Let Your Light Shine

Today is Friday, May 25, 2018. Day 21,988.

Three days until Memorial Day!

If my math is correct, today would be my parents’ 61st wedding anniversary. My father passed just over three years ago.

It’s the birthday of W.P. Kinsella, author of Field of Dreams (1935-2016). He said, “Find something that thrills you, and when you finish reading it for enjoyment, read it again line by line, paragraph by paragraph to see what you liked about it. (BrainyQuote)

The word for today is pasquinade, a noun which means, “a satire or lampoon, especially one posted in a public place.”

We managed to get to the Y last night. I didn’t really feel like going, but I went anyway. I walked on the treadmill, but not too vigorously. Enough to get a decent workout, though. For some reason, I just didn’t have a lot of energy. I’m okay, though. I feel better this morning.

It wasn’t a good baseball night. The Red Sox lost to the Rays, 6-3, making their record 34-16. The Yankees didn’t play, so there was only a half game change. The Sox remain one game up in the AL East, and in MLB as a whole. They begin a series with the Braves, tonight, at Fenway. Could be tough, as the Braves are pretty hot, right now. However, the Sox have a pretty good record against NL teams, I believe.

The Rangers lost 8-2 to the Royals. So figure this out. They just performed majestically against the team that was the best team in baseball when they arrived in Texas. But thanks to the Rangers, the Yankees are now in second place. Then the Royals come to town. Before last night, the Royals were the second worst team in baseball. The Rangers were behind 8-0 at one point in the game. Once again, I will say how much this reminds me of Rangers teams from the seventies. They couldn’t beat the teams who were as bad or worse than they were, but could beat the teams that were having a great year. I don’t get it. Anyway, their record is now 20-32, and they are 13.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West. They continue the carnage with the Royals tonight.

The Orioles remain the worst team in baseball, followed closely by the White Sox, then the Royals. The Reds are fourth from the bottom, and the Rangers have now moved into fifth from the worst.

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

A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.
Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! 
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! 
For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. 
Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. 
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; 
I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. 
All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. 
For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, 
because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down. 
My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

Psalm 102:1-11

This is one of those Psalms that starts out depressing, but then gets better. As it continues tomorrow, we will see a shift to the positive, which is typical in these Psalms. The writer may have complaints, but seldom leaves it in that mode. Almost always, they end in praise and/or thanksgiving. We can learn a lot from Psalms like this one. It is perfectly acceptable to pour out our complaints to God. But we need to remember to not stop with that.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Karen Valentin, in Daily Guideposts 2018, reminds us of the importance of using our gifts and letting our light shine.

She was playing guitar and singing for a children’s birthday part in Central Park when she noticed one particular girl watching her with great attention. As the music portion ended, Karen set up her face-painting table. The little girl was the last one to sit down, and asked for a butterfly to be painted on her face.

The girl’s parents watched in amazement as she allowed Karen to paint her face. At that point, they revealed that the girl was on the autism spectrum, and never allowed anyone to touch her face.

Use the gifts that God has given you. Don’t hide them. You never know when they will touch someone deeply.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
Matthew 25:40

Father, may I never shy away from an opportunity to use the gifts that you have given me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

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My Eyes Are On You

Today is Sunday, May 20, 2018. Pentecost Sunday. Day 21,983.

Eight days until Memorial Day.

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” ~ Georg Cristoph Lichtenberg, 1742-1799 The Quotations Page

The word for today is besot, a verb which means, “infatuate.” It could also mean, “to make dull or stupid.” Almost the same thing, right? Haha!

After what seemed like a busy morning, we had a nice, restful afternoon, yesterday. We got S’s doctor’s appointment out of the way, got our groceries picked up, C picked up her earrings at the James Avery store (she switched out the ones we got her for Mother’s Day), and C also picked up lunch for us. That was all before 1:00 PM!

The Red Sox beat the Orioles, 6-3, as Rick Porcello notched is sixth win for the season. The Sox have a record of 31-15, the most wins of anyone in MLB. Unfortunately, the Yankees also won, so the two teams remain in a virtual tie for first place in the AL East, and best in MLB. The Sox and O’s will conclude their series this afternoon.

The Rangers lost another game to the worst team in baseball, the White Sox. After being ahead 3-0, they gave up four in the third, and never scored again. Some guy named Jurado got pegged for the loss. Never heard of him. The Rangers’ record is now 18-29, and they are eleven games out in the AL West.

I mentioned, above, that it is Pentecost Sunday. If you are unfamiliar with the Church calendar, this Sunday we celebrate the day that the Holy Spirit first descended on the believers in Acts 2.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15.

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

The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 
Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. 
All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! 
Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD. 
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. 
O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 
Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. 
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

Psalm 97

There’s an old worship song based on this Psalm, called “The Lord Reigns.” We used to sing it a lot back when I was a worship leader at South Haltom Community Church. I would post a You Tube of it, but it’s really difficult to find, seeing as how there a lot of newer songs by the same name.

I like the Psalms in this part of the book, though. They all seem to focus on the worship of God, lifting his name high. You, O LORD, are most high over all the earth.

So, instead, I will share one of the songs we are going to sing, this morning. A song I’ve grown fond of, called “Tremble.”

I’m running out of time, but I believe this to be good enough to share. In today’s Daily Guideposts reading, Melody Bonnette Swang has given me a good prayer to pray when I don’t know what to pray, either for myself or someone else.

Prefaced with Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” the phrase repeated several times in this reading is, “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you.” What a beautiful prayer.

My father used to say that the prayer that could never be wrong is, “Your will be done.” That, of course, was given to us by Jesus in his prayer that he taught his disciples. That is also a great prayer.

I like this one, though, in that it acknowledges that I don’t know what to do, don’t know what to pray, and then it reminds me to keep my eyes on my Father for guidance.

“Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you.”

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Father, thank you for your words of Scripture that inspire me, daily. Thank you that I can always look to you for guidance, even when I think I know what I’m doing. Help me to remember this simple prayer, the next time I don’t know what to pray for someone. Help me to always keep my eyes on you as I try to walk in your kingdom on this earth. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Do What You Can

Today is Friday, May 18, 2018. Day 21,981.

Two days until Pentecost Sunday.

“Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age.” ~ William Feather (1908-1976) (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is spagyric, an adjective which means, “pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.”

We finally made it to Friday. C and I went to the Y again, last night, making it three times this week! We likely will not go tonight, and are planning to make our Rotel chili for dinner.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles, last night, 6-2, making their record 30-14. It also put them in a virtual tie with the Yankees, who have not played a full game since May 14, having one game suspended and the next day postponed. The Yankees, however, are ahead by .018 percentage points. The Sox continue their series with Baltimore tonight.

The Rangers lost their game after being ahead for 7.5 innings. Ahead 2-0, they gave up four runs in the bottom of the eighth. To the White Sox. The worst team in baseball. This puts their record at 17-28, eleven games out in the AL West.

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

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 
when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 
For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 
Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

Psalm 95

Another beautiful Psalm, extolling the praises of the Lord. Let us make a joyful noise! I know of several songs that have been written from this Psalm, some from verse 6 (Oh come, let us worship and bow down). Indeed, he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Corinthians 12:20

There are many people who are passionate about many things. But equally true is that many of us tend to get discouraged when we realize that the difference that we want to make in this world is simply beyond our capability. Perhaps our “scope” is too big.

Today’s reading in Daily Guideposts is a reminder that perhaps we should lower our expectations (not our passions, mind you) and focus on making a smaller difference in an are that we are still just as passionate about. Whatever you love to do, do it with all your heart. And, while you can’t save all the starfish on the beach, you can at least rescue one. And that will make a huge difference in that one’s life.

Minister to whoever you can; do whatever you can. Don’t get frustrated because you can’t do more. Maybe someday, you will be able to, if you focus on what you can do, today.

Somewhere in the Bible, it says that those who are faithful in small things will eventually be given big things.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” 
Mark 12:41-44

Father, I thank you for the gifts and passions that you have given me. Help me to be faithful with them and minister in whatever ways I can with them. May I inspire and influence whoever I’m supposed to, today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

A Time To Slow Down

Today is Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Day 21,972.

Four days until Mother’s Day!

Billy Joel turns 69 today. He said, “Most people are satisfied with the junk food being sold as music.” BrainyQuote
I have to say I agree with him.

The word for today is plethora, a noun which means, “overabundance; excess.” What I did not know is that it used to mean, “a morbid condition due to excess of red corpuscles in the blood or increase in the quantity of blood.”

The Red Sox lost to the Yankees, last night, 3-2. It was definitely an intense game. Severino, the Yankees pitcher, was on fire, striking out eleven Red Sox batters. The winning run came for the Yankees in the bottom of the seventh inning, just minutes after the Sox had tied the game. Hembree was credited with the loss. This puts the Red Sox and Yankees in a tie for both first place in the AL East, and the best MLB record. The series continues tonight with Porcello on the mound for Boston and Tanaka for the Yankees. The Red Sox season record is now 25-10, as they became the last team to lose ten games.

The Rangers lost to the Tigers, 7-4, making their record 14-24. They remain in last place, nine games behind the Astros.

The Baltimore Orioles have taken over the worst in the MLB spot. The O’s, Reds, and White Sox have yet to win ten games.

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

If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, 
if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 
then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 
but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. 
I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. 
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. 
His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. 
Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah.

Psalm 89:30-37

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

In today’s Daily Guideposts reading, Patty Kirk reminds us that we need to slow down and listen. In her reference, it is about jogging and running and noticing the sounds around her. She then takes that and relates it to our lives and how we listen to God.

In our world, things are going increasingly faster. It often seems to me that there is no way this world could get more fast-paced. I have come to believe that this is a bad thing. We go so fast that we cannot possible be listening or looking for God.

This underscores the importance of at least two of the spiritual disciplines: silence and solitude. In order to get away and practice solitude, one must not only slow down, one must STOP! And in order to truly listen, one must practice silence.

Even our churches are afraid of silence, anymore. Time and time again, I have had pastors ask me to play some music during the prayer. Why?? Why are we so afraid of silence?? I think the answer lies in the above premise that we are moving too fast. Television has decreased the attention span of all of us to somewhere around fifteen seconds. That’s the length of the average TV commercial now. We are inundated with sound bites and tweets, which can only consist of 120 characters. You can’t say very much in that amount of space.

If we allow silence to prevail, people will lose interest, so we insist that some music be playing. The problem with that is, if it is music that has well-known lyrics, people will be thinking about the lyrics instead of what is being said and prayed.

The point is, we need to re-introduce ourselves to these disciplines. Solitude: get alone, get away. Just sit. Silence: don’t say anything for a period of time. Try to listen. It’s okay to pray, but try not to do it out loud. And try to spend more time listening.

There is a time for everything, including a time to slow down.

Father, help me to follow my own advice and find a time and place to practice solitude and silence. I desperately need more of these in my life. I need to spend more time listening to you and less time talking. I pray that my lips would only be loosened in order to speak encouragement and edification.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Abundant Life Here and Now

Today is Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Day 21,971.

Five days until Mother’s Day!

It’s the birthday of Harry S Truman (1884-1972), who said, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” BrainyQuote

The word for today is infomania, a noun which means, “an obsessive need to constantly check emails, social media websites, online news, etc.” It also refers to “the effects of this obsession, especially a decline in the ability to concentrate.” I fear I am afflicted with infomania.

We did not go to the Y last night. I think we decided before we left, yesterday morning. We were both tired from the various events of the previous week, C from her trip and lack of sleep Friday night, and me from being up late for the baseball game Saturday night. We both feel much better this morning, after a good night’s rest.

The Red Sox had the day off, yesterday, in preparation for a series in New York with the Yankees, which begins tonight. This has potential for being a brutal series. Fortunately for the Sox, the Yankees were also off, yesterday, so nothing changed in the standings. The Sox still have a one game lead over the Yankees in the AL East and in the over all MLB standings. That will change tonight, one way or another.

The Rangers managed to beat the Tigers, last night, after a back and forth game that finally ended 7-6. The Rangers are 14-23, 8.5 games behind the Astros and five games behind the A’s who are in fourth place. They play Detroit again, tonight.

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

Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: “I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. 
I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, 
so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. 
The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. 
I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. 
My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. 
I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. 
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ 
And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 
My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. 
I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.

Psalm 89:19-29

Every day, I get an email from biblegateway.com with a C.S. Lewis excerpt. I thought today’s excerpt, from Mere Christianity, was a good one. “I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one’s eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people’s eyes can see further than mine.”

I believe this is true. If we are truly focused on the one who gives us all things, we are not knowingly thinking about doing good things. I like the reference to the mirror. We should be filled with “goodness” as a mirror is filled with light. “They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source.” I love that. I want to spend more time looking at Jesus than I do thinking about doing good things.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

This verse is at the top of today’s Daily Guideposts reading. However, I’m going in a totally different direction with it. When Jesus said these words, he was, I believe, referring to the quality of life that we can have now. This will, I believe, be made more clear by other passages that will be shared shortly.

Abundant life is not something that we have to wait for until we die. I used to believe that. I used to believe that the kingdom of God (or heaven) was something that I would not know fully until I have “passed on” from this life. I no longer believe this. I believe that it is something into which we can enter now. Jesus came to earth and began declaring that the kingdom of heaven was here. He urged people to pay attention to it, to seek it. This was the “gospel.” Over and over, he mentions the “gospel,” or “good news” of the “kingdom of God.”

Abundant life does not mean that we can get everything we want. People who teach this are deceiving multitudes. But that makes sense, because we, as humans, are greedy. It’s easy to believe that God wants me to have that new house or that new car or that raise or that lottery. But all of these things are material and temporary. In Matthew 6, Jesus makes it clear.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:31-34

Earlier, Jesus said, in verse 25, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Seek his kingdom, along with its righteousness, and God will provide everything you need.

This is abundant life. This is life that we enter into as soon as we begin walking with Jesus. Believe in his words; believe the things he did and said. Truly believe. This is the hard part. It’s easy to believe in Jesus. It is much more difficult to believe Jesus. And, yes, there is a huge difference.

After all these years, I’m still struggling to believe him. But he is drawing me closer.

Father, thank you for the promise of abundant life! Thank you for Jesus, and the invitation to walk with him. Thank you for your kingdom, in which I am walking now, not later. I believe; help my unbelief!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. 
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 
  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 
  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 
  Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19

Grace and peace, friends.

John Knox and Prayer

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), May 2, 2018. Day 21,965.

11 days until Mother’s Day.

Lou Gramm (Foreigner), turns 68 today. He said, “I gave my life to Christ about 1991.” BrainyQuote I remember him singing with John Schlitt on one of the Petra Praise albums, back in the nineties.

The word for today is palindrome, a noun which means, “a word, verse, or sentence or a number that reads the same backward or forward. “Madam I’m Adam.” is one. “A car, a man, a maraca” is another. Obviously, punctuation is not regarded.

The Red Sox lost to the Royals, 7-6, in thirteen innings. Very discouraging. The “best” team is having so much trouble with one of the worst teams. I guess that is typical, though. The Yankees won, so the Sox are two games up in the AL East. They are tied with the D-backs for the best MLB record.

The Rangers had a good outing against Cleveland, beating them 8-6, after Kela gave up a game-tying grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rangers really need a closer. Unfortunately, pitching has never been high on Jon-boy’s radar. The Rangers remain in last place, eight games behind the Astros.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah. 
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 
Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! 
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. 
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. 
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 
Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 
Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. 

Psalm 85

This is a beautiful Psalm, in my opinion. I wish I could hear the music that went with it. “Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.” Then the plea to hear what God will say, because “he will speak peace to his people.” There is the encouragement to “not turn back to folly.” That is always a danger. I experience that danger on a regular basis. Sometimes, I fail. But God always speaks peace to me and restores my soul, just as Psalm 23 describes.

The sheer poetry of verses 10-11 has always been attractive to me. “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.”

I’m running behind, this morning, but I have to share this, nonetheless.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

In today’s Daily Guideposts, writer Debbie Macomber shares a story about John Knox, the “founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.” On his deathbed, he asked his wife to read Scripture to him. As she read, she noticed that he began to pray out loud, “his voice growing slower and dimmer. Then, as he prayed for those he loved, his spirit slipped from his body and joined Jesus in heaven.” What a testimony!

Like Debbie, I have struggled with prayer, over the years. I have had bouts of strong prayer activity, then stretches where I hardly pray at all. I am shamed by the latter. Sometimes, I write prayers, such as at the end of this daily blog. Lately, I try to have ongoing conversations with God throughout the day.

John Knox was a powerful pray-er, and he died praying. As Debbie says, “This is what I want for my relationship with God, a life of prayer that is so engrained that communication with Him is simply part of my every thought and deed. And when it comes time for me to leave this earth, I want it to be with a prayer on my lips.”

Amen!

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Jeremiah 33:3
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

Father, keep me in prayer. I have begun to reach out for prayer requests again. Lead me to pray more and more for people every day. You brought me into intercession a few years ago. Help me to return to that mode of life and stay in it, to the praise of your glorious grace, and for your great name’s sake!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

A New Commandment

Today is Saturday, April 28, 2018. Day 21,961.

15 days until Mother’s Day.

It’s the birthday of Terry Pratchett (Discworld), 1948-2015. He said, “I am certain no one sets out to be cruel, but our treatment of the elderly ill seems to have no philosophy to it. As a society, we should establish whether we have a policy of life at any cost.” BrainyQuote Of course, this concerns me, as I get closer and closer to being “elderly.”

The word for today is feint, a noun which means, “a movement made in order to deceive an adversary.”

I worked about an hour overtime, last night, but it was okay. Overall, yesterday was a pretty good day. C had started our “Mexican soup” in the crockpot, before leaving for work, so that was our dinner. It’s always delicious.

Today, I have our Kroger Click List to pick up between 11:00 and 12:00. I’ll probably get some lunch for us, at Subway. We will leave for Alvord somewhere between 1:00 and 2:00, aiming to be there before 3:00. The Night of Worship festivities begin at 5:30, this evening, allegedly with a meal provided by the church. The address is 615 County Rd 1280, Alvord, TX, 76225.

The Red Sox lost to the Rays, last night, 4-3, at Fenway. Too many double plays blew scoring opportunities. But today is another day. The Sox are three games up on the Yankees, who are on a roll, having won seven consecutive games. They also remain the best team in MLB, but only one game ahead of the D-Backs. They continue their series with Tampa this afternoon.

The Rangers beat the Blue Jays in Toronto, last night! I’m surprised! They won 6-4, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. They are seven games out in the AL West, behind Houston, who lost to the Athletics 8-1.

The Reds are no longer the worst team in MLB. That “honor” currently belongs to the KC Royals.

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

A Psalm of Asaph.
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 
“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. 
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 
They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 
I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 
nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” 
Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Psalm 82

Who, exactly, are these “gods?” There are many theories, and they are all just exactly that. But the context seems to agree with the theory that they are human judges, judges who have been found to be judging unjustly, and showing partiality to the wicked. God gives the ultimatum: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” There doesn’t seem to be a lot of this going on in our society. May God help us.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35

These words were spoken by Jesus immediately after Judas left the rest of the disciples during the last supper.

For a long time, I have looked at these verses in the context of the other two “greatest commands” of which Jesus spoke. When he was asked, earlier, by someone, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus’s answer was this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

But then, on the night of the last supper, Jesus gave this “new commandment” to his disciples. I believe this is more important than we have realized. First, we are to love the Lord our God with all of our being. That was the first great commandment. Then we are to love our “neighbor” as ourselves. But now, in light of this new commandment, we are to love one another the way Christ has loved us.

I believe, with all my heart, that this is a commandment for the Church. We, the Church, are to love each other much more deeply than we are to love our “neighbor.” This does not lower the expectation of loving our neighbor at all. Rather, it heightens the expectation of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then, in today’s Daily Guideposts reading, I see this: “Anyone who says confidently what love can and cannot do is a fool. Anyone who sells love short is blind as a bat. Anyone who doesn’t get that love is why we are here is missing the crucial memo.”

The Beatles may not have been quite right when they sang “All you need is love,” but they were certainly close. First we need Jesus. Dallas Willard said, in Life Without Lack, “When we look at what Christ did for us on the cross and keep that at the center of our vision, there are not many things that will bother us, or even matter at all.” This statement has seriously grabbed hold of me, lately. When we are focused on Christ and what he has done for us, we should be filled with love; love for God, love for Christ, and love for one another.

Father, I am shamed when I forget to love, and it still happens way too often. Yesterday, you did something in me, though, in response to a desperate prayer, and I am so grateful for it. You brought love flooding in, and it made a difference. Keep teaching me to love. It is a shortcoming of mine. I would much rather judge in the flesh. But you have commanded that we love. Help me to obey your commands. “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” Grant me the faith that sees your sufficiency in all things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures:
Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary,
and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (The Book of Common Prayer)

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.