Free From the Law–Oh, Happy Condition

Today is Thursday, the seventeenth of June, 2021

The peace of God be with you!

Day 23,107

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

INVITATION

“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.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

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)

BIBLE READING

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.”

Freedom.

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

impossible.

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)

BLESSING

[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.

Fear, Holiness and His Presence

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the fifteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,044

35 days until our Glen Rose weekend

Under normal circumstances, today would be “Tax Day,” in the US, the deadline for filing one’s income tax return. Not this year, though. The deadline has been extended to, I believe, May 17.

I had a large plate of “humble pie” handed to me, yesterday. In the spirit of transparency, vulnerability, and what I mean for this blog to be, I will share my experience.

I was dealing with a difficult person who works for our client. He’s not mean-spirited or rude, it just seems that he struggles with understanding, at times. We were both getting frustrated, and, unfortunately, wound up in a phone conversation about the issue.

I would rather get a root canal than talk on the phone.

That may be a slight exaggeration. But we have Skype and email, and usually, problems can be resolved through those avenues.

At the end of it all, we had both made mistakes. The supplier started the mess. The person to whom I was talking made an error. But guess what! So did I! My error was in not catching his error, and, in continuing the process, received some material on the wrong line item, which actually caused it to be received, inspected, and almost stocked as the wrong material.

I was not only humbled, but embarrassed.

It was a good lesson for me.

The Texas Rangers won their game with the Rays, last night, 5-1, improving their record to 5-7. Kohei Arihara (1-1) got the win, with 5.2 solid innings pitched. That is two consecutive wins for them, and they are tied with Oakland for last place in the AL West, but at this stage of the season, only two games behind first place. They will play again tonight, in the Juice Box, at 6:10 CDT, with Jordan Lyles (1-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox continue to make their own little bit of history. They won both games of a double header with the Twins, yesterday, no doubt making things even worse for the good people of Minneapolis. The first game was 3-2 with Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) getting the win, and the second was 7-1, with Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0) getting the win. The Sox have now won nine consecutive games. They sit alone at the top of the AL East, three games ahead of the second place Blue Jays. The Yankees, with the same record as Texas, are tied for the bottom, with Tampa Bay. Hah! My two least favorite teams, tied for last place. How fun is that?

The Sox will play the Twins again today, at 12:10 EDT, in Minneapolis. Garrett Richards (0-1) will take the mound for Boston.

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)

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • that You grabbed my attention, yesterday afternoon, humbling me; putting me in my place
  • for the peace I feel this morning
  • that You, alone, are to be feared . . . there is nothing on this earth that I should fear, when I am walking with You
  • for Your Church, which consists of people and souls, not buildings
  • for the great hope to be revealed at Christ’s return

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

EASTER – DAY 12

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause briefly to reflect on the nearness of God to His people.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
(Psalms 76:1-3 NIV)

It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.
(Psalms 76:7-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:10-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence (why must I always be having to remind myself of this truth?), I read these passages again. I invite the Holy Spirit to point me toward words or phrases that speak what I need to hear today.

Seriously, though . . . I’m drawn back to this idea that I have to remind myself that I am in God’s presence. Why? Why am I not aware of this glorious truth every minute of every day? This is definitely something to ponder, and something to work on. It reminds me of Frank Laubach’s “The Game with Minutes,” wherein he teaches the idea of consciously directing our thoughts toward God at least once, every minute.

It is God, alone, who is to be feared. Truly, when I am walking with Him (I wasn’t walking very well, yesterday), I have nothing at all to fear. Once again, I point to the words of Dallas Willard, who opined that “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God, Himself, told us, in Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” I have also heard it said (I have not counted it myself) that some form of “fear not” is the most-commanded thing in Scripture.

Only God is to be feared. I have nothing else to fear, and I certainly should not be afraid of death. More truth to ponder, and, perhaps, to act upon.

Instead of fear, my stance should be hope. “Hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming,” says Peter. In that hope, we should not conform to our evil desires, but, rather, “be holy, because [God is] holy.” “Holy” is from the Greek hagios, which means, “sacred (physically pure, morally blameless, or religious, ceremonially consecrated),” “holy,” or “saint.”

Father, thank You for the lessons learned (I hope, at least) yesterday. Thank You for directing my thoughts, this morning, to Your presence, Your very precious and near to us presence. Help me to consider this presence frequently throughout this day, rather than blindly trudging through another day without noticing You. I thank You that You are all that I have to fear, and even that “fear” is not the same as, say the fear of a train derailing while I’m sitting first at the crossing. May my fear of You translate into the hope of the grace that Christ will bring when He returns. May it translate into love for all people, and my Your Spirit flow through me and out of me as I walk through this day. May peace and love be my mantra, today.

Missionary God,
thank you for sending people to speak your timely message of salvation.
I pray for all those who communicate your good news -
empower them to speak gracefully and effectively.
Raise up new messengers to bring your gospel to all people and places in clear and compelling ways.
And I ask that you send and empower me to be a timely witness of the glory of the resurrection.
In the risen Savior's name,
amen.
(Canons of Dort 1.3)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV)

In today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021, Gail Thorell Schilling reminds us of another important truth.

“It’s time to remind myself that the church is – and always has been – a community of believers, not a building. Jesus Himself taught outdoors and in homes; worship within dedicated structures came much later. And though the buildings provide shelter, often exquisitely beautiful and inspiring, the heart of a church beats in its living members’ hearts, not in the stained glass and stones. Even as I mourn the destruction of sacred spaces, I sense that God – who cannot be contained – is very near.”

However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.
(Acts 7:48 NLT)

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
(1 John 4:12 NLT)

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. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)

Father, this morning I have paused to seek Your face. I believe I have encountered You in this time. I pray for Your presence to be known throughout this day. Thank You for Your Church and all that it means to me. Thank You for the reminder that Jesus taught outdoors and in homes, not in expansive, exquisite structures. Thank You for the reminder that the plans You have for us are for good, and that, if we seek You with our whole hearts, we will certainly find You.

Lord, please grow me in holiness, today. May I know more fully Your forgiveness, and, in knowing this, be more willing to extend the same grace to others in my path. May the gifts of Your Holy Spirit flourish within Your Church.

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.

The Third Day of Christmas

Today is Sunday, December 27, 2020. The third day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,935

Only five days until 2021!

Having all of these days off kind of messes with your head, let me tell you. All day, yesterday, we kept having to remind ourselves that it was only Saturday, and that we didn’t have to get up and go to work “tomorrow.” And it will happen again, next week, as we both have New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day off.

Then there are no more holidays until Memorial Day. That’s five straight months without a non-weekend day off, unless we take PTO, which we most certainly will. I’ll probably take my birthday week off in March, especially since I got another whole week when I hit my ten-year work anniversary, last month.

Yesterday was a good day. WW results: I lost 3.2 pounds since the last weigh-in, which was two weeks ago. If I can manage to lose 1.6 this week, I will hit 100 pounds for the year! It’s really tempting to “cheat” myself and scrimp on eating, this week, just to insure that I make it. But, as anyone who has been in WW before knows, that tactic can sometimes backfire. I will attempt to do everything as normally as possible. If I make it, great! I will celebrate. If I don’t, I will surely hit it the next week, and I will celebrate. There will be no crying.

Lunch was leftover Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken and corn casserole. Then we made chicken stir-fry for dinner, last night, with red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and onion. Add a little soy sauce for flavor, and put some rice in the bowl (for 5 Smart Points). So delicious!

Nothing planned at all for today, at least not yet. I’m sure C will get in a walk. Our little church is not meeting today, as some wanted to have the Sunday after Christmas as an off day. I’m sure S will tune in to the live broadcast from FBC Mineral Wells.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 3

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.
(Psalms 99:1-5 NIV)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:9-14 NIV)

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
(John 1:16-18 NIV)

At this point, each morning, I will try to share what words/phrases/concepts speak to me through the selected reading. Today, the first word is “light.” Jesus is called the Light of the world. John calls Him the “true light that gives light to everyone.”

I’m intrigued at the language, because this Jesus, of whom it was said in Matthew that He would save His people from their sins, is here said, in John 1, to give light to everyone.

Isaiah 9:2 days that the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. We were all walking in darkness before Jesus Christ entered the world in the flesh, and He is that Great Light.

The light shone on everyone. However, not everyone acknowledges or receives that light. The ones who do obtain the “right to become children of God.”

The other thing that speaks to me is in verse 18. Part of that bringing of light to everyone is the revealing of God to us. Jesus, about whom John says that He “is himself God,” has made the Father known to us.

We need nothing else.

Father, I give You thanks, this morning, for molding my heart so that it was receptive to this Light. I would not have sought this Light on my own. I praise You that Jesus, the Light of the world, came and made You known to us. Help us, Your Church, Your children, do a better job of displaying that Light in our own lives. Help us to follow Christ in our homes, our workplaces, and in our neighborhoods.

I also pray that all of us who claim to follow Christ would do a better job of serving the “common good.” Help us to be more concerned about our “fellow man” than we are about ourselves. Certainly, we must take care of ourselves, but we are confused about what is needed and what is wanted. We are also confused about what are our “rights,” when we should have surrendered all of those to Christ, upon believing in Him and choosing to follow Him.

I also lift up a prayer for all who have had to work through the holidays. I may even have work associates who are working today. So I lift them up to You, and ask You to rain grace and mercy down on them.

"Unseen God,
I sometimes wonder:
what are you like?
Thank you for not leaving me in the dark
but making yourself known in Jesus.
Because he is one with you,
I see exactly what you are like in him,
a perfect reflection of your glory.
Give me the eyes to see you
and faith to serve you.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession, 10)

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:1-14 ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.
(Psalms 89:52 ESV)

Extol the LORD, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion.
He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 147:12-20 NIV)

The truths presented in Psalm 103 are glorious. The most important, I believe, being that God is no longer angry with us, He has forgiven us, and He looks on us with compassion. “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.”

These are such comforting words, good to return to during just about any period of life, but most especially when our enemy digs up past sins out of our trash and presents them to us in an effort to disable us with shame. If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, that works. It shouldn’t. And if we remember passages such as Psalm 103, it won’t work as often.

Father, I give You praise because You are not angry with me, You have forgiven me, and You look on me with compassion. I give You praise because You think about me at all. I am not worthy of Your compassion, Your grace, Your mercy, even Your love. Yet You have chosen to love us, and even more, You chose to sacrifice Jesus for us, in order that our sins might be forgiven. I cannot, and will not ever be able to, adequately express gratitude for this. So I will simply praise You whenever it crosses my mind.

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!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
(Psalms 107:1 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your mercy, so wonderfully lavished upon us
  2. For Your forgiveness, which I can rest in
  3. For Your compassion, which keeps me going, and enables me to love others in return
  4. For the Light of the world, who reveals You to us
  5. That I am still alive and breathing

Grace and peace, friends.

People Everywhere

It’s finally Friday. And the sad thing is, I’ve only worked two days so far this week. But it seems like it’s been a whole week. Yesterday was a hard day. It just seemed like things kept happening all day that needed immediate attention. Not complaining, mind you…the day went by REALLY fast.
Today is Stephanie’s last day as a junior. She has one final to take today, and she’s done. We’ll probably celebrate by going out tonight for dinner. It’s been a challenging year with many ups and downs, but, for the most part, I would say it’s been good.
The Rangers beat the best team in the AL last night, the Indians, 7-4. So they stay a game and a half ahead of the…wait, who? The Mariners?? Huh. How about that!


Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
John 16:17-33
The disciples still don’t get it. How many times has he explained? So they’re asking themselves, “What does he mean when he says, ‘A little while and you won’t see me, and again a little while and you will see me?'” (v. 17) Jesus explains some more, telling them that they will have sorrow while the world rejoices, but soon, they will have joy when he sees them again. He then encourages them about prayer again, telling them, Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (v. 24) At the end of the chapter, he tells them that the reason he has told them these things is so that they will have peace. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (v. 33)

1 Chronicles 19-20
In chapter 19, David sends messengers to comfort the son of the Ammonite king who just died. But the son’s advisors give him bad advice. They captured the messengers, shaved off their beards and cut off their garments at the hip. This, of course, was very humiliating to the men, so David advised them to remain at Jericho until their beards grew back. The Ammonites, realizing their mistake, geared up for battle. Joab and the armies of David defeated them along with the Syrians, who had come out to help the Ammonites. However, the process, the Syrians made peace with David. Chapter 20 tells of the conquest of Rabbah, and of the defeat of more Philistine giants.

Psalm 106:24-48
The remainder of this Psalm tells of the Israelites’ refusal to follow the rules of the Lord. But the grace and mercy of God is displayed in verses 43ff, and the Psalmist finishes with a prayer for deliverance.
43 Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity.
44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
46 He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.
47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!


When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)
Once again, Dennis Jernigan gives us a devotion about people on the street. Only this time, it’s about the crowds. We can get so overwhelmed by the crowd that we somehow manage to forget that there is anyone else around us. People won’t talk to you; they won’t look you in the eye. I can speak from experience…I have been in the Bronx. The people there, in general, WILL NOT TALK TO YOU! We were looking for something. No one would help. The ones who did respond said, “I don’t know you!” “If we are to be kingdom-minded people we need to be able to step away from the busyness and see into the individual lives of those we run across and present them with Jesus. One smile or one kind word could be the key that unlocks the door into that person’s life.” It sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? Yet I believe it’s true. The problem? It takes time and energy that most of us aren’t willing to expend! And it takes risk. Anytime you open yourself up to someone else, there is risk. But what risk is too much for us, seeing that the Son of God gave his very life for us?
(From Daily Devotions for Kingdom Seekers, by Dennis Jernigan)


Father, I thank you for these words today. I pray that you give me the sensitivity to be aware of people around me; of their needs, hurts, and desires. Let me not get so wrapped up in my own world that I don’t notice that there are other people around me. I see that this theme has been recurring over the last couple of days. Perhaps you are preparing me for another avenue of ministry soon. I think I would like that. I’ve noted recently that I feel rather “homeless,” in that I don’t currently have a “church home.” I hope that you are preparing something for us in that area.
I am always and eternally grateful for your mercy, Lord. That which is proclaimed in the Psalm that I read this morning, that you deliver, that you show mercy, even when we fail to follow you properly. You are longsuffering and patient, Father, and I praise you for that, because I am so, well, just flat stupid sometimes! But I’m selfish; I’m self-serving. As C.S. Lewis said, “All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you. I never had a selfless thought since I was born. I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through: I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.” (From “As the Ruin Falls,” by C.S. Lewis) It’s true, and he wrote it so well. But you see through all that, and you see something worth saving! Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for the peace that comes from knowing Christ. The world around us is in constant turmoil, changing daily. Challenges come at us hard and fast. Yet, we can know peace through Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord.

I pray for Stephanie’s last day at school, Father. Let it be a good one, and I pray that she does okay on her final exam today. I pray for Christi’s day at work, that the stress level would be less than usual. Give her some peace today.
I continue to pray for Andy, in California. I pray that he will get the help he needs and be able to get on his feet again. He needs a place to live, and a job of some kind.


Take a look around you today. See the people. Really see them. And then unlock yourself.

Grace and peace, friends.

You’re In My Heart, You’re In My Soul…

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m not getting much accomplished. So I’ll see if I can get this done before we head out for the day’s activities, which, I think, will include a trip to the local zoo. Haven’t been there in a while.

Stephanie had another great day with her friend yesterday. This time, Christi took the day off, and went and picked Mimi up. They went and got some lunch and came to my work and ate lunch with me. Then they went bowling. Sounds like they had a marvelous time! It’s good to see Stephanie have a good friend.

Last night we went to Takara Steak House (Hibachi cooking) and had a nice dinner, after which we went across the street to Baskin Robbins, where I had a scoop of “Icing on the Cake,” and a scoop of the very best ice cream ever made, “Pink Bubble Gum.” I’m sure there will be much disagreement on that last statement…


But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Jesus tells us that we are being cleansed from every sin. It’s a process that continues for our entire lives. “We are always being cleansed.
“Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, ‘I can clean that…’ And from the basin of his grace, he scoops out a palm full of mercy and washes away our sin.”
And that’s not all he does. Since he lives in us, he gives us the ability to do the same. “Because he has forgiven us, we can forgive others.”

Beautiful words from Max Lucado.
(From Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado)


Today’s Bible readings:
Mark 3
Mark continues to go through the life of Jesus like a whirlwind. The account at the beginning of chapter 3 takes place in chapter 12 of Matthew. Also, to get a good picture of Mark’s excitedness (which kind of points to his young age, as well), check out how almost every sentence starts with the word, “and.”
We see in this chapter the first of the Pharisees’ plot to kill Jesus. They were so disturbed by his healing on the Sabbath that they began to plot after that miracle. The truth is, though, that, rather than disrespecting the Sabbath, Jesus was using it to do God’s work!
Deuteronomy 3-4
I’m not sure I’ve noticed this before. In 3:23ff, Moses pleads with God to change His mind and let him into the Promised Land. Then he says, “But the LORD was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me.” REALLY??? Moses had the GALL to blame the children of Israel for his circumstance?? Wow. That’s pretty low. Let’s don’t take that example for our lives. We all need to step up and take responsibility for our own actions and not blame others for our circumstances.
As Moses is reminding them of God’s laws in chapter 4, he makes a very powerful statement, beginning in verse 32.
“For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” The subtitle of that section (which, as we all know, was NOT part of the original text, but is inserted by editors and translators) says, “The LORD alone is God.” Indeed he is. He is God. He is the ONLY God, and he is not only worthy of our praise and worship, he deserves it.
Job 37
Elihu continues to speak (this is his last chapter). But in reality, these chapter divisions don’t belong in the text, and, at times, detract from the understanding. Let’s backtrack a bit and see…I’m going to start in verse 29 of chapter 36.
Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion?
Job 36:30 Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea. For by these he judges peoples; he gives food in abundance. He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark. Its crashing declares his presence; the cattle also declare that he rises. At this also my heart trembles and leaps out of its place. Keep listening to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice, and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
That continues through verse 5 of chapter 37. It’s a continuous though. Elihu is really proclaiming the majesty and glory of God, here!
He closes his speech with this: “And now no one looks on the light when it is bright in the skies, when the wind has passed and cleared them. Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty. The Almighty–we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit. All true, except for one little part. We can find him! He has made himself “findable!”
I wish I could have found another video for this song…but this will do.

“That’s where I find God.”
(From Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington) Except for the video. That didn’t come from the book.


Father, I thank you for the blessed forgiveness of Jesus! I praise you for that hand that “scoops out a handful of mercy” and wonderfully displays your grace in our lives! I pray that we would do a better job of showing that grace, both to each other and to the world. We really don’t do very well at either one, do we? But, by your grace, we are who we are, and we will endeavor to bring glory to you through our lives. The fact of the matter is that we are imperfect; so very imperfect. To even use something from a secular author, Scott Adams, we are all “idiots” at some time or another. Even the wisest among us is imperfect. And that’s what we need to realize. As time goes and and history is rewritten over and over again, we even discover that the “heroes” of our nation’s history were pretty imperfect people. This causes some to put them down as not worthy of any attention at all. That is an equally bad reaction as the one that worships our nation’s fathers. There were just people, just as we are just people. And we all, though not deserving of it, should be forgiven by each other, because we who call the name of Jesus are forgiven by you! Let us practice giving what we have received, my Father!
I pray that as I live each day, that I will do just what that song said, find you in my heart and in my soul. Let me find you in nature and in the world as I walk about in my life. Let me find you in every little detail of every day. I will look for you everywhere, my God, because I CAN find you! Yes I can, and I have! I praise you, my God!! I worship you, and I am proud to do so. And my pride is only in you and in the cross of Christ. I have nothing else to be proud of…only the work that you have done in my by your grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.

I pray for our day today, Lord. Let it be fun and relaxing as we go out.

I have friend at work, Lord, that was extremely discouraged yesterday. I pray that you will lift him up. You know his name.


We can forgive others, because Christ has forgiven us. And we can find God, in a multitude of places. Where we NEED to find him, though, is in our hearts and in our souls. He is our treasure.

Grace and peace, friends.

Where Will I Find Jesus?

Welcome to Saturday morning! It’s going to be a glorious day in Fort Worth, Texas! High around 75 degrees with mostly sunny skies today. We’re trying to come up with something to do outside today…maybe the zoo or something. Who knows? Maybe a drive out somewhere. I’ll let you know tomorrow.


The story is told that, when Francis of Assisi decided to turn his back on wealth and begin a life of simplicity, he “stripped naked and walked out of the city.” On the side of the road, he came across a leper. At first, he passed the leper, but turned around and went back and embraced the leper. He then continued walking. After a few steps, he turned around, and the leper was gone. “For the rest of his life, he believed the leper was Jesus Christ.”

“Jesus lives in the forgotten. He has taken up residence in the ignored. He has made a mansion amid the ill. If we want to see God, we must go among the broken and beaten and there we will see him.”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
(From Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado, evening reading for February 25)


“I am who I am because of Who He is.” A couple of days ago, I wrote about the name “Jehovah M’kaddesh,” which means “I am the Lord Who sets you apart.” When God chose us to become new creations in Christ, he set us apart for a purpose. One part of that purpose could be stated as this: “I am here to know God intimately and to lead others to that same knowledge.” I am set apart for the purpose of the Creator. “All that I am and all I will be are best found in deepening that relationship.”
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)
(From Daily Devotions for Kingdom Seekers, by Dennis Jernigan)

Don’t get me wrong…I consider myself to be all that “godly,” and I’m not so confident that the Lord hears every prayer I send up. Let me rephrase that. I know he hears all of my prayers. I still struggle with knowing that God loves me as an adopted child. I catch myself thinking, “How could he love me that much? I’m all covered with sin.” I have to make myself remember that Jesus took care of that. I keep forgetting that, because my sin is all too evident to me. But he reminds me that my sin is not evident to him at all, because he has cast it as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. I’m reminded of this old song by the Newsboys (the real ones…not the fake version that’s out there right now).

I think one of Satan’s biggest tools/weapons is shame. He throws it in our face and it totally disables us because it gets our eyes and focus on the sin that has crippled us instead of on the Redeemer who has saved and healed us.
My sin is forgiven forever. All of it. There is no more condemnation. I just have to keep reminding myself of that, especially when it’s time to pray for something. God is my Father. I am his adopted son. I am a brother to his Son. ‘nuf ced.


I once worked at a church in Waxahachie, Texas, where we embarked on a project to provide Thanksgiving meals to some families that were experiencing hard times. At one point, one of the older men in the meeting piped up and said, “I think before we help them, we need to investigate and make sure that they’re trying to do something to help themselves!” (It was something like that…I can’t remember the exact words.) I still find people that feel this way. “God helps those who help themselves” is probably one of the most common phrases attributed to Scripture that exists nowhere in the Bible. Another one that has taken flight lately is, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” But that’s a totally different discussion (the Bible never says THAT either…it’s a misquotation of 1 Corinthians 10:13). Anyway…here’s what Max Lucado has to say about the attitude in question.

“Have you noticed that God doesn’t ask you to prove that you will put your salary to good use? Have you noticed that God doesn’t turn off your oxygen supply when you misuse his gifts? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give you only that which you remember to thank him for?…
“God’s goodness is spurred by his nature, not by our worthiness.
“Someone asked an associate of mine, ‘What biblical precedent do we have to help the poor who have no desire to become Christians?’
“My friend responded with one word: ‘God.'”

God commands us to have compassion. He does not ask us to make sure that our gifts will be used wisely. He does not ask us to check to find out if that poor person is trying to get a job or find a house to live in. God does ask us to be like Him.
(Quoted from Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado)


Today’s Bible readings:
Acts 9
Saul’s life is changed forever as he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. To the amazement of the Jews in Damascus, Saul immediately began proclaiming Christ in the synagogues. He escaped Damascus after a plot arose to take his life, and got to Jerusalem, where he attempted to join the disciples. Understandably, they were skeptical. Barnabas, however, convinced them of the truth of his conversion.

Leviticus 22-23
Chapter 23 runs down the various feasts that the Israelites were to keep.

Job 15
Eliphaz starts up again. He begins by pretty much telling Job he’s full of hot air! (v. 2)
(From Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington)


PRAY FOR OUR JUDICIARY

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson who struck down the entire healthcare reform law said he will quickly consider an
Obama Administration request to clarify whether states must comply with it.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman has ordered the Interior Department to move forward with five drilling
applications for the Gulf of Mexico that have been under review for four to nine months.

Pray for our District Court judges whose rulings have extensive impact on the citizens of the United States.


Father, you’ve said a lot this morning. You have shown me where you reside; in the beaten down and the broken of our world. While I can’t effectively travel to a place where those types of people abound, I can keep my eyes open for people who have been broken by the harshness of this world. I can look for ways to minister to you by showing compassion to “the least of these.” Help me to do that. Give me eyes to see. You have made me a fairly generous person, never denying one who needs a dollar or two to get some lunch or a snack. I never worry about whether or not someone will repay that dollar. Help me to look for you as I walk this life.

I praise you once again, Lord, for setting me apart for your purposes. I thank you for giving me the desire to know you more intimately. I pray that you will help me to help others do the same. I still consider myself a worship leader, even though I am not currently active in that role. I pray that my worship practices when we are involved in worship will inspire others. Not that they would watch me worship, but that they would be inspired to worship you. I believe, as DJ, that I am who I am because of who you are! I praise you that my sins are erased and forgiven (should be the other way around…) I praise you that my sins will never again be remembered by you. I wish that I could forget them, but perhaps it’s good that I can’t, so that I can always remember whence you have brought me! I don’t want to forget what you brought me out of! Thank you for adopting me, Lord. I give you praise for your mercy and grace.

I pray for the remainder of this day. Whatever we choose to do, Lord, I pray that it will be a blessing to us, and perhaps a blessing to someone else, as well. Help us keep our eyes open for you.

I pray for tomorrow, both for the worship we will attend in the morning, and for the Night of Praise with Dennis Jernigan. I pray that we will worship you with all our hearts and that we will also be blessed by your Spirit.


As you go today, in whatever you do, look for Jesus in the people you encounter. Let us keep our eyes open for opportunities to minister.

Grace and peace, friends.

Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places?

This week has really gone pretty well for the most part. However, there is great potential for stress at Christi’s job today. Prayers for her would be appreciated. There are more layoffs happening today, and it’s not going to be pretty. She’s not one of them, at least. At least we don’t think so.

Stephanie’s psych appointment went pretty well yesterday. Except for the doctor messing up the prescription. And Christi didn’t notice until she had it at the drug store. Stephanie seems to be in pretty good spirits. She struggled in one class yesterday, but she didn’t know anyone else in the class at all, so she got really nervous. That should ease us some as the semester goes on, though. She still got all fives on her “point sheet.”

On to the devotion.


Psalm 77:13
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?

“Every man has the need to be known – the need to be loved and to love.” But we get impatient and try to meet those needs in ways that God never intended. We seek the approval of others. Many get caught up in worlds of physical pleasure through sex, alcohol, and drugs. The only thing that can meet our deepest needs is the greatness of God’s love. In comparison, all other things pale. “There is nothing greater than our God…nothing greater than His forgiveness…nothing greater than His redemption…nothing greater than His love for us.”
(From Daily Devotions for Kingdom Seekers)


Today’s Bible Readings:
Luke 10:25-42
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (vv. 38-42)

In the first part of this passage (before the quotes above), Jesus once again points out that a great priority of God’s is those who are in need. “Go, and do likewise,” he instructs the lawyer, and vicariously, all who follow Christ, as well.
I’ve always loved the little story of Mary and Martha here. Martha gets so busy with “urgent” things that the really important things get squeezed out. We need to make sure our priorities are in sync with God’s. If Jesus is in the house, the kitchen can wait.

Genesis 39-40
Joseph continues his “rise” to eventually be second in command in Egypt. However, before his rise, he must fall to the very bottom. God works in very strange ways sometimes.

Psalm 20
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (v. 7)

You might add “bank accounts” to that list of things that “some trust.” There is nothing worth trusting fully, other than “the name of the LORD our God.”
(From Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington)


PRAY FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HIS ADMINISTRATION

During Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit, President Obama will seal a deal to jointly finance a nuclear security
center in China. The project will aim to train and improve security and account for nuclear materials in Asia.

President Obama ordered a government-wide review of regulations with a goal of eliminating those that hurt job
creation and make the U.S. economy less competitive.

Pray for President Obama and governmental agencies to find ways of enhancing job growth in the U.S.


Father, I thank you for your steadfast love. I thank you for that mighty love that can fill my every need. You, according to Scripture, have given us everything we need for life and godliness. All we need is right there at our fingertips. We need to fight and claw to get it. We need not seek in the wrong places to get it. It is there. You have provided. I pray for faithfulness to get it right. There is truly nothing greater than you, Lord! Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for your redemption.
Lord, help me to have my priorities right. I’d rather be like Mary, who sat at your feet, than Martha, who got caught up in the “urgent.” The only truly urgent thing is you and your work. I desire intimate fellowship with you, Father. I desire to serve you with my whole life. Let my trust be in you, not in “chariots and horses.” I certainly don’t trust in my bank account. But, Lord, I found myself worrying over silly things. Yesterday morning, as I was praying on the way to work, it dawned on me that I worry about way too many things. And mostly about things that don’t really matter, like whether or not my iTunes will connect with my iPhone today (it did yesterday, but it wouldn’t today…oh, well). It really doesn’t matter! Keep me from worrying…it’s a lack of trust. I need to trust you with everything in my life! Everything!

Father, I pray for Christi today. Give her strength and courage to face what happens today. I pray that she won’t get emotional, or buried in stress. Wrap her in your arms as she goes to work. I pray for Stephanie. Help her get used to the new classes, and especially the new faces in one of her classes. Let her know how much you love her.

Today, I pray for Wings of Freedom. I lift up the Knight family and their many struggles. It’s been good to see Jordan lately. It was also good to see Jared at church Sunday. I lift up Dianne and her family, especially her sister, Gina. We still pray for healing for her, Father. I lift up our pastor and his family, the Burtons. Lord, they need some financial blessings. I lift up Ron and Linda to you…I pray for his health. Bobby, Elisha, Tiffany, LaRue…I pray for whatever is going on in their family right now. I pray for Jamie…Lord, I’m thankful that she has hung around when a lot of her friends have gone to other fellowships. She’s a blessing, helping Dodge with the youth. I pray for him, too. Help him with his studies and with leading the youth. I also pray for Johanna’s young adult group. I pray that they will be strong and have a solid foundation to grow on.

I’ve probably forgotten someone or something. Lord, you know, though. So I leave it to you to remember what I can’t.


There is only one thing that’s “urgent.” Fellowship with and worship of the Lord. Everything else is peripheral. Everything else can wait. And God loves you.

Grace and peace, friends.

If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile…

The big, shocking news of the morning is that Cliff Lee has signed with the Phillies. Did anyone see THAT coming?? I certainly didn’t. But I’m okay with that. As the popular phrase is going around Facebook this morning, “At least he didn’t sign with the Evil Empire.” So now the Rangers need to move forward on trying to trade for Zack Greinke.


I got a good devotional email from Dennis Jernigan this morning. It’s all about God loving us just the way we are. Some people seem to think that they have to “clean up,” or confess all their sins, before they can go to God. As Jernigan said, “If that were necessary to enter God’s presence I would never make it!” How true. Imagine, if you will, being an earthly father, and one of your children runs to you with a skinned knee. Would you make them go take a bath before you comforted them? Or even worse, would you make them tell you every bad thing they had ever done before you “doctored” the knee? Of course not! And as Jesus said, if we, being earthly fathers, know how to treat our children, how much more does our heavenly Father! (I paraphrased.) And, as Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”


Psalm 145:1-7

1 A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

We are into the final six Psalms, all of which together might be called the “Grand Doxology” of the Psalter. They bring the book of Psalms to a “mighty crescendo.” David begins here by praising God the King. He proclaims that he will praise the name of the Lord every day, “forever and ever.” He strongly desires to keep his relationship with the Lord fresh, not taking anything for granted.

He gives praise to God for both his attributes and his “wondrous works.” David promises to meditate on the works and majesty of God. “God is not an absentee landlord of His universe!” He did not create the universe and then just sit back to watch events unfold. He is actively involved in the universe and even in our lives.

“What a model for my own praise experience! I need to daily celebrate the Lord’s attributes and actions in my life.” I need to meditate more on these concepts. I need to record these “images and pictures of God” for future generations.
(From A Musician Looks At the Psalms, by Don Wyrtzen)


Psalm 130

1 A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Tabletalk continues to speak of the deliverance and redemption of our Lord. Scripture warns repeatedly of the dangers of the exile of hell, due to the rejection of the “transcendent holiness of the Lord.” But the Bible also repeatedly emphasizes the “power and willingness of God to save. [I love this next line!] He is, in fact, far better at saving than we are at sinning, and nothing can keep Him from saving those whom He has chosen.” Do you get that? God is better at saving than I am at sinning. And let me tell you, I’ve had a lot of practice and have gotten pretty good at sinning!! I’m not taking this lightly, either. It is a joyfully comforting revelation to understand that God is better at saving than I am at sinning. We all need to stop in our tracks and ponder that truth, because we probably have forgotten it, if we ever realized it to begin with. And this kind of goes along with the devotion from Dennis Jernigan that I cited earlier.

The Psalm above (130) is a great depiction of this truth, too. Notice verse three! “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” Seriously!! If God held even the smallest of our sins against us, we would not be able to stand before him! “But God in His grace has determined that His people should fear Him not only for His holiness but also for His forgiveness (v.4). Our Creator delights to exercise His redemption because those who truly understand it know that God must extend His love without violating His own righteousness. Only an all-powerful, wise Savior can do such a thing, being both just and the justifier of the ungodly (Rom. 3:21-26).”

“Plentiful is the redemption of our Lord.” (See verse 7) And, “His salvation goes beyond the cleansing of our souls. His redemption also heals broken relationships, transforms societies, and will ultimately renew the entire universe.”
(From Tabletalk Magazine)


Father,

I praise you for your many attributes, so many that I cannot count them. Today, I praise you for your mercy and grace in the redemption that you have provided for us. I praise you that I don’t have to confess all my sins before I can run to you for help. You are waiting for me to climb up in your lap, just as I did with my earthly parents at some point in my life. Ah, Lord…I am beyond words at this moment…I rest in your arms this morning as I finish getting ready for work.

Thank you, Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends…

All Creation Praises Him

Christi is home from the hospital and doing okay, I think. I’m a little concerned about her being at home by herself today, but I can’t do much about that. Fortunately, she has a niece that can come over if she needs any help.

I’m “flying solo” for the first time at work today. They guy who has been training me is off today, so I will be by myself. My boss’s boss will be there, though, in case something weird comes up. Plus, I can get hold of my boss if need be. I’m kind of excited about it.


The Valley of Vision

TRUE RELIGION

Lord God Almighty,

I ask not to be enrolled among the earthly great and rich,
but to be numbered with the spiritually blessed.
Make it my present, supreme, persevering concern
to obtain those blessings which are
spiritual in their nature,
eternal in their continuance,
satisfying in their possession.
Preserve me from a false estimate of the whole
or a part of my character;
May I pay regard to
my principles as well as my conduct,
my motives as well as my actions.
Help me
never to mistake the excitement of my passions
for the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
never to judge my religion by occasional
impressions and impulses, but by my
constant and prevailing disposition.
May my heart be right with you,
and my life as becomes the gospel.
May I maintain a supreme regard to another and better world,
and feel and confess myself a stranger and a pilgrim here.
Afford me all the direction, defense, support,
and consolation my journey hence requires,
and grant me a mind stayed upon you.
Give me large abundance of the supply of
the Spirit of Jesus,
that I may be prepared for every duty,
love you in all my mercies,
submit to you in every trial,
trust you when walking in darkness,
have peace in you amidst life’s changes.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief
and uncertainties.

That peace that is mentioned is exactly what happened to me last Sunday night. In the midst of all the changes that were coming, and the stress that was weighing me down concerning them, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a great sense of the peace of God. It was as though the massive amounts of stress were simply lifted off of my shoulders and replaced with a calm, prevailing feeling of, “Hey. Don’t worry. I got this.” It was beautiful.

It is easy to mistake our passions and excitements as “the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” We must be careful of this. I think it appropriate to pray for wisdom to know the difference.


A Musician Looks At the Psalms, by Don Wyrtzen
Psalm 103:19-22

19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

We all have limitations. Even those in authority have limitations to their authority. My boss has authority over a few people. His boss has authority over more. But even the CEO (or whatever it happens to be called) over our company only has authority over people in that company. God’s authority has no such limits. His dominion is infinite and eternal. “The entire universe is under his dominion.” The Psalmist calls upon everything under God’s dominion to praise and worship him!

“If the whole creation is expected to worship the Lord, then I must bless the Lord in my personal life as well. Neglecting worship and praise will shrink my soul and reduce the margins of my life and influence. If I desire fulness, richness, and abundance, I’ll spend my days adoring the King of the universe – the only One worthy of concentrated service and worship.”


Matthew Henry Daily Readings

Petitions for Mercy

Psalm 57:1

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

“All David’s dependence is upon God. The most eminent believers need often repeat the publican’s prayer, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ But if our souls trust in the Lord, this may assure us, in our utmost dangers, that our calamities will at length be overpast, and in the mean time, by faith and prayer, we must make him our refuge. Though God be most high, yet he condescends so low, as to take care that all things are made to work for good to his people. This is a good reason why we should pray earnestly.”


Prayers from the Presidential Prayer Team

PRAY FOR OUR CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings on the Pentagon’s budget-cutting decision to close the Joint
Forces Command based in Virginia, with one Senator suggesting all plans should be suspended pending review.

The widening trade deficit with China is putting pressure on Congress to take legislation to remedy currency
manipulation by the Chinese government. The Obama Administration appears to not want such legislation.

Pray for our legislators as they grapple with means of reducing the costs of government.


Father I thank you for the peace that passes all understanding. I thank you for the grace that brings this peace; the mercy that provides it. Your grace and mercy that is displayed in our lives is amazing. I pray for wisdom to understand the difference between excitement and the renewing of the Spirit. There are entire “denominations” built on a misunderstanding of this difference. I pray for people to be more biblically sound in their theologies.

I praise you for your dominion over everything in creation. Of course you have dominion, you created it! But your influence and dominion over all of creations gives me comfort when I tend to worry about things, because it tells me that you have everything under your control. You are sovereign over all things, and even the rocks would cry out to you in praise, if they were able. Let us do the same, as we are usually smarter than rocks. Usually.

Let my dependence be upon you, as David’s was. I have no other refuge but you. I have no other provider but you. I have no other protector but you. “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” Let me never forget my place in your creation, and let me never forget the grace and mercy you showed me by electing me to be one of yours.

I pray for our Congress as they grapple with issues that are largely of their own making. I pray that they would pray for wisdom from you. I pray that they would begin, by some miracle, to care more about the people that they are supposed to be serving than their own pockets and reputations. I also pray that the citizens of the United States would be more important to its government than corporations.

I pray that Christi will fell better today as she rests. I pray that she will be okay here alone today. I also pray that Stephanie will finish out the week in the same fashion as it has gone thus far.

Give me wisdom and a clear head today, as I do my job. Thank you for this job and the way it seems to be going.


Find refuge in God’s mercies today. He is our only safe place to hide. And he has dominion over all things; all creation praises him.

Grace and peace, friends.