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.

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

Today is Tuesday, September 6, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,553 (the number of days since I was born)

To many people, today feels like Monday. My wife (known as “C” in this forum), for example, had to return to the office today after her long weekend. I, too, go to work today, but I’m always off on Monday. I’ll head in, this evening, at 4:15, for my weekly four-hour shift shelving returned books at the library.

We had another interesting weather day, yesterday. It was similar to Sunday, but the thunderstorm happened later in the day. Somewhere around 8:30 PM, we got a rousing thunderstorm, preceded by a nice rain. We received alerts that there was a severe warning in the area just north of us, but we did not get any severe weather at our house. Just like Sunday, though, the temperature dropped almost twenty degrees, this time taking almost three hours. Yesterday’s high was 90 degrees. I’m not sure how much rain we got yesterday evening, but we have received .88 inch in the last 72 hours. That may be it for a while, though, as there doesn’t appear to be any significant chance of rain over the next ten days. The temperatures continue to range from 87-92 for highs. The record high for today’s date is 102, occurring in 2012. I guess we got a break in 2000.

The Texas Rangers lost their ninth straight game, yesterday, unable to plate a run against the Astros. Final score, 1-0. Once again, Martin Perez pitched fairly well, but got no run support from his team. The Rangers, now 58-76, dropped to fourth place in the AL West, a half game behind the Angels. The Angels, Rangers, and Athletics are all eliminated from any chance of winning the division. The Rangers’ WCE# is 12. They have 28 games remaining.

The Red Sox lost to the Rays, 4-3, which is disappointing for several reasons. First, because the Red Sox lost; second because the Rays won; and third, because the Sox need to beat the Rays to keep any playoff hopes alive. The Sox are 67-69, in last place in the AL East. They remain 4.5 games behind the Orioles (who lost to Toronto, BOO), 14.5 out of first place, and 9 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 13, and their WCE# is 19. They have 26 games remaining.

In the Wild Card race, Baltimore is actually first behind the three current Wild Cards. But they are 4.5 games behind Toronto, to whom they just lost. They really need to win these next couple of games. Being the only other team in the AL East that I don’t seriously dislike, I would just as soon they make the Wild Card over Toronto and/or Tampa. If Boston or Texas can’t get in, Baltimore is my next choice.

The Dodgers lost a game, making their MLB leading record 92-42. With 28 games remaining, they must win 25 of those to break the record of 116 wins. They are 19 games ahead of the second-place team in the division, though, so, while they don’t mathematically have a playoff spot locked in, they virtually do. In other words, the Dodgers are coasting. The Nationals are making a serious run at not being the worst team. They have won four in a row, and are now only two games behind the Pirates, with a 48-87 record.

The Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays both have five-game winnings streaks. The Rangers have the longest losing streak, at nine games. The Dodgers have a +291 run differential, while the Pirates kept the worst, with -209.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, how shall we thank you for all you give to us, your children, for the great wisdom and power you hold in readiness for us if we are childlike? We want to be glad in your presence. We do not want to weep and complain, though tears often threaten to come. We simply want to ask you to protect us, your children. Protect all your children on earth. Let the pain that breaks over them be taken away, for the sake of the whole world. Even when we must follow a hard road, let all the suffering we endure become part of the fight that brings in the kingdom of heaven, bringing your purpose to the earth and great mercy to the peoples, bringing to all the world the wonderful forgiveness that enables men to be reborn, until at last all are called your children. Sustain us. Help us. Bless us. May the Savior always live among us, reviving and strengthening us in body and soul. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
(Mark 10:13-15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for children, and how they can teach us innocence and faith
  2. for the ways in which God protects His children
  3. that Jesus wept (John 11:35)
  4. that God can speak through anyone or anything He pleases
  5. that apart from God, I can do nothing

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 

Jesus wept. 

So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
(John 11:32-37 ESV)

Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(John 11:41-44 ESV)

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
(John 11:49-52 ESV)


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:1-5 NIV)


Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2 NIV)

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
(Proverbs 29:25 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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)


He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
(Matthew 13:24-30 ESV)

“The attempt to abolish wars and wickedness by the moral law is doomed to failure because of the fact of sinfulness.” ~ Dorothy L. Sayers


Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)


“Jesus wept.” Sermons have been preached about the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35. Why did Jesus weep? We do not know. We are not given that information. In verse 36, the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But that is just their conjecture. I mean, sure, yes, Jesus loved Lazarus. But that isn’t necessarily the reason Jesus wept.

I’m not going to try to figure it out. I’m not going to try to think of all the reasons that Jesus wept. I only want to see the reality in front of me, that Jesus wept. Jesus, God incarnate, fully God and fully human, expressed emotion. He wept, right there, “in front of God and everyone.”

And then, He did the unthinkable, the unimaginable.

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

Even Mary and Martha didn’t fully grasp what was about to happen. “Lord, it’s going to stink in there!” was the objection that Martha gave when Jesus told them to roll away the stone.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
(John 11:40 ESV)

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

What I would love to know is the thoughts of the people who were standing around the tomb, at that moment. The expressions on their faces. What they said to one another in quiet whispers. Did they snicker? Did they scoff? I bet their eyes got as big as saucers.

“What did He just say??”

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(John 11:44 ESV)

A little side speculation, here . . . how, exactly, did Lazarus come out? It says that his hands and feet were bound, so I’m thinking he didn’t exactly walk out. Maybe he shuffled? Did he hop? Or did he . . . float?

It’s not really important, that detail. What’s important is that he came out, alive. It says that many of the Jews that were on the scene believed in Jesus after this. I can’t help but notice that it doesn’t say “all” of the Jews believed. Some of them went back to the Pharisees to report on this.

And I love what Caiaphas said to them.

“You know nothing at all.”

Ooh, what a slap in the face that must have been.

But then, John lets us know that what Caiaphas said was prophecy, and that he didn’t speak it of his own volition.

To see the glory of God in our lives, all we must do is believe. This is expressed many times in Scripture. But here’s the thing. At that moment in time, when Jesus cried out, in a loud voice, “LAZARUS, COME OUT!!” the belief or unbelief of those watching was utterly irrelevant. Lazarus was coming out, whether they believed it or not.

We can see the glory of God all around us. But, if we believe, it will be more readily seen. We will see His glory in events and scenes in which we might not otherwise see it. And, even better, we might be involved in it.

The book of James tells us that the prayer of the righteous person has great power. What more exciting thing than to be involved in the glory of God being revealed through prayer? And prayer requires belief. I would not pray if I did not believe, plain and simple.


Father, I praise You for Your almighty power and glory. I praise You for the raising of Lazarus and the story that we have of that event. I thank You that Jesus showed His emotions, regardless of what reason there was for His weeping. If the reason were important, You would have told us. And maybe it was something as simple as the fact that He loved Lazarus, since those three where probably His closest friends, outside of the disciples.

Help me, Father, to believe, that I might see Your glory, daily. I’m not asking to see the dead raised, every day, or even lesser miracles, although that would be exciting to see. I just want to see Your glory in my world. Let me look at the world with eyes that believe, rather than eyes that scoff and are cynical. I have spent far too much time being sarcastic and cynical, in my life. Cynicism is worthless. Belief is everything. I do believe! Help my unbelief!

I pray for the righteousness of Christ to permeate my life to the point that my prayers are powerful. Not that I might gain any notoriety or fame, but that You might be glorified, and that Your glory might be seen in the world. I pray for the prayers of all the saints, that they might be powerful and effective, and that Your glory would be known and celebrated. Let the earth be filled with Your glory, as the waters cover the seas.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"The originality and the authenticity of Christian spirituality consists in following a God who has taken on our human condition; who had a history like ours; who has lived our experiences; who made choices; who dedicated himself to a cause for which he had to suffer; who experienced successes, joys, and failures; and who yielded his life. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, is like us in every way except that he was without sin. In Jesus, all the fullness of God dwelt; so he is the only model for our life, as humans and as Christians." ~ Segundo Galilea
(Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

What I Believe

Today is Monday, September 5, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul today!

Day 23,552

Today is Labor Day in the US, a holiday for many people (not the retail folks, though).

We had a nice thunderstorm with a decent amount of rain, yesterday afternoon. During the storm (we were under a “severe thunderstorm warning,” but it didn’t seem that severe in our location), the temperature dropped from 93 (the high for the day) to 70, in the space of less than an hour. I ventured out to get Sonic drinks between 3:30 and 4:00, and it was very nice outside. According to the site I use to check the amount, we got .38 inch in the last 72 hours. That’s the way I like my rain, not 9.5 inches in, say, twelve hours.

Today’s high is predicted to be 91, and our highs seem to be stuck in the 89-92 zone for the next ten days. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, at 105. I’m glad I don’t live in Citrus Heights, CA. One source predicts a high of 113 there, today. Egad.

We watched the Elvis movie, yesterday, on HBO Max. It’s a very well-done movie, and the young man who plays Elvis Presley did a very good job. I understand he did a lot of the singing, and also plays piano and guitar. Tom Hanks plays Col. Tom Parker. In this movie, it is coming from Parker’s POV, as he tries to convince us (not successfully) that he is not the villain, here, but that Elvis wouldn’t have existed without him.

I think I might do a separate review of the movie, later.

The Texas Rangers lost the fourth and final game to the Boston Red Sox, yesterday, 5-2. The Sox swept the Rangers. Have the Rangers given up? Or are the Red Sox surging? Hard to say. The Sox may have a slim chance of making the playoffs, and the Rangers have slim to none. The Rangers are now 58-75, soon to be twenty games below .500. The Angels lost, though, so the Rangers are still in third place in the AL West, 27.5 out of first place and 15.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 2, and the WCE# is 15. They have 29 games left, and begin a series in Houston today.

The Red Sox are 67-68, almost back to .500. They are still in last place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 15, and their WCE# is 22. They have 27 games left, and begin an important series in Tampa today.

The Minnesota Twins have caught up with the Cleveland Guardians, as the Guardians have lost five in a row. This is important for Minnesota, as there is currently no team in the AL Central in a Wild Card spot, because they are still locked up by two AL East teams and one AL West team. The Red Sox could knock Tampa out of that spot this week. Here’s hoping.

The Dodgers won again, so their MLB leading record is now 92-41. With 29 games left, they have to win 25 of those to break the 116 win record. The Nationals won again, but still have the worst record, at 47-87. The Mariners continue to win, now having a seven-game win streak. The Rangers, feeling the need to be the “best” at something, are in sole possession of an eight-game losing streak. The Dodgers edge closer to a +300 run differential, now at +294. The Pirates have overtaken the Nationals with the worst run differential, now at -209.

Not much on the agenda for today. Groceries are on the way, I’ve ordered some Crumbl cookies for the family, and we might have Lone Star BBQ for lunch. It’s Monday, so I’ll probably make chili for dinner, this evening. There might be a movie at some point, too.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We thank you, Father in heaven, that you concern yourself with us and that you bind us to yourself through all your deeds and all your help. We thank you for showing us a way of hope, a way that becomes always clearer, always firmer under our feet. On this way we can defy every evil of this world and time, knowing for sure that everything will come out right and we will all be brought to the great, eternal goal, even though we have to deny ourselves and go through much suffering. Your kingdom must come to the glory of your name, so that all people may live on a higher plane and follow you, the only true help and true life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God concerns Himself with us and helps us, showing us a way of hope, which, if we are following Him, becomes ever more clear
  2. that we who long for Christ’s appearing will be awarded a crown of righteousness at the end of the race
  3. that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and, though we physically die, yet we shall live
  4. for the rest that comes with my relationship with Christ
  5. for the example of Jesus and His prayer life

So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
(John 11:3-4 ESV)

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
(John 11:14-15 ESV)

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:21-27 ESV)

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

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)


All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:27-30 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)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)


And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 ESV)


“All things work together for good.” When Jesus received word of Lazarus’s (did anyone else grow up hearing people call him “Lasaruth?”) illness, He purposefully delayed His visit. I think it is important to understand this, to comprehend it fully, or at least as fully as it is possible for our human brains.

Jesus let Lazarus die, in order for God to be glorified by raising him from the dead!

Take a few minutes to process this. It’s not unlike the man that was born blind, to whom Jesus restored sight. Jesus declared that it happened that God might be glorified.

There are people who would explain away things like this, try to reason humanistic values into the truth. “My God would never do something like that; He wouldn’t intentionally cause someone pain.”

The Bible says differently. And if you’re not okay with that, then your understanding of God Almighty is somewhat incomplete.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
(Psalms 115:3 ESV)

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
(Psalms 138:2 ESV)

Here’s the thing. God created everything. He created the universe, then He created life on this planet. He may or may not have created life on other worlds. If He has, He hasn’t deemed it necessary to tell us about that.

He has the right to do whatever pleases Him, including things that will glorify Himself. And He is worthy of all of that glory because, as previously stated, He is the Creator. If you create something, it is yours, and it is your right to do whatever you wish with that creation.

Anyway . . . back to Lazarus. He was allowed to die so that the world could see the power of God in resurrection. It was a foreshadowing of what would happen to Jesus, who allowed Himself to die, so that God could be glorified in His resurrection.

And yes, Jesus allowed Himself to die.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:18 ESV)

And this, again, causes us to consider our thoughts about Jesus. I’ve mentioned this before, and will likely do so again. Any thoughts of Jesus simply being a “good person,” or a “good teacher,” are simply ridiculous, because of the claims He, Himself made. If any “normal” human being said the words in John 10:18, today, he would be locked up as crazy and be forced into therapy.

Either Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be, or He was insane, or He was an outright liar. Those are the only three options.

And if we believe that He was exactly who He claimed to be, then we should be believing His words and obeying His commands.

I do my best, in human terms, to do that. I believe that He was who He claimed to be; I believe His words, believing that He is the resurrection and the life, and that, even though I die, which I will, that I will live on into eternity, after the resurrection. Lazarus died again. He wouldn’t be the only person in history to do so, but there are only a handful of people who would die twice. And Lazarus will live again, after the resurrection, which will occur at the second coming of Christ.

I will remind you that I do not believe in the popular notion of a “rapture.”

I also try my best to obey the commands of Jesus, which are, as previously stated (perhaps ad nauseum to some), to love the Lord with all of our being, lover our neighbors as ourselves, and to love one another (all the saints) the way Christ has loved us.

So that’s what I believe. That wasn’t the original direction this was going to take, but, as any real writer (not that I’m a “real writer,” mind you) knows, sometimes your characters take you into some strange places.

I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
and born of the virgin Mary.
I believe He lived a sinless life and performed many miracles while on earth,
and was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day.
I believe He ascended into heaven (I'm not sure about the descending into hell part)
where He sits at the right hand of God (except for that bit when Stephen was stoned and He was standing up)
until the day He will return to resurrect those who have "fallen asleep,"
and gather up the rest who are still alive
to live with Him in eternity in a new heaven and a new earth, 
wherever those will be.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the unified Church, the Body of Christ,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

That’s mostly the Apostles’ Creed, with some modifications.

I also believe in the rest that comes from following Christ and walking in His easy yoke. He bids us come to Him when we are weary and He will give us rest. He does the hardest work, if we will but let Him.


Father, I have lived most of my life believing in You and in Christ. I have believed longer than I can remember. I have loved Your Word since I have been able to read. Sure, there are some times, in the course of my life, that my belief waned, and that maybe I didn’t love Your Word as much as other times. Nevertheless, I still believe, today. In fact, my belief today is stronger than ever, and I praise You for bringing that to pass in me.

My belief and acknowledgment of the Holy Spirit and His power has not been as long or consistent as my belief in You and Christ. That is more complicated, and my “understanding,” if we can call it that, of the Holy Spirit came much later in life. I now, while not necessarily claiming to understand or comprehend, embrace the truth of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all equally loving and directing our attention to the other two. Three in One, God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

I believe that You are the Creator and that You do whatever pleases You. I am very glad that one of the things that pleases You is to commune with us, Your creation, Your people. I am grateful that You condescend to be concerned about us, and that You give us light and life. It is because of this belief that I can read the account of Lazarus without being upset about him being allowed to die so that You could be glorified. You are God; it is all about You, it is not about me or us. It is also about Jesus Christ, Your Son, and His glory.

I thank You for Jesus and all that He has done for us. I feel like I am rambling a bit, today, but there are a lot of thoughts running through my head, and I can’t quite make them all make sense. But another thing I believe is that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I do not know how to put my prayers into words. So I have faith that this is happening today.

Help me to be a light in this world of trouble. Help me to follow the commands of Jesus, to love You and to love people, giving them encouragement instead of criticism (oh, how critical I have been in the past . . . my God, I pray for forgiveness for that!). There is more than enough criticism in this world, Father. Help me be light, life, and encouragement to people. Salt and light.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Conscience

Today is Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,551

Tomorrow is Labor Day, a holiday in the US. C will be off all day and has promised that she doesn’t plan to open her work computer. I don’t work on Mondays, anyway, so it’s just another day for me, except that we won’t get any mail.

Yesterday was a warm one, getting up to 94 in our area. I swear I opened my weather app, while I was at the library, and it said 97, but the official history for the closest airport says it reached 94. There was no rain, yesterday, which is not surprising. There is some chance of rain today, with possible afternoon thunderstorms, with an expected high of 95. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, and was 110 degrees! We have had 1.1 inches of rain in the past 72 hours, at our house. The ten-day forecast shows five days of 90+, and five days in the upper eighties. Summer will not go quietly, it seems.

There was a steady stream of patrons at the library, yesterday, which made it go by fairly quickly. The book drops were quite busy, as we filled up about six carts of books that were returned. There were two carts of youth (that means children’s in library lingo) books and two carts of adult fiction/non-fiction. One cart is DVDs and “talking books,” and the other cart is books that go on the new book display in front of the circ desk.

The Texas Rangers lost again to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, and all three of those were scored in the top of the eighth inning. One of the bullpen pitchers started the game, and it was one who has not done well of late, so I’m scratching my head over that one. The Rangers are now at 58-74, still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. They are 26.5 out of first place, with a division E number of four, and 14.5 out of a Wild Card spot, with a WCE of 17.

The Red Sox improved to 66-68, but remain in last place in the AL East, still six games behind the Orioles. They are 13.5 out of first place, with an E number of 16, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot with a WCE of 23. The Rangers and Red Sox play one more time today, at 12:35 CDT.

Not much has changed in the playoff picture. New York, Houston, and Cleveland lead their divisions. Tampa and Seattle are in a virtual tie for the first two Wild Cards, and Toronto has the third spot. In the NL, the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards lead their divisions, and the Braves, Padres, and Phillies currently have the WC spots.

The Dodgers won, improving their MLB leading record to 91-41. The Nationals won, as well, but still have the worst record at 46-84. They are only 2.5 behind the Athletics, though, who have lost four in a row. The Mariners continue to streak, having won six in a row, now (the Rays have won five), and our Texas Rangers continue to lose, now having lost seven in a row. The Dodgers will likely lead the run differential for the remainder of the season, now at +289. The Nationals, though, do have a chance to not have the worst differential, currently at -212, but the Pirates are at -208. The Rangers, after losing 9-1 to the Red Sox a couple days ago, are now at -8, and the Red Sox have improved to -43.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, let your light shine in our hearts, the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled. May the higher nature born in us become ever stronger so that the lower and perishable nature does not rule over us. Grant that we may overcome and that our hearts may rejoice in being allowed to strive for the highest good because we are your children who can share in what is eternal. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:5-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that shines in our hearts, “the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled” (Plough.com)
  2. for His great and infinite mercy, by which He has saved us
  3. for the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through jesus Christ
  4. that God desires to be gracious to us and bless us
  5. for the conscience; a gift from God that helps me determine right from wrong

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)


Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
(Isaiah 48:17-19 ESV)

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
(Luke 6:46-49 ESV)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:25 ESV)


I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
(Romans 9:1 ESV)

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
(Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV)


“God waits to be gracious” (Isaiah 30:18). The Hebrew word for “gracious,” in that verse, is chanan. The literal meaning of the word is “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, to bestow.” The NIV says, “the LORD longs to be gracious . . .”

The words “waits” and “longs” imply that there is a reason, though, that He is prevented from being gracious. Something is delaying God’s graciousness to His people. Now, in the Old Testament, this is speaking to a nation that is God’s people, the nation of Israel.

We no longer have a nation that is considered “God’s people.” God’s people is no longer a nation, but is now the Church, the Body of Christ. I think it is fair to read verses like Isaiah 30:18 and Jeremiah 29:11 and apply them to the individual within that body.

God seriously and sincerely desires, longs, waits, to be gracious to us and to shower us with blessings.

But something delays this blessing, sometimes. Isaiah 48 sheds some light on this. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!” There it is. And this should be no surprise to anyone who has read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, because He says, multiple times, that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments, or that if we abide in Him and abide in His Word, we can ask for whatever we desire, and He will give it to us.

“Abide” means “to dwell, to live within,” and if we are dwelling in Christ and in His Word, we will obey His commands.

And what are His commands? If you have read this blog before, you know the answer.

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)

“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)

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

So, if I believe, or find, that God is not, in fact, being gracious to me (which is absurd, because the very fact that I just took another breath is grace . . . everything that allows my life to continue is grace), it is because there is some point in my life where I have not been obedient.

This is not to induce guilt or shame. Especially not shame, because I am a firm believer that shame is a terrible thing, a tool of our enemy.

However, it is to force us to take a look at ourselves and be honest with ourselves.

I know no person who is 100% obedient to those commands, 24/7. I know a person or two that are close. But we are all human, and we all fail.

And this is where that gift of conscience comes into play. Look at that verse from Romans 9 up there, where Paul talks about his conscience bearing witness. What is “conscience?”

“An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”

Here’s what Andrew Murray has to say about conscience: “If the voice of conscience tells you of a course of action that is nobler or better, and you choose something else because it is easier or pleasing to self, you ill-equip yourself for the teaching of the Spirit by disobeying the voice of God.”

Keep in mind that Brother Murray is writing to Christians, here. Not to say that the unbeliever doesn’t have a conscience; of course they do (unless they are a psychopath), and I find that some of them do a better job of obeying that conscience than some believers.

I have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within me. Therefore, my “conscience,” as it were, as Murray implies, is equal to the voice of God. It tells me if something I am considering is right or wrong. Or, perhaps, it also tells me if there is something that I should be doing that I am not doing.

“You really ought to help that person. Give them something.”

“You shouldn’t do that thing you’re thinking about doing.”

You should do that thing you’re thinking about not doing.”

Murray then gives us that verse from Deuteronomy 30 about God circumcising the heart. He advises us to “claim this promise.” If we allow God to “circumcise” our heart, then we will, it says, love Him with our entire being, “and live.”

And we will experience the full extent of the graciousness with which God longs and waits to bless us.

“Believe in the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trust the Spirit that is in you, enabling you to love and so cause you to walk in God’s statutes. In the strength of this faith, and in the assurance of sufficient grace, which is made perfect in weakness, enter into God’s love and the life of living obedience it enables.”

It is only the continual presence of Jesus and His love that can enable this continual obedience in us.


Father, strengthen this conscience within me, that I might hear Your voice more readily, and be more obedient to Your commands. Help me to truly live, letting that life come to me because I have loved You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, in doing this, help me to love my neighbor as myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

Let the love of Christ be continually fueling my own love, as I allow it to channel through me, driving my every behavior. This is a tall order, Lord. I am not asking for perfection; well, maybe I am, knowing Your desire for me is to be “perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Yet, I know that I cannot be, at least not as long as I dwell in this mortal coil.

But my desire is to strive for this perfection. Not so that I can boast; for I want to have no part in boasting of anything that I have done. Rather, I desire to boast only in You and what Christ has done in my own weakness. Let my weakness be seen, that You might be seen to be strong. Let my foolishness be known, that You might seen to be wise.

I pray for the Body of Christ, that we might do a better job of heeding the conscience that is the voice of Your Holy Spirit, that we might follow the commands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and might feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the prisoners, and stop oppression in His name.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Specific Prayer

Today is Saturday, September 3, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,550

It is officially the Labor Day weekend, so a lot of people are enjoying a long weekend. C will be one of those. It makes not a lot of difference to me, because I am always off Mondays, and I am scheduled to work today. I find myself wondering if the library will be slow today. I know it will be closed on Monday.

As for my schedule, it is changing next week. And because of the way the city’s pay schedule works, I will be working next Thursday and next Friday. But I would rather do that next week than the following week, because next week is my “light week,” meaning that, were it not for this schedule change, I would only work two days. With the new schedule taking effect, I will work three. If it had been delayed until the following week, I would have wound up working five days in a row. Oh, the horror! Hahaha!

This morning, I am due in at 9:30, and will work until 6:15 PM. I do plan on making burgers for dinner tonight. That reminds me . . . I have to put meat out to thaw. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

Yesterday’s high only reached 84, but it’s supposed to hit 93 today. There is little chance of rain, today, but we had a little bit yesterday, to make three consecutive days where we had at least a small amount of rain. According to one website, we have had a little over an inch of rain in the last 72 hours. The record high for today’s date was, once again, 108, back in 2000. You would think that I would remember that year, being that hot, this late. On the other hand, that was 22 years ago, wasn’t it? Egad.

The Red Sox beat the Rangers 9-1, last night. Can we go ahead and say that the Dallas Kuechel experiment is a miserable failure?? The Rangers are now 58-73, still in third place (still by a game and a half) in the AL West, 26.5 out of first place, and 13.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is now 5, and the WCE number is 19.

The Red Sox are 65-68, still in last place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is 16, and their WCE number is 24. The two teams play again this afternoon at 3:10 CDT, in Boston. Texas has 31 games left, and Boston has 29.

The Dodgers have lost three in a row, now, diminishing their chances of breaking the win record. They are at 90-41, still leading MLB. The Nationals still trail the pack with 45-87, but only 3.5 games behind the Athletics. The Seattle Mariners now hold the leading win streak with five wins in a row. The Texas Rangers are at least leading in something, right? They now have the longest losing streak in MLB, at six consecutive games. The Dodgers’ run differential went down, but they are still almost 100 runs better than the next team, with a differential of +278. The Nats remain at the bottom, at -218.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you come to help us with your power and might. We thank you that you come to us in our suffering and strengthen us in all we must endure on earth. You help us so that what is good and full of light comes more and more to us and to all people. We thank you and pray that your power, coming from the invisible world into the visible, may continue its quiet working in us until the day when everyone can see Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and into all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God sends His strength and power to us, coming from the invisible world into the visible
  2. that He helps us to see what is good and full of light in this world of trouble and distress
  3. that these “light and momentary troubles” are nothing compared to the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
  4. for the constant presence of Jesus in my life, and that He will never leave me
  5. for the question that Jesus asks in Mark 10:51, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:9-18 ESV)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; 
you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterward you will receive me to glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:23-26 ESV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalms 32:8 NIV)

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NIV)


And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
(Mark 10:51 ESV)


Jesus is clear. He is the door. He has already called Himself the way, the truth, and the life. He is not a door; He is the door. He then says, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”

But doors serve more functions than just entryway. They also serve as protection. When the door is closed, nothing can get in to harm us. And there is also a great mystery, here. While Jesus is the door, He also goes before us, to lead the way. He can be our access point, while at the same time, never leaving us. Therefore, we have no reason to be afraid.

Once we accept these truths, then we can dig a little deeper and look at this question that Jesus asked the blind man. “What do you want me to do for you?”

I can easily see Jesus asking the same question of us, today?

“What do you want me to do for you?”

What is your answer to that question? I believe that Jesus truly wants to know the specifics, here. “He wants to hear from the man’s lips not only the general petition for mercy but also the distinct expression of his desire. Until he declares it, he is not healed.” (Andrew Murray, emphasis added)


Father, help us to answer this question. Help us to be specific with Jesus when we answer it. It truly helps us to put our specific desires into words. I can speak from experience to say that there have been times when I expressed my desire out loud, it began to sound trivial and selfish. While I certainly believe the truth that You know what we need or desire before we express it, I also believe that You desire to hear us pray specifically.

Thank You for Your constant presence in my life, and that You will never leave me. This brings me great comfort. Would that the Psalm were true, that I truly desire nothing on earth besides You. I find that I have not quite made it to that point, yet, but it is my desire to do so. Help me get there, Father. Decrease my desires for earthly things, that I might only desire You and Your presence.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

“Talk No More So Very Proudly”

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Today is Friday, September 2, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Look at all those twos!

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,549

I’m late today, because of several things. First, I started playing a tournament round on Golf Clash, and I was playing so well that I dare not quit. In fact, I’m currently in first place. Unfortunately, it is only a qualifying round, so there are no prizes for this round, just the privilege of advancing to the weekend round.

Second, I needed to get a grocery order in, to be delivered later today. This required frequent trips back and forth to the kitchen, and multiple conversations with other members of the house. But that is done, and meals are planned for most of next week. Tonight, I’m planning to cook one of our favorites, Pecan Crusted Buttermilk Chicken, a WW recipe. I have a side dish planned, as well, that will be a surprise.

I don’t work today, and it may or may not be my last Friday off. That is TBD. The new computer center person starts today, though, so it will be soon.

It rained yesterday, and has rained on and off, this morning, as well. Our high, yesterday was 85, but when we walked out of the library last night at shortly after 8:00 PM, we all agreed that it was difficult to breathe, as the air seemed quite “moist.” “Swimmable” was one word that was used. Today’s high is expected to be 88, with the next two days being in the low nineties. This changes from day to day, but the rest of the ten-day forecast predicts temps in the mid-to-upper eighties, with slim to moderate chances of rain each day.

After starting pitcher Glenn Otto scored a career-high eight strikeouts, last night, the Texas Rangers bullpen erased a five-run lead, giving up four of those in the bottom of the ninth, to lose to the Boston Red Sox 9-8. As one might expect, I am always conflicted when these two teams play each other. However, for a number of years, now, my primary allegiance has been with the Texas Rangers. So I’m sad to see them lose, especially like that! The Rangers, now having lost five in a row, are 58-72 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, a game and a half ahead of the Angels. They are 25.5 out of first place (this is not the largest disparity between first and third place, but it is close), and 12.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their elimination number (my, it seems early to be seeing those), at least as far as the division goes, is only seven games. This means that any combination of Rangers losses and Astros wins eliminates them from any chance of winning the division. I gave up on that a long time ago, though. Their WC elimination number is 21. They have 32 games left.

The Red Sox are 64-68 on the season, and remain in last place in the AL East. They are six games behind the Orioles, 15.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division elimination number is 16, and their WCE number is 25. They have 30 games left. The Rangers and Red Sox play again tonight at 6:10 CDT. Dallas Kuechel will start for the Rangers, so I don’t expect much.

The Dodgers have lost two in a row, which makes their chances of breaking a wins record slimmer. They remain at 90 wins, and top MLB with a 90-40 record. They must win 27 of 32 remaining games to break the record. The Nationals are at the bottom of MLB, with 45-86. The Seattle Mariners have the longest current winning streak, at four consecutive games. The Giants still have the longest losing streak, at seven. The Rangers are apparently trying to catch them. The Dodgers have a league leading run differential, at +284, and the Nats maintain the lowest, at -214. The Pirates, however, are only 13 runs ahead of the Nats. The Rangers, in spite of that five-game losing streak, are still in the positive column, with +2, and the Red Sox are at -53.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, you are always near to us on earth, and we thank you for all the love you put into our lives so that we can be joyful, even in all kinds of temptations and struggles. How much you have given us and how often you have rescued us from distress! Again and again you have let the light of life shine out. You give us light not only for the moment but also for the future, enabling us to draw strength and assurance from the present, the past, and the future, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; . . . through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 
(2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that our Father in heaven is always near to us on earth
  2. that we Christians in at least this country have not experienced most of the things in that Scripture passage
  3. that, even if we find ourselves having nothing, we do, indeed possess everything in Christ
  4. that God loves us unconditionally; may I love you in the same way
  5. that when I miserably fail to do number 4, God continues to bless me, anyway, in order to teach me patience, humility, and compassion

“To Me,” by Daryl Madden

For nothing’s deserved
You bless all for free
Lord, Let me share
The grace given to me

Lord, never ending
Is your great mercy
Lord, let me forgive
As you’ve forgiven me

You love every soul
Unconditionally
Lord, help me to love
How you have loved me

We know I will fail
Miserably
And Lord you bless more
To teach patience to me

I find myself echoing this prayer, today, especially the last two stanzas. It is my desire to love all as God has loved me, yet I, too, fail miserably. Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above.


“New Every Day,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

Let songs rise on eagle’s wings
I will not fail to restore
I will not fail you…ever

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

It’s rare that I feature more than one poem, but this one spoke mightily to me, today, as well. God will not fail us; He will not fail to restore; He will not fail us, ever! Please visit Susan’s blog site, at the link provided above. She also includes lovely images with each of her poems.


Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
(John 9:39-41 ESV)

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
(2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV)


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


But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
(Psalms 94:22 ESV)

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:7 ESV)


There are a lot of different topics, seemingly, in the assortment of Scriptures that I read, today. It is sobering to think that one of Jesus’s purposes on earth was to give sight to the blind, and, at the same time, blind those who claim to be able to see. In some ways, not much has changed in a couple thousand years.

The scene in 2 Chronicles is seen more than once in the Old Testament. After certain prayers, the Spirit of God occupies the temple/tabernacle to the degree that the priests are unable to perform their duties. The Glory of God is so thick, in these instances, that humans cannot endure His presence. I, personally, have not experienced this in any worship service I have ever attended.

But, for me, the big message today is hope. Our God is the God of hope, and the verse in Romans is a prayer that He would fill us with joy and peace, so that, by the power of His Spirit, we abound in hope.

What is hope? The dictionary definition is, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Or, there is a more archaic definition, “a feeling of trust.” It can also, of course, be a verb, meaning, “want something to happen or be the case.”

Our hope, as believers and followers of Christ, I believe, is more along the lines of the archaic definition. We certainly have an expectation or desire for certain things to happen, but it is more than, say, “I hope the Rangers win tonight.” Our hope, in the Lord, is a strong sense of expectation that is built on trust. Hope sustains us.

There is a quote by Hal Lindsey (I really would not have chosen to quote him, but here it is) that says, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

An exaggeration, to be sure, but there is some truth to the thought. We can “live” without hope, but is it truly “living?”

And besides being my hope, the Lord is also my stronghold, my refuge, my fortress, and all those other kinds of words that we find over and over in the Psalms, probably my favorite book in the Bible.

And check that quote from 1 Samuel. We love to quote that bit about “there is none holy like the Lord.” But we always stop before verse 3, which commands us to “talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth.”

Oops.

I’m seeing a lot of pride and arrogance coming out of our mouths, these days. Way too much.

And, in addition to the pride and arrogance, there seems to be a lack of prayer, in general. Now, I cannot truly judge how much another person prays. I really don’t have a clue. But I can surmise, from the actions and public words of many people, that if they do pray, the content of their prayers is quite shallow.

“If we desire to grow from strength to strength and to experience God’s power in sanctification and blessing on others, we must be more persevering in prayer. . . . Unless we are willing to pay the price to sacrifice our time and attention along with the seemingly legitimate or necessary tasks for the sake of attaining to the spiritual gifts, we need not expect power from above in our work.” (Andrew Murray)

Major ouch, there.

To sum all of this up, I will draw your attention back to Psalm 61:1-4.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

Father, may we pray diligently, in all humility, and in all hope, expecting You to answer, expecting You to grow us from strength to strength. Lead us to that Rock that is higher than we. And in order to allow You to do that, we must confess that there is, in fact, a Rock that is higher than we, which also requires humility.

Strike pride and arrogance from our lips, especially in the public domain. Let our words on social media be tempered with humility and compassion; let us be seen as people who know and walk with Jesus Christ, that people may, indeed, know we are His disciples by our love, not by how hard we can throw a Bible at someone.

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wins, my God. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for I am truly a lowly servant. Teach me to pray more diligently, in more humility, and may my prayers reflect Your will on earth as it is in heaven.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

Rest

Today is Thursday, September 1, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul today!

Day 23,548

We have a pretty good chance of rain, today, mostly this afternoon. The temperature is expected to be in the mid-eighties, and the rain chance is 57%, but less than an inch is expected. It would be much better if it were a slower rain than we got last a week ago, Monday. The highs for all ten days of the ten-day forecast are below ninety, which is fantastic. The record high for this date was 107, back in 2000.

I realize I haven’t posted much about baseball, recently. Part of that is because of time restraints, but my interest is waning, as the season nears its end. About the only thing I’m really interested in, at this moment, is hoping that Albert Pujols makes 700 home runs before the end of this season. He currently has 694.

The LA Dodgers have won 90 games, six ahead of the next team, which, unfortunately, is the Houston Astros. They would have to win 27 of their remaining 33 games in order to break the season record 116 wins. Doable, yes; but not likely, as they are winning about 70% of their games, right now. The Washington Nationals are still on the bottom, with a 44-86 record. With 32 games left, they will likely lose over 100 games.

The Astros, Mariners, Rays, and Padres all have three-game winning streaks going on. The Giants are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. The Texas Rangers have lost four straight, two having come at the hands of the Astros, in their recent two-game series.

The Dodgers have outscored their opponents, so far, by 286 runs, while the Nationals have been outscored by 216. The Rangers are somehow still in the positive, having outscored their opponents by three runs. The Red Sox have been outscored by 54 runs.

The Rangers are still in third place in the AL West, but won’t necessarily finish there. At 58-71, they are only two games ahead of the Angels. Meanwhile, the Red Sox look like they will finish last in the AL East, currently at 63-68, six games behind the Orioles. The Rangers have 33 games left, while the Sox have 31 remaining.

I’ll be spending the day in the computer center, today, from 11:15-8:15. I have chicken taco soup in the crockpot, which will be ready by the time C gets home from work, this evening. This may be my last Thursday to work, as I will soon be switching back to Fridays. That may not happen until after next week, however. We aren’t sure, just yet. Because of the city’s pay schedule, whenever it does happen, I may wind up having to work a Thursday and a Friday, consecutively. It’s complicated. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to see what is good in our lives. May the light in our hearts shine clearly so that we see, recognize, and live in accordance with what comes from eternity and belongs to our true nature, brought to us through Christ. Keep us from being blinded and deafened by experiences that will pass by. Help us to rise above them even in suffering and to wait patiently for what is becoming new and perfect. Praise to your name that we too can say, "The old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
(I am currently not including the link because it doesn't seem to be working at the moment)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the gentle rain that falls outside, as I write this
  2. that the Father opens my heart to see what is good in my life
  3. for the rest that Jesus gives when we come to Him
  4. that, because of Jesus, we can draw near to God when we come with a sincere heart
  5. for the ultimate protection of the Lord; the waters will not sweep over me, the flames will not burn me; all will be well

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
(John 9:3-5 ESV)


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)


let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:22 NIV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
(Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV)

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


Jesus was the light of the world as long as He walked here. When He left this plane, He passed that light on to His followers. As we follow Him, we have the assurance of His strength and help, through the Holy Spirit. We also have this promise of rest and “easy yoke” from Jesus. I have spoken many times of this, in this forum, and will, no doubt, speak of it again, for this is an important concept that we need to grasp.

The work to which God appoints us is not difficult, as long as we follow the commands of Jesus. As long as we come to Him when we are weary, He will give us rest. Rest is important for everyone. And as long as we walk with Him in His easy yoke, the work will not be burdensome. Anyone who experiences what has been called “burnout,” has not been walking in this easy yoke, but, rather, attempting to do the work, more or less solo.

We also have the admonishment, alleged to be the most oft-stated command in Scripture, to not be afraid. God has promised His presence with us wherever we go. He has redeemed us; He has set us free; do we truly believe that He has redeemed us only to abandon us and allow us to fail? My beloved, this cannot be! Look at the promises in Isaiah. When we pass through the waters, He will be with us; when we walk through the rivers, they will not sweep over us; when we walk through the fire, it will not burn us.

How easily we forget! How easily we allow our unbelief to creep in. I am no less guilty than anyone.

Therefore, I encourage you as we are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. I encourage you who are walking in this journey with me. Do not fear, for He is with you. Come to Jesus when you are weary, and He will give you rest. Walk in His easy yoke, and you will not be burdened. Do not be discouraged, for He will be with you wherever you go. He has called you, and He has redeemed you, and He will be with you and protect you.


Father, I praise You for these words of encouragement from Your Word. I thank You for the easy yoke of Jesus, and for His promise of rest when we are weary. Help us to avail ourselves of these promises and truths. Thank You for Your promises of Your presence and protection. Remind us that, no matter what can possibly happen to these jars of clay, our souls are eternally safe. Therefore, we shall not fear. We believe, Lord! Help our unbelief!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.