Today is Thursday, the seventeenth of June, 2021
The peace of God be with you!
Three days until Father’s Day
We made it through our first night without C. She landed in Vegas at around 10:15 PM, last night. The flight was delayed just over an hour. Of course, that is only 8:15 in Vegas, I believe. I’m not sure what time her first bowling squad is, today. She will have three games with her team, then three games in pairs and three games in singles. At least I think that’s how it goes. I know there will be at least six games, spread across today and tomorrow. Then she will get back to DFW at around 9:30 PM CDT, tomorrow night, barring flight delays.
S and I are not sure what we will have for dinner tonight. There is a good chance that it may wind up being Applebee’s, as they are kind of on the way home, and it’s an easy stop, with their curbside pickup.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
“Think of all the emotions that consume our thoughts: worry, fear, anxiety, anger, pride, and hurt. What good do these bring us? What do we do with them? Do we hold on to them, let them fester? Or do we look at them and ask what is triggering them? Do I need to let go of that?“
O Lord, please help me let go. Let go of bitterness, let in forgiveness. Let go of worry, let in peace. Let go of fear, let in hope. Let go of pride, let in selflessness. Let go of hurt, let in love. Let go of hurriedness, let in this moment. Let go of indifference, Let in compassion. Let go of property, let in generosity. Let go of this false self, let in my true self. Let it go, let you grow. ("Let It Go", by Daryl Madden, in On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)
I think my favorite couplet in there is “Let go of hurriedness, let in this moment.”
For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
(Psalms 31:13-16 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that "my times are in your hands." 2. for C's safe arrival in Las Vegas, last night. 3. that, though You are high and exalted, You look kindly on us who are lowly. 4. that Your love endures forever, and You do not abandon the work of Your hands (Psalm 138). 5. that we are free from the law, oh happy condition!
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
ORDINARY TIME – WEEK 4 – DAY 5
“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
(Deuteronomy 33:12 NIV)
At this moment, I pause, considering all of the negative emotions that flood my soul, each day. By Your grace, O Lord, I will not allow those to fester, but will let them go, and let in the opposite grace from You.
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
(Psalms 138:1-3 NIV)
Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.
(Psalms 138:6-8 NIV)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
(Galatians 5:1-6 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, high and lifted up. I read these passages in His presence, asking the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts, meditations, and prayers; direct me to truth for my day.
I am drawn to the second part of Psalm 138, that part that speaks of God being high, exalted, yet He lowers Himself to care for us. Though He is great, He cares for the humble. Though He is mighty, He cares for the weak. That’s us, y’all. The trouble is, we believe ourselves to be exalted, mighty, and strong.
Nevertheless, the Lord condescends to care for us, to love us, to show compassion on us. And His love endures forever.
The Galatians passage for today begins with a bang. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
That’s a word that has been thrown around and abused a lot in the past year. There are many people in the world, especially in Western culture (I pick on Western culture a lot, I realize, but that’s where I am, so that’s what I see), who believe that “freedom” means you can do whatever you want. Sadly, a lot of those people are “conservative evangelical Christians.” I find this puzzling.
I find it puzzling because, as Christians, we give up our “rights.” We surrender them, not to a government, not to other people, but to our God, in Jesus Christ. Instead, we seem to think that this relationship with the Creator gives us more rights. I am utterly baffled as to where we come up with this.
The “freedom” of which Paul speaks is regarding the law. Pretty much the entire letter to the Galatian church is concerning the appearance that they are sliding back into legalism, beginning to follow the law, after having been set free from the same.
Today’s passage uses that word “circumcision” a few times. But it’s not really about circumcision, is it? It’s about trying to follow the law. And circumcision was a big point of contention in the early church, because the Jewish Christians thought that that was a thing that must be insisted on.
But Paul disagrees. He even goes so far as to tell them that if they do get circumcised, then they have to follow the entire law to be saved.
Let’s move forward a few thousand years. Let’s talk about dancing, drinking, playing cards, viewing “R-rated” movies.
I once served as music minister at a church where I heard the preacher boldly proclaim from the pulpit, “I condemn any Christian who watches an R-rated movie!”
I didn’t stay at that church very long, but that’s not why I left. There were other reasons that I won’t go into here.
He condemns. In the face of Romans 8:1, this pastor condemns those whom Christ does not. In case you need a reminder . . .
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 NLT)
So in our day, drinking alcoholic beverages, watching R-rated movies, whatever . . . these are the modern day equivalent of circumcision. These are things that the most conservative of evangelicals would say that you can’t do and be a Christian.
Now . . . let’s go back to my statement about freedom not meaning you can do whatever you want. Because it doesn’t. Paul has a lengthy discussion in Romans about this, concerning things that might make my brother stumble. So what does that mean? It means that if, by consuming an alcoholic beverage, I cause a rift with my brother, then I will not consume that alcoholic beverage. At least not where he can see it or know about it.
“Freedom” means that we are not bound by the legalistic requirements of the law. And if we start insisting that Christians must abstain from things like alcohol, R-rated movies, dancing, playing cards, smoking (hah!), or whatever, the we must also insist that the entire law be kept in order to be saved.
And we all know (or at least we should know, if we read our Bibles) that this is
Paul makes a very bold statement in verse 4.
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
(Galatians 5:4 NIV)
I could keep writing about this all morning. But then I would be late for work. This reminds me of an old hymn, which, oddly enough, I don’t remember singing very much, if at all, at Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells. I honestly couldn’t hum the tune, at least not past the first line. But the words are beautiful. This is one written by that master of hymnody, Philip Paul Bliss.
1 Free from the law—oh, happy condition! Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ hath redeemed us once for all. (Chorus) Once for all—oh, sinner, receive it; Once for all—oh, doubter, believe it; Cling to the cross, the burden will fall, Christ hath redeemed us once for all. 2 There on the cross your burden upbearing, Thorns on His brow your Savior is wearing; Never again your sin need appall, You have been pardoned once for all. 3 Now we are free—there’s no condemnation; Jesus provides a perfect salvation: “Come unto Me,” oh, hear His sweet call, Come, and He saves us once for all. 4 Children of God—oh, glorious calling, Surely His grace will keep us from falling; Passing from death to life at His call, Blessed salvation once for all.
Father, I praise You that I am free from the law. Yet my freedom has boundaries, because it does not mean that I can do whatever I please with no consequences. What it does mean, though, is that there is, therefore, now, no condemnation for me, as I am in Christ Jesus. Now, as I walk in this freedom, help me to consider the brothers and sisters around me. Help me also to consider the non-believers around me. In fact, may I consider all around me as more significant than myself, releasing any so-called “rights” to You, that I might totally live in humility and grace before You, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.
Mighty God, remind me today that faith is a verb, an active trust in Jesus. I don't want a coffee-table faith that's mostly display, a Sunday-only faith that's limited piety, or a bookish faith that only lives in my head. Give me a faith that lives and breathes and walks out the door into everyday life, carrying with it joy, peace, and love for all, always trusting in what Jesus has done for me. In his name, amen. (Westminster Confession 11.2)
[May you be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11 NIV)
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 ESV)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
(John 15:9-10 ESV)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
Father, these Scriptures continue to impress upon me that which You have already given me. Help me to be a loving person, abiding in Your love, keeping Your commandments (those two big ones), and being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to others, as You have forgiven me. All glory to You, through Christ and by the Spirit.
Lord, may I grow in holiness today. May You uncover any idols that I might be hiding in my heart. May I know, fully, Your forgiveness, and be willing to extend that, fully, to others in my life.
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!
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 NLT)
Grace and peace, friends.