“Speak, LORD, For Your Servant Hears”

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,316

Eleven days until Hamilton, if the show goes on.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please check out his beautiful photography at the link provided.

What I really need to work on this year, is staying focused. I am so easily distracted, and I don’t think I’m alone. Our culture is driving us in that direction. We had a discussion in our house church, last Sunday, about our attention spans, and how short they tend to be now. For a good indicator of that, see how long TV commercials are, now (if you even still watch them . . . almost everything we watch is on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, now).

But I’ve been up since about 7:30, and still have not managed to start my devotional. I will say that I have listened to a Bible reading and done some praying, though, so there’s that.

It was nice being at the library, last night. I like all of my roles at the library, but Tuesday evening may be my favorite. That’s when I do shelving for four hours. It’s nice, because I’m by myself, either sorting books or media in a back room, and then pretty much alone in the stacks as I re-shelve the material. It’s quiet, and there’s a lot of time to ponder things. Plus I am always discovering new books I want to read or new movies/TV shows that I want to see. My “Want to Read” list on Goodreads has grown quite a bit, since I started this gig.

What’s on the agenda for today? I think I may have to make an in-person grocery trip. There are a few things we need, and Albertson’s doesn’t have them all. And Walmart Neighborhood Market doesn’t have any pickup times available today. Between being short-staffed, and people doing more pickups because of Omicron spread, they are being beat up pretty badly, these days.

I also plan to get on the treadmill at some point, today. I’ve been planning that all week, though, and it hasn’t happened, yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; 
seek, and you will find; 
knock, and it will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks receives, 
and the one who seeks finds, 
and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
(Luke 11:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for beautiful music, with which I can praise God, both in listening and in playing/singing
2. for the faithfulness of the Lord and His promises
3. for water, water to drink, water in oceans and lakes and rivers and waterfalls
4. that, even when I mistake or simply don't hear the "voice" of God, He keeps calling me (1 Samuel 3)
5. for the clear call of God for us to love one another, because "love is from God" (1 John 4:7)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 
The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 
Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, "Here I am!" 
and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. 
And the LORD called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." 
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 
And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears." 
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 
And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 
(1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 ESV)

There’s a lot I could say about this passage, this morning. So much that my mind is kind of whirling around with all the thoughts. So I’m trying to focus on something. I’ll point out a couple of things.

First is the usage of the phrase, “not yet.” It occurs thrice in the passage. It first occurs in verse 3, where it says, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out.” This may be nothing more than a literal statement that a physical lamp was still burning that night. But I’m leaning toward reading more into that, considering the statement in verse 1 that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days.” That, in itself, displays the inadequacy of Eli and his “ministry,” and we find out, later, that his sons were pretty skeezy characters.

Nevertheless, there was still opportunity for God’s Word, because His “lamp” had not yet gone out.

The other usages both occur in verse 7. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”

SERIOUSLY, ELI????

I mean, we don’t know how old Samuel was, at this point . . . no real clue. But how long had he been “ministering” with Eli, and he still did not know about God or His Word?? So Samuel is totally not to blame for not recognizing God’s voice, at this point.

Samuel mistakes God’s voice for Eli three times before Eli figures out what’s going on. Finally, Eli tells Samue what to do, Samuel does it, and the rest is history. He becomes one of the most famous prophets ever to exist in Israel.

How can we apply these things to ourselves, in our day and culture? First of all, I know about God and His Word. So I don’t have Samuel’s excuse when I don’t here His voice, or mistake His voice for someone/something else. There is so much “noise” in our world, today. Much of it is literal noise. This is why the disciplines of silence and solitude are so important. But they are also very neglected. I know I don’t practice them very often. And, truthfully, while it is difficult to find a place to practice those, I could go sit in a chair in my back yard, next to the pool and have “relative” silence. Sure there is noise, but there’s no coherent noise. And I could be alone for a while, assuming S doesn’t come out and bother me.

I know that I have felt/heard things in my spirit before, and wondered if that was God’s “voice” or just my own brain coming up with something. But I need to do better at knowing His voice and acting on it.

Second, we can learn something from Samuel, here. Obviously, he is still a child, more than likely pre-adolescent. And we have the teachings of Jesus that speak of us receiving the Kingdom “like a child.” Samuel was quick to obey, and when he finally understood what was happening, he did exactly what Eli (bless his heart) told him to do.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”

That’s my lesson for today. When I hear the voice of God (whether literal or figurative), that needs to be my response.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 
(Matthew 25:35 ESV)
He said also to the man who had invited him, 
"When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 
and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
(Luke 14:12-14 ESV)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 
For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 
(James 1:22-27 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7 ESV)


Father, as I walk through this world, in Your Kingdom, engaging with people and situations, I pray for the child-like faith of Samuel, to be able to jump up and say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears,” whenever I hear Your voice. I do not believe I have ever heard Your voice, audibly, but I do believe that I have heard Your Spirit speak to me many times. Sadly, some of those times, I did not heed, and suffered for it. Oh, I did not necessarily “suffer,” in a physical way. Sometimes, it was in a spiritual sense. I have one instance in mind, over thirty years ago. My spiritual growth suffered because I did not do what I felt You telling me to do.

Father, Your lamp has not yet gone out in our world, in our land. Truthfully, I don’t believe it will. And Your Word is prevalent in our land, at least in this country. That doesn’t mean we are paying attention to it, though. Help me to be more aware of Your Word, and help me to find make time to practice silence and solitude so that I can meditate on and contemplate You and Your Word. My initial tendency is to feel overwhelmed and think that I don’t have enough time for all of this. But, truthfully, I have lots of time. I’m just not using it very wisely, sometimes. I pray for wisdom in that regard, as well.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A City Yet to Come

Today is Friday, the third of December, 2021. First Friday of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,276

Twenty-two days until Christmas

Yesterday, of course, was a bittersweet day. I was fine, emotionally, until it came time to sing the two songs at the service. I made it through “The Old Rugged Cross,” pretty well, only stumbling at the line, “then He’ll call me, someday, to my home far away.” But the second song I decided to sing was “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. It’s a great song for a setting like that. I was blindsided by emotions when I got to the chorus.

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

I recovered, though, and made it through the song, with only one more “glitch” in the bridge. As I walked back to where C and S were sitting, in the family section of the room, I dared not look up to make eye contact with any of my cousins. And, of course, the emotions were driven by memories of my own father, as well.

We had a good trip home, but it seemed to take a lot longer than the trip out there. Of course, we hit Dallas at rush hour, and we stopped along the way to refuel and take a restroom break.

C is at the office today, rather than working from home, and I’ll be heading in to work my Friday shift at the library, in the computer/media center. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in there. I hope I remember how everything works.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll have a few more days to recuperate from this week.

I’m currently reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly. It’s his first novel, from 1992. I had seen quite a few of his books during my shelving nights at the library. We have a large number of his, in both regular and large print. It wasn’t until I realized that he was the author responsible for Harry Bosch that I became interested in reading them. I am really enjoying this one, so I will, no doubt, continue in the series. I haven’t given up on The Divine Embrace. It’s still in the wings, and I will continue reading it, when I take the time to sit and take notes as I read it.

Be right back . . . I need a second cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Becoming Who We Are, by Daryl Madden

The journey of our life
Of inner and afar
That all paths lead unto
Becoming who you are

Acknowledging the truth
A pride-filled sinner be
Blessed be the finding
Of the One who saves me

That we find emptiness
When this world, we purse
That only gifts beyond
Are treasures of value

In telling of our story
With humility
In sharing of our gifts
Our true purpose, be

We are made complete
Even though we’re flawed
Because we’re a beloved
Child of our God

“We are made complete, even though we’re flawed, because we’re a beloved Child of our God.” This reminds me of a Mercy Me song that I really like.

"No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless"

Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry in the link provided above.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
 that God sent his only Son into the world,
 so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, 
not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
(1 John 4:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, because of Your grace, and the cross of Christ, I am made complete, in spite of my flaws
2. for Your great love, that never fails and never ceases
3. for a safe trip home, last night
4. for loving memories of family
5. for "the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14)

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, 
and the young men and the old shall be merry. 
I will turn their mourning into joy; 
I will comfort them, 
and give them gladness for sorrow. 
(Jeremiah 31:13 ESV)
But, as it is written, 
"What no eye has seen, 
nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, 
even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV)
For here we have no lasting city, 
but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

What beautiful words are in these Scriptures, and how appropriate for them to come up today. God will turn our mourning into joy, and we will rejoice in Him with dancing and singing. Truly, no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard (not among the living, at least) the things that God has prepared for us who love Him. And this place in which we live? It is, truly, “no lasting city.” I, along with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, “seek the city that is to come.”


You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 
(John 15:14-16 ESV)
. . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 
(Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV)
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday 
and today 
and forever. 
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SIX

INVITATION

With all my heart, 
I am waiting, 
LORD, for you! 
I trust your promises. 
(Psalms 130:5 CEV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to meditate on these truths that have already been presented. I am waiting on You, Lord! I am waiting on and looking forward to that city that is yet to come.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev. 
Those who sow with tears 
will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 
(Romans 13:11-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something within about which I wish to ask God? I pray my life to Him, resting in His presence.

Father, my family has experienced sorrow, this past week, yet we have also known Your joy. The truth of these promises, that those who go out weeping will return with songs of joy, has been realized, in real time, in our lives. There will still be sorrow, yes, but as was so aptly pointed out in yesterday’s funeral message, we have hope because of Jesus and His work in our lives. It is because of Him, whom we both celebrate, during this season, and for whom we await as we look forward to His return, that we have this joy.

I also find hope in these words as I ponder the potential of restoration for everything that is broken or flawed, in this creation. The poem and song, earlier on in this blog, have reminded me of the truth that everything that is flawed or broken will be fixed, made whole, and restored. And it is when these things become reality that our true joy will be made manifest. The joy we experience today, as great as it is, is still incomplete. It is incomplete because we are still dwelling in “jars of clay,” bodies of sin, this “mortal coil.” We long to shed this mortal coil and be done with it. We long to be done with this body of sin, with these temptations and sorrows. Oh, come, Lord Jesus and restore everything to its true reality!

Awaken us from our slumber! Make us aware that the time of our “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Oh, praise, that the “night is nearly over.” Help us to put aside all deeds of darkness and put on the “armor of light.” May we fully clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and His righteousness!

I pray, Father, for relief and justice for all who are living in poverty and injustice. Give us, O Lord, both the willingness and the capacity to suffer with others, and give relief to the refugees, Lord!

"Sovereign God,
on the coming judgment day the book on my life will be opened and a verdict will be given.
Knowing that every idle work,
every well-guarded secret and shadowed hypocrisy will be uncovered makes me want to run for cover.
Remind me that just as You gave Adam and Eve garments to cover their shame,
You dress me up in Christ-clothes that I might stand before You.
Amen."

BLESSING

The one who has spoken these things says,
 "I am coming soon!" 
So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!
 I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!

By His Wounds

Good morning to you! Today is Thursday, the eleventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,254

Tomorrow is C’s birthday! At this point, there are no special plans for the day, but I may come up with some kind of surprise before today is over. S and I have a small gift to give her tomorrow, but her big present is the trip to Indiana, next week, to see R & J. The second big present is hanging from the ceiling in the garage, the new opener. I have to work all day tomorrow, but maybe we will do something different for dinner tomorrow night, rather than our usual pizza. But if she wants to do the pizza, that’s what we will do. This is also my week to work Saturday, so perhaps we will do something Sunday for lunch.

Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. We are certainly grateful for all people who have served in the military in any capacity. This day is to honor those who are still with us, as opposed to Memorial Day, which is to honor those who are no longer with us. So if you are a military veteran, and you happen to read this, know that you are appreciated here.

I had a good day at the library, yesterday. It was mostly quiet, with a few flurries of activity. It looks like I will be working with the same group of people on Saturday, in the circulation department, which is fine. The three of us who worked yesterday make a pretty good team.

We all got a bonus, yesterday, from the City of Hurst. It was a surprise to me, in a couple of ways. I was expecting a bonus, because we were told about it at the “Hurst Way Conference,” back a couple weeks ago. One surprise was how early we got it. Everyone at the library (and the Community Services Department, which shares the building), said that they usually don’t get the bonus until after Thanksgiving. The other surprise was that there was a 1% of salary included with the bonus, which I did not think part times were supposed to get. Bonus bonus!! Hahaha! The longer I work at the Hurst Public Library, the more impressed I am with the culture of the city.

I’m currently reading two books (I don’t recommend that, necessarily, but it gives me flexibility, as one is a real book and the other is on Kindle, which I can read more easily in bed). The real book is The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber. I am learning some really valuable history about spirituality, from ancient times to the present. The other book is fiction, part of the Nursery Rhyme Murder collection. It is Humpty Dumpty, by Carolyn McCray and Ben Hopkin.

I want to recommend a news podcast/newsletter to anyone who might be interested. It is Axios, and you can look at it or subscribe through this link. I listen to a daily morning podcast called “Axios Today,” and also get a few newsletters via email.

Pardon me a moment, while I engage in kitten cuddles.

The nature of what follows makes it seem ridiculous to share trivia in today’s blog.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He who has an ear,
Let him hear what the spirit
Says to the churches.
(Revelation)

the voice of mirth
and the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom
and the voice of the bride,
the voices of those who sing,
as they bring thank offerings
to the house of the LORD:
“‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts,
for the LORD is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first,
says the LORD.
(Jeremiah 33:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your steadfast love, which endures forever
2. for Siamese kittens (especially Cleopatra)
3. for the Light of Christ, which dispels the darkness within me
4. that by Your wounds, I am made whole
5. that You were pierced for my transgressions; crushed for my iniquities
6. that You are faithful and will surely bring to completion what You have started

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“Come to me,
all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 GNB)

Come to me, all you
Tired and weary from burdens;
I will give you rest.

As I pause, during this quiet moment (and watch the aforementioned Siamese kitten bat at the cursor on my computer screen), I am grateful for the little things in life, the little comforts and pleasures that are far from necessary, but add such value to my life. I am grateful, Father, so grateful.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
(Psalms 127:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or thoughts that stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something that I wish to ask the Lord about? I pray my life to God, in meditation and contemplation. I spend time resting in God’s presence.

The song of ascents that is featured today is attributed to Solomon. Is it ironic that it includes the repetition of the word “vain,” especially if we think that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes? (I’m still on the fence about that, myself, but it can be argued, and I’m certainly not an expert.)

What is interesting is that this song seems to include two completely unrelated topics. In fact, the second half (last three verses) of the psalm look like something straight out of Proverbs.

Nevertheless, I’m drawn to the word “vain” in the song. If God is not in it, whatever you do is vanity. You can work your fingers to the bone, and if God isn’t in it, all you’re gonna get is, well, boney fingers. You can stay up late and get up early, and if the Lord is not involved, all you’re going to get is tired. And the end of verse 2 even implies that all of that extra labor is useless anyway, because God grants sleep to those He loves.

I find an interesting translational difference, as well. While the NIV says “toiling for food to eat” in verse 2, the ESV says, “eating the bread of anxious toil.” KJV says, “to eat the bread of sorrows,” and the NLT says, “anxiously working for food to eat.” It seems to me (again, no expert in Hebrew) that the NIV leaves something to be desired, here, as it doesn’t include the concept of anxious or sorrow. There is something deeply sad about the other translations.

The point to me is that it is vain to work anxiously for food, bread, to eat. And the key word in that is “anxious.” It is not vain to work to provide for the family. Not at all. That is our ordained lot. Even Adam and Eve had to do some measure of “work” in the garden. It only became “anxious” and “sorrowful” after the Fall.

If we consider this psalm, together with Isaiah 53, I think we gain insight. I also have to wonder about the chapter division, at this point. It seems like the first six verses of 53 continue the thought presented at the end of 52. Let’s consider them together.

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-6 NIV)

Right off the bat, this clears up who the “he” is in Isaiah 53. Sure, we assume, if we read it without the end of chapter 52, that it is talking about Jesus. But if we do read it in context, with 52, it is much clearer. There is always a danger when we don’t read Scripture in context. And it is good to remember that the chapter and verse divisions are not “inspired,” per se. The chapter divisions were not added until the early thirteenth century. The verses were not even added until much later, 100-300 years, depending on Old or New Testament.

So, I’m considering a total of nine verses, here, rather than just the six originally called for by the devotional book. The point of Isaiah 53:1, I believe, is that the questions are outlandish. Who could believe this?? That the “powerful arm of God” could be revealed in such a way as this?? This person described displays anything but power! “disfigured beyond that of any human being;” “his form marred beyond human likeness.” The sight of Jesus being crucified was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

And it did not appear to be at all kingly or majestic. I’ve read detailed descriptions of what happened to Jesus between the time He was arrested in Gethsemane and the time He was removed from the Cross. I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s passion movie, so I can’t say for sure, but based on pictures from the film, he may have gotten it pretty close. It would make modern “slasher” films look tame.

Yes, He was disfigured beyond recognition, to the point that He did not even resemble a man. As it says in 53:1, who would believe this??

And even before the horrific punishment was meted out upon Him, He apparently wasn’t much to look at. The traditional artists’ rendering of Jesus seem to be quite inaccurate. For one thing, most of them paint Him as a white man. But they also make Him quite lovely and attractive. Almost angelic, right?

But Isaiah says that “He had no beauty of majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”

“Who has believed our report??”

But verse 5 holds the key. Actually beginning in verse 4. “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering.”

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was on Him,
and by His wounds
we
are
healed."

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

It’s difficult to express where my mind is going, right now. This “report,” as it is called by Isaiah, is outlandish; it is preposterous. The Creator of the universe is revealing His powerful arm in this?? In a mangled man, pierced, crushed, punished for our transgressions??

Father, I cannot cease to be amazed at this. I cannot express the depth of wonder at what was done here. I bow my head in shame (guilt?) as I consider what my Savior did on our behalf, and, by comparison, what little regard I have had for it, throughout my life. Oh, sure, I have sung the hymns and prayed the prayers, and I have given thanks and all that. But there is much in my life that would contradict what I say I believe. Or at least, historically, there is. I’m looking back on things that You claim You don’t remember. Lucky for me, eh? I’m not being sarcastic, here. I’m not taking this lightly. Truly, Your Word tells us, in many places, that You will remember our sins no more. They have been cleansed by the work of this suffering servant. They are part of the iniquities and transgressions for which Christ was pierced and crushed. Father, this prayer might ramble a bit . . . I’m sorry.

I praise You for what I’m reading in these two chapters from Isaiah. I praise You for this unbelievable report! That You chose to reveal Your “powerful” arm in this way. I cannot bear the thought of what Jesus endured for us. Perhaps that is why it is not given in such brutal detail in the Gospels. We get just enough information. It is our own historians and theologians who have “blessed” us with the gruesome details of Jesus’s walk to the Cross. So, rather than focus on my past, because You say You don’t remember it, I will look forward to the future, where You already are, as well. I will focus on the part that says that I am made whole by the wounds experienced by my Savior. Some translations say “healed,” and that’s great, but some people want to make that all about physical healing. It is so much deeper than that. Physical healing is wonderful, but, unless You build the house, it is in vain. Physical healing means nothing if I am not made whole in Spirit. And You have made me whole.

I praise You Father! All glory to You through the Son and by the Spirit. Let this house be built by You, and let the labor not be in vain. You grant rest to those who love You and worship You. You grant peace to us who follow You; peace that passes all understanding; peace that flies in the face of what is going on in the world, today. Peace that tells me that this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be.

I pray, Father, for a constant yearning to know You more, and the diligence and discipline to seek You. May all Your saints know and experience, daily, the joy of Your salvation. And I pray for any family members or friends who have not experienced this joy.

"Suffering Savior,
throughout Your whole life you tasted loneliness and rejection,
grief and pain;
like us You knew the suffering of this world.
But You knew another suffering far beyond any link to my pain and tears.
You suffered the wrath of God against the sin of the world;
You took on my punishment so I might go free.
I worship You,
my crucified Lord.
Amen."
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts

BLESSING

Show me how much you love me, LORD,
and save me according to your promise.
(Psalms 119:41 GNB)


For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45 ESV)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 ESV)

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV)

Father, may we, Your people embrace these truths, that You, in the form of that Suffering Servant, came not to be serve, but to serve, and to give Your life for us. May we express that same love outwardly, and seek not our own good, but that of our fellow human beings. I live this life in the hope and faith that You, who began this “good work” will bring it to completion; You are faithful; You will surely do it.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Naked

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the fourth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,247

Eight days until C’s birthday!

Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I didn’t get enough sleep, but that was because I woke up sneezing like crazy. The whole day was one of those days when my nose wouldn’t dry up at all. I took several doses of over the counter meds (Sudafed and Dayquil), and there were brief periods where things dried up, but I emptied at least two boxes of Kleenex, during the day.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much accomplished. I took Nyquil before going to sleep, last night, and had a really good night’s rest. I’m definitely feeling better, this morning, so we’ll see what happens.

I have found myself experiencing mild anxiety over what I should be doing today. C and I agreed that this is silly. There is really nothing that needs to get done. I feel like I should practice some music or write a song or something. And if that happens, great. But I need to stop allowing myself to feel guilt or anxiety if it doesn’t happen. After all, retirement is not supposed to create anxiety, right?

I don’t work today, and, barring special events, will not ever work on Thursdays. Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays are days when I will always be off. Tuesday evenings and Fridays are the days that I will always work. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the “every-other-week” days.

I’m currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber.

I watched the movie, The Haunting, yesterday. I was pretty impressed with the way they followed the book. You don’t see that much, these days. It was made in 1963, so special effects really didn’t exist. The sounds were not very realistic (there’s a lot of banging on walls and such in the book), but for when it was made, it was a pretty good movie. They changed the names, slightly, and the whole reason for the doctor’s wife showing up at the house was changed. Plus the teacher/headmaster, Arthur, wasn’t in the movie at all. In my opinion, the best acting was done by the person who played Theodora (Claire Bloom). Although, I will say that Julie Harris did a pretty good job of crazy, playing Eleanor.

Today is Men Make Dinner Day. Well, I’m already doing that, because I started a soup in our crock pot this morning. Hah!

The word for today is bellwether, “a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.”

Today’s quote is from Mignon McLaughlin, an American journalist. “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Birthdays on November 4:

Augustus Montague Toplady, English hymn writer (Rock of Ages), 1740-1778
Will Rogers, American humorist and actor, 1879-1935
Walter Cronkite, American journalist and news anchor, 1916-2009
Art Carney, American actor (The Honeymooners), 1918-2003
Freddy Heineken, Dutch beer brewer, 1923-2002
Loretta Swit, American actress (MASH), 1937 (84)
Laura Bush, U.S. First Lady, 1946 (75)
Markie Post, American actress (Night Court), 1950-2021
Matthew McConaughey, American actor (Interstellar, Dazed and Confused), born in Uvalde, TX, 1969 (52)
Augustus Toplady wrote this hymn
Walter Cronkite
Loretta Swit
Markie Post

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

His divine power;
Precious and great promises;
All I need for life.
(2 Peter 1)

You are my God,
and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God;
I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for Your divine power, Your great and precious promises, all I need for life and godliness
4. that You have led us away from the love of money and wealth
5. for creating a generous, open-handed spirit within me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“This God is our God forever and ever;
he will lead us for all time to come.”
(Psalms 48:14 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I am considering God’s divine power, which has given me everything I need for life and godliness. He is truly my Shepherd, and I truly lack for nothing!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

I call on the LORD in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, LORD,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
(Psalms 120:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich,
their abundance permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, a read these passages again, attempting to notice how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on a word or phrase that jumps out at me, allowing my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation. I take refreshment in His presence.

There is some real depth in both of these passages today. Just as the unnamed psalmist, I think we should all be wary of “lying lips and deceitful tongues.” There is a problem in our culture, today, though. It is reflected by a single statement I saw a rather ignorant person post on Facebook, the other day.

“All liberals are liars,” he said.

What a ridiculous statement. What an ignorant statement. Unfortunately, it reflects the mindset of approximately half of the country today.

Any statement about any group of people that begins with the word “all” is not even worthy of consideration. Blanket generalities are ignorant and lazy. As tempting as it is to say “all politicians are liars,” that would be no different.

On the other hand, I dare say that 100% of all humanity has told a lie at some point, so it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that “all humans are liars.”

“Save me, LORD, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.” That’s a worthy prayer. But diligence and wisdom are required, that we might know whose tongues are deceitful and whose lips are lying. Great discernment is needed, and this is something we can gain from the Holy Spirit and meditating on God’s Word.

The psalmist closes out this “song of ascent” with a chilling statement. “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” He prefaces this by calling out “woe” because he dwells in “Meshek,” among the tents of “Kedar.”

What on earth does that mean? It is likely a euphemism for rude and barbaric people. Suddenly, I have images from January 6, 2021, in my head.

I, too, find that I seem to dwell in the midst of people who hate peace. My desire, in life, these days, is love and peace. Anyone who has read this effort, regularly, knows that I keep coming back to that idea of loving one another. And I know a lot of people who speak words like that out of one side of their mouth, but out of the other side, they spew nonstop hatred toward anyone who thinks differently than they do about pretty much any issue.

“All liberals are liars.”

That’s the kind of nonsense that comes out of people like that.

I am for peace; they may not be for “war,” but the are certainly not for peace. I guess they would be for peace if everyone agreed with them.

And from that, we move into a passage about the love of money and material wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10 is spot on. “Whoever loves money never has enough.” We know that Paul tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Throughout the years, people have misinterpreted/misread that to say that money, itself, is evil. Again, that’s taking the lazy way out.

I love what Dallas Willard says about money. In one of his books, he recommends making as much of it as you can. So you can give it away.

But if we love it (the Hebrew word in that verse indicates having affection for something), we can’t get enough of it; we are never satisfied with our income. And I love the question the Teacher asks in verse 11, regarding “goods.” “What benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”

This is a question that deserves some serious pondering. It’s also one of the reasons that, a number of years ago, I essentially stopped “collecting.” What good are all these things? As someone else has mentioned, it will just be a bunch of stuff that someone has to clean out of the house after I die.

Believe it or not, this is not leading me down a path toward depression, this morning. More or less, I am simply “thinking out loud,” doing what the “dwelling” portion recommends. These are lines of Scripture that have “jumped out at me,” and I am pondering them, meditating on them, expressing my thoughts with my fingers on the keyboard.

There is, inherently, nothing wrong with “collecting.” If it makes you happy, knock yourself out. More power to you. It is just something that I have ceased to see any value in. I don’t need to “feast my eyes” on all of my stuff any more.

I also don’t want to be the person mentioned in verse 13 . . . “wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners.” Again . . . there is nothing wrong with saving money, maybe for that “rainy day,” or maybe for some kind of special event or something. Or, in the case of a few of us, for the eventual helping of someone who is in dire need of something. We actually do save money for that purpose.

But, there is a warning, as well, here. The Teacher speaks of wealth lost through some misfortune. This would, I believe, cautious us against saving money in any form that is too risky.

The bottom line is in verse 15. I was naked when I came out of mother’s womb, and I will, effectively, be naked when I leave this plane. “You can’t take it with you,” is essentially what the wisdom of the teacher is telling us. Saving money just for the sake of saving money is meaningless. Hoarding is useless. It is “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, thank You for these reminders. Naked, I came into this world, naked I will leave. Nothing that I have worked for and toiled for, in this life, will exit this world with me. While there is nothing wrong with leaving some kind of “inheritance” for my children, all things need to be tempered with moderation and good sense. I do confess that I have never claimed to have an overabundance of that. So I can always use Your help when it comes to common sense things. In all seriousness, though, I am grateful that Your Spirit has led me down a path of generosity and open-handedness. Help us to have our eyes and hearts open, though, so that we might see any need that we can help meet. As the year draws to a close, I would like to not have anything left in that “tithe” fund, at the end of the year. I’m not treating that as a “hoard” or “emergency fund.” That money, in my heart, belongs to You, so help us to use it wisely.

I do truly pray that You would deliver us all from lying lips and deceitful tongues. It’s too easy to say that all of a certain class or type of people are liars. Please lead us away from that kind of lazy and ignorant thinking. Give us discernment to know when someone is not speaking truth. Most of all, help us to not put our trust in humans instead of You and Your Word. Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth, and show us the path on which to walk. Help us to love one another more than we love our politics or our money.

I pray for spiritual renewal in Your Church, and in our land. May You grant Your people deep repentance and point us in the good direction. May You strengthen any relationships that I might have with “non-Christians,” that I might have some kind of positive influence on them, showing them Your true nature, and Your love.

"Covenant God,
money is a blinding,
demanding master,
never satisfied,
and a thief of joy.
Remind me that what doesn't possess me I'm free to give away.
Uncurl my grip on money and its clutches on me,
springing open a generosity that shares with those in need.
In my true Master's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
(Matthew 5:10 GNB)


God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
(Exodus 3:14 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
(John 6:35 ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

I am the door.
If anyone enters by me,
he will be saved and will go in and out
and find pasture.
(John 10:9 ESV)

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)

I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”
says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 ESV)

You are enough.


Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious,
merciful,
and righteous.
(Psalms 112:4 ESV)

The night is far gone;
the day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 ESV)


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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Shhhh!!!

Today is Monday, the eighteenth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,230

Twenty days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back).

We had a great time at our church gathering, yesterday morning. We spent quite a bit of time “fellowshipping” before getting into any Scripture reading, but it was well-needed, I think. It had been a a few weeks since most of us had gathered in person, due to the impact of COVID-19. But things are settling down, it seems, at least somewhat, and C’s surgery recover is progressing to the point that she felt comfortable going to the host’s home, yesterday.

C and I also went on a nice walk, yesterday evening (my idea . . . trying to get my steps in). It was nice and cool outside, rare in Texas, and we saw some fun Halloween decorations.

Love the spiders on this one
The porch has fangs
The tombstone on the far right says, “I told you I was sick.”
I hope this is a decoration!

We were also treated to a beautiful sky.

The Braves beat the Dodgers, again, in game two of the NLCS, and will be heading to Atlanta for game three tomorrow. This is tough for LA, because they are down 0-2, and now don’t have home field advantage. Meanwhile, the Red Sox play game three tonight, in Boston. Game time is 7:08 PM. I should be able to watch at least part of the game.

I’m going to Mineral Wells, today, for two reasons. One, I need some more Crazy Water. I have about a week’s worth left, but since I am off each Monday, and this week is my two day week, I decided it is a good opportunity to take care of this. In addition, Mama needs to get her new phone activated and has not had an opportunity to get that done. I’m assuming lunch may also be involved. I believe S will be coming along, as well.

Tomorrow, I will be attending the “Hurst Way” Conference all day, in lieu of actually working my shift at the library. This is something the city desires, so I’ll be there. I’m getting paid for it, and getting an extra four hours on the pay period, as well as free lunch. Free breakfast, too, if I can get there early enough. I’m not holding my breath on that one, though. I believe breakfast is served at 7:30. The conference begins at 8:30 and goes until 4:30. After that, I won’t work again until Friday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Pursue righteousness;
Fight the good fight of the faith;
Take hold of the Life.
(1 Timothy 6)

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
(Psalms 54:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have the opportunity to travel to Mineral Wells today
2. for the cooler weather we are experiencing
3. that I am alive and breathing
4. for the encouragement to tell my story
5. for the reminder to wait quietly for the Lord

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 NLT)

I spend a quiet moment focusing on Your presence, inviting Your Spirit to guide my devotional, this morning.

BIBLE SONG

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
(Psalms 107:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:19-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in His presence, I read these passages through again, meditating on the words that I see. I seek His truth and wisdom in the words of Scripture, that I might walk in His truth.

Psalm 107 is more lengthy (again, an “orphan” psalm), and seems to be divided into stanzas, each one describing a group in their troubles and distress. Each described group calls out to the Lord and is delivered. It is all predicated by the encouragement to “let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.”

There is an older, popular, worship chorus that sprang from this psalm, that said, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” There was a somewhat ridiculous practice that evolved, in which people would shout “SO!” after the first line of the chorus. I was never a fan of that one, as it adequately illustrates peoples’ tendency to misapply and misinterpret Scripture. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “stick in the mud” and not opposed to having fun with worship. But seriously. The verse does not say, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say, ‘so!'” The better translation, in my opinion, is one like the NIV, quoted above, or the NLT, which says,

Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
(Psalms 107:2 NLT)

As a matter of fact, it appears that the word “so” is not even in the original text! So there. One of the possible translations of the word that is rendered “say,” is “boast.” So it could even be said, “Let the redeemed of the LORD boast!” I like that, as long as the boasting is about God and His salvation.

Are you redeemed? Tell your story! Does your story match one of the stanzas of Psalm 107? If not, then create your own. “Some wandered in desert wastelands.” “Some sat in darkness, utter darkness.” “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction.” Some were caught in a mighty tempest at sea.

It is worth noting that some of their conditions were brought on by their own deeds. Yet, when they humbled themselves and cried out to the Lord, He rescued and delivered them.

The writer of Lamentations remembered his own affliction, and he told his story. And his conclusion has been the “mantra” of many people throughout the centuries. Because of His great love, we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.

Along with this writer, I can proclaim, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” And then I take special note of one word in verse 26.

Quietly.

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

We seem to miss that word. We might be “waiting,” but we are not prone to do it quietly.

Father, we need to balance things better. Help me to be quiet when I’m waiting for You, rather than complaining. Perhaps “quietly” might also be meant to be “patiently.” For when we complain and moan, we are not being patient. So help me to wait quietly. On the other hand, also help me to be willing to tell my story, to boast in Your great works in my life. I am redeemed, let me not be afraid or ashamed to “say so.” There have been times in my life when I have sat in utter darkness, mostly as a result of my rebelliousness. But when I came to my senses and cried out to You, You rescued me. Thank You, Lord! Praise to You, Father, in the name of Jesus Christ my Savior!

I pray, this morning, that I might experience more enjoyment of Your creation, especially during this time of milder, cooler weather.

"Faithful Savior,
teach me what it means to have You as my portion,
finding my deepest satisfaction in You.
Show me the way to find in You my only comfort in life -
whatever it brings -
and in death.
Lead me to hope in You and know what it is for my soul to be well in all things.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NLT)


If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
(2 Timothy 2:13 NLT)

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
(Exodus 15:2 NLT)

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.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

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 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not.
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow;
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Grace and peace, friends.

Infinite Love

Today is Thursday, the fourteenth of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,226

Twenty-four days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Today is the annual Showcase at the Hurst Public Library. The actual event goes from 6-8 PM tonight. I’m working from 12-9, the last hour being for clean-up.

So there aren’t really any other plans or agenda for today. Mostly, I need to focus on not wasting too much time, this morning and getting this blog thing done in plenty of time. I’ve already folded laundry, and we have an Albertson’s delivery on the way. S and C will have to figure out dinner tonight, I guess.

Today is Sight Day, so ordained in order to heighten awareness of those who suffer from blindness and visual impairment.

The word for today is chaebol, “a South Korean conglomerate, usually owned by a single family, based on authoritarian management and centralized decision-making.”

Today’s quote is from James Joyce, Irish novelist. “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

Significant birthdays on October 14:

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President (president when I was born), born in Denison, Texas, 1890-1969
Lillian Gish, American silent film actress, 1893-1993
E.E. Cummings, American poet, 1894-1962
C. Everett Koop, U.S. Surgeon General, 1916-2013
Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer, 1939 (82)
Cliff Richard, English rock vocalist (We Don't Talk Anymore), 1940 (81)
Justin Hayward, English vocalist (Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin), 1946 (75)
Al Oliver, American baseball player, 1946 (75)
Harry Anderson, American comic, magician, and actor (Night Court), 1952-2018
Thomas Dolby, British rock musician (Blinded Me With Science), 1958 (63)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Have nothing to do
Irreverent, silly myths;
Train for godliness
(1 Timothy 4)

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalms 30:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your saints, who encourage me and lift me up
2. that You, by various ways, make Your ways known to us
3. that You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love
4. that You do not deal with us according to our sins; You do not give us what we deserve
5. for the Cross, that instrument of execution which You turned into an instrument of redemption

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I waited patiently for the LORD’s help;
then he listened to me and heard my cry.
He pulled me out of a dangerous pit,
out of the deadly quicksand.
He set me safely on a rock and made me secure.
(Psalms 40:1-2 GNB)

As I pause during this quiet moment, rather than reflect on the day ahead, I stop and reflect on You; for You have truly heard my cry and delivered me from the “dangerous pit” and the “deadly quicksand,” many, many times. May I be more faithful to “train for godliness.”

BIBLE SONG

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
(Psalms 103:6-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
(2 Kings 4:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

In quiet contemplation, I read these passages again, focusing on the presence of the Lord that surrounds me. My spirit and soul are quieted as I meditate and pray.

Moses, like Elisha, was just a man, like me. The Lord made His ways known to Moses, just as He has made His ways known to other people, throughout Scripture. If I am paying attention (which I frequently am not), He also makes His ways known to me.

One of the purposes of Scripture is to do exactly that. May “life verse,” Psalm 86:11 is a prayer for that.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

The verse after is worthy of notice, as well.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 ESV)

Psalm 86:11 is a prayer that I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God wants to answer. He wants to teach me His way; He wants me to walk in His truth; He wants to “unity my heart,” so that I fear His Name.

And how great is His steadfast love? “As high as the heavens are above the earth.” So far, mankind has not been able to find an end to that distance. It appears to be infinite. God’s love for us is infinite. It has no limits.

Remember yesterday’s opening poem? “A thousand sweethearts could not love me more.”

Today’s reading from 2 Kings features, Elisha, a great man of God. Great as he was, though, he was not the one with the power. The power was all God’s. Elisha was merely a channel. And, once again, I remind myself that Elisha was only human, just like me.

Father, I thank You for the examples of Moses and Elisha. I thank You that You freely and willingly make Your ways known to us. If we do not know Your ways, it is nobody’s fault but our own. I give You praise for Your amazing, steadfast love. It is baffling, to say the least. Only You would be able to continue to love us the way You do, in spite of our continued sinfulness. Help me to focus on that love today. I also pray that You help me to pass that love on to everyone who crosses my path.

Lord, please give me an increased yearning to know You, as well as diligence to seek You. Help me to experience the joy of my salvation today.

"Creator God,
I'm thankful for Your hands that uphold,
rule,
and even miraculously intervene in the created order of things.
May Your fatherly hands still provide for the starving poor,
the girl sold as a sex slave,
the heartbroken child shuffled from one foster home to the next.
Use me today to be Your hands,
still providing for those in need.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!”
(Matthew 5:7 GNB)


I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:1-2 NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 NIV)

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.
(Psalms 72:12 NIV)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
(Isaiah 52:13-15 ESV)

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
(John 3:14-15 ESV)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
(1 Corinthians 1:18-28 ESV)

"At the Cross,
At the Cross,
Where I first saw the Light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away;
It was there by faith
I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day."
(Chorus by Ralph E. Hudson)

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!

Sprinkling of nations;
Cross; folly to perishing;
Salvation power.
(1 Corinthians 1)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Grace

Today is Saturday (right?), the ninth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,221

Only three days until our 36th wedding anniversary!

I had another great day at the library, yesterday. I helped one patron with her employment application website, although “helped” may be stretching it. We were both confused when she left, as the site said she had submitted an application, but nothing was showing up when she clicked to review it. It was too close to closing to keep going, though. I had never used the particular site she was on, so I didn’t know much about it.

We have a regular patron who seems to be helping people with things like citizenship applications and what-not. I initially thought he was some kind of legal counsel, but the other librarians said no, that he is a pastor who is helping people with things, and doesn’t get any money from them. That’s pretty cool.

Then I helped several people with printing needs, from resumes to pay stubs. The young woman who printed her resume seemed somewhat desperate. That made me sad.

We had our homemade pizza with cauliflower crust for dinner last night. That’s always good. C and I watched one of the new episodes of Leverage: Redemption, via Prime Video. It’s featured on IMDB TV, but is available through Prime.

I got my first Interlibrary Loan, yesterday. It’s a collection of stories by one of the SF Grand Masters, Jack Williamson, called Spider Island, and includes a story called “The Blue Spot,” which was published in 1935. I have been unable to find that story, and the collection, even though published in 2002, is out of print and very hard to find. At least hard to find for less than $100, which I’m not willing to pay for a book. I just want to read it, not collect it. So one of my new friends at the Hurst Library found it for me. At the TCU Library, of all places! I was quite surprised at that. I have a couple weeks to get it finished, so I will get right on it as soon as I finish the book on the Hamilton musical. I’m about a third of the way through that one.

Today, C and I are going ahead with our plan to drive up to Oklahoma, to Winstar Casino. Between us, we have $100 of bonus play and $50 of meal vouchers, so that should be a good time. Tomorrow, we may go to a craft fair at the Hurst Conference Center. That, of course, depends on how C feels after going to Winstar today.

My next library shift is Tuesday evening 4:15-8:15, in shelving.

Oh! I almost forgot. Baseball! The big news (at least for me) is the Red Sox trouncing the Rays, 14-6. It started of with a bang (and the Sox being down 5-2 after one inning), and never let up. Home runs galore, on both sides. One thing for sure, Chris Sale is not up to snuff. Don’t know what’s wrong with him, but he never had control of that game. So the teams will head to Fenway for game three tomorrow, series tied 1-1.

The Astros beat the Other Sox, 9-4, to take a 2-0 lead in that series. Their next game will be in Chicago, tomorrow. The Brewers beat the Braves 2-1, to take 1-0 lead in that series, which will continue in Milwaukee today. And the Giants shut out the Dodgers 4-0, to also take a 1-0 lead in their series, which will also continue in San Francisco today. If I’m pulling for a NL team, it’s the Brewers. I have no reason to like the Braves, and plenty of reasons to not like LA or SF. And, frankly, if the Red Sox lose their series to the Rays, I’m out for the season, because I don’t want any of those AL teams to win.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Letting Soul, by Daryl Madden

Soaking of the morning
Of senses here to fill
To be fully present
Letting the soul still

Psalm of song in silence
Caress of a soft breeze
Fragrance to awaken
Setting soul at ease

Blessed within the light
A drifting of above
Receiving sacred gifts
To shower soul in love

Heart of preparation
Aware and fully here
So grateful is our being
To offer soul in prayer

With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:41 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Twisted Pine Highlander Grogg coffee
2. for Heman and Jeduthun and "the rest of those chosen," who had one job, to give thanks to the LORD
3. for the call on my life to have a heart of gratitude and live a life of kindness (pray for me, because I don't always succeed in those tasks)
4. that I'm a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than what you think I am
5. that salvation is purely of grace, totally worked by the right hand and holy arm of God

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

He loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of the loving kindness of Yahweh.
(Psalms 33:5 WEB)

As I pause for quiet reflection I wonder if the earth is really full of His loving kindness. I suppose it depends upon your perspective. You have to look beyond its inhabitants to see it.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm.

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
(Psalms 98:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!
He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me,
who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.
“He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”
(2 Samuel 22:47-51 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Another quiet pause of reflection. What is the Holy Spirit saying to me, this morning?

In Psalm 98, another “orphan psalm” (it has a title, but no author), I take note of the line that says, “his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” As well as the next line, that says that He has made His salvation known, and that His righteousness has been revealed to the nations.

Paul the Apostle testifies to this truth in the first chapter of Romans.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
(Romans 1:20-21 NIV)

Who has worked salvation? God. Not man. Again, in Ephesians, Paul testifies to this truth.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

My salvation is in the hands of God and God alone. It has never been, nor will it ever be, in MY hands, nor is it in the hands of any other human being.

When I was an adolescent, there was a common myth being taught in “witnessing training” classes, that if I failed in my responsibility to “witness” to person X, person X might die and go to hell, so I’d better do my duty.

With all due respect to whomever respect is due, that’s a crock of you know what.

For one thing, we should never, EVER use guilt and/or shame to induce people to witness to others. There is no place for manipulation in the kingdom of God. And you can’t “manipulate” someone into the kingdom, anyway.

For another thing, why would anyone believe that God would leave our salvation in the hands of imperfect, totally fallible, humans?? If your salvation, your “ticket” for that “train” is in my hands, you’d better run, my friend. Because I’m a sinner, just like you. Probably worse than you. I’m reminded of a great line from one of my favorite Christian bands, The Choir. It’s in this song, “What You Think I Am.”

I'm a dedicated minister,
And a downright sinister man;
I'm a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am.

This has become my all time favorite song by The Choir, because I see myself in it. There’s a meme I’ve seen circulating on Facebook lately. It says something like “Everyone has chapters that they don’t want read out loud.” Yes, sir. That’s me.

I'm a good Samaritan,
And a very, very bad man;
I'm a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am.

And it is the right hand and holy arm of the Lord Almighty that has worked His salvation in me. In me, in you, in everyone who enjoys the great salvation of our God. I had nothing to do with it.

“But you accepted it!” some might object. “You had a choice!”

Even that ability to choose and accept was a gift from God. My salvation is not of works, lest I should boast. That’s a very important idea in that Galatians verse. Like Paul, the only thing I have to boast about is the grace and power of our God. The only thing, as Horatius Bonar said, that I can bring to God, is my sin, because I have nothing else that I can call my own.

I might preach kindness and love to you, and then turn around and judge you because of something you do or say. Hear me well . . . I despise that about myself, and am constantly on my knees (at least figuratively), asking the Father to grant me repentance and give me more kindness and compassion toward my neighbors and my brothers and sisters.

When I enter my eternal inheritance, my reward, it will not be because of anything I have done. It will be solely because of what Christ has done on the Cross, which was the right hand and holy arm of the Lord God Almighty, working His salvation and revealing His righteousness to the world.

I kind of went down a rabbit hole, there. But I was looking for what the Spirit was saying to me, and that line stood out immediately. What follows the full realization that salvation is of God, and God alone, is the verses that tell me to shout to the Lord, for joy, and burst into jubilant song. And why wouldn’t I?? What glorious truth! In spite of myself, God has saved me!

In the words of John Newton:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see!

And in the words of Isaac Watts:

Alas! and did my savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Well-meaning folks would later change “such a worm” to “sinners such as I.” I have long rejected that change. I am, and have been for many years, quite comfortable in recognizing my “worminess.” But glory, glory, Ralph Hudson came along later and added:

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away (rolled away).
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Yes, it’s true. I’m a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than you think I am. I’m a good Samaritan, and a very, very bad man. But Jesus saved me, thanks to the right hand and strong holy arm of God, and because of His grace, no thanks to me, no “work” on my part, my eternal inheritance is secured. And it was secured “At the cross,” not on that day when I was nine years old and walked down the aisle of Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, Texas. That was just icing on the cake, my friends. The “cake” was already mine.

So I will sing along with David when he writes:

"The LORD lives, and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation,
the God who gave me vengeance and brought down peoples under me,
who brought me out from my enemies;
You exalted me above those who rose against me;
You delivered me from men of violence.
For this I will praise You, O LORD, among the nations, and sing praises to Your Name."

Most blessed Savior and Lord, I thank You and praise You for saving me. The work was done thousands of years ago on the Cross; work done by You; nothing was required of me, other than to give what You had given me and believe in Your work. The grace was all Yours; the work was all Yours; everything a gift from You, that I would have nothing about which to boast. Thank You, Jesus, for Your grace and mercy and compassion. Now work this salvation out in me, through Your Holy Spirit, as I grow in You, daily. Teach me the compassion that You showed to all people, that I might display Your love in this world, today. Take away the part of me; chisel it out; that part that judges others, that part that makes me a “very, very bad man.” Leave in me only the “good” parts, that goodness that comes only from You, Lord.

I pray for Your Church, that we would, collectively, work for the common good of all people while sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that “deep care, bold love, and rich community” would be experienced in Her. And I pray, specifically, for teachers, schools, students, and administrators during this difficult times.

"Father in heaven,
worship makes a missionary of me.
I worship You,
great God,
and long for Your goodness to be known in all the earth,
for all people to know Your glory.
Send me so that Your Name is honored and praised everywhere,
a life or praise for Your renown.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 WEB)


I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
(Romans 15:14 ESV)

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
(1 Corinthians 8:2-3 ESV)

I love that last verse. It really produces humility. If you think you know something, you don’t know anything. “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”

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!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Blessing

Today is Tuesday, the thirty-first of August, 2021. Last day of August. And just in case anyone wonders, there still twenty-two days of summer left.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,182

Six days until Labor Day.

It still feels like summer, in DFW, too, with temps soaring to the upper nineties every day this week, and no rain in the ten-day forecast.

Today is We Love Memoirs Day, which is fitting, because I just finished one, yesterday, and you can see the review of Willie Nelson’s Letters to America on my other blog by clicking here.

The word for today is gorgonize, a verb which means, “hypnotize; petrify.” “She felt trapped and totally helpless in his gorgonizing stare.” Wouldn’t that be an adverb in that context? What do I know?

Today’s quote, from Arthur C. Clark, is one that I love and believe I have used before. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s true, right? Seriously, anyone from a primitive culture (and they do still exist on this planet) who saw the things we do with computers would only be able to assume that we were engaging in sorcery.

Birthdays for August 30:

Lizzie Arlington, the first woman to play men's professional baseball, 1877-1919
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1880-1962. The state park and lodge in Mena, Arkansas are named after her, because many of the original investors were Dutch.
Buddy Hackett, actor in The Music Man, 1924-2003
Frank Robinson, HOF baseball player and manager, 1935-2019
Roger Dean, album cover illustrator for Yes, 77 years old today
Van Morrison, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland, turns 76 today
Roger Dean album cover illustration

I’ve officially gotten my work schedule, which will be effective after the beginning of October, assuming the city goes ahead with plans to open the library on Fridays. It will look like this:

Every Tuesday: 4:15PM-8:15PM
Alternating Wednesdays: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Every Friday: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Alternating Saturdays: 9:30AM-6:15PM

So, based on the city’s work week, which begins on Friday and ends on the following Thursday (makes my head hurt trying to figure this out), I will work Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. I actually like this better than my current schedule, which has me working Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When you break it down like that, it looks fine (and I am NOT complaining, here), but if you look at the calendar week, I have weeks like this week where I am working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as well as Saturday, which falls in the next pay week. So I’m actually working four calendar days, this week, and only two next week (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Like I said . . . if you think about it too hard, it makes your head hurt. I get twenty hours per pay week, but it looks like I’m actually working twenty-eight hours in this calendar week and only twelve hours next week.

Today, I’m working 11:15AM-8:15PM, and will be training in the computer center for the first time.

C is getting ready for her surgery on Thursday. She works from home today, and tomorrow will be the last day at the office for anywhere from four to six weeks (mid October, sometime), but may be able to work from home after two or three weeks, depending on how the recovery is progressing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:6-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, in spite of the "wild storm of hatred" outside, You still have things firmly in hand
2. that You give me quiet and rest during these times in my own home; I don't have to fly away to some distant place
3. for Your blessing upon us
4. for Your face being turned toward us
5. for the call to be peacemakers, and the peace with which You gift us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 ESV)

During this moment of peace and quiet, I pause to simply reflect on the presence of the Lord, with me at all times, in all places.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
(Psalms 61:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and
be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”‘
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am always in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to move within my soul, guiding my thoughts, meditations, and prayers.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

These are two great passages, full of depth and encouragement.

The prayer of David is one that I am fully persuaded that God stands ready to answer.

We can cry out to God “from the ends of the earth.” It matters not where we are, He is there. It matters not when we are, He is there! Consider that our Father is currently present when you were born. He is “omnipresent,” with us at all times and all places. Therefore, He stands ready to hear us, no matter where we are.

Where is the “rock that is higher than I?” There can be various interpretations of this. I tend to see this “Rock” as Jesus. Matthew Henry, however, visualizes this rock as a place he cannot attain without the assistance of our God. I can equally see this as being true, as in the old hymn, Higher Ground.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Refrain:
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

There’s another hymn, though, that speaks of the “Solid Rock,” being Jesus.

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Refrain:
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior
In times like these I have an anchor
I'm very sure, I'm very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

What a longing is expressed in verse 4: “I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” This is a sentiment that is expressed many times in the Psalms. And I can most certainly echo the prayer, as my heart grows more and more in its longing for Home. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like my life, here, but just means that I know where I belong, ultimately.

I believe that this prayerful psalm goes hand-in-hand with the blessing seen in Numbers 6. Such a beautiful passage that I have adopted as prayers for people for a long time, now. And I like it in many different versions. I have sort of “tweaked” it, combining a couple of my favorite versions to make it go like this:

May God bless you and keep you;
May He smile on you and gift you;
May He look you full in the face and give you peace.

The majority of that comes from The Message, but Peterson ends his with “and make you prosper,” and I would rather have it say “give you peace.” Prosperity is not my goal, here.

I pray this blessing over people when I see that it is their birthday. We frequently end our worship gatherings by either saying or singing the blessing. There are several contemporary songs that incorporate it. Matt Redman has a good one:

Then this one, more recently, from Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes (video is long, but powerful):

My favorite part of the blessing is the line that speaks of the Lord turning His face towards us. It gets translated “lift up His countenance toward you,” “look you full in the face,” “turn His face toward you,” and “show you His favor.”

The lowest point in the life of Jesus was when His Father turned His face away from Him, resulting in the cry of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me??”

I am moved to tears, this very moment, as I try to imagine what it must have felt like for this ripping of personalities apart. Jesus, God incarnate, experienced a tearing like none of us will ever experience, couldn’t possibly even imagine. For those few hours, on that day, there was a rift in the Holy Trinity, that perfect fellowship which had existed for all eternity. The Father turned His back on the Son, because He cannot look upon sin. The Son, for that moment, took on all the sin that had ever been committed, and ever would be committed. According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, at that moment, Jesus became sin!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

So, today, I pray for you, whoever happens to stumble upon this humble blog, and manages to read this far.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He smile on you and gift you; may He look you full in the face, make His face shine upon you, turn His face toward you, show you His favor . . . and give you peace!

Father, I am overwhelmed, this morning. There are tears in my eyes as I try to type this. This famous blessing is so appropriate to be prayed for all of Your people, today. It is even appropriate to pray over people who don’t know You or refuse to acknowledge You. I would ask You to make Your face to shine upon people all over the world, so that they might prosper and have Your peace in their lives. After all, Your Word does say that You show favor on the just and the unjust, alike. People who have never once acknowledged Your existence still reap the benefits of that existence, whether they know it or not. And I believe, with all my heart, that, deep down inside, they do know it.

May Your Holy Spirit fill us, today, Father. Fill us with Your presence, Your peace, Your blessing. Send us out to wherever we need to go, with Your Gospel of peace fitted on our feet. Peace. That is the key word in all of this. Make us peacemakers in this world, not rabble-rousers, not dividers. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. Lead us, O God, to the Rock that is higher than we are. Help us up to those heights which we cannot reach on our own.

I pray for the call to follow You out into those workplaces and neighborhoods, Lord, and I pray for the peace and well-being of those workplaces and communities. May You rain down Your special blessing on those who work in agriculture, who provide food and sustenance for us.

"May I see Your face, God?
For to live with Your face turned from me is more bitter than death.
I thank You that in this ancient blessing, 
I may place my life in the grace of Jesus and catch sight of Your face turned in delight toward me.
Amen."

BLESSING

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)


Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
(Proverbs 28:14 ESV)

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalms 51:2-4 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 ESV)

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

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
(Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)

There is a Hebrew word in that Jeremiah verse. “Makhashabah,” which means “texture,” a sort of “weaving” of a plan together. It’s the word that is translated “plans” in the ESV, and other translations, but “thoughts” in the KJV and WEB. Here’s the KJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
(Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

“Thoughts” is the Hebrew makhashabah, while “think” is “chashab,” which literally means to weave or to fabricate.

So just as it is impossible to see what the weaver on the loom is fabricating until she is finished with the work, so it is not possible to see what the Lord is doing with our lives until He is finished. We need to trust in the truth that He knows what He is doing. He is weaving a perfect work, and “all things work together for good” in our lives.

Father, I praise You for this truth. And in this weaving, I wonder how much our prayers effect things. In light of that, and in that spirit, I ask of You to end this plague on our world. Please do away with the COVID-19 virus, once and for all, that we might have peace in our world and in our nation. We are unable to come together to fight this. We are too concerned with our own “freedoms” and “rights.” Please eradicate this. I believe that You can do this. I also pray for the racial strife to end, that all people, in Your Kingdom, will be treated equally. Oh, how look forward to seeing that multitude described in Revelation, of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, praising Your Holy and majestic Name as one!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Impregnable

Today is Wednesday, the eighteenth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,169

Tomorrow is S’s birthday!!

Today is Bad Poetry Day. Shall I regale your senses with some awful poetry? The best example that I know of is Vogon Poetry, known from Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy.” An example follows:

Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me, (with big yawning)
As plurdled gabbleblotchits, in midsummer morning
On a lurgid bee,
That mordiously hath blurted out,
Its earted jurtles, grumbling
Into a rancid festering confectious organ squealer. [drowned out by moaning and screaming]
Now the jurpling slayjid agrocrustles,
Are slurping hagrilly up the axlegrurts,
And living glupules frart and stipulate,
Like jowling meated liverslime,
Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes,
And hooptiously drangle me,
With crinkly bindlewurdles,mashurbitries.
Or else I shall rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don't!

The word for today is vamoose. Most folks probably know what this means. We tend to use it as a synonym for “hurry up!” The literal meaning is “to leave hurriedly or quickly; decamp.”

Today’s quote, from the great Henry David Thoreau, is, “The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.”

Before I get to the birthdays, I want to talk about yesterday. It was my first day at the new, part time, job as a library aide for the Hurst Library. It was wonderful. I’ve already told several people that I have not been this happy at a job since my very first job, when I worked as an attendant at a local miniature golf course, which was owned by the family of one of my childhood best friends.

I learned quite a bit, yesterday, and I will get to see how much of it I remember when I go back at 1:00 PM today. My shift today is only four hours, 1:00 – 5:00. As previously stated, I am a “floater,” going between circulation, the computer center, and shelving. I will be training in circulation for the first two weeks, then moving on to one of the other areas. I believe I have met all of the managers, as well as the Library Director and Assistant Director. I even learned a few things that I probably won’t be doing, just to see the processes.

I already have a library card, which I processed, myself. I have not used it, yet, though. One of C’s former work friends quipped on Facebook that she wondered how many books I would bring home the first day. Well, I didn’t bring home any. Hah!

One of the coolest things this library has (I was totally blown away by this) is the technology on the outside book drop. As books are placed on the conveyor, one at a time, the system scans the book, and then sorts it into one of five different canvas totes, inside the building. Pretty amazing. It’s not a super-deep sort, but it sorts between adult books, youth books, and media, and I forget what the other two totes are for.

So, yesterday, I had experience checking out books, checking them in (which involves mostly scanning them to see if the drop system already processed them) capturing holds for customers, creating new library accounts, modifying existing accounts, and some sorting, as well. It was a great day, and I really enjoyed the people I worked with.

C asked me, while I was on my lunch break, if I was happy. I sent her this:

I would be even happier if 1) the Social Security people would get off their you-know-whats and get my benefits processed, 2) the sleep study folks would get back with my doctor, and 3) my COBRA information would arrive in the snail mail so I can get my health insurance going again.

I’m not asking for much, right?

And now for the birthdays:

1587 1st English child born in New World (Virginia Dare)
1750 Antonio Salieri, Italian composer (Tarare), born in Legnago, Republic of Venice (d. 1825) (accused of murdering Mozart in Amadeus)
1774 Meriwether Lewis, American explorer, soldier and public administrator who helped lead the Lewis and Clark Expedition, born in Ivy, Virginia (d. 1809)
1834 Marshall Field, American entrepreneur and the founder of Marshall Field and Company, born in Conway, Massachusetts (d. 1906)
1856 Charles H. Gabriel, American Gospel composer, born in Wilton, Iowa (d. 1932)("Send the Light")
1873 Otto Harbach, American songwriter (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes), born in NYC, New York (d. 1963)
1904 [Francis] Max Factor, American CEO of Max Factor Cosmetics, born in St. Louis, Missouri
1920 Shelley Winters [Schrift], American actress (Lolita, A Place in the Sun, A Patch of Blue & Poseidon Adventure), born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 2006)
1925 Brian Aldiss, British sci-fi author (Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, Helliconia trilogy), born in East Dereham, Norfolk (d. 2017)
1927 Rosalynn Smith Carter, American 1st lady (1977-1981), born in Plains, Georgia
1928 Marge Schott, American MLB owner (Cincinnati Reds), born in Cincinnati, Ohio (d. 2004)
1933 Roman Polanski, Polish-French film director; US fugitive (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Pirates), born in Paris, France (married to Sharon Tate at the time of the Manson murders
1934 Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder (15 x MLB All Star; World Series 1960, 71 [MVP]; Pittsburgh Pirates), born in Carolina, Puerto Rico (d. 1972)
1934 Vincent Bugliosi, American attorney and author (Helter-Skelter), born in Hibbing, Minnesota (d. 2015)(it has been alleged that much of what he wrote in Helter Skelter is inaccurate)
1936 Robert Redford, American actor (Sting, Candidate, Natural, Great Gatsby), born in Santa Monica, California; still alive at 85
1943 Martin Mull, American actor and comedian (Bad Manners, Flick, Serial), born in Chicago, Illinois
1945 Sarah Dash, American rock vocalist (Patti LaBelle & Bluebirds), born in Trenton, New Jersey
1949 Nigel Griggs, English musician (Split Enz), born in Hatfield, United Kingdom
1950 Dennis Elliott, English rock drummer (Foreigner), born in London, England
1952 Patrick Swayze, American actor and dancer (Dirty Dancing, Ghost), born in Houston, Texas (d. 2009)
1957 Denis Leary, American actor and comedian (Rescue Me), born in Worcester, Massachusetts
1957 Ron Strykert, Australian rock guitarist (Men At Work-Who Can it Be), born in Korumburra, Victoria
1958 Madeleine Stowe, American actress (Tropical Snow, Bad Girls), born in Los Angeles, California
1969 Christian Slater, American actor (Robin Hood, Untamed Heart, Heathers), born in New York City, New York
1969 Edward Norton, American actor (American History X), born in Boston, Massachusetts
1970 Malcolm Jamal Warner, American actor (Theodore-Cosby Show), born in Jersey City, New Jersey
1977 Régine Chassagne, Canadian musician (Arcade Fire), born in Montreal, Quebec
1978 Andy Samberg, American comedian and actor (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), born in Berkeley, California
1981 Jon Schneck, American musician (Relient K), born in Eustis, Florida
Shelley Winters, best supporting actress Oscar for this film
Règine Chassagne is the singer in this video. Her birthday might be tomorrow, rather than today. I love the modulation in this song.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God has ascended with a mighty shout.
The LORD has ascended with trumpets blaring.
Sing praises to God,
sing praises;
sing praises to our King,
sing praises!
For God is the King over all the earth.
Praise him with a psalm.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for how well the first day on the new job went;
2. for the hope of someday hearing those shouts and trumpets blaring around Your throne;
3. that You are a fortress within a fortress; a citadel within a citadel; doubly secure and impregnable;
4. that because of the work of Jesus Christ, I dwell within You and Your fortresses, and there is no safer place I could be
5. that You are my God for ever and ever.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK THIRTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Hallelujah! Thank GOD! And why? Because he’s good, because his love lasts.
(Psalms 106:1 MSG)

As I pause in this quiet, I think about praising God. The question, “Why?” in the middle of The Message translation helps me to realize that I really don’t need a reason, do I? But in case I do, the psalmist provides one; a simple one. Praise Him (that’s what “hallelujah” means . . . “praise the LORD”) because He is good, because His steadfast love is everlasting. I meditate on this as I attempt to fend of temptations and distractions.

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.

Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.
God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.

Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers,
consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
(Psalms 48:1-3, 12-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him.
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:5-6, 10-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord, this morning, I read these passages, looking for something that stirs my soul. Some of these thoughts will translate into prayers as I meditate on them.

Psalm 48 is full of the imagery of protection. Raised high on a mountain, the City of God is, itself, a fortress. But look at the language. Verse 3 says that the Lord is in her citadels. The word translated “citadels” in the NIV is ‘armôn, which means, “to be elevated.” The KJV translates it “palaces;” the NLT says “towers;” the ESV also says “citadels.”

But then, it says that the Lord, who is within her citadels, is her “fortress.” This word, misgab, is an “inaccessible place.” It is “refuge” in KJV, “defender” in NLT, and “fortress” in ESV. Oddly enough, The Message renders it “impregnable,” which is closer to the literal meaning of the Hebrew word.

Disclaimer: I know virtually no Hebrew. All of this is coming from a resource I have on my computer, e-Sword.

So, the way I’m reading this is that God’s holy city, His holy mountain, is a fortress within a fortress. It is at least doubly-secured, and it is impregnable. The last three verses of the psalm are instructing the reader to walk around this fortress, count the towers, consider the ramparts (more defensive wording, indicating thick walls), view the citadels.

“This God is our God for ever and ever.”

And this God was the same God who led the people of Israel out of Egypt. And when Pharaoh changed his mind (again) and chased them, they found themselves trapped between his army and the Red Sea. They turned against their leader (as humans are wont to do) and said things like, “So what?? You led us out here just so we could die here?? We should have stayed in Egypt!” (They would make similar statements over the course of the next few years, as well.)

Moses’s response was one of the best speeches in Scripture.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:13-14 NIV)

Where do you feel trapped today? (I sound like a preacher giving an invitation.) But seriously. What, in your life, has you afraid? See the words of the Sons of Korah and Moses.

Our God, who is God for ever and ever, is an impregnable fortress, within the fortress of His holy city, His holy mountain. This city we will someday see coming down out of heaven, as seen in Jesus’s Revelation to St. John. Go back and read that word . . . IMPREGNABLE. “Unable to be captured or broken into; unable to be defeated or destroyed; unassailable.”

Just sit back and let that sink in for a moment.

Do you believe it?

Father, I praise Your Name! Why? Because You alone are worthy of it, for one thing. But if I need other reasons, there are plenty here, today. I praise You that You are my fortress, my ramparts, my citadel, and that You dwell within another citadel/fortress, known as Your holy city. You are a fortress within a fortress, a high, lofty refuge that is unable to be captured, broken into, defeated, or destroyed. And I, along with all the saints, past, present, and future, dwell within You. There is no safer place for me to be.

And it is from this safe place, this citadel, that I cry out to You on behalf of all world leaders, governments, and needs of this world, that You would rise up and defend the needy and oppressed of this world. Take down corrupt powers, Father, and help those who need Your help. I lift up the continent of Australia, that they might feel Your presence among them today. And I pray for all areas where there is war and strife, most especially, today, the country of Afghanistan. I also pray for Your protection over our brothers and sisters in that country.

"Faithful God,
this life is filled with more than enough trouble and tears to dominate my vision and distract me from seeing you.
When captured by anxiety,
I turn defensive and hostile,
of no use to you or others.
Take the blinders of fear away and turn my eyes to heaven,
to see you and be confident of your goodness,
so that I can once again serve you here on earth.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.
(Psalms 16:11 MSG)


Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV)

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
(Ruth 1:16 ESV)

from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
(Ephesians 4:16 ESV)

For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
(1 Corinthians 3:9 ESV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
(Ephesians 6:10 ESV)

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
(1 John 4:9 ESV)

Or, perhaps, that He might live through us.

I pray for our world, today. The pandemic rages on, and people have grown complacent about it, especially in my country. Please heal us, Lord, and take this plague from our midst. Turn our attention toward You again, and away from politics and politicians. Even Your own people, those who claim to follow Jesus, have slipped into this trap, Lord. We care little for those around us and have embraced a form of “patriotism” that has become idolatry. Heal Your Church, Father. Turn our eyes toward Jesus, and Him alone. May we look full in His wonderful, beautiful face, so that the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
(Psalms 59:16 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,147

Twenty-three days until S’s birthday!

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

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

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

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

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

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

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

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

BIBLE READING

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

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLESSING

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Abba, Father, I belong to you.

Grace and peace, friends.