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!

The Potter and the Clay

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the second of December, 2021. First Thursday of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,275

Twenty-three days until Christmas

Today’s blog will look a little different, as I do not have my laptop with me. I’m doing this on an iPad, so I don’t have all the usual tools and bookmarks available. It’s also slower typing.

The visitation for my Uncle Buddy went well, last night. We arrived to our hotel right at 5:00 PM, got checked in, and headed straight to the funeral home. There were lots of hugs and only a few tears. The tears will flow more freely, today, I imagine.

All my cousins were there, as well. As most of their kids. We saw Jayne and Jimmy (cousin and husband), their son Robbie, Joan and Darrell (cousin and husband), their daughters Tiffany and Michelle, Johnny and Shelia (cousin and wife), and their kids Caleb and Laurel. My Aunt Barbara was also there.

We also got to talk to a couple of my parents’ best friends from days past, Don and Henrietta. There was one other person I recognized, a man from the church my grandparents attended, named Bill. I didn’t know or really meet any of the other folks there.

About 6:30, we left to go get some dinner, then headed back to our hotel. After stopping at a nearby Sonic, of course.

There is a family lunch provided by FBC Henderson, today at 11:00. The funeral service is at 1:00.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today I am grateful:

1. For a safe trip out here, yesterday
2. for all the love and hugs from my family, last night
3. for an opportunity to minister during today’s celebration of my uncle’s life
4. that You have all my battles already won
5. that Your love and faithfulness stand firm forever

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
‭‭James‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT—DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I wait eagerly for the Lord's help, 
and in his word I trust.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭130:5‬ ‭GNT‬‬

As I pause in the quietness of this hotel room, I ponder the truth that my Father will fight for me; He will defend me against my enemy. All I have to do is submit.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭89:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

BIBLE READING

But you are our Father, 
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭63:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, 
that the mountains would tremble before you!
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:1, 6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, forming meditations and prayers in my soul. I pray my life to my Father.

Father, I will sing of Your great love forever. My time on this plane is limited, finite. But it will continue in the heavenly places after I have transitioned into glory. My voice will sound out, perfectly, with Your praise, for all eternity. While I am here, I will make Your faithfulness known, as much as I am able.

I have declared, and will continue to do so, that Your love and faithfulness stand firm forever.

And it true that, while Abraham and Israel have no knowledge of me or my brothers and sisters in Christ, You are, nevertheless, our Father. You are our Father and Redeemer, from before Abraham existed. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain it.

While it is easy to focus on our faults and shortcomings (just like Isaiah, I can see that our “righteousnessis no better than filthy rags), I can also see that there are faithful ones who are calling on Your Name. You are our Father. You are the Potter. We are simply clay in Your hands, willing and ready to be formed into whatever You need us to be. “We are all the work of Your hand.” I praise You that You do not remember our sins.

I pray for spiritual renewal and deep repentance for Your people. May Your gifts and fruit of the Spirit be manifest in us. And give us a gentle witness, as well as readiness to give a reason for this hope within us.

“God of all hope,
in Jesus Your salvation broke into our world,
and His return gives purpose to our living in this broken world.
Make me ready for that day when He comes again with great glory and majesty to judge the living and the dead,
renewing and cleansing this tired world,
making everything new.
Make me ready for that future day by living hopefully today.
In the name of our soon arriving Savior,
amen.”

BLESSING

He who gives his testimony to all this says,
“Yes indeed!
I am coming soon!”
So be it.
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone.

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:20-21‬ ‭GNT‬‬

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Praise the Lord

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,270

We had a very nice day, yesterday, with C’s family. There was way too much food, of course, and plenty of leftovers. We’ll be eating ham for a while. I suspect the green bean and corn casseroles, as well as the desserts, will all be gone by the end of today, though.

I got some good news in email. All of my gifts for my Secret Santa person should be in hand by the end of Tuesday. Also, I believe my gift for the library’s Christmas lunch gift exchange should arrive Monday.

Today is a scheduled work day for me, and I have to be there in an hour and twenty minutes, so I’d best get busy with what is important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Isn’t It?, by Daryl Madden

Isn’t it exhausting?
Life just seems too hard
Keeping up appearance
Living the façade

Isn’t is confusing?
No matter how I try
Being who I’m not
Living of a lie

Isn’t it so stressful?
Worries everywhere
Of all that could go wrong
Living here in fear

Isn’t it so freeing?
When our lifes outpoured
Being who God made me
Living for the Lord

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at his blog site, linked above.

“Ask,
and it will be given to you;
seek,
and you will find;
knock,
and it will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes
2. for good food and fellowship with family
3. for promises of answered prayer
4. that You are a God of restoration
5. for the many ways we have to praise You

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-27 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 WEB)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider that Jesus came to liberate the captives, give sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, and proclaim the Lord’s favor. As I continue reading His Word, these thoughts will be in focus.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
(Haggai 1:5-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation, and take refreshment in His presence.

The obvious word in Psalm 150 is “praise.” It occurs (if I am counting correctly) thirteen times in the psalm. All of the main questions are answered.

Who is praised? The Lord. Yahweh. Creator of the universe.
Where? In His sacred place; in His mighty heavens.
Why, or for what? His mighty acts of power, His surpassing greatness.
How? With sounds of trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipes, and cymbals. With activities or movement of dancing. 
Who is praising? Everything that has breath!

I think it is fitting that the Psalms end with the simple injunction to “praise the LORD.”

The thing that stands out to me in the Haggai passage is a phrase that is repeated in verses 5 and 7. “Give careful thought to your ways.” I can’t speak for anyone else (we all try, at times, though, don’t we?), but I am guilty of not doing that enough. “Give careful thought to your ways,” says the Lord, through the prophet Haggai.

To the people of Israel, He takes note that they plant, but harvest little. They eat, but are not filled. They put on clothes, but aren’t warm. They earn wages, but their purses or pockets seem to have holes in them. In other words, they never have enough.

Now, I don’t know if this is saying that they literally don’t have enough, or if they are a lot like our modern Western culture, where we can’t seem to be satisfied with what we have. I suspect that it may be a subtle combination of the two, but I can’t verify that.

At any rate, they are given the answer in the rest of the passage. The second time they are told to consider their ways, the house of the Lord is brought up. It seems that everyone is occupied with their own “houses,” while the Lord’s “house” remains in ruins.

This is very thought-provoking for me. Because, while I know and acknowledge, readily, that this passage is explicitly directed to Israel, I can see correlation in today’s Church. We get caught up in our own “houses,” or own lives, even our own families, which are, of course, important. But not more important than our relationship, or “house,” with the Lord.

We don’t have a physical “temple,” to which we are to travel, today. The individual person is the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” as His Spirit resides and dwells in each of us. We are the “Church.” It is not a physical “house.” I don’t think that means we are supposed to spend extraordinary energy and time keeping our bodies fit, either.

This is about “soul keeping.” We need to make sure that we are keeping the Lord’s “house,” our souls, in good shape.

And one of the best ways to do that, in my opinion, is to practice what Psalm 150 teaches us.

Praise the Lord.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I will praise You for no other reason (though I have plenty) than that You are God. I will praise You for Your mighty acts of power, too. I will praise You for Your surpassing greatness, Your most excellent righteousness. And in praising You, I shove aside selfish platitudes and thoughts; I shut out selfish needs concerning my own “house.” I tend to Your “house,” which is my soul, because my soul needs tending and keeping. Thank You for the reminders from Your Word, reminders of how important this upkeep of our souls is. Help me to stay focused on what is important to You.

I pray for Your Church to flourish all over the world. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You and “gathers, unites, and blesses” Your people.

"Generous God,
my way with money is a sure sign of my heart's trust.
and when it's mostly spent on me,
I show that my heart does not belong to You.
Center me again on You,
the source of everything good;
remind me of how rich I am because of Jesus and free up a generous heart for others.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is a person who endures temptation,
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life,
which the Lord promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Singing, Drumming, and Dancing

Good morning. Today is Friday, the twenty-sixth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,269

Twenty-nine days until Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, this coming Sunday, November 28, is the first Sunday of Advent.

We had a most lovely day, yesterday. All of the preparations went very well, and we had a nice, safe trip to Grandma’s house in Mineral Wells. We had a great lunch together, and a nice visit, just sitting around talking (several of us may or may not have fallen asleep). After divvying up the leftovers, we headed back to Fort Worth, stopping for sodas just outside of MW at a convenience store that happened to be open.

This morning, C is back in the kitchen, prepping for today’s lunch with her sister, brother-in-law, niece, and niece’s boyfriend. They are, I believe, supposed to be arriving around 1:00 PM. Ish.

The library is closed today, so I have a second day off for the holiday.

We took some pictures, yesterday.

Mama, me, S, and C
Mama and me

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights
with whom there is no variation
or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for every good and perfect gift
2. for a great Thanksgiving holiday
3. that You are the "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change"
4. for the things that I can learn from Jesus
5. for the ability to praise You with music, singing, and dancing

. . . whatever good anyone does,
this he will receive back from the Lord . . .
(Ephesians 6:8 ESV)

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)(emphasis mine)

As I look at this Matthew passage, this morning, one that is so very familiar, I’m seeing something “new.” Notice the italics that I added. All of them are pronouns, which Jesus used to refer to Himself.

Jesus is the key to so much in life. It’s cliché and easy to say, “Jesus is the answer to everything.” That’s easy to say. It’s not so easy to live out. But just look at His words. “Come to me,” He says. “I will give you rest.” Who doesn’t labor? Who isn’t weary? Jesus promises rest, if we only come to Him. And only Him.

He tells us to take His yoke and learn from Him. So what is so new and different about this, that I’m seeing today, for the first time? It is this: Jesus tells us to learn from HIM. He does not tell us to learn from anyone else.

While there may be great value (and most certainly is) in learning from other humans, it is from Jesus, Himself, that we are to learn. I can surely learn from reading and studying great writers and great Christian minds, such as C.S. Lewis and Eugene Peterson. But I should be spending the most time and energy learning from Jesus.

He is the one who will give me rest. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

No one else can say that.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Our God says,
“Calm down,
and learn that I am God!
All nations on earth will honor me.”
(Psalms 46:10 CEV)

As I pause on this quite morning, I reflect on all the good and perfect gifts in my life, which have come down from the “Father of lights.” There is no shadow or variation in Him; He is constant and consistent. He does not change.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.
May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 149:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.”
(Micah 6:3-4 NIV)

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:6-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate upon what has moved my heart or mind. I pray these things to God, including any questions that I might have. I turn my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

Part of Psalm 149 does, indeed, cause me to have questions. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to focus on the music. We are commanded/encouraged/admonished (I can’t say for sure which word is applicable when we are dealing with poetry/songs) to sing and make music in praise to God.

First, we are told to sing His praise “in the assembly of His faithful people.” So we are to sing praises together. Whenever I see this, I am reminded of the opinion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that all congregational singing should be in unison. That’s only an opinion, of course, and only one man’s opinion. But he has a good point. Here is the quote from Life Together:

“There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated. There is no place in the service of worship where vanity and bad taste can so intrude as in the singing. There is, first, the improvised second part which one hears almost everywhere. It attempts to give the necessary background, the missing fullness to the soaring unison tone, and thus kills both the words and the tone. There is the bass or the alto who must call everybody’s attention to his astonishing range and therefore sings every hymn an octave lower. There is the solo voice that goes swaggering, swelling, blaring, and tremulant from a full chest and drowns out everything else to the glory of its own fine organ. There are the less dangerous foes of congregational singing, the ‘unmusical,’ who cannot sing, of whom there are far fewer than we are led to believe, and finally, there are often those also who because of some mood will not join in the singing and thus disturb the fellowship.”

I don’t necessarily agree with brother Bonhoeffer, here, but, as I said, he makes some good points. When we sing “in the assembly of His faithful people,” there really is no place for calling attention to ourselves, and I can’t think of any other reason to sing harmony in that setting. Of course, this makes me wonder, as well, how loudly I should sing in a congregational setting. I have a tendency to “belt it out,” which also tends to call attention to me.

I guess the key element in all of this is motive. Why am I singing harmony? Why am I singing loudly? If the song is a Chris Tomlin song (he has an unnaturally high voice for a man), most people can’t sing in that octave, and may need to sing it an octave lower. I once knew a man who believed his singing voice to be inferior, so he whistled the hymns.

We are then told, in Psalm 149, to praise Him with (gasp) DANCING! Oh, dear. I grew up Baptist. With a preacher who declared, from the pulpit, mind you, that “a dancing foot never grew off of a praying knee.” Well, the Bible tells us to dance, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Except to say that context is very important in these matters.

We are also told to praise Him with the timbrel and harp. What’s a “timbrel?” All educated guesses seem to indicate something akin to a tambourine. So, a percussion instrument. A harp is a stringed instrument. It stands to reason, then, at least to me, that it’s okay to praise the Lord with a guitar and some drums. And dancing.

But then, in verse 5, we are even told to sing for joy on our beds! The last thing we should do every night is praise Him!

Why all this vigorous praising, singing, and dancing? Verse 4: “For the LORD takes delight in His people.” Simple answer.

I think it’s pretty awesome to think about God taking delight in us. The definition of delight is “great pleasure.” The Lord takes great pleasure in us, and I believe that Scripture tells us that this pleasure, this delight, is magnified when we are praising Him, whether it be by singing, dancing, playing a drum, or even whistling.

I did mention questions, and those come into play in the second half of this psalm, in all those bits about “double-edged swords,” “fetters,” and “shackles of irons.” It is not my intention to delve into those meanings, this morning. Today, I’m all about the praise and the great delight.

The only thing I want to say about the Micah passage involves the somewhat rhetorical questions issued in verses 6-8. Do we come before Him with offerings, calves, thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil? Do we need to be so extreme as to offer our firstborn children to Him?

I love to quote Micah 6:8, because it is major truth. God has shown us what He desires, even demands, from us. “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” That’s it.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I have praised You with guitars, pianos, keyboards, trombones, and singing. I may have even praised You with a tambourine, occasionally. I don’t know about dancing. I’m not very good at that, but I know I have “moved to the music,” sometimes. My heart’s desire is to know You more and to praise You more, so I pray that You will always put it in my heart to continue to praise You. I also pray that I will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before and with You. I praise You and thank You for Your presence with me, this morning, and every morning, and every minute of every day. I celebrate Your presence, and I rest and draw refreshment from Your presence.

I pray that You will increase our wonder when we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I also pray that You will increase our capacity to suffer with others, at least to have empathy with those who suffer through either poverty or injustice. And may You give strength to all who suffer persecution for their faith.

"Father,
I expend so much energy wondering what Your will is for my life.
Could You make it any clearer?
Give me a gospel-motivated resolve to carry out Your clear and good purposes -
living justly,
loving mercy,
and walking humbly with You.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

God will bless you,
if you don’t give up
when your faith is being tested.
He will reward you
with a glorious life,
just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
(James 1:12 CEV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Grace and peace, friends.

Thanksgiving

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fifth of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today, and may you find, in your life, that you have enough.

Day 23,268

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. I wish all who read this a peaceful and safe day. May your heart be filled with gratitude.

Only thirty more days until Christmas. You knew that was coming.

We are doing the “Secret Santa” thing at the library, so I signed up for that. I’m quite fond of “Secret Santa.” Our library does it a little differently than I’m used to, but it’s fun. Instead of one gift, we are doing three gifts, spaced out a week apart. The first one is due next Wednesday, then one each on the following two Wednesdays. I’ve got all three of my gifts ordered, and at least one of them should be here on Monday, so I will have it in time for the first week. I don’t work next Wednesday, though, so I will take it up there Tuesday night. Then I will get mine from my Secret Santa when I go to work my extra shift on Thursday.

We are also having a Christmas lunch on Wednesday, December 8. I am scheduled to work that day, but would have made an extra trip for that, even if I wasn’t. During the lunch, which also features a dessert contest (I probably won’t cook something for that, but I’m not sure, yet), there will be a gift exchange, of the type that we used to call “Chinese Gift Giving,” which is probably no longer politically correct. Anyway, you pick a number and when your number is drawn, you select a wrapped gift and open it. The next person has the option of “stealing” your gift or picking a new one. It’s wacky fun. That reminds me . . . I need to get a gift ordered for that event, too. I wonder what I could get that would make a bunch of librarians steal from each other . . .

C is already preparing food for our Thanksgiving lunch. Currently, the sopapilla cheesecake is cooking. She also has green bean casserole and corn casserole to make. And ham to warm up, but it’s already cooked. Somewhere around noon, we will head to Mineral Wells to celebrate the day with Mama. She’s making devilled eggs and mashed potatoes, and maybe a dessert. Oh, and some crescent rolls, I believe.

We’ll be having basically the same thing tomorrow with C’s sister and family, and I believe they plan to bring some turkey, because two of them don’t care for ham.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty and gracious Father,
I give You thanks
for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the labors of those who harvest them.
Make me, I pray,
a faithful steward of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities
and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

The choir and trumpets made one voice
of praise and thanks to GOD—
orchestra and choir in perfect harmony singing and playing praise to GOD:
Yes!
God is good!
His loyal love goes on forever!
Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of GOD.
(2 Chronicles 5:13 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have enough (more than enough, in fact)
2. for Your presence in my life; if that was all I had, it would be enough
3. that You are good and Your "loyal love goes on forever"
4. for music and song, the choir and trumpets that make one voice of praise and thanks to You
5. for a pervasive sense of well-being
6. that I have been crucified with Christ, and that the life that I now live, I live by faith in Him
7. that all creation sings Your praises

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
(Psalms 95:2 NIV)

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

Just a quick reminder that Thanksgiving and all its celebrations is not about how perfect the table or the decorations look. It’s not even about how perfect the food is or looks. It’s a celebration of the heart. It shouldn’t matter if you’re eating ramen on a card table. It is what is in your heart that matters.

If there is sadness or grieving in your heart, that’s okay, too. This Thanksgiving (just like many before it) will be that way for some people. And you can be sad and grieving and still be thankful. There are many who are experiencing their first Thanksgiving without one of their parents, today. I know of one who is having his first Thanksgiving without his wife. A couple I know lost a son, unexpectedly and suddenly, this week. And I have a friend who had cancer surgery yesterday.

It’s not all puppies, unicorns, and rainbows today. I’m good, yes. I’m about as happy as can be. But I am aware that it’s not that way for many. So, if you are one who is sad and grieving today, that’s perfectly okay and normal. I pray that you can find something to be thankful for, especially as you share memories of your loved ones. More importantly, I hope you are not alone.


And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
(Leviticus 16:21 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer
I
who live,
but
Christ
who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me
and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore,
under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)

If we say we have
no sin,
we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

If you can truthfully say the words of Galatians 2:20, you have plenty for which to be thankful today, regardless of your circumstances.


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“Stop fighting,”
he says,
“and know that I am God,
supreme among the nations,
supreme over the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 GNB)

I pause during this quiet time and close my eyes to ponder my circumstances. I am blessed beyond imagination. Life is good. You are good! Thank you, Father!

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
(Psalms 148:1-4 NIV)

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
(Jonah 3:1-5 NIV)

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
(Jonah 3:10 NIV)

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
(Jonah 4:1 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in awareness of God’s loving presence in this place, I read these passages again, looking for anything in God’s Word that catches the attention of my heart and soul. Is there a command for me? Is there comfort for me? I talk to Him about what I have read and what has moved me, and enjoy His presence.

Psalm 148 continues the trend of the final few psalms in simply giving praise to the Lord. Or, rather, commanding all of creation to give Him praise. In our selection, this morning, we only read the first four verses that address the heavenly hosts and sun, moon, and stars.

But the list goes on, and when verse 13 says, “Let them praise the name of the LORD,” here is who that is referring to.

Sea creatures and all ocean depths
Lightning
Hail
Snow
Clouds
Stormy winds
Mountains and hills
Fruit trees
Cedar trees
Wild animals
Cattle
Small creatures
Flying birds
Kings of the earth
All nations
Princes and all rulers
Young men and women
Old men
Children

If you’re reading this, you are in one of these groups. Probably one of the last three. You might be a king or prince or ruler. If so, I would be humbly honored. Either way, just do what it says, today, and every day.

Praise the LORD.

Also? Don’t be like Jonah.

Jonah was obedient. Sort of. He was kind of like one of the sons in a parable that Jesus told. You know, where a landowner told both of his sons to go work in the fields. One said he would go, then didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t go, then later relented and went.

Jonah is a weird case, though. He initially ran away from God’s directive. Not successfully, of course, because you just can’t do that. If God wants you somewhere, you will wind up there.

Period.

Even if it takes being swallowed by a specially prepared “great fish.” (Not a whale, mind you. It’s never called a whale.) We really don’t know what kind of fish . . . it was just big.

So Jonah repented and went to Nineveh. Make no mistake, though. His “obedience” was not ever willing. He went . . . he preached repentance to the people. But then the unexpected happened.

They repented. Jonah didn’t like that, because he didn’t like those Ninevites. He really didn’t want them to repent.

How often are we like that? (Get your steel-toed shoes ready.) Are there people that you would rather not see saved? Tell the truth. Is there someone, right now, anyone, that you can think of that you would just as soon see die and go to hell?

If you’re a Republican, I bet I can name at least one. If you’re a Democrat, I bet I can name at least one.

I might have a few that I’m struggling with. I even have a few brothers and sisters for whom I struggle with praying. Yes, I admit it.

I’m human. Not perfect. In spite of the fortune cookie slip taped to my desk that says “You shall soon achieve perfection.” Obviously, we have different definitions of “soon.”

The lesson we learn from Jonah is how to not be a prophet. God will get His desired results. He will get them with or without us. If we run away from His plan, He doesn’t suffer. It is we who suffer.

Don’t be a Jonah.

Father, I praise You for all Your glorious and wondrous creation. I join with the mountains and hills, the sea creatures and cedar trees, and all the saints who have come before me and who will come after me, in praising Your holy Name. I thank You for the music that You have placed in my heart and on my tongue and my fingertips, music which I can use to praise You. But God, I have flaws (don’t You know it?). I ask You to help me love unconditionally, especially all of those saints who call the name of Jesus. Help us all to walk more completely in His steps, and love the way He loves. Help us with our bigotry and our prejudices. Teach us Your ways, that we may all walk firmly in Your truth. And that Truth, that Way, that Life, is Jesus Christ.

Give us all spiritual renewal, Father, as well as deep repentance for the sins in which we still struggle. May You give us all readiness to give a reason for the hope that dwells within us.

"Gracious God,
the saving power of the gospel is amazing to everyone.
Some are surprised that Your grace could include and change even them;
others are shocked that their goodness and religious credentials don't earn them Your grace.
Continue to astonish the world with the saving grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Amen."

BLESSING

Happy are those who remain faithful under trials,
because when they succeed in passing such a test,
they will receive as their reward
the life which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 GNB)


Father, as we consider this day of Thanksgiving, I pray for tensions in our nation to be healed. I pray for unity within Your Church, as there has been a rift there, unnecessarily caused by politics. May we rise above that and focus our attention on You, on Christ, and on loving You and loving our neighbors and brothers and sisters.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Known By God

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of November.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,267

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

We got the outside lights up, yesterday. And of course, one of them is already not lighting up. It’s possible it is just a bit loose in the connector. That happens sometimes, especially with a brand new set. We might have a chance to get the ladder back out, later today, and try to fix it. Of course, as well, it is the next to the top light on the house.

I finished a game on my PC, last night, after work. I got home from the library, cooked some eggs and toast for a quick dinner, and sat down to play Cyberpunk 2077. I knew I was close to the end, because, in a recent session, I reached one of those points where you get a warning asking if you’re sure you want to keep going, because there’s not going back from this point. Sure enough, I completed the story line.

As the ending approached, there were multiple choices to be made. There were at least three different choices as to who I wanted to take with me for the final fight, and then, at the very end, there was a very important choice, as well. I like the ending that I got, but am aware that, similar to Fallout 4, there are multiple ending possibilities. Makes me want to play the final sequence again, making different choices, just to see what happens.

But not for now. According to the Steam app, I have put 265+ hours into the game. Time for something different. Hahaha!

Today, I’m working from 9:15-6:15. I’m off tomorrow and Friday, for Thanksgiving holiday. I would have been off tomorrow, anyway. However, I will be working from 1:00-5:00 next Thursday. The circulation manager asked me if I would work that shift, since I’m going to be short hours on that pay period, and she needs help with coverage that day, so I said, “sure!”

Oh. I forgot to mention that we have another cat in the house. We got this one from the Watauga shelter, and she is already two years old and spayed, so we don’t have to worry about that. She is a tabby who looks a lot like S’s cat, Honey. We have decided that she will be called Magnolia. We will probably call her Maggie or Mags, for short.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Is A Blessing?, by Daryl Madden

What is a blessing?
But a share of
A taste of heaven
A gift of Gods’ love

Of nothing deserved
But one of pure grace
Let us receive it
With a grateful embrace

A treasure to cherish
Shared in many ways
If we are aware
We will be amazed!

Just a reminder
Of this message true
As a child of God
You’re a blessing too!
LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all my friends and family; you are, indeed, a blessing to me
2. that I am alive and breathing, and have awakened to another new day
3. for the Light of Jesus Christ in my life
4. that I can sing praises to You and make music on various instruments
5. that You know me, intimately, as You know the number of and the names of all the stars in the heavens

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 ESV)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.
You need milk,
not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness,
since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature,
for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)

Father, make me more like Jesus, increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with You and those around me. Make me mature in Your Word, living on the “solid food” that comes from constant immersion in it.

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven
and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning,
and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women,
Do not be afraid,
for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here,
for he has risen,
as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:1-6 ESV)

“Awake,
O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 ESV)

For you are all children of light,
children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness.
(1 Thessalonians 5:5 ESV)

Father, may the Light of Christ shine on and through me, today.

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at me,
your High God,
above politics,
above everything.”
(Psalms 46:10 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet morning, I am struck by the Light that is Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is to be “alive and awake,” shining brightly, in this world of darkness, with the Light of Jesus. I stop to take a long, loving, look at my Father, who is present with me, at all times.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
(Psalms 147:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
(Jonah 1:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that have stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my attention. Is there something within about which I need to ask God? I pray my life to my Father and rest in His presence.

Do you know how many stars there are? Does anyone? God not only knows the number of stars, He “determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” Yes, I do realize that this is poetry, not theology. But it gives us insight into the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of our God. “His understanding has no limit.”

If He knows every star and calls it by name, how much more does He know each of us? God Almighty, the Creator of everything that we can see and much that we cannot see, condescends to know us. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows everything that I am going to do and say today. He knows what I am going to think.

Yet, still He loves me. He remembers that we are only dust.

This causes me to do what Psalm 147:7 tells me to do. “Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.” I don’t have a harp, but I have instruments, and I can use them to make music to God. I also have a voice, with which I can sing praises to Him.

Father, I praise You for Your knowledge of us! You, who created everything, have made Yourself known to us, just as You know us. Someday, when we see You, face to face (as much as will be possible), we will know You as intimately as You know us. But, for now, we cannot handle such knowledge; it is too wonderful, we cannot attain it. As I go through this day, may this knowledge carry me through all challenges that I might face. Give me Your wisdom and shine in me with the Light of Jesus Christ. May His light be visible in me. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Father,
never let Your salvation,
Your free choice of me,
make me lax or arrogant toward others.
Never let me forget that You've chosen me for both a special relationship as Your child and a special service,
becoming a channel of blessing for all.
In Christ's Name,
amen."

BLESSING

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on
and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate.
For such persons loyally in love with God,
the reward is life and more life.
(James 1:12 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Seek Good, Not Evil

Today is Monday, the twenty-second of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,265

Only three more days until Thanksgiving! Preparations are underway, groceries have been ordered.

Plans for Thanksgiving for this year are that we will visit my mother in Mineral Wells on Thursday, taking food with us over there, and then have another Thanksgiving meal at our house on Friday with C’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece, along with niece’s boyfriend.

I’m working tomorrow night, Wednesday all day, and then Saturday, having Friday off for Thanksgiving.

We had a nice flight home, yesterday. We got packed up and checked out with no issues, and met R & J for breakfast at the same place we ate on Friday morning, Lincoln Square. I had a German Skillet, which was scrambled eggs, smoked sausage, and sausage gravy, on a bed of small potato pancakes. It was delicious. For my “bread” choice, I got pancakes, which were also delicious. We said our “farewells” at our car, and got a few pictures. I forgot my tripod, so there is no group picture of all of us, but each of us is in at least one picture.

S, C, R, & J
R & J
S, me, R, & J
S, C, me, & R

There were tears as we drove away.

Our flight was fine. I lucked out, and the middle seat in my row (even though they said the flight was completely full) was never occupied. On the aisle was a young lady who was, at one point, reading/studying a book with some music notation in it. I asked her what she was studying, and she said she was studying the Brahms Handel Variations. Turns out she is a pianist. I asked her if she was going to be a famous concert pianist someday. She laughed and said probably not. I hope she is wrong. I never got her name, though, so I guess I will never know.

The landing in DFW was not nearly as good as the near-perfect landing in IND. Our pilot bounced a couple times in DFW. It wasn’t bad or scary, or anything. Just not as smooth. We made sure to thank all of the flight staff and attendants. I frequently made it a point to thank people, especially at the airport, even in the shops. Thanked them just for being there. These are tough times, and people need appreciation. They get treated so poorly.

I learned something new about my car, yesterday, too. In the second rental we had, in Indy, R pointed out that, if the phone was connected to the car via USB charging cable, the map for Waze (GPS app) would appear on the car display panel. So we hooked that up, which made following the GPS around much easier and safer. This came up when I mentioned having issues propping up my phone so it wouldn’t fall.

When we got back to our car at DFW, we looked around, and sure enough, there is a USB port with a picture of a phone. When plugged in, it activates “Car Play,” which displays the phone screen on the display panel where the radio usually shows.

I felt really stupid. I’ve had this car for over a year and had no clue that it would do that. But now I know.

C is off all week, thanks to her company’s generosity. She might have to crank up her work laptop here and there, but doesn’t have to go to the office. She is currently setting out Christmas decorations. We got in the spirit when we visited that Christmas market in Carmel, so we decided to go ahead and get started with them early, this year. We would normally have done it over the coming weekend, so it’s not too early.

The reason I’m running late, today, is that I have been messing around with my Dropbox account, trying to get files synced up from two different drives on this PC. I’m concerned that one of my hard drives might be about to crash, so I’m trying to get files backed up. I also didn’t sleep well, last night. We’ve been eating so badly, over the past five days, that my stomach, I think, had enough, finally. It decided to keep me up for a few hours last night. I’m still not feeling quite right and haven’t eaten anything this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty and gracious Father,
I give You thanks
for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the labors of those who harvest them.
Make me, I pray,
a faithful steward of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities
and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

“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.”
(2 Samuel 22:47-50 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a very successful trip to Indy, a great visit with our kids, and safe flights both ways
2. that You are the rock of my salvation, my Rock and my God
3. for this season of the year, when most people will find some things for which to be thankful
4. for all who continue the practice of "thanksgiving" beyond this season or just this month
5. for all of Your great and marvelous attributes, described by Your Word

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY TWO

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 NLT)

I pause, now, to consider the affirmation that You will be honored by every nation, eventually.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of praise. Of David.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
(Psalms 145:1-3 NIV)

The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.
(Psalms 145:17-21 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.
(Amos 5:7 NIV)

There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.

You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.

Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
(Amos 5:10-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, slowly and deliberately. I try to notice how God might be speaking to me through them. I also try to set aside preconceived prejudices and allow the Spirit to speak freshly to me. I allow my heart to respond to God in prayer, laying out my thoughts and meditations to Him, taking refreshment in His presence.

As we work toward the end of Psalms, we come to a few that are purely praise. It is hard for me to identify a single word or phrase that speaks to me in Psalm 145. It is more of an idea . . . a concept of the character of God, or His attributes. The passage lists some truths about Him.

He is worthy of praise (v. 3)
No one can fathom His greatness (v. 3)
He is righteous in all His ways (v. 17)
He is faithful in all He does (v. 17)
He is near to all who call on Him in truth (v. 18)
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him, hearing their cries and saving them (v. 19)
He watches over all who love Him (v. 20)

This praise psalm, however, seems to be on a different spectrum than the passage I’m reading in Amos, today. In fact, I find the Amos passage to be quite alarming. I do take note of the fact that this prophecy is concerning Israel. However, I see correlations with my own country.

In our modern land, there are certainly those “who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground” (v. 7). And one of our biggest problems, right now, is that there are people on both sides of the political fence who believe that that statement is true for the “other side.”

Verse 10 is similar. “There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth.” Again, what I said about the alleged political fence is true. Neither Democrats nor Republicans believe the other side is capable of telling the truth.

What it boils down to, though, is stated in verse 12. “There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.” This has long been true in our nation. It is, perhaps, more prevalent in other nations. But the Bible is clear on this issue. Our Father in heaven detests this practice. And the consequences are dire.

I find verse 13 to be interesting, though. “Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.” I’m not sure what that means. I don’t think it means that, when we see evil being practiced, we should say nothing. I don’t think it means that we should be silent when the innocent are oppressed.

We are instructed, though, whether we are ancient Israel or modern man, to “seek good, not evil,” that we may live.

Father, I pray for this world, that we would be more inclined to seek good and not evil. I know that there are always going to be people who seek evil, but it is those who do evil and think that they are doing good who are of greater concern. I pray that the innocent not be oppressed, in my own country, as well as around the world. I realize this seems like such a fruitless prayer, but I truly believe in Your ability to stand up for and uphold the cause of those whom You love so much. Help us to find ways to stand up for the widows and orphans, the homeless and poor, the needy and oppressed, and those who constantly live in the shadows of injustice. The rich few have had their way for too long, Father. But in the meantime, please show C and me how we can help.

"Furious God,
thank You for fuming prophets who picture and proclaim Your anger at sin in the world - 
sin that hurts,
maims,
and enslaves.
Help me to trust Your anger,
understanding it as a form of love against oppressive evil.
Thank You that Your justice and anger find their ultimate expression in Jesus's cross and resurrection.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 NLT)

I pray that, while unity within our country is unlikely, You would bring about unity within Your Church.

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.

The Great Disruptor

Today is Sunday, the twenty-first of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign on your hearts today.

Day 23,264

Four days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.!

We had a lovely day, yesterday. We hung out at our Airbnb until almost noon, when we went to pick up R & J to go to Yats for lunch. Lunch was delicious, just as the dinner was Wednesday night.

We debated over what to do next. We finally decided to not visit the Children’s Museum, but, instead, to go to a Christmas Market in the Carmel district. It was slightly amusing to see the difference between the areas in the city. The Carmel area reminds me of Southlake in DFW.

The Christmas market was a lot of fun, and quite charming. It seems to have been designed around a German theme, and all of the booths appeared to have German names. I took some pictures, and will post some of them here.

The entry gate
J, R, C, and S
Beautiful carved decorations
Ice rink
Alpine horns. They really played these. It was beautiful!

It was a wonderful time. We bought way too many snacks, but we also got some Christmas ornaments to take home with us.

We went back to R’s house, where we watched some stuff, discussed (but didn’t solve) the problems in the country, and then ordered way too much food from the City BBQ. We had a wonderful “Thanksgiving” meal, full of love.

This morning, we plan to meet them back at Lincoln Square at 10:00 for breakfast, and then we must head back to the airport to go home. Mixed emotions, of course. Sad to leave R & J, but it will be nice to be back home. We have been quite busy for the last four days. It’s been wonderful, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When, by Daryl Madden

When light is laid
Upon the ground
When Spirit speaks
Without a sound

When gifts are blessed
Of treasure found
Of one to share
Is so profound

When God of love
Is always here
Found within
A simple prayer

When the response
Is clear to see
To simply dwell
For us to be

He alone is your God,
the only one who is worthy of your praise,
the one who has done these mighty miracles
that you have seen with your own eyes.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God, and that You alone are worthy of my praise
2. for a wonderful and safe trip (so far); please carry us safely home
3. for Jesus, the "disruptor"
4. that we can "be still and know" that You are God
5. that You are my fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, and refuge

And he told those who sold the pigeons,
“Take these things away;
do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
His disciples remembered that it was written,
“Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:16-17 ESV)

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me,
you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 ESV)

Jesus was a disruptor. He stormed onto the scene and disrupted everything for the religious leaders of His day, providing a new way to approach the Father, who had been, up until that time, largely unapproachable.

“In Himself, He presented the kind of mega-gigabyte network that even our technology-obsessed world will never see. He was eradicating the spam, clearing out the detritus, and demonstrating a new way for us to ‘do’ faith.” (Thanks to Marci Alborghetti, in Daily Guideposts 2021)

Perhaps we have all gotten a little too comfortable in our faith and need to allow Jesus to disrupt us again.


So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights.
He neither ate bread nor drank water.
And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the Ten Commandments.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai,
with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain,
Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone
because he had been talking with God.
Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses,
and behold, the skin of his face shone,
and they were afraid to come near him.
But Moses called to them,
and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him,
and Moses talked with them.
(Exodus 34:28-31 ESV)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
(Psalms 96:1-3 ESV)

“Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
(Isaiah 58:5-11 ESV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 ESV)

We find God on the mountaintops. We dwell with Him on a sort of “high,” during our devotional times. Many mornings, I have a sort of “mountaintop” experience. But the mission is down the mountain. We have to come down from the mountain.

“You have to go down the mountain. That’s where your ministry is . . . at the bottom of the mountain . . . where the cities are, and the towns, and their marketplaces, and the fields, and the rest of the world. That’s where they are, at the bottom of the mountain. So you have to go down. You have to bring down His love to the unloved. Bring down His blessings to the cursed, His riches to the poor, His presence to the godless, and His salvation to the lost.” (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY ONE – CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

INVITATION

He says,
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment, to consider and be still. Help me to know that You are God; my heart desires that You be “exalted among the nations.”

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.

LORD, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
(Psalms 144:1-4 NIV)

I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
(Psalms 144:9-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Colossians 1:15-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, slowly repeating them, meditating on them. I pray my thoughts, my desires, my heart, and my life, to God, enjoying His presence.

In the psalm, I am noticing words (and this is common for me) such as fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, and refuge. God is all of these things to me. Other places in Psalms speak of running and hiding in these places.

But the truth stated by Jonathan Cahn, above, stands. I have to leave those places in order to minister. I cannot minister to those who are unloved, hungry, desolate, or poor, while hiding in the refuge or fortress that is my God. I cannot share my blessings while remaining on the mountaintop. I must come out of that fortress and come down from the mountaintop. And I do so with the confidence that my God will cover me and protect me while I do.

The Colossians passage speaks of the significance and importance of Christ. There may not be a more important passage in the New Testament, at least about this topic.

He is the image of God; all of the fullness of God dwells in Him. In Christ, “all things hold together.” And when I consider the phrase, “It’s all about Jesus,” it makes a lot more sense in the context of Colossians 1:15-20.

My life needs to be all about Jesus. As I consider this, going forward, I do not know what kinds of decisions will be made. But I must consider what Christ would have me do, in all circumstances. Not so much “WWJD,” but what would He want me to do? The consideration, the meditation, the pondering, and the praying will happen in the fortress, in the refuge, on the mountaintop. And when the direction is given, I must leave the solace of the mountaintop.

Jesus is the Great Disruptor. He does not allow our lives to remain static. When He appears, we must decide what to do with Him. He is either who He says He is, or He is a raving lunatic, or He is an outright liar. He cannot be simply “a good teacher.” He is the Son of God; He is God Incarnate; all of the fullness of God dwells within Him.

Father, I praise You for Jesus Christ, the Great Disruptor. May You be glorified in Him, throughout the earth. I pray for the knowledge of Christ to be spread through all the earth, and that all peoples will glorify Your Name. Help me to be a channel of blessing and honor for You in this world. In all I do, may You be glorified. Take me out of the refuge, out of the fortress, down from the mountain, to do Your will. Keep me from sin; purify me by Your grace and mercy. Help me to love You and love people in the way that I should.

I pray for full fellowship with Jesus Christ, King of kings. May You grant spiritual renewal and refreshment to Your people.

"King of kings and glorious Lord,
You are above all.
You rule,
and the whole universe is Your kingdom.
Have the supremacy in all things and draw more  and more to the freedom of Your reign.
Be first in my life,
now and always.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test,
that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 NIV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

His Love Endures Forever

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twentieth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,263

Five days until Thanksgiving.

Of course, we will be having a sort of “Thanksgiving” today, with R & J, up here in Indy.

This is our last full day in Indy, as we must fly home tomorrow. Our flight tomorrow leaves at around 2:20 PM, I think.

Yesterday was a great day, as well. Even with it being interrupted by having to exchange our rental car.

We had a great breakfast at Lincoln Square, in the Irvington community of Indy. The food was delicious. The coffee was only okay. But the food was amazing. I’m going to lobby for having breakfast there again, tomorrow, before we head back to the airport.

After breakfast, we walked around the area for a bit, and wound up looking at a couple of shops. Both were just an assortment of stuff, gift shops, I suppose. S found a journal that she wanted in the first one. The second one was much more “local,” and had a lot of neat stuff in it. We found a nice gift for Mama in there, and I bought a little rock. Yes, a rock. I like having a small stone in my pocket. The last one I had, which I found up in Broken Bow, OK, fell on the floor at my last job, and broke in half. This one is a small Lapis Lazuli stone.

Stones such as this are said to have special properties or “powers.” I don’t know about that, but Lapis is supposed to increase creativity, so I figured, why not, right? Plus they are pretty. It’s also supposed to connect me with “cosmic wisdom,” whatever that is.

After that, we ventured back through the back part of that store, where we found a charming little book/record store. It’s a good thing we are flying on this trip, not driving. I probably would have wound up with at least a handful of used records.

The exchange of the rental car was relatively painless. We were helped by a couple of very friendly folks, though, who made it good for us. I wish I had gotten their names. I will say that we rented from Dollar, and were helped at a counter where Dollar, Thrifty, and Hertz were all represented. We even got an upgrade for our inconvenience. We are now driving a Toyota Highlander, a full-size SUV. And it has more of the features that my personal car has, including push-button start and automatic headlights. Plus, it seats seven, so we can pick up R & J, this morning, and all fit comfortably.

Our meetup with our old friends, Mike and Kay, went great, last night! We met at Edwards’ Drive-In, and had a nice dinner. I had the grilled pork tenderloin, because I hear that you must have one of those when you visit Indy. It was okay, and the fries were okay. C said her burger was good, but felt like her quarter pounder at Mickey D’s was better. I had some of their chili which, not surprisingly, had spaghetti on the bottom. Yes, they do that up in these parts. The best part, for me, was the root beer in the frosty mug. Yum. Actually, the best part was catching up with people we haven’t seen in thirty-plus years. It was wonderful to see them, and didn’t seem awkward at all.

Today, we are returning to Yats for lunch. We will be picking up R & J and heading over there at noon, when they open for lunch. Incidentally, Mike and Kay both agreed that that was an excellent choice. I plan to have the Chili Cheese Etouffee again, along with, hopefully, the Chipotle Alexio, which they were out of Wednesday night.

Not sure what is happening after that. There is talk of a Children’s Museum in the area that is nice and fun. Then, for dinner, we plan to have City BBQ deliver food to R’s house. That’s what we are calling “Thanksgiving.” I’m not sure what we will order, but I’m thinking the thing they call “The Motherload” would be sufficient. Another option might be several of the City Samplers, which include four meats and a couple of sides. The Motherload has pretty much all the meats and six sides, and some bread. But we will decide all that later.

It has been a wonderful time, and I will be leaving Indianapolis with some good feelings about my first visit, and no hesitations about returning, as we will, no doubt do, probably at least once a year.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God,
and I will praise him,
my father’s God,
and I will exalt him.
(Exodus 15:2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God, the God of my father and mother, and of my ancestors, and that You have placed it in my heart to praise You
2. for the privilege and responsibility of prayer; may I be faithful in that
3. for Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life
4. that Your love endures forever
5. that it has pleased You to bless my household

to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
(Ephesians 1:6 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)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Your righteousness also, God,
reaches to the heavens;
you have done great things.
God, who is like you?
(Psalms 71:19 WEB)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I consider the truth that there is no one like You, God. No one, nothing, You are completely and utterly unique; You are “Other.” I am, at my most base essence, completely unworthy and unable to interact with You. I give You thanks for the gift of Jesus, which makes me worthy and able.

BIBLE SONG

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1-4 NIV)

He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:23-26 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I linger over those, repeating them, and I pray my thoughts and meditations to the Father, enjoying his presence in this place.

There is an evident theme to the antiphonal Psalm 136. At least it appears to be of an antiphonal nature, what we called “responsive readings” when I was a child, growing up in a Southern Baptist church. I always liked when we did those readings, and still feel like they weren’t often enough.

In this one, the theme, the repeated line, is “His love endures forever.” Is it strange that we need to be so constantly reminded of this truth? But here, we have it repeated twenty-six times (if you read the entire psalm).

His love endures forever.

This truth is further established by the covenant made between the Lord and His people. We see a bit of this in Jeremiah. The Lord establishes a “new covenant” with the people of Israel. “I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about GOD. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” (vv. 33-34, The Message)

His love endures foverer.

Just like the most-often-repeated “command” in Scripture, which is a variety of “do not fear,” we see this truth repeated often, as well. The more something is repeated, the more important it is, the more sure it is.

His love endures forever. We cannot escape His love; we cannot lose His love; we cannot increase or decrease His love. It is steadfast, it is sure; it endures forever.

Father, I cannot adequately express my gratitude for Your love. Beyond the fact that it endures forever, it is strong and powerful. I cannot even begin to comprehend it. As the psalmist said in Psalm 139, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness stretches to the skies, Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice rolls like the ocean’s tide. As Third Day, sang, “I will lift my voice to worship You, my King.” I will celebrate Your love, that endures forever, and nothing can take this away from me. I praise You that there is nothing that I can do to either increase or decrease Your love for me, and I most certainly cannot lose this love. May it rain down on me today, and may it permeate everything I do today.

I pray, Lord, that Your Church would experience unity and holiness, and that this enduring-forever love would flow between us all, shutting out all competing entities.

"Covenanting God,
You are my God and I belong to You,
bound to You through the grace of Jesus.
Set me free in Jesus Christ to live in grateful obedience,
not from threat of punishment or persistent nagging but because Your will is imprinted on my heart.
Lord,
You have my heart;
I am Yours because You have given Yourself to me.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant,
that it may continue forever before you;
for you, Lord Yahweh,
have spoken it.
Let the house of your servant be blessed forever with your blessing.”
(2 Samuel 7:29 WEB)


Father, during these days, I am torn between remaining ignorant of current events, and struggling to be aware of them and dealing with the vitriol that is spewed from both sides of every issue. Give me wisdom, as I navigate these times, and help me above all, to show love to all, as much as is possible, and as much as it is up to me.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Hope and A Future

Good morning to you! Today is Friday, the nineteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,262

Six days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.

We are continuing to have an awesome time up here in Indy! Yesterday morning, we all got ready and headed over to pick up R & J at their house. From there we went to the Nine Lives Cat Café, where we had a glorious time sipping coffee in the midst of a dozen or so cats, mostly kittens. It was quite calming and relaxing. And the coffee was pretty good.

This is Aspen. If we lived in Indianapolis, he would have gone home with us, yesterday.

After the kittens, we dropped off S back at our rental (after running through the Mickey D’s drive through), and headed downtown to the escape room location. This was also a wonderful time. Somewhat exhilarating, in fact. We had sixty minutes to “save the world,” and it came down to the wire, but we made it. Our guide was incredible, too. He made it even more fun, as he interacted with us constantly, throughout the process. That is one thing that makes the experience more fun, because the guide is obviously keeping up with us and watching as we go through it.

We had to solve puzzles, open lock boxes with both keys and codes. One time, we had to crawl through a tunnel. Hahah! But we all made it just fine.

After the escape room, we went to a nearby place for lunch. It was called The Rathskeller, featuring German food. I had a Frikadelle sandwich, which, according to the menu, is a “very tasty concoction of ground beef, pork, and German wurst grilled to order and served on a Kaiser roll.” It was, indeed, quite tasty, and came with a choice of a side, for which I chose a potato pancake. Afterward, we had another cup of coffee at a coffee shop in the same building.

We headed back over to R & J’s house, where we played a game for a while, which was great fun. C and I decided to find the only Sonic in the area (maybe in the whole state, I don’t know), which we did, and we waited well over thirty minutes for our three drinks. S was duly surprised and elated, though, when we got back to our rental with Sonic drinks. We ordered pizza for dinner.

Today, we are having breakfast with R & J at 10:00. We have to take our car back to the airport and exchange it, because the brakes started grinding (in the rear on the right side), yesterday afternoon. Then, this evening, at 7:00, we are meeting a couple of other friends that live in Indy, whom we have not seen in probably close to thirty years. That should be fun. Tomorrow, we will have a sort of “Thanksgiving” lunch with R & J. But we’re ordering BBQ to be delivered to their house. We’re still calling it Thanksgiving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
(1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV)

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,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.
(Matthew 25:35-36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are constantly watching over us, You who need no sleep and will not slumber
2. for the wonderful time we continue to have on our trip
3. that You have put generosity in our hearts, and we are willing to try to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help the sick
4. that when we seek You with our whole heart, we will find You
5. for the encouragement of Your plan for our lives, plans to prosper us and not harm us, plans for a hope and a future

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Your deeds of kindness are known in the heavens. No one is like you!
(Psalms 71:19 CEV)

I pause, at this time, to settle my spirit and realize the presence of the Lord.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the name of the LORD;
praise him, you servants of the LORD,
you who minister in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.

I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
(Psalms 135:1-5 NIV)

Your name, LORD, endures forever,
your renown, LORD, through all generations.
For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.
(Psalms 135:13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
(Jeremiah 29:10-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself of God’s presence, I read these passages again. I look for how God might be speaking to me through His Word, dwelling on words or phrases that jump out at me. I allow my heart to respond, and take refreshment in His presence.

Psalm 135 is a praise psalm, simply calling for the servants of God to praise Him. In it, we acknowledge the greatness of the Lord, that He is greater than all. His name will endure forever, and we know that He will bring justice and compassion on all of His people, on all who serve Him.

The Jeremiah passage includes a favorite passage, actually a couple of favorite verses.

Verse 11 declares the Lord’s plans for His people. While it is explicitly directed at Israel, I believe we can know the same for us. Of course, the Lord does not plan harm for us, but only good. Romans 8:28 bears this out, proclaiming that everything works for the good of those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Then verses 12-13 show us that, when we are whole-hearted toward Him, when we call on Him, He will hear us and answer us. We will seek Him and we will find Him. Again, these are verses directed to Israel, but can hold some comfort and encouragement for us, as well. Perhaps we have been led into “captivity” in a particular area of our lives. God will deliver us when we turn to Him with our whole hearts.

What does this mean? I truly believe it means something different to each individual. Not saying that we each have our own version of “truth,” mind you. That’s a popular thought, these days, that each of us has “my truth.” There is only one Truth. But what it means to seek the Lord with our whole heart . . . in truth, it may not be possible for a fallen human to seek God with his whole heart. But He remembers and knows that we are only dust.

When we seek Him, truly and honestly seek Him, with no ulterior motives, seeking Him for His own sake, I believe that He will reward that.

Father, I praise You for Your great love and compassion toward us, and Your plans for our good. Thank You for this great comfort and encouragement that we get from Your Word. I acknowledge Your greatness and goodness; Your compassion and righteousness, and that You will, indeed, seek and do justice for those who fear You and serve You. May my service to You be acceptable.

I pray for the Christlike ability to deny myself and serve others. I pray for the same commitment that You have to do justice and show mercy. I also pray for those who struggle with peer pressure, a horrible monster in our culture. Help people to realize that it is useless and worthless to be concerned with what other people think about us.

"Prospering God,
teach me to seek You in my praying.
I'm not asking for the right words,
because prayers can be proper,
even beautiful,
yet reveal nothing of my heart.
I'm asking for the right heart,
a beautiful desperation for You -
born out of my ragged need,
holding nothing back - 
that sends me on a full-out sprint for You and Your grace in Jesus.
Amen."

BLESSING

Please bless my descendants and let them always be your chosen kings. You have already promised, and I’m sure that you will bless my family forever.
(2 Samuel 7:29 CEV)


He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
(Psalms 121:3 NIV)

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
(Psalms 138:3 NIV)

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.