Ask For the Ancient Paths

Today is Tuesday, the sixth day of June, 2023, in the second week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,826

My Wordle for today:’

Wordle 717 4/6*

⬛🟨⬛🟩⬛
🟨⬛🟩🟩⬛
🟩🟩🟩🟩⬛
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

I really should have gotten that in three. My third guess was a bit silly, as it included a letter that had already been eliminated. My streak is at three days. Yesterday’s word was “ennui.” That one probably tripped up a bunch of people.

There’s not a lot to write about between yesterday and today. It was a pretty chill day, yesterday. As predicted, I put away a couple loads of laundry, and got the trash out for today’s pickup. Isn’t that exciting??

I’ve been tracking weather ever since last summer’s heat wave. I am dismayed to see that, in the ten-day forecast, we are expected to have triple digit temperatures next Wednesday and Thursday. My PC app shows 102 for Wednesday and 105 for Thursday! My phone app has 105 for Wednesday and 106 for Thursday. Even worse! My phone shows chances of thunderstorms all week, this week, but the PC only shows thunderstorms on Saturday. Today’s high is expected to be around 90.

The Texas Rangers pulled out a close one, last night, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3. Martin Perez pitched great, only giving up one run, but didn’t get the win because the bullpen blew the lead and allowed two runs to tie the game. The closer, Will Smith (1-2) (not the Fresh Prince), pitched in the top of the ninth, held the score, and then, after one of the Cardinals missed a tricky pop foul, Nathaniel Lowe hit a ground ball between short and third, to score the winning run from second base. It was pretty intense. Marcus Semien, who scored the winning run, has a 24-game hitting streak.

The Rangers are now 39-20, in first place in the AL West, still 3.5 games ahead of the Astros. The Rangers and Cardinals play again today, at 7:05 CT, in Arlington. Dane Dunning (4-1) will start for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox lost the final game of the series (and the series) to the Rays, 4-1. Brayan Bello (3-4) took the loss for Boston. The Sox are now 30-30, in last place in the AL East. They head to Cleveland to play the Guardians tonight at 7:10 ET. James Paxton (1-1) will start for Boston. Somebody named Bieber is starting for Cleveland. Surely it’s not Justin.

Tampa Bay leads MLB with a 43-19 record. Texas remains second with 39-20, still 2.5 games behind the Rays. Oakland (I need a macro to create this sentence so I don’t have to keep typing it every day) trails, with a 12-50 record. Pittsburgh keeps winning, and has a six-game winning streak. Texas is second with their four-game winning streak. Oh. Along with Miami. Oakland now has a five-game losing streak. The Rangers still lead with a +153 run differential, while Oakland is now at -213.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion. 
Declare his deeds among the peoples.
(Psalms 9:11 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my morning coffee
  • for the cat that is currently showing me great affection
  • for the great and marvelous deeds of our God
  • that the steadfast love/mercy (chesed) of the Lord is established forever; it will never rest or depart from us
  • that all people are equal at the foot of the cross

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; 
with my mouth I will proclaim 
your faithfulness to all generations. 
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; 
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
(Psalms 89:1-2 NRSV)

Lord our God, gather us together in one flock to praise you with one heart and one voice. Let this praise ring out on earth in the midst of all the evils that still confront us. We thank you for your protection, for all the help and deliverance you give us. We thank you for the hope you put into our hearts. We thank you for the hope that we may yet see great things done through the working of your Spirit, for us your children and for all peoples and nations. For your love will not rest until life on earth has come into your hands and all may rejoice. Amen.


May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us,
(Psalms 67:1 NRSV)
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, 
O God of our salvation; 
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth 
and of the farthest seas.
(Psalms 65:5 NRSV)
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; 
before the gods I sing your praise; 
I bow down toward your holy temple 
and give thanks to your name 
for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; 
for you have exalted your name 
and your word above everything. 
On the day I called, you answered me,
 you increased my strength of soul. 
All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, 
for they have heard the words of your mouth. 
They shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
 for great is the glory of the LORD. 
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; 
but the haughty he perceives from far away. 
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, 
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; 
you stretch out your hand, 
and your right hand delivers me. 
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. 
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
(Psalms 138:1-8 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"O God, from who all good proceeds:
Grant that by your inspiration
I may think those things that are right,
and by your merciful guiding may do them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

Thus says the LORD: 
Stand at the crossroads, and look, 
and ask for the ancient paths, 
where the good way lies; 
and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. 
But they said, "We will not walk in it." 
Also I raised up sentinels for you: 
"Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!" 
But they said, "We will not give heed." 
Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, 
what will happen to them. 
Hear, O earth; 
I am going to bring disaster on this people, 
the fruit of their schemes, 
because they have not given heed to my words; 
and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.
(Jeremiah 6:16-19 NRSV)

Thus says the LORD: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the LORD.
(Jeremiah 9:23-24 NRSV)


The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
he leads me beside still waters; 
he restores my soul. 
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalms 23:1-3 NRSV)

This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember the long way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
(Deuteronomy 8:1-3 NRSV)

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”
(Luke 8:22-25 NRSV)


We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19 NRSV)


The Lord has exalted His name and His Word above all other things. And in doing this, He has also regarded the lowly (which, truthfully, is all of us who are not Him). No matter what you may think about yourself, you, in comparison to God, are “lowly.” I realize that there are some haughty “Christians” who don’t like to use that word to describe themselves, thinking that, because they are Christians, that makes them better than others, more worthy than others. This is flawed thinking.

I am constantly drawn to one of those passages from Jeremiah, whenever I stumble across it (and can it truly be called “stumbling” when the Lord is leading us?). “Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Those who believe that they are more worthy than others because of their relationship with Christ are not boasting in the right thing. Do I have wisdom? Maybe, maybe not. But if I do, it is from the Lord. Do I have any might or power? In my thinking, not very much. But if I do, it is from God. Do I have wealth? Compared to many in this world, yes, quite a bit. But I do not boast in it. It comes from the Lord, and has been given me that I might share it.

Then there’s this other passage from Jeremiah 6. “Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

I have been drawn, in recent years, to these “ancient paths.” I am drawn to seek out writings of people who were closer to the time of Christ; disciples of His disciples. I am most excited to be reading The Book of Concord, this summer, because it includes writings and confessions that predate the Reformation, even.

It seems to me that, the farther removed from Christ we become, the worse our “theology” gets. Things like “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” and “God helps those who help themselves.” One of the reasons I am excited about this “Bumper Sticker Theology” series at my church is exactly that. In fact, he said, Sunday, that one of the ones he will examine is “God is my co-pilot.” God had better be my pilot! I’m the co-pilot!

This rambles a little bit, today. I apologize for that, but it’s where my thoughts are going. God is good to all people, even the unjust, even the ones who refuse to acknowledge Him. He delights in steadfast love (chesed, also translated as mercy), justice, and righteousness. He has shown us, oh humans, what is good, and what He requires of us; “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” There’s that word again, chesed, this time translated as kindness.


Father, please help Your people display chesed among others in this world. Please help us to love, because You loved us first. Help us to love You with all our being, and to love others as You have loved us. You have shown us great kindness, great mercy, and You desire that we would do likewise. We don’t seem to be doing very well at that, these days. We have confused righteousness with forcing our way on others, and condemning them for not acting or thinking like we do.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Help us to stop our boasting, and to be sure that we truly know You. Help us to seek the “ancient paths,” and to shun modern “theology” that has no basis in Scripture. Teach us Your ways, so that we can walk in Your truth, not in the “truth” of human teachers.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


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)

The Jeremiah 9 passage reminds me of this song by a group that I really used to like. I still like them, I just don’t’ think they are active anymore.

Grace and peace, friends.

His Mercy Endures – Be Still

Today is Monday, the fifth day of June, 2023, in the second week of Ordinary Time. (I verified this with one of my pastors, yesterday. Since the Lutheran Church recognizes Epiphany as a “season,” Ordinary Time doesn’t begin until after the Easter season.)

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Day 23,825

My Wordle for today:

Wordle 716 5/6*

⬛🟨⬛⬛⬛
⬛⬛⬛⬛🟨
🟩⬛⬛🟨🟨
🟩⬛🟨🟨⬛
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

This was a tough word, and I’m glad I figured it out. It’s not one that is used often. My streak is at two days. Yesterday’s word was “beast.”

Yesterday was a pretty good day. My reading, in the early service, went well. I got a number of compliments, one of which emphasized that he liked my reading because he could understand what I was saying. I mean, that is the general intent, right? But I guess it says something about other peoples’ reading.

The service was good, as was the sermon. We have begun a series called “Bumper Sticker Theology,” in which our pastors are going to examine popular bumper stickers, over time. Yesterday’s was “Got Jesus?” which was patterned after the ad campaign “Got Milk?” I had forgotten, but here is the original “Got Milk?” commercial.

I remembered the commercial, but did not remember that it was a milk commercial. So . . . did it actually work?

Anyway, I have observed, over the years, the popularity of taking ad campaigns and “Christianizing” them. “God Jesus?” was one of those. Anyway, the sermon was very interesting, and the pastor illustrated the fallacy of the question and the bumper sticker as he explained (which I figured out early on) that we don’t “got Jesus.” Rather, Jesus got us. Semantics? I think not. It’s all in one’s perspective.

The reading group’s initial meeting went well, too. There were at least twenty of us in the room, and there at least forty people signed up. I got my copy of the book, which, as mentioned yesterday (I think?), is Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions – A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord. We also got our reading schedule for June, and I have completed the first day’s reading. Today, I begin tackling The Augsburg Confession. Good times! Haha!

We had a late lunch from Applebee’s, which I picked up on my way home from church. While we ate, we finished watching the Rangers game that had begun already. The rest of the day was spent relaxing. I read for a while and then played on the Playstation. My reading is going splendidly, this year. I have finished 52 books of my 60 book goal, and the year isn’t quite half over. I have read 1630 minutes, so far, in our Summer Reading Club, which officially began on May 20. My goal, there, is 6000 minutes, because I really want the insulated lunch bag that is the prize for that level. I should easily reach that goal, at my current pace.

Speaking of that Rangers game . . . the Rangers walloped the Mariners again, 12-3, this time. They scored 30 runs over that three-game series! They also swept the series. Nasty Nate Eovaldi (8-2) got the win for the Rangers, pitching six complete innings, only giving up one hit, and striking out seven batters! They only took him out because they were so far ahead, I guess. And, of course, the bullpen immediately gave up runs. The first relief pitcher, Jonathan Hernndez, didn’t even get through one inning. He was, in fact, responsible for all three Mariners runs.

The Rangers are now 38-20, in first place in the AL West, now 3.5 games ahead of the Astros. They also knocked the Mariners below .500. In addition, that win, yesterday, put Bruce Bochy at number ten for all-time wins by a baseball manager, with 2041 wins. The Rangers play the St. Louis Cardinals today, in Arlington, at 7:05 CT. Martin Perez (6-1) will take the mound for Texas.

The Red Sox lost to the Rays, yesterday, 6-2. Tanner Houck (3-5) was the losing pitcher. They have another game today, in a rare series that goes past the weekend. They will play the Rays today at 4:05 ET, in Boston. Brayan Bello (3-3) will start for Boston.

The aforementioned Rays continue to lead MLB with a 42-19 record. Texas remains 2.5 games behind them, at 38-20. Those two teams will be playing after the Cardinals series, in the worst stadium in the history of ever, the Juicebox in Florida. Oakland continues to lose, and is now at 12-49. They are on a pace to lose over 130 games, this season. That would be a modern-day record. The 1962 Mets lost 120, which is the most losses in a season for the modern era. The worst percentage, though, is the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, who went 36-117, for a .235 percentage. This years Oakland Athletics are currently at .197.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best winning streak, at five consecutive games. The Athletics and Reds both have the worst losing streak, at four games. The Rangers now have a +152 run differential, leading MLB in that category, 30 runs better than the Rays. The Athletics are now at -212. It doesn’t look like they will top the 1899 Cleveland Spiders in that category. Let’s hope not, anyway. Texas also continues to lead in total runs scored, with 376.

Today is chore day for me. Laundry, mostly. But it’s also always a very chill day for me, because I never work at the library on Mondays. Mondays and Thursdays, I am always off, and Tuesdays, I only work four evening hours, so I always have a good “weekend,” even when I work on Saturdays.

I stumbled across this, today, and wanted to share it. It gave me chill bumps.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Surely God is my salvation; 
I will trust, and will not be afraid, 
for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; 
he has become my salvation.
(Isaiah 12:2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that I am alive and awake
  • that the Lord God is my strength and my might and has become my salvation
  • that His mercy endures forever
  • for the call of Christ, to come to Him when we are weary, and step into His easy yoke
  • that God desires to be with me, to do something in and through me

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you are so near us and that we may be near you. We thank you that throughout our days we may be people who listen to you with all our hearts and minds, a listening people who can receive what is good and true for our lives and who can witness to the power you give us through the Savior. Protect us in all things. Look into our hearts and into the situation of each one of us, where many things are still faulty and unclear. Deliver us from evil, for the kingdom shall be yours. From you the power shall come. Your glory shall radiate from our lives, and we shall praise and thank you forevermore. Amen.


Be strong, and let your heart take courage, 
all you who wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 31:24 NRSV)
You, O LORD, will protect us; 
you will guard us from this generation forever.
(Psalms 12:7 NRSV)
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, 
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:3 NRSV)
 Glory be to God the Father, 
God the Son, 
and God the Holy Spirit. 
As it was in the beginning, 
so it is now and so it shall ever be, 
world without end. 
Alleluia. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"O God, from who all good proceeds:
Grant that by your inspiration
I may think those things that are right,
and by your merciful guiding may do them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

Has a nation changed its gods, 
even though they are no gods? 
But my people have changed their glory 
for something that does not profit. 
Be appalled, O heavens, at this, 
be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD, 
for my people have committed two evils: 
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, 
and dug out cisterns for themselves, 
cracked cisterns that can hold no water.
(Jeremiah 2:11-13 NRSV)

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV)

It was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, 
"For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever," 
the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
(2 Chronicles 5:13-14 NRSV)
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, 
for his steadfast love endures forever. 
O give thanks to the God of gods, 
for his steadfast love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1-2 NRSV)

But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
(Galatians 1:15-17 NRSV)


His mercy endures forever; His steadfast love endures forever. I’ve discussed this word before. The Hebrew word is chesed. That’s pronounced with a rather guttural “k” sound. It is translated both ways throughout Scripture.

God’s steadfast love and mercy is illustrated so wonderfully in the life of Paul. God revealed Himself mightily to Paul, through Jesus Christ. Jesus, the risen Lord, stopped Paul on the road to Damascus. You can read the account in Acts chapter 9.

Here are some words by one of my favorite authors, Eugene H. Peterson, on this.

“It was as if God said, ‘Listen, Paul, you have it all wrong. You have good ideas, your theology is intelligent enough, your sincerity is above reproach, but you have it all wrong. You think religion is a matter of knowing things and doing things. It is not. It is a matter of letting God do something for you–letting him love you, letting him save you, letting him bless you, letting him command you. Your part is to look and believe, to pray and obey. For a start I am going to show myself to you in Jesus. In him you will see that what concerns me is being with you, making you whole.'” (From Traveling Light, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Many of us have it all wrong, too. I’ve been there. And, mind you, I still don’t have it all exactly right, either! That won’t happen until I meet my Savior face to face. But, for a long time, I thought that the answer was in knowing things and doing things. Our churches are really big on doing things. There’s nothing wrong with doing things, either. The church I’m attending does a lot of things, all of them good.

But we realize that doing things is not the end. It is part of knowing Christ, yes. It’s part of that obedience part. But knowing and doing are not the end, they are a means to an end. I know a person who knows more about the Bible than I do, probably. He’s a smart guy. But there is no grace in his knowledge. I don’t see Jesus in him when he expounds his knowledge.

Knowledge and actions become idols, if we are not careful. None of us would admit to worshiping knowledge, I’m sure. But it puts us on the pedestal. Look what I know! Look what I’ve done! Instead, it needs to be an attitude of “letting” or allowing God to do things.

Remember when Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and Pharoah’s army? What did Moses say to them?

But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
(Exodus 14:13-14 NRSV)

His mercy endures forever. His steadfast love endures forever.

"Be still, and know that I am God! 
I am exalted among the nations, 
I am exalted in the earth."
(Psalms 46:10 NRSV)

Why is this so hard for us?

Be still. Watch what God will do. Stand firm and see His deliverance. Go ahead and know things. Go ahead and do things, too. But don’t let those be the most important part of your relationship with God. Let Him love you; let Him save you; let Him bless you; let Him command you.


Father, help us to not focus so much on knowing and doing things, but rather on knowing You and allowing You to do things through us. Most of all, help us to simply be still, sometimes and allow You to love us. That is so hard for us, especially in Western culture. We are too proud, Father. Too self-sufficient.

There is great benefit to stillness and quietness. Solitude is also so helpful in our walk with You. Help us to minimize distractions when we are praying and meditating on You.

Thank You for the great offer of strength from Jesus, who tells us to join Him in His easy yoke when we are weary, when we carry heavy burdens. Help us to surrender our burdens to Him, as we walk in Your kingdom.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


Grace and peace, friends.

In Love

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth day of May, 2023, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of the Lord dwell within your soul today.

Day 23,802

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Our meal is all planned out. We will be having ribeye steaks, baked potatoes, corn, and garlic toast.

I’ve already got tonight’s dinner started, in the slow cooker. It is Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken, found on a friend’s Facebook feed. Hopefully, I didn’t start it too soon, and it won’t get too dry by the time I get home from work, this evening.

My Wordle for today:

Wordle 693 5/6*

⬛⬛🟨🟨⬛
🟨🟨⬛⬛⬛
⬛🟨🟩⬛⬛
🟩⬛🟩⬛⬛
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Brain working acceptably, this morning. Streak stands at 34 days. Yesterday’s word was “snack.” Heh.

I’ll be right back. I need another cuppa joe.

Thanks for waiting.

The Texas Rangers bullpen blew another one, last night, as they lost to the worst team in MLB 9-7 (Athletics) in the bottom of the tenth inning. Brock Burke (2-1) took the loss. This puts the Rangers at 23-15, but they remain in first place in the AL West, two games ahead of the Angels. They will play the A’s again, this afternoon, at 3:07 CT, with Jon Gray (2-1) taking the mound for Texas.

The Red Sox also lost to a bad team, last night, falling 8-6 to the Cardinals. Kenley Jansen (1-1) blew the save in the top of the ninth inning. This knocks Boston (22-17) back into fifth place in the AL East, a half-game ahead of the Yankees (who, by the way, beat Tampa Bay last night). The Sox will play the Cards again this afternoon at 4:10 ET. Chris Sale (3-1) will start for Boston.

Tampa Bay is now 30-10, finally having lost their tenth game. Oakland trails MLB at 9-31. The Phillies still have the best winning streak, currently at four games. The Pirates, Padres, and Other Sox all have three-game losing streaks. Tampa leads the run differential column with +120, while Oakland continues to be at the bottom, with -144. Texas remains second in that category with +84, and the Red Sox are now at +20.

Today is my Saturday to work the circulation department at the library, from 9:30-6:15. My regular co-worker is out on an anniversary trip somewhere, so one of our newer aides will be working with me, along with one assistant librarian. Typically, that’s the crew on Saturday (at least in the circ department); two aides and one assistant librarian. There will be one computer center aide, one librarian in the information desk, and one in the youth department. Along with one shelving person for the day, and one MOD (Manager on Duty), that pretty much makes up the Saturday crew.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for life itself, which is granted us by our Father in heaven, and given in abundance by our Savior, Jesus Christ
  • for love; God is love, and we, if we are truly following Christ, will abide in love, as well (see the above verse)
  • for the Light that has shone in our hearts, that we might share into our little “kingdoms”
  • that our God rejoices over us with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • for wisdom, available in abundance for all who seek her

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NRSV)

Lord our God, whose light shines out of the darkness and gleams brightly into our hearts, we thank you for all the goodness you allow us to see. We want to see your goodness clearly and have confidence in it, no matter how much around us is dark and disquieting. We want to remain firm and full of trust, looking to what you have put into our hearts so that we may come to know you. Be with us with your Spirit. Lead us to realize ever more clearly that we are made for your honor. Amen.


I cry to you, O LORD; 
I say, "You are my refuge, 
my portion in the land of the living."
(Psalms 142:5 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, 
among the peoples, 
and I will sing praises to you 
among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is higher
 than the heavens, 
and your faithfulness reaches 
to the clouds.
(Psalms 108:3-4 NRSV)
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; 
teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, 
for you are the God of my salvation; 
for you I wait all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NRSV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; 
fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
(Proverbs 1:7 NRSV)
My child, if you accept my words 
and treasure up my commandments within you, 
making your ear attentive to wisdom 
and inclining your heart to understanding; 
if you indeed cry out for insight, 
and raise your voice for understanding; 
if you seek it like silver, 
and search for it as for hidden treasures— 
then you will understand the fear of the LORD 
and find the knowledge of God. 
(Proverbs 2:1-5 NRSV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, 
and do not rely on your own insight. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make straight your paths. 
Do not be wise in your own eyes; 
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 
It will be a healing for your flesh 
and a refreshment for your body. 
(Proverbs 3:5-8 NRSV)
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, 
when it is in your power to do it. 
(Proverbs 3:27 NRSV)

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, 
a warrior who gives victory; 
he will rejoice over you with gladness, 
he will renew you in his love; 
he will exult over you with loud singing
(Zephaniah 3:17 NRSV)
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, 
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered 
to receive power and wealth and wisdom 
and might and honor and glory and blessing!" 
(Revelation 5:11-12 NRSV)

It would have been easy for me to stop after the first Scripture quoted today.

Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:14 NRSV)

I mean, doesn’t that pretty much sum up the Gospel, and the commands of Jesus? Paul says something similar in Romans 13.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 NRSV)

All my life I have heard well-meaning people misinterpret that verse to say that we should never be in financial debt. But it appears that none of them ever made it to the second half of that verse.

Jesus was clear. He told us the two greatest commandments (admit it . . . it’s been a while since I mentioned this) are to love God with all our being (I’m summarizing that), and to love our “neighbor” as ourselves. At one point, He told a parable to define who our neighbor is. Then, later, He told His disciples to love one another as He has loved us.

Let all that you do be done in love. Wisdom is required in order to fulfil this. Hence the entire book of Proverbs. If we ask for wisdom, truly seek her, then we will be rewarded. We will “understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” It’s all “intertwangled.” (Bonus points if you know where I got that “word.”)

What is love? Pages and pages have been written on that subject. Volumes upon volumes. But my favorite definition remains the one that says that to love is to will the good of another person. Ponder this. That means if we are obeying Jesus’s command to love our enemies, then it means that we want good things to happen to them.

How many of us can truly say that we desire good things to happen to our enemies?

Right.

So we have a lot of work to do, don’t we?


 Glory be to God the Father, 
God the Son, 
and God the Holy Spirit. 
As it was in the beginning, 
so it is now and so it shall ever be, 
world without end. 
Alleluia. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.

“Remember, O Lord,
what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve;
and, as you have called me to your service,
make me worthy of your calling;
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)

Father, have mercy on us! Help us! We believe, but we need help with our unbelief! We say we love You, but then we fail so miserably in loving one another. I confess that I have failed to desire good things to happen to my “enemies.” Do I really have any enemies? No. But there are people I don’t like in this world. Not very many of them that I know personally, mind You. Nevertheless, I don’t like them. Therefore, in obedience to Your commands, I need to be willing to pray for good things to happen to them.

May Your Holy Spirit fill me, today, with this desire to see good things happen to those whom I’m not really fond of. I try, Lord, not to actively “hate” anyone. Hopefully, I do okay at this. But I also am not really great at loving them. So help me, Lord. Have mercy on me and mold my spirit and soul that I might truly desire good things to happen to those I don’t like, that I might consider “enemies.”

Let everything I do be done in love.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


Grace and peace, friends.

Access to Life

It is Friday, the twelfth day of May, 2023, in the fifth week of Easter.

May you know the peace of the Lord today!

Day 23,801

Only two more days until Mother’s Day!

My Wordle for today:

Wordle 692 3/6*

⬛⬛🟩⬛⬛
🟩⬛🟩🟨🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

This one was pretty easy, but possibly because my second guess turned out to be fortuitous. My streak stands at 33 days. Yesterday’s word was “broom.”

The days have been off, this week, because of our weekend in Glen Rose. But it is definitely Friday, today, so I will be heading in to the library at 9:15, to spend the day in the computer center. Because of that, I don’t have a lot of time for life stuff.

I’ll talk about baseball, though, because the Rangers beat the Athletics (poor A’s) 4-0 behind another beastly performance by my favorite pitcher, Nathan Eovaldi (5-2). He pitched 8.2 innings and struck out 12 batters, a new career high for him. This puts the Rangers at 23-14 for the season. They are in first place in the AL West, 3.5 games ahead of the Angels, four ahead of the Astros. They play the A’s again, tonight, at 8:40 CT, with Martin Perez taking the mound.

The Red Sox were off last night, and will be back in Boston to play the struggling Cardinals. James Paxton (0-0) will start for Boston.

Tampa Bay beat the Yankees, last night to become the first team to reach 30 wins. They are 30-9 (note that they still have not lost 10 games). Oakland, still having not won 10 games, trail the pack at 8-31, no longer mirroring the Rays. The Phillies are alone at the top of the streak column, with a three-game winning streak. The Athletics now have a five-game losing streak, and we Rangers fans hope that it keeps going tonight. The Rays have now outscored their opponents by 121 runs, and the Athletics have been outscored by 146.

And now on to . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that if we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us
  • for my morning coffee
  • that I am in the presence of God, here, now, and always
  • for the gifts of God that enable us to stand firm even when we are weighed down with burdens and sorrows
  • that, in God, through Christ, by His Spirit, we have access to LIFE

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
(John 14:23 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you that we can be children of your Spirit. We thank you that because you have called us, we receive eternal gifts that enable us to stand firm even when many sorrows and burdens weigh us down. For you are our life, and in all the darkness, even that of death, you give us light and strength and joyful hope. Keep these alive in us. May an ever brighter light shine on all that you have already put into our hearts, on all that draws us daily to you. Amen.


O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
For with you is the fountain of life;
 in your light we see light.
(Psalms 36:9 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)
Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
(Luke 18:1-8 NRSV)


Do not put your trust in princes, 
in mortals, in whom there is no help. 
When their breath departs, they return to the earth; 
on that very day their plans perish. 
(Psalms 146:3-4 NRSV)
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, 
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; 
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, 
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
(Psalms 147:10-11 NRSV)
Praise the LORD! 
Praise God in his sanctuary; 
praise him in his mighty firmament! 
Praise him for his mighty deeds; 
praise him according to his surpassing greatness! 
Praise him with trumpet sound; 
praise him with lute and harp! 
Praise him with tambourine and dance; 
praise him with strings and pipe! 
Praise him with clanging cymbals; 
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
 Praise the LORD! 
(Psalms 150:1-6 NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)


I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: 
"Thank you!" 
Thank you for your love, 
thank you for your faithfulness; 
Most holy is your name, 
most holy is your Word. 
(Psalms 138:2 MSG)

"I will never laugh at anyone for grieving over a loved beast. I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. We love everything in one way too much (i.e., at the expense of our love for Him), but in another way we love everything too little.
"No person, animal, flower, or even pebble has ever been loved too much--i.e., more than every one of God's works deserves."
(C.S. Lewis, from a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne, August 18, 1956, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible, in reference to Psalm 148)

In today’s reading in God’s Message for Each Day, Eugene H. Peterson wondered why David danced. You might remember the moment . . . the ark was being returned to Jerusalem. David, in his joy, his reckless joy, danced so hard before the Lord that he exposed himself. His wife, at the time, looked down from her window and criticized him. It was at that point that David said something to the effect that he would be even more undignified than that.

Peterson answers his own question. “In God, David had access to life that exceeded his capacity to measure or control. He was on the edge of mystery, of glory. And so he danced.” (From Leap Over A Wall)

We have access to life! We have, in Christ, access to life like no other (Steven Curtis Chapman called it “The Great Adventure”). Let us embrace this life; let us hope, let us pray with confidence, as Jesus taught us (not arrogance, though!). And let us live our lives on the edge of mystery and glory!



 Glory be to God the Father, 
God the Son, 
and God the Holy Spirit. 
As it was in the beginning, 
so it is now and so it shall ever be, 
world without end. 
Alleluia. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.

“Remember, O Lord,
what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve;
and, as you have called me to your service,
make me worthy of your calling;
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)

Father, I praise You for this life to which I have access in You. I praise You for the benefits of the Holy Trinity in my life. I will embrace that life today, no matter what comes my way. I will dance on the edge of mystery, on the edge of glory, and I will encourage my brothers and sisters to do the same!

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers!


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Prayer for Light, Peace, Joy, and Presence

Today is Thursday, the 16th of March, 2023, in the third week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ fill your hearts and minds today and every day!

Day 73,744

It’s my normal day off today, and I don’t have anything planned. We have S’s Club Metro event tonight, which she says she is going to, so C and I will have an evening out, if that happens. We’ll have to decide where to have dinner, in that case.

It’s been a pretty good week, so far. Yesterday’s work day was unremarkable. It was not terribly busy at the library. There were brief periods of activity, the busiest being right after the afternoon program, which was “Creature Teacher,” a lady who carries around some “wild” animals. I wasn’t able to attend the program, but I did get a chance to go down to the program room and see this.

She was SO adorable! And she hopped right up to me and sniffed at my hand. But then someone else came in the room and startled her, so she hopped away. But then the “Teacher” picked her up and let us pet her. She was much softer than we expected. Felt a lot like one of my cats.

We had a flurry of activity at the circ counter right after that program, but the rest of the afternoon was not very busy. And we didn’t have any lingerers after the lights went out at 6:00 PM.

I can’t remember if I displayed my birthday presents here. I don’t have pictures of all of them, especially the nice shirts that C got me. But I got a picture of my favorite thing, which was this blanket/throw.

It is so very soft. The cat in the middle looks just like our Luna. The one in the upper left looks like Rocky, and the one just below that one looks a little like Cleo, as she is Siamese. She is much darker, though. There’s a tabby on the top, which looks like S’s Maggie. The only one not represented is Trixie.

I also got these from R.

That Beatles songbook has been on my wishlist for a very long time, and I have really been wanting to read Liturgy of the Ordinary. And I’ll get something good with that PS gift card.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Those who persecute me with evil purpose draw near; 
they are far from your law. 
Yet you are near, O LORD, 
and all your commandments are true.
(Psalms 119:150-151 NRSV)

Had I been paying a little closer attention, yesterday, I would have noticed that these two verses go together. While my “enemies” are far from God’s law, He, Himself, is always near me. This is a truth that I still struggle with, knowing that God is always near me.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, may we receive your Spirit so that we win the victory over ourselves and over the world around us, not with our human crudeness, force, and clamor, but only through your Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Help each of us in our own particular situation. We all know there is much evil around us; there is much we must fight. But in Jesus’ name we want to plunge right in, right into the world, right into whatever suffering is meant for us in the midst of the evil that is not yet overcome. In Jesus’ name we go toward the great victory that will come when all who are granted your joy will praise you with all their hearts, O Father in heaven. Amen.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, win the victory of ourselves and the world around us
  • for Jesus Christ, who “poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors,” and who “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12
  • that God speaks “Light!” into our hearts and lives
  • that God’s purpose will stand and He will fulfill His intention (Isaiah 46:10)
  • that our God is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)

Remember this and consider, 
recall it to mind, you transgressors, 
remember the former things of old; 
for I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is no one like me,
 declaring the end from the beginning 
and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 
"My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,"
(Isaiah 46:8-10 NRSV)
O send out your light and your truth; 
let them lead me; 
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.
(Psalms 43:3 NRSV)
Seek the LORD and his strength, 
seek his presence continually. 
Remember the wonderful works he has done, 
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
(1 Chronicles 16:11-12 NRSV)
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, 
and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NRSV)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18 NRSV)

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
(John 16:22 NRSV)

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
(Genesis 1:3 NRSV)

God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared.
(Genesis 1:3 MSG)


Father, I am feeling great comfort in the Scriptures that tell me that You are near. Many people in this world are far away from Your Word, but You are always near to me, to us. You are near, especially, to those whose hearts are hurting and broken, who are “crushed in spirit.” You draw near to them and save them, healing their broken hearts. I have experienced this in a number of ways.

You are near, always. Your promise is that You will never leave or forsake us. You send out Your light and Your truth, that can guide me to Your “holy hill and your dwelling.” But You also speak “Light!” You spoke “Light!” at the beginning of everything, and there was light. I believe that You can speak “Light!” into our hearts and our lives, as well, and ask You to do this. This world is dark, Lord, and getting darker by the minute. I pray for Your light to shine. I know that it is supposed to shine through us, Father, so help us to do that.

We focus on the wrong things. We find pet causes that we care about and those become our entire existence. But You, Father, are the only “cause” worth giving a life for. Jesus died to save us and to forgive all of our sin. This is my “cause.” Worshiping You is my life, Father. Help this light to shine through me into the world around me, as I attempt to practice love, to put on compassion, to show Your great and steadfast love and mercy to a world that so desperately needs it.

Speak, Lord, speak “Light!” And then, speak “Peace!” in the midst of our storms. Your Word, Father, is the only thing that can create from nothing. And You are the only One who can make sense out of all of this chaos. We have pain, now, Father. Your disciples had pain when Jesus left them for a time. But He promises, and You promise, joy; joy that can never be taken away. So, while we have pain, now, we also have joy because of Your presence with us, in the Holy Spirit. This can never be taken from us. We can forget it, sometimes, but it is always there, just as You are always near.

I will celebrate Your nearness; I will celebrate Your light; I will celebrate Your peace; and I will celebrate Your joy. I embrace Your steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness, and pray that I can be more like Jesus today.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Marvelous, Infinite, Matchless

“Difficulties and suffering are not problems for which the gospel provides an escape, but part of a reality that the Christian experiences and in which Christians share a faith by encouraging one another in hope.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, God’s Message for Each Day

Today is Wednesday, the 8th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,736

I had a great night at the library, last night. After shelving a cart of DVD movies and series, I worked on pulling a list of audiobooks that are being “weeded,” due to non-circulation. We are always trying to make room in the library, so we can best utilize our space. Recently, we have consolidated the magazine section, and will be pulling out one of the racks. I think they might be planning to make more study spaces in there. I believe I heard my manager say that, once the audiobook section is weeded, we will be expanding DVD space. People do still check out audiobooks, but there are quite a few of them that simply don’t get circulated. The manager looks at the numbers and pulls the ones that haven’t been checked out in a long time. I’m pretty sure our CD section will eventually be going away completely.

I will not be taking S to an appointment, this morning. For some reason, they weren’t able to schedule the time for today, but we have one scheduled for March 22, two weeks from today, so we will make that one. The only other thing I have on my agenda for today is choir practice this evening. Well, that and cooking dinner, which will be Beefy American Goulash tonight, from Emily Bites. It is a family favorite, and it always leaves at least two servings of leftovers.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight.
(Psalms 119:143 NRSV)

I would not say that “trouble and anguish have come upon me.” If ever they do, they are usually of my own making. I am, after all, a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I will say, though, with no hesitation, that God’s Word is my delight.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord Jesus, we bow before you, before you to whom all power is given. We will love you, O Lord. We will treasure you. Your thoughts shall be our thoughts, that we may learn how you are named in heaven, on earth, and below the earth. Watch over us and be with us until you can come, until the time is fulfilled when you will appear among us and establish God’s kingdom. Then the whole world will rejoice and all people will bend their knees before you, the one Lord and Savior. Amen.

Therefore God also highly exalted him 
and gave him the name that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bend, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue should confess 
that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the Word of God, in which I delight
  • for the name of Jesus, exalted above every name
  • that, as my soul waits for Him, the Lord is my help and my shield
  • that, no matter the circumstances, God’s grace is greater than any pressure or struggle or temptation I might face
  • for the community of saints, from which we get great support and encouragement for one another

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 NRSV)

when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; 
what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 NRSV)

O sing to the LORD a new song,
 for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. 
The LORD has made known his victory; 
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
(Psalms 98:1-2 NRSV)
Our soul waits for the LORD; 
he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him, 
because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you.
(Psalms 33:20-22 NRSV)
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! 
How vast is the sum of them! 
I try to count them—
they are more than the sand; 
I come to the end—
I am still with you.
(Psalms 139:17-18 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples, 
and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"O God,
who before the passion of your only-begotten Son 
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:
Grant that I,
beholding by faith the light of his countenance,
may be strengthened to bear my cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 NRSV)

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 NRSV)


Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love.
(Hebrews 13:1 MSG)


I have a couple of quotes today, from my resources:

“I asked God to remind me that the pressures I faced were never greater than the grace He supplied.” ~ Bill Giovennetti, Walking in Grace 2023

“Difficulties and suffering are not problems for which the gospel provides an escape, but part of a reality that the Christian experiences and in which Christians share a faith by encouraging one another in hope.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, God’s Message for Each Day

Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Those of us who are “older” probably remember that great hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” Julia H. Johnston. “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe.”

And while it is most definitely true that this grace, this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, is greater than all our sin, it is also greater than many other things in our lives.

It is greater than our temptations; it is greater than our trials and tribulations; it is greater than the pressures we might feel on the job; it is greater than the clogged toilet in the bathroom or the broken swimming pool pipes; it is greater than both the physical and spiritual storms that we might encounter.

Now, as brother Peterson has so aptly pointed out, this grace is not an escape from these things. Yes, God will deliver us from them, but He will not prevent them from happening to us. If we mistakenly believe this, we will be gravely disappointed. and we only have to go as far as Paul to find this out.

Remember, Paul had this “thorn in the flesh,” of which he spoke. No one knows what that was. If they claim to, don’t believe them. Ironically, there have been entire sermons preached on that subject. Anything we can come up with is pure speculation. It might have been physical, but it very well may have been spiritual, as well. We simply don’t know. What we do know, however, is that Paul asked repeatedly for it to be removed, and God repeatedly said, “No.”

Take that, all you people who make false claims that God will give you anything you ask for, if you just believe hard enough.

You know what God said to Paul. If you are a Bible reader, you know.

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NRSV)

Paul did not waste any time whining. He chose to boast, to boast in his own weakness, so that God’s power could dwell in him.

Another thing that Peterson points out is that this grace is amplified when we are together. Oh, how I have learned this, the older I get. I am, myself, pretty much an introvert. But I have experienced the power and strength of the community of saints. There is something miraculously strong about “life together,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it.

I have preached from this forum how much we need one another. We are not islands. We are not capable of doing this life alone, and God never intended for us to be. And while the “traditional” church institution definitely has its problems, one thing that it does seem to do well is “life together.”

We share this faith by encouraging one another in hope.


Father, I am in awe of Your grace. I have been, and continue to be, a recipient of the miracle of grace in my life. The very fact that I am sitting here typing this is a miracle of grace. I have no right to expect anything from You or anyone else. The only thing I expect from You is that You will do what You say You will do. I hope and trust in Your infinite faithfulness. And I hope and trust in your “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.”

It truly is infinite, Father. There is no end to Your grace, and there is enough to go around, for every person on the planet (or in the universe if You have pulled off creations on other planets, as well).

Father, as we revel in this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, may we do it together. Help us to live our lives together, and not try to isolate ourselves. Forgive us for even attempting to do that. Forgive me for when I try to do this life alone. Thank You for leading me to the church body where I am currently attending. Help me to be a valuable part of it. Help me to be one who encourages others in hope as we share this faith together.

Your grace is sufficient, Lord. It is greater than anything we could possible face. Help me to remember that, the next time the Internet quits working, or the electricity goes off. Help me to remember that when our adult autistic daughter has a meltdown. Help me to remember that when I miss loved ones who have passed on before me. And most of all, help me to remember that when I slip and fall into the pits of sin.

Your grace is sufficient.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

The Sovereignty of God

Today is Thursday, the 2nd of March, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of God, that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

Day 23,730 (the number of days since I was born)

I am curious if anyone in the community knows what has happened to our photographer friend, Paul Militaru, in Romania. For about a week or so, now, whenever I try to visit his site, I have gotten this:

I am quite concerned about him. And I miss seeing his lovely photos.

I made it to choir practice, after work, last night. I’m glad I did. I enjoy singing with the group, but it makes for a long day. The rehearsals are important, right now, though, because we are planning a cantata for Good Friday, as well as an anthem for Easter morning. There is a Maundy Thursday service, but it doesn’t look like the choir is singing for that.

Yesterday’s work day was fine. Nothing unusual happened, and patrons were cleared out by closing time, so there weren’t any “lingerers” that kept us from closing up on time.

I don’t have much on my agenda for today. I’ll be cooking dinner tonight, since S had no Club Metro event on the first Thursday of each month. I will need to leave the house for a few minutes, at some point, to pick up a prescription, and, of course, to get Sonic drinks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right.
(Psalms 119:137 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we ask you from our hearts to give us your peace. Grant that nothing may take your peace from us, and protect us from all that is evil. May we always be mindful that we should serve you in self-denial. May we be faithful on all our ways, looking to the great promise you have given each one of us. Keep us under your protection, as you have always done. We praise and thank you for all that comes to our hearts from you, making us full of trust and certain of your further help. Amen.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
(1 Peter 4:12-13 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the support and encouragement that comes from the community of saints
  • that nothing on earth can take away the peace that God gives me
  • for every good and perfect gift that comes from God
  • for God’s sovereignty in this world
  • for the Kingdom of God, which is here, now, available for anyone to enter in; this is the Gospel, the Good News

Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; 
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
(Psalms 40:11 NRSV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, 
my heart is steadfast. 
I will sing and make melody.
(Psalms 57:7 NRSV)
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 NRSV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
(Ephesians 2:4-5 NRSV)


And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.
(1 Kings 8:10-11 NRSV)

“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors. Let these words of mine, with which I pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Therefore devote yourselves completely to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
(1 Kings 8:56-61 NRSV)

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
(1 Kings 2:1-3 NRSV)


I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them.”
(Deuteronomy 1:29 NRSV)

Set me as a seal upon your heart, 
as a seal upon your arm; 
for love is strong as death, 
passion fierce as the grave. 
Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. 
Many waters cannot quench love, 
neither can floods drown it. 
If one offered for love all the wealth of one's house, 
it would be utterly scorned.
(Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NRSV)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15 NRSV)


I started reading 1 Kings a few days ago, in my journey through the Bible. I have also been reading, along with my Bible reading, a compilation of Eugene H. Peterson’s introductions to the books of the Bible from The Message. The book is called The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible. As he writes about 1 and 2 Kings (in the same chapter), he speaks greatly of God’s sovereignty. “Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines. But we have no choice: God is Sovereign. God rules.”

I recently had a brief discussion on Facebook with a college classmate on the subject of free will. This person, who is a marginal believer, at best, is often full of questions about things. I always enjoy reading his questions. On the surface, at times, they might appear mocking, but I don’t believe that is the intent (it might be, sometimes, granted). I think he is thinking. So, even if the thoughts are heading in the wrong direction, I think it is good that he is thinking about them.

On this subject, he is doubting whether we really have free will if all of God’s prophecies have to come true. And here, I’m sure Peterson’s statement that “we have no choice” would further confound him.

Nevertheless, what Peterson says is ultimately true. While individuals have free will (and my pendulum has swung back and forth on the whole free will/predetermination topic . . . I now call myself a recovering five-point Calvinist), as humanity, we are governed by God’s sovereignty in all things.

Peterson asks how we can live this out. "How do we manage to live believingly and obediently in and under this revealed sovereignty in a world that is mostly either ignorant or defiant of it?
"Worship shaped by an obedient reading of Scripture is basic. We submit to having our imaginations and behaviors conditioned by the reality of God rather than by what is handed out in school curricula and media reporting."

In the stories of the Kings, we see failure after failure after failure. It wasn’t God’s idea for the people to have kings. But God, in His sovereignty, allowed them to do so. And it never worked very well at all.

“Human beings, no matter how well intentioned or gifted, don’t seem to be able to represent God’s rule anywhere close to satisfactorily. The books of Kings, in that light, are a relentless exposition of failure–a relentless five-hundred-year documentation proving that the Hebrew demand of God to ‘have a king’ was about the worst thing they could have asked for.”

But here’s the thing. What we also realize as we read through these two books is that “God continues to work his purposes and uses them in the work–doesn’t discard them, doesn’t detour around them; he uses them.” God uses them whether they want to be used or not, whether they even realize it or not.

Hezekiah had a little understanding of this when he said:

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. So now, O LORD our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." 
(2 Kings 19:15-16, 19 NRSV)

Now here is where the “free will” piece comes into play. “God’s rule is not imposed in the sense that he forces each man and woman into absolute conformity to justice and truth and righteousness. The rule is worked from within, much of the time invisible and unnoticed, but always patiently and resolutely there.” (I wish I had had this quote during the aforementioned discussion.)

When we understand God’s sovereignty in our world (and by “we” I mean Christ-followers, because they are the only ones who can truly understand it), “We quit spinning our wheels on utopian projects and dreams.” We can rest in the knowledge that, no matter how bad it looks out there, God is in control.

Now, in God’s sovereignty, He declares Jesus Christ King over His Kingdom. The verse from Revelation 11, up there is future. It is prophecy. The kingdom of this world has not yet become the kingdom of our Lord. But it will.

Jesus was the one who first announced the Kingdom of God in verses like Mark 1:14-15.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

He announced it, and, at the end, He will accept the title of King of that Kingdom. In this, He also lets us know that God's rule, God's sovereignty, is "comprehensive, established over body as well as soul, over society as well as individuals . . .
"He just as clearly repudiated the accustomed means by which that rule was exercised: he rejected the devil's offer of a position in the government, rebuked the brothers Boanerges for wanting to call down fire from heaven to incinerate their enemies, ordered Peter to put up his sword, and reassured Pilate that the governor's job was in no danger. Finally, to make sure no one missed the point, he arranged that his coronation take place on a cross."
(These quotes from Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

By the way, Reversed Thunder may be the best book on Revelation I’ve ever read.

This was long. I apologize for that. If you’re still reading, good on you! 🙂

My point is that, no matter what we see with our eyes or hear with our ears, God is Sovereign, and His Kingdom is alive and well. And His Kingdom, thanks to Jesus Christ, His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, is open to all.


Father, I thank You for these truths. I praise You for Your sovereignty in our world. I praise You that Your will will be done, on earth as in heaven. And I am so very thankful for Jesus Christ, who will one day be crowned King over this Kingdom. I cannot wait to be part of that worship service!

All hail King Jesus!! 
All hail Emmanuel!
King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Bright Morning Star
And throughout eternity
I'll sing Your praises
And I'll reign with You
Throughout eternity!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Great Are You, Lord

Today is Monday, the 27th of February, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,727

Yesterday morning was wonderful! The entire worship service flowed in an almost miraculous way. The sermon for yesterday was “Forgive One Another.” They worked lyrics from the solo I sang both into the sermon, as well as into the congregational prayers. The song went very well. I believe it was better in the second service, as my nerves were settled a little bit by then. And it helped that I received many gracious compliments after the first service. I was almost overwhelmed by the positive feedback. But just as much credit goes to the music director. It was she, after all, who found the song that worked so well with both my voice and the flow of the service. And she is an excellent accompanist, as well.

As soon as the video appears on You Tube, I will post it.

Today should be a rather chill day. There are a few household chores that need to be done, but I got groceries delivered on Saturday, and I don’t think we are in desperate need of anything today. I might actually get some music practice in, today. I don’t have anything specific that I am working toward, at the moment, other than choir songs, but I can still practice.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Redeem me from human oppression, 
that I may keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:134 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we come into your presence. Hear our prayers, we entreat you. Let your will be done among us; let your will be done for each one of us individually, and for our time. Let everything go according to your will, even if the way leads through tribulation, fear, and need. For in the end your goal will be reached. In the end you will fulfill your purpose, and your kingdom will come. Your kingdom will come to the honor of your name and for the redemption of all people still suffering on earth. Let your Word bring us blessing. May we go forward joyfully in the patience of Jesus Christ until times change, until a new day dawns and we are allowed to see your glory and your peace. Amen.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God’s purpose in His Kingdom will be fulfilled; He is in total control, regardless of how it appears
  • for strength to endure through tribulation, fear, and need
  • for the wonderful worship service we had, yesterday morning
  • for the large love (chesed) of God, and that we humans are also capable of loving in this way
  • that God is able to bring amazing beauty out of the wilderness of Lent

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:16-18 NRSV)

This is an important thing to remember, when engaging in Lent. We ought not go around broadcasting what we are doing for Lent, whether it be a fast from something or adding something meaningful to our life. It should be, essentially, a secret between self and God. There are three people who know what I am doing for Lent, this season. My wife, my mother, and one of my pastors. No one else will know, at least until after Easter.


Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. 
Let those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"
(Psalms 70:4 NRSV)

Say it with me: “God is great!” “Great are You, Lord!”

You have turned my mourning into dancing; 
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. 
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
(Psalms 30:11-12 NRSV)
Praise the LORD! 
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
 in the company of the upright, 
in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, 
studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of honor and majesty is his work, 
and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; 
the LORD is gracious and merciful. 

The works of his hands are faithful and just; 
all his precepts are trustworthy. 
They are established forever and ever, 
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; 
he has commanded his covenant forever. 
Holy and awesome is his name. 
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; 
all those who practice it have a good understanding. 
His praise endures forever. 
(Psalms 111:1-4, 7-10 NRSV)
"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."
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on my distress, and the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”
(2 Samuel 16:10-12 NRSV)

Shimei son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “May my lord not hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; may the king not bear it in mind. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, see, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?” But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
(2 Samuel 19:18-23 NRSV)


The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, 
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
(Isaiah 35:1 NRSV)

He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.
(Deuteronomy 32:10 NRSV)

A voice cries out: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain. 
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, 
and all people shall see it together, 
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
(Isaiah 40:3-5 NRSV)

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
(Mark 1:12-13 NRSV)


How exquisite your love, O God!
(Psalms 36:7 MSG)


First, I want to point out the mercy that David showed Shimei in 2 Samuel. This has always been a beautiful story to me. Shimei comes out of nowhere, throwing rocks and showering curses on David. David’s advisors want to behead Shimei. “No,” says David, “perhaps God has sent him to curse me.”

David had some pretty severe faults. But he truly was, in the big picture, a man after God’s own heart. I don’t know of any other human being that is as good at showing mercy as David was. He had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, who was trying to kill him. Yet he refused to lift a hand against “God’s anointed.” Would that we could all have the same mindset when it comes to retaliation.

Yesterday, in Sunday School, Pastor Eibel talked about Israel’s retaliation against the man who raped their sister, Dinah. “Violence begets violence,” he said, multiple times. And he reminded us that, while we ought not tire of seeking justice, “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.

Second, I want to talk about Lent. When we consider that the basis for Lent is Jesus’s time in the wilderness before He began His “public ministry,” we know that He fasted for 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, He was tempted by Satan. So, at its roots, the Lenten season is bleak, a wilderness, a kind of desert.

But oh, the things that the Lord can grow out of wilderness. “The desert shall rejoice and blossom!” says Isaiah. Our various activities throughout this season can, if we will allow them, produce beautiful results. We must be faithful and diligent, and allow God to work His will in us.

Third, let’s talk about love. (What, again??) The word for “love” in Psalm 36:7, is “chesed.” I have spoken of this Hebrew word, many times. It is also frequently translated “steadfast love,” and sometimes, even “mercy.”

Eugene H. Peterson says that the word “chesed” is a “large word. We don’t have a single word in the English language that can do it justice, “so we revert to the use of adjectives to bring out the distinctive quality and broad reach of this love: steadfast love, loyal love.”

Many times, as in Psalm 36:7, chesed is used to refer to the love of God. but we are “also capable of loving this way, even though we never seem to get veery good at it. Chesed is love without regard to shifting circumstances, hormones, emotional states, and personal convenience.”

(Quotes from Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)


GREAT ARE YOU, LORD!! O, my Father, how magnificent is Your Name in all the earth, and throughout the heavens! I praise and worship You, this morning. We have so many reasons to praise You. The primary reason is simply because You are God! In additions, we praise You for Your forgiveness of our sin. Thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that paid the price for our sin. Thank You for erasing our sin when we believe in Christ and follow Him.

Now, I pray, Father, that You help us to be obedient and forgive each other. Jesus said that we are to forgive each other, even if someone sins seven times against us in the same day! He also advised our brother, Peter, to forgive “seventy times seven” times, which we assume to be indicative of no limit. There is also no provision in there for the asking of forgiveness by the offending person. In short, we are to forgive them whether they seek it or not! Help us to do this, Lord. Make Your Holy Spirit strong within us!

Help us to show the kind of mercy that David showed, both to King Saul, who was actively trying to kill him, and to Shimei, who threw rocks at him and cursed him. Enlarge our hearts, Father, that we might be quick to overlook offense and consider that, perhaps, You have sent it our way for testing and strengthening.

Thank You that You can bring beautiful things out of the wilderness of Lent, Father. We know that Lent is not necessarily a “biblical” season. Nevertheless, we find great value in observing it, as we consider the 40 days that our Savior spent in the wilderness. For all who are observing Lent, this year, I pray that You give us wisdom and strength; that we might fulfill our commitment, and that we might also keep silent about it before others. It is between You and us.

Finally, Father, thank You for Your great chesed, Your “large love,” as Peterson called it. Your love is indeed large, Father. It is larger than anything. And it is most certainly larger than our sins. Help us to love in the same way You love. Help us to both love You and to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

The Book that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World

It is Saturday, the 25th of February, 2023, in the season of Lent.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts today!

Day 23,725

Yesterday was a good day at the library computer center. We were relatively busy most of the day, for the second Friday in a row. It was also cold outside, for about the fourth Friday in a row. It’s weird. For several weeks, running, we have had 70s-80s during the week, and then 40s or below on Friday. It is currently 38 outside, right now, and should make it up to the low 50s, with a medium chance of rain.

Today, I suspect, will be rather chill. No pun intended. C’s hip is hurting her, so I doubt we will try to do anything active. I’ve got a grocery order coming, which may wind up getting here before I finish this blog. I’ve really become a fan of Kroger’s “Boost” plan. With the higher-level plan ($99/year, same as Walmart and Albertson’s), I can usually get delivery within two hours of order time. The delivery is done by Instacart, and they have done a great job, so far.

Since it my off Saturday, I will plan to make burgers for the family, this evening. They really like my burgers, for some reason. Maybe it’s my “special cocktail” of seasoning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Turn to me and be gracious to me, 
as is your custom toward those who love your name.
(Psalms 119:132 NRSV)

Father, may my prayers for those listed in my prayerbook be heard, this morning. Grant healing where healing is needed; grant comfort and peace for those in mourning, and grant wisdom and guidance for those who need it. There are a few who need a miracle, Father. Only You can do miracles.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; 
give ear, O God of Jacob! 
[Selah]
(Psalms 84:8 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, grant that we may stand in your grace. Grant that the light of your grace may come to us through your Word. Keep us firm in faith until the promised time when your redemption shall come to all the nations on earth. We are often anxious and ask ourselves if people can bear it. Will they learn to listen to your Word? Will they remain steadfast when hard times come? Will they turn to you alone, to you who know the hour and appoint the time when we may see the promised day? Let the might of your hand prevail over the whole world. You are the only power that can help us out of our great affliction, you our only Lord. Amen.

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, 
my chosen, in whom my soul delights; 
I have put my spirit upon him; 
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
(Isaiah 42:1 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Jesus Christ, Son and Servant of God, Chosen to bring forth justice to the nations
  • for the grace in which we stand in Jesus
  • for eyes to see and ears to hear
  • that “my heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make melody.” (Psalm 57:7)
  • for the Word that shouts love at the heart of the world

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:2 NRSV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. 
I will sing and make melody. 
Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! 
I will awake the dawn. 
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; 
I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; 
your faithfulness extends to the clouds. 
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. 
Let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:7-11 NRSV)

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
(Matthew 19:28-30 NRSV, emphasis added)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing:
Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift,
which is love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtue,
without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you.
Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and forever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours--The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

The hearing ear and the seeing eye—
the LORD has made them both.
(Proverbs 20:12 NRSV)

But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people.
(Jeremiah 28:7 NRSV)


For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 NRSV)


I’m definitely no scholar when it comes to Greek grammar. However, Eugene H. Peterson says that, in the above verse, the word that is translated “summed up” (“fulfilled” in some translations), is in perfect tense. “As such it means the whole law has been fulfilled every time one person loves another as himself.

"To love my neighbor as less than myself is to treat them as a means to my ends. To love them more would set them up for using me as a means to their ends. One way is as much a violation of love as the other, and as destructive of freedom. The command protects my freedom as much as yours, yours as much as mine. No one sacrifices freedom at the expense of the other. All become increasingly free."
(From Traveling Light, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

I agree with this to a point. But we must also remember that Paul has told us that we are to consider others as more significant than ourselves. So there is a fine line of freedom, here. I remember hearing, at some point in the past, that my freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose. That’s somewhat humorous, of course, but it is very true. I am free; I am free in Christ, and in this nation, I have freedoms that some nations do not experience. However, that does not mean that I can do anything that I want to do with no consequences.

Jesus has said, multiple times, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” God has given us ears to hear and eyes to see. This is not necessarily physical ears and eyes. Jeremiah admonished the people to listen. We can listen to words and not hear them. Or maybe that should be the other way around. We can hear words, but not be listening to them. Hopefully, you get my drift, though.

Not everyone seems to have “ears to hear” and “eyes to see.” Many people hear and see only what they want to hear and see. We are admonished by Scripture, by God, through Jesus Christ and other Biblical writers, to listen, to hear.

And His Word shouts to us, “Love.” There is an old book by Harlan Ellison, a somewhat offbeat Science Fiction author, called The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World. I was about to say that I don’t remember much about it, and that would definitely be true, because I apparently have not ever read it. But who could forget the title, right?

Well, the Bible has shouted love at the heart of the world.

If we have ears, we would do well to listen and hear. And then do the same.


Father, I am doing my best to shout love to the heart of the world. I pray for Your Spirit to help me. I pray that I would be a suitable channel for Your love, that we could have a Love Revolution. Jesus started a revolution, and His disciples continued it, wherever they went. Perhaps we have gotten a little off track as we attempt to continue this in our own era. Perhaps we are hearing some of the wrong things, and allowing our own personal preferences to cloud our ears and eyes.

Heal us, Father. Open our eyes and ears that we might see Jesus and hear Him, and then do the things that He said, so that we might love our neighbor as ourselves, thereby fulfilling the law and the prophets.

Thank You for Your Word, Lord. Thank You that I have eyes to see and ears to hear; may I be faithful to use them and listen to You.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Ash Wednesday

Today is Wednesday, the 22nd of February, 2023, in the season of Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today! I pray that all who read this would know His presence in their lives.

Day 23,722

Today is the first day of Lent, which goes for forty days until Easter (Holy) Week. We have an Ash Wednesday service tonight at 7:00, so I will need to be at the church by 6:30, this evening. I’m looking forward to this, as it will be the first Ash Wednesday service I have ever attended.

Other than that, I don’t have anything on my “agenda” for today. Oh. Wait. Yes I do. I have to take S to her therapist appointment at 10:00, this morning. After that, I’m free until this evening. I should probably practice the solo I’m singing Sunday morning. It’s going well, but I need to know it a little better, because I’m sure I’m going to be quite nervous my first time before this church.

Speaking of church, here is the choir anthem from last Sunday morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your decrees are wonderful; 
therefore my soul keeps them.
(Psalms 119:129 NRSV)

As I begin this season of Lent, I plan to be focusing even more on God’s Word, both the written Word and the “Word made flesh.”

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, how great are your goodness and mercy to us all on earth, who are subject to misery and death! May our hearts be strengthened through your goodness and through the saving power of your nature, revealed to us in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Protect and bless us this night. May your Spirit help us find your ever-present kindness and mercy. Praised be your name forever! Amen.

The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
(Exodus 34:6-7 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • the goodness and mercy of God, displayed to all on earth, even on those who refuse to acknowledge Him
  • for the season of Lent, which causes us to reflect on our lives and our walk in the Kingdom
  • for lips that sing and shout praises for joy, because of my soul which the Lord has rescued
  • for the Good News, the Gospel of Christ, that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and available for all
  • for grace, that invites us into life

Restore us, O God of hosts;
 let your face shine,
 that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:7 NRSV)
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; 
my soul also, which you have rescued.
(Psalms 71:23 NRSV)

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
(John 8:34-36 NRSV)

"O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing:
Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift,
which is love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtue,
without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you.
Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and forever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours--The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:19 NRSV)

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
(Luke 9:23-24 NRSV)


All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
(Romans 5:21 MSG)


Ash Wednesday. Why ashes? What does it all mean?

Growing up Southern Baptist, I didn’t have a clue about Ash Wednesday or Lent until college or later. I went to a Southern Baptist seminary, as well, so I didn’t learn very much about it there, either. So I’ll be honest . . . I’m still learning about it.

The ashes represent death and repentance. In most churches, when the ashes are smeared onto the foreheads of congregants, the minister will say, “From dust you came and to dust you will return.” I have also read that many churches use palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday.

It is not uplifting, no. But it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be reflective and somber. As one of my Facebook friends commented, “Oh man, this is a hard-hitting service.” There’s a line in the hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation,” that says, “With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.” “Her” is referring to the Church. Capital C Church, the Body of Christ.

We will have crosses of ash on our heads after tonight’s service, signifying Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross.

Rick Hamlin, in today’s Walking in Grace 2023 reading, said, “The cross we’re marked with has changed our lives forever.” And then he prayed, “As Lent begins, let me give up what gets in the way of following Your Way.”

There is, in some communities of faith, a big emphasis on giving something up for Lent. Catholics tend to lean toward meat. I have purposed to give something up for the next forty-something days. However, I will not say, here, what it is. My wife knows, and she is the only one, other than God. Because, you know, Jesus warned us to not let people know we are fasting, right?

I’m serious about this Lenten season. My desire is to be walking much more closely with my Savior by Easter, and going forward from there.

And, even though it sounds restrictive, I am walking in freedom. I am free to walk in this path. Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free, indeed.” A lot of folks don’t understand “freedom,” and believe it means you can do anything you want.

Says Eugene H. Peterson, “We are free to do many things. We are free from many restrictions. But what about the center? What about God? There we live by faith and failure, by faith and forgiveness, by faith and mercy, by faith and freedom.” (Traveling Light, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

The Kingdom of God is here.

Repent and believe the Gospel.


Father, I cannot thank You enough. The Cross of Christ has, as Rick Hamlin put it, changed my life forever. It changed my life before I was born. I am grateful that You brought me into Your Kingdom and gave me the heart to believe in Christ and to walk in His Way.

I thank You for this season. I pray for tonight’s services, all around the world, when people receive the body and blood of Christ, and then receive the markings of the cross. May it be something real and authentic for all of us, not just a smear of ashes on our skin. May we walk in the freedom that Christ has bought for us. May we live by faith, by forgiveness, by mercy, and, when we fail, because we will, help us to get up, dust ourselves off, and keep walking in the right direction.

All glory to You, Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


For he knows how we were made; 
he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.