Who God Is Gonna Use

Today is Monday, the second of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,153

Seventeen days until S’s birthday!

Today is what I consider to be my first official day of retirement. Yesterday evening was strange, because I didn’t know how to feel. I’m used to having this, “tomorrow is Monday and I don’t want to go back to work” feeling on Sunday evenings. And, of course, that feeling wasn’t there, last night.

I still went to bed when C did (in fact, I was there before her), and I got up, this morning, at 5:15, when C got up. I’m a person of routine, so I want to maintain that, at least for now, until I know what I’m going to be doing each day. After all, if I do wind up driving the school bus, I will have to be there at 6:00 AM.

This day will not be spent sitting around, either. I’ve already mentioned the two appointments I have. While I don’t have definite, scheduled plans, yet, I do have some things that I want to accomplish today, not the least of which is having dinner ready when C gets home from work. I’ll be looking at creating some kind of weekly schedule as this week progresses.

One thing I’m definitely looking forward to is more reading time. I already started that last night, setting aside around a half hour to just sit and read, while I drank my evening herbal tea.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Place of Finding,” by Daryl Madden

Within Your Presence
An offer of prayer
A sense of a space
Of being appears

Warm is the comfort
Of love that is shown
This place of finding
Where I’m fully known

In freedoms’ surrender
Deep is the longing
The gift of this dwelling
The sense of belonging

As I go on the way
Be of this embrace
A view of remaining
To be of this place

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
(Psalms 40:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this new chapter in my life;
2. for the library interview, this afternoon;
3. that I am fully known by You (and yet, somehow, You still love me);
4. for the record of the Old Testament that shows that none of the people You used to accomplish Your purposes were anywhere close to perfect;
5. for Your constant admonishments to "fear not."

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!
(Psalms 111:10 NLT)

I pause, at this moment, in this “place of finding where I’m fully known,” to consider the day ahead. May I find You wherever I look, and wherever I go, today.

BIBLE SONG

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
(Psalms 33:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”
His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”
(Genesis 27:5-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for truth to inspire my day, to enlighten my walk, and to give me purpose. May the Holy Spirit guide my thoughts, prayer, and words today.

Why are we encouraged to praise the Lord, to sing praises to Him? Why is it “fitting for the upright to praise Him?” Because “the word of the LORD is right and true,” and “He is faithful in all He does.”

Because “the LORD loves righteousness and justice,” and “the earth is full of His unfailing love.”

Because the heavens and the “starry hosts” were created “by the breath of His mouth.”

What more reason do we need? I’m sure we can find many more reasons in Scripture, but is this not enough to inspire humankind to praise Him? The very fact that by speaking a word, He brought all creation into being, should be enough to praise Him.

You try that. Go ahead. Say, “Let there be . . .” and see what happens.

In the words of Rich Mullins, “The Lord said, ‘let there be,’ and there was.”

All of these things are also reasons for the last verse in today’s passage from Psalms.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
(Psalms 33:8 NIV)

Sadly, this does not happen. Why? Psalm 14:1 provides a good answer for that question.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 NIV)

What can we say about Rebekah? Jacob gets a lot of grief for being a deceptive cheat, and there is no denying that he was. But here we see Rebekah driving this deception. This whole scenario is so convoluted and tragic. Yet it had to happen. It was required that Jacob be the front-runner; it was destiny that Jacob get the blessing. It was God’s plan.

I don’t understand all of this, and doubt that I ever will. But it’s not my place to try to suss out the reasonings of the Almighty, is it? One thing I do know, though. And that is that if God can use a deceptive cheater like Jacob (and Rebekah), he can use me in my sinfulness, as well.

All throughout Scripture, we see God using normal folks. It might appear, on the surface, that most of God’s “heroes” were extraordinary, super-powered people, who had some kind of “holy advantage” over everyone else.

But let’s take a closer look.

Abraham lied multiple times about Sarah being his sister, because he didn’t trust God. Abraham also disobeyed God’s command by bringing his nephew along with him when he left his home and family to head to Canaan. This resulted in the whole Sodom and Gomorrah event (they probably would have gotten destroyed anyway, but there wouldn’t have been any of this pillar of salt business).

Joseph was so arrogant that his brothers wanted to murder him. Instead, they just sold him to some slave traders.

Moses was a coward. He was also a murderer. Aaron lost faith while Moses was on the mountain and allowed the fickle Israelites to sway him into creating a golden calf. Then he lied about that.

David . . . where does one start? After raping Bathsheba (let’s call it what it is, okay?), he murders her husband when his ploy to make it look like the baby is legit doesn’t work. Yet he is specifically called “a man after God’s own heart.”

Elijah ran from a woman. For forty days. Then he whined when God called him out.

Samson was not anywhere near the man of great character that I was led to believe he was in Sunday School. Samson was a creep and a jerk. Yet God used him to defeat the Philistines.

The Bible is full of weak, flawed people whom God used in mighty ways. The constant in all of those things was the Lord! He was the Source of the power and might. He used a donkey in the story of Balaam, for crying out loud.

Again, in the words of Rich Mullins (I didn’t plan this), “You never know who God is gonna use, a princess or a baby, maybe even you or me.”

So if you’re worried that God can’t use you because of the things that you have done, just read the Old Testament.

There may be, actually, one exception. I have never been able to find anything negative about Daniel. He was pretty straight up, that one.

Father, I praise You. Why? Because I have to; I am driven to; Your Spirit will not let me not praise You! No, I am not forced to praise You. Not the same thing. I am compelled, but not forced. I am not a robot, You have given me freedom of will, otherwise, I would not keep sinning. So praising You is my choice. Nevertheless, I must. Because Your Word is right and true; because You are faithful in all that You do; because You love righteousness and justice; because the earth is full of Your unfailing love; because You created everything with spoken words. I praise You; I ascribe to You honor and glory and blessing. You are worthy!

I also praise You because You have chosen, for reasons I cannot fathom, to keep me around for sixty-plus years, in spite of my sinfulness, my selfishness, my arrogance, my weakness . . . and You still have work for me to do. I call out to You to help me perform the tasks that You have for me to do – today, tomorrow, this week, and the rest of the days that I have on this earth. And if that be another thirty or forty years, so be it. May those years be lived, walking in Your Kingdom, proclaiming the truth of Your Gospel, loving You and loving people.

Lord, I pray that You give us grace as caretakers of Your creation. Make us wise in our stewardship of the physical resources You have provided. And may You inspire people with creative new ways of conservation technologies.

"God of blessing,
what a mess I create when I wrestle the future out of your hand and take it upon myself.
I pray for patient trust for today and good confidence for tomorrow,
knowing that nothing can separate me from your love,
because my curse fell on Jesus so your blessing can come to me.
Amen."

BLESSING

May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.
(Jude 1:2 NLT)


But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(Psalms 13:5 NLT)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
(1 John 4:18 NLT)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

He Delights in You

Today is Sunday, the first of August, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,152

Eighteen days until S’s birthday

We had a nice day, yesterday, albeit a shorter visit than usual.

C needed to do some work, so we had a choice. Either we needed to get home so she could get logged in by 4:00 PM, or we could stay in Mineral Wells, but we would have to be there until at least 5:00 PM. We elected to go ahead and leave, which was a tough choice.

It is likely that we won’t see R & J again before they leave for Indiana. They close on their house this week, and will be heading out next Saturday morning. They will be driving the distance on Saturday, carrying their two cats along with them.

We had a great lunch, though, from Natty Flat Smokehouse, there in Mineral Wells. It is another BBQ place, but I have decided that I believe it is the best restaurant in town. I had pulled pork and jalapeno sausage, along with a side of chili, and it was all delicious.

C is also working, already, this morning. It is her company’s year end/beginning, so there are many tasks that must be completed in their IT systems.

We will not be having our church gathering again, this morning. For the sake of privacy, I will not go into why, but the family who hosts our gatherings is having a health concern, at the moment. So we will be praying for them.

I have a “busy” day tomorrow, for my first real day of retirement. Tomorrow morning, I will go try to get the fingerprinting done for the bus driving job, and then I have the interview with the Hurst library at 2:00 PM. That’s really all that is on my schedule for tomorrow. I do plan to get in some house cleaning, and probably some laundry, as well. Whatever I can do to help take some of the load off of my wife, especially until I land a part time job.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"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

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
(Psalms 40:5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a wonderful visit with family, yesterday;
2. for the wondrous deeds you have multiplied to us, and Your gracious thoughts toward us;
3. that You delight in me;
4. that You surround me with songs of deliverance;
5. for mercy, peace, and love in abundance.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

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

I pause, briefly, to reflect on wisdom and the precepts of the Lord, wondering if I do, indeed, have good understanding. I offer up my praise to the one to whom all praise belongs.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.
The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
(Genesis 25:21-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages, slowly, reflecting on the precepts found therein. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me through the reading, leading me into truth, drawing me into closer fellowship with the Holy Trinity.

My transgressions are forgiven, and my sins are more than covered, they are erased. Therefore, I am blessed. The Lord does not count my sin against me, and I certainly endeavor to make sure that there is no deceit in my spirit. Therefore, I am blessed.

We cannot hide anything from the Lord, as He knows all things. He is not surprised by anything we do, say, or think. He knows all. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So while my actions or thoughts may, at times, surprise me, they do not surprise Him.

And He loves me anyway. He does not count these things against me because of the work of Jesus Christ, which this psalmist did not know, yet, when he wrote this song.

When we acknowledge our guilt before Him, there is a fresh release . . . a feeling that is indescribable. He forgives us. And because of this, the psalmist encourages all people to pray to the Lord, while He may yet be found.

And then, in verse 7, this sweetness:

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:7 NIV)

I am surrounded with songs of deliverance. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You,” goes the worship song by Elyssa Smith of Upper Room. The result of this surrounding is peace and joy, the pervasive sense of well-being, the knowledge that things in the Kingdom of God are far better than we could ever imagine.

Consider the words of Zephaniah 3:17.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

“He will take great delight in you.”

I want to encourage you, just as I am doing right this moment, to soak that in. Just sit for a moment . . . read that sentence over and over. Say it to yourself, “He delights in me.” The LORD God is with you, and He delights in you!

Father, it is easy to echo the words of the psalmist, who said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalms 139:6 NIV) To sit here, this morning, and let Your songs of deliverance wash over me, and to know, deep in my soul and spirit, that You delight in me, is almost more than I can handle. I can only imagine that the feeling I am experiencing must be similar to that sense of security, love, and warmth that an unborn baby feels in its mother’s womb. Total protection, not a care in the world, as I know that You are taking care of me. My sins are forgiven, they have been washed away. You are my hiding place. In You, I rest in a place where my enemy cannot touch me, where YOUR enemy cannot touch me. Hallelujah!

May resurrection hope and joy fill my soul, this morning, along with all others who will be worshiping You, today, either in a group setting or by themselves. We are never alone when we are with You. May You give us the inspiration and strength, the motivation, to share the good news of the living Christ within our own little world.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Surprising God,
your electing love upends the ways I expect things to unfold.
I admit I have little clue about the mystery of your choices,
and explanations outrun my understanding.
Humble me to rest in your good pleasure,
the grace from beyond time that guards and guides my life and this world.
Amen."

BLESSING

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
(Jude 1:2 NIV)


“O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!”
(Jeremiah 32:17 NLT)

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
(Romans 1:20 NLT)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
(Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalms 139:13-16 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Faith in the Testing

Today is Saturday, the thirty-first of July, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,151

Nineteen days until S’s birthday! She starts her countdown today!

I am officially “retired.” Let me tell you, it is an odd feeling, quite surreal. I was given a nice little “sendoff” party, around lunch time, yesterday. I wasn’t sure if they would do anything, so I was pleasantly surprised, and they pulled it off without me having a clue it was coming.

Of course, I cried a little bit. I was asked to say a few words, which was tough. I had worked with some of these people the whole seven years I had been at that location. I worked with CEVA for a total of ten years, over three different accounts, and with the Raytheon account the longest.

I told them that I loved them all, and then pointed to the shirt that I chose to wear for my last day. I purposefully selected my t-shirt that says “Love one another.” As I pointed to it, I stated that I had chosen that shirt on purpose. I simply emphasized that I loved them, and that this was what we all needed to do, as our world is so fractured right now. I believe it was well-received.

Then there was cake. And it was delicious cake. Of course I ate a piece. Someone who knows of the journey I have been on, over the last seventeen months, quipped that it was low-carb cake. I said I didn’t believe him, and I didn’t care. There was a card, actually two. One from my receiving team, and the other from the whole group. There were very kind words on them both.

I also received a few gifts, from various people. One of the Kitting leads gave me a couple of books, as we had bonded a bit over reading, during past months. He gave me Travels with Charlie, by Steinbeck, and Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch. One of the receiving ladies gave me a nice insulated tumbler, along with a Hershey’s bar, and one of the departments gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card.

As I walked out of the building, at the end of the day, with one of my closest friends walking me to the car, having surrendered my badge and all access to the building, there was this moment of almost panic, when I wanted to run back, bang on the door and yell, “Wait! I’ve made a huge mistake! I changed my mind! Let me back in!”

But I got over that.

When I checked yesterday’s mail, there was an envelope addressed to C, that contained a $200 refund from one of her recent medical procedures. I’m not one that tries to find “signs” in everything that happened, but I couldn’t help but believe that that one was, indeed, a sign from God that it’s all going to be fine.

This morning, as soon as I get done with this, we are traveling to Mineral Wells for a bittersweet gathering. R & J will be there, as we have an early celebration for J’s and S’s birthday (both August 19). R & J will be moving to Indianapolis next weekend, I think, so it will likely be our last chance to visit with them before they move. C has already declared that we are going to somehow manage to see them at least twice a year. I’m not sure how we will make that work, but I’ve never been to Indianapolis, so there’s an opportunity for me to visit a new place. Plus I have that silly star on my driver’s license, now, so I can fly again. On a plane. Well, in a plane, actually. I don’t think anyone actually flies on a plane. It would be hard to hold on . . . not to mention freezing cold.

Time to move on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Of A Prayer, by Daryl Madden

When frustrations
In this day, appear
Instead of complaining
Let’s offer a prayer

When a soul comes to mind
We dislike or we care
Let’s cover them now
With a blessing of prayer

When our thoughts arise
Of worry or fear
Let’s give them unto
Our Lord, with a prayer

When we are bored
Opportunity here
To fill our soul
With the joy of a prayer

A practice this day
Of our lives to share
The love of our Lord
With the gift of prayer

This is a beautiful poem!

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the LORD.
(Psalms 40:1-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, as I wait patiently for You, You hears me and lift me up;
2. for whatever comes next in my life, as I know it will be a gift from You;
3. that You will give me a "new song to sing," and that others will be inspired by Your works in my life;
4. that You are my refuge, my rescue, my rock, and my fortress, and that You will lead and guide me for Your Name's sake;
5. for the faith exhibited by Abraham when You tested him.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Our LORD, you keep your word and do everything you say.
(Psalms 145:13b CEV)

You may have noticed that I decided to feature different translations of the invitation verse(s) this week. The other Scriptures continue to be in New International Version, as that is the version used by the book.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.
(Psalms 31:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
(Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to lead me closer to the Trinity, as I walk in the Kingdom of God today.

The passage from Psalms is full of those descriptive words that I love to use about God; refuge, rock, fortress. And then there’s the reason for God being all of things to me; “for the sake of your name.”

I keep coming back around to this, lately. We have to remember that everything that God does is for His own Name’s sake. For the sake of His own glory, He will lead and guide me along the right path. Put simply, if I screw up, it looks bad on Him, right? And God is going to protect His own Name, above all else.

So why, then, does He allow people like Jimmy Swaggart to mess up and get caught in hotel rooms with sex-workers? I can’t answer that question, because I’m not God. But I suspect that it may have something to do with them persisting on taking their own way instead of His. I do believe that, even though I can never completely “fall away,” if I persist long enough in taking my own path, God will eventually say, “Fine, then. Go that way. But suffer the consequences.” When this happens, it will be me that is fully discredited, not God.

Now, there are people out there, who mistakenly won’t believe in God because of the actions of a few foolish people who claim to be following Him. I would plead with those people to, rather, examine the life of God incarnate, rather than a few foolish human beings. Jesus Christ is the example to look at, not Robert Tilton or Benny Hinn or Jimmy Swaggart or Joel Osteen. I could name more, and I’m sure you have a few in mind, as well.

Look to Jesus. You won’t find anything wrong, there.

In the meantime, I pray that the Lord will keep me on His path, for His Name’s sake, and not allow me to persist on my own way. Even more so, I pray that “my own way,” would actually be His way, so there wouldn’t be any problem, there.

That’s the part about keeping me from falling into any traps (verse 4).

Regarding the testing of Abraham, I find it interesting that the compiler of the devotional book chose to leave out verse 5 of Genesis 22. I believe that verse 5 is one of the more important verses in the passage.

He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
(Genesis 22:5 NIV)

There is a very important word that is used twice in the verse.

“We.”

Abraham says, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

There was no doubt in Abraham’s mind that Isaac would be coming back with him.

Father, I pray for the faith of Abraham, especially as I stare straight into the unknown today. I remember someone’s quote: “When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you.” Nietzsche, I think. Well, the abyss is staring back at me, and I am not deterred. Because I trust in You. I trust in You because You have proved Yourself worthy, time and time again, not only in my life, but in the lives of countless myriads of people before me, from the beginning of all time. I thank You for the record that we have, most effectively highlighted in Hebrews chapter 11. Thank You for being my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. And thank You for the life of Jesus Christ, who, besides being my redemption, is also my example for how to live my own life.

Lord, I also pray that Your Church would have a “deep missional identity.” May You give her servant leadership, kingdom vision, and godly stewardship. I also pray for all who may be new “members” in a church community. I pray that Your people would treat them with compassion and kindness and love, showing them the true way to walk in Your kingdom.

"God my provider,
loosen my grip on all that I hold dear in my heart.
By faith I release them to you and bind my will to yours,
trusting that your will alone is good.
I offer my life to you because I see how you did not hold back your son from me.
In his name I pray,
amen."

BLESSING

I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.
(Jeremiah 29:11 CEV)


Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
(Proverbs 4:23 ESV)

Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them;
(Deuteronomy 11:16 ESV)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Wailing Into Dancing; Sackcloth Into Joy

Today is Friday, the thirtieth of January, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today.

Day 23,150

Twenty days until S’s birthday.

Today is the day. My last day of full-time employment. I expect many tears, throughout the day, as I say goodbye to some good friends. I had to say goodbye to two of them, yesterday, as they will not be at work today. For most of these, I will be able to have some contact, either through Facebook, or text messaging.

I won’t deny that I am going to feel a little bit lost after today, at least for maybe a week or so, depending on what happens on the part time job front. I’ve been unemployed before, but this is the first time in my adult life that it has been my own choice to do so. The last time I left a job voluntarily was over twenty-five years ago. Since then, I was terminated at one position, and, in the other, the company closed the location.

I am a little bit proud of the fact that, since my graduation from school, I have only worked four jobs. One of those lasted less than two years, so if you take that one out, my average stay at a job is over ten years. I am a reliable and loyal employee with a strong work ethic.

Okay, this is starting to look like a resume, so let’s move on.

I may have an opportunity to attend some events of the PWBA next week. That’s Professional Women’s Bowling Association. The ITRC (International Training and Research Center) will be hosting some tournament events next week, and that is located in the same building as the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) for whom my wife works. They have been told that they can attend any of the bowling squad sessions for free. C has inquired as to whether a family member can attend with them. If they say that this is okay, we are considering one or two of the sessions on Thursday afternoon/evening. Thursday at 8:00 PM is the final ladder elimination event of that tournament, and would be super fun to see in person.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Bring Me, by Daryl Madden

Bring me to this moment
The soul to be aware
To be fully present
Right now, and right here

Bring me to my senses
To taste and feel and see
Of the abundant ways
That God is blessing me

Bring me to be grateful
For nothing I deserve
Let joy fill my heart
A turn to go and serve

Bring me to be humble
With His gifts to share
Reflection of His love
Shining everywhere

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
(Psalms 39:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the many blessings I have received, all of which I do not deserve;
2. that my only hope is You;
3. that You turn our wailing into dancing; and You replace the sackcloth of mourning and repentance with a garment of joy;
4. that You have given me eyes to see that things in Your Kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine;
5. that I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in Your great universe.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Yahweh is faithful in all his words, and loving in all his deeds.
(Psalms 145:13 WEB)

I pause, briefly, to ponder the fact that Yahweh is, indeed, my only true hope in this world and in this life. Truly, although I can scarce count my blessings, due to the magnitude of them, I dare not place my hope in those blessings. My hope is in the Lord, who loves me with an everlasting love, and is faithful in all His words and works.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:1-5, 11-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
(Genesis 21:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of God’s loving presence, this morning, I dwell in His peace. I pray for the Holy Spirit to draw me deeper and reveal something to me in these passages.

I can echo the psalmist, to some degree, as I do feel that the Lord has lifted me out of many depths, in my length of days. My life may not have been in quite the danger as David’s, at least never to my knowledge. As far as I know, I have never had a jealous king attempting to slay me. But my life has had some depths, and the Lord has lifted me from them all.

Therefore, along with David and all the saints, I can sing the praises of the Lord; I can praise His holy Name. He does turn our wailing into dancing; He removes the sackcloth (a garment that is reserved to indicate mourning and/or repentance) and clothes us with joy.

Joy is radiant, such an extreme opposite of the dullness of sackcloth (think of it as wearing a burlap feed bag). Joy, if you will remember, is the overwhelming pervasive sense of well-being. It is the truth that things in the kingdom of God are far better than you could ever imagine.

And they are.

All we have to do is have eyes to see.

Joy also comes from knowing that “we are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe” (Dallas Willard).

And note, at the end of Psalm 30, the reason for turning our wailing into dancing and replacing our sackcloth with joy.

“that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.”

Father, I praise You for all of these things; that You turn our mourning into dancing and replace our sackcloth with joy. I pray that all of Your children would see, this morning, that they are clothed with joy. Give us all eyes to see that things in Your Kingdom are far, far better than our wildest dreams could imagine. Give us eyes to see the overwhelming pervasive sense of well-being that comes from knowing and trusting You. And show us that we are, indeed, unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in Your great universe!

Lord, please give us all a deep, deep gratitude for the cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May You bring provision and sustenance to those who are suffering from poverty and injustice in today’s world. Give us all our daily bread, Father. And for those who suffer any kind of addiction, and for their supporters and caregivers, I pray a special blessing today. Give them grace, and have mercy on their souls. Draw them out of the pits of despair and addiction, Lord!

"Gracious Lord,
for many the gospel seems too good to be true.
When life looks so unforgettably bad,
how can I believe something so impossibly good?
I pray that you do what only you are able--
birth Christ's life in me through the work of your Holy Spirit.
Amen."

BLESSING

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 WEB)


Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
(Psalms 44:20-21 ESV)

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
(Psalms 69:5 ESV)

Father, I praise You that I am an open book to You.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Firm Foundation

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 4:18 NIV)

Today is Thursday, the twenty-ninth of July, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,149

Twenty-one days until S’s birthday!

I don’t know how much sense this is going to make, this morning, as it was at least 11:00 PM before I got to sleep last night.

S and I did have a good time, last night, though, on our first visit to Globe Life Field. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, as we were awaiting game time, the Rangers were dealing fan favorite Joey Gallo to the Evil Empire. Good ol’ Jon-boy strikes again.

And, the Rangers lost to the D-backs, as those are two of the teams fighting over the honors of being the worst team in MLB. The Rangers attempted a rally in the bottom of the ninth, but to no avail. I had a nice time sitting and chatting with Mel Kincaid, the music minister/worship leader (not sure what his actual title is) from FBC Mineral Wells.

It was cold in there.

I’m already running late, so I should move on. I have two days left of full-time employment. This all feels so surreal to me.

One last thing. The bass player of ZZ Top, Dusty Hill, passed away yesterday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
(2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”
(Psalms 39:4-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, even though I know my days are numbered, and my life is fleeting, You have filled my days with Your joy and Your peace;
2. for the constancy of Your Word, and the way it fills my life;
3. to be able to ascribe to You glory and strength, as You are fully worthy of this;
4. that You are giving me strength and blessing me with peace;
5. that all of this is established on Your firm foundation.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD is faithful to his promises; he is merciful in all his acts.
(Psalms 145:13b GNB)

As I pause in this quiet time, I direct my mind and heart to acknowledge and rest in the presence of the Lord. I consider the fleeting nature of life, but also know that He is with me, all my days.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:1-2, 10-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.
Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
(Genesis 18:20-32 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in the presence of the Lord, I ask His Holy Spirit to guide me through the reading of these Scriptures, showing me something new and fresh for my day.

The psalm is a simple worship song. There is nothing deeply theological about it, just a call for God’s people to ascribe glory and strength to the Lord. Was does “ascribe” mean? It means to attribute a characteristic to a person or thing.

When we ascribe glory and strength to the Lord, we are acknowledging those qualities about Him, of which He is well-worthy. “He is enthroned as King forever.”

I believe verse 11 to be consequences of the aforementioned actions. When we worship Him, as we ought, “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”

I have mentioned, recently, that the situation in Genesis would not have even been an issue, had Abraham fully obeyed the Lord when he was told to leave home and go to a place yet unknown. The only reason Abraham was so concerned about Sodom and Gomorrah was that his nephew had taken up residence there.

Maybe, just maybe, Abraham was really concerned about the “righteous” being swept away with the wicked, but let’s not pretend. Abraham was messing around with the Almighty in this passage, and the Almighty indulged him. The patience of God is seen to be somewhat astonishing in this passage.

How many times have I played with God like this, in my life? Don’t lie . . . we all have done it, at one time or another. We try to make deals with God.

“God if this test turns out negative, I’ll never do _________ again.”

How many of us kept that “covenant?”

I don’t make “resolutions” any more, especially at the new year. It’s silly. I don’t make promises to God. I don’t try to make deals with God, any more. I have grown past that. I’m still a sinner, but I also know grace. And here’s the thing . . . grace is not contingent on any deals with God. He is going to show grace to me because of Jesus Christ, not because of any “promises” that I make.

I will have troubles in my life. That much is assured. That is one of the few constants we can count on. Trouble will be there. But I believe that, ultimately, the Lord will deliver me out of ALL of them, just as the Psalms state over and over again.

So I don’t try to “deal” with God; I don’t play “what if” with the Almighty. I do cry out to Him. Do I ever. I was doing that for at least a half hour, that afternoon, as I sat in that CareNow exam room. I keep mentioning that, because that event was a turning point in this whole ordeal. It was a pivotal point, after which the most incredible peace came.

And that peace still abides, even though nothing is at all certain about what comes next. This I know, and am fully persuaded, that God is with me and He will provide. Maybe it will be a library assistant position, maybe it will be a bus driving job. Something is going to happen, and, in the meantime, I am trusting Him.

I am ascribing to Him glory and strength, and, as a result, He is giving me strength, and blessing me with peace.

Father, I praise You for Who You are. I ascribe to You glory and strength, and all the other attributes of which You are worthy. I long for the day when I will hear the songs of Revelation being sung in person, when I can cast my voice in with the multitudes from every tribe, race, nation, and people, as we all sing together, “WORTHY IS THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN!” I praise You for the peace that I feel right now. I praise You for the strength that I feel, this morning, even though I am tired and sleepy from a late night.

Lord, please give me a yearning to know You more, and the diligence to keep seeking You. Please allow me to experience the joy of Your salvation today. And for any family members and friends who may not know You, yet, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to them in new ways today; may Your Spirit surround them with Your overwhelming love.

"God who listens,
what would it take for me to contend with you in prayer like Abraham?
As I pray,
teach me that humility and courage aren't opposites.
Don't let me hide anything from you--
not the needs of myself or others,
not my joy,
or even my frustration with your ways.
And always,
may my bold prayers rest on the unshakable foundation that you listen to my heart.
In Christ's name,
amen."

BLESSING

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
(Jeremiah 29:11 GNB)


But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD;
(Psalms 141:8 NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)

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 4:18 NIV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, I am with thee, Oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, Help thee, And cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

Grace and peace, friends.

Waiting

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-eighth of July, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,148

Twenty-two days until S’s birthday!

S and I are going to attend a Texas Rangers baseball game, tonight! It will be our first time in the new stadium, as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rangers finally won a game, last night, beating the D-backs 5-4. I have to admit that I was concerned, since the D-backs are currently (and have been for most of the year) the worst team in MLB. The Rangers, however, appear to be contesting that “honor.”

We will be joining a group from FBC Mineral Wells for this event, tonight, so that will be fun. I know S is really looking forward to this.

Things are moving in a positive direction, for me. Not very rapidly, still, but that’s okay. After notifying my doctor’s office that the sleep study people had not received the referral, I received word that they resubmitted the referral. Finally, I got a call from Blackstone and was informed that my device will be sent to my home, and after using it for two nights, I will return it to them. After they get it back, the data will be sent to my doctor’s office, and, provided they don’t manage to lose it or something, we will then be able to know if I need a new CPAP machine. Unfortunately, the soonest Blackstone can ship the unit is August 5, which is next Friday. Oh, well.

I also got my fingerprinting scheduled, finally. I never got an email from them, so I finally went back to the website where I registered, and found a link to schedule the appointment. So that will happen Monday morning at 10:00 AM. Then I have the interview with the Hurst library Monday afternoon at 2:00 PM. There may not be a light at the end of this tunnel, yet, but at least I’m in the tunnel.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)

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

Today I am grateful:

1. that things are moving in a positive direction for me;
2. for the chance to have some fun and fellowship tonight;
3. for upcoming endings that are new beginnings;
4. that You are always working Your plan;
5. that You will do whatever You say You will do (in Your own time).

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

GOD always does what he says, and is gracious in everything he does.
(Psalms 145:13 MSG)

I pause to consider the truth that You always do what You say You will do. I also acknowledge that sometimes we are mistaken about what we think You said You will do.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.
(Psalms 28:1-2, 6-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
(Genesis 18:10-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, more slowly, with more intention, I look for words and phrases that speak to my spirit. I try to allow the Holy Spirit to guide this time, which requires me to also try to not center in on things that I have noticed before. My goal is to keep the Word of God fresh in my heart and mind.

Have you ever had periods of time where it seemed as though the Lord was being silent? I have, and I feel relatively positive that you have, too. It is easy to understand what David means when he says, “I will be like those who go down to the pit.” That’s exactly how I felt last Wednesday afternoon, for about forty-five minutes, as I sat alone in that CareNow exam room, thinking that my early retirement dreams had been shattered.

I cried out to God. My state of mind went back and forth between anger and despair. But it wasn’t too long before I was echoing David’s joyfulness in verses 6-9, because God was not silent for long. While it is true that things have not worked out exactly as I had hoped and planned, things are working out, and they will, I am fully persuaded, work out for the best, no matter what happens.

And that is what finding peace is all about. We have to stop focusing so much on what we want to happen. We need to be at a place where we are okay, at peace, with whatever happens, even if, and especially if, it is not quite what we hoped or planned. God knows best, not me. And I trust in Him. His mercy reigns and rules over my life, and I trust Him.

Abraham and Sarah are a perfect example. Things had not worked out the way they thought they would. But God had a plan, and He was working it. And He is working it in His own time, not ours. Which can be disconcerting when we remember that a day to the Lord is like a thousand years, and vice versa.

“Hold on, Lord! I don’t exactly have a thousand years!”

I imagine the Lord might chuckle a little at that. Because He does know exactly how long we do have. But He is not bound by time. We’ve discussed that before, here. God exists outside of time. And He is not in a hurry.

And because God is not in a hurry, I am getting better at not being in a hurry, too.

Father, I praise You that You have not been silent, and that I am not like those who go down to the pit. You have produced a lasting peace in my soul. You have led me down a path that does not produce hurry in my life. I am at peace with Your plan for me, and I will wait for You to work it out. Doesn’t mean I will sit on my buns and do nothing, mind you. But it does mean that I will stop being impatient (hopefully) and be content with where You have me.

Whatever happens, I pray that, going forward, I will experience new and fresh ways to minister to people, in whatever job I find myself in. Keep my eyes open, looking for ways to serve and minister in Your Name.

I pray, this morning, for all governments, world leaders, and the various needs in our world. Help us to not be so self-centered when we consider needs, but turn our eyes outward, more globally than nationally. I pray specifically for my own continent, this morning, that of North America. May Your presence be felt in our land, today. I also lift up all who are incarcerated in any fashion, and those who have or are in the process of committing criminal activities. May Your Holy Spirit surround them today, and make them change their minds.

"Promise-making God,
I get Sarah's laughter.
It's the sad snicker that covers a cracked heart.
Faith withers when life feels wrung dry and past its best-used-by date.
For all who feel life has passed them by and find that faith comes hard,
create through your Holy Spirit the laughter of love,
the faith that your promises are true,
and the hope that in Jesus the best is yet to be.
Amen."

BLESSING

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
(Jeremiah 29:11 MSG)


He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the LORD fills the earth.
(Psalms 33:5 NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
(Hebrews 10:10-14 NLT)

And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:18-22 NLT)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-seventh of July, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,147

Twenty-three days until S’s birthday!

Since it is Tuesday, C will be working from home. Beginning next week, we need to figure out how to change the alarm on Tuesdays and Fridays. I do plan to get up at the same time on days when C goes to the office, but on days when she works from home, there will be no need for either one of us to get up that early.

I got a call, yesterday afternoon, on my way home, after a day of fruitless waiting for other notifications, and I now have an interview with the Hurst library, at 2:00 PM Monday. That is quite exciting. I did learn that this position is only twenty hours a week, which at the advertised rate of $15.15/hr, would be okay.

If that interview goes well, and I get an offer from them, I may take it, instead of continuing the process with GCISD. It would, likely, mean some evening and weekend work, but at a probably four hours a day, I can handle that.

That’s all the news I have for now. I have started training the lady who will take my place. Considering that I am taking off at noon tomorrow, I have three and a half days left there.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Prayer to the Most Holy Name of Jesus
By St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity.
Amen.

The LORD rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.
The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.
(Psalms 37:39-40 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my fortress in times of trouble; 
2. that You are also my fortress in times of peace and goodness;
3. for opportunities arising;
4. that the very thought of You, Jesus, fills my breast with sweetness;
5. for this quiet place where I can seek Your face.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.
(Psalms 145:13b ESV)

I pause, briefly, to consider Your faithfulness, and to rest in Your fortress of love and kindness.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
(Psalms 27:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
(Genesis 17:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages at least once more, drawing near to whatever the Holy Spirit leads me into.

The psalmist, alleged to be David, has penned some most eloquent and beautiful words in Psalm 27, another of my favorites. The first verse has inspired many different songs, including one sung by The Imperials, many years ago, simply called, “David’s Psalm.”

“If God be for us, then who can be against us?” Indeed. With God as my fortress, I have nothing to fear; with God as my Shepherd, I lack nothing. All is well.

Another song, inspired by verse 4, has been a blessing to me, as well.

This song was inspired by several different psalms, but one of the verses is almost literally taken from Psalm 27:4.

I noted that, in the previous time this book featured Psalm 27, it continued on with the next two verses.

Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
(Psalms 27:7-8 NIV)

I have long loved those two verses. Different translations are more different than usual, but the idea is still the same. “Your face, LORD, I will seek!”

That is why I sit in this chair every morning, typing on this computer. I am seeking His face, getting sustenance for my day, for my life. Not from the computer, of course. It is just a tool, a modern convenience, that I have no problem using in my quest for God’s glory and face.

Abram, at the full age of ninety-nine, experienced the face of God in person, and felt His glory, as he “fell facedown” in the presence of the Lord in Genesis 17:3. Have you ever felt a slight bit envious of Abram/Abraham (as his name was changed in this passage)? Abraham, Moses, and others like them . . . they saw and spoke to God, face to face, conversing as friends.

Stop and think, before you get too jealous, though. As glorious as it must have been (remember Moses got to physically see the Lord’s Presence on the mountain), they did not have Jesus. Look back up at the top of today’s devotion. Actually, I won’t make you do that . . . here it is again.

Prayer to the Most Holy Name of Jesus
By St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity.
Amen.

Father, I am almost overwhelmed in Your presence, this morning. While things whirl around me, outside (some things aren’t moving at all, which creates an interesting environment, indeed), my mind spins in various directions. However, when I sit in this place, this little, quiet room within my house, I am entrenched in Your peaceful presence, and those distractions find it harder to reach me. Jesus, the very though of Thee, does, indeed fill my breast with sweetness. And, during these times, I can echo the words of David; You are my light; You are my salvation; whom then shall I fear? And, during these moments, my soul’s desire is to dwell in Your presence, to see Your face, to simply rest in Your heart, beneath the shadow of Your wings.

Lord, I ask that You would give Your Church a love and commitment for the communities in which You have placed us. May You equip us to serve in unique ways in those communities and other public arenas. May You especially give grace to those who work and serve in colleges and universities during these trying days.

"Covenant-making God,
thank you for the deal of a lifetime you cut with me,
promising to be my God and the God of all who trust in you.
As I live out this life with you,
may it be marked by deep trust and open gratitude.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

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)


Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 NIV)

You can call me silly, I don’t care, but that verse is why my number of days is displayed at the top of every blog entry. It seems like a lot of days, doesn’t it? I look at that number, every day, and think, this is the number of days that God has been my God, that the Lord has been my Shepherd. One day, this blog will cease. But that number will never stop. It will stretch on, into infinity. Well . . . maybe it won’t. Maybe we won’t experience time in heaven. I think I hope we do not.

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”
(Psalms 39:4 NIV)

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
(James 4:13-17 NIV)

Take a few minutes and read that passage from James again. Ponder its truths. Call a friend, because you don’t know how long they will be here.

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.
(Song of Solomon 2:16 ESV)

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
(Romans 14:7-8 ESV)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Abba, Father, I belong to you.

Grace and peace, friends.

Invitation to Believe

Today is Monday, the twenty-sixth of July, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your lift today!

Day 23,146

Twenty-four days until S’s birthday (which is also J’s birthday).

And five days until I am semi-retired. Well . . . I suppose I’m fully retired until I actually begin a new part time job.

Speaking of that, I went ahead and applied for two more local library assistant/aide jobs, last night. One at the Bedford Library, and one in Hurst. The one in Hurst pays the most, but it may only be twenty hours a week. It specifies that the applicant must be able to work twenty hours a week, and does not say “at least.” On the other hand, neither Watauga nor Bedford specify a number of hours.

I’m figuring that I should get at least one phone call and an email today. I’m hoping for at least a phone call from the sleep study folks, and an email from the fingerprinting folks, so I can schedule both of those events.

At this point, I’m not real particular about which job opportunity comes through first. I would be absolutely thrilled to work in a library, and even more thrilled to work at one that is five minutes from my home. But remember that I have already accepted the offer from GCISD on the bus driver trainee. The hiccup is in the process of getting things going.

We had a nice day, yesterday. C and I actually went out and did a few things, in the late morning. The “farmers market” actually turned out to be more of a craft fair, with only two tents featuring any kind of produce. We wound up buying a couple jars of homemade pickles (dill and jalapeno dill), and a couple bags of booze-infused gummy bears.

I swear I’m not making that up.

I was reminded, yesterday, that I forgot to post my WW results from Saturday. I posted a .4 pound loss for the week. Always good to get a loss, but I’m still officially about a pound up from my lowest, before I hit this plateau. However, for the past two days, on my home scale, I have been at my lowest point in the last seventeen months!

We will not be attending the WW workshop this coming Saturday, as we will all converge on Mama’s house Saturday morning, to have an early celebration for S’s and J’s birthdays, as R and J will be heading to Indiana the following weekend.

To stay.

That’s all I’m going to say about that right now.

As for the rest of this week, I have a half-day off Wednesday afternoon, as S and I are going to a Texas Rangers game with FBC Mineral Wells. Hopefully the Rangers can manage to win a game, which I don’t think they have done since the All Star break.

Friday is my last day of full-time employment.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
(Psalms 37:37 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for new opportunities in life;
2. for the "wonderful future" that awaits me, as I try, by the power of grace, to be "honest and good;"
3. that my history of sin has been erased by the blood of Jesus, and that there is no condemnation;
4. that I can freely go around Your altar and proclaim Your greatness and Your wonderful deeds;
5. that I love the house where You live, the place where Your glory dwells (Psalm 26).

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

The LORD always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13B NLT)

I pause briefly to prepare myself for whatever awaits, this morning.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered.
Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.
(Psalms 26:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
(Genesis 15:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I read these passages again, perhaps even murmuring the text out loud to myself. How does God’s Word move me, this morning? What has connected with my heart and mind? I pray these things to the Lord, as I enjoy His presence.

Can I truly say that I have led a blameless life? For that matter, could David even proclaim that? I’m skeptical. I know for sure that I have not. For David, it depends on the timeline, here, as to whether or not the Bathsheba incident had already occurred.

But even if it had not, none of us, safe Jesus Himself, have lived a “blameless” life. So where does David get the nerve to write this in a song?

I believe it is in the next phrase. “I have trusted in the Lord.” And then in verse 3, where he says, “I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

There is also this statement at the end of the Genesis passage: “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

You see, neither David nor Abraham had the benefit of salvation through Jesus Christ. They both had to rely on the blood of goats and bulls to cover their yearly sins. But both of them also believed in the Lord, and this was credited to their accounts “as righteousness.”

I can say, in a sense, that I have lived a blameless life (we all know that is insanity, right?) because the blood of Jesus has erased my sin, and, as we read about yesterday, the Lord has forgotten that it ever happened. In fact, it might even be said that the Lord has erased history.

And for this, I can, as David, go around the altar of God, proclaiming aloud His praise and telling of His wonderful deeds. And, I can truly say, as David, “I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. “

Abram’s circumstances were equally impossible. At his age, he was being told that he would have a flesh and blood offspring to inherit his estate. “Look at the stars,” the Lord told him. He was invited to believe that his offspring would equal the number of stars in the sky, “if indeed you can count them.”

Abram accepted that invitation.

Father, this morning, I am full of wonder and praise at the invitation You have extended me. The invitation to believe in You, to have faith in You, to marvel at Your glorious deeds in Creation and in my own life. I am beyond words when it comes to being thankful for Your work in my life. I look around me, and the world looks grim. I see the works of humanity and think that we must be doomed. How much longer can it go on? I ask, as the psalmists did, “How long, O Lord??” But Your time line is Yours, not ours. You exist outside of time, so for You, perhaps, everything is happening all at once. A thousand years to us is like a day to You. Nevertheless, I pray, as I do every day, come quickly, Lord Jesus. We are (at least I am) ready for Home.

Lord, as I roam around in my life, driving hither and yon, please give me more of a wide-eyed wonder at Your creation. I pray that humanity would do a better job of caring for Your creation. And I lift up those who work in that care.

"God,
my very great reward,
your economy of grace is a beautiful thing.
When in my sinfulness I trust your grace,
that faith is accounted to my credit.
And all of a sudden my life is rich.
I'm counting on your incalculable grace in Jesus.
Amen."

BLESSING

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)


Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 12:13 NLT)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.
(Ephesians 3:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fuhgeddaboudit

Today is Sunday, the twenty-fifth of July, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,145

Twenty-five days until S’s birthday. And she still hasn’t given us her birthday list. Hint, hint.

We had a wonderful visit with R & J, yesterday, and got to ride in their new car. Actually, C and I both got a chance to drive it. We had lunch at our old standby, Hoffbrau. This time, I tried their grilled salmon, which was good. The best part was the roasted corn on the cob. I even ate the steamed spinach.

I’m going to give Mama a moment to process that.

As I stated, yesterday, we aren’t having church, this morning. C and I may run up to a local weekend farmer’s market and see what they have. I’ve got a few things ordered to be delivered from Albertson’s between 10 and 11, things that I forgot yesterday, so we may run up to that market after those get delivered, before going to Applebee’s for our traditional Sunday lunch.

I decided, yesterday, to go ahead and complete the job application for the Watauga Library assistant job. It’s part time (don’t know how many hours) at $12.40 an hour, and is literally five minutes from my house. Since the bus driving gig seems to be delayed for a bit, I’ll see what comes from this one. If they show any interest, I may move on that one, instead. If they don’t, I’ll just keep looking.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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)

Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.
(Psalms 37:25-26 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this day of rest;
2. that You are trustworthy and faithful in all that You do;
3. that You guide me in Your truth and teach me, so that I have put my trust in You;
4. that no one who hopes in You will ever be put to shame (Psalm 25);
5. for the joy that comes from knowing that You have forgotten my sins forever.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13b NIV)

I pause for a moment of silent meditation, considering Your faithfulness and trustworthiness in all that You do.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

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

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

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

BIBLE READING

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
(Genesis 12:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Holy Spirit, as I read these passages again, please direct my thoughts, my meditations, and my prayers into Your will. Teach me Your ways; guide me in Your truth.

The psalm is a great one, focusing on trust. The psalmist makes a simple declaration, “In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.” Then he repeats it in verse 2, “I trust in you.”

He believes, according to verse 3, that “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.” I, too, believe this. It is something that I consistently rest in. While there have been times in my life where I have been ashamed, those times were caused by me NOT, temporarily, putting my hope and trust in the Lord.

I love the requests in the remainder of today’s passage:

Show me Your ways
Teach me Your paths
Guide me in Your truth and teach me
Remember Your great mercy and love
Do not remember the sins of my youth, but remember me according to Your love

Because why?

Because, “you, LORD, are good.”

And has He not already promised us that He will not remember our sins? This is one of those truths about God that has astounded me for decades. You just try and forget something. Go ahead. Try.

I’ve forgotten a lot of things, but never on purpose. The harder you try to forget something, the harder you remember it. It’s like trying to not think about a purple elephant.

See? You’re thinking about purple elephants.

But God (I love those two words) repeatedly says, in His Word, that He will forget our sins. It’s not always worded exactly like that, but that’s what it means. Here are some verses to back this up.

“And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
(Hebrews 8:12 NLT)

For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
(Psalms 103:11-12 NLT)

“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel! You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense. You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”
(Isaiah 43:22-25 NLT)

Those are just a few. There are others. The point is that God willfully, intentionally forgets our sins. He will not remember them. That is His promise, and, as stated above in a different psalm, He is trustworthy in all He promises.

The only thing I’m going to say about the passage from Genesis involves one little phrase in verse 4. “And Lot went with him.”

It’s a thing that we all suffer from. We hear God’s Word and we obey . . . sort of. Abraham’s obedience was slightly tainted by him taking his nephew along for the ride. The consequences of that little slip were tremendous. Abraham would never have been involved in the whole Sodom and Gomorrah thing if he had left his nephew at home. There would be no pillar of salt standing in the desert.

But it is also important to note that Abraham still wound up where God wanted him. He just had a slight detour.

Father, I praise You that You have the ability to forget our sins. I trust in that. I can’t forget them, and I know that I frequently bring them up, or perhaps it is my enemy that brings them up in my mind, trying to make me feel shame. But Your Word says that if we hope in You, there is no shame. I am getting better at throwing that back in my enemy’s face, too. I may not be able to forget my sins, but I can rest in the confidence that You can and You have, and that my past has been rewritten by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thank You, O my Father!

I also praise You that, even when our obedience is incomplete, You can still manage to get us to where You want us to be, just like Abraham.

Lord, please give us increased fellowship with the risen Christ in our lives. Give Your people spiritual renewal and refreshment.

"God of Abraham,
in your call is a claim--
that I am yours.
Thank you for the grace that has found me and makes me willing and ready,
with my whole heart,
to live for you,
to go where you send,
to follow where you lead.
As you have blessed me,
make me a blessing.
In the name of the One to whom I belong,
amen."

BLESSING

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)


But our citizenship is in heaven.
(Philippians 3:20 NIV)

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
(John 14:2-3 NLT)

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4 NLT)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
(Revelation 21:1-4 NLT)

I’m just sitting down here waiting for Home . . .

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

It’s Your Breath in Our Lungs

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fourth of July, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,144

Twenty-six days until S’s birthday!

What can I say about this last week? It has definitely been a whirlwind, or maelstrom, or roller-coaster ride. At this point, though, things seem to be pretty much okay.

R has already got a new car. Well, I think she got a pre-owned vehicle. It’s a Kia hybrid of some kind, but I can’t remember which model. I guess we will see it today, because she is coming over after they pick it up, this morning. C and I are covering her down-payment on it. We were going to pay for their move to Indiana, but since this came up, and they wound up being right-side-up on their old car that was totaled, we will give them the money for this.

Niro! It’s a Kia Niro.

With five days left until my semi-retirement, I actually got something accomplished last night. In what may be my first positive step in the process toward becoming a bus driver (see previous entries for the multiple obstacles we are dealing with), I was able to create an account with TEA, last night, and pay for my fingerprinting, for which the GCISD says they will reimburse me. I don’t know why they were saying that I had already created an account, in the past, because their system let me create it with no problems. Now, I’m just waiting on an email that will let me schedule the appointment to get the actual fingerprinting done.

I also got verbal confirmation, yesterday, that my doctor’s office has actually ordered the sleep study. So, on that, I’m waiting on the sleep study people to contact me and set that up. Lots of waiting.

And I have come to realize that it is not exactly reasonable to expect other entities to comprehend the urgency of one’s own situation. It is what it is, and we will get through this. The difference between how I feel about everything this morning and how I felt about it during that forty-five minute wait in solitude in that CareNow exam room, is exponential.

This morning, I am at peace concerning the whole process. Whatever will be, will be.

S and I will be going to the WW Workshop at 10:30. C is still not feeling great. She went to the doctor and got some drugs, Wednesday, and seems to be a little better, but still not completely over whatever is ailing her. R & J should be here around lunchtime, so we will be having lunch with them. Our church group is not meeting tomorrow, as several people are out of town. I’m not sure if I will try to attend somewhere else or not.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall,
he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.
(Psalms 37:23-24 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, through all the trials along the way, I have not been "cast headlong," for You uphold my hand;
2. that the earth is Yours, and everything in it;
3. that You are in the heavens, and You do whatever You please;
4. for the breath in my lungs;
5. for the light that allows me to see colors.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINE – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
(Psalms 24:1 NIV)

In moments of peace,
On You, Who show steadfast love,
I pause to reflect.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
(Psalms 24:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 11:1-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, this morning, I pray for the Holy Spirit to draw me in and help me meditate through distractions. I read through these passages multiple times, looking for words, phrases, or ideas that reach out to me.

I begin with Psalm 24:1, which has been the invitation verse all week. Coupled with verse 2, we get a complete thought. Here it is in a different translation.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.
(Psalms 24:1-2 NLT)

There is a lot of truth to unpack in those two verses. One important truth is stated in the second sentence, “The world and all its people belong to him.” Then the reason for that truth is given in verse 3, “For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.”

To paraphrase, everything belongs to God, because He made it.

This brings credibility to Paul’s question in Romans, “Who are you, oh, man, to talk back to God?” (Romans 9:20)

God makes the rules, because He made the universe. And everyone and everything that exists belongs to Him. The air that fills my lungs belongs to Him. The worship song, “Great Are You Lord” expresses this.

It's Your breath in our lungs,
so we pour out our praise, 
we pour out our praise,
it's Your breath in our lungs,
so we pour out our praise to You only . . .

Psalm 115:3 says,

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

So when mankind attempts to band together and glorify himself with his own creation, God frustrates the plan.

I truly think that is the message in the story of the Tower of Babel. I have struggled with this story, wondering if it really happened, literally, the way the narrative states it.

Don’t stone me, but I have come to believe that a lot of the early Genesis narrative is poetic in nature. Which means I’m not sure that I believe that it happened exactly the way it is written. I’ve already mentioned, before, that I don’t necessarily believe that the universe was created in six, literal, twenty-four hour days. Nor do I not believe it. In truth, it matters not to my faith. I do believe that God created it, ex nihilo, by speaking His Word.

Do I believe that Adam and Eve were literally real? Not going there, this morning. I do believe that God created man from the dust of the earth.

So, back to today’s passage. I’m reading a book on Revelation, by Eugene H. Peterson. There is a lot of information in there about how we read Scripture, and how we listen to God’s Word. I do believe that, when we try to pigeon-hole God’s Word into being absolutely literal, word for word, we sell Him short.

I think (and it’s just my opinion, based on other peoples’ opinions, because I’m not smart enough to suss it out for myself) that the underlying message of the Tower of Babel has to do with who is getting the glory. Who are we trying to elevate with our plans?

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.”

Therefore, the world and all its people should be working to glorify Him.

I just read an article that compared our modern social media to the tower of Babel. It’s very interesting. You can read it at the link below, if you are so inclined.

Confusion Abounds: Is This Our Tower of Babel Moment?

Father, as I walk through this day, may You continuously remind me that everything belongs to You. The “good” people belong to You; the “bad” people belong to You; the air, the sea, the dirt, all the vegetation, all the animals, it all belongs to You. May I walk through this life believing this truth and acting on it. May I treat everything and everyone around me like I believe this to be true. And may I live my life committed to You, not to some political cult. Have mercy on us, O God!

Lord, I pray that Your Church would flourish in the earth, bringing forth Your Gospel of peace as her sole means of living. Please help her to take her focus off of the political parties and begin to live in Your truth alone. I pray that our worship would glorify You, and that it would gather, unite, and bless Your people. I pray for special grace on all who may be traveling this day.

"God of strange grace,
Babel teaches us that we cannot reach to heaven,
but heaven will reach down to us.
Reunite humanity once more in your Son,
God come to earth.
Don't let my heart be scattered among multiple affections;
keep me centered in you.
Amen."

BLESSING

“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.'”
(Isaiah 51:16 NIV)


The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
(Psalms 28:7 ESV)

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

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.