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Today is Thursday, the 29th of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas.

It is the fifth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ reign in your life today!

Day 23,667

Three days until 2023!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
(Psalms 119:71 ESV)

This is a state of mind that seems to have been, for the most part, lost in recent years. As a society, instead of stopping to try to learn anything from our experiences, we seem to be spending all our energy whining and moaning about them.

Dear Father in heaven, whose might is over all the earth, we thank you for all the love you show us. We also thank you for everything that seems hard, but which you change into help and strength. We want to thank you in life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, for you are the great and mighty God, who calls us to life again and again, who leads us to fuller life. You have given us great love in Jesus Christ, our Savior. He shall always be before our eyes and remain in our hearts. Through him we can cry out in joy, “Abba, dear Father!” Amen.

Praise the Lord. 
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
 his love endures forever. 
Psalm 106:1, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the love of the Lord, that endures forever
  2. for those things which seem hard, but God works out for our good
  3. that our Father calls us to life, again and again
  4. for the faith with which we not only begin our life in Christ, but continue to abide in Him
  5. to be clay in the hands of the Master Potter

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
 because he has anointed me 
to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
 and recovering of sight to the blind, 
to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
(Luke 4:16-21 ESV)
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, 
that the mountains might quake at your presence— 
as when fire kindles brushwood 
and the fire causes water to boil—
 to make your name known to your adversaries, 
and that the nations might tremble at your presence! 
When you did awesome things that we did not look for, 
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 
From of old no one has heard 
or perceived by the ear, 
no eye has seen a God besides you, 
who acts for those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 64:1-4 ESV)
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; 
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
 we are all the work of your hand. 
Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, 
and remember not iniquity forever. 
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
(Isaiah 64:8-9 ESV)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)


As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 NRSV)

But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 NRSV)

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.
(1 John 2:24 NRSV)


“Continue.” To persist in an activity or process. To remain in existence or operation. To remain in a specified position or state.

It can also mean to recommence or resume after interruption.

All too often, the notion of faith is only used in reference to the beginning of salvation. You know, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” But that is not the end of the matter. And if we see the beginning as the end, we shortchange ourselves, and we don’t do God any favors, either.

The beginning of our walk with Christ happens through faith. But a key word in that sentence is “walk.” Walking requires movement, from one place to another. Unless one is walking for simply exercise (for example, on a treadmill), a destination is implied.

Unfortunately, for a large number of people who get “saved,” the destination is seen as heaven, that “place” we wait to go to when we die.

But there is so much more to it than that. And the modern evangelical movement has not done a good job of explaining that, because the goal has been to get as many “decisions for Christ” as possible. Notches on the proverbial belt. I can’t help but believe that this was never what Christ intended for His Church.

The Kingdom of Heaven is here. It arrived with Christ, and it continues here in His Church. We are to be walking in that Kingdom, here and now, by faith, as we continue to do the works that Jesus, Himself began.

Yes, it is by faith that we begin that walk. But it also by faith that “we are to be rooted and established in our union with Christ.” (Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, quoted in Power in Prayer) In that union with Christ, we are said to be “abiding.” “It is astonishing how such faith will work out all that is further implied in abiding in Christ. There is in the Christian life a great need for watchfulness and prayer, of self-denial, obedience, and diligence.” (Murray)

We are instructed, by Paul, in Colossians, to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. In Western society, all of these traits are seen as weakness. How does one clothe oneself with these things? I suppose I could get a shirt made (I bet I can buy one that already exists) that has those five words on it. And there might be some people out there who really believe that wearing a shirt with those words on it satisfies the instruction.

But I cannot physically wear compassion. How do I clothe myself with it? Through faith! Through the same faith that led me and enabled me to believe in Christ, to begin with.

The fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity (“goodness” in some translations), faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those characteristics can only exist in my life by faith!

“It is faith that continually closes its eyes to the weakness of the creature and finds its joy in the sufficiency of an almighty Savior that makes the soul strong and glad.” (Murray)

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you,” says John. Don’t stop at the beginning. Don’t let your “salvation” be nothing more than “fire insurance.” That is a mockery to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Take that same faith, that gift from God, that no one should be able to boast, and let it take you deeper, let it propel you into abiding.

Continue.


Father, I am grateful for my salvation, more grateful than words could ever express. But, in the spirit of John and Paul and Christ, I want more. I desire more. I don’t desure to just get in the door and stay put. I want to, as the group Deliriou5? once sang, “go deeper.”

Take the faith that brought me into Christ, to begin with, and help me to abide in Him, to go deeper, to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and humility. Make the fruit of the Spirit to be strong in me in all ways. help me to close my eyes to the weakness, and to that which the world believes to be weakness, and be strong in Christ.

In all things, Christ is sufficient. In my supposed weakness, He is found to be strong. Yes, I am weak. I confess it. The treasure of faith, the love of Christ and You, the Father, is housed in this jar of clay, that which You remember is only dust. But Christ is sufficient. Yes. Help me to continue.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Again, It’s All About Love

Today is Wednesday, the 9th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

May God’s peace be with you, today!

Day 23,617

I have not previously mentioned this, but my wife’s birthday is this coming Saturday, November 12. Unfortunately, I have to work. But we have a special event planned for Monday, and she is taking PTO on both Friday and Monday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Open my eyes, 
that I may behold 
wondrous things 
out of your law. 
(Psalms 119:18 ESV)

Lord our God, dear Father, may we be gathered in your light. Through your Spirit strengthen our hearts to hold fast to you, for you remain our help, our counsel, our comfort throughout our life and in all eternity. Send us Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, and grant that again and again we may find newness of life through him. Grant that we become attentive to him, who is risen from the dead and who will come again to complete the work he began in his life on earth. We remember your promise, O Lord God, and we remain with you. We have little strength, and through us as we are you can accomplish nothing. You alone can fulfill your promise through Jesus Christ, whom you will send to complete your works at his final coming. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
(2 Peter 3:13 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the promise of a new heaven and new earth, where true, Godly righteousness will dwell
  2. for the strength to hold fast to God, who, alone, is worthy of my worship and loyalty
  3. that God will finish what He has begun, in Jesus Christ
  4. for the steadfast love of God, which is to be displayed in our lives as it translates into love for Him and love for one another
  5. that there is no favoritism with God, regarding where someone comes from, or what background they come out of

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
(Titus 1:15-16 ESV)


Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
(Acts 10:34-35 NIV)

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
(1 John 2:8-11 NIV)


But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 NIV)


Father, on this date after election day, I pray for Your Church in the world and in this country. There is much division in Your Church, these days, much of it being over petty things. Some aren’t petty, true, but many are. And none of them, it seems, has much of a Scriptural basis. I pray for unity in Your body, Lord. I pray for all who claim to follow Christ to obey His commands, so vividly portrayed in the selected Scriptures for today.

I am thankful that my diverse devotional materials all seemed to focus on this, today. It is always . . . I can’t think of a word better than “cool,” when this happens. Today, it is about love, and what an appropriate day for it.

I pray, not for a political party or any governmental candidate, but I pray that all who experienced positive outcomes would be gracious “winners,” not beating their opponents over the head with it. I pray that those whose elections did not come out in their favor would also be gracious “losers.” In truth, it is only all of us who “lose” when divisions like this exist.

But there is a deeper need, Father. Because, in Your Kingdom, there is no “country.” There will be no USA in heaven! I’m not entirely sure that some people realize this. And I am quite happy that this is the truth. Because, in Your Kingdom, as Revelation tells us, there will be magnificent worship and praise, in a multitude that consists of every tribe, nation, people, and tongue.

Help us to love, Father. To first love You with all our being, and to second love each other as ourselves, and, finally, as the “new command” of Jesus told us, to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Give and It Will Be Given

Today is Friday, the 4th of November, 2022, in the 31st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,612

Another reminder . . . DST ends Sunday morning. We always set our clocks back (the few that have to be done manually) on Saturday night, at bedtime.

Also, for those of you who pray, please lift up C, my wife. She has been struggling with the “crud” for the past few days. At least we think that’s what it is. Typical sinubronchitis stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
(Psalms 119:13 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you that you have redeemed us and that we may feel united with your holy ones, those in heaven and those on earth who are gathered around Jesus Christ, a people growing in number and strength from year to year. We thank you that we too belong to them, and we ask you to keep our hearts aware of this unity so that we may be joyful, redeemed people who find ever greater deliverance, full of praise and thanks, full of certainty and joy. Grant this to us, for we are your people, born out of your power as Savior and gathered for the sake of your kingdom. Guard your gifts and your powers within us. Continue your redemption of the whole world until joy floods through our whole being and we can praise you for the life you have already given us here on earth. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.
(Hebrews 12:22b-24a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the awareness of unity with the community of saints, past, present, and even future, “a people growing in number and strength from year to year” (Plough.com)
  2. for the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives
  3. for the spirit of generosity that the Lord has given me
  4. for His constant provision in our lives
  5. that He has given me a heart for peace

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
(1 Timothy 6:6-10 ESV)

A Song of Ascents.

 In my distress I called to the LORD, 
and he answered me. 
Deliver me, O LORD, 
from lying lips, 
from a deceitful tongue. 

What shall be given to you,
 and what more shall be done to you, 
you deceitful tongue? 
A warrior's sharp arrows, 
with glowing coals of the broom tree! 

Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, 
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! 
Too long have I had my dwelling 
among those who hate peace. 
I am for peace, 
but when I speak, they are for war! 
(Psalms 120:1-7 ESV)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Luke 6:37-38 NIV)

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 11:24-25 NIV)

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
(Matthew 10:42 NIV)

If just a cup of water I place within your hands
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand.
("Follow Me," by Ira Stanphill) 

People still make the mistake of thinking that the Bible says that money is the root of all evil. The Bible does not say that. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. I believe that to be true.

Money is important, and it can do good things. But it can also do bad things. I still like a song from 1985, by the rock group Rush, called “The Big Money.” The lyric writing of Neil Peart shines in this song.

Big money goes around the world
Big money underground
Big money got a mighty voice
Big money make no sound

Big money pull a million strings
Big money hold the prize
Big money weave a mighty web
Big money draw the flies

Sometimes pushing people around
Sometimes pulling out the rug
Sometimes pushing all the buttons
Sometimes pulling out the plug

It's the power and the glory
It's a war in paradise
It's a Cinderella story
On a tumble of the dice

Big money goes around the world
Big money take a cruise
Big money leave a mighty wake
Big money leave a bruise

Big money make a million dreams
Big money spin big deals
Big money make a mighty head
Big money spin big wheels

Sometimes building ivory towers
Sometimes knocking castles down
Sometimes building you a stairway
Lock you underground

It's that old time religion
It's the kingdom they would rule
It's the fool on television
Getting paid to play the fool

It's a power and the glory
It's a war in paradise
It's a Cinderella story
On a tumble of the dice

Big money goes around the world
Big money give and take
Big money done a power of good
Big money make mistakes

Big money got a heavy hand
Big money take control
Big money got a mean streak
Big money got no soul

In that next to last stanza, “Big money done a power of good; Big money make mistakes.” And then the very last line of the song, “Big money got no soul.”

I’m really out of time, here, this morning, because I have to get to work at the library. Let me just say that I believe wholeheartedly the words of Paul concerning contentment, and the words of Jesus concerning generosity. “Give and it will be given to you.” This is truth; this is real. I have experienced it, and continue to.

Dallas Willard once said that Christians should not seek to be poor. That is a misunderstanding of biblical truth. He said we should work to make as much money as we can. So that we can give it away!

But whatever state you find yourself in, regarding money, remember that it is the attitude behind it, rather than the amount. Always remember the attitude of the widow to who put her two small coins in the offering coffer. Jesus said that she had given more than all of the rich people combined.

May your hearts be made generous today!


Father, I praise You for working within our hearts over the past few decades, to make us generous. I thank You that You have proved Yourself true through this. As we are generous, as we cast our “bread upon the water,” it comes back to us, a hundredfold, so we can cast it right back out again.

I pray for all of Your Church, Father, that we would all be generous people, always being willing to give to the poor, the needy, and the hungry.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Through Christ, Who Strengthens Us

Today is Friday, the 21st of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,598

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we come before you and ask you to turn our hearts and minds to you alone, to you who have power over the whole world and who can do everything in our hearts according to your will. Let there be light in our time. Hear and answer the many prayers that have already come to you, rising for centuries before your throne, prayers for your kingdom and for your will on earth. This earth has become the prey of evil. We are poor and needy, and you alone can help us. Help us, O Lord, our God and Father. After this misery let your day come, your great day over all the world and over all peoples. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Then another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all God's people upon the golden altar in front of the throne. And from the angel's hand the smoke of the incense went up before God with the prayers of his people.
 Revelation 8:3–4, NEB

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the prayers of the saints, rising up before God, as sweet incense
  2. for the Kingdom of God, and all it means for us
  3. that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139)
  4. that there will be no more tears, death, mourning, or pain in heaven
  5. that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
(Revelation 22:17 ESV)

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
(Isaiah 10:1-4 ESV)

Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
 in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, 
and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; 
the LORD is gracious and merciful. 
He provides food for those who fear him;
 he remembers his covenant forever. 
He has shown his people the power of his works,
 in giving them the inheritance of the nations. 
The works of his hands are faithful and just; 
all his precepts are trustworthy; 
they are established forever and ever,
 to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; 
he has commanded his covenant forever. 
Holy and awesome is his name! 
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; 
all those who practice it have a good understanding. 
His praise endures forever!
(Psalms 111:1-10 ESV)

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:10-13 NIV)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(Psalms 139:14 NIV)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
(Ephesians 6:10 NIV)


I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:5 ESV)


Time is running short, this morning, as I have to be at the library by 9:15. But I offer words of encouragement from God’s Word.

We take great joy in knowing that, in that day, when we see Him face to face, there will be no more tears, or death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.

That is the hope of “future grace,” as John Piper called it. But we are not there, yet, are we? So there is still an abundance of all of those things, mixed in with the happiness and joy that we also experience in our lives.

So see the words of Paul, who stated that he had learned how to be content in all things. How did he learn this? “Through Christ who strengthens me.”

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
(Philippians 4:12 NIV)

Isaiah gives us great encouragement in the well-known 40:31. Yes, if we wait upon the Lord, we will rise up as on wings of eagles. We shall walk and not be weary, we shall run and not faint. We can do all this through Christ who strengthens us!

Isaia also bids us not fear, for the Lord will be with us.

I’m sorry, but I must go.


Father, I thank You for these encouraging words from Your Word! May we all heed them today and every day, and remember that, no matter what we are facing, like Paul, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Beautiful One

Today is Sunday, the 16th of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,593

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you are so near to us that we may feel and know we are your children, your children who are in your hands with all that belongs to our earthly life, all our needs and temptations, all our efforts and pain. We come together to thank you, and our thanksgiving wins a victory over everything that makes life difficult for us. In this thanksgiving the harshness, crookedness, and injustice on earth cannot harm us. Protect us with your light, which gives us wisdom for all situations and which lifts us above everything that is base and meaningless and must pass away. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.
(1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for all the ways in which I have been enriched in God through Christ and the Holy Spirit
  2. that “our thanksgiving wins a victory over everything that makes life difficult for us” (Plough Daily Prayer)
  3. that God has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
  4. for the fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord
  5. that the struggle between sin and righteousness has been conquered on the cross

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

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)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV)


In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
(John 16:23-24 ESV)


I want to quote a whole paragraph from Andrew Murray’s Power in Prayer. It gives some meaning to the above verse.

“The work that Jesus began on earth, of reconciling in His own body both God and man, is now carried on in heaven. To accomplish this, He took up in His own person the conflict between God’s righteousness and our sin. In His body on the cross He once for all ended the struggle. Then He ascended to heaven so that from there He might in each member of His body carry out the deliverance and manifest the victory He had obtained. To do this, He ever lives to pray, and in His unceasing intercession, He places himself in living fellowship through the prayer of His redeemed ones. It is His intercession that shows itself in our prayers and gives them power that they never had before. All this is done through the Holy Spirit.” (Emphasis added)

That one sentence that I highlighted is rather astonishing. “In His body on the cross He once for all ended the struggle.” Why then, do I still struggle? Jesus ended the struggle; He conquered sin and death. Why must I continue to struggle?

There is no simple answer, I fear. It has a lot to do with this “jar of clay,” as Paul calls it, which I walk around with, the “mortal coil.” But we err if we begin to head into Gnostic territory and try to separate flesh and spirit into evil and good. I do believe, though, that the body is not yet redeemed, while the soul is. Hence the struggle. So even though Christ has conquered this, we still struggle with our fleshly desires. I do it daily. It causes me to say, think, and do things that I ought not say, think, and do.

But God remembers. He remembers that we are dust, that we are flesh. And my confidence is in Him, that this body of sin and death will someday be resurrected and redeemed, and I will have a new body. I have no idea what that will look like. But one of the things about the coming Kingdom of God, that which we refer to as “heaven,” that I am most excited about, is that there will be no more temptation to sin.

Can you even imagine that? I am unable to imagine a life without even a hint of desire to do something sinful. But I know that it will be glorious.

In the meantime, we walk in His Kingdom on earth, where everything has been made beautiful in its time, where everything has a time and a place, where God has shown me the path of life, and there is fullness of joy in His presence, and pleasures forever more at His right hand.

We have the ability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. It’s one thing that separates us from the animal kingdom. I don’t always make us of that ability. But when I do, I choose to see those things that God has made beautiful. I choose to dwell on those pleasures forevermore and the fullness of joy that is in His presence.

There is a lot of ugliness in this world, and people, in general are doing their dead-level-best to accentuate it. I don’t want to join in that. I don’t want to focus on the ugly, negative things. I want to, as the old song says, “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It doesn’t mean that I’m edging into “toxic positivity.” Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate that! And it also doesn’t mean I’m going to bury my head in the proverbial sand. I see what’s going on. I don’t like it. But I’m not going to let it control my life or my thoughts or my prayers.

I will focus on the things that God has made beautiful; I will focus on life and love. I want to see a love revolution, especially among those who claim to follow Christ.


Father, I praise You for the conquering of the struggle between righteousness and sin in the body of Christ Jesus! I thank You for the fullness of joy in Your presence and for the pleasures forevermore at Your right hand. I praise You for making all things beautiful in their time. You are beautiful. You are the Beautiful One.

I pray, Father, that I would appropriate this victory over struggle in my own life. Help me to use my ability to control what my mind dwells on, what I focus on. Help me to focus on Your beauty and on the things that You have made beautiful. Help me to dwell in Your arms and in Your Spirit.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“Behold the dreamer in the arms of the beautiful one.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Dust

Today is Saturday, October 8, 2022, in the 27th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,585

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I’m sitting here, this morning, as I begin my morning devotional. It is peaceful; it is a space of beauty.

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us a strong fortress in Jesus, the only Lord, with whom we can oppose the whole raging, hateful, lawless, and cruel world. Come what may, we want to hold high the banner of Jesus Christ. In him we want to wait for the time when your mighty deeds will fully establish your kingdom for all nations on earth. You are our God and our Father. Protect us, and give light to our hearts so that we can always be joyful and can hope in you forevermore. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 
2 Peter 3:17–18, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  • for the setting in which I am sitting, this morning; a space of beauty
  • for my strong fortress in Jesus
  • that my iniquity is forgiven
  • that my life is redeemed
  • that I am crowned with steadfast love and mercy
  • that I am satisfied with good
  • that God remembers that we are dust

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭103:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“He does not deal with us according to our sins, 
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭103:10-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 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 ‭40:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭94:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭12:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Father in Heaven, I am so very grateful for this space of beauty. It cleanses my soul and spirit this morning. I praise you that my life is hidden with Christ in you.

My soul blesses you this morning as I consider that You have forgivenall of my iniquities and cast my sins as far as the East is from the west. Your consolations have cheered our souls today. We cast all our cares upon you, because of your steadfast love and mercy toward us. We sing praises to you, rejoicing that you remember our weaknesses, knowing that we are dust.

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


Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

This Is How I Fight My Battles

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-first of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,568

The Autumnal Equinox occurs tomorrow!

My personal and baseball news can be found at my other blog, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
(Deuteronomy 13:4 ESV)

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for sending down powers from on high into our earthly life. We thank you for sending us a higher nature in which we can live for others because we are living by what we receive from you. May we be simple, childlike, and trusting. When anyone despairs of himself, show him the way to the Savior so that he can find trust. Show to us the way of trust, trust for ourselves and for all people, because it is your will for all to receive help. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
(John 7:37-38 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the wonderful words of life we get from Jesus
  2. for the Living Water
  3. for the higher nature that God gives us, that we might live for others, as we live by what we receive from Him
  4. for the strength and power I get from the Word of God
  5. that I am blessed because I have believed without seeing

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld." 

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
(John 20:19-31 ESV)

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when Jesus simply appeared in a locked room full of disciples. Did He walk through the wall/door, or did He simply appear? I find it hard to believe that the phrase “the disciples were glad” does the situation justice. For starters, I envision something more like this:

After the initial shock, I have to believe that awe and wonder would have taken over. “Glad” somehow doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word.

I can’t deny that I have always been troubled by verse 23.

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
(John 20:23 ESV)

So the word translated “forgive” is aphiemi (G863), which does carry the meaning of forgive. However, the second word translated “forgiveness” is krateo (G2902). This word carries more of a meaning of holding on to something. The KJV translates that verse like this:

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
(John 20:23 KJV)

The NLT and NIV are identical for this verse.

“If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
(John 20:23 NIV)

I rather like Peterson’s rendering, because it lends itself to the ambiguity that I’m experiencing, here.

“If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
(John 20:23 MSG)

Contextually, I think we have to consider the phrase that comes immediately before the verse, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” as Jesus breathes on His disciples. Jesus is putting some heavy authority on His disciples, here; authority which is seen in events such as the encounter with Ananias and Sapphira, later in Acts.

Oddly, Thomas wasn’t with the other ten, that day. We are not told why, so it’s not important. What is important is his reaction. Now, lest we be too hard on him, pay attention to the passage.

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
(John 20:20 ESV)

It wasn’t until after Jesus displayed the wounds in His hands and side that the disciples were dais to be “glad.” Thomas essentially demanded the same proof. Plus, he also implied that he thought the other ten were delusional.

Jesus’s response to the whole thing?

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 ESV)

That’s me. If you are a believe in Christ, that is also you. We are, according to Jesus, Himself, blessed because we have believed and not seen. This is faith, the gift from God that we have received, not of our own works, lest we should boast.


The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:22-26 ESV)


For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.
(Psalms 18:39 ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, 
a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, 
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam, 
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 
Selah.
(Psalms 46:1-3 ESV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
(Ephesians 6:10-18a ESV)

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

“Strength for the battle.” God has given me, through His Word, strength for the “battle.” I have yet to be in a physical battle. However, I have encountered many battles in my life which were not physical. At least not in the sense that shots were fired or blows dealt out.

David probably was referring to actual military conflicts, since he was king. But we read that verse, today, and can take comfort in knowing that we have the resources we need to fight our own battles.

There’s a popular worship song called “Surrounded.” Michael W. Smith has a popular recording that is, essentially, just the two choruses of the song, with no verses included. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there are verses. Surprisingly, the verses are taken from Psalm 23.

"There's a table that You've prepared for me
In the presence of my enemies
It's Your body and Your blood You shed for me
This is how I fight my battles." (emphasis added)

That’s verse 1. Verse 2 goes like this:

"In the valley I know that You're with me
And surely Your goodness and Your mercy follow me
So my weapons are praise and thanksgiving
This is how I fight my battles."

The rest of the song is a bit repetitive for my taste, as it simply says, “This is how I fight my battles” over and over, with a bridge in the middle that says, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.” Good words, though. I’ll share a video of the song . . . it’s long, though, and there’s this stranger person that’s kind of “dancing” over to one side.

“This is how I fight my battles.” How? Through the Word. Yes, it talks about the body and blood of Christ, at the “table,” which, to us, is what we call The Supper, or the Lord’s Supper. But it is through the Word.

In that verse from Hebrews, the word “word” is the Greek logos. The same Greek word is in the first chapter of John.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
(John 1:1-4 ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 ESV)

Peter tells us, in one of my favorite passages of his, that we have everything we need to live our lives.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
(2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

All of this comes through the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate.

Shawnelle Eliasen, one of my favorite Guideposts writers, wrote today’s entry. She writes, “We can’t choose what comes against us. But we can be prepared.

“When we spend time in His presence, His truth makes us strong. it changes our perceptions and reactions and how we persevere. He makes us bold. Unafraid. We become conquerors.

“The Word is our weapon of war.”

It is easy to look around at the unrest and troubles in the world, right now, and be afraid. If I take my eyes off of the Word of God, I might get fearful for the future of my own country. But, in reality, this “country” is utterly irrelevant. The man-made divisions of this world are, to a great degree, what have caused most of the “battles” in history.

God is not interested in that. I fully believe that. He is interested in us living for His glory, and in living for His glory, we live for others, as well. And we are, if we would but avail ourselves of the resources and provisions, fully prepared by being in His Word.

This is how I fight my battles.


Also, just a reminder that the “word” without the “Word” is pretty much useless. “In the life of a Christian, one of the deepest lessons to learn is that the Word without the living God avails little; that the blessing of the Word comes when it brings us to the living God; that the Word from the mouth of God brings with it the power to understand and to obey it. Let us learn the lesson that personal fellowship with God in secret can make the Word life and power for us.” (Andrew Murray)


Father, there is a lot here, today, but I want to focus on Your Word in my prayers. It is through Your Word, both written and the spiritual Word of Jesus Christ, by which I am prepared for “battle.” I have no idea what is coming my way in the future. But I will not be afraid of it, nor will I worry about it, because I know that You are with me. You have prepared a table for me, and on that Table is the Supper, the body and blood of Jesus. It is through this, through the Word, that I will fight my battles.

Help me to remain in Christ, to remain in the Word, and the Word to remain in me. I pray that I will never forsake this Word, and know that this Word will never forsake me or let me fall. I may stumble; I will stumble; but Your Word will pick me up and sustain me. Through Your Word, I have been given everything I need for life and godliness. I need not ask for anything else, I need not desire anything else. Forgive me when my desires stray from this path.

I pray for all the saints, Father, that we might mimic the early disciples, as they met together, by devoting ourselves to the apostles’ teachings, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Can We Agree?

Today is Wednesday, the fourteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,561

It’s only eight days until the beginning of Autumn! Unfortunately, the projected high for that day is now 93 degrees. Oh, well. It will start dropping soon.

Yesterday’s high only reached 89, though, and it was predicted to be 91. It’s nice when that happens. The mornings have been cooler, lately, being in the upper sixties for daily lows. Today’s record high, reached in 2011, is 100. The next ten days are mostly in the lower nineties, with one day (tomorrow) showing 89. There is little to no rain forecast.

The Texas Rangers came from behind and beat the Oakland Athletics 8-7, last night, on a walk-off home run by Mark Mathias. They were behind 7-2 at one point. It’s a rarity to see them win a one-run game, this season. They are now 62-80 on the season, holding on to third place in the AL West. They are 30 games out of first place (eliminated), and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. The MLB standings pages is currently not displaying elimination numbers. They play Oakland again today, at 7:05 PM CDT, in Arlington. There are twenty games remaining.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 7-6, in ten innings. They are now 69-73, in last place in the AL East, 17 out of first place, and 10.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play NY again tonight at 7:10 PM EDT, in Boston. They also have twenty games remaining.

Albert Pujols still has 697 home runs.

The Dodgers continue to have a shot at breaking that win record. Their MLB leading record is 98-43. With 21 games left, they must win 19 of those to beat the record. The Nationals lost again, making their MLB-worst record 49-93. they have a decent shot at losing 100 games. The Cleveland Guardians have a five-game winning streak, and the Cincinnati Reds have a five-game losing streak. The Dodgers improved their run differential to +320. The Nationals have dropped back to the bottom, with -207, two runs below the Pirates. The Rangers are at -16, and the Red Sox are at -34.

This my Wednesday on at the Hurst Public Library. I’m due in at 9:15, which means I need to get rolling, here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we hope in you. One thing never leaves our hearts, your promise that you will be our God, our God in Jesus Christ. This stands firm, and we want to hold to it in trust and confidence. For your Word remains sure, and all your works lead toward a great and wonderful time when you will be glorified, when our hearts can at last become free because we know you. We can become free from all our own works, free from all trembling and hesitation, free from all suffering and distress, because we know that you, O God, are our Father. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:33-34 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God forgives our wickedness and remembers our sins no more
  2. for the hope of a day when we will be totally free from suffering and distress
  3. for music and song, with which to praise the Lord and worship Him
  4. for the power of united, public prayer when we gather together
  5. that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10)

Sing aloud to God our strength; 
shout for joy to the God of Jacob! 
Raise a song; 
sound the tambourine, 
the sweet lyre with the harp.
(Psalms 81:1-2 ESV)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
(Psalms 40:2 NIV)

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
(Psalms 100:3 NIV)

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NIV)


Yesterday, I spoke of the need for private prayer, but that it needs to be expanded out into the day, as we take it with us. Today, there is an emphasis on public prayer, but not the kind of public prayer that is showy and self-promoting.

By “public prayer,” I’m not referring to when the head deacon is asked to pray out loud at the end of the worship service. Those are the ones that are typically for show or to get noticed by our flowery speech and eloquence. I’m talking about united prayer, the kind when we gather together and pray together over specific needs that have come to our attention.

Consider, if you will, a massive tree. The roots of the tree are concealed, deep beneath the ground. These are analogous to private prayer, which is where we work at abiding in Jesus and His Word. But the branches and stems and leaves of the tree extend upward, toward the sun. These are analogous to public, gathered prayer, when we pray together.

We need the “prayer closet,” the private time, but we also need the gathered time, with the saints, that we might agree on things and have our prayers answered.

These days, that agreeing part seems to be a major hurdle. But hurdles can be jumped.


Father, I pray for more unity in Your body, that we might be in agreement, at least enough to pray together. I pray that we would be able to set aside disagreements over non-essential ideals (unfortunately, we don’t even seem to be able to agree on that) long enough to be the Church. You have given us work to do, work that was prepared in advance. Help us to accomplish this work. Help us to know that this work is not removing all evil from the world. That is Your job, not ours, and You will do it in Your time.

It’s Your job, because You have a much better understanding (perfect, actually) of what is truly “evil.” Our opinions of what is evil don’t always line up with reality. Just because someone disagrees with me about something doesn’t make them evil.

You give us worth, Lord. We have value because of You and because of Your love for us. That value is not intrinsic. I have no worth of my own, that You did not give me. That is not, in any way, self-hatred. It is acceptance of the reality of my nature and Your love for me. You have lifted us up out of the miry pit of sin, and You have promised that You will remember that sin no more.

So, as we sing to You, and shout Your praises to You in worship of Your Holy name, may we also pray together, united in Your cause and only Your cause. Help me and all others to set aside our personal “causes” to champion Yours, which is that Your glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

No Grounds for Boasting

Today is Monday, September 12, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,559

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo site at the link provided.

The weekend was pretty uneventful for us. C and I did make it to our church gathering, yesterday morning, which went pretty well. We picked up food from Lone Star BBQ for lunch, on the way home (and Sonic drinks, of course), watched an episode of the old Avengers TV show (with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel), and the rest of the day was pretty much rest and relaxation.

It was a beautiful day, outside, starting out somewhere around 65 degrees. When we walked outside to head to our house church, it was simply wonderful out there. The high only got to 83, yesterday, although, in the sun, it felt hotter than that. That was one degree below the projected high.

Today’s high is predicted to be 86, with no rain expected. The record high for today’s date, in 2011, was 100. The average high for this date is 89.

I haven’t updated baseball in a bit, as I tend to let time get away from me. However, I have no time restraints today, at all, so here goes. The Texas Rangers managed to win a game, yesterday, beating the Blue Jays 4-1. Martin Perez got the win. The Rangers are now 60-79 for the season, 29.5 out of first place, and 18 out of the Wild Card race. They remain in fourth place in the AL West. Their WCE# is six. Seattle is the only team not eliminated from division contention. The Rangers are a half game behind the Angels. They have 23 games remaining.

The Red Sox managed to string two victories in a row, against the Orioles. They crushed them Saturday, winning 17-4, and had a pitcher’s duel, yesterday, winning 1-0. The only run was scored in the top of the first inning. The Sox are 69-72 for the season, still in last place in the AL East, still 4.5 behind Baltimore. The division E# is 6; they are 16 games out of first place. They are 10 games out of the Wild Card race, and the WCE# is 13. They have 21 games remaining.

Albert Pujols has 697 home runs, passing A-Roid, yesterday, to be alone in fourth place for home run totals. That was a definite landmark, as the closest active player to him is Miguel Cabrera, who has just over 500, and is in 27th place, over all. Nellie Cruz, in 39th place, has 459. The next closest active player is Giancarlo Stanton, in 80th place with 373. Pujols, 42 years old, will likely retire at the end of this season. I am rooting for him to make it to 700. If he could hit 18 more, he would pass Babe Ruth. With only 21 games left, that is unlikely.

The Dodgers have become the first team to clinch a playoff berth. No one should be surprised at this, as they have a MLB leading 96-43 record. With 23 games left, they could still break the season win record. But they must win 21 of those 23 games. Honestly, having already clinched a playoff berth, and only three games away from clinching the division, I doubt they will be struggling to break that record. The Nationals are still on the bottom, with 49-92, two games behind the Athletics. The Tigers, Pirates, Athletics and Nationals are all eliminated from any possible playoff contention.

The Phillies and Guardians both have three-game winning streaks going. The Nationals and Twins both have three-game losings streaks. The Dodgers passed 300, now having a +310 run differential, and the Pirates are on the bottom with -214. The Rangers have -14, and the Red Sox improved to -33.

The Rangers have a double-header set of make-up games in Miami today. They play at 12:10 CDT and 6:10 CDT. Boston doesn’t play today, and begins a series against the Yankees tomorrow night.

Football season has begun, and I don’t care much about that. Dallas lost their first game to Tom Brady, but their defense performed pretty well, holding the Bucs to only one touchdown. Final score 19-3. The bad news is that Dak Prescott was injured in the fourth quarter, and the offense already looked terrible. My favorite NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens (for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with football), beat the Jets 24-9.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, Ruler over the world, whose longing is to see your thoughts and your will in all peoples, we come before you and ask that we may find strength in your Word and never cease to hope for the coming of your kingdom. Even when the world storms and rages, even when earthly kingdoms rise up against each other and everything seems dark, even then be present. Let your kingdom go quietly forward, to the honor of your name. Help us come closer to the goal Jesus has shown us, closer to the time we wait for, the day of his coming when all shall be made new and good through your power, through your Spirit. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains...And the gospel must first be preached to all nations...Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 
(Mark 13:7–8,10, 13 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the strength I get from God’s Word and the hope for the coming of His Kingdom
  2. that when I seek the presence of God, He makes known to me the path of life
  3. that I am in Christ because of God the Father
  4. that Christ has become, to me, wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1)
  5. that I do not have to wait until I am “perfect” to enjoy God’s presence

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. . . . Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."
(John 14:15, 21, 23-24 ESV)

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV)

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)

He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.
(Psalms 18:33 ESV)

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31 ESV)


“Him,” in that passage from 1 Corinthians, is God. Because of God we are in Christ, who became all of those things for us. We have no grounds on which to boast. We don’t even have any ground on which to stand, outside of the grace of God.

We are admonished to seek the Lord, to seek His face continually. This is not an easy thing to do. While His presence is always here, we are not always aware of it. I must direct my mind and heart to be seeking His face more often.

But in that presence, then, He shows me the path of life; there is fullness of joy; there are pleasures forevermore. He sets me securely on the Rock, on the high, flat place.

And here’s the thing; a beautiful thing, in fact. “This life is meant for the sinful and weary, for the unworthy and the impotent. It is a life that is the gift of the Father’s love and a life that He will reveal in each one who comes in childlike trust to Him.” (Andrew Murray)

We do not have to wait until we are “perfect” to begin to enjoy this life. We can begin walking in this Kingdom now, immediately!

“Come and yield more fully to God’s way of holiness. Let Christ be your sanctification. Not a distant Christ to whom you look but a Christ who is near, all around you, in you. Not a Christ after the flesh, a Christ of the past, but a Christ who is present in the power of the Holy Spirit. Not a Christ whom you can know by your own wisdom, but the Christ of God who is the Spirit within you.” (Murray)

This is the Christ who bids us love Him and keep His commands, keep his word. His commands are not burdensome, unless we attempt to do them in our own strength. Then they are impossible. But, if we abide in Him, if we seek His face continually, we can do those commands, which are, once again, summed up by

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 ESV)

and

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

and

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


Father, I praise You for bringing me into Christ Jesus. You have guided me for my entire life, longer than I can remember, as I have walked in Your Kingdom. Not perfectly. Not even close. Yet I am still here, still walking. There are days when my walk is a struggle, because I try to step outside of that “easy yoke,” and walk in a direction that is not pleasing to You. Yet You never leave me or forsake me; You never stop loving me. Not only that, but Your love never changes; it does not grow smaller when I stumble, or when I choose badly.

I have no grounds to boast, outside of You. It is because of You and Your providence that I am in Christ, and that I have an inheritance waiting for me. I have nothing that You did not give me. I have no righteousness that Jesus did not provide, nor any sanctification or wisdom outside of Him.

You have revealed Yourself to me, through Jesus. You. through Christ and the Holy Spirit, have made a home in me. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

Now, help me to seek Your face more faithfully and consistently. I am too easily distracted, “far too easily pleased.” Forgive me when that happens and always draw me back to You.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“Most blessed Father, I bow in speechless adoration before the holy mystery of your divine love. Forgive me that I have known and believed in your love so much less than it deserves to be known and believed. Accept my praise for what I have seen and tasted of its divine blessedness. Accept, Lord god, the praise of a glad and loving heart that knows it can never praise you enough.” (Andrew Murray)

Grace and peace, friends.

Cut Me Some Slack

Today is Saturday, September 10, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in you today!

Day 23,557

We’ll be traveling to Mineral Wells in a little while, with a rental truck, to bring some of Mama’s furniture back with us. We have picked out a few items to keep and put in our house, and the rest will eventually be sold in an estate sale, later this fall. We are getting pretty close to being ready for that, I think. We have a couple of young adults from some family friends that will be accompanying us to do the heavy lifting.

The weather will be warm, but not “hot,” as the temperature is predicted to only hit 89 today. And we should be finished and either back home, or at least heading that way before it reaches that temp. Yesterday, it only made it to 88. There has been no rain for a few days, and doesn’t appear to be any in the next ten days.

Update: we may not be going to MW . . . the truck we were supposed to get has mechanical problems and they don’t have another one.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we stand before your presence. Look in mercy upon us poor, weak children, who do not know where to turn unless you help us with your mighty hand. We trust in you. You will help us, you will always be with us, and even in hard times you will accomplish your will for what is good. Bless us when we gather to hear your Word. May your Word always be our strength and joy. Your Word gives victory in us and in the whole world so that your will may be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God is always there to help me know which way to go
  2. that God’s Word is my strength and my joy
  3. that God remembers that we are but flesh, that we are dust
  4. for God’s Word, a lamp for my feet, a light on my path
  5. that my times are in His hands (Psalm 31)

“Remember How I Kept You,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

You did not get here alone
I walked with you all this time
I AM here, yes, I AM near

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

I love this new poem by Susan! God is always here, always near, and wherever we are, He has helped us get there. There is nothing in my life that I have accomplished on my own, nothing that I possess that I can call my own.

Please check out her other inspiration poetry at the link provided above. And much gratitude to Susan for permission to share her poems, here.


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

Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.
(Psalms 78:38-39 ESV)

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
(Psalms 17:8 NIV)

Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
(Psalms 68:20 NIV)

for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
(Proverbs 2:8 NIV)


I want to give you an idea of the order of my daily devotional readings. When I first open my WordPress site, I look at some of my favorite blogs to see their most recent entries. This is when I read poems by Daryl Madden and Susan Michaels (linked above), and photography by Paul Militaru. So the poems are seen before any Scripture is read.

Then I look at the daily prayer from Plough, a site that I recently discovered, and can’t at all remember how. The Scripture verse that I share immediately following that prayer is usually the one that is included with the prayer at the link for that site. Today’s, of course, being Psalm 119:105, a favorite verse for many people.

So, keep in mind . . . I read Susan’s poem before I read Psalm 119:105. And then, along comes Psalm 17:8, from a totally unrelated source.

The number of times that the Scriptures and readings from unrelated sources come together like this is somewhat staggering. And it often fuels my own thinking, which is what I try to include in the blog entry. Often, I quote others, including Andrew Murray, because one of my current sources is Power in Prayer.

Today, there seems to be a thread of God’s presence with us, and the way He guides us through all things. He is always near us. There is nowhere we can go where God is not.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalms 139:7-10 NIV)

But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands;
(Psalms 31:14-15 NIV)

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
(Psalms 91:4-7 NIV)

Now, these passages are some that I thought of after reading the others and typing a few words. The Lord will hide us in the shadow of His wings. He is my “shield and rampart,” and His faithfulness guides me. I want to say it guides me every step of the way, but the truth is not quite so simple, because there are frequently times when I shut Him out.

Of course, we cannot truly shut God out of our lives, can we? But we can stop paying attention to His guidance and His Word. The consequences of this are never pretty, are they? We find ourselves in some dire circumstances, sometimes. But He has never left our side, and is always there, awaiting our cry, awaiting our return to Him.

He will never leave us or forsake us, and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. And, I find great encouragement in the verse that says that He remembers that we are but flesh. I also love this passage from Psalm 103 that tells us that He also remembers that we are dust.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
(Psalms 103:13-16 NIV)

So, in this task that we have been given, this job we have, of loving one another. One key to remember is this. If God knows and remembers that we are flesh, that we are nothing more than dust, how much more so do we need to remember that about one another? God, in His grace, understands our frailty, yet loves us as completely as it is possible to be loved.

This is how we are called to love each other. So, my beloved, let us remember that we are all dust and flesh. We are imperfect; we are flawed. Yes, in Christ, we have been, in effect, made flawless, but as long as we carry that treasure in these “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7), we will still be encased in dust and flesh.

Let us all cut each other some slack.


Father, the encouragement that I get from these Scriptures is unmeasurable. I get such comfort, knowing that You are always near, that I am always in Your presence. I derive strength and confidence in knowing that You are always hiding us in the shadow, the shelter, of Your wings, that You are our refuge and rampart, our shield and defender.

It is also a great comfort to know that You know our frailty and remember that we are dust and flesh. You know our imperfections and are not surprised when we fail and falter.

What marvelous news that is! And thank You for the salvation of our souls, the forgiveness of sins, and the death and resurrection of Jesus, that has made all of this possible for us to be in relationship with You.

Now, Lord, please help us all to remember these things, that we might be a little bit more lenient with one another, remembering, as You do, that we are dust and flesh, and that none of us is perfect. That would go a long way toward making this world a better place.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
(Psalms 91:9-10 ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.