Refreshed and Refreshing

Good morning! Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,238

Twelve more days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Hard to believe that there are only five more days until November! But Halloween is this coming Sunday night. For the record, we have not purchased any Halloween candy. We do not plan to be home for at least part of the night, Sunday night. I will discuss with C (we haven’t even talked about it) whether we want to get any. If we do, and have some left over, I’m sure I will take it to the Library next Tuesday evening.

Speaking of library, I work today, from 4:15-8:15 PM, doing shelving. Easy shift, and I enjoy shelving (not that I don’t enjoy any of my duties). Tuesday night shelving is the time when I am pretty much alone for the whole shift, working, more or less, in the shadows. Peaceful and serene. Plus, surrounded by, you know, books.

The Tuesday shift is kind of strange, still. It’s like I have a whole day off, but still have a shift at work.

I didn’t leave the house, yesterday, other than to check the mail and bring the trash bins back up from the street, after the garbage pickup. Today, I will probably go out around noon. We need a few things from the grocery store (I may start planning grocery trips on either Monday or Tuesday, and Thursday, going forward), and I’ll probably pick up lunch for all of us, since C is working from home today.

The World Series begins tonight, at 7:00 (ish) PM, broadcast, of course, on Fox. Which means, if you watch, you have to listen to Joe Buck. That’s one good reason not to watch. I doubt I will watch, anyway (I’ll be at work when it starts), but I do want the Braves to win.

As recognized every year on October 26, today is Howl at the Moon Day. But the moon isn’t full, it is only “waning gibbous,” whatever that means.

The word for today is revenant. In the context of the season, it means, “a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.” So that’s what that means! And here I thought it had something to do with bears!

Today’s quote is from Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman. “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”

Significant birthdays on October 26:

C.W. Post, American manufacturer of breakfast cereal, 1854-1914
Mahalia Jackson, American gospel singer, 1911-1972
Jackie Coogan, American actor (Uncle Fester on The Addams Family), 1914-1984
Bob Hoskins, English actor (Smee in Hook), 1942-2014
Hillary Clinton, U.S. 1st Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, 1947 (74)
Bootsy Collins, American guitarist and singer (Parliament, Funkadelic), 1951, (70)
Lauren Tewes, American actress (Julie on Love Boat), 1953 (68)
Cary Elwes, English actor (Princess Bride), 1962 (59)
Natalie Merchant, American singer/songwriter (10,000 Maniacs), 1963 (58)
Keith Urban, New Zealand-Australian country singer, still married to Nicole Kidman, 1967 (54)
Seth MacFarlane, American animator (Family Guy), 1973 (48)
Jon Heder, American actor (Napoleon Dynamite), 1977 (44)
Cary Elwes in his best role (my opinion)
Jon Heder

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace of God appeared,
Bringing salvation for all;
We wait for our Hope.
(Titus 2)

Oh give thanks to the LORD;
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all of Your wondrous works; may I faithfully make them known among the peoples
2. for the gift of music, with which I can sing praises to You
3. that You have caused my heart to seek You and rejoice
4. that You have given me/us a generous heart, eager to share with others and refresh them
5. for the stark realization that life is not a competition; I am not out to "beat" anyone

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(Psalms 84:10 ESV)

As I pause in the quietness of this moment, I reflect on the presence of the Lord and the strength He provides in my life. Imperfect as I am, I can only imagine how life would be without Him in it.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.

May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 115:12-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:21-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words and/or phrases that speak to me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, as I seek the Lord and His strength, this morning.

The passage from Psalms contains encouragement, as well as a good prayer to be prayed for just about anyone. First, we get the encouragement that the Lord remembers and blesses those who fear Him. At first, it is specific to the Israel, even down to the house of Aaron. But verse 13 is more general, directed toward all who fear His name, both “small and great alike.”

The prayer of verses 14 and 15 is a wonderful blessing to pray over someone. I plan to incorporate that into my own prayers.

In Proverbs, we see some comparisons between the wicked and righteous, the generous and stingy, with the humor of verse 22 thrown in.

We are assured that the “wicked will not go unpunished.” We may not live to see the ultimate punishment of the wicked, and I’m not sure I would want to, anyway. I’ve discussed that, previously.

Also of interest is the verse about the desire of the righteous (verse 23). Note that all of our desires, if we are righteous, end only in good. It doesn’t say that our desires are necessarily good, nor does it say that we will get everything we desire. It says that our desires will end only in good. This reminds me of a popularly quoted verse, Romans 8:28. Many people are familiar with it. The Lord works all things for good. It does not say that everything that happens is “good,” but that He works it out for good.

Then we get a couple of comparisons between the generous and stingy. The generous give, yet keep getting more. I can say from experience that this is true. God has blessed my family. By many standards, we are wealthy. We aren’t millionaires, but we have more than enough. We are eager and quick to share those blessings, and, as a result, God continues to bless. I boasted about Him and His provision, at the start of my retirement, just the other day.

When you share God’s resources and blessings with others, you are, as worded in verse 25, “refreshing” them. By doing so, God will, in turn, “refresh” you. Just for kicks, I looked up “refresh.” This is what I found: “give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate.” Think of this in terms of poverty or need. If you give something to someone who is in desperate need, you give them “new strength or energy;” You “reinvigorate” them. You can be sure that God will then do the same for you.

Father, as I read these passages from Your Word, I am encouraged. My prayer life receives new direction and purpose as I make plans to pray more blessing over people I know and love. I am also encouraged to continue to seek You and Your strength daily, as well as sing more praises to You. My heart is full as I consider Your blessings in my life, especially in light of how You have also made me more generous, holding on loosely, as it were, with open hands. You are amazing, and Your grace is, frequently, unbelievable, incomprehensible. May I continue to share those blessings with other; may I continue to be generous. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

May You give us the strength to follow the call of the Gospel into our communities and workplaces. May You provide peace in our communities.

"Wise God,
people name this wisdom of the ages differently -
karma,
the law of attraction,
the golden rule -
but it all comes from You.
Thank You for Your refreshing grace that jumpstarts the flow of grace to others,
Your attractive goodness that enables me to do good to my neighbor,
and Your generosity that moves me to share with those in need.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 ESV)


“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

The Path of Love

Good morning! Today is Monday, the twenty-fifth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,237

Only thirteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

We had a great time, yesterday morning, with our church group. While we had the gathering over Zoom, this time, due to some folks being unavailable for in person gathering, it was a great discussion over 1 John chapter 5. We had actually read that passage the week before, but we had spent so much of our time catching up on each other and “fellowshipping” that we only managed to discuss a couple of verses. So we read it again and discussed more verses that caught our attention. I think we all left feeling like we had made some significant progress in understanding some of the more difficult verses of that chapter. It was awesome.

After church, we had our usual Applebee’s lunch. C and I watched the first episode of a Hulu original, called “Only Murders in the Building.” It features Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, who all play characters who live in an apartment building in New York City. All three are obsessed with the same true crime podcast (which featured Tina Fey). When a murder happens in their building, the all become quite interested in it, and decide to start their own podcast.

We got a new “cat tree” yesterday evening, delivered by Amazon. C really liked that it came yesterday evening, and had to be assembled. It gave her something to do that felt productive. We put it where the old one was, and moved the old one over by the back door, at least for the time being. So far, they have laid on the old one by the back door. Haha! I have yet to catch one of them in the new one. However, C told me that at least two of them were inside one of the compartments of the new one while she was trying to put it together. Helping, you know.

Nothing much on the agenda for today. That’s something I still need to work on . . . planning my days around my work schedule. There is some laundry to be folded, and dinner to be cooked later, after C alerts me that she is on her way home.

Earlier, this morning, I decided to have my coffee out on the back deck, in one of our new lounge chairs that I got C for our anniversary. It was very nice out there. Borderline too cool, but not quite. I drank my coffee and read a few chapters of the book I am currently reading. Which reminds me . . . I believe I have decided to share that each day. What I am reading, currently, I mean. So, for today it is this:

The World Series begins tomorrow night, Braves v. Astros in Houston. My attitude about it has changed a bit, as I discovered, yesterday, that Ron Washington, former favorite coach for the Texas Rangers, is third base coach for the Atlanta Braves. This actually gives me a bit of a reason to care. So I will be actively cheering for the Braves, this year. Doesn’t mean I’ll watch a lot, but who knows?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When We Look at the Cross, by Daryl Madden

When we look at the cross the truth to sink in
In wounds that He bears we see our sin

When we look at the cross what do we see?
Our sins swallowed up by His great mercy

When we look at the cross our treasure in store
Of eternal life for death is no more

When we look at the cross we are drawn above
For we are consumed in His passion of love

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)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are good, Your steadfast love enduring forever, and Your faithfulness to all generations
2. that we are Your people, the sheep of Your pasture
3. that You can turn our "hard rocks into springs of water" (Psalm 114)
4. that if we obey the commands of Jesus (love God and love people), we won't have to worry about those seven things that God detests in Proverbs 6:16-19
5. for all of Your creation, living things, both great and small
6. that my cup overflows
7. for Your blessings on the peacemakers

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 NLT)

I take a moment, during this peaceful morning, to contemplate what I see when I look at the cross of Jesus. Do I see my sins in His wounds, swallowed up by His mercy? Do I see the treasure of eternal life, promised by our Father? Am I drawn above, consumed in His passion?

BIBLE SONG

When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, indwelt by His Spirit, I linger over these passages, seeking inspiration for meditation and prayer. I ask the Spirit to guide me in His truth, that I might walk effectively in His Kingdom.

Psalm 114 presents interesting visual imagery. This is all about celebrating Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Oddly enough, the division between Israel and Judah is years in the future. Yet there is a distinction made in this psalm. Both are considered dwelling places of the Lord, though, Israel His “dominion” and Judah His “sanctuary.”

It is easy to envision the events in verse 3. We can easily see the Red Sea “fleeing,” as it parted for Israel to walk through on dry ground. We can also see the Jordan “turning back,” as it was also divided so that the people of Israel could cross over into the Promised Land.

Verse 4 is a little more difficult, at least for me, to picture. I don’t remember anything significant happening to mountains and hills in the journey of Israel. Maybe someone can assist me, here?

Verse 7 calls for the earth to tremble at the presence of the Lord. Would that there was more of this that happened. Maybe that’s what happened to the mountains and hills. Perhaps they trembled in His presence. For He did, indeed, turn the rock into springs of water, to provide sustenance and refreshment for His people.

The Proverb selection presents an interesting literary device. And if you read more of Proverbs, you will see this used several times. It begins saying that there are six things that God hates, and then amends it to say “seven that are detestable to Him.” There are some who say that this means that the seventh is the more detestable of the group. And Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase might actually provide a little support to that idea.

Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 MSG)

Let’s look at them.

First, in the NIV, “haughty eyes.” The Message says “eyes that are arrogant,” and the KJV says “a proud look.” I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, but I might add that, in my opinion, I get the idea that it means looking down on someone, thinking that we are better than they are.

Second, NIV says, “a lying tongue.” MSG says “a tongue that lies,” and KJV says “a lying tongue.” Again, self-explanatory. God doesn’t like lies. Elsewhere, the Bible says that a lie is an abomination in the eyes of God (Proverbs 12:22). However, it is worth noting that the Hebrew midwives lied, as did Rahab the harlot. Both were rewarded for their deceitfulness. So the motivation behind the lie is important. Corrie ten Boom’s family was deceitful when they hid Jews in their crawlspace.

Third, NIV says, “hands that shed innocent blood.” All of the other main translations are very similar, if not exactly the same. I think it safe to say that “murder” is the operative idea, here. And God is very clear about this in His laws.

Fourth, NIV says, “a heart that devises wicked schemes.” Again, the other translations are very similar. I get the idea of plotting to harm someone, or to steal from them. Perhaps scamming them. There are many hearts out there who are constantly devising “wicked schemes.” I mean, who among us has not received a phone call about extending our automobile warranty?? My mother even gets those, and she has never owned a car! There’s also the ones about lowering your credit card’s interest rate. And let’s not forget the emails about package tracking numbers on things we have not ordered.

And let me say this. These types of schemes prey on the “elderly,” especially those who may not be quite so tech-savvy. They are not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they might fall more easily for such scams, at least until they are more aware of what they are.

Personally, when I’m feeling a little bit snarky (and less Christlike, admittedly), I might answer the phone (I don’t normally answer if I don’t recognize the number) and mess with whoever is on the other end. I have succeeded in getting cussed out be several of them, which makes me laugh.

The fifth thing is “feet that are quick to rush into evil.” Now this one might sting a little bit more. At least, hopefully, when we are tempted to sin, we drag our feet a little, at least trying to resist. But I’ll be honest . . . there have been times in my life when there was little to no hesitation. The idea came into my head, and my feet said, “Let’s go!” According to the author of Proverbs (presumably Solomon), God hates this.

The sixth thing is “a false witness who pours out lies.” That’s the NIV. The Message says “a mouth that lies under oath,” and the KJV is similar to the NIV, as is ESV and NLT. This is more than just lying, as this has already been covered with number 2, “a lying tongue.” This has more to do, I think with the idea behind number four. Lying under oath is an attempt to subjugate (boy that’s a hard one to spell) the truth. It probably has a close relationship to number four, though, as it likely involves a “wicked scheme.” Now, I have, for many years, associated the commandment that says “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” as being more associated with gossip than lying under oath.

And that brings us to number seven, which, according to some, God loathes with even more passion than the other six. “A person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Peterson renders this “a troublemaker in the family.” But the ESV and KJV may nail this one even better. “One who sows discord among brothers.” I have no trouble believing that this, in God’s eyes, is the most detestable item in this list of seven things. The “community,” the “family,” the “brothers,” is what makes up the Church. And I believe it safe to rest assured that God Almighty loathes any sowing of discord among the brothers and sisters that make up the Church.

Occasionally, in reading Paul’s letters, you might run across some names at the end, names of people who do just that. At one point, he even speaks of handing someone over to Satan. There is no love lost over people like that in Scripture. And I believe that some serious retrospection is always good, in that regard. Have I sowed discord among brothers? With a heavy heart, I have to confess that, at various times in my past, this may have happened. But I don’t think it was planned or schemed.

And this is where this all comes together. There are people in this world whose main purpose in life is to cause trouble and steal the joy of other people. And the person who lives with that goal in mind is one who pretty much sums up all seven of these things that the Lord hates. Are these people true believers, Christians? I am not wise enough to answer that question, and only God knows the answer to this. That’s kind of like wondering if Judas was saved. Far be it from me to try to guess that answer, although Jesus did opine that it would have been better for him if he had never been born.

And the positive answer to all seven of these things is summed up in one command that Jesus gave us. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Consider it, for a moment. If you are successfully loving your neighbor, you won’t look down on them, thinking that you are better; you won’t lie to them (at least not maliciously); you certainly won’t murder them; you won’t devise wicked schemes to relieve them of their money or property; you won’t rush into evil deeds (this may or may not involve another person); you won’t bear false witness against them or gossip about them, and you won’t try to cause trouble in the family or the community.

If we love God and love people, the way Jesus instructed us, commanded us, none of these seven things will be an issue for us.

Father, thank You for bringing these things to mind, today. I always need reminders about such things, as well as reminders of how I’m doing at loving You and loving others. For the most part, I seem to be having a better time of it, lately. Your Holy Spirit has been guiding me down the path of love. This, of course, makes me think of an old song by The Cowsills. But, God, You have the means and desire to make us follow this path, and I pray for all of humanity, especially in my own country, that You would lead us down this path. I can’t expect a whole lot from those who are unbelievers, although I dare say that some of them are doing a better job of loving others than Your Church is. Or maybe it’s those who are pretending to be Your Church. You alone can make that distinction, as You are the one who is responsible for pulling the weeds. We aren’t wise enough to do that. Above all, Father, please help us to avoid, like the plague, any hint of stirring up discord among Your Church.

Help us, Lord, to see Your work in the world around us. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear.

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

That’s a really good prayer, and I’m going to save it for later use.

BLESSING

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NLT)


O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea,
great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
(Psalms 104:24-25 ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
(Genesis 32:30 ESV)

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.
(Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

Father, please show me Your face. And help me to be Your face to someone else today.

Come on, everybody together; Come on, let me show you the way; Come on, we can do much better; Follow down the path of love.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Reputation for Living Well

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-fourth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,236

Fourteen days until Daylight Saving Time Ends. And nineteen days until C’s birthday!

C had a great time with her friend, yesterday. They had some lunch together, and sat and talked about old times, and got caught up a little bit on things since. I believe they do plan to get together again, maybe even next Saturday. Her friend even brought flowers!

I didn’t do a whole lot, yesterday, at least not much that was productive. I did pick up groceries, as well as lunch for S and me, along with, of course, Sonic drinks. The rest of the day was spent reading and playing games. Oh, and I watched a couple of TV shows on the Internet. One episode of Game of Thrones (I’m in season 5, now), and re-started The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. I enjoyed Midnight Mass very much, and Hill House is by the same director and has a bunch of the same people in it. I also never finished it, so better to re-start than try to remember what had happened up to the point where I stopped.

Our church gathering is on Zoom, this morning. I won’t be finished with this by 10:15, as we both slept until after 8:00 AM (how crazy is that??). I’m not leading, so I can quietly work on it during the Zoom meeting. Shh. Don’t tell.

The World Series is set. Braves v. Astros. As previously stated, I couldn’t possibly care less about it. As I told one friend on Facebook, I don’t want Houston to win, but I don’t want that badly enough to watch any of it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

One day in Your courts
is better than a thousand
in tents of wicked.
(Psalm 84:10)

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!
(Psalms 97:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for light and joy, sown in my heart each day
2. that a day with You is better than a thousand elsewhere
3. that You "stoop down" to look at us, to care for us (Psalm 113(
4. that You raise the poor from the dust and lift the needy from the ash heap
5. that, when I trust in You, and lean not on my own understanding, You make my paths straight

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to consider the benefits of being in Your presence; of life with You.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD.
Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.

The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 113:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in His presence, I look for things in these passages that stir my spirit, that draw me in for deeper meditation and prayerr.

Psalm 113 is another of the “orphan psalms” that is a pure psalm of praise. There is no lamenting or complaining in this one, and no petition. It is all praise, declarative of the nature and character of our Father in heaven.

I like the imagery of verses 2 and 3, that call for the Lord’s name to be praised “from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.” From east to west, all around the world, let the name of the Lord be praised.

The question asked in verse 5 has only one answer, and I seriously doubt that one is expected. But the answer, of course, is no one. The picture that comes then is beautiful. There’s a word that describes what the Lord does, and that word is “condescend.” That is usually used in a negative context, but here, it is not. Because any interaction that the Lord Almighty has with us humans is condescension. He is so much higher, infinitely higher than we, that he must “stoop down” to look at us.

But He doesn’t just look, does He? “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” He seats us with princes.

In the Proverbs passage, we get some wisdom. That’s what Proverbs is mostly about, right? Wisdom from God’s Word. It is stated, at the beginning, that keeping the commands of the Lord prolong life, as well as bringing peace and prosperity. Let it be known that the idea of “prosperity” is not in the original text. None of the other main translations include that word. Here are a few examples.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV)

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 NLT)

Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you; take to heart my commands. They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 MSG)

The only reason I point that out is so that we are not tempted to take that verse as saying that God wants us to be monetarily rich. But I do like the NLT translation that says our life will be “satisfying.” That could mean a lot of different things. If I am satisfied with less, then my level of “prosperity” is different, isn’t it?

Verse 4 is one that tends to get ignored. Lots of people love to quote verses 5 and 6. But I noticed verse 4, this morning. Actually, it starts with verse 3.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
(Proverbs 3:3-4 NIV)

Here is is from The Message:

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
(Proverbs 3:3-4 MSG)

If we practice love and faithfulness (loyalty), we will have a reputation for “living well,” both in the eyes of God and the eyes of other people. I don’t take this as a recommendation to try to please people with our lives, but rather a consequence of “living well,” of living in love and faithfulness.

Father, I pray, this morning, for this love and loyalty to be the foundations of my life in Christ. Help me to love You and love others, and may my faithfulness be exemplary, that I may gain this reputation for living well in Your eyes. I’m not terribly concerned with my reputation in the world’s eyes, but I do want to be known as one who believes in You, loves You, follows You, and prays to You constantly. Help me to tie love and faithfulness around my neck, that they might be visible to others. Again, not so that they see how “great” I am, but, rather, how great You are! All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I ask, Father, that the risen Christ dwell in my heart, daily. Please provide spiritual renewal and refreshment for Your children.

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.

"Purposeful God,
there is a definite grain to the universe,
a way this world works,
a holy and common wisdom that shines in what You have created and how You continue to handle it.
Give me the good sense to pay attention to it -
to observe,
enjoy,
learn from,
and live it.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NIV)


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 NIV)

The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
(Proverbs 11:18 ESV)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
(2 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV)

These are perfect examples of love and faithfulness (loyalty).

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fear and Delight

Good morning! Today is Saturday, the twenty-third of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of photographer Paul Militaru. Please check out his photography blog.

Day 23,235

Fifteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

And it’s only twenty-five days until we fly to Indianapolis! We need to find someone to check up on or stay with our kitties while we’re gone, though.

I had a great day at the library, yesterday. It wasn’t super-busy, and others have said that Friday was usually the slowest day of the week, even pre-pandemic. The computer center had people in it for most of the day, though, and there was a bit of an influx between 5:00 and closing time, at 6:00. The manager says that’s fairly normal, and I figure maybe people have just gotten off work and run over to the library to do whatever they need to do. I’m starting to notice “repeat customers,” too.

When I got to work, yesterday, there were three “candygrams” in my mailbox. One from my manager, one from the assistant director, and one from the Community Services manager who is our director’s boss. That was very nice.

My interlibrary loan book has been extended for another week, so I now have until next Friday to finish it. I might finish over this weekend, but at least my anxiety level about it has been decreased significantly.

Another anxiety decrease/elimination occurred last night when the Red Sox failed to score a run in Game Six of the ALCS, sending the Astros to the World Series. Again. Sigh. In the spirit of the current culture of our nation, I have to assume that, since my team didn’t win, the other team cheated. That’s how we think, now, right?

I’m joking, of course. But there is something awful fishy about how the Red Sox bats just quit working for the last three games. That almost reeks more of game-fixing than cheating on either team’s part. But, in the words of one of the songs from Hamilton, “that’s one less thing to worry about.” I doubt that I will watch any of the World Series, as I couldn’t possibly care less who wins. I guess I could root for Mookie Betts, but that would require me to root for the Dodgers, and I don’t want to do that.

There’s always next year.

C has an old friend from high school coming over today, so I will be hiding away in the study for most of the day. I have a grocery order to pick up at Kroger between 1:00 and 2:00 PM, and might pick up some lunch for S and me, during that time. Otherwise, I have no significant plans for the day.

There are a lot of “holidays” to choose from today. I choose Make A Difference Day. What can you and I do today, to make a difference in someone’s life?

The word for today is verst. “a Russian measure of distance equivalent to 3,500 feet, or 0.6629 mile (1.067 kilometers).”

Today’s quote is from Peter Drucker, American businessman, and I 100% agree with it. “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

Significant birthdays on October 23:

Emmanuel, marquis de Grouchy, French general and marshal (only because I like his name), 1766-1847
Milton "Gummo" Marx, American actor and comedian, 1892-1977
Frank Sutton, American actor (Gomer Pyle, Sgt Carter), 1923-1974
Johnny Carson, American comedian and TV host (The Tonight Show), 1925-2005
Ellie Greenwich, American singer/songwriter (Da Doo Ron Ron, Leader of the Pack), 1940-2009
Pele, Brazilian football player, Player of the Century, 1940 (81)
Michael Crichton, American author (Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain), 1942-2008
Alfred "Weird Al Yankovic" Matthew, American comedian and parody singer, 1959 (62)
Sam Raimi, American filmmaker (Spiderman, Evil Dead), 1959 (62)
Cat Deeley, English TV presenter (So You Think You Can Dance), 1976 (45)
Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor and comedian (Deadpool, Van Wilder), 1976 (45)
Emelia Clarke, English actress (Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen), 1986 (35)
Ellie Greenwich co-wrote this song
My favorite Weird Al song

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Can Be A Prayer, by Daryl Madden

A simple intention
With a heart to care
Feeding the birds
Can be a prayer

A moment of dawning
Of light to appear
Watching the sunrise
Can be a prayer

Feeling so grateful
For food we prepare
Making our breakfast
Can be a prayer

A time of blessing
With God that we share
Any moment we live
Can be a prayer

Isn’t that a beautiful poem?? And so true! Any activity we do can be a prayer, with the right mindset behind it. I believe it may have been Brother Lawrence who said that the most non-spiritual tasks, such as washing the dishes, can be prayer.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that any activity we do can be a prayer
2. for Your steadfast love in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night
3. for the music You have placed in my soul, that I might sing Your praises
4. that, because I fear You and delight in Your commands, I do not fear bad news
5. that, in You, I will never be shaken

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor his loving kindness from me.
(Psalms 66:20 WEB)

I pause, this morning, to give thanks to the Lord for my life and all its blessings. His grace is overwhelming.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
(Psalms 112:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I grow more aware of God’s presence with me, I read these passages over again. What speaks to me? What stirs my spirit within me?

The psalm is simply beautiful. It is so stirring. Ironically, if asked to list favorite Psalms, 112 would not come to mind. It should, though.

I do believe that I have a healthy fear of the Lord, and that I delight in His commands. Especially when those commands are boiled down to what Jesus said summed up the law and the prophets. And I also consider myself “blessed.” That is not a boast of my circumstances. Rather, it is a boast of my God. Yes, my circumstances are, for the most part, wonderful. But a lot of that is in my spirit, in my perspective. There are things that could certainly be better. C could be healing better/faster. We could have a better life going for S, with her autism, considering her future.

But here’s the thing. Verse 3: “Wealth and riches are in their house.” This is not, in my opinion, just about money and material goods. The Hebrew word translated “wealth” implies “enough.” And we most certainly have enough. Even with my retirement and going to a part time job, we have enough. We have not had to dip into our savings yet! And that’s with me having to pay over $500 a month for COBRA insurance, until January 1, when I will get on C’s health insurance.

Verse 4: “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.” And verse 5 speaks loudly to me: “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” This is huge, to me. We have, for many years, now, been generous (C probably thinks I am overly-generous, sometimes) with the blessings we have been given. As stated in the above paragraph, we have enough, more, even, than enough. So, when the opportunities arise, we share that bounty. We tip generously, when we go to restaurants. I try to tip, when I have cash available, grocery pickup/delivery people. They don’t make a lot of money.

Again, I am not boasting of my works. It sounds like I am, but I am only attempting to illustrate the principals being taught. I am boasting in my God and His faithfulness. He keeps His promises. He blesses those who fear Him. And, even when things turn dark, we can see the light, if we focus on Him, rather than on those circumstances. As Job said, a few days ago, “shall we receive good from God, and not trouble?” (I’m sure that’s a terrible paraphrase.)

“Surely,” says verse 6, “the righteous will NEVER be shaken!” (emphasis mine) I don’t know about that part about being remembered forever. Not on earth, at least. But that’s why “story” is so important. I wish I had more stories from my parents and grandparents. That’s one reason to write things down. That’s one reason to pass things down to our children and their children. But we will not be shaken. Not ultimately, not permanently.

Sure, things will happen that shake me, momentarily. But I will bounce back, quickly, eyes on my Father, not my circumstances. And then I will give thanks and sing praises to His name. And because of these things, I can say, confidently, as in verse 7, that I don’t fear bad news. Note: It does not say that I won’t get bad news! It says that we will have no fear of it. There’s a difference.

Remember the words of Dallas Willard. If we are in Christ; if we fear the Lord, and delight in His commands, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God won’t keep bad things from happening to us, as Tish Harrison Warren observed in Prayer in the Night. He didn’t even keep bad things from happening to Himself! But, in Him, the world is a safe place to be.

I love Job’s response to the Lord in the final chapter of the book. He is humble, as we need to practice. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” he said. What would this world look like if more of us were that honest? I don’t know if we need to go as far as despising ourselves, but a measure of repentance would certainly be helpful.

If you keep reading beyond the featured passage, you see that the Lord chastises Job’s “friends.” He says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (emphasis mine) Oddly, He does not mention Elihu, the younger of the group, who waited until last to speak.

You will also see, at the end, that all of Job’s fortunes were restored, and then some. Because, throughout all of this testing, Job never waivered in his faith. He questioned, yes. He questioned the reasons that all of these terrible things were happening to him, and requested audience with the Almighty. But never once did he, as his former wife suggested, “curse God and die.”

When we fear God and delight in His commands, we are blessed. Wealth and riches will fill our houses. Good will come to us (when we are generous). We will never be shaken. We will have no fear of bad news.

Father, I praise You with all my being, this morning, for these truths. We all know that “bad” things (by our own definitions) will come in our lives. But if we know You, fear You, and delight in Your commands, those “bad” things will be turned around for good. We will not be, ultimately, shaken. Your grace, Your mercy, Your steadfast love and faithfulness . . . there aren’t enough words for me to thank You and praise You enough. I will sing to You as long as I have breath (and beyond, for I don’t believe I will need breath in heaven). Thank for Your blessings, and I also thank You that You have brought us to a place where we focus on the blessings we have, not on those we don’t have.

Father, I pray for unity and holiness within Your Church. Heal us, O Lord!

"Saving God,
before my very eyes,
visibly portray Jesus Christ crucified.
Humbled before the cross,
seeing Your suffering,
may I die to myself and come alive to You.
As I find life in Your death,
let me taste Your joy in my sorrow.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 WEB)


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Blessed are those who
fear the Lord and find delight
in His commandments.
(Psalm 112:1)

Grace and peace, friends.

Great, Glorious, and Majestic Works (and maybe Dragons)

Today is Friday, the twenty-second of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,234

Sixteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

The weekend is nigh, for whom weekends are a thing, any more. I’m still struggling to keep up with what day it is. I keep having to look at my “When 2 Work” app to double check what days I’m supposed to be working. I have also added work days to my computer calendar, and written them on our wall calendar in the kitchen. That actually helps C to know what days I’m working, as well.

Since it is Friday, that means I’m working. Since the new schedule change on October 1, I will always be working a full day on Friday. This means, of course, that I won’t ever have a Friday and Saturday off together, unless I request it, which I have done for the weekend in November when we will travel to Indianapolis to visit R & J.

I am not working tomorrow, though. Next week is my four-day week.

I feel like I got a lot accomplished yesterday. Did some laundry, swept the floors, did some cleaning in S’s bathroom (aka the “guest bathroom”) because C has a friend coming over to visit on Saturday, a friend from back in her high school days. And I cooked dinner! I’m just a regular “house-husband,” right?? Dinner was Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, by the way. So there are leftovers for lunch. It may have been the best batch I’ve ever made, too..

The Red Sox play the Astros tonight, back in Houston, Game Six. Astros lead 3-2. The Dodgers whooped up on the Braves, last night, to avoid elimination in their NLCS. The Braves lead 3-2. Their Game Six will be tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love You Here, by Daryl Madden

The church door is locked
I can’t get in there
A voice whispers, still
I can love you here

If I am honest
And acknowledge my fears
A voice of comfort
I can love you here

With our deepest wounds
Of sorrow to share
A voice of compassion
I can love you here

When I’m feeling lonely
And burdens to bear
A voice of love speaks
I can love you here

Wherever I am
Let’s be fully aware
To listen to the One
Who always loves us here

Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God,
with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Your love for us transcends place and time
2. for times when I am able to express gratitude "with my whole heart"
3. that You are always kind (Psalm 66:20 CEV)
4. for Your great, glorious, and majestic works
5. for the daily reminders You send me of those works, that I might ponder them in humility

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Let’s praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.
(Psalms 66:20 CEV)

During this quiet moment, I ponder the kindness of the Lord, and that He always loves me “here,” wherever “here” happens to be.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
(Psalms 111:1-5 NIV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
(Job 38:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to words and thoughts that would teach me and move me into a more intense and intimate walk with God.

The psalm is extolling the great works of the Lord. “Extol” means “praise enthusiastically.” It could be said to be a synonym of “praise,” but with added emphasis. I like what the psalmist says in verse 2, regarding God’s works. “They are pondered by all who delight in them.” I dare say that it is safe to assume that people who claim to be believers, who do not ponder His works, do not, in fact, delight in His works. And if one does not delight in the works of the Lord, His great, glorious, and majestic works, how can one be said to be a “believer??”

Yet, He is gracious and compassionate, and He causes His wonders to be remembered. If we are paying attention, nearly everywhere we look we can see reminders of the glorious and majestic works of the Lord, even if we live in the midst of a bustling city.

Verse 10 brings it all together, in my thoughts. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That is not the only place this is stated in Scripture. We find it most in Proverbs. And here, the Word flat-out states that, if we follow His commands, His precepts, His Word, we have “good understanding.” What are His commands? We always come back to this. They are summed up in the two greatest commands, as stated by Jesus. Love the Lord with all your being, and love people as you love yourself.

We’ve skipped over the bulk of Job, right into the time when God speaks. He has remained silent through all of the posturing by Job’s friends, and now He responds, mostly to Job. Did you ever think you would see God being sarcastic? If anyone has a right to be that way, it is Him.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders verse 2. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Truly, all of our words are “ignorant” when compared with the Him! Then God tells Job to brace himself. It’s time for God to ask questions. And He does!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who stretched a measuring line across it? Surely you know!!”

This continues on for several chapters. I wish I could see Job’s face during all of this.

We will see Job’s response tomorrow.

Side note: It is in the middle of this lengthy monologue by the Lord where I find the wonderful possibility that dragons, in fact, actually existed. I jest, in part, of course, but am somewhat serious. If dragons did exist, they were far from “wonderful,” but, rather, the most terrifying creature to ever grace the planet. Bear with me, if you will. It is named “Leviathan.”

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”
(Job 41:12-34 NIV)

Tell me that’s not a dragon!! Or at least something very much like our modern day representation of such.

But I digress.

To me, the point of this speech from God is that we know nothing, when it comes to Him. We do have, of course, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the things that He revealed to us about His Father, our Father. But do we know enough to speak boldly? Job’s “friends” made some pretty ignorant statements about Him. We, if we are not careful, will do the same. How often have you heard someone proclaim, “God does not _____ (fill in the blank)” or “God does _______”?

If Scripture does not explicitly say it, we had best couch those expressions in humility, and, at best, as opinions. We can only say, with certainty, the things that the Bible explicitly tells us.

And one of those things, hearkening back to the psalm, is that His works are great, glorious, and majestic. And we would do well to remember those works, ponder them, and extol them.

Father, I praise You for Your mighty works. I thank You for daily reminders of those works, both as I travel to and fro, and as I see photographs that others present, of Your marvelous creation, around the world. We need those reminders, lest we get so caught up in our own sense of “importance” that we forget to praise You and forget to ponder those works. It is for our own benefit that we consider Your creation of the world in which we live; that we ponder how it was that You marked out its dimensions and laid out the boundaries of the seas; that we consider how You laid the foundations of our world (and the universe in which it exists). Give us humility when we speak about You, Lord, and help us to never make statements about You out of ignorance, the way Job and his friends did.

Give us great wonder at the sacrifice of Christ, Your Son. Help us have the capacity to deny ourselves and suffer alongside others.

"Infinite God,
Your power and goodness are terribly great,
above and beyond my capacity to grasp.
What You do transcends my understanding;
so much is hidden from me.
I bow in humility and reverence before You,
content to be Christ's disciple,
trusting Your Word and resting in Your promises.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
(Matthew 5:8 CEV)


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7 NIV)

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:2 ESV)

Father, You are my God. You are the God of Jeff. You are the God of my existence, my life; You are the God of my past, the God of my needs, the God of my wounds, the God of my heart, and the God of my entire future, into eternity. You are the God of me and all that I am. In these ways, I know You in ways that no one else can know You (this is also true of everyone who calls Your Name). Help me to grasp this truth today, as I ponder Your great works and mighty deeds.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You are light and truth;
In You is no darkness at all;
I will walk in Light.

Grace and peace, friends.

Good and Trouble

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,233

Seventeen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

As is pretty typical on or around Thursdays, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, this morning. I did some grocery shopping, yesterday, and not much else. I’m doing a few other household chores today, and hope to get a good deal of reading done. The library book I am reading is due tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’m going to get it finished.

The Red Sox are heading back to Houston, down 3-2, after another lackluster performance, yesterday. The sad thing is that Chris Sale actually put on a stellar performance from the mound, only giving up one run on a home run, early in the game. Unfortunately, the Houston pitcher was perfect through five innings, something that has never happened at Fenway Park. And then, as if they weren’t behind enough, Alex Cora showed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and put Martin Perez in, again, in the ninth, to hand the Astros two more runs. Red Sox lose 9-1. Oh, well. It will be one less thing to worry about.

I have neglected to mention . . . we will be closing on the refinancing of our mortgage next Tuesday. We will be paying off both car loans after the refi, and we plan to channel the money we have been paying on the cars into the mortgage payment, and theoretically could have the house paid off in less than ten years. The main reason was to get a lower interest rate, but we will take advantage of the opportunity to pay off the cars early. I don’t foresee either of us entering into a new car loan any time soon. Both of our cars are less than five years old. I think mine is a 2019, and C’s is likely only the year before that.

Today is Reptile Awareness Day. Lizards, anyone?

Today’s word is shivaree. “A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”

Today’s quote is from Jonas Salk, American scientist. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Reminds me of one that I don’t know who originally said it, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Significant birthdays on October 21:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), 1772-1834
Sir Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (Chicago Symphony), 1911-1994
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter, 1917-1993
Whitey Ford, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1928-2020
Ursula K. Le Guin, American Science Fiction author (The Lathe of Heaven), 1929-2018
Manfred Mann, British rock musician (The Mighty Quinn, Blinded By the Light), 1940 (81)
Elvin Bishop, American rock guitar player (Fooled Around and Fell in Love), 1942 (79)
Judith Sheindlin, American television personality (Judge Judy), 1942 (79)
Lee Loughnane, American musician and songwriter (Chicago), 1946 (75)
Keith Green, American Christian musician, 1953-1982
Rich Mullins, American Christian singer/songwriter, 1955-1997
Carrie Fisher, American actress (Star Wars, Shampoo), 1956-2016
Steve Lukather, American rock singer, guitar player (Toto), 1957 (64)
Speaking of trouble . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus wants us to receive the love he offers.
He wants nothing more than that we allow him to love us and enjoy that love.
This is so hard since we always feel that we have to deserve the love offered to us.
But Jesus wants to offer that love to us not because we have earned it, but because he has decided to love us independently of any effort on our side.
Our own love for each other should flow from that “first love” that is given to us undeserved.” (Henri Nouwen, Receive Jesus’ Love)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of Jesus, undeserved, yet freely given
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for a raise at my library job (yes, already!)
4. for passages of Scripture with which I must struggle
5. that my enemy can bring nothing against me that God has not approved (don't agree? Read the book of Job)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise God, because he did not reject my prayer or keep back his constant love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 GNB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on the love of Jesus, as stated by Henri Nouwen, above. It is such a marvelous truth to realize that He loves us unconditionally, even though we have done nothing to deserve such love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
(Psalms 110:1 NIV)

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
(Psalms 110:4-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
(Job 2:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in meditating over them. These are not the easiest of passages to apply to current life situations.

I’ll be honest . . . the psalm is not one of my favorites and is a bit off-putting, especially when trying to ascertain how it applies to us, today. I believe that the first part refers to the Father speaking to the Son. The designation “LORD” should be translated from the Hebrew “YHWH,” or “yehovah.” The other “Lord” is translated from variations of “Adonai,” which means “sovereign” or “ruler.”

References to Melchizedek are always confusing, too. Basically, Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who just appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14. There are some who believe that Hebrews teaches that he was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. However, I don’t think I go along with that teaching, and passages like Psalm 110 seem to rule that out. Nevertheless, Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the narrative, having no explanation of where he came from or anything.

Psalm 110, though, proclaims that Christ (the “Lord” referred to in these verses) is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The latter verses of the psalm seem pretty violent, and I won’t pretend to comprehend verse 7 at all. I believe the main thing to get from Psalm 110 is the preeminence of Christ.

And the main thing I get from the Job passage (after I get through shuddering at the image of a man sitting among ashes, scraping boils off of his skin with piece of pottery) is Job’s response to his wife when she encourages him to “curse God and die.”

It’s a very wise response and one we would all do well to ponder. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Again, I don’t know if I believe that Job was a real person or if this is just allegory that teaches us things about God and His relationship with His people. I do know that there are people out there who would have us believe that any “trouble” we receive in life comes from the devil.

I don’t agree with that stance. God most definitely brought trouble on Israel. He sent trouble to David. Now, granted, most of those times of trouble were caused by their own actions. But Job had done nothing wrong. And while it is true that the boils and calamities were technically caused by Satan, they were allowed by God.

So I will gracefully (sometimes not so much, I admit) accept whatever comes my way. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, you know.

Father, I am grateful for all of the good that You bring to my life. And I know, as Scripture tells me, that even the trouble that comes my way comes through You, and You work it all out for my good, because I do love You, and I am called according to Your purpose. I say these things with all humility, especially in light of the love of Jesus, so freely given, yet so little deserved. I praise You for Your great love for us, Father! Give me strength to endure any trouble that comes my way, with the grace that the Holy Spirit enables me to display. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth.

I pray that all of Your Church will have a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for us. May we have the full experience of life as Your adopted children, and please give us vibrant prayer lives.

"God of severe mercy,
like Job,
eventually I will lose everything -
whatever treasures I have,
my family,
my health,
my life.
This bitter reality challenges my core motives:
why am I following You?
Who am I living this life for?
Yet in this I rest:
I belong to You,
come what may.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
(Matthew 5:8 GNB)


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Psalm 55:22 is a great verse to read after considering the truths brought forth in Job.

Thank You, Father, that You will never let us be shaken.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Your Love Defends Me

Today is Wednesday, the twentieth of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,232

Eighteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

I actually had a nice time at the Hurst Way Conference, yesterday. It was informative (being that I’m still relatively new to the City of Hurst), and parts of it were quite fun. I made it in time to get breakfast (they served right up until 8:30), which was scrambled eggs, bacon and link sausage, and breakfast potatoes. It was quite good.

I sat at a table with two other part time library aides, as well as my boss, the Adult Services manager. There was also way too much candy on the table, of which we all, obviously under some kind of mind control, ate most of. Lunch was also quite good, consisting of salmon, roasted chicken, some kind of rice, and some broccoli. And a roll. And salad. If you’ve ever taken part in a buffet of this kind, you know the kind of salad, too. You know . . . the one that looks like someone went out in their back yard and gathered leaves? But it was good, especially when doused with Ranch dressing.

There was a fun presentation by a group called Positively Outrageous Service, which is based on a book by the same name. The two gentlemen who presented were Andrew Szabo and Michael Hoffman. They are co-authors of the book, along with T. Scott Gross.

There was a lot of talk about how the city made it through 2020 and the pandemic. The last Conference was two years ago. In fact, everyone in the room received a “Team Hurst Award,” which is, apparently, normally given either to an individual or a department. So we all received a gold-ish coin for that. Everyone also got a City of Hurst t-shirt, and I volunteered to participate in a “Family Feud” game, and received a copy of the game, “Hurst-Opoly,” as well as $100,000. Candy Bar. Hahaha! Oh. And I also won a prize at the end, a dozen “bundtinis” from Nothing Bundt Cakes. I plan to get those one day next week and take them to work with me. The last thing we need in this house is a bunch of mini bundt cakes.

I had started soup in the crock pot before leaving, yesterday morning, so that was our dinner. C and I watched a couple episodes of Midnight Mass on Netflix, our current binge. We have two more episodes left. It is an interesting mix of drama and supernatural, and, so far, doesn’t get overly scary. C hasn’t bailed on it, yet. It has a cool soundtrack, as well.

Then I started watching the ALCS game, Red Sox v. Astros. It was going fine for a while. Then the Astros tied the game in the eighth inning. Then they went ahead by a run in the ninth. Then Alex Cora put Martin Perez in the game to pitch. I should have turned off the TV at that point. But I didn’t. I watched Perez hand four more runs to the Astros on a silver platter before I gave up.

Here’s the thing, for anyone who cares. Perez has never been, nor will he ever be, anything more than a mediocre pitcher. He played for Texas for a while, and was never better than .500, and usually below. Why on earth the Red Sox hired him, I will never know.

Game Five will be this afternoon at 4:08, but Chris Sale is starting. This is an exercise in insanity, in my opinion. Sale has not been himself since he returned to the lineup, but I don’t know what other choice they have. Cora brought in Eovaldi in the ninth inning last night, so he’s not available to start. So I’m not optimistic about the Sox going back to Houston with a lead in the series. But then, I don’t think many of us expected them to get this far anyway.

C is back at the office today, for the second time this week. If she follows her normal schedule, she will work at the office tomorrow and at home on Friday. She went for a somewhat lengthy walk, yesterday, and seems to be okay. If I ask her, she says she is doing pretty good. I doubt, however, that she is pain-free.

Today is Information Overload Day. I’m just going to leave that there.

The word of the day is burgeon. “to grow or develop quickly; flourish.” The Internet seems to burgeon with information, whether accurate or not.

Today’s quote is from Elizabeth Barret Browning, English poet. “Who so loves believes the impossible.”

Significant birthdays on October 20:

Charles Ives, American composer, 1874-1954
Bela Lugosi, Austrian actor (Dracula), 1882-1956
Stuart Hamblen, American singer and composer (This Ole House), 1908-1989
Louis "Grandpa" Jones, American country singer (Hee Haw), 1913-1998
Art Buchwald, American author and columnist, 1925-2017
Joyce Brothers, American pop psychologist, 1927-2013
Mickey Mantle, American HoF baseball player, 1931-1995
Tom Petty, American rock singer/songwriter (American Girl, I Won't Back Down), 1950-2017
Viggo Mortensen, American actor (Lord of the Rings), 1958 (63)
Kamala Harris, US Vice President, 1964 (57)
Juan Gonzalez, Puerto Rican MLB outfielder (Texas Rangers), 1969 (52)
John Krasinski, American actor (The Office), 1979 (42)
It’s actually the rest of the Traveling Wilburys backing him on this video.

Today’s blog header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, from Romania, who is a wonderful photographer. You can check out his photos in the link on his name. He has graciously allowed me to feature his photos here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

If we are faithless - 
The saying is trustworthy -
He remains faithful.
(2 Timothy 2)

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. that "Your name is near"
3. that You have never turned a deaf ear to me, and have always been loyal in Your love for me
4. that no temptation comes against me that I am unable to bear
5. that Your love defends me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Blessed be God: he didn’t turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love.
(Psalms 66:20 MSG)

I pause, now, during this quiet moment, to reflect on His love and the blessings in my life.

BIBLE SONG

Help me, LORD my God; save me according to your unfailing love.
Let them know that it is your hand, that you, LORD, have done it.
While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice.
May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.
(Psalms 109:26-31 NIV)

BIBLE READING

One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
(Job 1:6-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I sit in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, looking for words or phrases that move me, catch the attention of my spirit.

In the psalm passage, I see the idea of God holding us up when others falsely accuse us or attack us. But the piece that really sticks out to me is when he asks the Lord to let them know that it was specifically His hand that has done it. And while the psalmist doesn’t specifically state that he is being “falsely” accused, I believe it is implied.

We should not be asking God to vindicate/defend us if the accusations are well-founded. That seems to be something that a lot of folks miss. And there is also a false idea of what it means to be “attacked” or “persecuted,” in my culture.

As far as I have seen, there are no Christians being persecuted in the USA. But there are people who seem to think that, if someone disagrees with them, they are being persecuted. That’s just silly. We must be sure, I believe, that the accusations leveled against us are false. Then and only then can we be justified in asking the Lord to defend us. And then, we want everything to be for His glory, so we ask, along with the psalmist, that it be obvious that it is the hand of God performing the works.

There is debate over the story of Job, as to whether it is a real, literal, historical tale or an allegorical tale. I tend to lean toward allegory, but I will also say that I am not nearly wise enough to know for sure. Either way, though, I believe a clear lesson that is taught in the brief passage we read today is that our accuser, our enemy, has no authority to tempt us or test us, unless it is given him by God.

Satan brought an accusation to the Lord, and the Lord allowed him to test it against Job. Allegory or not, I believe the precept to be true. Nothing comes against me without God allowing it. If Satan has power to tempt me or try me, it is because the Lord has allowed him to do so. But we should note that the Lord forbad Satan to lay a hand on Job. At least at first. Later, He even allowed Satan to afflict Job, physically, but did not allow him to take his life.

The comfort this should give us is knowing that nothing comes against us without the knowledge of our Father. He also knows what we can bear. This is not the same as believing the false teaching that “God won’t allow anything that you can’t handle.” That’s baloney. But 1 Corinthians 10:13 does say, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

God is not surprised. There will never be an instance when God says, “Oh! I didn’t know Satan was going to do that!” He also, by the way, knows when we will fail, but allows this, as well, that we might grow from the experience. The key is that, as noticed in the Haiku above, from 2 Timothy, God is faithful; God is always faithful, even when we are not.

Father, I am grateful for the provision that You place over us; provision that keeps our enemy from having too much power over us. I am comforted to know that nothing comes against me that doesn’t go through You first. I am encouraged to know that You know everything that is coming my way, and that You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear. My fault comes when, even though I can bear it, I sometimes fall under it. For those times, I humbly ask forgiveness, and the opportunity to get back up and go again. But You protect us. You also defend us. As the song says, Your love defends us. Sometimes, we do feel like we are all alone, but Your love defends us. You are the strength of my soul. Your Holy Spirit is the strength of my life.

"Bruising God,
if You haven't abandoned me to chance or fortune,
then help me to understand the suffering of Job,
of this world,
of my life.
I don't know what to do with a God like You -
too free,
too wild,
too beyond my control.
I know You are not safe,
but I trust You are good.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
(Matthew 5:8 MSG)


The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
(Psalms 138:8 ESV)

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:8-9 ESV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You, LORD, Reign Forever

Today is Tuesday, the nineteenth of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,231

Nineteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Yesterday turned out to be quite a lovely day. S and I got to my mother’s house somewhere around 11:30 (don’t remember exactly). Our first stop was to get her new phone activated. The young lady at the AT&T store was very friendly and helpful, and the process didn’t take too long. The new phone is enough like the old one that it will be easier to get used to. From there, we hit up the Crazy Water store, where I picked up two cases for me and one for my mother. We both drink #4, which is the strongest variety. Pretty much straight out of the ground, I think. It is reminiscent of the well water that my grandparents used to have.

After a stop by the bank to cash some checks, we headed to Natty Flats BBQ to pick up some lunch, which we took back to the house to eat. Their chili, as usual, was delicious. I also had a chicken breast, which was tasty, but a bit on the dry side. Their signature BBQ beans were also delicious, as was the “baked tater salad.” After lunch, S and I headed back home, leaving around 2:30, so as to miss rush hour traffic.

This morning, I have to be at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:30 for the conference that I am to attend. I don’t think I’ll make it in time for breakfast, which is at 7:30.

The Red Sox had another grand slam home run, last night, their third in two games of the ALCS, yet another historic moment. They scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, and won the game 12-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. They will play again tonight, and the NLCS resumes tonight in Atlanta. The Braves have a 2-0 lead in that series.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace, mercy, and peace;
Power, love, and self-control;
Do not be ashamed.
(2 Timothy 1)

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalms 57:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ease with which we got Mama's new phone set up, yesterday
2. for the smooth, safe travel we had to Mineral Wells and back
3. for the love of family
4. that my citizenship is in heaven
5. that I will be transformed into Your likeness

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
(Psalms 66:20 ESV)

As I pause during the stillness of the morning, I reflect on Your steadfast love and faithfulness. I hold on to the truth that Your Spirit gives us, not fear, but power, love, and self-control.

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of David.

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 108:1-5 NIV).

BIBLE READING

Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim
for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.

You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.
Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long?
Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old
unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.
(Lamentations 5:15-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I ponder and linger over these passages, looking for ways in which they move my spirit to prayer and meditation.

I am immediately made aware of the similarity between Psalm 108 and Psalm 57, quoted before my gratitude list. This can be seen other times, as one reads through the book of Psalms.

The heart of the psalmist is steadfast, because the love of the Lord is steadfast. God’s great love, higher than the heavens (this is also a recurring theme throughout Psalms), sustains us; it gives us the ability to praise Him and give Him thanks, to sing of His greatness among the peoples of the world. We sing and pray for Him to be exalted among the peoples of the earth. We desire to see His glory over the whole earth.

But, like the author of Lamentations, we also, at times, experience the loss of joy; our dancing turns to mourning. And, more often than not, this is caused by our own sin. In the case of Israel, it was the sin of a nation. In our case, today, it may be individual sins; they can, indeed, rob us of joy, that pervasive sense of well-being that we get when we are walking in the presence of God, in His kingdom. But it may also be sins of the Church, when she falls short of God’s ideal, chasing after the lies of men.

It is important to note that, in the middle of the lamentation, there is the proclamation, “You, LORD, reign forever.” Even in the midst of our sorrow, as we confess the lack of joy, that truth stands out, stands tall. If we can acknowledge the sovereignty of our God, even in the midst of lamentations, we are moving in the right direction. As the Church, we have the promise that our God will never utterly reject us, and will not be “angry with us beyond measure.” Jesus Christ has taken on the anger of God and punishment for our sins.

Father, You do reign forever; Your throne endures from generation to generation, even if Your people have forgotten and chased after the deceitful promises and lies of men. Forgive us, Father, and draw us back to Your path, teaching us Your ways, that we might walk in Your truth. Jesus is the Truth, the Life, and the Way. He is the only Truth, the only Source of life, and the only Way to You. I pray for You to be exalted in all the earth, and that Your glory would be seen throughout our world. Draw more people to You, Lord! Restore to us the joy of our salvation, that we might know and believe that things in Your kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine.

Father, please grant us love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed us, both spiritual and physical. Please equip us to serve in the best ways possible in these communities, as well as in our workplaces.

"God who suffers with us,
for faint hearts pierced with sorrow,
for all who have lived too much in darkness,
for those who know sickness and poverty,
lean years and drought,
I pray for Your help and comfort.
Bear them up with compassion,
and may Your hand deliver fresh mercy.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)


However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
(Romans 8:11 NIV)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
(Philippians 3:20-21 NIV)

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. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:1-9 NIV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Shhhh!!!

Today is Monday, the eighteenth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,230

Twenty days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back).

We had a great time at our church gathering, yesterday morning. We spent quite a bit of time “fellowshipping” before getting into any Scripture reading, but it was well-needed, I think. It had been a a few weeks since most of us had gathered in person, due to the impact of COVID-19. But things are settling down, it seems, at least somewhat, and C’s surgery recover is progressing to the point that she felt comfortable going to the host’s home, yesterday.

C and I also went on a nice walk, yesterday evening (my idea . . . trying to get my steps in). It was nice and cool outside, rare in Texas, and we saw some fun Halloween decorations.

Love the spiders on this one
The porch has fangs
The tombstone on the far right says, “I told you I was sick.”
I hope this is a decoration!

We were also treated to a beautiful sky.

The Braves beat the Dodgers, again, in game two of the NLCS, and will be heading to Atlanta for game three tomorrow. This is tough for LA, because they are down 0-2, and now don’t have home field advantage. Meanwhile, the Red Sox play game three tonight, in Boston. Game time is 7:08 PM. I should be able to watch at least part of the game.

I’m going to Mineral Wells, today, for two reasons. One, I need some more Crazy Water. I have about a week’s worth left, but since I am off each Monday, and this week is my two day week, I decided it is a good opportunity to take care of this. In addition, Mama needs to get her new phone activated and has not had an opportunity to get that done. I’m assuming lunch may also be involved. I believe S will be coming along, as well.

Tomorrow, I will be attending the “Hurst Way” Conference all day, in lieu of actually working my shift at the library. This is something the city desires, so I’ll be there. I’m getting paid for it, and getting an extra four hours on the pay period, as well as free lunch. Free breakfast, too, if I can get there early enough. I’m not holding my breath on that one, though. I believe breakfast is served at 7:30. The conference begins at 8:30 and goes until 4:30. After that, I won’t work again until Friday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Pursue righteousness;
Fight the good fight of the faith;
Take hold of the Life.
(1 Timothy 6)

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
(Psalms 54:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have the opportunity to travel to Mineral Wells today
2. for the cooler weather we are experiencing
3. that I am alive and breathing
4. for the encouragement to tell my story
5. for the reminder to wait quietly for the Lord

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 NLT)

I spend a quiet moment focusing on Your presence, inviting Your Spirit to guide my devotional, this morning.

BIBLE SONG

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
(Psalms 107:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:19-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in His presence, I read these passages through again, meditating on the words that I see. I seek His truth and wisdom in the words of Scripture, that I might walk in His truth.

Psalm 107 is more lengthy (again, an “orphan” psalm), and seems to be divided into stanzas, each one describing a group in their troubles and distress. Each described group calls out to the Lord and is delivered. It is all predicated by the encouragement to “let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.”

There is an older, popular, worship chorus that sprang from this psalm, that said, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” There was a somewhat ridiculous practice that evolved, in which people would shout “SO!” after the first line of the chorus. I was never a fan of that one, as it adequately illustrates peoples’ tendency to misapply and misinterpret Scripture. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “stick in the mud” and not opposed to having fun with worship. But seriously. The verse does not say, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say, ‘so!'” The better translation, in my opinion, is one like the NIV, quoted above, or the NLT, which says,

Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
(Psalms 107:2 NLT)

As a matter of fact, it appears that the word “so” is not even in the original text! So there. One of the possible translations of the word that is rendered “say,” is “boast.” So it could even be said, “Let the redeemed of the LORD boast!” I like that, as long as the boasting is about God and His salvation.

Are you redeemed? Tell your story! Does your story match one of the stanzas of Psalm 107? If not, then create your own. “Some wandered in desert wastelands.” “Some sat in darkness, utter darkness.” “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction.” Some were caught in a mighty tempest at sea.

It is worth noting that some of their conditions were brought on by their own deeds. Yet, when they humbled themselves and cried out to the Lord, He rescued and delivered them.

The writer of Lamentations remembered his own affliction, and he told his story. And his conclusion has been the “mantra” of many people throughout the centuries. Because of His great love, we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.

Along with this writer, I can proclaim, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” And then I take special note of one word in verse 26.

Quietly.

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

We seem to miss that word. We might be “waiting,” but we are not prone to do it quietly.

Father, we need to balance things better. Help me to be quiet when I’m waiting for You, rather than complaining. Perhaps “quietly” might also be meant to be “patiently.” For when we complain and moan, we are not being patient. So help me to wait quietly. On the other hand, also help me to be willing to tell my story, to boast in Your great works in my life. I am redeemed, let me not be afraid or ashamed to “say so.” There have been times in my life when I have sat in utter darkness, mostly as a result of my rebelliousness. But when I came to my senses and cried out to You, You rescued me. Thank You, Lord! Praise to You, Father, in the name of Jesus Christ my Savior!

I pray, this morning, that I might experience more enjoyment of Your creation, especially during this time of milder, cooler weather.

"Faithful Savior,
teach me what it means to have You as my portion,
finding my deepest satisfaction in You.
Show me the way to find in You my only comfort in life -
whatever it brings -
and in death.
Lead me to hope in You and know what it is for my soul to be well in all things.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NLT)


If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
(2 Timothy 2:13 NLT)

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
(Exodus 15:2 NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not.
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow;
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Grace and peace, friends.

God Is Good

Today is Sunday, the seventeenth of October.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today!

Day 23,229

Twenty-one days until DST ends

Our plans are gaining more traction as we make arrangements to visit R & J, next month, in Indianapolis. We are currently looking at a couple of possibilities for an airbnb house to rent for four nights. Our current plan is to fly out on Wednesday evening, November 17, and return on Sunday, November 21. I would be missing one day of work, Friday the 19th. C would miss two days, Thursday and Friday. It’s a short trip, but C would return to work on Monday, and I would be scheduled back on Tuesday.

Yesterday was a pretty good day at the library. It wasn’t terribly busy, but there were moments when it did get busy. That seems to be pretty normal for a Saturday. I think I registered about six people for new library cards.

The Red Sox made post-season history last night, by blasting two grand salamis in consecutive innings. The phenom Kiké Hernandez also had a solo homer, and the final score was Red Sox 9, Astros 5. So they head to Fenway for tomorrow’s game, tied at one apiece. In the NLCS, the Braves took a 1-0 lead, beating the Dodgers 3-2. They will play again today.

We have our church gathering, this morning, and C and I are planning to attend in person. She is still aching a bit, but the localized pains she was having earlier in the week have subsided quite a bit.

It’s 46 degrees outside, this morning. Lovely weather. Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Breathing and Praying, by Daryl Madden

And all of us breathe
Each moment each day
Sometimes we draw deep
In an intentional way

An entrance to prayer
When we begin
We say to our God
We let you in

Breathing and praying
A new view to see
That with every breath
God is praying in me

So let us acknowledge
This with every breath
For if either one stops
The result will be death

I love this poem, comparing praying and breathing. Both are essential for true life.

For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.
Selah.
(Psalms 44:6-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Autumn weather
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You have not rejected my prayer or withheld Your love from me (Psalm 66:20)
4. for Your goodness
5. that we are already walking in Your Kingdom

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
(Psalms 66:20 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I center on the love of God, feeling it deep within my soul.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise?
Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.
(Psalms 106:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress.
(Lamentations 1:1-3 NIV)

Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away.
(Lamentations 1:8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read through these passages again, I look for words or phrases that stir within me. I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, as I seek truth and wisdom.

The first thing is the reason given for giving thanks to the Lord. “For He is good; His love endures forever.”

God is good. If you feel compelled to say, “All the time,” in response, feel free. I don’t believe that it is possible to overstate this truth. God is good. In fact, at one point, Jesus even said that God is the only good.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
(Mark 10:18 NIV)

Good is good, and no on is truly good but God. There are people who do good things, true. But we are born into sinfulness. At our very heart, our very nature is wickedness, and even the good things that we are capable of are “filthy rags.”

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

But God is good, AND His steadfast love endures forever. And He does not treat us as we deserve. What we deserve is what humanity received in the days of Noah. Why do I say that? Because we do things that fly back in the face of that great goodness of God. We look at all the good things that He has done for us, and promptly turn away and sin some more. Many among us refuse to acknowledge His goodness, or even acknowledge His existence.

Verse 2 of the psalm (another of the “orphan” psalms) asks a strange question. “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare His praise?” We don’t know who wrote this, but, I mean, that person was proclaiming the might acts of the Lord, right? I can proclaim His mighty acts, as can you who are reading this. Perhaps a different translation can help.

Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?
(Psalms 106:2 NLT)

That gives the question a little more “oomph,” if you will. I can’t list them all; can you? And I certainly cannot praise Him enough. But together, we can, just maybe, come close. I kind of like the way the King James phrases this verse.

Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise?
(Psalms 106:2 KJV)

The word that is translated “fully” in the NIV comes out as “all” in the KJV. The Hebrew word, there, can also mean, “the whole.” So we are presented with an impossible task. Who can do it? It’s a rhetorical question designed to remind us of how inadequate we are, in the face of the goodness and steadfast love of God that endures forever.

If we act justly, we are blessed, but then there’s that phrase that makes me stop in my tracks. “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.”

Uhoh.

There is a popular phrase that is supposed to help us make decisions. “Always do right.” But do we? Does this mean that there is no hope for us to be blessed?

I choose to think that is not what it means. Because God is good. And His steadfast love endures forever. And He does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10).

At this point, it is almost as if the psalmist throws his hands up in the air and simply says, “Remember me, Lord, when You show favor to Your people.” All I can do is throw myself on the mercy of God, and cast my hope into the sea of His goodness. I don’t seem to be able to stop sinning. And I won’t be able to, until I am fully transformed into the likeness of Jesus, which is an ongoing process that will not be completed until I step over into the other plane, the true and eternal Kingdom of God, the Country of Resurrection and Life.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” said Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I’m reminded of a song. (What? Again??) This one was recorded by Pam Thum, and is called “Life is Hard (but God is Good).”

Life is hard, the world is cold
We're barely young and then we're old
But every falling tear is always understood
Life is hard, but God is good

I’ve always liked what M. Scott Peck says at the beginning of The Road Less Travelled. While it doesn’t reference the goodness of God, I still believe it is a true statement. “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Here’s the thing. Once we do accept that, and then add to it the fact that “but God is good,” then we step into the Country of Joy, which, according to Dallas Willard, is the “pervasive sense of well-being.”

Father, I praise You for Your goodness. I acknowledge that life is hard, and will continue to be so. But when we focus on Your goodness, rather than the difficulties facing us, it becomes less hard. It becomes bearable. And when we focus on Your goodness together, in numbers, as a community of saints, it doesn’t seem difficult at all. Your goodness overcomes our difficulties; Your steadfast love that never fails, that never gives us on us, and never runs out, brings us gently into the presence of joy, and makes us realize that, in You, in Your Kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine. Thank You, Father!

Lord, as we worship You today, in whatever setting we find ourselves, may You give us resurrection hope and joy. Then show us how we can share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus as we travel through our week ahead.

"Fierce God,
I want to run from pain,
hide from sorrow,
and medicate my misery.
When the foundations of my life crumble,
when all that I've put my trust in is pulled out from under me,
help me to cling to the foundation I have in Jesus Christ,
leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NIV)


Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
(Psalms 71:9 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:26 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 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. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
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.
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:1-10 ESV)

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 40:3-5 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.