Today is Tuesday, the 17th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.
May the peace of Christ be with you always!
I watched most of the Cowboys’ playoff game, last night. After the first couple of possessions, in which nothing of any significance happened (between both quarterbacks, it took five passes before one of them completed one, and the Cowboys finally made a first down on their third possession), the ‘boys dominated the rest of the game, in spite of their kicker missing four consecutive extra point kicks. I saw three of those. At one point, later in the game, it looked like they might be thinking field goal, and I was like, “seriously??” They chose to go for it on fourth down, though. I seem to remember that they got it, made a touchdown, and then the kicker finally nailed an extra point. Final score, 34-14, Cowboys over Brady and the Bucs. Brady only looked good for a couple of series, late in the game.
It’s Tuesday of my “heavy” work week, so I will be at the library from 4:15-8:15 tonight. I had a busy day, yesterday, getting groceries, folding a couple loads of laundry, vacuuming the floor (I confess that a robot does the hardest part of that, but I do have to go around and pick up all the cat toys), practicing the trombone, and walking on the treadmill for thirty minutes. Then I cooked dinner (homemade chili made with Rotel Chili Fixin’s)(and the apostrophe in that is correct, because it replaces the “g”), while we watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an episode of Bosch.
Today’s header photo is taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his website via the provided link.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. (Psalms 119:93 NRSV)
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we need never feel forsaken. We thank you that we are led and guided by your hand. We thank you for all we have received from you, your care for our bodies, for our material needs, and for our inner life. We praise you, O God! Continue to lead us, we pray. Continue to work among us so that we can all see and come to know that the Good Shepherd is leading us. Amen.
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. (Psalms 23:1-3 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- that, in Christ, we are never forsaken; NEVER
- for the Word of God, which has given me life
- that He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake
- because the Lord is my God; it is He who has made me grateful
- that the Gospel puts us in touch with Reality
Love the LORD, all you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily. (Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. (Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. (Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. (Psalms 119:113 NRSV)
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
(John 14:21 NRSV)
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright. For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalms 33:1, 4, 18-22 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us Christ, have mercy on us Lord, have mercy on us
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.
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
(Exodus 32:21-24 NRSV)
Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.
(Exodus 33:11 NRSV)
Moses said to the LORD, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:12-14 NRSV)
The LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the LORD continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
(Exodus 33:17-23 NRSV)
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you.
(Deuteronomy 8:7-10 NRSV)
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. (Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)
The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him.
(Galatians 3:11 MSG)
The Gospel puts us in touch with reality; or “Reality,” if you will. What is reality? Dallas Willard defines it a couple of ways. “Reality is what you can count on,” he says in one place. Elsewhere, he says, “Reality is what you run into when you are wrong.” Both, I believe, are correct.
In this reality, we find the God who creates, along with the people and world He has created. We find the Christ who redeems and the people whom He loves. We also encounter our various, sometimes contradictory, feelings – hope and despair, doubt and faith, as well as our acts of virtue and vice. Reality encompasses everything; visible and invisible, right and wrong, good and evil.
To be in right relationship with God is to embrace this reality and whatever God arranges for us.
(All of the above thoughts, except for the bits from Dallas Willard, are from Eugene H. Peterson, in Traveling Light, via God’s Message for Each Day)
We can live in this reality, because we have embraced God’s plan and design for us. This reality includes Psalm 23, in which we are shown that we can live a life without lack. This is further illustrated in Dallas Willard’s Life Without Lack, which compiles a series of lessons he taught on Psalm 23.
Some would look at this and think that it means that we can get whatever we want. That is not what “life without lack” means. What it does mean is that we are satisfied with what we have. When the Lord is my shepherd, when I embrace Him and His Reality, I lack for nothing. I lack for nothing because I follow His leading, and, in following Him, find the “green pastures” and the “still waters.”
And, during those times when my path takes me through the “valley of the shadow of death,” I will fear no evil, because God is with me.
Reality. It certainly means different things to different people, and that’s fair. But to me, it means the Kingdom of God, where things are much better than I could ever imagine. Even when my immediate and surrounding circumstances would tell me different.
Father, I thank You for Reality. I thank You that You have helped me embrace this Reality and whatever You have arranged for me in this life. And, as I look around, righ now, in spite of momentary and temporary inconveniences, Your arrangements for me are pleasant. You have provided bountifully for us, and have made us generous with Your provision. For the most, You have kept us well and healthy.
And You have brought us into Your community of saints, by bringing us into fellowship with Christ our Savior. I am most grateful for this.
As I go through the rest of this day, I pray that these thoughts will be at the front of my mind, and that I would walk in gratitude and praise today. Help me to act in love toward everyone I encounter today, and display Your grace and mercy to all, that they might see You for Who You are.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long. (Psalms 23:6 NRSV)
Grace and peace, friends.