Pray NOW, Not Later!

“‘You can write and read about prayer, but sooner or later you need to pray.'”

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Today is Sunday, September 3, 2017. Day 21,724. One day until Labor Day!

Quote of the Day

“When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” ~ Norm Crosby
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Vociferous ~ “marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry”

Today is Pet Rock Day. Is that even still a thing?

I had no trouble at all getting groceries, yesterday. The shelves were full, and the store was not crowded any more than usual on a Saturday afternoon. If anything, it was less crowded. I saw our Kroger manager while I was in there, though, and he said, “Pray for me,” as he is working today. I guess they are expecting large crowds today, in preparation for tomorrow’s holiday. Our Kroger manager is our pastor’s step-father, by the way.

I also filled up with gas at the same Kroger store, and the only wait time was the time it took to drive around the pumps and pick a car to wait behind. There were no lines, but there was a car at each pump. By the time I had picked a car, the one in front of it left, so I didn’t even have to wait there. The price was $2.59, but with Kroger fuel points, I paid $2.39.

The Rangers and Red Sox both lost. So the Sox are back to a 4.5 lead over the Yankees in the AL East, with their last regular season contest happening tonight. The Rangers are 15 out, back in fourth place, and four games out of the second wild card spot. The Cleveland Indians have quietly won ten games in a row! The Dodgers have lost two in a row. It’s like they have totally relaxed, or something.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship at The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street in Fort Worth, TX.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Psalm 111:1
that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 83:18
But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 
Psalm 71:14
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Psalm 118:22
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
John 17:24-26
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
The Gloria
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.
The Lord’s Prayer
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in my heart the love of your Name; increase in me true religion; nourish me with all goodness; and bring forth in me the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints
Ephesians 6:18

Melody Bonette Swang writes of a time when she texted her daughter, Misty, “asking her to pray for a friend at a job interview.”

What she received back surprised her. Instead of the normal “Sure!” she got this back: “‘Lord God, I lift him up to you this morning. You are the God of our past, present and future. If it is Your will, make this job happen. But, ultimately, I pray that Your will be done. Cover him with confidence and peace as we pray with abundant expectation. Amen.”

She sent back a thanks, as well as expressing her pleasant surprise at the response. Mary explained that she tried to pray immediately and send people the pray whenever they asked for prayer.

This is a good habit to get into. We have a prayer team at our church, of which I am the leader. We use a text-based app called “GroupMe” to send prayer requests back and forth, and many times, most of us will just respond with “Praying!” or something like that. What if we all immediately dropped what we were doing, no matter how “important” it might be, and prayed.

Melody includes a quote that she once read: “‘You can write and read about prayer, but sooner or later you need to pray.'”

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2
pray without ceasing,
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Father, may I take this lesson to heart today. First, help me, by your Spirit to do a better job of praying without ceasing. And then, whenever someone asks for prayer, instead of promising to pray at a future time (many times forgetting later), prompt me to pray NOW. I have read a lot about prayer, and written a bit about prayer in this daily blog. Help me to do better at actually praying.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

PS. If you read this and need prayer, please let me know in the comments. Not only will I pray, I will pass it along to our team of faithful prayer partners.

Only Believe

Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017. Day 21,712.

Quote of the Day

“It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham (That’s pretty much every day, right?)

Word of the Day

Comstockery ~ “overzealous moral censorship of the fine arts and literature, often mistaking outspokenly honest works for salacious ones.”

Today is Eat A Peach Day. So, here is a song from the Allman Brothers Band album, Eat A Peach. As far as I know, there is no studio recording of this song.

Our Keurig died this morning. This is a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. Okay, maybe not, but it’s still bad. I’ve ordered a new one, but it won’t be here until Thursday.

Not a whole lot to talk about, this morning. The Red Sox lost to Terry Francona and company, in the bottom of the ninth, last night, 5-4. Yankees were off, so the Sox lost a half game in the standings, and are 4.5 up in the AL East.

The Rangers beat the Angels, knocking the Angels out of the second wild card spot. However, the Rangers are still two games out, now behind the Twins. The current wild card standings are as follows: 1. New York, 2. Minnesota, 3. Los Angeles Angels, 4. Seattle, 5. Kansas City, and 6. Texas Rangers. I stop listing there because I don’t care about the rest of them. That’s a lot of teams in the running, and there are only two games between the Twins and the Rangers.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24
O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Psalm 141:1-2
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. 
Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. 
Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. 
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. 
Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.

Psalm 69:13-17

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10

Erin MacPherson writes of a time when she looked out the window to see her “daredevil toddler” balanced on the top beam of a swingset, holding a watering can in one hand and a trowel in the other. She successfully resisted the urge to scream, knowing that this would startle him and cause him to fall. Instead, she took a deep breath and walked out, calmly urging him to climb down into her arms.

His response? “Don’t worry, Mommy. I’m holding the can and rake very tight.”

Her mind went here: “Oh, of course! As long as you are holding tightly to the gardening tools, then carry on.”

The point is, this child somehow found safety in things that gave him no protection at all. How often are we guilty of this? What do we hold onto in our own lives, thinking it will give us safety and/or protection, when our only true source of safety is God?

Just something to ponder for the rest of this day.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37:4-6
But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Mark 5:36

Father, help me to only hold on only to that which will protect me most, which is, of course, you.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Small Things with Great Love

Today is Sunday, July 30, 2017. Day 21,689. 20 days until S’s birthday!!

Our Night of Worship was amazing last night! They just seem to be getting better and better. We added another singer, a friend/relative of the hosts. She was great, and the songs that she led were awesome, as well.

This morning, in our worship gathering, we will be singing these songs.

Our worship gathering begins at 10:15, at the Northpark YMCA, 9100 N Beach St, in Fort Worth, TX. I will be leading Good Good Father, this morning.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

Psalm 96:7-9
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Psalm 144:5
. . . that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:13
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise?
Psalm 106:2
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:7-9
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
The Gloria
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.
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon all your faithful people your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:10

Gail Thorell Schilling writes of a friend that she hasn’t seen in a number of years. Although she hasn’t physically seen her in a while, she has a mental image of a scene. Gail is rehearsing music with their liturgical folk group, and her friend is sitting on the carpeted altar area, singing harmony with the group while mending a rip in the carpet with a needle and thread. The rip is not large enough to even be visible from where the congregation sits, but her friend knows it’s there and knows that it will, eventually, become large enough to possibly even trip someone.

When complimented on her work, she shrugs and says, “Oh, it just needed doing.”

“No one asked her; she simply saw a modest need and filled it.”

Mother Teresa was aware that “service shines through small tasks.” Acknowledging that most of us will never do “big things,” we can certainly do “small things with great love.” Every church has people who do the small things, things that many members may never even notice. “Yet the cumulative effect of so much loving effort makes our world a sweeter place.”

What small things can we do today?

“Father thank You for the blessings of those who quietly tend to the small things. They teach me love.” (Gail Thorell Schilling)

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
Luke 16:10

Father, teach us to do the small things with great love. Let the task be less relevant than the love we pour into it. Teach us that we matter less than we think we do, and that the community of saints is more important than our individual wants. Teach us to love.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

One last word, from The Message . . .
Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
1 Peter 2:11-12

Grace and peace, friends.

Abiding

“He’s not some aloof God wishing me good luck from afar; He is a loving Father. If I’m on my knees in prayer, if I’m studying His Word and begging Him to guide my steps, if I’m staying close to His side, He isn’t going to let me get lost. I’m becoming more convinced of that when my heart’s desire seeks His.”

Today is Saturday, July 15, 2017. Day 21,674.

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” ~ Yogi Berra
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is uptalk. It’s a noun. You know it well, I’m sure. It’s that annoying pitch rise that some people do at the end of every. Single. Sentence. “A rise in pitch at the end usually of a declarative sentence, especially if habitual: often represented in writing by a question mark as in Hi, I’m here to read the meter?” I found a You Tube clip of Connie Chung talking about it, way back in 1994.

Today is Gummi Worm Day. I especially like the sour ones. “Brite Crawlers,” I think they call them.

Yesterday was a busy day. I wound up working an hour over time, just to try to get somewhat caught up. I’m still behind, but will hopefully be able to get caught up on Monday.

I did manage to get some mac and cheese, yesterday! C stopped at Slim Chickens on the way home, and picked up some dinner. S and I had mac and cheese for our side dish. Slim Chickens has really good mac and cheese!

To start off the second half, the Rangers beat the Royals 5-3 in KC. They are still 16.5 games out, but along in second place. The Red Sox came back in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees 5-4. This dropped the Bronx Bombers into third place, while the Rays moved into second. The Sox are 3.5 games up, in first place. Here is a video recap of the crazy ninth inning, in which the Sox scored two runs without even getting a hit out of the infield.
http://m.mlb.com/news/article/242168424/red-sox-walk-off-against-chapman-yankees/?topicId=27118122&partnerId=ed-11711041-1004818173

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. 
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 5:1-3
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
Psalm 8:2
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Psalm 119:141
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 
and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1-4
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5

These two verses in Psalms have been close to my heart, recently. In today’s Guideposts reading, Katie Ganshert tells of a shopping adventure.

“It happened so fast, I barely had time to panic. One second, my son was lagging behind me and a friend, hiding down various aisles as he goofed around. The next, he was gone.”

She had just managed to call his name a second time when the intercom came alive. “Ms. Ganshert, please come to the cash registers. Ms. Ganshert, please come to the cash registers.”

When she got to the front, there was her son, next to a cashier, tears in his eyes. He ran and hugged her and said, “I got lost!”

“‘Brogan,’ I said, hugging him back. ‘I told you that you have to stay by Mommy’s side. As long as you’re by my side, I promise you will never ever get lost.'”

As she spoke those words, Katie remembered a decision that she had been struggling with. She was afraid of stepping outside of God’s plans for her family’s life.

“He’s not some aloof God wishing me good luck from afar; He is a loving Father. If I’m on my knees in prayer, if I’m studying His Word and begging Him to guide my steps, if I’m staying close to His side, He isn’t going to let me get lost. I’m becoming more convinced of that when my heart’s desire seeks His.”

These are true statements. And these statements are what the Spiritual Disciplines are all about. If we walk with Jesus, walking in the Kingdom, sharing the “easy yoke” with him, there’s no way we will lose our way. We must abide in him.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Psalm 27:8
“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.”
Isaiah 45:19

Father, I thank you for these truths, that you will never forsake us. Help me to walk in your ways. Make me to know your ways; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Nearby

Today is Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Day 21,649.

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Berthold Auerbach
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day is confusticate (pronounced [kuhn-fuhs-ti-keyt]), slang, a verb meaning, “to confuse or perplex; bewilder.”

Today is World Refugee Day. Violence and tyranny are constantly forcing people to flee their home countries. The UN recognizes the need to help refugees around the world. Today is a day to simply be mindful of this and to encourage leaders to be willing to help refugees.

Band practice went well, last night. I was pleasantly surprised when The Liberty Bell March showed up in our repertoire, as the director has decided that we don’t have time to prepare “Hoedown,” by Aaron Copland. I have never had the opportunity to play this march, by John Philip Sousa. The reason it makes me so happy is that the first strain of Liberty Bell is the theme music for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Turns out it’s pretty challenging, but mainly because of some insane mute changes. I’m still not sure how we’re going to pull that off.

Not much else going on around here.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Psalm 47:5-8
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.

Psalm 92:12-13
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 33:1-5
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

In today’s reading, Patty Kirk writes of visiting a friend who was in the final stages of cancer. She hesitated, because she had the same problem most of us face in such a situation. What to say.

As she sat on the edge of the hospice bed, she held her friend’s hand while listening to her friend’s husband describe the past few weeks. She made those noises we all make when listening. “Oh.” “I see.” “Uh-huh.”

She noticed that her friend had closed her eyes. “‘Listening,'” her friend explained, “‘not asleep.'”

As the visit progressed, it drifted into what Patty called “a rhythm of okayness.” Suddenly, it occurred to her that maybe her friend wasn’t listening to her husband, but to God.”

“‘Is God talking to you?'” she asked her friend.

“Her eyelids flew open, and she nodded.”

“‘What’s He saying?'”

It took visible effort to get the words out, but her friend said, “‘Not how it should be. Nearby.'”

This was repeated several times to make sure Patty understood. Her friend’s face was bright with hope.

We all go through times of sorrow as we lose loved ones. We are currently struggling with a brother in our church as his wife lays in a hospital bed, liver and kidneys failed. They took her off of the ventilator yesterday, but she continues to breathe on her own. The doctors have decided that any further treatment would be futile.

This is not how it should be. This kind of suffering is not God’s plan for our lives. This is all a result of our enemy’s work in this world. Yes, the Psalms say that the death of a saint is precious in God’s sight. But pain and suffering were not his plan for us. Yet, he is nearby. On that we can depend.

No matter what we are going through; no matter what kind of suffering; no matter what kind of pain; and, most especially, when things appear hopeless; he is nearby.

Father, we thank you for your abiding presence in our lives. All of the pain and suffering is bringing me down. Yet I know the truth. You are always nearby. And all of this makes me pray even more desperately . . .
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Bless Those Who Curse You

Today is Sunday, June 4, 2017. Day 21,633.

Today’s word of the day is notabilia, which means, “matters, events, or items worthy of note.”

Today is Cancer Survivors Day. My mother is one. I work with one.

I’m sitting at a table, looking at a patio door at the Pacific Ocean. What a beautiful sight, as well as a thunderously awesome sound. The current temperature is 59 degrees, and it’s mostly sunny.

We had breakfast a little while ago at a local cafe, called “Grumpy’s.” It was delicious, especially the bacon and the gravy on the biscuits. I’m guessing we will be back there later in the week.

After I get through blogging, C and I will go out and drive around a little, then stop at one of the local stores for a few groceries, mostly snacks.

I have decided to write a separate blog post detailing our experiences from yesterday (Saturday, June 3). I’ll do that immediately after finishing this one.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:1-2
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us!
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:1-3
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,

Psalm 92:1-2
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 119:36-37
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:5-6
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:7-11
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
The Gloria
Holy Father, creator and sustaining wisdom of all that is, both in heaven and on earth, take from me those thoughts, actions and objects that are hurtful. Give me instead those things that are profitable for me and all who seek rightly to praise you. I ask this grace in the company of all believers and through the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who is, with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Matthew 5:44

The KJV translates verse 44 like this: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Bill Giovannetti begins today’s reading asking this question: “Do I really have to do this, Lord?”

This may be one of the hardest things that a Christ-follower is ever called upon to do. “Bless them that curse you.” “Pray for those who persecute you.” Bill writes of invisible hands reaching up inside him to choke off his prayers. Grudges had been nursed for years. We all have these wounds that run deeper than we want to admit. But if we are honest, we know that God asks us to pray for these people, not against them.

Recently, things “came to a head” for Bill, as he was preparing a sermon. As he was preparing for worship, the Spirit whispered to him. Pray for them.

“I sighed and prayed,” he said. “There was no great relief, no lightning bolt, no deep emotion–just a still, small voice and a free-will choice.”

He obeyed the Spirit’s prompting and discovered power for his preaching. In the two weeks that followed, he continued to pray for those people.

“I don’t know what God is doing in their lives, but I do know what He’s doing in mine: God is setting me free.”

If we are truly following Christ and practicing the disciplines that lead to spiritual reformation, we will get to that place where we will, by nature, “bless them that curse us” and pray for those who persecute us.

Father, teach me your ways in this. Teach me, through practice and training, to be able to bless those who curse me or persecute me.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

“He Remembers That We Are Dust”

Today is Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Three more days until our family reunion.

Quote of the Day

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” ~ Jerry Seinfeld

Word of the Day

Zugzwang ~ a situation in which a player is limited to moves that cost pieces or have a damaging positional effect. This word was featured heavily in season eight of Criminal Minds. It literally means “compulsion to move,” and represents a situation where you have to move, even though you would rather not.

Today is World Baking Day, so get out there and bake stuff. Cookies, pies, cakes, casseroles, whatever. Send the cookies and pies to me.

As usual, on Wednesday, there’s not much going on around, to speak of. We are waiting for the weekend, for our trip to east Texas to visit uncle and cousins (and brother for my mother). Our vacation to Oregon looms ever closer. Seventeen days, to be exact.

The Rangers continue their winning streak, which is now at seven games. But listen, folks. They simply aren’t playing anyone that’s any good, right now. Their current series is against the Phillies, who are 14-22 on the season. However, a win is a win, right? And the Rangers are finally at .500. They are in a tie for second place, eight games out.

The Red Sox beat the Cardinals last night, and the Cardinals have a better record, so that’s good. The Sox remain in third place in the AL East, four games out.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scripture references are ESV, unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared.
Psalm 76:11
Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word! 
Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.

Psalm 119:169-170
With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
Psalm 54:6
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:13-14

Bill Giovannetti writes of frustrations with a beloved pet. We all know the sound, at least all of us who have pets. That disgusting sound that means the cat or dog is about to barf. Bill had one occasion when his dog, Lacy, did so on the nicest rug in the house, rather than on the nearby tile floor. His impatience grew as he cleaned up and wondered, “Why this rug? why not the tile floor? What’s she gotten into to upset her stomach?”

Later, as he read Psalm 103, he was convicted with the knowledge that God cleans up after us without griping or complaining at us. “My Father knows how weak I am. He understands my limitations. His patience knows no bounds.”

I have had similar experiences, not so much with pets as with a daughter. There are plenty of frustrating times with an autistic child, as many parents know. But many, also, are the times when I hug my head in shame after getting angry with our daughter, realizing that I tend to act the same way toward my Father in heaven. It’s a sobering realization, I assure you.

“Gracious Father, no matter how many times I mess up, You never sigh, never frown, never chide. You make all things new, over and over again. Thank you.” ~ Bill Giovannetti

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Revelation 21:5-7

Father, keep me ever mindful of the grace you have shown me in my life, through all of my mess-ups and failures, through all of my outright rebellion. Help me to show the same grace to everyone with whom I come in contact, in family, in work, in life. Your grace is sufficient.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.