Today is Monday, the 13th of March, 2023, in the third week of Lent.
May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!
Now, this is interesting. Of course, we all know that not every year has 365 days, because Leap Years. Today is my birthday, and I am officially Medicare years old. That’s right. Today, I have to start checking the next box on most survey age group questions. Today, I am 65 years old.
And 23,741 is a prime number.
Here are the plans for the day. We are having Crumbl Cookies delivered a little after 10:00 AM. I wasn’t going to go for those (they’re really expensive, especially delivered), but they have Lucky Charms cookies this week! If you know Crumbl, they have a different menu each week, the only constant being the milk chocolate chip. This week, they have the Lucky Charms cookie, a cookies and cream cookie, a mint chocolate brownie cookie, and a sugar cookie. There is also butterscotch chip and Boston cream pie, but we aren’t getting those.
For lunch, we plan to go to Hoffbrau Steakhouse, since I have a birthday email giving me $8 off of an entree. Then we are going to a local spa for pedicures. I might get a manicure, as well. In fact, I think I will. That’s pretty much it. The pedicures are scheduled for 1:30 this afternoon, so I figure that will be it for the day. But who knows?
We had a good day, yesterday, which was almost entirely devoted to S. After the church service at FBC Mineral Wells, we were able to get into Taqueria La Estrella, our favorite restaurant in Mineral Wells, so we had lunch there. Their chips and salsa are amazing! Then we went out to the pastor’s place, out west of the Brazos River, where S got to interact with some dogs, a horse, and a donkey. Oh, and a rabbit. She has a wonderful time. And we got home relatively early, as well. We were home well before 4:00 PM, so I had the rest of the evening to just chill.
I suppose I should get on with the devotional, now.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. (Psalms 119:148 NRSV)
Dear Father in heaven, may our hearts find words to praise you together, to ask you with one accord that we may be brought into community with you. We come to you with our whole selves, with all that we have experienced, with all that has been given to us through your leading. For to this day you have shown us the way, guiding us through right and wrong, through the perfect and the imperfect. You have led us all to know that we belong to you. We are yours. You are working in us to bring about what you have in mind for each one of us and for the many, many who hunger and thirst for justice and truth. Be with us through your Spirit. Touch us through the hand of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior, and we hold fast to him so that we can praise you in his name. Amen.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
(Matthew 5:6 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the beginning of another year of life, and the opportunities it will bring to serve Christ; may I be faithful
- that we, the followers of Christ, are brought into holy communion with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- that God works in and through all of us, by the power of the Trinity, to accomplish His plans and purposes for creation
- for this day: not because it’s my birthday, but because it is all we have; now is all we have; celebrate and give thanks for today
- for my trials and weaknesses, in which God is seen to be strong
Thus says the LORD: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NRSV)
Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NRSV)
Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. (Psalms 71:3 NRSV)
"Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now rise up," says the LORD; "I will place them in the safety for which they long." The promises of the LORD are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. (Psalms 12:5-6 NRSV)
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever. (Psalms 111:1-10 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
"Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen." (The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. (Psalms 90:12 NRSV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NRSV)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(James 4:13-14 NRSV)
Your way, O God, is holy.
(Psalms 77:13 NRSV)
Let not wise boast in their wisdom let not the mighty boast in their might let not the wealthy boast in their wealth
We are a boasting people, we Americans. Westerners are proud. And not necessarily in a good way.
Personally, I’ve never boasted about having wisdom. I don’t think I’m all that wise. I’m pretty smart, I think. But I don’t know about wisdom. I’m certainly not mighty, either. I’ve never been all that strong. When I was an adolescent, I was pretty scrawny. Never could run very fast, either. My father always said that I ran too much in the same place. And I’ve never been all that wealthy, at least not by American standards. We’re doing pretty well for ourselves, these days, and by world standards (the average income, world-wide, seems to be just over 10K per year) we are probably very rich.
I’m sure I’ve boasted in things, throughout my life, though, and have made it a point to not be boastful about personal things, in recent years. According to God’s Word, there are only a couple things about which it is acceptable to boast. One is in that verse in Jeremiah. And that is that we understand and know God, who acts with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness, things in which He delights.
The other is in weakness. Paul says that he will gladly boast in his weakness, because, in his weakness, God is seen as strong.
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
(2 Corinthians 11:30 NRSV)
I find that it is a dangerous thing to start boasting that we know and understand God. There are a lot of folks out there making that boast when it’s not, apparently, really true, based on their actions and attitudes about other people. So that one is a risky boast. It puts one on thin ice, so to speak.
That being said, I do believe that, especially in recent years, I know and understand God to a degree. Who can say that they fully understand the Infinite Almighty, right? But I am learning from Him. I am constantly reading His Word and meditating on it, seeing ways that I need to change, thoughts that need to stop, attitudes that need to be adjusted, and actions that need to change.
I guess one of the biggest dangers of boasting is that it exudes self-sufficiency. It says that I don’t need anyone else.
And nothing could be further from the truth.
One other thing that I want to point out, quickly, is this idea of numbering or counting our days. It was quite some time ago that I began to take that Psalms passage literally. Hence my day number at the beginning of each day. I will confess that this is slightly “tongue-in-cheek.” Nevertheless, I see some value in it. I’ve been alive a lot of days. But today is the only one in my “possession.” I only have today. I do not have the 20,000+ days preceding it, and I don’t have tomorrow. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow. James points this out quite well.
And that’s another thing in which we tend to boast. What we’re going to do tomorrow or next month or next year. Even that silly job interview question (I loathe job interviews), “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Heck if I know. For all I know, I might be six feet under!
My opinion? It would be safer to just not boast about anything at all.
Father, I pray for us; the Church, this country, this world. We are so very proud, as a people, and we so lack humility. We boast and boast and boast, and much of our boasting is nothing more than hot air, blowing smoke. We don’t really even know what we are talking about most of the time. Give us humility, Father, and I am well aware of how painful that can be, at times. But we need it. If we must boast, let us boast in our relationship with You, but only if we can demonstrate that we understand Your steadfast love, justice, and righteousness, those things in which You delight. To a large degree, we seem to think that understanding and knowing You means that we must militantly force the rest of the population to agree with us.
Have mercy on us, Lord. I thank You for today. And certainly, I am grateful to be beginning another year of life, but I’m also simply grateful for this moment that I have. Help me to live each moment fully, to celebrate each day as it comes, not worrying about tomorrow and not fretting about yesterdays. What’s gone is gone, what is done is done, and nothing can be done about that. I only have today, and I thank You for this day.
This is a day that You have made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.