Faith Expressed In Love

Today is Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Day 22,225

26 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”
G.K. Chesterton, English author, 1874-1936
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is quiddity. It means, “The inherent nature or essence of a person or thing; what makes a thing what it is.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

We exercised again, last night. spending about thirty minutes on the elliptical at the Y. C had put our taco soup in the crockpot before leaving for work, yesterday morning, so it was ready to eat when we got home from exercising. We finished season one of Silicon Valley while we ate dinner. The sad thing about HBO series is that they typically only have eight to ten episodes, unlike commercial broadcast shows, which could have as many as twenty-two episodes in a season.

I think we may be planning to exercise again tonight, and maybe pick up Subway on the way home.

Oh, and I have a doctor’s appointment at 2:00 PM Friday, so I’ll be taking a half day off. So far, I have managed to avoid working a complete 40-hour week, this year. I wonder how long I can keep that going. Hahaha!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Today I am grateful:
1. That I finally have an appointment for my yearly checkup.
2. That so far, my job has been much less stressful, this year.
3. For the joy of the Lord.
4. For the Word of God and all of the promises and encouragement within.
5. For the peace that passes all understanding.

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
   then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
   "The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us,
   and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
   like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears
   will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
   will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
   as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. 
Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 126)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “God’s Whole Law: Love,” by James Bryan Smith.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

First of all, let me point out that this is not Jesus speaking, rather a lawyer answering Jesus’s question, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” When Jesus was asked what the most important command was, he also grouped those two Old Testament commands together. The first part is from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from Leviticus 19:18.

Why does Jesus combine these two commands? “Because he knew that they were essentially one law. Love comes from one source: God.” In 1 John 4:19, John writes, “We love because he first loved us.”

“In the face of God’s magnificent love for us, we cannot but love in return.”

When we know God’s love, truly know it, it must have an effect on how we view ourselves and others. “God’s love for us results in a proper love for ourselves, and then extends to love for our neighbors.”

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, He writes this: “What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (The Message) Join me today in examining how my faith measures up to this. Is my faith a faith that loves?

Father, as I consider these words today, help me to be honest with myself in checking the measure of my faith. Does it express itself in love towards other people? If I find that it does not, may Your Holy Spirit guide me toward that result. Then help me develop the discipline of listening to the words of Jesus.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Precious In His Sight

Today is Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

Day 22,224

27 days until pitches and catchers report for Spring Training.

“To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.”
William Makepeace Thackeray, English Novelist, 1811-1863
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is querulist. It means, “A person who complains, a complainer.”

We were both pretty tired when we got home from work, last night, so I made chili and we relaxed, watching a couple of episodes of Silicon Valley on HBO. It’s a pretty funny comedy about some IT guys doing a startup company in California. It’s kind of like an IT version of The Office.

I believe we are planning to exercise again tonight. We’ll see how the day goes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Today I am grateful:
1. For the unknown that is ahead of me.
2. For faith that will help me take the next step, whatever it needs to be.
3. That my security in this life is based, not on tangible things, but only in God.
4. For a couple of days of pretty weather coming up before the cold weekend.
5. For the privilege of praying for people.

I lift up my eyes to the hills;
   from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved
   and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel
   shall neither slumber nor sleep;
The LORD himself watches over you;
   the LORD is you shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
   it is he who shall keep you safe.
The LORD shall watch over your going out and
                  and your coming in,
   from this time forth for evermore.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 121)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:4-5

Most of us probably are in some amount of traffic a couple of times a day, unless you are fortunate enough to be only minutes away from your job. I have to drive thirty miles one way to work, so there is a lot of potential for heavy traffic. Usually more coming home than going in.

Have you ever, though, sat in that traffic and considered (there’s that word again) all of the people with whom you are stuck? And then, to take it even further, widen the scope to the rest of the city you are in, the state, the country, and even the world. Billions of people, perhaps, all stuck in traffic at the same time. And I am just a speck in the midst of all of this.

This is the scenario in which Daily Guideposts writer Gail Thorell Schilling found herself. And just before she spiraled into depression over how small that made her feel, grace happened. She remembered that “God has created each driver in His own image and endowed each person in the world with a soul.” And how incredible is it that God knows each and every one of us? Intimately.

The small speck that I am, in the midst of all that traffic; “I am precious in His sight.”

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

I won’t put the whole thing here, today, but, if you get a chance, read Psalm 139 today. It also fits in with this topic. “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!”

Father, remind me today how precious I am in Your sight. Not that I can gloat over that, but so that I can take that love and transfer it, direct it toward all those other people who are stuck in whatever kind of traffic they are in, be it real, or be it spiritual.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Wreck ‘Em With Love

Today is Sunday, January 13, 2019.

Day 22,221

31 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”
Francis of Assisi, Italian Saint, 1182-1226
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is clement. It means, “inclined to be merciful : lenient.” (Merriam-Webster)

S and C had a marvelous time at the wedding shower, yesterday. It was Harry Potter themed, and it appears that a lovely time was had by all in attendance.

The Cowboys couldn’t quite keep up with the Rams, last night. They made it a close one, losing 30-22. They scored their last touchdown with just over two minutes left to play, having all three of their timeouts left. Rather than try an onside kick, they kicked away, hoping to hold the Rams offense to three downs and a punt, using all of their timeouts. However, they were unable to hold the Rams. They made two first downs, enabling them to run out the clock and win the game. Basically, the Rams outran them. The Cowboys celebrated defense was unable to contain the Rams running game.

In the other game, yesterday, the Chiefs beat the Colts 31-13. It does not appear that the Colts were ever really in the game. Today, the Patriots play the Chargers and the Eagles play the Saints. I’m predicting wins by the Chargers and Saints. This would make the NFC Championship between the Saints and Rams, and the AFC Championship between the Chargers and Chiefs. Some are predicting an all LA Super Bowl. I’m not willing to make that prediction.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15. As previously mentioned, I will be leading the worship music all by myself, this morning. Our pastor is out, as well, so our other elder will be preacing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Colossians 1:12

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with the saints.
2. For the chance to be the worship leader today.
3. For the above-mentioned qualification to share in the inheritance of the saints.
4. That S and C were able to have such a great time at the shower, yesterday.
5. For two friends who will be getting married in just over a month.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13:14
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Romans 15:13
Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21
(From The Book of Common Prayer)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

This is always a challenging verse for me, whenever it comes around. I’ve mentioned (multiple times, I’m sure) that I tend to get into trouble with my tongue. But here is a verse that challenges us to use our tongues only for grace and blessing and edification (building up).

The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.
Ecclesiastes 10:12

I fear that, all too often, my tongue and I have been the fool in that verse. In the past few years, I’ve gotten better, as the Holy Spirit molds me into something that comes closer to resembling Jesus. But there are still way too many times, that my mouth opens and words come out before I can stop them, surely making me appear the fool. The discipline of silence is very helpful in combating this issue.

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 
Romans 14:19

Remember that time when Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers?” (Matthew 5:9) Here is where we can use our words for positive outcomes. The context of the verse in Romans is not necessarily about speech, but more about causing others to stumble. But we can do that with the attitudes that are behind our speech, can’t we? And it saddens me to see so many “Christians” in our culture that are doing the opposite of these verses, but not pursuing peace, but, rather, pursuing whatever makes them feel good about things. If we are following in the words and steps of Christ, we should be doing these things.

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Romans 15:2

Finally, this verse. After being challenged about the nature of my speech and pursuing peace and mutual edification, I am told that I need to please my neighbor, for his own good, to build him up. The writer of today’s Daily Guideposts reading used a phrase that I like, in describing an encounter with a person who he thought was going to be overly critical of him. “She wrecked me with love.”

I think that phrase sums up all of these verses quite well. If we are obeying each of these challenges from God’s Word, that’s what we will be doing. Wrecking them with love.

Father, help me to wreck people with love. Today, tomorrow, and every day for the rest of my life. May the Holy Spirit grab my tongue and never let it go. Help me to practice silence whenever possible, and to never speak out of turn. Teach me love above all other things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Rhythm of Worship

Today is Friday, January 11, 2019.

Day 22,219

33 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
Marilyn Monroe, U.S. actress, 1926-1962

The word of the day is syllogism. It means, “a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion.” (Merriam-Webster)

Our new table was successfully delivered and assembled yesterday afternoon. It’s quite nice, and looks exactly like the one in the store. C sent me some pictures of the ones she was considering, and we selected this one together.

We already had the cat. That’s Rocky (short for Rachmaninoff), checking out the new table. When I was moving the old one out to the garage, yesterday morning, I had moved all the chairs out, and came back to find him walking around on the table with a most concerned expression on his face. It was as if he were saying, “What on EARTH are you DOING??” I assured him that we would have new one later in the day.

I had a productive day, as well, getting music set up for Sunday, taking a look at one song that I’m supposed to play at an upcoming wedding in February, getting dishes done, AND putting away two loads of laundry!! So I did not do nothing but sit around and play Red Dead Redemption 2 all day. I did a lot of that, but I did some other things, too. Then I cooked dinner, too!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Today I am grateful:
1. For our new table and chairs.
2. For God’s “inexpressible gift,” mentioned in that verse.
3. For the songs I will be leading at our worship gathering, this Sunday.
4. That the leadership of our church trusts me enough to leave the music in my hands for Sunday.
5. For weekends.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor glory throughout all ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, The General Thanksgiving)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

The reading for today is, “Serving God Involves Being Served by Him.”

Finally, he erected the Courtyard all around The Dwelling and the Altar, and put up the screen for the Courtyard entrance.
Moses finished the work. 
The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of GOD filled The Dwelling.

Exodus 40:33-34 (The Message)

“All the depth and profundity of worship is summarized in those last two sentences.”

First we see that “Moses finished the work.” The tabernacle, the dwelling place of God in the presence of the Children of Israel, was completed. This represents the service that man brings to God.

Then we see, “The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of GOD filled The Dwelling.” This represents “the service that God brings to man.” In this, God’s Spirit invades our hearts with His “healing, restoring, redeeming, renewing presence. Love is released, knowledge is shed abroad, peace is infused, and grace is lavished.”

All of our worship should have this kind of rhythm. When I think of rhythm in this way, I think of a pendulum swinging back and forth. On the one side is man’s service to God, and on the other side is God’s service to man. “Man builds a tent, and God fills it with his glory. Man constructs a church; God’s cloud of providence covers it.”

About a year ago, we began to think of our worship gatherings in terms of us worshiping God, but at the same time, picturing God walking among us, back and forth between the chairs, ministering to us, working in our lives. This is the kind of rhythm we are talking about. I used to think of worship as a sort of performance, man worshiping while God sat on His throne, taking it in. I no longer see it this way. I see it more in the rhythm of which Peterson speaks, here.

“This is no quid pro quo, this rhythm of our service to God and God’s service to us. it is not a matter of his rewarding our worthiness or our hard work. It is rather the rhythm of life in God’s system. He gives, we give, he gives more, and we respond in gratitude. This is part of the beauty that God brings to our lives.”

Father, I am grateful for the beauty of this rhythm in worship. I look forward to practicing and observing this on Sunday morning.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

My Significance Comes From God

Today is Thursday, January 10, 2019.

Day 22,218

34 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.”
P.G. Wodehouse, British humorist and novelist, 1881-1975

The word of the day is impresario. It means, “a person who organizes or manages public entertainments, especially operas, ballets, or concerts.”

I’m getting a little bit later start, this morning. C bought a new breakfast nook table Sunday, and it is being delivered today, so I decided to use my “floating holiday” today, to be at home when the delivery is made. We also paid them extra to have it assembled.

Not much else going on, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14

Today I am grateful:
1. For a random day off from work.
2. For people work delivering and assembling furniture.
3. For time to work on music for Sunday (and other times).
4. For coffee. Not that it makes me feel that much different. I just like coffee.
5. That I get my significance and value from God.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love 
on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within 
the reach of your saving embrace:
So clothe us in your Spirit that we, 
reaching forth our hands in love, 
may bring those who do not know you 
to the knowledge of and love of you;
for the honor of your Name. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
Ephesians 3:14-15

This morning, I want to write a bit about gratitude point number five, “That I get my significance and value from God.”

This is a thing that I have known for a long time. Of course, as most of us are aware, “knowing” something and truly knowing something are completely different things. Have I confused you, yet? I have had the head knowledge for a long time that my true identity comes from God. It does not come from what I do for a living. It does not come from my talents (or lack thereof). It does not come from my hobbies, the things I like and don’t like. It comes from God.

Back when we were doing “huddle,” we were introduced to some shapes. I’ve not been a huge fan of “Life Shapes,” but there are a couple of them that I have grown to like. This one is what I call the “identity triangle.” The triangle has been used for a number of purposes, but today it will serve for my topic.

As you can see, the Father is at the top of the triangle. If you follow the arrow down and right, you get to “identity.” My identity comes from God. Following the next arrow over to the left, you get to “obedience.” The order is of utmost importance. If identity comes out of obedience, instead of the other way around, we wind up with strict legalism, or “works salvation.” But when identity comes first, from God, then moves on to obedience, it all flows from grace.

Yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. No, I did not get a visit from some Magi. In this context, “epiphany” means “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.” Also, “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.”

Yesterday, there occurred a confluence of a couple of “streams” in my life. Two events crashed together in a thunder of crisis. And I emerged victorious. Sounds like I’m writing poetry, doesn’t it? I’m not really at liberty to discuss the two events, and the nature of them is not that significant. All that matters is the result.

You see, yesterday, I came to the startling realization that I do not get my significance from any human relationships or activity. It does not arise from any kind of performance or approval. It doesn’t come from how others think of me. It doesn’t come from whether I am included in any events or activities.

It comes from God through my relationship with the Trinity. As in the triangle above, I get my identity from the Father, through Jesus Christ, and am maintained by the Holy Spirit.

Something I have known for a while suddenly clicked yesterday. And it was liberating.

So consider this today. Your identity is not in what you do or who you know or who likes you or doesn’t like you. It’s not even dictated by your “pet sins.” Your identity comes from God and God alone. Let’s see what God says about us.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:30-31
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Psalm 8:5-8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
Ephesians 1:5
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

I could go on and on and on. But hopefully, by now, you get it. We are children of God. Recently, I had a DNA test done to try to gain a little more insight into my heritage. I’m not sure it was worth the money we paid for it, but it was still interesting. We get our DNA from our parents. But my “spiritual DNA” comes from one source only. From God our Father. And it is NOT diluted through centuries of family relationships. It is pure in all of us.

I get my identity, my value, my significance from God and God alone. You get your identity, your value, your significance from God and God alone.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently, most especially our enemy.

Father, I don’t have enough words to thank You for the revelation I received yesterday. My prayer, now, is that You will help me remember this tomorrow, when I feel slighted by someone, or when I fail to be what I believe You have called me to be. Thank You for the freedom that comes from this truth.
Even so, come, 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

Soli Deo Gloria!

For the Common Good

Today is Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

Day 22,217

35 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.”
Dave Barry, U.S. columnist and humorist
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is pawky. Chiefly a British word, it means, “cunning; sly.”

C has a wicked catch in her right shoulder blade area, so we didn’t go exercise, last night. I stopped at Subway for dinner, though, on the way home. It still hurts, this morning, but she says it is some better.

Not much going on this week, otherwise. I’m thinking on what songs I’m going to lead, this Sunday. So far I’ve decided on “Word of God Speak,” and “10,000 Reasons.” I planning to simply focus on worshiping God.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

Today I am grateful:
1. For the victory of which that verse speaks. I may not be experiencing all of the effects of it right now, but it is certainly there for me to grasp.
2. For the blood of Jesus, that has cleansed all my sin.
3. For the privilege of intercessory prayer.
4. For the miracle of God hearing and listening to our prayers.
5. For puppies and kittens.

O God, you have made of one blood
all the peoples of the earth,
and sent your blessed Son to preach peace
to those who are far off and to those who are near:
Grant that people everywhere may
seek after you and find you;
bring the nations into your fold;
pour out your Spirit upon all flesh;
and hasten the coming of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Extraordinary Grace-Gifts,” by Frederick Buechner

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7

When someone is described as being “charismatic,” what do we typically think of? If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you probably think of a celebrity who has that certain je ne sais quoi about them. (Did you know that literally means, “I do not know what?”) They have what we might call “presence.” But they don’t have to be celebrities to be charismatic. We might run across that quality in people who are “nobodies” or even children.

If we consider, though, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, or that guy who “risked his neck smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany,” and put them in everyday street clothes, we more than likely would not recognize them. Buechner calls these the “true charismatics,” because the word comes from the Greek charis, which means “grace.”

Side note . . . today is the first time I have heard that the word means “grace.” For most of my life, at least since the word “charismatic” began being used to describe a sect of Christianity, I was told that the word meant “gifted.” But it doesn’t. It means “grace.” I verified it, Buechner is right.

It is out of graciousness that “God gives certain men and women extraordinary gifts or charismata such as the ability to heal, to teach, to perform acts of mercy, to work miracles.”

And many of these people do not have what we would consider “presence.” “You don’t feel any special vibrations when they enter a room.” But they are the true miracle-workers.

Paul claims that we have all been given some kind of gift of the Spirit, some kind of “grace,” and for what purpose? “For the common good.” We are given this grace to share with others, not to draw attention to ourselves. This is me, not Buechner speaking, here. I believe that this is one area where the charismatic movement of the late twentieth century missed the proverbial boat. The “gifts” tended to be about “me.” Look at me, I’m speaking in tongues. Look at me, I’m prophetic.

That’s not the purpose of the gifts of grace at all. Again, they are “for the common good,” for the edification of the body of Christ.

Consider, if you will . . . “What extraordinary grace-gifts has God give you for the purpose of working ordinary miracles? How can you exercise them each day for God’s glory and the common good?”

Father, I pray, today, that You would remind me of the grace-gifts that You have given me; show me how I can best use them to build up the Body of Christ and to glorify Your great Name.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Let My Words Be Few

Today is Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Day 22,216

36 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy, Russian mystic and novelist, 1828-1910
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is labyrinthine. It means, “complicated; tortuous,” or, “of, relating to, or resembling a labyrinth.” (Dictionary.com)

Well, we didn’t make it to the Y last night. We don’t really have a good reason. We just didn’t do it. Instead, we made chili and watched an episode of Speechless and an episode of Big Bang Theory. That was pretty much it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4

Today I am grateful:
1. For the people God has placed in my life, thus far. I’m feeling pretty blessed right now.
2. For the Holy Spirit, who continues to gently nudge me toward a deeper experience with Jesus.
3. For Jesus, who shows me the way to the Father.
4. For the Father, who is always near me, always with me, everywhere I could possibly go
5. For the truth that, no matter how I feel, spiritually or emotionally, all of the above are still true.

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful
people is governed and sanctified:
Receive our supplications and prayers which we 
offer before you for all members of your holy Church,
that in their vocation and ministry they may
truly and devoutly serve you;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2

I’m starting with this verse, but will segue into something else; different, but related, I think.

This verse is the inspiration for a Matt Redman song, “Let My Words Be Few.”

It’s a verse and concept that I keep needing to go back to. You see, I have a problem with letting my words be few. Big problem. My words have gotten me into more trouble than I care to speak of. It’s a constant case of, “Did I say that out loud??”

I think the point of this verse in Ecclesiastes, though, is more about the things we say before, or to, God. Jesus makes a sort of reference to the idea when He tells us not to make rash vows to God. God is in heaven; I am on earth. I will let my words be few.

Now for the segue.

In Every Step An Arrival, by Eugene H. Peterson, today’s reading begins with a verse about Moses.

GOD said to Moses, “Climb higher up the mountain and wait there for me; I’ll give you tablets of stone, the teachings and commandments that I’ve written to instruct them.”
Exodus 24:12 (The Message)

Moses is at his pinnacle, here; the highest point of his life. And I’m not just talking about physical location, either. He’s the leader of the people; he has brought them out of Egypt (with God’s help, of course); he is God’s spokesperson. “He is the key person in the people’s relation with God; he is the key person in God’s relation with the people.”

In all of this, we might make the mistake of thinking that Moses is indispensable. But he is not. He is necessary, but not indispensable. “If Moses had not done it, God would have prepared another.”

So what we need to realize is that the “great thing in this story is not what Moses did but what God did. God calls; God gives; God instructs.” Moses simply answered God’s call and waited for God to speak. Moses “knew how to get out of the way so God could be in the way.”

This is where I believe the two ideas are related. Moses knew how to let his words be few. When he came back down from the mountain, he “gave the people God’s word. He didn’t tell the exciting story of his forty days on the mountain. He did not show a set of slides of the views from Sinai. He was absolutely silent about himself in order that he might talk about God.”

I especially got a kick out of that statement about the slides. I’ve been a part of far too many missionary presentations in my life.

Anyway . . . These concepts are important, especially as we think about gathering to worship. “We come to a place of worship to find out about God, not about man. We are here to get ourselves in relation with God, not to be entertained with religious tales of the saints and sinners.”

May we stand in awe of God today, and let our words be few.

Father, as I go through this day, help me to let my words be few, and to stand in awe of you, as you are in heaven and I am on earth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!