Humble Confidence

Today is Monday, the sixth of June, 2022, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,461

I’ll confess that I have been slightly confused about when Ordinary Time occurs, partially because of a devotional book I used last year. The primary Church calendar, however, shows Ordinary Time to occur between Epiphany Sunday (usually the first Sunday in January) until Ash Wednesday, and then from Pentecost Sunday (which was yesterday) up until Advent. Hence today beginning the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.
Lord our God, gather us together in one flock to praise you with one heart and one voice. Let this praise ring out on earth in the midst of all the evils that still confront us. We thank you for your protection, for all the help and deliverance you give us. We thank you for the hope you put into our hearts. We thank you for the hope that we may yet see great things done through the working of your Spirit, for us your children and for all peoples and nations. For your love will not rest until life on earth has come into your hands and all may rejoice. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! 
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. 
Your unfailing love will last forever. 
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
(Psalms 89:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the understanding that the purpose of my life is to love; to love my family, to love Jesus, to love the Church, and to love my neighbor as myself
2. that I don't have any "agenda" for my life, other than the above declaration;
3. that I am a child of God, but also that He has led me down a path of humility in that relationship, because, not only is He my Father, He is also Almighty God, the Creator of the universe!
4. that I will be praising God for "ten thousand years and then forevermore" (Matt Redman)
5. that my joy is not dependent upon my happiness; I may not always smile, but there is always hope and celebration in my soul
Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! 
Sing about the glory of his name! 
Tell the world how glorious he is. 
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! 
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
 Everything on earth will worship you; 
they will sing your praises, 
shouting your name in glorious songs.” 
Come and see what our God has done, 
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
(Psalms 66:1-5 NLT)
Come and listen, all you who fear God, 
and I will tell you what he did for me. 
For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. 
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, 
the Lord would not have listened. 
But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. 
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer 
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalms 66:16-20 NLT)

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “confident.” The quote used comes from Maya Angelou.

“Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.”

Let me say, right off the bat, that I have no problem with the thought of confidence before God. I believe that Scripture teaches this.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

But there is a stark difference between confidence and arrogance. And we must not cross that line when we come before the Lord, in my opinion. I really don’t have a problem with Ms. Angelou’s quote, either, in the context of Hebrews 4:16.

I do, however, have a problem with where today’s reading takes the idea. The writer, Jeanette, applies this to a mindset of prayer, and relates a time when friends at a Bible study told her, “Hold up your head when you talk to God. You are His child. You have every right to come to Him and ask for what you need and want.” (I added the italics.)

This, in my opinion, crosses that line. Especially that bit about asking for what we want. I started to write that I don’t have a problem asking God for things that I want. But that’s not quite accurate. I’ll admit that I do struggle some with asking God for things that I want, but don’t necessarily need. I even struggle with praying for other peoples’ prayer requests when they ask me to pray for something that they want, but don’t necessarily need. It’s not my place to judge, for sure. And I will pray for what they ask me to pray for (unless it’s political . . . I won’t go there), but I will also let God know how I feel about that.

Haha. That last sentence is kind of ridiculous, you know? “I will also let God know how I feel about that.” As if He already doesn’t know that, right??

We say, sometimes, the most foolish things about God and our relationships with Him. He knows everything! He already knows how I feel about that prayer request.

So, do we have a “right” to ask God for anything we want?

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
(John 15:7 NLT)

Here’s the thing. I think there’s a catch there. It’s not a “blank check” as some folks want to believe. Yes, we may ask for anything we want. But I firmly believe that, if I am remaining (abiding) in Christ and His words are abiding in me, that will have a drastic effect on whatever I want! I won’t want the same things.

I can speak from experience on this. Not that I have perfectly nailed down this concept of abiding. Far from it. However, as I work toward that, and when I do abide in Christ and His words abide in me, I find that I cannot, in good conscience, ask for the same things that I would have asked for, earlier in my life.

I find myself praying that God would bless my “enemies” rather than curse them. I find myself praying more for things like unity in the Body of Christ, because that’s one of the more important things that I want when I am abiding in Him.

“Jeanette” naively compares us asking God for something to her own children asking her for stuff. She doesn’t want them to hang her head, but to ask confidently. I would like to see how faithful she is to that belief when her kids come to her in arrogance, asking for something that they want, that might harm them in some way.

Her prayer at the end says, “Dear Lord, help me remember that although You are God, You are also my Father.” I would turn that around. It’s true. He is both. But, lest we get too comfortable, we must also remember that our Father is also Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. A little humility is in order, I do believe.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Praise the LORD, who is my rock. 
He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. 
He is my loving ally and my fortress, 
my tower of safety, my rescuer. 
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. 
He makes the nations submit to me. 
O LORD, what are human beings that you should notice them, 
mere mortals that you should think about them?
 For they are like a breath of air; 
their days are like a passing shadow.
(Psalms 144:1-4 NLT)

“You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
(Job 42:3 NLT)

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. 
Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. 
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; 
at best, each of us is but a breath.”
(Psalms 39:4-5 NLT)

And look! What more reason for humility do we need than what we find in these Scriptures?? We are but a breath, in comparison with our eternal, infinite, majestic God! “My entire lifetime is just a moment to you!” How could I come before this God with any thought of arrogance, with any though of demanding something that I seem to think I have a right to???

This life is so very short. But eternity is long. And, as the following song says, we will have 10,000 years and then forevermore to sing His praises! Hallelujah.

To me, this is a very stirring moment, as I watch and listen to Matt unable to contain his emotions while singing this praise song.

The same mindset that would have us come before our Father in arrogance also brings us the idea that we should always be smiling. And I think the bottom line in all of this is that we must remember that there is nothing “fake” about being a Christian.

The idea of “fake it until you make it” has no place in the life of a follower of Christ. This life is real. There is nothing, in my opinion, more real than walking in Jesus Christ. He is Reality.

“It is a myth that the Christian always wears a smile. There is a stream of joy that runs through the Christian life and keeps surfacing in praise and glad service. There is a powerful note of celebration in the church’s life and the Christian’s witness. But that is not the kind of smile that maintains itself by ignoring or denying everything that is troubling or difficult.”

I used to work with someone who displayed what I call “toxic positivity.” She could not bear any negative thought whatsoever, about anything.

We do, as followers of Christ, face difficulties in this world. “We must wrestle with unanswerable questions. If we take seriously the commands of God and give ourselves seriously to the task of loving our neighbors and our enemies, we are going to find ourselves in conflict with others, even find ourselves looking silly and naive – a laughingstock, in short.”

We will feel, at times, that God is unfair. I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt that. And, even worse, there is the danger of beginning to think, “If only I were a better Christian, I wouldn’t feel this way. If I just had more faith, these blasphemous thoughts would never cross my mind. If only I could be well balanced and peaceful and accepting of God’s will in my life, like the really good Christians!”

But here’s the thing. As Christians, we are not people who never have doubts or feelings of despair. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you (and probably lying to themselves, as well). As Christians, we are people who believe in spite of those things! We obey God’s commands when we don’t feel like it, and we hope, even when it looks like there is no hope.

I certainly struggle with these things. I look around me, right now, and see very little hope for this nation. It is more divided than I have ever seen it, in my 64 years, and it is, quite frankly, so foolish that I can hardly stand it. The political division in the country right now is asinine. It makes no sense. But guess what? My hope is not in this country. My hope is not in a political party (either one, or any of the alternatives). My hope is not in a president, past, present, or future.

My hope is in Jesus. And when I look around and see no hope, I still have hope because of Him. It is because of Him that I can sing “10,000 Reasons.” It is because of Him that I can go before the God of the universe with humble confidence, and ask for whatever I want, knowing, or at least hoping, that “whatever I want” is also what He wants.

And what does He want? If you’ve read this blog at all, you already know what I’m going to say. He wants us to love Him with all our being, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love the saints in the same way that Jesus loves us.

“The picture we have of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shows him agonizing over the decision of the Cross. He struggled with his own feelings. He wrestled with the will of God and finally chose the will of God. And out of this struggle came something we call good news.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, there may be too much stuff here, today. There is certainly a lot to pray about. I pray, Father, that people would not be subjected to false teachings. I know that Your Word says they will come. And come, they have, in droves. I won’t name names, but there are certain people that I truly believe are teaching serious error in Your kingdom. I pray for truth to be known. I also pray that we, Your children, would have the confidence to come before You boldly, but also have the sense to come before You in humility. Yes, You are our Father, and You love us. But You are also Almighty God, and have all the power.

I come before You as one who has surrendered any “rights” to anything that I might want. Therefore, when I read Jesus’s words about asking for whatever I want, I take that in context of abiding in Your Word and Your Word abiding in me. I do not have a right to anything I want, because I have surrendered those rights.

I thank You for whatever life I have on this earth. I am grateful for the number of years that I have had, so far, and will graciously accept whatever number of years You grant me, going forward. I pray that, through the rest of those years, I will heed Your Word and do what You have commanded us to do. I pray that I will always shove my opinions into the “back seat,” and simply do my job, which is to love You and love people. And I pray that this example will speak more loudly than ten thousand words.

I thank You for the hope of “ten thousand years and then forevermore.” That hope is what keeps me going, some days. And I look forward with great anticipation to that day when that multitude from every tribe, nation, language, and people will stand before You, arms lifted high, shouting and worshiping Your holiness and Your Name! You are worthy, O Lord, to receive power and glory and honor and blessing! Worthy Is the Lamb! Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!

All glory to You, Lord, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

Grace and peace, friends.

Surrounded

“Surround them with Your angels. Surround them with Your care and protection. Surround them with good friends, good influences, good teachers and coaches. Surround them with wisdom and understanding, foresight and insight, encouragement and blessing. Surround.”

Today is Tuesday, the first of March, 2022, in the eighth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

February is finally over. For the shortest month of the year, it sure seems like it lasts a long time. Of course, as I’ve mentioned, it is my least favorite month of the year, and has been for well over thirty years. It’s not all because of the fact that we get our harshest “winter” usually during February.

As I mentioned yesterday (I think) today is “Fat Tuesday,” otherwise known as Mardi Gras. It is the traditional day where people indulge their desires before starting the long “fast” of Lent on Ash Wednesday. I haven’t thought a lot about Lent, yet, this year. Which means that I also don’t know if I’m “giving up” anything for the forty day event. I should probably give up candy.

The electrical service went well, yesterday. They arrived on time, if not a little early. It was a bit pricey, but they were very professional and got the job done. The light fixture did not have to be replaced, so we have one to return to the store. It turns out that we had a “loss neutral” (I think that’s what he said) between the panel and the light switch. He was able to locate the place and fix it without having to run any new wiring. He did have to dig into one other switch and two outlets to find it. Based on what he found, I believe it to be an issue that has existed since the house was built, and it just finally got to a point where it “broke” Saturday night. Anyway, the light works, now, and he replaced two switches and outlets, and installed the new ceiling fan in the bedroom. All of this wound up costing almost $800.

C is working from home today, which, it turns out, is good, because her stomach was bothering her a bit, last night. The A/C guy is supposed to come over today, between 12-1 to talk about options for our heating/cooling systems. I didn’t hear from him, yesterday, though.

I work this evening, from 4:15-8:15, and will be back tomorrow at 9:15, as this is my “heavy” week at the library. I may be driving to Mineral Wells on Thursday to bring Mama here for another stay. We aren’t sure about that, just yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that ceiling fans and light fixtures are working properly
2. for the writings of Catherine Marshall regarding a critical nature
3. that I am surrounded by You
4. that You make all things beautiful in Your time; help me to trust Your timing
5. for the upcoming season of Lent, and its help in preparing us for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday

It seems only fitting that my progression in the book, Spiritual Classics, has brought me to the section on the discipline of fasting, as we begin the month of March, and as the season of Lent begins tomorrow. The first of four chapters on fasting examines a selection from Catherine Marshall, from A Closer Walk. In this excerpt, Catherine writes about fasting from criticalness.

Right off the bat, she cites Matthew 7:1-2.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2 NIV)

She speaks of getting an “assignment” from God. “For one day I was to go on a ‘fast’ from criticism. I was not to criticize anybody about anything.”

Her typical objections: “But then what happens to value judgments? You Yourself, Lord, spoke of ‘righteous judgment.’ How could society operate without standards and limits?”

She strongly felt the Lord telling her to obey Him without question, “an absolute fast on any critical statements for this day.”

My first thought was to think how silent Facebook would be if all of us were able to accomplish this for even an hour.

The encounter has humor to it. For the first half of this day, Catherine speaks of feeling a void, “almost as if I had been wiped out as a person.” And, she observed, as she had lunch with her husband, mother, son, and secretary, her comments about issues discussed were not missed at all. No one seemed to notice that she wasn’t talking. They were all too busy talking, themselves. “The federal government, the judicial system, and the institutional church could apparently get along fine without my penetrating observations.”

As the afternoon went buy, though, Catherine began to see what this was accomplishing. She had been praying for a young man whose life had gotten sidetracked. “Perhaps my prayers for him had been too negative. That afternoon, a specific, positive vision for this life was dropped into my mind with God’s unmistakable hallmark on it – joy.”

It turns out that her critical nature, while not fixing one single thing with which she had found fault, had stifled her own creativity “in prayer, in relationships, perhaps even in writing.”

The word translated “judge” in most translations of Matthew 7 could easily be rendered “criticize.” “All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets Himself squarely against our seeing other people and life situations through this negative lens.” Following are five things that Catherine summed up that God showed her through this.

  1. A critical spirit focuses us on ourselves and makes us unhappy. We lose perspective and humor.
  2. A critical spirit blocks the positive creative thoughts God longs to give us.
  3. A critical spirit can prevent good relationships between individuals and often produces retaliatory criticalness.
  4. Criticalness blocks the work of the Spirit of God: love, good will, mercy.
  5. Whenever we see something genuinely wrong in another person’s behavior, rather than criticize him or her directly, or – far worse – gripe about him behind his back, we should ask the Spirit of God to do the correction needed.

Here is the prayer that Catherine Marshall found herself praying: “Lord, I repent of this sin of judgment. I am deeply sorry for having committed so gross an offense against You and against myself so continually. I claim Your promise of forgiveness and seek a new beginning.”

I am deeply moved by this selection, today, as a judgmental or critical nature is something I have struggled mightily with, throughout my life.

(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, while not directly addressing the above topic of criticism, seem to lend themselves to a similar interpretation.

Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. . . . Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it.  
(1 Timothy 4:12-13,15-16 MSG)

Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane.
(Titus 2:2-8 MSG)

In the words of Eugene H. Peterson, “This is essential reading because ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership causes much damage in souls.”

The reason I compare this to Catherine Marshall’s writing on a critical nature is that this is what I’m seeing, right now, in our culture, and it is largely coming from my generation, as well as the generation or two directly behind me. Nothing but criticism, and all negative, with no positive reinforcement. In other words, all complaining with no solutions, other than ousting the current administration.

And this “ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership” is driving young people away from the church (lower-case “c”) in droves.

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity.”
(Psalms 75:2 NIV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “surround.” I like this one. The quoted Scripture verse is:

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
(Psalms 34:7 ESV)

“Encamps around” = “surrounds.”

The writer of today’s reading, the ubiquitous “Bob,” writes of using this word as he prays over family members each day. His grandchildren were attending a new school, fresh with new challenges. “Surround,” he prays over them as he drops them off.

“Surround them with Your angels. Surround them with Your care and protection. Surround them with good friends, good influences, good teachers and coaches. Surround them with wisdom and understanding, foresight and insight, encouragement and blessing. Surround.”

Immediately, I am reminded by a worship song that I learned a couple years ago. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You. . . . This is how I fight my battles.”

Our Father surrounds us every day. Whether we are aware of His presence or not, He is there. How much sweeter it is when we are aware of Him!!

Father, again, there is a lot to take in, this morning. I am moved beyond description at Ms. Marshall’s writing on the critical nature. While it may not be the particular “fast” you are calling me to this Lenten season, I believe that You have been and continue to call me away from this nature. I pray desperately that You would remove any form, any remnant of the critical nature from my heart, my soul, and my spirit, Father! I literally hate that aspect about myself. I know that it does not come from You, and that it does not in any way resemble the nature of the Savior in whose steps I am supposed to walk. So please remove it.

I praise You that You surround me. That truth brings me great comfort whenever I remember it and focus on it. I know that You always surround me, but when I know it and acknowledge it, it is so much sweeter and comforting. I thank You for Your presence, Father, and I pray for my entire family, that You would make Your presence known to them. Surround them all, Lord. “Surround them with Your angels. Surround them with Your care and protection. Surround them with good friends, good influences, good teachers and coaches. Surround them with wisdom and understanding, foresight and insight, encouragement and blessing. Surround.”

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“Lord, I repent of this sin of judgment. I am deeply sorry for having committed so gross an offense against You and against myself so continually. I claim Your promise of forgiveness and seek a new beginning.” ~ Catherine Marshall

Grace and peace, friends.

Surely Goodness and Mercy

Good morning (it will be afternoon before I am finished). Today is Saturday, the first of January, 2022. The eighth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be upon you today!

Day 23,305

Twenty-two days until we finally get to see Hamilton. Hoping that the current surge of Covid Omicron variant doesn’t wind up canceling this one.

It’s a new year, and with the new year come new devotional materials. So things will begin looking a little different from last year. Some things will stay the same, but others will change. I will continue to try to make note of where we are in the Church calendar, hence the mention of the eighth day of Christmas, above. I have a couple of sources to help me keep up with that.

Yesterday was another great day at the library. It was somewhat slower than usual, for the whole library, as well as the computer center. There were only a handful of staff people there, so it was very quiet. I had an unusual experience as I helped a gentleman scan and attach documents to an HOA website, so he could try to get permission to add solar panels to his home. It was very complicated, and reinforces my opinion that I will NEVER live in an HOA.

C wasn’t feeling well, yesterday, so I picked up Subway for dinner for last night. We did wind up staying up until the end of 2021, though. Actually, I think C had to, to make sure that their systems came back online at midnight, as scheduled. She and I counted down the new year together, watching the last minute or so from a New Orleans broadcast.

At any rate, 2022 is here. So far, I don’t feel any different. That’s not one hundred percent true, but it has nothing to do with what day it is. Yesterday, as I was listening to “The Blessing” (I posted the video at the end of yesterday’s blog), something “flipped” inside. I can’t really put a finger on it, or put it in words, but some attitudes changed. As 2022 gets into gear, I don’t have any “resolutions.” I don’t do those any more , haven’t for at least a decade. I don’t really have any “goals,” either, as goals are supposed to be measurable. Well, I take that back. My Goodreads reading goal for 2022 will be fifty-two books, just like it was in 2021. I’m going to try to share my Year in Books from Goodreads. Hopefully that link will work. There is one error in it, though. I actually only read 48 books. For some reason, it has The Hobbit in there twice. I only listened to the audio version. I did not read a physical book again.

I do have some “aspirations,” I suppose. I want to read more, pray more consistently, love better, make more music, and spend a little less time playing video games.

To begin the year, I will focus on the following resources:
Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson (sixty days)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Pray a Word a Day, a new Guideposts resource

I may or may not choose to add another resource. There is one that I will use after the sixty-day Peterson book. On Living Well: Brief Reflections on Wisdom for Walking in the Way of Jesus, also by Eugene H. Peterson. I’m not sure how many days it will take, but I’m confident that there aren’t 365 readings in it.

Actually, I believe I have just decided to also include Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, a Renovare resource edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. It is a different format than I’m used to, having a weekly reading for fifty-two weeks. Not sure how that will play out in my daily readings, but it will be fun to explore.

So there it is. Oh, and Happy New Year to all who make it over here, either on purpose or by serendipity.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Eternal Father, 
You gave to Your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to of our salvation:
Plant in every heart,
we pray,
the love of Him who is the Savior of the world,
our Lord Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
in glory everlasting.
Amen."
(Collect for January 1, The Holy Name, The Book of Common Prayer)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done marvelous things! 
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; 
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
(Psalms 98:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for new beginnings
2. for God, for His very existence and who He is
3. for the marvelous things that God has done
4. that God is always doing "new things"
5. that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us, pursuing us

My verse for 2022 will be Psalm 145:18. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 

My word for 2022 (I don’t remember if I had one for 2021) will be “pray.” Because that’s what I need to do more of.

“First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.”

Thus begins the first reading in Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation.

And, if we look at the first verse of Genesis in The Message, the first three words are, “First this: God.”

God looked over everything he had made; 
it was so good, 
so very good! 
(Genesis 1:31 MSG)
See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 
(Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
(Job 8:7 NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

These are great verses to begin a new year. Especially a new year that has been preceded by two really sketchy years. Things have not been great. Understatement of the century. But we, we who are followers of Jesus Christ, have a hope for our future, most especially the future that we will have beyond this world, beyond this mortal coil.

Things keep happening. People are losing loved ones. Beloved celebrities (ones that we thought would live forever) are leaving us. But we followers of Jesus cannot afford to fix our eyes on these things. We must keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Our God is always doing a “new thing.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today’s word for prayer is “goodness.”

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:6 ESV)

It is worth noting that the Hebrew word that is translated “follow,” can also mean “chase” or “pursue.” So we consider that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us or pursuing us, and that kind of implies that we might be actually, sometimes, running away?

Just food for thought there.

Father, I praise You for the “new things” that You are constantly doing. I thank You that Your goodness and mercy are chasing and pursuing us . . . much more actively than simply “following,” which kind of implies a passive nature. You are chasing us down with Your goodness and mercy! Help me to stop running from them and let them catch me! I praise You that You are You, that You exist, from before eternity past beyond eternity future. And I praise You that You have made a way for us to exist with You, through the work of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and our salvation. Help me to embrace this salvation, more than ever, this coming year.

I continue to pray for this pandemic to end, Lord. Please wipe this virus off the earth, that we may return to some kind of normalcy. I also pray, though, for the compassion of human beings to be restored. There is so much meanness and hatred in our world, today. I pray for Your followers, Your children, to rise up and insist on LOVE! Again, I start a campaign for a love revolution! Make it so, Father!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Ascension Day

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the thirteenth of May, 2021, in the sixth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,072

Today, the Church recognizes Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended into heaven, in the presence of His disciples.

Seven days until our Glen Rose trip!

Today is “Friday” for me, because I’m taking PTO tomorrow. It’s the one-year anniversary of S’s cat, Honey, passing away, and I just thought I would take the day off to be around for her.

We have hot water! C found someone that could come fix it yesterday evening, and they had it fixed and were gone before I got home from work. So I had a hot shower before going to bed, last night. And there’s a little less anxiety in my life, this morning. Actually, the hot water heater problem wasn’t causing that much anxiety. But I won’t deny that there was a little bit, and now that is resolved.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"I cannot produce joy.
I cannot produce peace.
I cannot produce love.

This doesn't mean I have no hope --
just no hope in myself.
Transferring the hope to our Lord --
these are gifts from our Father.

I can turn to God.
I can place my requests at Jesus' feet.
I can submit my will.
I can acknowledge and be grateful for these gifts.

And I can share
his joy,
his peace,
his love,
and his hope."
(Daryl Madden, On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(Psalms 118:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for joy, peace, love, and hope, all of which I get from You
  • for Your faithful love that endures forever, even (and especially) when I turn my face away from You and toward my problems
  • for singing and music
  • for the ascension of Jesus Christ
  • for the coming of the Holy Spirit

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

EASTER – DAY 40

INVITATION

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NIV)

I pause, briefly, in this quiet moment, to reflect on joy, peace, love, and hope.

BIBLE SONG

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works— he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the LORD, my soul. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 104:31-35 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:3-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, I read these passages slowly, lingering on words and phrases phrases that catch my attention. I pray these, along with other things in my life, back to God.

Do I believe that the Lord still rejoices in His works? Why wouldn’t He? I mean, sure His major work, us, has truly fouled things up in this world. But there is still a lot of beauty to behold, and still a lot of good, even in the midst of mankind, the primary “fouler-upper.”

My job, here, is to sing. To sing to the Lord all my life, to sing praises to Him as long as I live. I’ve been working on that a little bit more, lately, as I am fully persuaded that these psalms and Scriptures are not coming into my days by accident. The Holy Spirit is inviting me to sing! So I’m trying to sing more. Hopefully, perhaps I will “sing a new song,” eventually.

I’m also working on the meditation piece a little more, too, hoping that my meditations will be pleasing to Him, as the Psalms consistently hope. This morning meditation is a good start, and I fall asleep meditating on His Word, at night. But there are quite a few hours between those two events, and, truthfully, meditation is lost during a lot of that.

As mentioned yesterday, and above, today is Ascension Day, in the Church. Growing up Southern Baptist, I never even heard of this until I was an “adult,” if that’s what you want to call someone in college. In latter years, I have grown to embrace the various portions of the Church calendar, finding great joy and fulfillment in recognizing some of the special days, especially some of the more-neglected ones, like today.

Why is Ascension Day important? For one thing, had Jesus not Ascended, the Holy Spirit would not have come down. He had to go up so the Spirit could come down. Why? Heck if I know. I’m not God. I just know that this is what Scripture seems to indicate.

So Jesus reigns on high, from what I understand, still in bodily form, maybe even with holes in his hands and side. He sits “at the right hand of the Father,” waiting for that time when He will be sent back to collect His brothers and sisters and take them to the mansions that He is preparing for us.

In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is here, dwelling within each of us, empowering and enabling us to do the ministry that He has given to each of us, according to Ephesians 2:10. What does Acts 1:8 say? We will receive POWER! “Power, power, wonder-working power.” And that’s exactly what those first disciples did in the days and years following that great Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts.

Is it possible for us to do some of those same powerful works? I would like to think it is, and I ponder why we seem unable to do so.

Father, as I walk through this day, may my meditations be pleasing to You. May I sing, from the depths of my soul, let me sing! Let me sing; make me sing; sing for all the days of the rest of my life, however long that may be. And, should it be Your will, give me a new song to sing! And then, Father, empower us! May Your Holy Spirit have His way with and in us! Today and every day, show us Your power anew. Show us Your mighty works; perhaps we have become too complacent and too comfortable in things. Dare I ask for You to shake us up a little?

Most High God,
like the disciples,
I'm left staring at the sky,
mouth wide open in wonder to think that someone like me--
a real human being--
now sits at your right hand,
in glory.
In his physical absence,
comfort me with the knowledge that Jesus has ascended for my good,
governing all things from the heavenly throne.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 46)

BLESSING

Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalms 147:3 NIV)

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
(Psalms 34:17-19 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV)

Lord, I pray for those who are grieving, today, both for recent loss, and for loss from either the recent or distant past. Everyone has experienced loss of some kind. May You bind the wounds of the brokenhearted today, and ease their grieving hearts. Help us all to grieve in a healthy way, promoting healing to our hearts. May we not stifle our emotions, but embrace them and walk in them, lifting them all up to You in the process.

Lord, I pray, today, for a deeper grasp and understanding of the Gospel. May it permeate every inch of my being, today, and every day. May my experience as an adopted son of Yours be full, today; may I realize every benefit of being Your son. Make my prayer life more passionate, Father, as I pray for people daily. May my love for those for whom I pray be limitless.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends!

Come To the Table

Today is Thursday, the first of April, 2021. Maundy Thursday in Holy Week.

Day 23,030

Three days until Resurrection Sunday!

Opening Day is today! The Texas Rangers will face the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City at 3:10 PM CDT. Kyle Gibson will be starting for the Rangers.

I’ll update the pool situation, even though there’s not a lot of news. We are waiting on the insurance people to determine how much, if any, is covered by our homeowner’s insurance. Once we get that, then we will contact the person who gave us the estimate to get started on the work. I’m sure it will take a while, as he has a regular job, servicing our pool chemicals each week. We will have to give him some money up front, so he can order the parts needed. The biggest piece will be the pool heater. And, of course, we are hoping that there is no damage to the actual pool, itself. It doesn’t seem to be leaking anywhere, so that is good.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your love
flows like a stream
into the ocean of your Grace.
Your love
encircles this world,
displays your faithfulness.
Your love
is patient and kind,
brings wholeness and true peace.
Your love
is all we desire
to heal our brokenness.
As all things pass
and fade away
love remains
eternally
(Author unknown, obtained from faithandworship.com)

O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah.
to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies.
Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:32-35 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the Holy Supper that we commemorate on this day
  • for the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world
  • that You do not scorn nor despise the suffering of the afflicted
  • for the Supper Table, where all are welcome to sit next to Jesus
  • for my daily bread

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

LENT – DAY 38

INVITATION

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

I pause for a moment to reflect on the love of God, which encircles the world and displays His faithfulness.

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?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
(Psalms 22:1-5 NIV)

You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!
(Psalms 22:23-26 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.”
(Luke 22:7-8 NIV)

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 22:14-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I take refreshment in His presence, this morning, I consider the passages above, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me, however He desires.

This morning, I am drawn to the idea of praising God; “You who fear the LORD, praise him!” Why? “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one.” The Lord cares for the suffering and afflicted among us. “The poor will eat and be satisfied,” and “those who seek the LORD will praise him.”

I am fully persuaded that our God is able to accomplish this. We will do whatever we can, in human terms, to help, but our God will make sure that, someday, the poor will eat and be satisfied. Scripture warns us, over and over, that God cares deeply for the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, and I feel relatively confident that the myriads of people who claim the name of Jesus, and then turn around and scorn the needy, will be judged, somehow. Their salvation may not be in jeopardy (if, in fact, it exists at all), but I believe there will be some kind of consequences.

The one thing that I see in the Gospel passage gives me pity for Judas. We tend to be angry with him, and that is probably not wrong. However, Jesus’s statement at the end of verse 22 should send chills through anyone’s bones. “Woe to that man who betrays him!” Matthew, in 26:24, adds, “It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

There is a lot of speculation out there on how Jesus could have saved Judas, but Judas wasn’t willing and so on, and so on. But this speculation fails to take one important thing into consideration. This had to happen! It was part of the plan. Judas was in a no-win situation.

Father, I praise You, just as the psalmist tells me. I am grateful for the words that admonish me to fear You and praise You. I am also most grateful that You do not despise or scorn the suffering of the afflicted. I pray for people who do, just as I pray for the people who are the afflicted, who suffer. I lift up widows and orphans everywhere, people who have no one in their lives. May Your people rise up and care for them. I thank You for the faithful people who do this. There are some folks in my own mother’s life for whom I am eternally grateful and pray Your riches blessings upon them, for they give her transportation and company, as well as encouragement and blessing. May we all take lessons from such folks.

Lamb of God,
at the last supper you gave us the spiritual table by which you continue to communicate yourself and all your benefits to us.
May this meal nourish,
strengthen,
and comfort our poor,
desperate souls with your life-giving body and blood today and every time we gather around it.
Amen.
(Belgic Confession 35)

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)

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. . . . As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
(John 15:7, 9 ESV)

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
(Luke 22:14-15 ESV)

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

Marci Alborghetti, in today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021, brings out a very important thought. As Jesus sat at table with His disciples, He “knew that just as He would soon suffer alone, so would each of them in the coming days and years suffer alone.”

There are many, many people in our world today who suffer alone. These are they whom God does not scorn nor despise. And what we see at the Supper Table is “a place next to Jesus for everyone who at some point suffers alone.” Beautiful words worthy of pondering. Thank you, Marci.

Father, I praise You for the Table, where there is a place for all of us, next to Jesus! May this bring joy to my heart today, as we commemorate the “Last Supper.” May Jesus bring blessing and joy to His people today!

Lord, may You give me and all of Your children a deeper and richer understanding of the Gospel. May the love of Jesus flow from me to all whom I encounter today. May You give us all vibrant and living prayer lives. Help me to pray better and more often.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Ask the Right Questions

“While we count every minute of sorrow as an eon, God’s mercies remain new every morning that we wake up breathing. He will not forget or fail us, and though we may cry to Him and tell Him of our feelings of abandonment, He will never leave us.”

Today is Monday, June 29, 2020, in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be unto you! FYI, “Ordinary Time,” in the Church Calendar, begins the Monday after the first Sunday following Epiphany, which is on January 6.

Day 22,754

Five days until July 4th! Four days until the Hamilton Movie premiers on Disney+!

I believe that yesterday’s church “gathering” went really well. There was some great discussion as we talked about rejoicing during hard/stressful/sorrowful times and and over all sense of trusting God, no matter what. I tried to get some good notes while people were talking, so I could go back and look at what everyone contributed to the conversation.

The rest of the day was restful. C “rests” by mowing the yard and edging, then jumping in the pool. I rest by sitting in front of the TV playing PS4 games. Currently, I’m playing The Last of Us, Part 2. I did not do any recording yesterday, put plan to get some more in this coming weekend. Since we are off Friday, I may get some in then. I’ve got a few more things to add to my original song, then I will try my hand at mixing and mastering it. After that, I’m not sure what will be next. I have some ideas for some instrumental stuff, and I definitely want to write more.

Last night, I dreamed that I got to play in a concert with my favorite band of all time, Daniel Amos. I was really sad when I woke up. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
(Psalms 113:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For a new opportunity to walk in God’s kingdom, this week, trying to share His love to everyone
  2. For the privilege of blessing/praising You with all the saints
  3. For the promise that those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing their sheaves with them (Psalm 126)
  4. For Jesus’s restoration of the Apostle Simon Peter, showing that, even if we deny Him, there is hope for restoration and forgiveness
  5. For the miraculous provision of all of our needs

Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
(Psalms 26:2-7 ESV)

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
(Psalms 145:10-12 ESV)

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
(Psalms 126:5-6 ESV)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
(John 21:15-19 ESV)

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song.
On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah. Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush— “This one was born there,” they say. And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her. The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah. Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
(Psalms 87:1-7 ESV)

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 ESV)

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)

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
(Isaiah 65:24 ESV)

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
(2 Kings 5:9-14 ESV)

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
(Psalms 40:5 ESV)

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
(Psalms 65:8 NIV)

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
(Psalms 111:4 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)


I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
(Psalms 77:5-9 NIV)

As we continue looking at the psalmist’s use of meditation in his troubles, we see that, in today’s reading, he asks a number of questions. “Meditation consists in large part of asking the right questions. To meditate is to ask oneself questions about the truth, such as ‘What difference does this make? Am I taking this seriously? If I forget this, how will that affect me? Have I forgotten it? Am I living in light of this?'”

In this case, the psalmist’s questions “begin to suggest their own answers,” in verses 8 and 9.

“While we count every minute of sorrow as an eon, God’s mercies remain new every morning that we wake up breathing. He will not forget or fail us, and though we may cry to Him and tell Him of our feelings of abandonment, He will never leave us.”

“Lord, thank You for being a God who takes questions. And keep my mind clear as I pose them, because questions asked honestly in the face of Your holiness always lead back to trust in You. Whom should I trust more than You? Myself? That would be the most foolish thing of all. Amen.”

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


Father, indeed, trusting myself at all, much less more than You, would be foolish, for my heart is, at its roots, wicked and deceitful, just as Scripture says. However, when I trust in You, my heart is renewed, just as Your mercies, every morning! Thank You, Father! Help me to ask the right questions of You today.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.