Stubborn and Stiff-necked?

Today is Saturday, the seventeenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,046

33 days until our weekend in Glen Rose

I’m up early, preparing for my Saturday workday. At this point, I have no idea how long I will be working. I’m hoping that it’s not more than four hours, but it will be what it will be, right? And I will be fine.

I was going to try and put in a grocery order, last night. But it got frustrating when Walmart didn’t have any Kraft light mayo. They also don’t carry the Johnsonville turkey sausage links that I discovered at Kroger a few weeks ago. The question, at this point, becomes, why can’t I get everything I need at one store? It’s almost like there is this huge conspiracy between Kroger, Albertson’s, and Walmart; you know, like they had a meeting where they all agreed to not have everything so that we would have to go to all three stores to get what we need. But “no one else was in the room where it happened,” so we will probably never know.

It’s hard to know how much weight I would lose today, were I going to the WW Workshop. I’m a pound down from last Saturday, at home. But I also got up a couple hours earlier than I normally would on Saturday, and that makes a difference, as well.

We made our favorite Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken last night, for dinner, and it seemed better than usual, for some reason. I’m thinking it’s because we haven’t had it in a while. Or maybe the chicken was better, this time. Sometimes, the quality of the chicken we get is inconsistent. Our stir-fry on Thursday night seemed really good, as well. A previous time, the chicken seemed less tender and more “chewy.” Who knows?

The Texas Rangers lost to the Baltimore Orioles, last night, 5-2. Mike Foltynewicz (0-3) was the losing pitcher. Texas is now alone in the cellar, as Oakland continues to win. But Houston continued their losing streak, so the Rangers are only a half game behind them. They are three games behind the first-place Mariners. They will play again, this evening, at 6:05 CDT, with Dane Dunning (1-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Red Sox game with the Other Sox was postponed, last night. They will try again today, at 3:05 CDT, with the same pitchers scheduled.

The LA Dodgers continue to dominate the MLB, with a stunning 12-2 record, so far, and a seven game win streak. The Colorado Rockies currently hold the worst record, at 3-10, and a six game losing streak.

It looks like today is my wife’s niece’s birthday. Happy birthday, J!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Precious Way, by Daryl Madden

Dependent on a being
One that I can’t see
Connection through the soul
That He is loving me

Guided by a Spirit
That the ear can’t hear
A knowing in the soul
That He is dwelling near

Hope within a faith
Of not completely known
Through insights of the soul
The precious way is shown

Wisdom in the Word
Of seed that scripture sends
The promise for the soul
Of One that never ends

But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude
(Psalms 77:11-15 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • that I am gainfully employed and have a job to go to, even if I have to work on a Saturday
  • for the cooler weather we are currently receiving
  • for the rain that replenishes the earth
  • for the story that each of us has; may we be faithful to share it with others, openly and willingly
  • for a spirit of vulnerability

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

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I am pausing, briefly, to reflect on the holiness and mightiness of God. He is the God of great wonders!

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of Asaph.

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
(Psalms 78:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:7-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I invite the Holy Spirit to move within me, directing me toward words or phrases that speak to me.

My first leaning is toward wondering if we have, perhaps, failed in doing what the psalm passage directs us to do. There seems to be a massive move, in younger generations, away from faith in God. I could go on, and could certainly fall down a deep, deep rabbit hole, regarding reasons that I see that could be an explanation for this. But that is not the intent of this forum. Neither is it to complain and moan about the situation.

Nevertheless, I see the admonition in Psalm 78 to teach future generations about the deeds and commands of the Lord. My prayer is that His Church can get back to that goal and do a better job of it, and present them in such a way that they do not seem obsolete or irrelevant. This doesn’t mean that we alter them to fit our culture. It means that our own relationship with this God and His commands and deeds must stay fresh and alive.

Father, I pray that my relationship with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will remain vibrant and fresh, never getting stale. Please make it so that, when I have an opportunity to teach someone from a younger generation about Your love and Your mighty works in history and my own life, it will feel relevant, not stale; fresh and alive. Your deeds and commands do not change. The only thing that changes is my own approach to this loving relationship with You. If I am stale, then my testimony will be stale. Keep it fresh, Lord, living and active, just like Your Word.

Purposeful God,
thank you that my faith is not a cosmic fluke or a lucky accident of circumstance -
you've called me by a larger and longer wisdom.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus,
your aim is to redeem all those you've called from every people,
tribe,
nation,
and language.
As you have called me,
make me now a messenger of your mercy.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 2.8)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears.”
(Zechariah 7:11 NIV)

But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the LORD their God.
(2 Kings 17:14 NIV)

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction.
(Isaiah 30:8-9 NIV)

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)

Why do I share these passages (except for the last one) that seem so negative and condemning? It’s a reminder. Some folks I know would read these passages and point their fingers at other groups and say, “Yeah!” I read these passages and look inward, because I know how apt I am to being rebellious and stubborn. I know how difficult it is, sometimes, for the Spirit to get my attention and get me to listen.

The Lord’s promises are wonderful! His mighty deeds are magnificent, transcending anything else we might experience anywhere or anywhen else. Why, then, are we so slow to listen? Why are we, why am I so stubborn? Why am I so stiff-necked?

But notice that it ends with Isaiah 41:10, in recent years, a favorite, go-to verse for me. He is with me. He is with you. Do not be dismayed. He will strengthen, He will help, He will uphold. Even when we are stubborn and disbelieving.


The LORD told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
(Exodus 32:7-8 NLT)

And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
(Romans 1:23 NLT)

for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
(1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NLT)

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.
(1 John 5:21 NLT)

I believe this progression to be the answer to the problem above. To move away from stubbornness, to stop being stiff-necked, I need to obey 1 John 5:21, and make sure that there is nothing in my life that replaces God or usurps His authority in my life. I need to make sure that I have no “gods” (small-g) in my life, but only the one true God.


Father, I pray for Your Spirit to work in me today. Lead me toward obedience; lead me toward listening. Open my ears to what You have to say to me today. Give me a willingness to share my story with anyone who is curious. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your Truth. Help me to rid my life of “gods” that are unworthy of my worship or attention.

Lord, I pray, this morning, that a Your Church would be marked by a “deep missional identity.” Give us servant leaders, kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization, enabling us, as a local body of believers, to fulfill our purpose in Your kingdom. I pray for all denominations, agencies, and programs within Your Church, all around the world. I also pray for unity within Your Church.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

On Praying for Kings and Presidents

Today is Sunday, the eleventh of April, 2021, the second Sunday of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,040

39 days until our next Glen Rose weekend

It’s another chilly morning, today, currently 50 degrees. But it’s going to be warm, as the projected high today is 84. There is virtually no chance of any rain today. The week ahead, though, looks to be cooler, with temps falling into the upper fifties by next Saturday. There is a decent chance of rain on at least four of the days in the coming week.

We had the most wonderful day, yesterday. After everyone arrived, we exchanged the birthday gifts, and decided on Mesquite Pit for lunch. I splurged a bit, point-wise, with a two meat plate of chopped brisket and sausage. I figured the meal to be somewhere around 20 SmartPoints, which may or may not be accurate. I had “Cowboy beans” (pinto beans) and green beans for my sides, which are typically zero points. I have no idea how they cook them, though, so who knows?

But the afternoon was great. After lunch, we just sat and talked and never left the dining room table. I even forgot to go get Crazy Water. By the time I remembered, they would only be open for about twenty more minutes, so I didn’t bother. I still have close to eighteen liters, which will last me over a month, so I’m good. It was so good for us all to be together (less S, of course, but she called while we were there), and we elected to be mask-free in the setting, as all of us but Mama have had both vaccines, and she has had one. I know it meant the world to her, and it felt like more “normal” times.

Our church, as previously mentioned, is not meeting, this morning. I’m still not 100% sure if I am going anywhere. I stayed up late and got up early, as I find it difficult to sleep past 6:30 AM, for some reason. Depending on what time I finish the blog post, and how energetic I feel . . . I may or may not try to go out. C is actually working (from R’s old bedroom), so she’s probably not going anywhere.

S and I will have our normal Saturday night burgers tonight, as I had used up all but one of my daily points, yesterday, and wasn’t that hungry for dinner. My usual Sunday night dinner of tuna and black-eyed peas will have to wait until another time.

The Texas Rangers lost another game to the Padres last night. They started out ahead, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the second. They were actually ahead when Jordan Lyles left the game, after 4.1 innings. But, sadly, as has been the story for so many years, the bullpen was not able to keep the lead. The Padres won 7-4. Wes Benjamin was tagged with the loss for the Rangers. The Rangers are now 3-5 on the season, sitting in fourth place in the AL West, 2.5 games out. They will play again, this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, with Mike Foltynewicz starting for the Rangers. Hopefully, he will have better command than his previous outing.

The Boston Red Sox, on the other hand, have taken first place, and have now won five games in a row! They beat the Orioles again, last night, 6-4, scoring 2 runs in the top of the 10th inning, on a wild pitch and a single. Matt Barnes, as the pitcher of record when the runs were scored, go the win, and another Matt (Andriese) got a save by holding off the O’s in the bottom of the 10th. The Sox are 5-3 on the season. They will play again today, in Baltimore, at 12:05 CDT. Nick Pivetta will start for Boston.

The LA Dodgers currently hold the best record, at 7-2, not surprisingly, as they are widely projected to possibly repeat as World Series champions, this year. The Pirates of Pittsburgh currently hold the worst record, along with the Marlins of Miami, at 2-6. Neither of those is much of a surprise, either.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Almighty and everlasting God,
who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation:
Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen.
(The Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter)

Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me.
I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated.
(Psalms 71:22-24 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for the wonderful day we had yesterday, celebrating family and birthdays
  • for the opportunity to pray for our president and other elected officials; may I be more faithful in doing so
  • for the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, given to us by Christ
  • for the victory that is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ
  • for the music we have, with which we sing and play Your praises

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

EASTER – DAY 8

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause to quietly reflect on the “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

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.
(Psalms 72:1-4 NIV)

BIBLE READING

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
(John 20:19-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, this morning, I reread the passages, asking the Holy Spirit to draw me in, looking for words or phrases that speak to me.

I am immediately impressed that the first four verses of Psalm 72 are a good prayer to pray for national leaders. Whether your country has a king, queen, dictator, or president, this is a good prayer to bring before God on their behalf. We pray for God’s justice to be enacted through our country’s leaders. We pray that our country’s leaders would “judge . . . people in righteousness.” We pray that our country’s leaders would defend the afflicted and the needy, and crush all oppressors.

I have to confess that I have always struggled/puzzled with the passage from John. Not the part about Jesus appearing in their midst in a locked room, as that is told in multiple Gospel presentations. He also gives them bodily evidence of His promise that, wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He will be in their midst.

It’s verses 22 and 23 that give me pause. Not that I don’t believe them. I’m just not quite sure I completely understand what is happening. First of all, the Holy Spirit doesn’t make His grand entrance until Pentecost, in Acts 2. Did the disciples/apostles get a sneak preview, an advanced empowerment? I suppose that is entirely possible. Jesus breathed on them. The Greek word is emphusao, which means “to puff” or “to blow at/on.” The word for Spirit is the well-known pneuma, which literally means “a current of air,” or “breath.” Jesus breathed life onto His apostles, empowering them to move on to the next phase of their lives/ministries.

The second part that I have struggled with is the bit about forgiving sins. My understanding, and commentaries that I see seem to be in agreement, is that only Jesus/God can forgive sins or not forgive sins. So, while this looks like Jesus was giving the apostles authority to actually forgive sins, I don’t think that is the case. The thing is, I might be wrong. It happens quite a bit, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I simply admit that I don’t quite grasp the meaning of this verse. One commentary says that Jesus essentially, with the granting of the Holy Spirit, gave the disciples discernment to tell when people were truly forgiven or not forgiven, and the authority to make the proclamation as such. Without a doubt, it is this kind of authority that caused Ananias and Saphira to be stricken dead on the spot when they attempted to deceive the Church with their little contribution game in Acts.

Father, I will join the psalmist (Solomon, allegedly) in praying for Your wisdom and righteousness to be granted to our president and all other elected leaders in our country. I pray that they would all join together (not an impossible idea) to judge the people in righteousness, to defend the afflicted, save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressors. May Your glory be seen in all our land, Father. I also pray for wisdom to understand what is happening in this passage from John. It is not something that will break my faith if I don’t quite get it. It is not something that is essential for me to understand. I will accept on faith that the disciples understood what was being said and what was happening, and that they acted on it. That is enough for me.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus,
friend of sinners,
your resurrected life is not  a private experience or a soothing metaphor but a stubborn public reality.
May your well-attested resurrection impel me to openly announce the outrageously good news - 
that sins are forgiven through what you have done when the gospel promise is received in true faith.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 84)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


He is not here; he has risen!
(Luke 24:6 NIV)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
(Matthew 28:5-6 NIV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(1 Peter 1:3 NIV)


“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
(Revelation 2:18-20 NIV)

It’s been a while since I had time to delve into John’s letters to the churches. I’m continuing, this morning, with the letter to the church in Thyatira.

After giving them some praise and encouragement, Jesus moves on to the issue He has against this church. There is a person who is in the congregation, leading them astray with false teaching. Jesus names her “Jezebel,” to compare her to the Old Testament person of that name. And perhaps that was really her name. I suppose it is not necessarily wrong to assume so.

The Old Testament Jezebel was “the most notorious evil woman in Hebrew history.” She was the wife of King Ahab, who was one of the weaker of Israel’s kings. Jezebel’s father, Ethbaal, was a priest of Astarte. “Astarte was the Phoenician equivalent of the Greek Aphrodite and the Roman Venus.” This religious system was so grossly immoral that it “encouraged gross sexual immorality under the cloak of piety.”

Jezebel (OT) may have even been a priestess of Astarte, herself. To add to her evil works, she killed all prophets of Jehovah that she could get her hands on. “Ahab did not possess the moral conviction or stamina to withstand her.”

It is almost as though her spirit has been reincarnated in this person addressed by Jesus. She was having some success in seducing disciples of Christ “to indulge in immoral practices.” Her teaching included believing that matter was evil, so sins of the flesh could be indulged without damaging the spirit.

I’m going to quote an entire paragraph, here, because I feel it is important to understanding.

“Jezebel’s answer to the Christian’s conflict with the world was to eliminate the conflict by assimilating the differences. Instead of refusing to participate in what was evil, she taught that the Christian must assimilate all the evil and thereby redeem it. Any examination that we undergo must include an examination of our relation to society. And in particular here, business society. We cannot exclude such a major part of our lives from the probing, searching gaze of Christ. Our tendency is to assimilate, to take on the coloration of those with whom we work – our employers, our companies, our associates. But Christ’s command is that we should differentiate.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Father, may we be careful to not assimilate the practices of evil into our churches, today. But may we also be discerning as to what is truly evil and what is not. Like Your apostles, give us Your Holy Spirit, that we may discern what is worthy and shun what is not. May we not fall into the same trap as the Christians in Thyatira. All glory to You, Father!

Lord, please grant Your church resurrection hope and joy, this day. Give us, like the apostles, the power of the Holy Spirit, along with the discernment, and help us share the Gospel with our communities, in the power of the Spirit.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

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.

To Which I Can Always Run

Today is Saturday, the tenth of April, 2021. Easter Saturday in the first week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,039

Forty days until our Glen Rose weekend

It’s a chilly morning, currently 52 degrees, but with a projected high of 74. With sunny skies, it promises to be a lovely day.

We made it to the weekend! It will be a bit busier than our normal weekend, as it will include a trip to Mineral Wells for some overdue birthday celebrations. We must remember to bring all of the accumulated gifts. There will be lunch, although the prospective venue has not been identified, as of yet. There will also be, as usual, a trip to the Crazy Water store to stock up on Crazy Water #4.

Tomorrow, our church will not be gathering, as the other two “elders” are going to be out. I am considering returning to St. Barnabas Anglican Church, but have not decided, yet.

We have our usual WW Workshop at 10:30, this morning. Our regular coach will be out this week, which is a bummer, but that’s okay. I’m thinking that I might lose a couple more pounds, on this weigh-in. I’ve had a good week in that area, it seems. Immediately after WW, we will head to the grocery store to pick up our order. And, I believe, we will be getting a Subway sandwich for S, who will not be accompanying us to Mineral Wells.

The Texas Rangers not only lost 3-0 last night, apparently, they were the victims of a no-hitter. Joe Musgrove of the Padres narrowly missed a perfect game, as the only batter to reach base was Joey Gallo on a HBP. Don’t you know Musgrove regrets that pitch? The two teams will play again, tonight, at 6:05 CDT, with Jordan Lyles taking the mound for Texas. He had a good outing for his last start. The Rangers are tied for third place in the AL West, with Seattle, at 3-4.

The Red Sox remain tied for first, at 4-3, with the Orioles, as neither team played last night, and the Rays pounded the Yankees 10-5, which put both of those teams at 3-4, for a second place tie. Toronto brings up the rear at 3-5. The Sox and O’s will play this evening, in Baltimore, with Garrett Richards starting for the Sox.

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)

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
(Psalms 71:17-19 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  • that You have been teaching me since my youth (and even before)
  • for Your promise that You will never leave or forsake Your children
  • that You are a rock, a refuge, and a fortress to which I can always run
  • for the forgiveness of sin, made possible by the blood of Jesus, poured out by the Cross
  • for the Living Water

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

EASTER – DAY 7

INVITATION

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

I pause, at this point, to quietly reflect on what the Lord has done for me, through the years.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
(Psalms 71:1-6 NIV)

I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.
(Psalms 71:22-24 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I sit in His presence, this morning, I reread these passages, pondering and meditating, asking His Spirit to direct my thoughts.

I begin with Psalm 71:3.

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
(Psalms 71:3 NIV)

There are several words that speak to me, in this verse. Words like “rock,” “refuge,” and “fortress” always speak to me in these psalms. Then there’s the phrase, “to which I can always go.”

Here is an important principle for our lives, one I believe we fail to implement enough. Our God is, indeed, a rock, our solid ground. When our feet are planted on the Solid Rock, we cannot be shaken. Our God is also an impenetrable fortress and refuge.

And the truth of that phrase cannot be overestimated. We can always go to this rock, this refuge, this fortress.

When I am having a bad day, when things aren’t going the way I think they should be; when my mental state is spiraling downward, and my emotions are running amok; these are times in which I need to avail myself of the infinite availability of the rock, refuge, and fortress that is my God.

But the thing is, I have to make the effort to do this. It has to be something that I intentionally set out to do. I have made the mistake, in the past, of letting those emotions have their way with me, and that never ends well. This morning, though, when I felt the negativity creeping in on me, I saw this verse. I moved myself, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, into the rock, refuge, and fortress that is my Father in Heaven.

When I am firmly planted in there, nothing can reach me that He does not want to reach me.

And, to link the passages, when I am firmly planted in there, the admonition in Colossians comes to fruition. When I run to the refuge of the Lord, it is much easier to keep my mind set on things above. This prepares me for when I have to deal with “worldly” things, like work and whatnot.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:2 NIV)

Father, I praise You for being my rock, my refuge, and my fortress, to which I can always go, to which I can always run. Please remind me, by Your Holy Spirit, when I feel the pressures of life closing in on me, when I feel the negative emotions crowding me, to run to this refuge, where Your loving arms will enfold me and protect me. How I love this feeling, Father, the feeling of Your arms around me, holding me close, keeping “bad” things away from me, at least for a moment or two. And in this, I ask that You also help me to focus on things above, rather than things of the earth.

Lord God,
I pray that my capacity to know and experience life might be magnified in Christ.
By your grace set the eyes of my heart on Jesus,
giving me a widened imagination to see everything from your perspective,
to live in faith,
and to love my Savior.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 3/4.13)

BLESSING

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)


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

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:7-14 ESV)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)


Father, I praise You for the forgiveness that is ours. I thank You for the “new creation,” both that which has already happened, and that for which we wait. Thank You for the Living Water of Jesus Christ. May I, along with all of Your children, drink deeply today.

Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will grow Your Church and cause her to flourish, throughout the world. May we all experience worship that glorifies You and that gathers, unites, and blesses Your people. May we all have a positive and helpful witness in our communities, spreading Your light as we walk.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The True Judge

Jesus commanded us to love one another, not judge one another.

Today is Friday, the ninth of April, 2021. Easter Friday, in the first week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,038

41 days until our weekend in Glen Rose

It is currently 66 degrees, with a projected high of 85 today. I’m not really ready for it to be hot again, but I will not complain. Many of us, after Snovid-19, this past February, have declared that we will never again complain about the heat in the Spring/Summer of Texas. There is little to no precipitation expected today.

I believe my Mama had a good day, yesterday. I started trying to call her, on the way home, but got no answer. I resisted temptations to worry, figuring she was out with a friend, and, sure enough, she was. One of her besties took her out to run some errands, including dropping her taxes off with the person who does her taxes for her. They even went to a grocery store! Mama has not been to a grocery store in over a year! They topped off their afternoon together with a Blizzard from a local DQ.

We had a nice conversation, later in the evening, after she got home.

An interesting thing has happened in my life, recently. It may seem trivial to some, and, yet others might think it’s a no-brainer. Earlier this week, I decided to stop adding salt to my food (except for popcorn . . . I’m still salting my popcorn). I decided, quite suddenly, that I wanted to know what the food actually tastes like without all that salt piled on it (I used to use quite a bit of salt). For example, I have not salted my over-easy eggs once, this week, during breakfast. I have added other seasonings, such as Chipotle, Bacon-Lover’s, and Ranch, from my favorite seasoning people, Flavor God, and those, no doubt, have a small amount of salt in them. But as far as just pouring salt on my food, I have ceased to do this.

The Boston Red Sox are tied for first place after defeating the Orioles 7-3, yesterday. Eduardo Rodriguez got the win for the Sox, putting them at 4-3 on the season. They are off today, and will continue a series with the O’s tomorrow, at Fenway.

The Texas Rangers were off yesterday, and remain in third place in the AL West, at 3-3. They begin a weekend series with the Padres of San Diego, this evening, at Globe Life Field (I had to look to check what this is officially called). Kohei Arihara will take the mound for the Rangers. The Padres are 4-3 on the season, and, of course, include the much-loathed Manny Machado. Jurickson Profar, former Rangers player, also plays for the Padres, now.

Weekend plans include a trip to Mineral Wells to celebrate birthdays with Mama, along with R & J. S will likely remain at home, as she is still feeling tired from her Covid shot. Plus she is still wary of getting out and about, as her and masks do not get along.

Breaking news . . . Britain’s Prince Phillip, husband of the Queen, has died at the age of 99.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
(Psalms 71:14-16 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for Your mighty deeds, of which I will boast, all of my days
  • for the wonderful flavor of my Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend coffee
  • that we may rejoice in You and be glad in You and experience a pervasive sense of well-being
  • that all who believe in You, Jesus, receive forgiveness of sins in Your name
  • that, as long as I am going in the right direction, You are going ahead of me

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

EASTER – DAY 6

INVITATION

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

I am pausing to quietly reflect on the gift of life, remembering that not even my next moment is a “given.” Lord, Your mercy is overwhelming, at times.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David. A petition.

Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me.
May those who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.
(Psalms 70:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
(Acts 10:39-43 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly read these passages again, lingering over the words and phrases, I ask the Holy Spirit to point out something to my soul, showing me some truth that perhaps I have failed to notice before, or refreshing something well-known, but perhaps neglected in my life.

The prayer in Psalm 70:4 stands out to me, this morning.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”
(Psalms 70:4 NIV)

We could all use a little more rejoicing and gladness, these days. We are not seeking a type of “joyfulness” that runs around oblivious to things in the world. That is not really “joy.” Ignorance is bliss, they say. But it is?

What we seek is true joy; a pervasive sense of well-being. The idea that, no matter what life throws at me, it’s going to be okay. I can be glad in the Lord and His provision and protection over me, in spite of pandemics and power outages in the midst of the coldest days in a century.

So, yes, Lord, may all who seek You rejoice and be glad, this day!

The passage in Acts has some crucial Gospel truth. One is found in verse 42, which says that God appointed Christ as “judge of the living and the dead.” Jesus is the judge. Plain and simple. And I believe that we should leave that job to Him. It’s hard. I tend to judge people, it’s a weakness of mine. It implies that I think I’m better. I don’t, necessarily. But that is the implication. So I must turn that gaze inward when I find myself being “judgy.” Then, after turning it inward, I must abandon it, altogether and love my neighbor as myself.

Jesus commanded us to love one another, not judge one another.

Then comes the last verse of the passage, verse 43. “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Again, plain and simple. That is an important piece of the Gospel message. Some would say it is the Gospel message. I tend to lean toward that being the simple proclamation that the Kingdom of heaven is here. That was the Gospel that Jesus preached.

Father, may all who seek You rejoice and be glad, today and every day. Fill our spirits, our souls, with joy and gladness, as we contemplate You and Your mighty deeds. May we boast in You and You alone, and in nothing that we have done. May we be filled with a pervasive sense of well-being as we walk in this world. May we accept Christ as the only true judge of ourselves and others. And may that filter into everything that I think and say today. If I begin to say something judgy about someone else, or even myself, Holy Spirit shut my mouth! You, Jesus Christ, are the only true judge, appointed by the Father! Help me to spread the Gospel message that all who believe in You receive forgiveness of sins in Your name.

Jesus,
judge of the living and the dead:
knowing that a verdict on my life is coming sends me scurrying away in fright,
until I see that my judge is the very one who has laid down his life for me.
Thank you that I can face your judgment without fear or condemnation,
because I will be raised up in glory,
openly acknowledged as your friend,
approved and acquitted,
and freed to rejoice in you forever.
May the joy of that day start now.
Amen.
(Westminster Short Catechism 38)

BLESSING

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)


“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG)

“GOD, your God, will cross the river ahead of you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:3 MSG)


The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Psalms 118:22-23 ESV)

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
(Isaiah 53:3 ESV)

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
(Hebrews 13:12-13 ESV)

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
(1 Peter 2:4-8 ESV)


Father, I thank You that, as long as I am going in the right direction (that which is pointed out by Your Holy Spirit), I have nothing to fear, because You are going ahead of me. I also thank You for the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. May He be the cornerstone of my life today.

Lord, give us a deeper sense of gratitude for the cross of Christ. May You provide for and protect those living in abject poverty and suffering injustice. I pray for Your inner peace and comfort for any who struggle with their sexuality.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Trusting; Renewing; Tasting

It is Thursday, the eighth of April, 2021. Easter Thursday, in the first week of Easter.

Day 23,037

42 days until our weekend in Glen Rose

“Eighth” is a strange word. How many other words have four consecutive consonants?

S is feeling better, I think. Tuesday night, and most of the day, yesterday, she was feeling pretty bad, resulting from her Covid-19 vaccine shot. She ran a very low grade fever (never over 100), but that seemed to be reducing, last night, and her countenance appeared brighter.

The Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox both won, yesterday! The Rangers beat the Blue Jays, 2-1, as Kyle Gibson bounced back from his terrible outing on Opening Day, last week. Both Texas runs were scored in the bottom of the second, one on a solo homer by Solak. Toronto did not score until the top of the eighth (there’s that word again) inning. Gibson had eight strikeouts in the game. The Rangers are now 3-3 on the season, tied for third place in the AL West.

The Red Sox dominated the Rays, beating them 9-2, behind a strong outing by Nathan Eovaldi, who pitched seven innings. They are also 3-3, and tied for second (with the Yankees and the Blue Jays) in the AL East.

The Rangers have their first Thursday off, today, and will begin a series with the Padres tomorrow. The Red Sox play the Orioles again, today. I’m wondering if that is already a makeup from Opening Day.

The big news today, though is birthdays! Today is the birthday of both my mother and her twin brother, my uncle Buddy. They are (I figure she won’t mind me telling) both turning 83 years old today! So both of them could truly sing this song to each other! “You say it’s your birthday; it’s my birthday, too, yeah!”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Ever Thank,” by Daryl Madden

How can you ever thank
Or ever to repay
The one how formed your values
Of your life to this day

Through self-sacrifice
Love they gave away
Living what they preached
Always on display

Sharing of their faith
Truth and integrity
Putting others first
In humility

Gratefulness so deep
Of the words beyond
The best way to thank you
Is to pass it on

I thought this poem was appropriate in celebration of my mother’s birthday!

My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.
(Psalms 71:7-9 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for the strength and protection of my Lord
  • that You will not abandon me in my “old age”
  • for my mother, her good health, and her faithfulness through all of these years
  • for the renewing of my mind
  • that I have tasted and seen that You are good

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

EASTER – DAY 5

INVITATION

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

I am pausing to reflect, this morning, on the greatness and mercy of our God, His infinite goodness to all of us. I am feeling great joy and contentment during this moment.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David.

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.
My eyes fail, looking for my God.
(Psalms 69:1-3 NIV)

Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes.
(Psalms 69:16-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
(1 Corinthians 15:19-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of my Lord and Savior, this morning, I read these passages again, slowly, waiting for the Holy Spirit to draw my attention to something specific.

As I read the first section of the psalm, it makes me think of work, because that’s how I feel at my job, right now. I feel as though I have “come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.” So I cry out to God for help. I have confidence that He will, too. I am fully persuaded that He is able . . . He may not reduce the “waters,” but He will help me float. 🙂

Paul gives us encouragement, after stating the ridiculousness of the idea that Christ did not raise from the dead. If that were true, there would be no reason whatsoever for our hope. In fact, we would, indeed, be pitiful.

But then he shows the order of resurrection. Christ first, which we have seen in Scripture and celebrated, recently. Then, when Jesus returns, the rest of us, who belong to Him will also be raised. What a day, glorious day, that will be! At that time, Jesus will then destroy “all dominion, authority and power,” including the final enemy, death.

Father, I praise You for Your infinite power and mercy. I thank You, in advance, for the help You give us when we feel as though we are sinking in the deep waters. And I look forward, with great anticipation, to that final day, when all of us will be raised to eternal life, to live forever with You in Your Kingdom. This produces great joy in me, and it also produces great longing . . . longing for Home. O “Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight!” Let the trumpet sound!

Living God,
death is a bully and scares the wits out of the best of us,
and yet I thank you for the utter confidence I can now have.
What can death throw at me?
I have Jesus,
my champion,
who has gone through hell and conquered death.
Help me to boldly live,
knowing that Christ's resurrection is my pledge that the best is yet to be,
a deposit guaranteeing my own resurrection.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 45)

For the record, I am not so sure about that bit about Jesus going through hell. I do not believe that Scripture teaches that Jesus went to hell, nor do I see that teaching in the referenced section of the Heidelberg Catechism. The above prayer is quoted from the devotional book. If the author is simply referring to the torture and abuse that was endured by our Savior, through the crucifixion and events leading up to it, I have no issue with it.

BLESSING

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:1-2 NIV)


“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
(John 6:51 NIV)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:8 ESV)


Oh, Lord, I have tasted and seen that You are good! Thank You for feeding me the living bread that came down from heaven! Help me to trust in You and not my own understanding today. Give me infinite wisdom as I face the issues of the day. Help me to not conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Help us to all understand how important the mind is to our journey. And help us all to taste and see that You are good!

Lord, give us, today, a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all of its meaning to us. Let us fully experience our adoption as children in Your Kingdom. May You make me ready, this day, to give a witness of the reason for the hope that resides within me, and may that witness be lovely and appealing.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Foolish and Slow to Believe

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), the seventh of April, 2021. Easter Wednesday in the first week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,036

43 days until our trip to Glen Rose

It is currently 70 degrees here, with a projected high of 77, and a 54% chance of scattered rain showers today.

We successfully got S her second vaccine shot, yesterday. The drive through set up at Texas Motor Speedway is very impressive. The rest of the day contained nothing of any significance, other than I finally finished a book I had been reading for a couple weeks. It was a book about Manson and the sixties, some secret government organizations, LSD, and even the Kennedy assassination. It was wild and crazy read. It was called CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. You can read my review of it at my other blog.

We have made plans to gather (still safely, though) at Mama’s house on Saturday, to celebrate some birthdays. Her birthday is tomorrow, R’s was on March 31, and mine was back on March 13. We have not really been able to properly celebrate, of course, and you all know why. No need to go into that, eh?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.
(Psalms 71:4-6 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  • that I have leaned upon You from before my birth
  • for the mystery of the “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3)
  • that whoever has You has enough; You alone suffice
  • for praise from the lips of children and infants
  • for Your steadfast love, mercy, and grace, lavishly rained down on us

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

EASTER – DAY 4

INVITATION

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

I am pausing to quietly reflect on the mystery of the new birth, given through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.

May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke— as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
(Psalms 68:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.
(Luke 24:13-19 NIV)

“. . . but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
(Luke 24:21-32 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am, truly, in God’s presence, I read these passages again, asking the Holy Spirit to draw me in and speak truth to my soul.

I do find solace in the third verse of Psalm 68. I do hope for gladness and rejoicing before God, for the “righteous,” keeping in mind that our only possible righteousness is from the aforementioned mystery of the new birth in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have no righteousness which I may call my own. I am happy and joyful when I consider the righteousness of Christ, and when I consider the prayer of St. Teresa, with which I began my devotional today. I have God; I lack nothing.

I feel, at times, that we (or just me, maybe? Can I truly speak for anyone else?) are “foolish” and “slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” as Jesus, incognito, said to the two travelers on the road to Emmaus. We have even less of an excuse than they did, because we have the whole story, from beginning to end. We have the same prophets they had, with the addition of the New Testament, yet we constantly wonder around in a fog, not sure what to believe.

My faith, while it may be strong enough to get me by, is weak, still. It is incomplete. Not because God isn’t enough. I’ve already covered that, this morning. I have the Lord, so I lack nothing. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack.” If I lack anything it is because I am foolish and slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Strangely, these words give me hope, this morning, rather than a feeling of condemnation. I can only credit the Spirit for this. The hope rests in the truth of what Jesus has spoken. I am not alone in my slowness to believe. I know this because of the common testimony of others with whom I fellowship and worship. We all struggle with the same things. And I also know that there is hope for it to be better.

I know the words of Jesus. I know much of the prophets’ writings. (I am far from a prophecy expert, however.) I know Paul’s writings and am familiar with the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. Therefore, I have no real excuse to be foolish and slow to believe.

Father, help me to act on the available wisdom that comes from Your Word and Your Spirit. Show me Your face, as Jesus revealed Himself to the two on the Emmaus Road. Complete my faith and eradicate my foolishness. I have You in Christ, through the Spirit. That is enough.

Lord God, I'm sluggish in faith,
thick of head,
and I need your Holy Spirit's power to help me see Jesus in all the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread.
Kindle in me a burning heart of rich faith that opens my eyes and recognizes you as Lord.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 65)

BLESSING

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)


“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
(Matthew 21:16 NIV)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
(Matthew 18:3-5 NIV)

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
(Matthew 19:14 NIV)


“Where you look is where you go.” (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
(Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 NIV)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
(Ephesians 4:1 NIV)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:1-2 NIV)

The Mission: What is the direction of the calling of your life? Today, dwell only on that which leads to that destination, and on nothing that doesn’t.”


Father, today, direct my eyes only in that direction toward which I should be moving. Help me to not look toward things that are unhealthy for me, either physically or spiritually. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name. You are enough. Nothing is lacking. Take away my foolishness and slowness to believe. “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

I lift up our communities, this morning, national and local, that Your presence would be felt in their midst. I pray for the continent of Africa, that You would be provider and protector for all of Your people there. I pray for our governments throughout the land, federal, state, and local. May You give all of our elected leaders Your wisdom. More importantly, I pray that Your Spirit would draw them to seek Your wisdom today.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

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.

“From My Mother’s Womb . . .”

Today is Monday, the twenty-ninth of March, 2021, in Holy Week.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,027

Six days until Resurrection Sunday!

It’s Monday, so back to work, we go!

But it is also R’s birthday, today (oldest daughter), so happy birthday to you, just in case you read this blog today! Much love to you!

The big news for today is that our little church group has agreed to meet together this coming Sunday to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. Agreement was made to continue to practice safe measures. I know for sure that we will wear masks or at least practice safe distancing. We may even sing a couple of songs. Weather permitting, we plan to meet outside, in their back yard.

I think there is a plan in the works, as well, for the family to gather, weekend after next (possibly Saturday, April the tenth) to celebrate some birthdays. As already mentioned, R’s is today, and Mama’s (Grandma) is April the eighth, which is a week from Thursday.

That’s all the news I have for today. Oh, except that Opening Day is this coming Thursday, April first. The Texas Rangers will start the season in Kansas City, with a 3:10 PM start time.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This morning’s opening poem/prayer is from Daryl Madden, called “Be Here Now.”

The past is behind us
To let go, allow
To God give the future
To be grateful now

Each soul of encounter
Of blessing, endow
A binding of sharing
To be present now

Each moment receiving
To fully allow
His treasure embracing
To be loved now

This moments’ a gift
That God does endow
A practice of living
To be here now 

My prayer, this morning, is that I be fully present in this moment of meditation and prayer.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
(Psalms 67:5-7 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for a new week, full of opportunities to serve God and people; may I not miss those opportunities
  • for the blessings of our Lord
  • that, from my mother’s womb, You have been my God (Psalm 22:10)
  • for the testimonies of believers and their lives with You
  • that every moment of every day we can rest in Your presence and know Your glory

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

LENT – DAY 35

INVITATION

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29 ESV)

This morning, I pause to reflect on this moment, on being fully present and aware of the presence of the Lamb of God.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
(Psalms 22:1 NIV)

“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
(Psalms 22:8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”
(Luke 22:7-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord in this place, I reread these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts.

I begin by noticing Psalm 22:8. We read this psalm, yesterday morning, and this stood out to me, then, as well. Those familiar with the Gospel narrative know that much of this chapter in Psalms is repeated during the hours of the crucifixion, including the words in verse 8, which were repeated by onlookers, perhaps even the Pharisees or Romans. It was intended to be mockery.

But I see it as truth. I do trust in the Lord, and I believe that He will rescue me. Over and over, the Psalms make that declaration of truth. And, ultimately, the Father did rescue the Son, but not until the sacrifice was done.

As for me, God, indeed, brought me out of my mother’s womb, and I was trusting Him from my birth. I don’t remember anything about those days, but I do know that, immediately, I was taught to trust and love my God and my Savior. I can say, as the psalmist said, “from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (verse 10)

As Jesus prepared for the sacrifice, He shared the last Passover He has had, to this day, with His disciples. He declared that He would not have another Passover until “it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” And this has not happened, yet.

He took the bread and the wine, in the famous institution of what we call The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, or Eucharist, or, sometimes, simply The Supper. The bread is His body, the wine is His blood. And we partake of this, whenever we do it, “in remembrance” of Him.

I look forward to sharing this “meal” with my brothers and sisters, this coming Sunday morning.

Father, I thank You that You have been my God, in whom I trust, from my birth, from out of my mother’s womb. I am aware that not everyone can say this. We had that discussion, yesterday, as well, and believe that every testimony of a person’s life with You is beautiful, whether we began life with You from infancy or started it later in life. It is beautiful, because it all depends upon You and Your mighty work in our lives. We have, quite literally, nothing to do with it.

Perfect God,
I bow my knee before the wisdom of the cross.
The death of your spotless Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for my sins.
It is of infinite value and worth,
more than enough to cover not only mine but the sins of the whole world.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 2.3)

BLESSING

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12 NIV)


When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
(Psalms 94:19 ESV)

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 ESV)

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
(Isaiah 41:13 ESV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Yes, and amen!


“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.'”
(Revelation 2:19)

Yesterday, we spoke of the burning eyes of Christ, as revealed by John’s depiction of Him to the Church in Thyatira. It was said that there was mercy and generosity in those eyes.

This generosity is exhibited in Jesus’s first assessment of this church, repeated in the verse above. These people were not resting on their past achievements. Unlike the previous churches, their “latter works” were better, even, than their first.

“There was no sitting back and telling stories about how vigorous and exciting it had been in the early days of the church. They had not fallen into the habit (which Christians seem prone to) of lamenting the present evil generation and nostalgically looking back to a better time.”

The Christians at Thyatira were “skilled in and increasingly committed to love, faith, service, and patient endurance.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Father, I pray that Your Church today may be as the Church in Thyatira, continuing to be committed to love, faith, service, and patient endurance, not attempting to rest on past achievements or blaming its problems on the “present evil generation.” We dwell on the “mountaintop” with You, Lord, in Your presence at every moment of every day. Let us rest in Your presence and know Your glory as we walk through this world.

Lord, may You give us eyes to see Your work in the world around us, as we walk through our day. May Your care for us be evident, even in the face of natural disasters and a creation that groans for its rebirth. May You guide those who work in conservation efforts, to make us better stewards of Your creation.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

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.

“If I Be Lifted Up”

Today is Monday, the twenty-second of March, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,020

Thirteen days until Resurrection Sunday, which means this coming Sunday, the twenty-eighth, is Palm Sunday. It also means a week from today is R’s birthday!

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. Nice and restful, for the most part. There was a little bit of early drama, but I won’t elaborate on that here.

I promised to report on the Sous Vide cooking. It cooked the chicken very nicely, cooked all the way through in an hour. However, it wasn’t seasoned enough, or we didn’t figure out how to get the seasoning to permeate the chicken. We need to work on that. I made some Minute Rice with chicken broth to go along with the chicken, so that helped, but otherwise, as far as taste goes, it was just “meh.” However, like I said, it was cooked well. We will experiment more with it. I’m still interested to see how it does with a nice steak.

We plan to have Applebee’s for dinner tonight.

Also, happy Spring to all! I totally forgot to mention that Saturday was the first official day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox. At least I don’t remember remembering to mention that.

On with the good stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"In the waiting,
wash over me.
From moments that overwhelm - 
would You set me free.
Still this anxious heart,
come breathe Your Word.
Let Your peace break down these walls,
and speak to my heart."
(Salt of the Sound)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for a new week ahead, with opportunities to serve; may I be faithful in prayer and faithful in service
  • for the ministry of Salt of the Sound
  • for treasures in heaven
  • that the earth is Yours, and everything in it
  • that Jesus, being lifted up, drew all people to Himself

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

LENT – DAY 29

INVITATION

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:17-18 NIV)

I am taking a moment to reflect on the great faithfulness of the Lord. His mercies are new every morning!

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
(Psalms 24:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
(John 12:20-33 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in His presence, this morning, I read these passages again. Immediately, I am struck by the truth of Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” Look around you. Everything that you see, as well as everything that is invisible to you, belongs to the Lord! All of it. All of that “stuff” that you believe belongs to you, truly doesn’t. All of the lands around that someone believes belong to some government entity (a city, a state, a country), truly doesn’t.

It all belongs to the Lord, and we fool ourselves if we think otherwise.

And once, again, the question is asked, who may ascend? Only the one with a pure heart and clean hands, one who has not lifted up an idol and worshiped it.

And then, in the passage from John, Jesus speaks of being “lifted up from the earth.” When He was lifted up, He would draw all people to Himself. There is the One who is worthy of my worship! There is the One who gives me a pure heart and clean hands, because He erased all of the impurities! There is the One who gives me access to the “mountain of the LORD!”

Father, I praise You for these truths! I acknowledge Your rightful ownership of everything in this universe, for You created it all. Even those things which we believe we “created” were put together from things created by You. Forgive us our arrogance, O Lord. Nothing truly belongs to us, and we are merely stewards of You property. Thank You for Jesus being lifted up and drawing us to Himself. Help me to truly worship Him, properly, today, as I walk through this day.

Why, God,
would you give up your glory to take on our broken human nature?
Why, Jesus,
would you come to the scene of our crimes with the purpose of bearing our punishment?
Why would you bitterly suffer and die for us,
unless this is glory.
Where comprehension fails,
help me to simply receive this marvelous mystery in faith.
Amen.
(Belgic Confession 20)

BLESSING

God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life.
(1 John 5:11-12 NIV)


In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 NIV)

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:25-30 NIV)


Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.
(Proverbs 10:2 NLT)

The relatives of the poor despise them; how much more will their friends avoid them! Though the poor plead with them, their friends are gone.
(Proverbs 19:7 NLT)

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
(Matthew 6:19-21 NLT)


Father, I praise You that, more and more, You are leading me to store up treasures in heaven, not on the earth. Yes, we are physically blessed, here on earth. But these blessings, we truly endeavor, are passed on whenever we find need. Help us to be more aware of needs around us, that we may give more away. We will not revel in treasures or stuff of earth. Rather, we will celebrate our true treasure, our eternal inheritance, that which can never rust or nor be corrupted, and that which moths cannot eat or thieves cannot steal. All glory to You, Father!

Lord, I pray, this morning, for our place as caretakers of Your creation, everything that You own, that we do not own. We are stewards, so may our stewardship be wise. Help us to care more about that which You have made and allowed us to enjoy. I pray for the people in this world whose job is to work in and around these natural resources. Give them wisdom and strength for their work.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

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.

As You Have Received, Give

Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of March, 2021, the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,012

21 days until Resurrection Sunday

Yesterday was a strange day. I will start off by saying, though, that it was a great day, over all. I spent the day doing pretty much whatever I wanted to do, which was the case, also, on Thursday and Friday. But it had some one-off weirdness to it.

For some reason, I was in a funk at the beginning of the day. There may have been a trigger for it, but, at the moment, I can’t remember any. I have not felt like this since before I began seeing a psychologist for therapy.

We headed up to the WW Studio for our workshop. We don’t really like the person who is doing the checking in, right now. She is hard of hearing (not her fault, I know), and she won’t tell you your results. We have to pointedly ask her how we did, every time. Yesterday, I gained .4 of a pound, which I was not expecting, as my weight at home had reflected about that much of a loss. And then, it became apparent that our regular coach was not there, which we were not expecting. So, for the first time since we started this journey, we did not stay for the workshop.

Then we had a strange experience at Sonic. The carhop brought out our drink carrier, with our three drinks. Fortunately, for reasons I can’t quite recall, we didn’t immediately back out and leave, because she showed back up at our window, asking if we were missing a drink. She had the Diet Dr. Pepper with peach (which is my drink). Apparently, the corresponding drink in our carrier was a regular Dr. Pepper. But at least that got fixed.

After we got home, I started looking at Facebook and saw all the birthday wishes rolling in. That helped my mood quite a bit. It’s not so much the attention, but just knowing that people care enough to take a few seconds out of their day to type a brief message, is a great mood lifter.

It was too early to order lunch, so C took my car to get the oil changed. That did not happen as planned, because there is a part on the underside of my car that is damaged, somehow, so I’m going to have to take it to the dealership next weekend. To make it worse, the technician at the oil change place said that the part was put on backwards! Well, that was the first time we had tried an independent oil change place. The only other people who have touched that car to service it are the folks at Huggins Honda. So, there will be a conversation about that.

We finally decided to go ahead with Hoffbrau for lunch. So I ordered our food and C went to pick it up. She got back, and we were going through the order, and there was no gravy for my chicken fried steak. Yes, I ordered chicken fried steak. It was my birthday, and I wanted comfort food. I did track it, by the way, as best I could. I figured that I used 49 Smart Points for lunch, yesterday! My whole day is 29 points.

So C called Hoffbrau to let them know they had left out our gravy. They remade both of our meals so that they wouldn’t be cold when she got home with the gravy! She did have to take the original ones back to the restaurant, so we didn’t get two meals each. I may have had two cups of chili, though. 🙂

After lunch (and I will say that by that time, in spite of the problem with the car and the error by the restaurant, I was feeling pretty great), C and S brought out the rest of my presents. I say “rest” because they had given me one each day, beginning on Thursday.

Thursday’s was a t-shirt that said something like “Missing: 100+ pounds. Do not return if found.” Friday’s was actually a package that came via Amazon from R and J. It was a t-shirt with the Fallout Boy emblem on it, from Fallout 4, my very favorite Playstation game ever, along with a book by Eugene Peterson that was on my Amazon wish list. Oh, and C and S gave me a t-shirt that said something about my people skills being okay, I just have a low tolerance for idiots. I like it, but I’m not sure where I can wear it. I probably should not wear it to work?

Yesterday, there were more t-shirts. One said “These are difficult times” and had music time signatures of 13/8 and 6/4. 6/4 is unusual, but not all that difficult. 13/8, on the other hand. Wow. Another said something about “downsizing in progress,” and the other, which I think is my favorite, looks like this:

Then, there were a couple of new Fitbit bands that I had asked for, as well as a nifty book weight that I found on Amazon. It is a rubbery thing with some weight on either end, and it will hold a book open, flat on a desk, while I’m typing on the computer.

Finally, my most favoritest present of all. A rather silly thing, but I love it.

Yea, verily, C hath arranged for us to be a Lord and Lady of Ireland!

The rest of the day was spent playing games and trying (albeit not always successfully) not to fall asleep after the amazing, carb-heavy lunch I had. It was, as it turns out, a magnificent day, in spite of its weirdness.


This morning, we have our church Zoom gathering at 10:15. It’s my turn to lead, and we’ll be starting off with Psalm 14, as we continue reading through Psalms. After that, we will, as usual, order lunch from Applebee’s. Back to the usual, healthier fare, today, though. Only one day of indulging, for this birthday. Plus I got an email coupon for $5 off an order of $25 or more.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

FRIEND OF SILENCE, by Daryl Madden

~based upon a quote by Mother Teresa~

We need to find God
And He cannot be found
In our restlessness
And noise that surrounds

He’s a friend of silence
In nature now see
How all grows in silence
The flowers and trees

See now the stars
The moon and the sun
Moving in silence
Dwelling in One

The more we receive
In our silent prayer
In our active life
The more we can share

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
(Psalms 18:2 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • For a wonderful day, yesterday
  • For the love of family and friends
  • For Jesus, who is enough for me
  • For the many blessings You have lavished on me and my family
  • For making us generous, as we freely give that which we have received from You

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

Fourth Sunday in Lent

INVITATION

The Lord is . . . patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
(Psalms 30:1-2 NIV)

To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:8-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
(Numbers 21:4-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in God’s presence, this morning, taking in these readings, what does He say to me? What does His Spirit say?

The passage from Psalms focuses on transformation. The Lord healed David from whatever he needed healing from. This happened to me, yesterday, as I reflect back on it. I started out the day in “the depths,” but, at some point, I prayed, in my spirit, ever so briefly, “Lord, help me.” And He did. He turned my “wailing into dancing,” and filled me with joy. I may not have literally danced. But there was most definitely more lightness in my steps as the day progressed.

The question “what is gained?” is significant. What is gained if I spend the day moping around, in a bad mood? God is not glorified by my sulking. God is glorified by my joy! Therefore, when I cry out to Him for help, He helps me, because His desire is that I be joyful.

We will probably read Psalm 16, this morning. The last verse of that chapter has become quite important to me over the past year or so.

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)

There is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord. I am always in His presence. Therefore, I should always be filled with joy, the pervasive sense of well-being.

The passage from Numbers demonstrates the dangers of complaining. The people of Israel complained bitterly against God and against Moses, and were stricken with snakes. Time and time again, we see illustrated in the Old Testament, God lets us know how He feels about complaining.

That has been a focus of mine during this Lent season. I have attempted, multiple times in my life, to “give up” complaining. It’s not that easy to do, especially when you live in a culture that embraces whining and complaining as a national pastime. My wife says I’m doing better. Bless her.

I am blessed beyond all dreams. Sure, I’m not a rock star or a professional musician or baseball player. None of those adolescent dreams came true. But I am blessed with a life that many, many people can only dream of. Not only do I have a nice home and a lot of stuff, a decent job, a beautiful wife and family, but I have Jesus. And, in truth, Jesus is all I need.

Jesus is enough for me.

When we complain, we indicate that Jesus isn’t enough.

Father, I thank You for the many, many blessings that You have lavished on me in my lifetime. Sure there have been, and will be, struggles along the way, as You have never promised to keep “bad things” from happening to us. But the blessings outweigh them all. Your grace outweighs everything. And Jesus is enough. Keep helping me downsize the complaining in my life. Downsize it to the point that it no longer exists, and that my life is filled with the joy that comes in Your everlasting presence. For my “eternal life” has already begun. It began over fifty years ago. And I praise You for delivering me from the depths, yesterday.

Thank you,
graceful God,
for your deliverance of my life,
for the goodness of the rescue you have provided through Christ,
lifted high on the cross like the snake in the wilderness.
I live under your shining favor,
your beautiful,
crazy grace.
Thank you,
thank you, thank you.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 86)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLESSING

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)


I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
(Psalms 27:13 NIV)

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
(Jeremiah 32:40-41 NIV)

More reasons for not complaining.


“I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.”
(Revelation 2:13 NLT)

While the suffering that the church in Smyrna would experience was said to be temporary, Jesus tells the church in Pergamum that they have to remain in their state of danger. According to Eugene Peterson, the normal Greek word that is used when speaking Christians dwelling in the world is paroikein, which describes a temporary residence.

However, in Revelation 2:13, when Jesus talks about where the church in Pergamum lives, the word is katoikein, which means “to house permanently.” I’m not just taking Peterson’s word for this, I looked it up, and he is, as expected, correct.

Jesus is telling these folks, “You are living in a city where the influence and the power of Satan are rampant – and you have to go on living there.”

As Christians, we are not free to run away from dangerous or difficult situations. Oh, how many times have I done this? Not danger. I’ve rarely, if ever, been in situations that I would consider dangerous. But I have most definitely been in difficult and uncomfortable situations. I confess that I ran away too often. Says Peterson, “The Christian aim is not escape from a situation, but conquest of a situation.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)


It is a well-known fact that there are two seas in the land of Israel. First is the Sea of Galilee, fed by the Jordan River, from the north, and underground springs. On the southern end, it flows out, again becoming the Jordan River.

The Jordan continues to flow downward until it becomes what is known as the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is so called because the water that flows into it never flows out. It stays there and becomes stagnant, able to support no life.

There is a metaphor here, for life. And I believe that, over time, my family and I have learned this metaphor well. The life that receives and then turns around and gives of what it receives, stays alive, continues to live, like the Sea of Galilee. The life that only receives (or takes) and never gives, becomes stagnant and dead, like the Dead Sea.

“You see, it’s not what you have in this life, how much or how little, that, in the end, will matter. It’s what you do with what you have. If you only take, the waters become dead and your life becomes a sea of death. But if you give, then the waters become alive and your life becomes . . . the Galilee.”

The Mission: Live this day after the pattern of the Sea of Galilee, always receiving and always giving. Live to be a blessing in the flowing of His love.”

Side note: There are, in this world, people who are too proud to receive. But it must be noted that, if you do not receive, neither can you give.

Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.
(Proverbs 11:24 NLT)

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
(Matthew 10:8 NLT)

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
(Luke 6:38 NLT)

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NLT)

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)


Father, once again, it comes back around to the blessings. We have received so many blessings, during our life, and I praise You that You have taught us well to be generous and give away what we receive, that we might produce life! I want to be a part of Your Gospel Kingdom as it produces and continues to give life to others. Help me be even more generous, giving what I have received from You, rather than holding on with tight fists.

I also pray that You make me more courageous and less apt to run away from difficult or uncomfortable situations. Help me to always stand and struggle, when necessary, or to simply dwell in Your presence and receive strength from whatever trial is around me at the time. All glory to You, Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit!

Lord, I pray, this morning, as we continue through this Lent season, for hope and joy that springs from the truth of the Resurrection of Christ, and the promise of resurrection for Your people. May we embrace the Gospel and share it constantly and consistently with our lives and our words.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Sweeter Than Honey

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalms 119:103 ESV)

Today is Thursday, November 12, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,890

Today is C’s birthday! Happy birthday to the love of my life! I am such a blessed man to have her in my life!

There won’t be much in the way of celebration, this year. The pandemic is not the only factor involved, however. The bigger factor is our WW journey. The fact that we are eating healthier and eschewing high-calorie restaurant foods changes the way we celebrate birthdays, this year. In the past, we would all have a “birthday week” and eat out (or at least order out) almost every day of the week, with no thought for health considerations. Things are different this year.

So, tonight, I’m going to cook Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken for our dinner for C’s birthday! And, as usual, there will be plenty left over to have for lunch tomorrow.

We do have some gifts for her, which will be handed out after work today, I imagine. Especially since one of them isn’t here, yet. And, as previously mentioned, we have the geocaching adventure planned for Saturday afternoon, weather permitting.

The U.S. continues to be somewhat insane, having 142,906 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday. Another new record-high. Those are happening way too regularly, in my opinion. Texas was back on top, yesterday, with 12,760. Illinois “only” had 12,657.

I heard a hospital official say, the other day on a news broadcast, that the highest number of new cases is occurring in people from the ages of 0-17. So, it would appear that schools are part of the cause of the recent surge. I dare say that the college-age group is also probably pretty high, as well.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 106:1 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  1. For my wife and the wonderful years we have had together
  2. For the steadfast love of the Lord, that helps me through times when I am less than I should be
  3. For the deliverance that comes when we cry out to You
  4. For the wisdom You have given me from reading and meditating on Your Word
  5. For Your Word, which is sweeter than honey

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 ESV)

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
(Psalms 25:1-2 ESV)

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
(Psalms 84:11 ESV)

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
(Luke 12:47-48 ESV)

(That’s a passage that should cause all of us to stop and think!)


Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
(Psalms 5:1-8 ESV)

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 ESV)

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
(Matthew 6:27 ESV)

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.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)


Mem.
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
(Psalms 119:97-104 ESV)

Wisdom might be defined as knowing which path to take at every turn. I wish I could say, as verse 101, that I have held back my feet from “every evil way.” Sadly, I cannot make that claim.

But that’s what grace is for, right? If we didn’t know grace, there would be no opportunities to right those wrong turns. But because I can say, along with verse 97, that I love God’s Word, and do tend to meditate on it throughout each day, that grace is strong in my life, and those wrong turns happen less frequently.

So maybe I am getting some wisdom, after all.

One point the psalmist seems to be making, here, is that God’s Word, and the wisdom provided therein, is better than any scholarly learning that can be acquired. Not that there is anything wrong with education. It is, of course, very helpful, especially if you intend to succeed in any kind of career. But the understanding that comes from the meditation on Scripture cannot be found in a classroom.

It also takes more than just learning facts about the Bible. I know people who know a lot more about the Bible than I, but don’t seem to have the grasp on the peace that comes from pondering and meditating on those same Scriptures. The wisdom that comes from God must be humbly received “in love (verse 97), obedience (verse 101), and delight (verse 103).”

“Lord, Your Word is full of ‘infinite sweetness! Let my heart [savor] every letter.’ It has a medicine for every wound. Teach me how not just to learn but to savor and relish the teachings of Your Word. Amen.” (Italics from George Herbert, The Holy Scriptures)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Father, I thank You for the small amount of wisdom that I have obtained from the reading and meditation of Your Word. I pray that it will continue to increase as I continue to age. I also thank You for my wife and the lovely years we have had together. I pray for her health and well-being, and that she will continue to prosper in her career. Be a strong presence in her life today.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalms 119:103 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.