The Ninth Day of Christmas – Adopted

Today is Saturday, January 2, 2021 (I’m still trying to type December, but so far, managed to nail the 2021), the ninth day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,941

Yesterday was a pretty nice day for us. Well, at least for me. C wound up having to work a little more, maybe half the day, so it wasn’t as great for her. And it was too cold for her to go out for her walk. I don’t think it ever got above forty degrees, and most of the afternoon, the chill factor was around thirty. So, even though it didn’t get below freezing, it felt like it was. And it did, too, because I went outside a couple of times. One to take out some trash, and another to go get Sonic drinks. Oh, and I also went out and picked up Thursday’s mail. So trust me . . . it was cold. Relative to DFW, Texas, at least.

So our holidays are officially over for a while. Monday morning will begin a full, five-day work week. That’s going to seem long after three consecutive three-day work weeks.

Today, we have our WW Workshop at 10:30. I’m not sure if I’m going to reach that one hundred pound mark. And it’s okay if I don’t. I will get there eventually. I haven’t done anything “wrong” over the last week, but the body is a strange animal. In the past couple of months, I have gone through this phase where I would lose a significant amount one week, and then almost nothing the next week. And I registered a three pound-ish loss last week. I’m not going to allow myself to stress over it.

Since C went to the grocery store on Thursday, we won’t be picking up groceries today. She may, however, make another trip (smaller) because the store she went to only had three bags of grapes. That won’t last more than a couple of days in this house. We eat grapes like they are the nectar of the gods.

I don’t know what else will happen today. I’ve been spending the last couple of days playing Cyberpunk 2077 on my PC back here in the study. It’s a “rough” game, but I am enjoying it. It’s the second big game I have bought for this computer that we got last year, and it plays really well. I had heard that there were serious issues with the game on consoles (PS4/5 or Xbox) because the stockholders had demanded it be released before the developers were quite finished. So there were major glitches. But the PC version seems to be working quite well. So far, I have only encountered one glitch that I know of, and I was able to reload from a previous checkpoint, and it worked fine.

Some of you have no idea what I just said. 😀

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 9

INVITATION

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

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
(Psalms 1:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING: GALATIANS 4:4-7

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
(Galatians 4:4-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

A preacher would probably have a field day with this little passage. I think there is a lot to unpack in there.

What the Spirit seems to be leading me to, this morning, is this thought of adoption to sonship, and the effect of being “sons.”

Because Jesus was “born under the law,” He was able “to redeem those under the law,” which is us. Because of the work of Christ, we have been adopted as children of God. An adopted child has the same legal rights as a “natural” child.

And since we are His children, God has placed the Spirit “into our hearts,” and made us His heir.

What does all this mean for us?

As heirs, we have an inheritance. Peter describes this inheritance a bit.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV)

Then the writer of Hebrews gives us this:

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
(Hebrews 9:15 NIV)

So this inheritance, to which we look forward, is eternal; it can never perish, spoil, or fade. We know from Jesus that this “treasure” cannot be corrupted by moth or rust. We don’t get told a lot about what it looks like, but we do get a glimpse in the book of Revelation. I won’t post those chapters here, but read the last couple of chapters of Revelation for that. They paint an almost indescribably beautiful picture.

The thing to do is pause and consider these truths for a moment, and that is, essentially, the purpose of this Bible reading exercise. This is not so much intended to be “Bible study.” I am called to “dwell;” to meditate on it. To find a word or phrase that sticks out and ponder it, pray about it.

As an adopted son, I am, therefore, a brother to Jesus Christ. We are all brothers and sisters with Jesus. This is not figurative! It is reality. We are, LITERALLY, brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ!

And the biggest question of all is, what does that do for my life? What effect does this truth have on me? How does it affect my life, the way I live it?

There are many days that it seems to have no effect at all. And that’s tragic.

Honestly, I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’m just kind of “thinking out loud,” here, and it’s flowing out my fingertips. So forgive me if this doesn’t seem to make sense. I’m going to be thinking a lot more about this today, and in the coming days.

Father, I want to thank You for choosing and adopting me as Your son, and making me a brother to Jesus! I praise You for the inheritance that awaits me, stored for me in heaven. I pray that Your Spirit within me can transform me into someone who is worthy of this inheritance, because, most days, I sure don’t feel like I am worthy. As we move into 2021, I pray for real, authentic, spiritual transformation. I have some idea of what it would look like if someone were able to fully walk in Your kingdom. I have met a handful of people in my life about which that might be said. Fewer than I can count on one hand, for sure. I pray that my walk with You in 2021 might be such that I might be one of those people.

"Timely God,
in the squirming bundle of swaddling clothes
your pledge first made in Eden was kept.
In the Word made flesh,
your word spoken through the prophets
has been fulfilled.
I praise you that through the promise
named Jesus I am now adopted as your full child.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 18)

BLESSING

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

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
(Luke 6:46-49 NIV)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:18-21 ESV)

Father, even though the day of Christmas is past and over, the “season” is still here. At least for a few more days. As we continue to consider this miracle, I am thankful for the fact that this was a real event in history. There was a real mother (Mary) and a real pregnancy. You brought salvation into history. I give you praise for the manner of this birth. The fact that Mary was a virgin was corroborated by Joseph. The meaning of this birth is proclaimed in Your Word as we are told that this child would “save His people from their sins.” And that He has done! I give You thanks, Almighty God, for the salvific work that You have accomplished!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
(Psalms 107:8-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You chose and adopted me as Your son
  2. That this adoption has made me a brother to Jesus Christ
  3. For the glorious inheritance that awaits me; eternal, unable to perish, spoil, or fade
  4. For the meaning of Christmas and its impact on history
  5. For hope

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Eighth Day of Christmas – Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Today is . . . what day is this? I’ve had too many days off in the last few weeks. As if that were possible!

Today is FRIDAY! January 1, 2021! It is New Year’s Day, and the eighth day of Christmas. (In case you haven’t figured this out, there will be twelve days of Christmas, after which Epiphany begins.)

2020 went out with a dreary, cold, rainy day in DFW. C wound up having to work for most of the day, as her company needs to close out their year-end financials. I think she’s going to have to work at least part of today, as well.

We did not stay up until midnight. I’ve seen a new year come in before. They all look pretty much the same, and one day doesn’t really feel any different than the next. I realize I lean toward cynicism, but I prefer to think of myself as more of a realist when it comes to things like new years. That’s one reason that I don’t make “resolutions,” any more. I set some goals. And, yes, there is definitely a difference. A goal is measurable, and should be attainable.

I do have at least a couple of goals for 2021. One is to reach my goal weight by December 31, 2021. As of last Saturday, I have 73.4 pounds to go. Depending on where I land tomorrow morning, I may have lost 100 pounds in 2020. I figure I should be able to lost 73+ more this year. However, I do understand that, the closer I get to goal, the slower the weight loss happens. But that’s my goal.

I’ll give you a quick run-down of WW’s goal setting strategy, which is good for anything in life, not just losing weight.

  1. Be Specific – “When setting a goal, it needs to be specific rather than vague. So instead of ‘I’m going to do more exercise this week’, say ‘I’m going to walk for 30 minutes a day, on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday’.”
  2. Make it Measurable – “How else will you know if you’re hitting the target? So make sure you can measure your goal. If your goal is to start every day with a healthy breakfast, try to track what you eat throughout the day on My Day, so you can visually see progress and keep yourself honest.”
  3. Make sure it’s Achievable – “A goal needs to easily fit in with your real life, which can be chaotic at times, in order to be achievable. Don’t plan to get up early every morning to exercise if you have a week of late nights ahead and will be too tired to get up.”
  4. Keep it Relevant – “A goal needs to be personally relevant to you on a day-to-day basis. For example, if you walk up a big hill every day on your way to work, aim to walk up it without feeling puffed. Goals that are not relevant to you are unlikely to be motivating.”
  5. Do it in Time – “You need to set a time limit to keep yourself accountable and on track. Perhaps you want to run 5km? Set a time limit of how many months it will take you to get there.”

You may have figured out that that makes an acronym that spells “SMART.” Well, there is also a sixth step, which kind of messes up the acronym. It is to Reward yourself. “Each mini goal deserves praise. A reward needs to be something that’s meaningful to you. For example, a massage or those new shoes you’ve had your eye on. Forget buying new runners if you don’t see them as a reward.” But that would spell SMARTR.

I’m setting another goal, this year. It’s a bit of a stretch, and I have done it once before, so I’m going to try it again. Along with joining a 2021 reading challenge on Facebook, I’m setting my reading goal on Goodreads at fifty-two books!! That’s only nine more than I read last year, and an average of one book per week. I believe I can do that.

I’m going to come up with a musical goal for the year, as well, but I don’t quite have that nailed down, yet. I can’t just say “make more music,” because it doesn’t fit into the qualifications of a goal. But that is the end result of what I want to do. It will involve practicing more, writing more, and recording more. There will be more updates on that as it progresses.

There are no real plans for today. We are going to make our favorite chicken dish for our mid-afternoon meal today, along with some corn and green beans. I am going to eat some black-eyed peas (with jalapeños), at some point today. I’m not at all superstitious, but I figure it can’t hurt, right? I like them, and they are zero Smart Points on the WW Blue plan.

I’m sure there will be Sonic drinks, at some point, assuming they are open today. I think they are. New Year’s Day is not a retail holiday.

Enough rambling. Let’s get this year started off right.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The resources that I will be using this year are:

  1. Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year, by Philip F. Reinders (already started on Christmas Day)
  2. Daily Guideposts 2021
  3. A Month of Sundays: Thirty-One Days of Wrestling with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (only a one month devotional, not sure what comes after that, maybe nothing else)
  4. Our Daily Bread (depending on time, I may listen to the day’s selection on the drive to work)
"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 8

INVITATION

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

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 8:1A, 3-9

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalms 8:1A, 3-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING: ECCLESIASTES 3:9-14

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
(Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I think this is a good meditation on which to begin a new year. Never mind what year it is, and never mind how absurd the previous year has been. This is good for any new year.

As I ponder this passage, I sit back and consider some things.

God knows that the human race is burdened. I could go into the reason for this burden, but that’s not the purpose, today. Just suffice to say that God is aware of our burden.

But God (two of my favorite words, when strung together) “has made everything beautiful in its time.” It has reminded me of an old Maranatha Praise song, “In His Time.” I’m not sure when it was written, but I have it on an album that was produced in 1980. I would share a You Tube video of the song, but it might put you to sleep.

In that same verse (verse 11), the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that God has also “set eternity in the human heart.” That’s a ponderous phrase, there. What does that mean? I’m no expert theologian, but I think it means at least a couple things.

I think it means that our hearts look for and long for eternity. My heart tends to not be satisfied with the here and now, but longs for something deeper.

But I also think that it means that our hearts are not finite. To quote Celine Dion, “my heart will go on.” #sorrynotsorry We are not finite creatures. One of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes says, “We are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.”

Yet, in spite of that, we are unable to truly fathom what God has done, from beginning to end.

So what are we to make of this? Verses 12 and 13 answer this, and I think they answer it quite well. While it is not bad to ponder eternity, I think we would be better off to live our lives in the here and now.

It’s kind of like how we interact with the Kingdom of God. For too long, I thought of the Kingdom of God as some place I was waiting to arrive at when I die. But that’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He told us that the Kingdom had arrived. It is here. It is now.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
(Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 NIV)

Dairy Queen once paraphrased that in their ads. “Eat, drink, and be merry,” they said. They weren’t so far off.

So, as 2021 kicks off, with a lot of you, like me, being off work for the day (and two more because it also happens to be the weekend), may we consider this. I know there’s a pandemic. I know that the election didn’t turn out the way some of you wanted, and you think the world is going to end because of it. If you are a believe in Christ, please set those things aside for a few minutes and consider that, in the Kingdom of God, things are far better than you could ever imagine.

Then direct your heart toward your Father in heaven, and enjoy whatever it is that He has given you to do with your life. Eat the food that He has provided, be happy and do good while you live. Find satisfaction in your job, as frustrating as it might be.

Here’s the thing. That is well within your control. There are many things that we cannot control in this life. But how we react to circumstances around us is a thing that we can control, even though you may think you can’t. Choose to enjoy your life, rather than complain about it. Choose to be happy; choose to do good.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

Father, I praise You for all that You have brought into my life and the lives of my family, the good and the not-so-good. I am grateful for my life, as it stands today, here and now. I pray for the strength and determination to do what I’m preaching here, today. Help me to choose to enjoy life, enjoy my work, enjoy the food I eat, and to do good while I live. You have placed eternity in my heart, true. But it’s too much to fathom; too much for me to dwell upon for a very long time. So, from time to time, may Your Spirit tug me back into reality and satisfy my heart with what is reality, the here and now. There will be plenty of time to dwell in eternity. I only have a handful of years in this physical life. May I live them well, as I walk in Your grace.

"Maker of heaven and earth,
space and time,
entering this new year I put my hope in you,
trusting that you will provide whatever I need
for body and soul and turn to my good
whatever adversity you send me.
Thank you that you are able to do this
because you are almighty God,
and that you desire to do this
because you are a faithful Father.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 26)

BLESSING

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

My verse for 2021 will be Romans 12:12.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 NIV)

My verse for life has been, for a few decades, now, Psalm 86:11.

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

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
(Isaiah 43:1-7 ESV)

“Today we push out from the shore into new, uncharted waters. Whatever we face, He’s with us – and He has the power to calm the waves.” (Sheridan Voysey, Our Daily Bread)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalms 90:2 ESV)

“For I the LORD do not change.”
(Malachi 3:6 ESV)

Lord, in these times of uncertainty, these days of pushing out into “new, uncharted waters,” I take great comfort in these proclamations that You never change. Jesus, You are the same, yesterday, today, and forever. I remember singing that in a crusade song, back in the seventies. The consistency that is You and Your presence is the most comforting thing to me, as we begin a new year in the midst of what appears to be pandemonium. I have never seen such chaos, not in my lifetime. Your presence does and will continue to bring peace and meaning to the world that is falling apart around me. You do not change! Everything else does, but You do not. Because of that, I can enjoy my life and do the work that You have given me to do.

Father, I pray for the growth and health of Your Church, throughout the world. May she prosper in 2021, and may there be a better sense of unity of the Spirit in the Church during this year. I pray for justice in our society, and that Your kingdom will flourish and grow. And I pray for our capacity to know and enjoy Your presence and Your grace.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
(Psalms 95:2-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your constant presence in my life
  2. That You do not change, even though everything around us seems to be falling apart
  3. For the admonition, even permission, to enjoy my life and do the good work that You have given me to do
  4. That we have the ability to choose how we will react to our circumstances
  5. That You have the ability/power to calm the raging storm

GOD bless you and keep you, GOD smile on you and gift you, GOD look you full in the face and make you prosper.
(Numbers 6:24-26 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Seventh Day of Christmas–The Lord Bless You and Keep You

Today is Thursday, December 31, 2020, the seventh day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,939

One more day until 2021! Will you stay up to say “good riddance” to 2020?

The above mentioned fact means, of course, that today is New Year’s Eve. And I have taken PTO (paid time off) for this last day of the year. As is, unfortunately, my custom, I was awake at shortly after 6:30, this morning. But that is still, technically, “sleeping in” for me.

As we finish off 2020, we have been greeted with yet more sad news, as Dawn Wells, who famously played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, passed away yesterday, at the age of 82, from complications due to Covid-19. I may or may not do a retrospective blog this evening. Probably won’t. But the idea did occur to me, so it’s floating around in my brain.

I will finish at least two more books today, for my 2020 reading list. I actually surprised myself by reading more than forty books. In the spirit of full disclosure, I include Audible titles on my reading list. At least, that is, if they are audio versions of real books. I do not include “Audible Originals” on my reading list. It looks like I will finish up with either 43 or 44 books, this year. Not too shabby. Two of those that I will complete today are devotional books.

In fact, I just had an idea. (Be careful, it’s in a strange place.) I think I will do a sort of “retrospective” for the year, but it will be a recap of sorts, running down all of the books that I have read this year. We will see how much I can remember about any of them. Hahaha!!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 7

INVITATION

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

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 90:1-6, 12, 17

A prayer of Moses the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
(Psalms 90:1-6 NIV)

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

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:17 NIV)

BIBLE READING: NUMBERS 6:22-27

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

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

This is a wonderful passage to close out a year, especially a year like 2020. Looking back on this year, we can find, all too easily, so much about which to complain. Most of us probably have to work a little harder to find something to be thankful for or that we consider blessing.

But here’s the thing. It is much more healthy, physically, mentally, and spiritually, to be grateful and count blessings than it is to be downcast and complain.

I can think of at least a couple things, right off the bat, that I find to be blessings during 2020.

I have lost almost one hundred pounds this year. Perhaps by Saturday, when we officially weigh in, I will have reached one hundred pounds. I hope to. Together, the three of us who live in this house have lost almost two hundred and fifty pounds! (It looks like more if you write it out. Heh.)

C still has her job. In a year when countless tournaments were cancelled, when bowling leagues suffered, and others were laid off, she still has her job. Sure, she took a ten percent pay cut, earlier, but she still has her job, and we are doing fine, financially.

And guess what!! She got a bonus in this week’s check, and she gets her full pay back as of January 1! What a blessing! And totally unexpected.

I still have my job. Unlike many, I have had to go in to work every day of the pandemic. And, while we have had three reported cases of Covid-19 at our place, I have stayed well. My employer is doing a good job of enforcing protocols.

So there are blessings to be counted, and, even though I have been guilty of complaining about some of the madness of the year, I have also been faithful to note the blessings and continue my habit of gratitude throughout the year.

So, as I read this, the “Aaronic blessing” from the book of Numbers, I find that I can say, without hesitation, that the Lord has blessed me and my family throughout this year. He has blessed us and protected us; He has smiled on us and has been gracious to us; and I believe that He has kept His face turned toward us, and, above all, given us peace.

Father, I am grateful for these things, in this past year. I confess that there have been times when I allowed the presence of unpleasant events take hold in my spirit, and caused me to complain. But I also praise You for the fact that, when that did happen, Your Spirit was quick to turn me around and find blessing in our lives. I pray that, as a new year approaches, You will continue to bless us, and that we will find more ways to praise You and live out those blessings, allowing them to not stagnate in our own lives, but to overflow into those around us, “paying it forward,” so to speak.

"Covenant keeping God,
at the end of another year I thank you for keeping me
connected and at home in you through the Holy Spirit
by your free, unchanging love
and by the strong intercession of Jesus.
In your faithfulness,
continue to preserve and keep me and all your people
from the power of evil throughout the coming year.
In Jesus' name,
amen."
(Westminster Confession, 17)

BLESSING

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

Side note: I’m way too distracted, this morning. Trying to get focused to finish this out.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:11-18 NIV)

In the category of blessings in the past year, I can include a strange peace that has settled in my soul/spirit. The reason for this is in verse 14 of the above passage. “He (Jesus Christ) is our peace.” Note that this verse also says that Jesus has “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

We, the Church, need to rediscover that peace.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)

Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)

Father, what more fitting way to end the devotionals of 2020 than with “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord?” For truly, Father, everything that happens to us, during the course of a year, whether good or bad, happy or sad, must necessarily end with praise. So this year will end with praise. And 2021 will begin with praise. There has been so much in this year that has been out of sorts. Your Church has been torn down the middle by politics. I pray for restoration during 2021. I pray that we might set politics aside and realize that it truly has no bearing on eternity. We need spiritual healing.

But we also need physical healing. The world is hurting. Maybe not more than it ever has, but more than it has in my lifetime. Father, please deliver us! I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow morning and the pandemic be gone. I know that it could be, if that’s what You decide to do. I believe, with all my heart, that You could wave Your hand and Covid-19 would be eradicated. But I don’t believe that that is what will happen. Nevertheless, I pray that You would, Father, have mercy on us!

I pray for spiritual renewal in the coming year. Since we kind of see January 1 as an opportunity to “start over,” I pray that we can all approach the new year with a “clean slate,” and look for new blessings and for those new mercies that are new every morning. Grant us repentance and forgiveness for those times when we forgot to count our blessings and, rather, focused on failures. And I pray that we would find ourselves knowing and experiencing both Your presence and Your forgiveness more often in the coming year.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You have provided, financially, for us throughout 2020
  2. That our health has been maintained through this year
  3. That You have given us peace, in spite of the turmoil around us
  4. That You have put praise in my heart and on my lips
  5. For new beginnings and hope everlasting

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Irish Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Fifth Day of Christmas

Today is Tuesday, December 29, 2020, the fifth day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,937

Three days until 2021!

Yesterday, as expected, was a rather quiet day at work. Our client basically shuts down for the week between Christmas and the new year, so activity from them is sparse. There are a few working, but not many. So I was able to completely focus on one area of my job responsibilities without being bothered by the others. It was quite nice, and I almost got completely caught up again. Hopefully, today and tomorrow will be the same, and then Thursday, which I have off for my last PTO day of the year, will be no issue for the person who is my backup.

There is nothing else, really, to talk about, this morning, so on to the real reason I’m here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 5

INVITATION

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

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 101:1-4, 6

I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
(Psalms 101:1-4, 6 NIV)

BIBLE READING: LUKE 2:25-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
(Luke 2:25-35 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

In this passage, I am moved by the activity of the Holy Spirit on this man named Simeon. This is his only appearance in the Bible, and it appears that he exists for one reason only, and that is to make this proclamation on the baby Jesus.

As Simeon waited for “the consolation of Israel,” it is said that the Holy Spirit was “on him.” This was before the Spirit was sent to dwell within us, which happened after the ascension of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit had also revealed to him that his death would not occur before he laid eyes on the Messiah. And that particular day, the Spirit moved him to go to the temple courts. The timing was perfect, as Joseph and Mary had entered to comply with the laws/customs regarding newborn babies.

Father, as I read this passage, I find that my heart desires the activity of the Holy Spirit in my life. I know You are present in my life, I do not doubt that. Well, at least not seriously, and not very often. But I long for the Spirit to move me in the same way that He moved Simeon. I yearn for the Holy Spirit to be “on me” in such a way that He directs my life, even to the point of telling me to go to a certain room at a certain time.

This is not a desire, Lord, for every step to be directed by You, per se. This is a desire for my life to be so in tune with You that I feel Your direction, leading my life, showing me Your path, guiding my heart, not like a “robot,” but like a faithful servant who loves You so much that every move is according to Your plan and purpose for my life.

I pray that the joy of salvation be experienced, not only by me, but by everyone who knows You. May Your children have a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and available for us to walk in it. And make us more faithful to pray for friends and family who do not enjoy this relationship with You.

"Faithful God,
in our world,
where evil is serious,
pain is no illusion,
and our guilt is real,
open our eyes to see 
how justice and mercy take the shape
of a Savior dying on a cross for us.
With Simeon,
may all people see that your justice and mercy
meet when Jesus is born for our salvation.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession, 20)

BLESSING

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

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
(Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Romans 8:15 ESV)

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 148:7-14 ESV)

When you are brought into praise, singing songs and shouting to the Lord, you enter into that praise with all of creation. It matters not if you are alone in your room or in your car on your way to wherever. Know that when you praise Him, you are praising Him in concert with all of creation, and with all the saints, past, present, and even future!

Praise the LORD!

Father, there are things that I need “motivation” to do. Maybe I’m afraid. Maybe I’m lazy. I’ve never quite pinned it down. But the reason is irrelevant. There are things that I need to do for You. Strengthen my spirit with Your Spirit. Save me from myself, Lord!

Remind us daily that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Help us to take this battle seriously. May we run to Your strong tower and not cower in fear.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You brought me into Your presence, this morning
  2. For the revelation of Jesus Christ in my life
  3. For the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, past, present, and future
  4. That when I praise You, I am not alone, but praising You in the company of all creation, and all the saints
  5. For Your strength, in which I can do all things

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Third Day of Christmas

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

Peace be with you!

Day 22,935

Only five days until 2021!

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We need nothing else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Second Day of Christmas

Today is Saturday, December 26, 2020, the second day of Christmas.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,934

Six days until 2021!

Today is traditionally known as “Boxing Day,” which, thankfully, has nothing to do with pugilism.

Today is also The Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Just as predicted, yesterday was spent entirely in my pyjamas. I never left the house. C did, in order to take her now traditional daily walk. Today will be even better for that, as the temperature is supposed to reach a nice 71 degrees out there.

I will, however, leave the house today, for about an hour or so, as we have our WW Workshop, this morning. And, to all of our delight, S will be attending!! I don’t know what my results will be, today, but I have stepped on the home scale two or three times since my last weigh-in, which was two weeks ago. It looks like I might lose around a pound to a pound and a half, which makes my goal of one hundred pounds by the end of the year less attainable. But that’s okay. I’m focusing on the progress I have made more than the progress I have not made.

After WW, we will get our traditional Sonic drinks and then pick up our grocery order. Today, rather than our usual eggs and toast brunch, we will enjoy the leftovers from yesterday’s Christmas meal. We plan to make our own version of chicken stir-fry tonight. That includes chicken breast, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, and an onion. S and I add a cup of rice to ours, for an additional five Smart Points. Everything else in the meal is zero points.

After Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my heart is full. As the psalmist said, “My cup overflows.”

Speaking of cup, my Green Mountain Hazelnut coffee is especially good, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

A psalm.
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:1-9 NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“The Word” was/is the second person of the Trinity, now known as the Son. He has existed from eternity, just as the Father. His life is “the light of all mankind.” This light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. There is no place in the world which this light cannot reach.

Father, darkness is threatening us. It is encroaching upon Your Church. I pray that the Light of Christ will shine even brighter than ever during these days. The smallest spark of true Light will defeat any darkness. I pray that Your children will remain faithful to You and Your calling on our lives.

I also pray that You would continue to grant me (as well as all Your children) “the capacity to see and savor the wonder, beauty, and complexity of creation.”

"Eternal, almighty God,
how did your hands, 
which flung galaxies into elegant orbit,
become the awkwardly uncontrolled hands of a newborn?
How does your eternal being get inseparably woven
into time-bound humanity?
While the how of your incarnation widens my faith,
may the wonder of why you've done this for me
bring deep joy today.
Amen."
(Westminster Confession, 8.2)

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

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
(1 Kings 19:9-12 ESV)

And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
(1 Kings 19:15-18 ESV)

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.
(Job 8:21 ESV)

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
(Psalms 126:2-3 ESV)

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
(Luke 6:21 ESV)

Laughter is a gift from God. It is a blessing, and it has been proven to prevent afflictions caused by stress and anxiety. As Reader’s Digest famously said, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

I resolve to laugh more in 2021, especially in my work environment.

Lord, give me the gift of laughter!

Praise the LORD.
How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
(Psalms 147:1-11 NIV)

Do you know how many stars there are? Not even the most resourceful scientists can tell you how many stars there are.

Our God knows exactly how many there are, and “calls them each by name.”

In Job 38:7, the Lord asks Job this question:

On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
(Job 38:6-7 NIV)

And Psalm 19 tells us:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
(Psalms 19:1-4 NIV)

The very stars of creation sing to God in praise of all creation.

And this God, to whom the stars sing praises, is delighted when we fear Him and put our hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 147:11)!

Have you ever considered that it is possible for you to delight God??

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, my heart is full and content, this morning, as I ponder all of these words. It thrills my heart with wonder and amazement to think that it is possible for me to do anything that delights the Creator of all things, Him to whom the stars sing praises! I shake my head in wonder. But it brings me great joy to know this. As I walk out into this day, Lord, may my joy be evident. May I find things to laugh at, thereby increasing my own joy. And may I celebrate the Light of the world, which is Christ Jesus, and may I display that Light in my own life, at all times.

Please shine Your light into our world today. Eliminate the darkness. May Jesus’s defeat of the prince of darkness by ultimate and final. Restore Your Church to her first love, Father, and bring her joy back. Help us to love one another, just as we love You with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Heal our world, Lord! Deliver us, please!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the blessings of Christmas
  2. For the fulness of my heart and the peace in my soul
  3. For laughter
  4. For the Light of the World
  5. That You delight in us when we put our hope in Your unfailing love

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

Today is Thursday, December 24, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,932

Today is Christmas Eve. One more day until Christmas.

I’ve just discovered some more interesting facts related to the number of days I’ve been alive. For example, at the exact moment of this typing, I am 62 years, 9 months, 11, days, 13 hours, and 29 minutes old. I’ve probably slept for about 7644 days, or 21 years.

Okay, that seems like a lot, doesn’t it? But if you consider that you sleep an average of eight hours a day, that is one third of your life, isn’t it? That seems like such waste, as much as I like sleep. And now, I’m wondering . . . did Adam and Eve have to sleep?

Hold on a minute . . . I need more coffee.

While I was in the kitchen, C and I decided that I’ve probably only slept about 15 years. It’s been a long time since I have averaged eight hours of sleep per day.

For a really big number, I’ve been alive 33,022,080 minutes.

Whew. I’m suddenly very tired.

All of these interesting facts can be found at this birthday website.

We plan to leave for Mineral Wells around 11:00-11:30, this morning. I have a haircut appointment (with C) at 10:30, this morning. It’s been a while since the locks have been shorn, and I’m looking pretty ragged. Which also makes me look like a crotchety old man.

Other plans have changed, apparently. The power is out at R’s workplace, this morning, so no one can do any work, even those who work remotely. So, now, it looks like R & J will be able to meet us at Grandma’s today. They still plan to stay outside and masked, but we will at least be all together and be able to exchange all our gifts today, at the same time. I think I will take a camera and tripod and see if I can get a group picture. That could be a challenge, if we all stay six feet apart. Maybe it could be in a diagonal line. This could be interesting.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love.
And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.”

— Pope John XXIII

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 95:6-7 ESV
(6) Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
(7) For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Today I am grateful:

  1. To be alive and breathing
  2. For the season of Christmas, bringing thoughts of new life and second chances
  3. For my family, and the love that is shared among us
  4. That my heart is glad because I trust in Your name
  5. For Your peace

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

Psalms 18:2 ESV
(2) The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalms 101:6 ESV
(6) I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.

John 5:31-36 ESV
(31) If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.
(32) There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.
(33) You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.
(34) Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
(35) He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
(36) But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

Psalms 33:13-22 ESV
(13) The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
(14) from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
(15) he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
(16) The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
(17) The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
(18) Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
(19) that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
(20) Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
(21) For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
(22) Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

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.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Luke 2:13-14 ESV
(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
(14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

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

Deuteronomy 10:21 ESV
(21) He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.

Jeremiah 32:27 ESV
(27) “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

Once again, I come around to peace.

These are recurring themes in my daily blog, and I’m okay with that. Honestly, I couldn’t care less if my readers are okay with it or not. Sounds cold, I know, but, hey. The main and most important purpose of this blog thing is what God is speaking to me. And today, again, He is speaking “peace” to me.

Peace in this troubled world. Peace in the midst of pandemic. Peace in the midst of political asininity. Peace that passes all understanding. The peace that Jesus leaves with us.

In John 14, Jesus tells His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Then, later in the chapter, He says,

John 14:27 ESV
(27) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Today, I have peace. In many ways, this peace is inexplicable. But I believe I have the explanation. What troubles me is that I see a lot of people who claim to be following Christ who have a total absence of peace in the midst of all of this. I believe they have their eyes on the wrong things and the wrong people. I pray for them daily.

Jesus gives us peace. Donald Trump has not given us peace. Joe Biden will not give you peace. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can give you peace.

Psalms 145:10-21 ESV
(10) All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
(11) They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
(12) to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
(13) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
(14) The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
(15) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
(16) You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
(17) The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
(18) The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(19) He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
(20) The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
(21) My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Father, I praise You for Your peace, which I have received by the grace and mercy and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and inhabited by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t say that quite right, but I am confident that You know exactly what I mean. My heart is never quite united in You, Lord. For that, I am sorry. Please keep working in there to weed out the junk and unite my heart to fear Your name. Nevertheless, I have peace, not which the worlds gives, but which Jesus gives. Peace in the midst of the many storms that have threatened us in 2020. Personally, I don’t look for 2021 to be any better. But that really doesn’t matter, because I have You and You are enough. Thank You and praise You, Lord. I love You.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Love, Yet Again

Today is Wednesday, December 23, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,931

It is “Christmas Eve Eve.” And our last day of work for this week. So it feels like Friday, today.

The weather continues to be mild in DFW, but will be chilly in the mornings over the next few days. Christmas day looks to be around freezing in the morning, but up to sixty-two for the high.

It appears that my hopes for a New Year’s Eve snow have been eradicated. There might be some ice, from rain that happens the day before, as the temps drop below freezing, but then it is projected to clear up and be in the lower fifties for the high, both NYE and January 1.

I had a pretty good day, yesterday. The expedite portion of my job stayed rather slow, with only a couple people being active, so I was able to focus on clearing out unreceivables. I’m hoping today will be the same. That also makes it much less stressful.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

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

Today I am grateful:

  1. For my eyes; Lord help me to see more beauty around me
  2. For my ears; Lord help me to listen better
  3. That You were pierced for our transgressions
  4. That Your chastisement brought us peace
  5. That Your wounds brought us healing

Psalms 43:3-4 ESV
(3) Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(4) Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

“Splendor and honor and kingly power are yours by right, O Lord, our God,
For you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(A Song to the Lamb)

Psalms 84:10 ESV
(10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Luke 1:30-38 ESV
(30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
(31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
(33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

(34) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

(35) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
(36) And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
(37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”
(38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Psalms 24:1-6 ESV
(1) A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
(2) for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
(3) Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
(5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(6) Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Isaiah 9:2 ESV
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

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.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Psalms 63:3 ESV
(3) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Isaiah 53:1-9 ESV
(1) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
(2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
(3) He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

(4) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(5) But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
(6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
(8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
(9) And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

As I read this passage, this morning, I am moved, almost to tears. Sure, I have read this, perhaps, hundreds of times. But today, as I am considering my points of gratitude, I get stuck in verse 5.

Jesus did not meet the expectations of the masses when He arrived. Isaiah even describes Him as being “despised and rejected.” Also, according to verse 2, He wasn’t much to look at. All of those paintings that depict him as being so beautiful . . . nothing more than artistic liberty.

In spite of all of this, He fulfilled His purpose, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. And then, the kicker. Verse 6. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

In the words of Xochitl Dixon, my favorite Our Daily Bread writer, “Nothing is more beautiful than that.”

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

John 13:34-35 ESV
(34) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
(35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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

Psalms 145:1-9 ESV
(1) A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
(2) Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
(3) Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
(4) One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
(5) On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
(6) They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
(7) They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
(8) The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
(9) The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Verse 8 mirrors what the Lord said to Moses, as He passed by so Moses could see his back, while hiding in the “cleft of the rock.” Jonah also quoted these words back to God in chapter 4 of his story. But Jonah was angry because God chose to spare a people whom he despised.

But verse 9 should make us all stop in our tracks. “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Are we equally good to all? Do we only want God to show love to the people we like?

I shared 1 Corinthians 16:14 (above) on Facebook and Instagram today. Both with the caption, “I’m still working on this.” It’s true. As much as I preach love through this platform, I confess that I still struggle with doing everything I do in love. I also still struggle with loving all whom I know are loved by God.

I’m willing to bet we all struggle with this. But at least some of us are “struggling.” There are many who don’t even seem to consider it, spewing hatred at anyone who differs from them politically, theologically, sexually, or racially. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

And I need to love those people, too. Period. Hard stop.

Father, You have brought me back around to love again, today. The fact that it keeps coming up tells me that I still have much to learn. I am grateful that I don’t read those Scriptures and say, “I’m doing pretty good.” Rather, I read them and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And that is truly my prayer. Have mercy, Lord. Keep working on me, teaching me to love, and to do everything that I do in love. Help me to love with Your love, and show that to all around me, because You love them, too, as You show Your love and goodness to all You have created.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Christmas Thanksgiving

Today is Tuesday, December 22, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,930

Only three more days until Christmas!

And only two more days to work, this week.

Looking at the weather forecast, I just saw something that might be nice. There might be snow on New Year’s Eve!

Yesterday evening, the news broke that country singer KT Oslin has passed away at the age of 78. The report said that she had been battling Parkinson’s and was also recently diagnosed with Covid-19. However, no official cause of death was noted.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This has been on my heart for several days, now. I put St. Teresa’s prayer here, yesterday, and I really like Margaret Rizza’s arrangement of it. She changes the words slightly.

"Let nothing disturb you;
Nothing distress you;
While all things fade away,
God is unchanging.
Be patient, for with God in your heart
Nothing is lacking,
God is enough."

It’s a beautiful prayer, and full of truth and encouragement, which is deeply needed, these days.

Psalms 66:16 ESV
(16) Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.

Today I am grateful:

  1. That with God in my heart, nothing is lacking; He is enough
  2. For the things that He has done for my soul
  3. That You lead me to the Rock that is higher than I
  4. That You, the Creator of the universe, and Most High God, hear the prayers of your servants
  5. That You fill the generous heart with blessings uncountable

Psalms 67:1-2 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
(2) that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

Psalms 119:54 ESV
(54) Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.

Psalms 51:10 ESV
(10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

John 4:23-24 ESV
(23) “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
(24) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Psalms 61:1-5 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Of David. Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
(2) from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
(3) for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
(4) Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah.
(5) For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV
(14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
(15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
(17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Luke 6:38 ESV
(38) give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Mark 9:35 ESV
(35) And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Philippians 2:5-7 ESV
(5) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
(6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
(7) but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Hebrews 6:10 ESV
(10) For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

1 Peter 5:5 ESV
(5) Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Psalms 144:9-15 ESV
(9) I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
(10) who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
(11) Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
(12) May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
(13) may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
(14) may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
(15) Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

“This hymn marks David’s deliverance from King Saul and perhaps his enthronement.”

In it, we also see the proper response to answered prayer: gratitude and thanksgiving. “A thankful spirit combines humility (because you see God’s answer was a sheer gift) with confidence (because you know a loving God always hears prayer).”

If you look back at the beginning of the psalm, you can see amazement that God even pays attention to us at all (vv 3-4).

Psalms 144:3-4 ESV
(3) O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
(4) Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.

But David doesn’t stop and rest after giving thanks. He keeps on praying; for protection, for prosperity, for justice, proclaiming loudly, “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!”

Above this psalm, there are some other Scriptures upon which to focus. Primarily, the idea of generosity is emphasized. We can pray all day for prosperity, but if we are living our lives with clenched fists, hoarding everything that comes our way while orphans and widows (and anyone else who might fall into similar categories) go needy, God will not give us that prosperity.

Jesus, after telling us not to judge or hold grudges, also told us to give freely. The result of that would be that “it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.

I have experienced the truth of this. As God has moved us to generosity, He has blessed us even more. The only boast is in God, as He is the provider; he is the One who blesses. I don’t boast in my generosity, as even that is a gift from Him.

“Lord, I thank you that there are an infinite number of things to thank you for, if I reflect for even a moment! Now help me to take that time and to give you thanks for your many gifts I take for granted. Then let thankfulness begin to transform all my attitudes, toward you, myself, others, and life. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I love that You have inspired me to daily gratitude. I remember that this was initially inspired because of people who suddenly get all grateful during November, and then don’t remember to give thanks the rest of the year. I want to be grateful every day. I want to give You thanks all day long, 24/7. Thanks for the little things like breathing; thanks for the simple things like coffee; and thanks for the big things, like grace and mercy. I could, quite easily, do nothing but sit and thank You all day long. But I must do other things, like work, during my day. That, however, does not mean that I cannot also be thankful. Help me remember to breathe little prayers of thanksgiving all day long!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

God With Us

Today is Monday, December 21, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, also known as “Thomas the Doubter.”

Day 22,929

Only four days until Christmas, y’all! We got a bunch of presents wrapped, yesterday. And by “we,” I mean C did all the wrapping. I will, eventually wrap the ones that are for her. Or, as we have done in the past, from time to time, I will place them in boxes, and she will wrap them.

Plans for Christmas visitations have finally been made. We will drive to Mineral Wells on Thursday (Christmas Eve), and have a brief and safe visit with Mama, and exchange our gifts there. There will be no meal involved, unless we grab something at Subway or The Mesquite Pit on the way in.

On Friday, Christmas Day, we will have our little Christmas with just the three of us, at home. R & J will show up sometime that morning, and probably won’t come in the house. After that, they plan to head to Mineral Wells to give gifts to Grandma.

C’s sister and brother-in-law are having gifts sent to our house, so we will figure out something for them, as well, in that same light. We will probably email a gift to C’s niece.

All of this is not because we are afraid. Hear that loudly and correctly, please. It is, rather, because we care about one another’s health and safety. My mother is “elderly,” and C and I are on the verge of “elderly,” although I will forever maintain that “elderly” is twenty years older than me. Hahaha! Seriously, though, we want to protect each other as much as we can. More and more people that we know are being afflicted by this plague, and it has, as we well know, the potential of being deadly.

I just saw news this morning, that Chad Stuart, half of the British duo Chad and Jeremy, has passed away from pneumonia, at the age of 79. I saw no indication, at least not in what I read, that it was Covid-related.

We had a nice trip home, yesterday, and a good lunch after we got home, as we stopped and picked up Applebee’s and Sonic drinks on the way. We got everything unpacked and put away, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Today, it’s back to work, but only for three days.

It’s nice to be back at my home computer. While writing the blog was easier on an iPad than on a phone, it was still somewhat tedious, and I couldn’t quite make it look like I want it to look.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Psalms 31:23-24 ESV
(23) Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
(24) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Today I am grateful:

  1. A new, but short week, with all the opportunities it will bring, along with the celebrations, even as subdued as they will be
  2. That You are my Rock and my Fortress (Psalm 31:3)
  3. For Your abundant goodness, “which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!” (Psalm 31:19)
  4. For the birth of Jesus Christ
  5. That, because of his birth, we have full access to You, our Father in heaven

Psalms 31:2-3 ESV
(2) Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
(3) For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;

Psalms 31:19 ESV
(19) Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

Psalms 31:24 ESV
(24) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

John 20:24-29 ESV
(24) Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
(25) So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
(26) Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
(27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
(28) Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
(29) Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Psalms 126:1-6 ESV
(1) A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
(2) Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
(3) The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
(4) Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
(5) Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
(6) He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalms 55:17 ESV
(17) Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.

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.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Twenty-three

Isaiah 62:1-5 ESV
(1) For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.
(2) The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.
(3) You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
(4) You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
(5) For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Acts 13:16-17 ESV
(16) So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen.
(17) The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it.

Acts 13:22-25 ESV
(22) And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
(23) Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.
(24) Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
(25) And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Matthew 1:1-25 ESV
(1) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

(2) Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
(3) and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
(4) and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
(5) and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
(6) and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
(7) and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,
(8) and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,
(9) and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
(10) and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,
(11) and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

(12) And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
(13) and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,
(14) and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,
(15) and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,
(16) and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

(17) So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

(18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
(19) And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
(20) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
(21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

(23) “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).
(24) When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
(25) but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Isaiah 9:1-6 ESV
(1) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(3) You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
(4) For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
(5) For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
(6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Titus 2:11-14 ESV
(11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
(12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
(13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
(14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Luke 2:1-14 ESV
(1) In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
(2) This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
(3) And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
(4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
(5) to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
(6) And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
(7) And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

(8) And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
(9) And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
(10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
(11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
(12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

(14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Isaiah 62:11-12 ESV
(11) Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”
(12) And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

Titus 3:4-7 ESV
(4) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
(5) he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
(6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
(7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Luke 2:15-20 ESV
(15) When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
(16) And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
(17) And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
(18) And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
(19) But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
(20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Isaiah 52:7-10 ESV
(7) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
(8) The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.
(9) Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
(10) The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Hebrews 1:1-6 ESV
(1) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
(2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
(3) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
(4) having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
(5) For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

(6) And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

John 1:1-18 ESV
(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(2) He was in the beginning with God.
(3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
(5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
(7) He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
(8) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
(9) The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
(10) He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
(11) He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
(12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
(13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

(14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(15) (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”)
(16) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
(17) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(18) No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Whew. That was a lot. If you read all of those, you should get a badge! Aha. No wonder. That was the last day of this reading plan.

Isaiah 9:2-7 ESV
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(3) You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
(4) For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
(5) For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
(6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 7:14 ESV
(14) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Joseph and Mary had no concern over what to name their baby. Or perhaps, more accurately, her baby, since he had nothing to do with it.

They had both been instructed to name the child “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) They were also told to call the child “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”

In the passage from Isaiah 9, we are given more names that he would be called. “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

No other baby born in history has the impact of Jesus. As much as people attempt to take his name out of history, they cannot. It is popular, these days, to refer to the time frame as “C.E.” (Common Era), rather than “A.D.” (Year of our Lord). And what we used to call “B.C.” (Before Christ) is sometimes, now, referred to as “B.C.E.” (Before Common Era). These feeble attempts to remove Jesus Christ from our history have no bearing on his impact in history, even in “non-religious” history.

As we celebrate “Christ-mass” this week, may we remember the “reason for the season.” I know that’s cliché, but there it is. The reason for this holiday is not to spend gobs of money and make the year for the retail stores. The reason is to celebrate the birth of the child that changed the world forever; the One who made it possible for us to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Him.

Father, I praise You for this season. I ask that, as this pandemic Christmas approaches, we would be made to remember why we celebrate. And do cause us to celebrate, in spite of all of the challenges that 2020 has brought us. Because, O Lord, no matter what terrible things we have seen, this year, You are still on Your throne, and Jesus is still King of kings and Lord of lords! Hallelujah!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.