of the other gifts. That’s no big deal, though. It will all come together, in due time. And, from past experience with Amazon, it could still change. I know they have, before.

We are talking about plans for Friday and Saturday, at least cooking plans. There’s a lot of cooking to be done, and the bulk of it will happen both Friday morning and Saturday morning. Not on purpose, I wound up with at least forty pounds of ham in the fridge. I ordered two whole hams from Albertson’s, earlier in the week, fully expecting a couple of hams that were approximately twelve pounds each. They delivered two hams that were approximately twenty pounds. Egad! My whole lower shelf in the fridge is filled with ham. And one twenty pound ham would have been plenty for both days. We may give one away. I don’t know.

Today is my last full work day until New Year’s Eve. In fact, my next work day, after today, will be next Tuesday, 12/28. And there is at least one meeting that I will be involved with, today. There is a Circulation staff meeting from 1-2, this afternoon. And then, if it happens, the Adult Services “stand up” meeting is at 2. That manager has been out for a bit, and isn’t scheduled back until 12/30, so that meeting may not happen. My monthly “one-on-one” with her was also scheduled for today, so I’m not expecting that to happen, either.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And Jesus said to him, 
"'If you can'! 
All things are possible for one who believes." 
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 
"I believe; help my unbelief!" 
(Mark 9:23-24 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the belief that God has placed in my heart, even thought it is still tainted with unbelief
2. that God is love and whoever abides in love abides in Him
3. for the security that comes in living as one of His "sheep"
4. for the ability and willingness to lay down my life for my brothers and sisters, just as Christ laid down His life for us
5. for all the things that God has done
Anyone who does not love does not know God,
 because God is love. 
(1 John 4:8 ESV)
So we have come to know 
and to believe the love that God has for us. 
God is love, 
and whoever abides in love abides in God, 
and God abides in him. 
(1 John 4:16 ESV)
By this we know love, 
that he laid down his life for us, 
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 
(1 John 3:16 ESV)
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. 
(John 15:9-13 ESV)
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe! 
(Psalms 150:4 ESV)
And it was told King David, "The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God." So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 
And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 
And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 
So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn. 
(2 Samuel 6:12-15 ESV)
A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple. 

I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. 
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 
As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved." 
By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 
To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 
"What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!" 
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! 
(Psalms 30:1-12 ESV)
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" 
Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 
(John 7:37-39 ESV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is 
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; 
against such things there is no law. 
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 
(Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-FIVE

INVITATION

God, come back! 
Smile your blessing smile: 
That will be our salvation. 
(Psalms 80:3 MSG)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on love. God’s love for us, made evident in the coming of Jesus. Our love for God, made evident in the way we live, as well as how we lay down our lives for the kingdom of God and for one another.

BIBLE SONG

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; 
you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people 
and covered all their sins.

 I will listen to what God the LORD says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land. 

Love and faithfulness meet together; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
 and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
The LORD will indeed give what is good, 
and our land will yield its harvest. 
Righteousness goes before him 
and prepares the way for his steps. 
(Psalms 85:1-2, 8-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 
though you are small among the clans of Judah, 
out of you will come for me 
one who will be ruler over Israel, 
whose origins are from of old, 
from ancient times." 

Therefore Israel will be abandoned 
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, 
and the rest of his brothers return 
to join the Israelites. 

He will stand and shepherd his flock
 in the strength of the LORD, 
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. 
And they will live securely, for then his greatness 
will reach to the ends of the earth. 
(Micah 5:2-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I reflect on what the Lord might be saying to me through them. I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, allowing my spirit to respond to the Lord in prayer and meditation. I enjoy His presence, this morning, preparing myself for the day ahead.

Father, I cannot get away from these passages on love and laying down our lives for one another. Teach me Your ways, Lord, that I might walk in Your path. Show me how to best lay down my life for the sake of my brothers and sisters and others in this world. Teach me how to love the way You have loved. Just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for me, show me how to do the same for others. In our culture, Father, this has become quite a challenge, over the past couple of years.

Time is short, Father, so I must bring this to a close. You are our great Shepherd, Father, and I am thankful for the security that this brings my soul. I find it easier and easier to obey that often-stated command, “Fear not,” as I find myself resting more and more in Your provision and safety. Thought this world is harsh, I find myself resting in the shadow of Your wings and in the cleft of the rock, where You have hidden me. But even as Job said, Lord, even if You see fit to slay me, yet will I trust You.

I will listen to what You say, Lord, and You promise peace to us. Only let us not turn to folly, Father. Let us not turn to folly and chase after the wind and vanities.

"God of place and time,
You chose the little town of Bethlehem to be the birthplace of David and of David's greater Son.
Make us aware of Your active purpose in our towns and neighborhoods,
so that we see them as places of promise in our time.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Comfort in Affliction

Good morning. Today is . . . um . . . Tuesday! That’s it. Tuesday, the twenty-first of December, 2021. It’s the first day of winter, and the fourth Tuesday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,294

Only four more days until Christmas!!

Yes, today is the first official day of Winter. You wouldn’t know it from the weather forecast, though. It’s projected to be 63 degrees here, today, and progressively getting warmer until Christmas day, when it is predicted to be 87 degrees.

Yes, you read that right. EIGHTY-SEVEN DEGREES! Almost 90 degrees on Christmas Day! Ugh!!

C and I had a lovely time, last night, at the Winewood Grill in Grapevine, having dinner with her work people. Her top boss and the guy directly under him were both there, and both so very gracious and friendly. We sat across her second in command and his wife, and had great conversation with all of them. The food was delicious. We had some calamari, crab cakes, and some kind of bruschetta for appetizers (those were pre-ordered). For the main meal, I chose a Chilean Sea Bass from the daily specials. It had some kind of creamy sauce on top, on a bed of asparagus, accompanied by two scallops and three shrimp. The Sea Bass was pretty amazing to me. I don’t believe I have ever had that particular fish before. C opted for the ribeye (of course), which came with some au gratin potatoes that were simply “to die for.” I had a few bites of the potatoes, and they may have been the highlight of the evening. We even brought some home to share with S. C also had some ribeye left over. I did not have anything left from my plate.

As for the rest of the day, I feel like I got a good bit accomplished. I got presents wrapped and stockings stuffed (boy are they stuffed . . . I may or may not have gone a little overboard, there), and I got the ingredients for C to make Kahlua fudge this year. We haven’t had that in a couple years, but we’re going to make some Thursday night.

Today, as soon as I finish this, I’m going over to the NE Mall area (not in the mall) to a Nothing Bundt Cakes place. I got a gift certificate at the Hurst Way Conference, back in October, for a dozen “bundtinis,” which I am going to take to the library tomorrow, and then I have decided to get a full-sized cake for Friday and Saturday’s Christmas celebrations.

Come January 1, we are definitely getting serious again, but, for now, we are enjoying ourselves immensely.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 
'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 
The second is this: 
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 
There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mark 12:29-31 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. 
(John 13:34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God sent His Son into the world, that we might know His love, that we might live through Him, and that we might love one another
2. that God is able to do more abundantly than all we could ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20)
3. that God comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 1)
4. that God calls us to bear one another's burdens, and, in so doing, provide some of that aforementioned comfort
5. for the promise of seeing His face
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, 
and death shall be no more, 
neither shall there be mourning, 
nor crying, 
nor pain anymore, 
for the former things have passed away." 
(Revelation 21:4 ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our affliction, 
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, 
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2 ESV)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, 
but then face to face. 
Now I know in part; 
then I shall know fully, 
even as I have been fully known. 
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
(Revelation 22:4 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-FOUR

INVITATION

Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine,
 that we may be saved! 
(Psalms 80:3 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet time, I ponder the many promises of God, embracing His comfort, seeking His face, which I will eventually see in glory.

BIBLE SONG

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock. 
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Awaken your might; 
come and save us. 

Restore us, O God; 
make your face shine on us, 
that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

And Mary said: 
"My soul glorifies the Lord 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has been mindful 
of the humble state of his servant. 
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me— 
holy is his name. 
His mercy extends to those who fear him, 
from generation to generation. 
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; 
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones 
but has lifted up the humble. 
He has filled the hungry with good things 
but has sent the rich away empty. 
He has helped his servant Israel, 
remembering to be merciful 
to Abraham and his descendants forever, 
just as he promised our ancestors." 
(Luke 1:46-55 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, looking to see how God might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any thoughts that the Holy Spirit brings to me, praying my life to God and allowing my heart to respond to Him. I take refreshment in His presence.

Father, even though Jesus has already come, all those years ago, as a baby, and lived and died for us, that we might be saved and walk in Your Kingdom, I am drawn more, this particular Advent season, into the thoughts of awaiting His return. I know that it’s Christmas time, when we traditionally celebrate His birth, and there is much rejoicing in this. But I am also seeing the importance of the expectation of His return, when He will set right all of the injustice and affliction in our world. Ironically, this is what the first-century Jews expected to see at His first coming.

The repeated prayer of restoration from Psalm 80, this morning . . . “Restore us, O God” . . . I see the repetition as no coincidence. While modern day Christians may not see any need to be “restored,” I can see, embedded in this, the thought of the entirety of Creation need to be restored to its proper state of perfection. And I see this taking place when Jesus returns to claim His Bride, Your Church.

But are we ready?

Make Your Church ready, Lord! Purify her! Show us the truths from Mary’s song. You have, indeed, done great things for us. You continue to do great things for us. Your Name is Holy. Your mercy extends to those who fear You, even to this day. You will scatter those who are proud, and will bring down rulers from their thrones and lift up the humble. Teach us to be humble, that we might, eventually, be lifted up. Fill the hungry with good things, Father. Remember Your promises (as if You needed reminding) to us. Help us also to remember that You are not being “slow” about keeping Your promises or returning. Rather, You are exercising great patience, and making it possible for all people to be saved. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Lord, please equip us to serve You in our communities and workplaces. Help us to be more concerned with serving the common good. I also lift up, specifically, all who work in education during these stressful and trying times.

"Son of David,
today I bow before You as my true King.
You subdue me by humbling Yourself as a helpless baby,
You rule me by subjecting Yourself,
You defend me through a chubby infant's arm,
and the hand of power that conquers all enemies is curled around a mother's finger.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends!

God Will Do What He Says He Will Do

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twentieth of December, 2021, the fourth Monday of Advent!

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,293

Only five days until Christmas!

There will be a flurry of Christmas wrapping today, as I work on getting C’s presents wrapped. They’ve been in a pile in my study for a couple weeks, and today is the day to get them wrapped. Hopefully. Heh. If I don’t get them done today, I also have tomorrow. I’m working Wednesday, this week, so I’ll need to get that done by then. On the other hand, I’m not working Thursday, so there’s that.

Procrastination 101.

I have some help, this morning.

Cleopatra wants that cursor

Oh. I’ll be right back. I need to start some laundry.

It’s going to be a slightly busy day, for a Monday. There’s the aforementioned laundry. Then I need to make a side trip to the grocery store, to pick up a few things that we either didn’t decide we needed yet, or weren’t available from Alberton’s, yesterday. Tonight, I’m going out to eat with C, courtesy of USBC. I believe we are going to the Winewood Grill, in Grapevine. C has her yearly checkup with her doctor, this afternoon, so she’s coming straight home after that, and we will be able to drive over there together.

I also, apparently, have yet another package to pick up at the hub locker.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

On the Path, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

All of
our footsteps
lead home 

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

I admire this poet’s ability to express things so simply, yet beautifully, in so few words. For many of us, “Home” is the ultimate goal, and we certainly hope that we are walking in the right direction. Please check out her website for more poetic imagery.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, 
"Which commandment is the most important of all?" 
Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, 
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:
 I am the LORD. 
(Leviticus 19:18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of God in my heart, which drives me (and enables me) to love others
2. for my weaknesses, which allow God to display His power in me
3. that the Lord has searched me, and knows me, inside and out
4. that God's Word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent
5. for the blessing that comes from believing that God will fulfill His promises to us
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 about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
But the LORD said to Samuel, 
"Do not consider his appearance or his height, 
for I have rejected him. 
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, 
but the LORD looks at the heart." 
(1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
You have searched me, 
LORD, 
and you know me.
(Psalms 139:1 NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-THREE

INVITATION

Turn us again to yourself, O God. 
Make your face shine down upon us. 
Only then will we be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NLT)

As I pause during this quiet moment (the cat is currently not on the desk), I consider that the Lord’s face is assuredly shining down on us. I acknowledge the truth that I cannot begin to comprehend my life from the middle. God is working His plan, and all will be clear when it is completed. I must trust Him and not lean on my own “understanding,” which is truly no understanding at all.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice. 
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, 
the hills the fruit of righteousness. 
May he defend the afflicted among the people 
and save the children of the needy; 
may he crush the oppressor. 
May he endure as long as the sun, 
as long as the moon, through all generations. 
May he be like rain falling on a mown field, 
like showers watering the earth.
 In his days may the righteous flourish 
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more. 
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 
where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, 
the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 
In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 
But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"
(Luke 1:39-45 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I seek the guidance of His Spirit as I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and mind. I pray my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

My Father, I rejoice, along with Paul’s writing, in my weaknesses, knowing that it is in them that You are made strong, or that Your strength is made evident. Your grace is, indeed, sufficient for anything we might be going through. I also take joy in the fact that You do not regard outward appearances, but are concerned with what is in the heart. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go around looking like a slob, but it also means that I don’t need to “dress to impress,” at least not for You. It is apparent that I cannot impress You with anything. For You have searched me, and You know me, inside and out. You know things about me that I do not know. As that psalmist said, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it.

Help me to lay aside all hindrances, any sin that entangles me, and run the race set before me. Help me to know that I cannot understand my life, my circumstances, by looking at them from the middle. I will only be able to fully comprehend my life when I can see it from beginning to end, as we can see Your Word. Of course, I cannot fully comprehend Your Word, yet, either. Help me to know what I need to know, to comprehend what I need to comprehend, and to trust that You have given me everything that I need for life and godliness.

As I read through the psalm again, that speaks of defending the afflicted, saving the needy, and crushing the oppressor, I am drawn, instead, to the words of Elizabeth at the end of the Luke passage. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” I believe that I can appropriate this blessing for myself, as I believe that we can all do so. If we believe that You will fulfill Your promises, we are, indeed, blessed. And I do believe. I believe that You will do what You say You will do.

"Son of Man and Son of God,
in real time,
You were conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary.
Deity and humanity were inseparably joined together in You.
Thank You for the way Christmas reminds me that faith is both material and mystical.
No confusion,
but lots of wonder.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(Based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

May It Be, According to Your Word

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of December, 2021, the fourth Sunday of Advent. The theme of the fourth week of Advent is love.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,292

Only six more days until Christmas!

I have several boxes to pick up at our local Amazon Hub Locker, today, and I think the last few Christmas presents should be delivered tomorrow or by Wednesday at least. There is a chance that one of our gifts might not make it before Christmas, but it’s not a huge problem.

Yesterday was a good day at the library, but it seemed a bit long and slow. It wasn’t very busy, and especially the last ninety minutes or so seemed dead. I think everyone else felt the same way, because I swear we were out the back door in less than ten minutes after the library closed.

We are actually having our church gathering in person, today. I think they met at the house last Sunday, as well, but we weren’t there. I’ve got a large grocery order scheduled to deliver from Albertson’s, this afternoon, which will (if we get everything) take care of most of what we need for the Christmas holidays. There are a few things that they did not have, and there will probably be a thing or two that wind up not getting fulfilled, so I’ll probably have to run out and grab a few items tomorrow.

I only work two days, this week, Tuesday night and Wednesday all day. I’ll be off Friday and Saturday for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That’s one of the reasons that I worked yesterday. The main reason I worked yesterday was because one of our other aides needed to have the day off, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Hidden Gifts of Christmas, by Daryl Madden

Listen my dear child
Soul to be aware
Gifts of Christmas coming
Are hidden everywhere

Come to look above
The same stars shining bright
That led Mary and Joseph
Through the deserts night

Wrapping every present
The Spirit here to know
The same true heart giving
Three wise men did show

The treasures of the season
Found within a prayer
Of peace and hope and love
Rejoicing and to share

Please visit Daryl’s site to see his other poetry.

Dear friends, 
since God so loved us, 
we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:11 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the fact that "God so loved us"
2. for the gift of the ability to love one another
3. that You are constantly doing "new things"
4. for the ability to keep "pressing on"
5. for the willingness of Mary to be a part of Your miracle

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
(Psalms 91:11 ESV)

Behold, I am doing a new thing; 
now it springs forth, 
do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 ESV)
And the angel said to them, 
"Fear not, 
for behold, I bring you 
good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
(Luke 2:10 ESV)
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 
But one thing I do: 
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal for the prize 
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-TWO

INVITATION

Restore us, O God; 
make your face shine on us, 
that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NIV)

I pause to consider the love of God, which enables us to love Him and love one another. I am praying, this week, especially, for more ability to display that love to everyone.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

 I trust in you; 
do not let me be put to shame,
 nor let my enemies triumph over me.
 No one who hopes in you 
will ever be put to shame, 
but shame will come on those 
who are treacherous without cause. 

Show me your ways, LORD, 
teach me your paths. 
Guide me in your truth and teach me, 
for you are God my Savior, 
and my hope is in you all day long. 
(Psalms 25:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." 
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail." 
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her. 
(Luke 1:26-38 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. As I linger over them, I pray these back to the Lord, seeking His guidance for my walk in His kingdom.

Father, I am grateful, today, for the ability to keep pressing on, to keep on walking in this kingdom life, the life You have given me, and the path that You have shown me. I put my trust fully in You, depending on You for safety and provision, as well as spiritual life. I believe that all who put their trust in You will be free from the fear of being shamed. Your trust is a safe place for us to be, and makes this world safe for us, as well. I have nothing to fear, just as Your Word constantly commands me to “fear not.”

Keep showing me Your paths, Lord, as I continue to look for them. Don’t let me stop seeking You.

Thank You for the willingness of Mary to be Your servant in this miracle of the coming of Jesus. May I be as accepting of Your will as she was.

Give us all Advent hope and joy, Father, and the willingness to be a channel for Your Good News.

"Visiting God,
eclipse my doubts and questions with the brightness of Your presence,
and,
like Mary,
overshadow my life with Your Holy Spirit,
conceiving in me a true faith that receives Jesus Christ,
making Him my own and me Your favored one.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God, 
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
 shine on those living in darkness 
and guide our feet into the path of peace." 
(based on Luke 1:78-79 )
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Here to Give, Not Receive

Good morning! Today is Saturday, the eighteenth of December, 2021, the third Saturday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,291

Only seven days until Christmas!!

C is in the breakfast nook, wrapping more presents. I have a small pile in the study, that I will be wrapping Monday and/or Tuesday. There are a few things that have not been delivered, yet, most of which should arrive sometime today. But there is one item that may not make it before Christmas. No big deal, but it might affect the usefulness of one or more of the other things.

I have let time get away from me, this morning, so I need to get moving with the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"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)
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)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the joy that I feel in Your presence
2. that You have made know to me the path of life
3. for the beautiful people with whom I work at the Hurst Public Library
4. for the gifts, talents, and resources I have to give to this world, all of which came from You
5. that You care about what is in our hearts, not what is on the outside of our bodies
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night.
(Luke 2:8 ESV)
"She will bear a son, 
and you shall call his name Jesus, 
for he will save his people from their sins." 
(Matthew 1:21 ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we have seen his glory, 
glory as of the only Son from the Father, 
full of grace and truth. 
(John 1:14 ESV)
He said to them, 
"You are from below; I am from above. 
You are of this world; I am not of this world."
(John 8:23 ESV)
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 
(John 17:16-18 ESV)
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, 
God making his appeal through us. 
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 
(2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-ONE

INVITATION

I pause during this quiet moment, pondering the joy of the Lord, the mission I have on this earth, and the path that He has shown my feet.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him
 who brings good news, 
who publishes peace, 
who brings good news, 
who proclaims salvation, 
who says to Zion, 
“Your God reigns!” 
(Isaiah 52:7 WEB)

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

 Praise the LORD, my soul. 

I will praise the LORD all my life;
 I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
Do not put your trust in princes, 
in human beings, who cannot save. 
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
 on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD their God. 
(Psalms 146:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. 
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, somewhat slowly, I look for words and phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I linger over them, repeating them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord. I enjoy His presence, this morning.

Father, there are several things that catch my eye, through the various readings, this morning. I wonder, along with Rick Hamlin, from Daily Guideposts, what those first shepherds looked and smelled like. We attend our Christmas musicals in our finest garb, smelling all pretty and stuff. But I’m pretty sure those shepherds didn’t stop to take a shower and splash cologne on before they made their way to the stable where their salvation had been laid. I acknowledge, Father, that it is the heart with which You are concerned, rather than the outward appearance.

I ponder, also, the truth that I am in this world to give, not to receive. You have gifted me (along with all the rest of Your children) with resources and talents to be shared. I need to focus on what I can give to this world, not what I can get out of it. The same is true when I come to worship You. What can I give You? Too many times, we approach Your throne with the idea of what we can get from You. Help us to think, rather, on what we can give. But may we also remember that everything I have to give came from You, to begin with.

And as I continue to praise You, as long as I live, I will open my mouth with songs of joy. I will rejoice always, and pray without ceasing. I will be thankful in all circumstances, continuing to be an example of gratitude to those around me, not that I can be noticed, but, hopefully, to direct them to You. Help me not to quench the Spirit in any of my ways. Also help me to reject all kinds of evil, and to test the spirits.

I pray for unity within Your Church, Father.

"Jesus,
Prince of Peace:
I've lost my childlike wonder and stuffed the emptiness with Christmas busyness and sappy sentiment.
Remind me of the miracle of Christmas,
that You not only assumed a human nature but a real human soul;
You were fully human.
Fill me with renewed wonder that You came to save me wholly,
body and soul.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed be the Lord, 
the God of Israel, 
for he has visited and redeemed his people;"
(Luke 1:68 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May God himself, the God of peace, 
sanctify you through and through. 
May your whole spirit, soul and body 
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Mediator

Good morning. Today is Friday, the seventeenth of December, 2021, the third Friday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,290

Only eight more days until Christmas!

I successfully obtained a new fan, yesterday. It seems louder than the old one, which is odd, because it is virtually the same fan, but a different color. We may have to set this one on medium speed, rather than high speed. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with me waking up before 5:30, this morning. I did go to bed a little earlier than usual, last night, but that was because today is a workday for me. I’m working my normal Friday shift, today, 9:15AM to 6:15 PM, in the computer/media center.

Tomorrow, I’ll be working an extra shift, filling in for an associate who needed the day off. I don’t have to adjust anywhere else, because I’m losing sixteen hours out of next week, due to the Christmas holidays. We are closed both Friday and Saturday for Christmas, and I would have been scheduled to work both days.

I made Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner, last night, so there will be leftovers to take for lunch today. Yum!

I just stumbled across this on the page that opens when I open a new tab in MS Edge. Someone is confused.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A View of the Unseen, by Daryl Madden

Awake this day
A gift to see
The light arise
One of beauty

To pause this day
Upon a view
To still the soul
Of more pursue

To pray this day
Of vision cast
Of way beyond
One that will last

To know this day
Of the unseen
To let the Spirit
Intervene

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at the link provided above.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, 
so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my joy is based on You and Your faithfulness, rather than on my circumstances
2. for the strength obtained from meditating on Your Word
3. that You have done great things for us
4. that, no matter how far I may stray, You always bring me back, and have never allowed me to completely lose sight of You
5. that Jesus Christ is the one mediator between You and us, and that He game Himself as a ransom for us

for we walk by faith, not by sight.
(2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY

INVITATION

What a beautiful sight! 
On the mountains a messenger announces to Jerusalem,
 "Good news! 
You're saved. 
There will be peace. 
Your God is now King." 
(Isaiah 52:7 CEV)

I pause, briefly, to consider the joy of knowing Jesus, and the strength and endurance obtained by this.

BIBLE SONG

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev. 
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 
(1 Timothy 2:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any words or phrases that jump out at me, allowing my heart to respond in prayer. I take refreshment in His presence.

Father, I confess, this morning, that it seems like this “race” has been long, the road, long and winding, kind of like that Beatles song. You have given me endurance, and my joy remains intact, even thought there have been many times it has been threatened. But You have kept me looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, the source of both my faith and my joy. He is the center of my being, and, in Him, I dwell in the center of Your holiness.

I confess, too, that I do not always remain in that center. I frequently stray. Yet You are patient and kind, bearing with me through all of my foolish wanderings. And You have never allowed my feet to stray too far, so far that I lose sight of You completely. I am grateful for this.

I thank You for Jesus, the one true mediator between You and us, and that He has given Himself as a ransom for us, purchasing us with His blood. This, too, gives me great joy, because I know that this purchase was permanent and cannot be reversed.

Help me to be faithful to pray for all people, especially those mentioned in that passage from 1 Timothy, “kings and all those in authority,” so that we may, as Paul said, “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It truly is Your desire that all people be saved, so I pray to this end, and ask that You help me to be a channel of blessing and grace to everyone with whom I come in contact.

I also specifically pray for those who are living in poverty and injustice on this day. I pray that You would raise up the right people to rescue them. Give us, too, the capacity and willingness to suffer with others. And give extra strength to all who are being persecuted for their faith.

"Lord God,
You defy all my tidy categories for understanding You,
especially at Christmas.
What a paradox the incarnation is -
true God and authentic humanity knit into one person,
Your Son,
Jesus Christ.
I worship You for this marvelous mystery -
as true God You conquered death by Your power,
and as a real human You died for me in the weakness of Your flesh.
Amen."

BLESSING

Praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel!
He has come to save his people.
(Luke 1:68 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pressing On

Good morning! Today is Thursday, the sixteenth of December, 2021, the third Thursday of Advent!

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,289

Only nine days until Christmas!

Yesterday turned out to be a fun day. Right after I finished my devotional blog, I texted C and asked if she wanted to have lunch. She said, “sure!” So I got dressed and headed her way. We roamed around a bit before discovering a strip shopping center that had a couple of possible destinations. There was a New York pizza place, and, to my delight, Fred’s Downtown Phillies. I know Fred’s from Carrollton, nearby where I used to work. I never actually went there, because one of our other associates used to go pick them up for us. But I knew they were delicious. So we went there. They did not disappoint. They are even better, fresh at the restaurant! The bread was hot and toasty, and they chop up all the ingredients with the steak, so it’s all mixed in. Their fries are delicious, too. I had their “Philly Toothpicks,” which are a combination of onion and jalapeno strips, breaded and fried. But the fries, which C had, were better. I have a feeling we will go back there.

After lunch, I dropped C off at the front of the building, and headed over to the ITRC pro shop, where I had left a bowling ball to be drilled, actually before C’s back surgery. They were closed, but there were people in there (one of which I knew, as he is one of C’s work friends), so they got my ball for me. I paid for the drilling and proceeded to bowl a couple games at the lanes, there. I got a free hour of bowling with the drilling. I loved the drilling job, as well as the ball. It had been C’s ball, but she wasn’t using it any more, so she let me have it. It is the best drill I have ever had on a bowling ball. And what I learned from the pro at the shop is that, if the ball is drilled properly, you do not have to grip the ball! Amazing!

I’ve talked to C, and I plan to check out local bowling leagues that bowl on weekday mornings, after the first of the year. I could bowl on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday mornings, as I am always off work at those times.

Our bedroom fan quit working at around 6:00 this morning. So I have a task for today. I will head up to the local hardware store after I finish the blog, to see if they have any fans available. Hopefully, they will have some box fans, which is typically what we have in our bedroom. Fortunately, we have a little noisemaker box that simulates a box fan, for the noise.

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm around here. It’s been windy down here, but nothing like some of the northern and midwestern states are experiencing. I read in Brother’s Campfire that Colorado is having winds that could knock eighteen-wheelers over. And we all have heard about the tornado devastations in Kentucky and surrounding areas, earlier this week.

I can finally see a weather forecast for Christmas day, though, and it is supposed to be a high of 51 and mostly sunny. Should be a beautiful day. Today is mostly cloudy, with a high of 71, and 35% chance of precip.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, 
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were filled with great fear. 
And the angel said to them, 
"Fear not, 
for behold, I bring you good news of great joy 
that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day 
in the city of David 
a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord. 
(Luke 2:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the words of that angel
2. for candy, especially Christmas candy
3. for my family, most especially C
4. for Your mercies, new every morning, and Your great faithfulness
5. that Your love stands firm forever
And he who was seated on the throne said, 
"Behold, I am making all things new." 
Also he said, 
"Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
(Revelation 21:5 ESV)
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
(Psalms 18:36 ESV)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.
 But one thing I do: 
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal 
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

We had a pastor once, who talked about this thing he called a “one percent grade.” The point being, if you keep moving up, it doesn’t matter how steeply you climb, as long as you are climbing. It doesn’t matter how fast you walk forward, as long as you walk forward. There is an old proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s true. What is also true, though, is that those steps have to keep coming.

“The small upward steps, taken every day, will end up lifting you to the heights. God has called you not only to love, but to keep loving; not only to believe, but to press on in believing; not only to do right, but to persevere in doing it.

“Don’t ever judge your life or what God is doing in your life by how it appears in the moment on the journey. . . . Walk this good road, and no matter what . . . keep walking it. Never give up, but keep walking, and you will end up standing on heights you never dreamed you could have attained. “

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY NINETEEN

INVITATION

How wonderful it is to see a messenger 
coming across the mountains, 
bringing good news, 
the news of peace! 
He announces victory and says to Zion, 
"Your God is king!"
(Isaiah 52:7 GNB)

I pause during the quiet of this morning, considering the journey I have been on, combined with the great faithfulness and mercies of our God.

BIBLE SONG

 I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, 
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever 
and make your throne firm through all generations.'" 

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— 
and I will not lie to David— 
that his line will continue forever 
and his throne endure before me like the sun; 
it will be established forever like the moon, 
the faithful witness in the sky." 
(Psalms 89:1-4, 35-37 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
(James 5:7-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart or my mind, praying these things to God, turning my thoughts toward Him and enjoying His presence.

Father, I will sing of Your great love forever. This I have believed, for many years, and will continue to do so. This goes along with the thoughts of pressing on, presented in other readings for today. The journey begins and continues. How fast it goes is not important. The important thing is that I press on and stay faithful in believing, in loving, and in doing right, continuing to move forward in my faith, trust, and hope in You.

I will make these things known with my mouth, and I will make them known through my fingertips, as I type on this computer keyboard, sending these words out into the blogosphere, where anyone You decree may find them. I am grateful for the permanence and assurance of Your promises, exemplified in Your great promise to Your son, David. You have kept Your promise to him, through the arrival and Lordship of Jesus Christ. I believe that You will be faithful to keep all promises made to all people. Give me wisdom to know which promises are directly applicable to me, and which are not.

Give us patience, as we wait on You, Father. During this season of Advent, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, we also look forward to His second coming, His return, in which He will make all things right and fix all the effects that sin has had on our world, on Your kingdom. We look forward to the arrival of Your kingdom on earth, and pray that Your kingdom will come and Your will will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us patience and perseverance, as we know that You are full of compassion and mercy. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Father, give us spiritual renewal and help us to maintain the joy of our salvation, as we walk in Your kingdom. May the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit be manifest within us. And keep us ready to give a reason for the hope that we have.

"Ancient of Days,
You had a beginning as a child;
infinite God,
You weren't ashamed to take on our frail and finite humanity.
I praise You,
eternal God,
for becoming one of us,
because my salvation and resurrection depend on the reality of Your body.
Amen."

BLESSING

"Let us praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel! 
He has come to the help of his people 
and has set them free."
(Luke 1:68 GNB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.