Eyes and Ears

Today is Sunday, the fifth of December, 2021, the second Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,278

Twenty days until Christmas!

C and I had a most wonderful day, yesterday, at Six Flags Over Texas. We left before dark, though, so we didn’t get the full benefit of the Holiday in the Park theme. We’re going to have to get over there one evening to walk around after the sun makes its exit.

I have to give props to Six Flags, though. They have streamlined the process of season pass activation to an art. They had staff people at the front of the entries with tablets and stacks of season pass cards, and everything (assuming you paid online and had your barcode, which we did) was handled right there. Took maybe one minute per person. Literally. At the most two minutes. It was truly amazing.

We rode the Runaway Mine Train first. And even though I have gained a few pounds back since I retired (recently, there is a good reason for that, but at first, it was, and still is, a bit baffling), I could fit comfortably in each ride that we rode. I haven’t been on most of those rides in years. I stepped out of my comfort zone and rode the Riddler’s Revenge.

It was fun. I was fine. Until about the last twenty seconds or so, then I was done . . . ready to quit. It was all good, though. The wheel turns slowly as the pendulum swings, but it changes direction twice during the ride.

The next thing was the Superman Tower of Power.

I didn’t take that video, but my experience was similar. The worst part is not knowing when you’re going to be shot up into the air, or drop down in free fall. It was great fun.

We stopped at a nearby restaurant for some delicious cheesesteak sandwiches and waffle fries. Yes. I said “delicious.” The quality of at least some of the food at Six Flags has gotten better over the years.

We wanted to make our way over to the Titan, but stopped along the way to ride the Shock Wave. Neither of us had ridden that in quite a long time. As we waited in a pretty short line, we smiled as we realized that some of these people were actually riding for the first time.

Let me tell you, those lap bars are there for a reason. On many of those “short hops,” I was a few inches off of my seat. Great fun. After the second loop, it takes at least until the next curve for my brain to realize I’m right-side up again.

From there we headed over to the Titan, stopping along the way to get a couple small bags of cinnamon roasted pecans. We were sorely disappointed, though, when we encountered this.

At that point, we decided we were good to go home. It’s been a long time since we have done that, and we were tired. In all, we got close to eleven thousand steps on our trip to Six Flags, and we plan to make it a regular thing over the course of the next year. We also bought a couple of drink cups that get us free refills all season. They were about $25 each, but it will only take four or five refills to pay for that, and the rest will be truly free.

I’m not sure what’s “on the table” for today (there is, literally, a plant on the table). I think we might finally get the Christmas ornaments on the tree. There will, no doubt, be lunch from Applebee’s. And our church will be meeting via Zoom again. There might be a trip to the grocery store, too. Other than that, it will be a day of rest. C is up, and actually feels pretty good after a good night’s sleep. She was afraid that she would be really sore.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

May the LORD give strength to his people! 
May the LORD bless his people with peace! 
(Psalms 29:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You do great, unsearchable, and marvelous things without number
2. that You bless Your people with peace
3. that You call us to not make judgments based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but based on righteousness
4. that You call us to seek Your kingdom first, and to be peacemakers
5. for the call to shout for joy and play songs to You on instruments of praise

And behold, the star 
that they had seen when it rose 
went before them until it came to rest 
over the place where the child was.
(Matthew 2:9 ESV)
But seek first 
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you. 
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)

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.
(Psalms 33:1-5 ESV)
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 
giving thanks always and for everything 
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
(Ephesians 5:19-20 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY EIGHT

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation— 
whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to ponder the thought of peace; the peace that Christ is able to bring to a soul. But the soul must be receptive to the peace.

BIBLE SONG

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

Good and upright is the LORD; 
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 
He guides the humble in what is right 
and teaches them his way. 
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful 
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. 
For the sake of your name, LORD, 
forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 
(Psalms 25:1, 8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, 
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, 
or decide by what he hears with his ears; 
but with righteousness he will judge the needy, 
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. 
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; 
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 
Righteousness will be his belt 
and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 
(Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages a second time, noticing how He might be speaking to my soul. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and take refreshment in His presence.

Father, along with David, I can say that I do put my trust in You. It is not perfect trust, for I am not perfect. Yet it is trust. I believe I can truthfully say this because of how You have moved my heart and soul, in the past few decades.

You are, indeed, “good and upright.” As Jesus stated, You are the only being who can be described as “good.” Only You are good. For the rest of us, Isaiah nailed it when he said that all our “righteousness” might as well be filthy rags. We are sinners, and You instruct us in Your ways. You guide us (when we humble ourselves) in what is right and You teach us Your ways. And Your ways are loving and faithful toward us, if we keep Your commands.

At this point, I remind myself that Your commands are that we love You and love one another.

As Isaiah describes Jesus in chapter 11, verses 3 and 4 call out to me, as though I had never seen them before. We are told in verse 3 that the “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” will “not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears.” Rather, “with righteousness He will judge . . .”

This is like a flash of illumination in this era of social media. Father, we are, in general, spending way too much of our time deciding and judging based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, rather than making judgments based on righteousness. We should be seeking Your kingdom, along with its righteousness, first and foremost. We should be seeking justice for the poor, and we should be concerned with making peace in our land, not division.

May Your people experience Advent hope, peace, and joy. May we have the courage needed to share the good news of the Gospel.

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.

"Redeemer God,
in righteousness You will judge all people.
Keep me from making eternal pronouncements on others' lives,
and help me trust that the coming day of judgment will reveal the glory of Your wide mercy and firm justice.
Keep me vigilant to work against evil and injustice,
and yet hopeful for all people,
trusting that Your justice never fails and Your mercy is fresh each day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Please Remember Me

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the fourth of December, 2021, the first Saturday of Advent.

May God’s peace reign in your soul today.

Day 23,277

Twenty-one days until Christmas!

Right off the bat, first thing, I want to ask for urgent prayers for a fellow blogger, Benjamin, over at Brother’s Campfire. His latest entry simply asks for prayer for his wife, who has had a bad stroke. Please join me in praying for them.

Yesterday was a fine day at the library. For some reason, the fax machine was in high demand, yesterday. I think I helped more people fax yesterday than I have the whole time I’ve been working there. And it’s slow, too. One patron had seventeen pages to fax. He waited at least twenty minutes for it to complete.

Friday night is normally homemade pizza night, but we weren’t sure if all our ingredients were still within “best-by” dates, so we had Subway instead.

Weekend plans: I think C and I (maybe S) are going to Six Flags this afternoon. We decided to get season passes, this time, because they were offering a free upgrade to “Gold-Plus,” which includes a season parking pass, as well. We have to go to the park to activate them, and it looks like today’s weather is going to be pretty spectacular. There are also a couple of local craft fairs that look good. We might shop at one of those tomorrow.

I don’t work again until Tuesday night, but next week is my four day week. It should be a fun week, though. Not only do we have another installment of our Secret Santa (on Wednesday), we also have a Christmas Luncheon on Wednesday, as well, catered, I believe, by Rosa’s. There will be a Gift Exchange at that, and I got mine from Amazon, yesterday. We also plan to get a group photo of “ugly Christmas sweaters.” Which means, of course, that I must go find myself an ugly Christmas sweater.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)
And we know that for those who love God 
all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose. 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors 
through him who loved us. 
For I am sure that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us 
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:28, 37-39 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all of that, right there ^^^
2. for the hope of a pretty day, outside
3. that You promise to remember us
4. for that vision in Revelation, where people from every tribe, nation, and language sing praises to the Lamb
5. that You cause our love for You and for one another to overflow

In him we have redemption through his blood,
 the forgiveness of sins,
 in accordance with the riches of God's grace 
(Ephesians 1:7 NIV)
"Very truly I tell you, 
whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me 
has eternal life and will not be judged 
but has crossed over from death to life."
(John 5:24 NIV)
"Salvation is found in no one else, 
for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind 
by which we must be saved." 
(Acts 4:12 NIV)

One of my favorite Daily Guideposts writers, Shawnelle Eliasen, was looking at some letters to Santa, along with her son, Logan (also a DG writer), in a local newspaper. A common thread through them all was the ending, “Please remember me.”

Says Shawnelle, “While I sipped coffee and watched the sky wake, I thought about the common cry of the human heart – of all who draw breath. Please remember me. Don’t forget me. Don’t abandon me, leave me out, or let me go unnoticed.

“Oh, what a gift it is that God the Father did not!

“Sin separated me from Him, but the Lord made a way for me. God Most High sent His Son, a flesh-and-bone, beating heart, Savior-baby, because He would not, could not, forget or overlook me.”

Thursday afternoon, C and I were walking around the Crims Chapel Cemetery. We were looking for the graves of my grandparents. It took a few minutes, and, along the way we found numerous other Vinsons (my mother’s maiden name). We finally found theirs, right alongside the grave of my Aunt Nancy, younger sister of Mama and Uncle Buddy, who died tragically in a car wreck at a young age.

Someday, no one will be left who will remember these names. Someday, there will be no one left who remembers that I ever walked on this earth.

Depressing, huh? Or at least it can be, if we forget God’s promises, or if we are focused on the wrong things.

Everyone wants to be remembered. No one wants to be left out. I think one of the reasons that people act out in the ways that they do is fear of being not noticed or forgotten. But I’m no psychologist, so I might be way off base, here.

But one thing I do know. And that is the God, my Father, remembers. He has forgotten something, though. My sin. He has intentionally forgotten (you just try intentionally forgetting something, sometime) all of my sin. He has made it as though I have never sinned at all. But He remembers me.

Go back up and look at that Scripture before my gratitude list for today. What can separate us from the love of God?

Death
Life
Angels
Demons
The present
The future
Any powers
Height
Depth
ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION

You know what else can’t separate you from the love of God?

All my life I have heard people say, even from the pulpit, that our sin separates us from God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are, in fact, “in Christ,” that is a lie from the pits of hell!! Yes, if we are not believers in Jesus, our sin separates us from God.

But once we have believed in the saving power, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and have been “saved” from our sins, there is NOTHING THAT CAN SEPARATE US FROM GOD!!

Can I get a hallelujah??

“Sin” is included in that phrase of Romans 8:39 that says, “nor anything else in all creation!”

So, rest assured. There will be, one day, no one left on the earth who remembers my name or your name. But there is a God in heaven who will

never

forget

you


"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where moth and rust destroy 
and where thieves break in and steal, 
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, 
where neither moth nor rust destroys
 and where thieves do not break in and steal. 
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
(Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)
Jesus said to him, 
"If you would be perfect, 
go, sell what you possess 
and give to the poor, 
and you will have treasure in heaven; 
and come, follow me." 
(Matthew 19:21 ESV)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 
"Salvation belongs to our God 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb!" 
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 
"Amen! 
Blessing and glory and wisdom 
and thanksgiving and honor and power 
and might 
be to our God forever and ever! 
Amen." 
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 
"Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 
I said to him, 
"Sir, you know." 
And he said to me, 
"These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. 
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
"Therefore they are before the throne of God, 
and serve him day and night in his temple; 
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; 
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, 
and he will guide them to springs of living water, 
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." 
(Revelation 7:9-17 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

I wait for Yahweh. 
My soul waits. 
I hope in his word. 
(Psalms 130:5 WEB)

In this quiet moment, I pause to reflect on the truths already revealed, this morning.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. 

Praise the LORD, my soul. 

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

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, 
the sea, and everything in them— 
he remains faithful forever. 
He upholds the cause of the oppressed 
and gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets prisoners free, 
the LORD gives sight to the blind, 
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, 
the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the foreigner 
and sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

The LORD reigns forever, 
your God, O Zion, for all generations. 

Praise the LORD. 
(Psalms 146:1-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NIV)

As for the “dwelling” segment for today, I feel that I’ve already engaged in that, and will move directly on to my closing prayers.

Father, I am so grateful for the truth that nothing in all creation can ever separate me from Your love in Christ Jesus. As long as I remain in Christ, and, according to Your Word, nothing can snatch me out of His hands, then I am connected to You and nothing can separate us. What a glorious truth. This, of course, does not free me to live as I please. Rather, it gives me comfort to not have to worry about messing up or stumbling to the point of losing my salvation. I am grateful that You will never forget me.

I pray that Your church would flourish throughout the earth. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You, and that gathers, unites, and blesses Your people. I pray that new churches would spring up, all over the world, as Your Gospel is spread to the uttermost parts of the earth.

"Almighty God,
this coming judgment day stretches my imagination with strange wonders.
Every man,
woman,
and child -
anyone who has lived from the beginning until the end of the world -
will be summoned by the voice of the archangel and the sound of Your trumpet.
Where will we all fit?
Will we recognize others?
Today, rest me in the greatest wonder -
hearing the voice of Jesus confessing my name before the Father.
Amen." 

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says, 
"Yes, I am coming soon." 
Amen. 
Come, Lord Jesus. 
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. 
Amen. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

A City Yet to Come

Today is Friday, the third of December, 2021. First Friday of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,276

Twenty-two days until Christmas

Yesterday, of course, was a bittersweet day. I was fine, emotionally, until it came time to sing the two songs at the service. I made it through “The Old Rugged Cross,” pretty well, only stumbling at the line, “then He’ll call me, someday, to my home far away.” But the second song I decided to sing was “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. It’s a great song for a setting like that. I was blindsided by emotions when I got to the chorus.

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

I recovered, though, and made it through the song, with only one more “glitch” in the bridge. As I walked back to where C and S were sitting, in the family section of the room, I dared not look up to make eye contact with any of my cousins. And, of course, the emotions were driven by memories of my own father, as well.

We had a good trip home, but it seemed to take a lot longer than the trip out there. Of course, we hit Dallas at rush hour, and we stopped along the way to refuel and take a restroom break.

C is at the office today, rather than working from home, and I’ll be heading in to work my Friday shift at the library, in the computer/media center. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in there. I hope I remember how everything works.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll have a few more days to recuperate from this week.

I’m currently reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly. It’s his first novel, from 1992. I had seen quite a few of his books during my shelving nights at the library. We have a large number of his, in both regular and large print. It wasn’t until I realized that he was the author responsible for Harry Bosch that I became interested in reading them. I am really enjoying this one, so I will, no doubt, continue in the series. I haven’t given up on The Divine Embrace. It’s still in the wings, and I will continue reading it, when I take the time to sit and take notes as I read it.

Be right back . . . I need a second cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Becoming Who We Are, by Daryl Madden

The journey of our life
Of inner and afar
That all paths lead unto
Becoming who you are

Acknowledging the truth
A pride-filled sinner be
Blessed be the finding
Of the One who saves me

That we find emptiness
When this world, we purse
That only gifts beyond
Are treasures of value

In telling of our story
With humility
In sharing of our gifts
Our true purpose, be

We are made complete
Even though we’re flawed
Because we’re a beloved
Child of our God

“We are made complete, even though we’re flawed, because we’re a beloved Child of our God.” This reminds me of a Mercy Me song that I really like.

"No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless"

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

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
 that God sent his only Son into the world,
 so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, 
not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
(1 John 4:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, because of Your grace, and the cross of Christ, I am made complete, in spite of my flaws
2. for Your great love, that never fails and never ceases
3. for a safe trip home, last night
4. for loving memories of family
5. for "the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14)

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, 
and the young men and the old shall be merry. 
I will turn their mourning into joy; 
I will comfort them, 
and give them gladness for sorrow. 
(Jeremiah 31:13 ESV)
But, as it is written, 
"What no eye has seen, 
nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, 
even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV)
For here we have no lasting city, 
but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

What beautiful words are in these Scriptures, and how appropriate for them to come up today. God will turn our mourning into joy, and we will rejoice in Him with dancing and singing. Truly, no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard (not among the living, at least) the things that God has prepared for us who love Him. And this place in which we live? It is, truly, “no lasting city.” I, along with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, “seek the city that is to come.”


You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 
(John 15:14-16 ESV)
. . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 
(Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV)
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday 
and today 
and forever. 
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SIX

INVITATION

With all my heart, 
I am waiting, 
LORD, for you! 
I trust your promises. 
(Psalms 130:5 CEV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to meditate on these truths that have already been presented. I am waiting on You, Lord! I am waiting on and looking forward to that city that is yet to come.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. 

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

BIBLE READING

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 
(Romans 13:11-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

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

Father, my family has experienced sorrow, this past week, yet we have also known Your joy. The truth of these promises, that those who go out weeping will return with songs of joy, has been realized, in real time, in our lives. There will still be sorrow, yes, but as was so aptly pointed out in yesterday’s funeral message, we have hope because of Jesus and His work in our lives. It is because of Him, whom we both celebrate, during this season, and for whom we await as we look forward to His return, that we have this joy.

I also find hope in these words as I ponder the potential of restoration for everything that is broken or flawed, in this creation. The poem and song, earlier on in this blog, have reminded me of the truth that everything that is flawed or broken will be fixed, made whole, and restored. And it is when these things become reality that our true joy will be made manifest. The joy we experience today, as great as it is, is still incomplete. It is incomplete because we are still dwelling in “jars of clay,” bodies of sin, this “mortal coil.” We long to shed this mortal coil and be done with it. We long to be done with this body of sin, with these temptations and sorrows. Oh, come, Lord Jesus and restore everything to its true reality!

Awaken us from our slumber! Make us aware that the time of our “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Oh, praise, that the “night is nearly over.” Help us to put aside all deeds of darkness and put on the “armor of light.” May we fully clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and His righteousness!

I pray, Father, for relief and justice for all who are living in poverty and injustice. Give us, O Lord, both the willingness and the capacity to suffer with others, and give relief to the refugees, Lord!

"Sovereign God,
on the coming judgment day the book on my life will be opened and a verdict will be given.
Knowing that every idle work,
every well-guarded secret and shadowed hypocrisy will be uncovered makes me want to run for cover.
Remind me that just as You gave Adam and Eve garments to cover their shame,
You dress me up in Christ-clothes that I might stand before You.
Amen."

BLESSING

The one who has spoken these things says,
 "I am coming soon!" 
So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!
 I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!

The Potter and the Clay

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the second of December, 2021. First Thursday of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,275

Twenty-three days until Christmas

Today’s blog will look a little different, as I do not have my laptop with me. I’m doing this on an iPad, so I don’t have all the usual tools and bookmarks available. It’s also slower typing.

The visitation for my Uncle Buddy went well, last night. We arrived to our hotel right at 5:00 PM, got checked in, and headed straight to the funeral home. There were lots of hugs and only a few tears. The tears will flow more freely, today, I imagine.

All my cousins were there, as well. As most of their kids. We saw Jayne and Jimmy (cousin and husband), their son Robbie, Joan and Darrell (cousin and husband), their daughters Tiffany and Michelle, Johnny and Shelia (cousin and wife), and their kids Caleb and Laurel. My Aunt Barbara was also there.

We also got to talk to a couple of my parents’ best friends from days past, Don and Henrietta. There was one other person I recognized, a man from the church my grandparents attended, named Bill. I didn’t know or really meet any of the other folks there.

About 6:30, we left to go get some dinner, then headed back to our hotel. After stopping at a nearby Sonic, of course.

There is a family lunch provided by FBC Henderson, today at 11:00. The funeral service is at 1:00.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today I am grateful:

1. For a safe trip out here, yesterday
2. for all the love and hugs from my family, last night
3. for an opportunity to minister during today’s celebration of my uncle’s life
4. that You have all my battles already won
5. that Your love and faithfulness stand firm forever

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
‭‭James‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT—DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I wait eagerly for the Lord's help, 
and in his word I trust.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭130:5‬ ‭GNT‬‬

As I pause in the quietness of this hotel room, I ponder the truth that my Father will fight for me; He will defend me against my enemy. All I have to do is submit.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭89:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

BIBLE READING

But you are our Father, 
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭63:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, 
that the mountains would tremble before you!
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:1, 6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, forming meditations and prayers in my soul. I pray my life to my Father.

Father, I will sing of Your great love forever. My time on this plane is limited, finite. But it will continue in the heavenly places after I have transitioned into glory. My voice will sound out, perfectly, with Your praise, for all eternity. While I am here, I will make Your faithfulness known, as much as I am able.

I have declared, and will continue to do so, that Your love and faithfulness stand firm forever.

And it true that, while Abraham and Israel have no knowledge of me or my brothers and sisters in Christ, You are, nevertheless, our Father. You are our Father and Redeemer, from before Abraham existed. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain it.

While it is easy to focus on our faults and shortcomings (just like Isaiah, I can see that our “righteousnessis no better than filthy rags), I can also see that there are faithful ones who are calling on Your Name. You are our Father. You are the Potter. We are simply clay in Your hands, willing and ready to be formed into whatever You need us to be. “We are all the work of Your hand.” I praise You that You do not remember our sins.

I pray for spiritual renewal and deep repentance for Your people. May Your gifts and fruit of the Spirit be manifest in us. And give us a gentle witness, as well as readiness to give a reason for this hope within us.

“God of all hope,
in Jesus Your salvation broke into our world,
and His return gives purpose to our living in this broken world.
Make me ready for that day when He comes again with great glory and majesty to judge the living and the dead,
renewing and cleansing this tired world,
making everything new.
Make me ready for that future day by living hopefully today.
In the name of our soon arriving Savior,
amen.”

BLESSING

He who gives his testimony to all this says,
“Yes indeed!
I am coming soon!”
So be it.
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone.

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:20-21‬ ‭GNT‬‬

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Soon

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the first Wednesday of Advent.

Welcome to December.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,274

Twenty-four days until Christmas.

This afternoon, we will travel to east Texas, Henderson, to be exact, for the visitation/viewing for my Uncle Buddy, who passed away Monday morning. The funeral is tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM.

Uncle Buddy lived 30,551 days.

We plan to leave here between 2:00 and 2:30 PM, this afternoon, and will return tomorrow evening, after the graveside service is concluded.

I don’t really have any other news/happenings to report. C is working from home, today, instead of yesterday. She had already planned to go to the office yesterday, for some reason, and work from home today, so that makes it easier for us to be ready to leave, this afternoon. I’ll be making a quick trip to the grocery store, immediately following the completion of this blog, just to get a couple of things. Primarily, we are out of cat litter. And grapes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Man is a shadow.
In vain does he heap up wealth.
My hope is in You!
(Based on Psalm 39:6-7)

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
(Job 4:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that I have in You, through all things, whether "good" or "bad"
2. for the love and support of family and friends
3. for the promise of straight paths, when I trust in You
4. for Your Word, living and active, discerning my thoughts and the intentions of my heart
5. for the hope of Your return; we all say, "Come, Lord!"

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division
of soul
and of spirit,
of joints
and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)


The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
(Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals,
where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
(Isaiah 35:5-7 ESV)

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 ESV)

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.
(Isaiah 44:3-4 ESV)

No matter how dry and barren you feel, there is hope for “streams in the desert.” Our lives are waiting for the rain of God’s Spirit to come down on us; then we will “spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”

Hope is the theme for the first week of Advent. There is always hope.


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I pray to GOD—
my life a prayer—
and wait for what he’ll say and do.
(Psalms 130:5 MSG)

I pause during the quietness of this morning to reflect on the hope that dwells in my heart; hope that is based on the faith and trust that is a gift from God, my Father in heaven.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
(Psalms 85:1-2 NIV)

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

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

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”
(Mark 13:32-37 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself of the Lord’s presence, I read these passages again, trying to take notice of how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond in prayer, taking refreshment in His presence.

God, You have shown us favor. You have forgiven our iniquity and covered our sins! You promise peace to us, Your servants. And that peace, You deliver, even when we do slip up and turn to folly. Help me to listen to what You say to me, to us.

I pray that Your glory would dwell in our land, and by “land,” I mean the entire world where Your Church exists. Anywhere there is a piece of Your Church, I pray that Your glory dwells. May love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace, all come together in that place where Your glory dwells. May faithfulness spring up from the earth, and righteousness rain down from the heavens. Give us what is good; give us only what is good, so that Your Church will yield its harvest in this world. May righteousness always go before You, as You walk among us.

Father, we know not when Jesus will return again. This, along with hope, is a recurring theme, this week. Our hope is in You, and our hope is strongly based on the promises of the return of our Savior, coming to set things right and usher in the new heavens and the new earth. Help us to be alert, to be on guard, to be watching faithfully, and waiting with great anticipation. May we not be found to be “asleep.” But may we also carry on our normal activities, doing the things that You have tasked us with, while we live our lives on this earth. Jesus stated that His return will be similar to when the floods came in the days of Noah, and people will be doing the things that they normally do. Keep us faithful and watchful, Father!

"Unexpected Savior,
You are coming again,
but this date,
already marked down by the Father,
isn't for me to know.
But I'm curious,
Lord,
desiring a timeline or diagram,
wanting to nail down a future that's out of my hands.
In place of my faithless need to control,
give me a watchful heart full of expectation and wonder.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to all these things says it again:
“I’m on my way!
I’ll be there soon!”
Yes! Come, Master Jesus!
The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you.
Oh, Yes!
(Revelation 22:20-21 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Restore Us, O God

Today is Tuesday, the thirtieth of November, 2021. First Tuesday of Advent. Last day of November.

May God’s peace be with you, today.

Day 23,273

Twenty-five days until the twenty-fifth of December.

“On December five and twenty . . .”

I was rudely awakened, this morning, but the sound of things crashing and breaking. C came running out of the bathroom, and I jumped out of bed. I thought it came from the kitchen and had visions of broken dishes all over the floor. But then I looked in the study and this is what I saw.

Luna checks out the mayhem

At the top of the pic, you can see the shelf that fell off of the wall. My creepy clown frame was broken, but I saved the picture. The black box is a speaker, which is probably okay, although I haven’t tested it out, yet. The only other things on the shelves were some notebooks that contained family genealogy stuff and some music lyric charts. The bowling ball was not on the shelf. It was already on the floor.

We’ll probably work on getting the shelf back up this weekend. I don’t anticipate taking the time before then. It’s not an urgent matter.

I got details of arrangements for my uncle’s service, last night. The visitation will be tomorrow evening, from 5:00-7:00 PM. The service will be Thursday afternoon at 1:00 PM. So, at this point, the plan is to head to Henderson (everything will be happening at Rader Funeral Home) tomorrow afternoon, probably leaving around 2:00 PM. We have a room booked at a hotel that is just down the road from the funeral home. Then we will head back to Fort Worth Thursday evening, after the service. The only work I will miss is the extra shift that I had agreed to work on Thursday afternoon.

Mama will not be making the trip. Fortunately, everyone seems to be quite understanding, and my cousins were already not expecting to see her.

I’ve been asked to lead some worship music during the service, which will likely be an old hymn or something. I think it’s up to me to choose, actually. I told my cousin that I would be honored to do so.

We also just ordered flowers to be sent to the visitation.

I don’t really have any other news to share, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

At Ease, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

We must
simply trust
and wait
 

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

Please check out her other beautiful poetry at the above link.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
(Revelation 15:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your great and amazing deeds, O Lord God Almighty
2. that Your ways are just and true
3. that we lack no spiritual gift as we wait for the return of our Savior
4. that You will keep us firm, standing firm until the end
5. that You, who have called us into fellowship with Your Son, are faithful

. . . men ought always to pray . . .
(Luke 18:1 KJV)

At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
(Psalms 55:17 MSG)

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)

It is not possible to overstate the value of prayer in our lives.


If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:20-21 ESV)


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
(Psalms 130:5 ESV)

I pause during this quiet moment to consider the immense value of prayer and waiting. Truly it is in Him and His Word that I do hope.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” Of Asaph. A psalm.

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

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

Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:17-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:3-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps reading aloud, I look for ways that God’s Word has moved me, pondering and meditating on what has connected with my heart and soul. I pray these things to the Lord, lifting up my life to Him, and quietly enjoying His presence.

The Psalm is a simple prayer for revival, for restoration. “Restore us, O God; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved,” he says, not once, but twice, in today’s selected passage. He actually says it again in verse 7, between the two groups of verses in today’s reading.

Who is “us?” For Asaph, “us” was Israel. If I am praying this prayer today, though, “us” could very well mean the Church. I don’t apply it to a nation, I don’t pray this for the USA. Doesn’t mean I don’t pray for my country and its leaders; I certainly do (albeit not enough, I will confess). But, as I’ve stated before in this blog, I do not believe that God deals with nations, in this era, as He did with Israel. If there is a “nation” to be considered, it is the “new Israel,” which is the Church.

So when I pray prayers for revival, I have the Church, the Bride of Christ, in mind, not a country. And I do pray for restoration/revival in the Church. May God restore us and make His face to shine upon us.

As we move through this Advent season, this is our hope, that we see Jesus, and that the face of our Father shines upon us. As the Corinthians passage tells us, we truly do not lack any spiritual gift, as we “eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”

But wait. Wasn’t He already revealed? What on earth is Paul talking about? As previously mentioned, this refers to the second coming, the return of Christ, as he comes back to restore everything to its rightful condition. This is one of the themes of Advent. We celebrate the first revelation, or coming, Jesus, but we also anticipate the second revelation, when He will return.

In the Corinthians passage, we also have this hope that He will keep us firm to the end. The reason for this is stated in verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 1.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV).

Yes, God is faithful, and if He has called us into this fellowship with His Son, He will keep us. This truth is stated multiple times in Scripture, in several different ways. But it is stated. Growing up Baptist, I used to hear it said, “Once saved, always saved.” Perhaps that is a bit overly simplistic; but it’s true. If I am saved, I am saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, through faith that is a gift from God. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. No man can snatch me out of His hands. My salvation is secure.

Period.

In this I rejoice, my Father! Thank You for the preservation of my soul in Christ. I thank You for Your faithfulness, even when I am not faithful. I thank You for Your great love for us, love that was exemplified in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I give You praise that You have confirmed Your testimony about Jesus in various ways throughout the history of Your people. I pray, alongside Asaph, for the restoration of Your Church. Revive is, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon us, that we may be saved. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I pray for the consistent call to follow Jesus as disciples in this world. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Give us love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed us.

"Everlasting God,
it's Advent once again.
We've eagerly waited for change,
but it appears little has happened.
Expand in me the great hope that one day I will be raised from this broken earth -
changed in the blink of an eye -
and that everything bent and bruised,
curdled and corrupted,
in me and this world,
will be transformed into lasting goodness,
righteousness,
and truth.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Are You Ready?

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-ninth of November, 2021. First Monday of Advent.

Day 23,272

Twenty-six days until Christmas.

I have received unpleasant news, this morning, news which will have an impact on Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come. My Uncle “Buddy,” Robert Vinson, has passed away, this morning. He was my mother’s twin brother. At this point, I don’t know of any arrangements, but there will likely be a funeral later this week, which may mean that I miss a day at the library. Unless they decide on Saturday.

Brother Daryl Madden has shared a couple of poems with me, this morning. You who are regular readers are familiar with him and his inspirational/comforting poetry. Here are a couple which he has shared with me today.

Still You

Still raw is your passing

You’re in a better place
Your hope in gift of faith
Is answered by His grace

Still here is our sorrow

In random burst of tears
Drifting in our loss
Your emptiness felt here

Still in life’s reflection

The love to us you shared
We see your shadow cast
In many ways, you cared

Still we walk our path

With joy and sorrow, feeling
In prayer, we’ll be with You
A new way you’ll be healing


Still we’ll remember you

Etched within our heart
For now, your closer still
Through love that you’ll impart

Death is Nothing

Death is nothing. Nothing at all

It does not count. There is no wall

I’ve only slipped. In the room next

Nothing’s happened. Be not perplexed

As is the same. As was it be

You are you. And I am me

The old life lived. Together in love

Remains untouched. Unchanged above

Whatever we were. To each other

That we are still. And not another

Why should I be. Out of your mind
Just because. The eye is blind


As I am. I wait for you

So very near. Round corners view

All is well. Nothing is hurt

Nothing is lost. This truth assert

In moment brief. And all will be

As was before. Our joy to see

How we shall laugh. In embrace so sweet

When very soon. Again we’ll meet!

Thank you so much, Daryl!

We had a nice, restful day, yesterday. I spent about an hour at a local tire shop, though, getting tires rotated and air pressure checked. What prompted that was when the tire pressure light came on in my car, on the way back from Mineral Wells, Thursday evening. I checked the pressure on Friday, during the day, and all the tires had about the same pressure. The two fronts were exactly the same, and the two rears were almost exactly the same. This indicated that I likely didn’t have a leak.

I was planning to take care of it Saturday evening, after work, but it was raining, so I decided, since my car was long overdue for tire rotation, to take it to the tire shop that is open on Sundays and have them take care of it. So for $15, I got a tire rotation and all four tires checked and aired up.

Most of today will be spent getting caught up on various chores, such as laundry and grocery shopping and sweeping the floor. It’s good to be back to a regular schedule.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Catch A Breath, by Daryl Madden

Before our day begins
Time to start performing
Take a step outside and
Catch a breath of morning

For a seed of beauty
A gift of the spawning
To dwell within the light
Catch a glimpse of dawning

Let it settle in
Worldly time to cease
In silence of the soul
Draw a taste of peace

Know that loves abounding
Blessings our God shares
With gratitude to offer
A whisper of prayer

Please check out Daryl’s other inspirational poems at the link above.

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:5-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that comes in waiting for You
2. for many good memories with my uncle
3. that Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
4. that I am one of the sheep of Your pasture, that You have made me, and I am Yours
5. that You are making us ready; may we walk in the hope and expectation that You have granted us

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:1-15 ESV)

You might wonder why we are reading the account of the fall of man during our Advent celebration. It all comes down to verse 15, where we get the first glimpse of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The first glimmer of hope, the one who would “bruise the head” of our enemy. Jesus will come and undo the work of Satan, but not without great cost. Therein lies our hope, and hope is one of the central messages of Advent.

I thank You, God, that You are generous and the giver of all good things. I thank You that You have always had a plan for us and for the world, that You revealed this plan to us through Your prophets, and that this plan finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.



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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I am counting on the LORD;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
(Psalms 130:5 NLT)

As I pause in the quiet, this morning, I am pondering life, itself, and its brevity. Eighty-three years may seem like a long time, but my sixty-three seems so very brief, as I look back. Life is fragile, but we have hope in Christ Jesus, hope of life eternal. Sixty or eighty years is merely a grain of sand in comparison.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

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

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew 24:36-42 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, meditating on them and giving them my full attention. Is there something for me to ask God about? I pray my life to Him, and rest in His presence.

Psalm 72 is one of those that, on the surface, appears to be about an earthly king. Solomon appears to be voicing a prayer/song for himself, in third person. However, I believe it is also valid to attribute this to Jesus, based on the language it contains.

We do want Jesus to judge His people in righteousness, and His afflicted ones with justice. We desire prosperity for His people. We hope for the defense of the afflicted, and that the children of the needy will be saved. We also pray for all oppressors to be crushed. We believe that Jesus will endure longer than the sun and moon and all the stars, beyond all generations.

But then we shift gears a little bit, as the passage from Matthew 24 concerns the second coming of Jesus. We know this, because it is Jesus, Himself, voicing the words.

We hear that no one knows the hour or the day that Jesus will return. In fact, it would appear that even Jesus, Himself, does not know, but only the Father knows. We read that life will be going on, business as usual, when the Son appears. Just like in the days of Noah, the people “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” And, He says, this is exactly how His second coming will be.

That is somewhat unnerving, I think. We won’t see it coming until it does. So all of this guessing and predicting, all of the books that have been written, trying to predict when it will happen, all useless. I find it interesting and enlightening that, even though Jesus gives all these signs before He says that, He still, at the end says that no one will know when it’s going to happen.

His main advice? “Keep watch.” “Be ready.” We get the same advice from Luke 12:40.

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:40 NIV)

Father, help us to be ready. And while we are getting ready, may we not focus on the things that we cannot know. May we not waste time and energy trying to figure out what Jesus, Himself, doesn’t even know! Just let us be ready. What does being ready mean? It means simply keeping watch. Yes, Jesus gives us signs, and we can watch for them. But trying to predict when it’s going to happen is pointless. May our eyes be fixed on You; may our attention be on Your Word and on those who need it; may we focus on doing the things that Psalm 72 prays that Jesus, our King, will do, which is helping in the deliverance of the needy and afflicted, and crushing the oppressors.

Help us to see You in all things, as we walk in Your creation, and as we look around us.

I thank You for the life of my Uncle Buddy. I pray for my mother, Aunt Barbara, and for Johnny, Jayne, and Joan, my cousins. I also pray for their children and grandchildren, as they all grieve the loss of husband, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

"Coming Savior,
You are the Word,
the wisdom,
and the very image of the Father.
Ready my ears to hear Your word of truth,
my heart to learn the ways of Your wisdom,
and my eyes to see the beauty of Your likeness.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who is the faithful witness
to all these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NLT)


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.

Hope

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-eighth of November, 2021. The first Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,271

Twenty-seven days until Christmas!

It was a rainy, chilly evening, yesterday. We still haven’t put the ornaments on our Christmas tree, yet, but we may do that tonight. That depends, to some degree, on how S feels, later today. She is a bit “under the weather” (whatever that means) because she got a flu shot AND a Covid-19 booster on Friday. I probably would not have chosen to do both of those on the same day, myself. But she had a little fever during the night last night.

It was a pretty quiet day at the library, yesterday. It was busy enough, but nowhere close to a typical Saturday. However, several other library staff folks opined that it was pretty busy for a Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Today, our church gathering will be via Zoom. I anticipate that, afterward, we will resume our traditional Sunday lunch from Applebee’s.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Two Truths of Advent, by Dayl Madden

Come listen beloved
Two truths be aware
The birth of our Lord and
His return drawing near

The first is the answer
For the second, prepare
His incarnate dwelling
Be within you here

A time of waiting
Of joy to share
Of anticipating
The Word to appear

In this Advent season
Let our way be clear
Not to the store
But one body in prayer

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my faith, which is Your gift to me
2. for the peace in my soul, this morning
3. for the joy that is in my soul, as well
4. for Your very great and precious promises, and the anticipation of their fulfillments
5. for hope, without which we no reason to live

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:1 ESV)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

And the angel said to them,
Fear not,
for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.”
(Luke 2:10 ESV)

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Today, we begin the season of Advent. I used to think that this was solely looking forward to the celebration of the coming of Jesus, as a baby, which we, of course, celebrate on December 25 each year. But there’s more to it. We are also, in celebrating Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. At His second coming, He will “return to renew and redeem every part of fallen creation.” (Timothy and Kathy Keller)


The LORD is God,
and he has made his
light
to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:27 ESV)

But far be it from me to boast
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)


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

WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – DAY ONE – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

INVITATION

I wait for the LORD,
my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I reflect upon the promises of God and anticipate their fulfillment. I remember, and I rejoice.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

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

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

Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
(Psalms 25:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'”
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I slowly read these passages again, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord, enjoying the presence of my Lord and Savior.

I see several words in Psalm 25, and most of them are related. In verses 4 and 5, I see the words “show,” “teach,” “guide,” and then “teach,” again. Those verbs all point to the words “ways,” “paths,” and “truth,” which are also related, in this context. The Lord’s ways, paths, and truth all mean, essentially, the same thing. And because of all of these, the psalmist finds that his “hope” is in the Lord, “all day long.”

My life verse, Psalm 86:11, makes a similar request of God.

Teach me your way,
O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart
to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

As I meditate and ponder these verses, it occurs to me that these prayers, from Psalms, may also apply to Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So if I am asking God to show me His Way, or teach me His Path, and guide me in His Truth, Jesus is the answer to all of those.

And He is the “righteous Branch” of which Jeremiah speaks. He will, as stated, “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This, I believe, leads us toward hope in the second coming.

Father, as we enter into this Advent season, may we ponder all truth as it relates to our hope in Christ, both as we remember and celebrate His coming as Your Son, and as we anticipate the fulfillment of the promises regarding His return to set everything right. I pray that our varying opinions on what that means, “setting everything right,” will be unified, eventually. For myself, I am ready for whatever it means, because it means I will be with Him for eternity. It also means that all the things about which I am wrong (because I’m sure there are many) will be made clear and plain. I echo the psalmist’s prayers, though: Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth. Unite my divided heart that I might fear Your name, and increase my hope in You.

May we all experience true fellowship with our coming Savior, as well as spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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.

"Living God,
I confess the slant of my heart to hate You and my neighbor.
But that sounds so harsh -
I'm not that bad, am I God?
Yet if I am brutally honest I see that I'm in deeper than I dare admit,
unless I am born again by Your Spirit.
Fill me with the greater hope this Advent season that in Christ's love I am on my way to new life.
In the Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Praise the Lord

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,270

We had a very nice day, yesterday, with C’s family. There was way too much food, of course, and plenty of leftovers. We’ll be eating ham for a while. I suspect the green bean and corn casseroles, as well as the desserts, will all be gone by the end of today, though.

I got some good news in email. All of my gifts for my Secret Santa person should be in hand by the end of Tuesday. Also, I believe my gift for the library’s Christmas lunch gift exchange should arrive Monday.

Today is a scheduled work day for me, and I have to be there in an hour and twenty minutes, so I’d best get busy with what is important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Isn’t It?, by Daryl Madden

Isn’t it exhausting?
Life just seems too hard
Keeping up appearance
Living the façade

Isn’t is confusing?
No matter how I try
Being who I’m not
Living of a lie

Isn’t it so stressful?
Worries everywhere
Of all that could go wrong
Living here in fear

Isn’t it so freeing?
When our lifes outpoured
Being who God made me
Living for the Lord

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at his blog site, linked above.

“Ask,
and it will be given to you;
seek,
and you will find;
knock,
and it will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes
2. for good food and fellowship with family
3. for promises of answered prayer
4. that You are a God of restoration
5. for the many ways we have to praise You

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-27 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 WEB)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider that Jesus came to liberate the captives, give sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, and proclaim the Lord’s favor. As I continue reading His Word, these thoughts will be in focus.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
(Haggai 1:5-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation, and take refreshment in His presence.

The obvious word in Psalm 150 is “praise.” It occurs (if I am counting correctly) thirteen times in the psalm. All of the main questions are answered.

Who is praised? The Lord. Yahweh. Creator of the universe.
Where? In His sacred place; in His mighty heavens.
Why, or for what? His mighty acts of power, His surpassing greatness.
How? With sounds of trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipes, and cymbals. With activities or movement of dancing. 
Who is praising? Everything that has breath!

I think it is fitting that the Psalms end with the simple injunction to “praise the LORD.”

The thing that stands out to me in the Haggai passage is a phrase that is repeated in verses 5 and 7. “Give careful thought to your ways.” I can’t speak for anyone else (we all try, at times, though, don’t we?), but I am guilty of not doing that enough. “Give careful thought to your ways,” says the Lord, through the prophet Haggai.

To the people of Israel, He takes note that they plant, but harvest little. They eat, but are not filled. They put on clothes, but aren’t warm. They earn wages, but their purses or pockets seem to have holes in them. In other words, they never have enough.

Now, I don’t know if this is saying that they literally don’t have enough, or if they are a lot like our modern Western culture, where we can’t seem to be satisfied with what we have. I suspect that it may be a subtle combination of the two, but I can’t verify that.

At any rate, they are given the answer in the rest of the passage. The second time they are told to consider their ways, the house of the Lord is brought up. It seems that everyone is occupied with their own “houses,” while the Lord’s “house” remains in ruins.

This is very thought-provoking for me. Because, while I know and acknowledge, readily, that this passage is explicitly directed to Israel, I can see correlation in today’s Church. We get caught up in our own “houses,” or own lives, even our own families, which are, of course, important. But not more important than our relationship, or “house,” with the Lord.

We don’t have a physical “temple,” to which we are to travel, today. The individual person is the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” as His Spirit resides and dwells in each of us. We are the “Church.” It is not a physical “house.” I don’t think that means we are supposed to spend extraordinary energy and time keeping our bodies fit, either.

This is about “soul keeping.” We need to make sure that we are keeping the Lord’s “house,” our souls, in good shape.

And one of the best ways to do that, in my opinion, is to practice what Psalm 150 teaches us.

Praise the Lord.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I will praise You for no other reason (though I have plenty) than that You are God. I will praise You for Your mighty acts of power, too. I will praise You for Your surpassing greatness, Your most excellent righteousness. And in praising You, I shove aside selfish platitudes and thoughts; I shut out selfish needs concerning my own “house.” I tend to Your “house,” which is my soul, because my soul needs tending and keeping. Thank You for the reminders from Your Word, reminders of how important this upkeep of our souls is. Help me to stay focused on what is important to You.

I pray for Your Church to flourish all over the world. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You and “gathers, unites, and blesses” Your people.

"Generous God,
my way with money is a sure sign of my heart's trust.
and when it's mostly spent on me,
I show that my heart does not belong to You.
Center me again on You,
the source of everything good;
remind me of how rich I am because of Jesus and free up a generous heart for others.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is a person who endures temptation,
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life,
which the Lord promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Singing, Drumming, and Dancing

Good morning. Today is Friday, the twenty-sixth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,269

Twenty-nine days until Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, this coming Sunday, November 28, is the first Sunday of Advent.

We had a most lovely day, yesterday. All of the preparations went very well, and we had a nice, safe trip to Grandma’s house in Mineral Wells. We had a great lunch together, and a nice visit, just sitting around talking (several of us may or may not have fallen asleep). After divvying up the leftovers, we headed back to Fort Worth, stopping for sodas just outside of MW at a convenience store that happened to be open.

This morning, C is back in the kitchen, prepping for today’s lunch with her sister, brother-in-law, niece, and niece’s boyfriend. They are, I believe, supposed to be arriving around 1:00 PM. Ish.

The library is closed today, so I have a second day off for the holiday.

We took some pictures, yesterday.

Mama, me, S, and C
Mama and me

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights
with whom there is no variation
or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for every good and perfect gift
2. for a great Thanksgiving holiday
3. that You are the "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change"
4. for the things that I can learn from Jesus
5. for the ability to praise You with music, singing, and dancing

. . . whatever good anyone does,
this he will receive back from the Lord . . .
(Ephesians 6:8 ESV)

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)(emphasis mine)

As I look at this Matthew passage, this morning, one that is so very familiar, I’m seeing something “new.” Notice the italics that I added. All of them are pronouns, which Jesus used to refer to Himself.

Jesus is the key to so much in life. It’s cliché and easy to say, “Jesus is the answer to everything.” That’s easy to say. It’s not so easy to live out. But just look at His words. “Come to me,” He says. “I will give you rest.” Who doesn’t labor? Who isn’t weary? Jesus promises rest, if we only come to Him. And only Him.

He tells us to take His yoke and learn from Him. So what is so new and different about this, that I’m seeing today, for the first time? It is this: Jesus tells us to learn from HIM. He does not tell us to learn from anyone else.

While there may be great value (and most certainly is) in learning from other humans, it is from Jesus, Himself, that we are to learn. I can surely learn from reading and studying great writers and great Christian minds, such as C.S. Lewis and Eugene Peterson. But I should be spending the most time and energy learning from Jesus.

He is the one who will give me rest. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

No one else can say that.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Our God says,
“Calm down,
and learn that I am God!
All nations on earth will honor me.”
(Psalms 46:10 CEV)

As I pause on this quite morning, I reflect on all the good and perfect gifts in my life, which have come down from the “Father of lights.” There is no shadow or variation in Him; He is constant and consistent. He does not change.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.
May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 149:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.”
(Micah 6:3-4 NIV)

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:6-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate upon what has moved my heart or mind. I pray these things to God, including any questions that I might have. I turn my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

Part of Psalm 149 does, indeed, cause me to have questions. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to focus on the music. We are commanded/encouraged/admonished (I can’t say for sure which word is applicable when we are dealing with poetry/songs) to sing and make music in praise to God.

First, we are told to sing His praise “in the assembly of His faithful people.” So we are to sing praises together. Whenever I see this, I am reminded of the opinion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that all congregational singing should be in unison. That’s only an opinion, of course, and only one man’s opinion. But he has a good point. Here is the quote from Life Together:

“There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated. There is no place in the service of worship where vanity and bad taste can so intrude as in the singing. There is, first, the improvised second part which one hears almost everywhere. It attempts to give the necessary background, the missing fullness to the soaring unison tone, and thus kills both the words and the tone. There is the bass or the alto who must call everybody’s attention to his astonishing range and therefore sings every hymn an octave lower. There is the solo voice that goes swaggering, swelling, blaring, and tremulant from a full chest and drowns out everything else to the glory of its own fine organ. There are the less dangerous foes of congregational singing, the ‘unmusical,’ who cannot sing, of whom there are far fewer than we are led to believe, and finally, there are often those also who because of some mood will not join in the singing and thus disturb the fellowship.”

I don’t necessarily agree with brother Bonhoeffer, here, but, as I said, he makes some good points. When we sing “in the assembly of His faithful people,” there really is no place for calling attention to ourselves, and I can’t think of any other reason to sing harmony in that setting. Of course, this makes me wonder, as well, how loudly I should sing in a congregational setting. I have a tendency to “belt it out,” which also tends to call attention to me.

I guess the key element in all of this is motive. Why am I singing harmony? Why am I singing loudly? If the song is a Chris Tomlin song (he has an unnaturally high voice for a man), most people can’t sing in that octave, and may need to sing it an octave lower. I once knew a man who believed his singing voice to be inferior, so he whistled the hymns.

We are then told, in Psalm 149, to praise Him with (gasp) DANCING! Oh, dear. I grew up Baptist. With a preacher who declared, from the pulpit, mind you, that “a dancing foot never grew off of a praying knee.” Well, the Bible tells us to dance, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Except to say that context is very important in these matters.

We are also told to praise Him with the timbrel and harp. What’s a “timbrel?” All educated guesses seem to indicate something akin to a tambourine. So, a percussion instrument. A harp is a stringed instrument. It stands to reason, then, at least to me, that it’s okay to praise the Lord with a guitar and some drums. And dancing.

But then, in verse 5, we are even told to sing for joy on our beds! The last thing we should do every night is praise Him!

Why all this vigorous praising, singing, and dancing? Verse 4: “For the LORD takes delight in His people.” Simple answer.

I think it’s pretty awesome to think about God taking delight in us. The definition of delight is “great pleasure.” The Lord takes great pleasure in us, and I believe that Scripture tells us that this pleasure, this delight, is magnified when we are praising Him, whether it be by singing, dancing, playing a drum, or even whistling.

I did mention questions, and those come into play in the second half of this psalm, in all those bits about “double-edged swords,” “fetters,” and “shackles of irons.” It is not my intention to delve into those meanings, this morning. Today, I’m all about the praise and the great delight.

The only thing I want to say about the Micah passage involves the somewhat rhetorical questions issued in verses 6-8. Do we come before Him with offerings, calves, thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil? Do we need to be so extreme as to offer our firstborn children to Him?

I love to quote Micah 6:8, because it is major truth. God has shown us what He desires, even demands, from us. “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” That’s it.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I have praised You with guitars, pianos, keyboards, trombones, and singing. I may have even praised You with a tambourine, occasionally. I don’t know about dancing. I’m not very good at that, but I know I have “moved to the music,” sometimes. My heart’s desire is to know You more and to praise You more, so I pray that You will always put it in my heart to continue to praise You. I also pray that I will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before and with You. I praise You and thank You for Your presence with me, this morning, and every morning, and every minute of every day. I celebrate Your presence, and I rest and draw refreshment from Your presence.

I pray that You will increase our wonder when we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I also pray that You will increase our capacity to suffer with others, at least to have empathy with those who suffer through either poverty or injustice. And may You give strength to all who suffer persecution for their faith.

"Father,
I expend so much energy wondering what Your will is for my life.
Could You make it any clearer?
Give me a gospel-motivated resolve to carry out Your clear and good purposes -
living justly,
loving mercy,
and walking humbly with You.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

God will bless you,
if you don’t give up
when your faith is being tested.
He will reward you
with a glorious life,
just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
(James 1:12 CEV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Grace and peace, friends.