The Wrong Struggle

Today is Thursday, the fifteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,562

Seven days until Autumn begins!

I’m going to have lunch with C, today, since I don’t have to work today. I’m not sure what we will have, but it might be Fred’s Phillies.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 8-7, last night. The sad thing about that is that they were ahead 5-1, at one point, and then 7-4. But their two most inconsistent pitchers struck again, and they lost another one run game. They are now 62-81 for the season, but still managed to stay in third place in the AL West. They are 31 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. For some reason, the MLB standings page is no longer showing elimination numbers, so I don’t know what the WCE# is for Texas. They are off today, and will be in Tampa Bay, in the worst stadium in the history of baseball, tomorrow. They have nineteen games left.

The Boston Red Sox lost both games in a two-game series with New York, losing 5-3 on three unearned runs, last night. They are 69-74 for the season, and will likely finish in last place in the AL East. What a disappointing season. I can’t remember, but it seems like they were at least close to first place, at one point in the season. I know they at least were in the running for the Wild Card race, at one point. They are 18 games out of first place and 10.5 out of the Wild Card race. They are also off today, will face KC tomorrow, in Boston. They also have nineteen games left.

The current playoff picture looks the same as it has for a while, now. In the AL, we have Houston, New York, and Cleveland leading their divisions. The three Wild Card spots are currently occupied by Toronto, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, in that order. Baltimore, with twenty games remaining, is four games out. The White Sox are 6.5 out, and the Twins are 7.5 out. The White Sox and Twins, however, have a slim chance of winning the division, still.

In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, with Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego holding the three Wild Card spots. Milwaukee is only two games out, while the Giants are a whopping nine games behind. Atlanta is only a half game behind the Mets, though, so that division is still up in the air, so to speak.

Albert Pujols still has 697 home runs. There’s another cool story in St. Louis, though. Last night, Adam Wainright and Yadier Molina started the game against the Brewers, which was the 325th time that pitcher/catcher combination played together. That surpassed the previous duo of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (1963-1975).

The Dodgers lost a game, but still lead MLB with their 98-44 record. They are also not only the only team to clinch a playoff spot, but are also the first team to clinch their division. With twenty games left, they must win nineteen of them to beat the win record. I’m not betting on that. The Nationals remain on the bottom, with 49-94. With Oakland’s win over Texas last night, the Nats are now three games behind the Athletics.

The Guardians continue to streak, pushing for that division win. They have won six consecutive games, now. The Reds continue to streak, as well, but the bad kind, having lost six in a row. The Dodgers’ run differential is at +318, and Nationals are now at -211. The Pirates have won four in a row, so they are twelve runs ahead of the Nats, now. The Rangers are at -17, and the Red Sox are at -36.

Weather-wise, we continue to have mild days, and the highs keep coming out to be a degree or two lower than predicted. You won’t get any complaints from me about that! Yesterday’s high was 88, and was projected at 90. The low was 66, which is the average for that date. Today’s high is predicted at 88. After today, we have nine days of low-to-mid nineties, with 89 on 9/24, which is the day we are now planning on taking the truck to Mineral Wells.

The record high for today is 97, back in 2019, and the record low, from 1993, is 41! Wow. That’s pretty chilly for a September morn.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for allowing us to come to you and to stand before your face. We thank you for helping us throughout our life on earth, for strengthening our faith in you and our trust in all you do. Bless us and give us courage. May your light shine out among the peoples so that they recognize your will. May your light shine out so that your name may be praised and we can rejoice in the new time you give us. For you will be at work and you will accomplish it. Even when we do not know what will become of our time, you know what our time needs, and you will carry out your will. You will let your name be honored. You will bring your kingdom, and you will change everything for the good. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. This is the very word of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
(Isaiah 55:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the ways and thoughts of the Lord, infinitely higher than mine
  2. for the help and strength God gives me in this life, and for His light that shines out among all people
  3. for the confidence that, even though we do not know what will come in our time, that God’s will will be accomplished
  4. that God thought of me and planned my life before the very foundations of the earth
  5. that, together with God, we can do all things

“For You This Day,” by Daryl Madden

More than 10,000
Years ago
I thought of you
And loved you so

And I adored
You, everyday
A joy to craft
Your DNA

I took my time
Your soul, prepare
Blessed each cell
Count every hair

And all has led
Unto this place
And in this time
You’re sent with grace

Come find the joy
Within my way
What I’ve prepared
For you this day

This poem gave me chill bumps, this morning. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided.

“Joy Is Rising,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

You can do all things through Me
together, let us do this…
with great joy, the time is now

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

Another mention of joy. Such encouraging words. Consider . . . with God all things are possible. “Together, let us do this.” Please check out Susan’s site at the link provided.


When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
(John 17:1-3 ESV)

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”
(John 17:9-10 ESV)

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
(John 17:20-23 ESV)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(Psalms 82:3-4 ESV)

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:25 ESV)


What is Jesus Christ to you? What is He to me?

If He is not everything to us, then He is not enough. If we see Him as everything, He is more than enough.

“The Christian life is not a struggle to live rightly but rather resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.” (Andrew Murray)

I love that quote. Read it again. And then read it again, and think on it, ponder it, consider it.

And while we are thinking on that, let’s also consider that mention of intercession. Jesus “always lives to make intercession . . .”

Did you know that Jesus prayed for you? Not only do we have this verse in Hebrews, which puts it in present tense, but we have His very words in John 17, in that “high priestly prayer,” which I like to call the “real Lord’s Prayer.”

Note that Jesus said He was not praying for the “world.” He was praying for His disciples. First, He was praying for the eleven that were remaining after Judas had done his “job.” But then? Then He prayed for you and for me!

And He continues to do so, according to the writer of Hebrews.

Now, back to this idea from Andrew Murray. If we consider what he says about the “Christian life,” then prayer becomes “not a matter of strain or anxious care but rather an experience of what Christ does through us. It is a participation in the life of Christ, which ascends to the Father as prayer. We can begin to pray not only trusting in the merits of Jesus and in the intercession by which our unworthy prayers are made acceptable, but in that union by which He prays in us and we in Him.”

This is all truly mind-boggling, if you think about it.

We (humans) have made the struggle in the Christian life to be all about doing and not doing. We have made it about “right living.” We are no better than the Pharisees in the New Testament, who made “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” into literally thousands of petty little rules to follow.

This is not to say that “right living” isn’t important. But it is not the primary struggle. When we make the struggle about that, we become legalistic. We stand in the pulpit and condemn Christians who would dare to view an R-rated movie (I’m not making that up, I heard it said in a sermon). We shout from the pulpit that “you can’t be a Christian and vote Democrat in America!” I’m not making that one up either.

The last time I checked, the only qualification for being a Christian is believing in Jesus. My opinion about anything else doesn’t figure into that, whatsoever.

I shudder to think what the response might be if I were to try an experiment on social media and post, “You can’t be a Christian and _________.”

But I digress. You see, this is not the struggle, even though we seem to have made it so. As Murray so eloquently stated, the struggle is abiding in Christ, resting in Him, and finding our life and righteousness to be in Him. If I can succeed in that, the “right living” will take care of itself. But, alas . . . we westerners have, as usual, put the proverbial cart before the horse.

Take encouragement, as I am, this morning, that Jesus, our Savior, not only interceded for us a couple thousand years ago, but continues to do so, as He sits at the right hand of the Father. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us!

That’s it. There is nothing else to say after that.


Father, my heart is full, this morning, as I consider these truths. I confess that, all too often, I have fallen prey to the legalism that comes with making the struggle of our lives be about following rules and right living. But then I read these words that remind me that my Savior prayed for me! And that my Savior continues to pray for me! And the Holy Spirit prays for me!

Father, thank You! I praise You! And, at the same time, I hang my head in shame, because there have been too many times when I have failed to remember these things. It’s not like I’ve never read those verses before. I’ve probably read John 17 literally hundreds of times. And I’m sure that I have made note of the fact that Jesus prayed for all of us who would believe because of the testimony of that handful of disciples with which Jesus started the Revolution.

Help us, Lord! We are in desperate need of Your help, today. We are fractured and splintered, and have been for centuries. People have made plenty of excuses for the many “denominations” into which Christianity has been divided. But it is tragic. We have not succeeded in being “one.” We need Your Spirit, Lord, to intervene. Now, more than ever, it needs to be seen that Your Church is united. Yet it seems to be more divided than ever before. Help us, Lord. May the prayers of Jesus Christ be answered in their fullness.

Give us the wisdom to make our struggle be about abiding and resting in Christ, and receiving our life and righteousness from Him, not from trying harder to live right.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.
(John 15:7 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

“Talk No More So Very Proudly”

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Today is Friday, September 2, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Look at all those twos!

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,549

I’m late today, because of several things. First, I started playing a tournament round on Golf Clash, and I was playing so well that I dare not quit. In fact, I’m currently in first place. Unfortunately, it is only a qualifying round, so there are no prizes for this round, just the privilege of advancing to the weekend round.

Second, I needed to get a grocery order in, to be delivered later today. This required frequent trips back and forth to the kitchen, and multiple conversations with other members of the house. But that is done, and meals are planned for most of next week. Tonight, I’m planning to cook one of our favorites, Pecan Crusted Buttermilk Chicken, a WW recipe. I have a side dish planned, as well, that will be a surprise.

I don’t work today, and it may or may not be my last Friday off. That is TBD. The new computer center person starts today, though, so it will be soon.

It rained yesterday, and has rained on and off, this morning, as well. Our high, yesterday was 85, but when we walked out of the library last night at shortly after 8:00 PM, we all agreed that it was difficult to breathe, as the air seemed quite “moist.” “Swimmable” was one word that was used. Today’s high is expected to be 88, with the next two days being in the low nineties. This changes from day to day, but the rest of the ten-day forecast predicts temps in the mid-to-upper eighties, with slim to moderate chances of rain each day.

After starting pitcher Glenn Otto scored a career-high eight strikeouts, last night, the Texas Rangers bullpen erased a five-run lead, giving up four of those in the bottom of the ninth, to lose to the Boston Red Sox 9-8. As one might expect, I am always conflicted when these two teams play each other. However, for a number of years, now, my primary allegiance has been with the Texas Rangers. So I’m sad to see them lose, especially like that! The Rangers, now having lost five in a row, are 58-72 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, a game and a half ahead of the Angels. They are 25.5 out of first place (this is not the largest disparity between first and third place, but it is close), and 12.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their elimination number (my, it seems early to be seeing those), at least as far as the division goes, is only seven games. This means that any combination of Rangers losses and Astros wins eliminates them from any chance of winning the division. I gave up on that a long time ago, though. Their WC elimination number is 21. They have 32 games left.

The Red Sox are 64-68 on the season, and remain in last place in the AL East. They are six games behind the Orioles, 15.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division elimination number is 16, and their WCE number is 25. They have 30 games left. The Rangers and Red Sox play again tonight at 6:10 CDT. Dallas Kuechel will start for the Rangers, so I don’t expect much.

The Dodgers have lost two in a row, which makes their chances of breaking a wins record slimmer. They remain at 90 wins, and top MLB with a 90-40 record. They must win 27 of 32 remaining games to break the record. The Nationals are at the bottom of MLB, with 45-86. The Seattle Mariners have the longest current winning streak, at four consecutive games. The Giants still have the longest losing streak, at seven. The Rangers are apparently trying to catch them. The Dodgers have a league leading run differential, at +284, and the Nats maintain the lowest, at -214. The Pirates, however, are only 13 runs ahead of the Nats. The Rangers, in spite of that five-game losing streak, are still in the positive column, with +2, and the Red Sox are at -53.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, you are always near to us on earth, and we thank you for all the love you put into our lives so that we can be joyful, even in all kinds of temptations and struggles. How much you have given us and how often you have rescued us from distress! Again and again you have let the light of life shine out. You give us light not only for the moment but also for the future, enabling us to draw strength and assurance from the present, the past, and the future, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; . . . through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 
(2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that our Father in heaven is always near to us on earth
  2. that we Christians in at least this country have not experienced most of the things in that Scripture passage
  3. that, even if we find ourselves having nothing, we do, indeed possess everything in Christ
  4. that God loves us unconditionally; may I love you in the same way
  5. that when I miserably fail to do number 4, God continues to bless me, anyway, in order to teach me patience, humility, and compassion

“To Me,” by Daryl Madden

For nothing’s deserved
You bless all for free
Lord, Let me share
The grace given to me

Lord, never ending
Is your great mercy
Lord, let me forgive
As you’ve forgiven me

You love every soul
Unconditionally
Lord, help me to love
How you have loved me

We know I will fail
Miserably
And Lord you bless more
To teach patience to me

I find myself echoing this prayer, today, especially the last two stanzas. It is my desire to love all as God has loved me, yet I, too, fail miserably. Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above.


“New Every Day,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

Let songs rise on eagle’s wings
I will not fail to restore
I will not fail you…ever

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

It’s rare that I feature more than one poem, but this one spoke mightily to me, today, as well. God will not fail us; He will not fail to restore; He will not fail us, ever! Please visit Susan’s blog site, at the link provided above. She also includes lovely images with each of her poems.


Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
(John 9:39-41 ESV)

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
(2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV)


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.
(Romans 15:13 ESV)


But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
(Psalms 94:22 ESV)

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
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, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:7 ESV)


There are a lot of different topics, seemingly, in the assortment of Scriptures that I read, today. It is sobering to think that one of Jesus’s purposes on earth was to give sight to the blind, and, at the same time, blind those who claim to be able to see. In some ways, not much has changed in a couple thousand years.

The scene in 2 Chronicles is seen more than once in the Old Testament. After certain prayers, the Spirit of God occupies the temple/tabernacle to the degree that the priests are unable to perform their duties. The Glory of God is so thick, in these instances, that humans cannot endure His presence. I, personally, have not experienced this in any worship service I have ever attended.

But, for me, the big message today is hope. Our God is the God of hope, and the verse in Romans is a prayer that He would fill us with joy and peace, so that, by the power of His Spirit, we abound in hope.

What is hope? The dictionary definition is, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Or, there is a more archaic definition, “a feeling of trust.” It can also, of course, be a verb, meaning, “want something to happen or be the case.”

Our hope, as believers and followers of Christ, I believe, is more along the lines of the archaic definition. We certainly have an expectation or desire for certain things to happen, but it is more than, say, “I hope the Rangers win tonight.” Our hope, in the Lord, is a strong sense of expectation that is built on trust. Hope sustains us.

There is a quote by Hal Lindsey (I really would not have chosen to quote him, but here it is) that says, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

An exaggeration, to be sure, but there is some truth to the thought. We can “live” without hope, but is it truly “living?”

And besides being my hope, the Lord is also my stronghold, my refuge, my fortress, and all those other kinds of words that we find over and over in the Psalms, probably my favorite book in the Bible.

And check that quote from 1 Samuel. We love to quote that bit about “there is none holy like the Lord.” But we always stop before verse 3, which commands us to “talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth.”

Oops.

I’m seeing a lot of pride and arrogance coming out of our mouths, these days. Way too much.

And, in addition to the pride and arrogance, there seems to be a lack of prayer, in general. Now, I cannot truly judge how much another person prays. I really don’t have a clue. But I can surmise, from the actions and public words of many people, that if they do pray, the content of their prayers is quite shallow.

“If we desire to grow from strength to strength and to experience God’s power in sanctification and blessing on others, we must be more persevering in prayer. . . . Unless we are willing to pay the price to sacrifice our time and attention along with the seemingly legitimate or necessary tasks for the sake of attaining to the spiritual gifts, we need not expect power from above in our work.” (Andrew Murray)

Major ouch, there.

To sum all of this up, I will draw your attention back to Psalm 61:1-4.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
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, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

Father, may we pray diligently, in all humility, and in all hope, expecting You to answer, expecting You to grow us from strength to strength. Lead us to that Rock that is higher than we. And in order to allow You to do that, we must confess that there is, in fact, a Rock that is higher than we, which also requires humility.

Strike pride and arrogance from our lips, especially in the public domain. Let our words on social media be tempered with humility and compassion; let us be seen as people who know and walk with Jesus Christ, that people may, indeed, know we are His disciples by our love, not by how hard we can throw a Bible at someone.

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wins, my God. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for I am truly a lowly servant. Teach me to pray more diligently, in more humility, and may my prayers reflect Your will on earth as it is in heaven.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

“Peace, Be Still”

Today is Wednesday, August 31, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,547

Today is the last day of August. Not yesterday.

This seems like a busy week for me, because I had personal tasks to attend to on Monday and Tuesday, then worked last night, and have a shift today beginning at 9:15. I will say that I’m running short on time, this morning, so I must get moving.

I’ll briefly mention the weather, as it seems to be settling into milder temps. Yesterday’s high was only 86, and today’s is expected to be 85. There is at least some chance of rain/thunderstorms every day for the next ten days. Hopefully, we get nothing like last Monday. The record high for today’s date occurred in 2000, and was 106.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to see and feel how our lives have been blest. Open our hearts to your blessings so that we may look forward in thankfulness and joy to what lies ahead. Grant that we may be faithful to what we have received from you and never again lose ourselves in the passing moment. May we hold to all you have brought to our hearts from eternity, that your name may be honored and our lives shaped anew in Jesus Christ. Give us courage to overcome the evils in life and to look with joy and confident expectation to the future, when the powers of your kingdom will be ever more clearly revealed. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
You should think of us as Christ's servants, who have been put in charge of God's secret truths. The one thing required of such a servant is that he be faithful to his master. 
1 Corinthians 4:1–2, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that my heart is open to God’s many blessings, so that I may “look forward in thankfulness and joy to what lies ahead” (Daily Prayer from Plough)
  2. for the truths revealed to us by God, through the Son and by the Spirit
  3. that as I sit here, this morning, God hears my voice; I wait in expectation to see what He is going to do today
  4. that wisdom comes to those who diligently seek her
  5. that the Name of the Lord will be exalted in all the earth

“I Want,” by Daryl Madden

Lord, you know what I want
And you know what I pray
For you know in my heart
All the words I will say

And sometimes it is
Not want I want to be
But it is for the best
Because you love me

So, Lord speak to me
Heard in a prayer
To guide me unto
Your way to appear

Not my way but Yours
One desire to share
Help me to want what
You want for me here

I’m especially moved by the last stanza, a rephrasing of “not my will, by Thine be done.” I, too, pray that what I want would be what God wants for me. Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above.


Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
(John 8:58 ESV)

and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
(2 Chronicles 5:13-14 ESV)

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?
(Malachi 2:10 ESV)


O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 ESV)

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

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:8 ESV)

I [wisdom] love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
(Proverbs 8:17 ESV)

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
(Mark 4:39 ESV)


Father, these verses are all I need, this morning. I have sat before you, this morning, before going out into the world to do what needs to be done, and I have spent a few moments “being still,” so that I can know that You are God.

There are many storms, this morning, threatening many people. I pray that You, through the work of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, may say “peace, be still” to all of those storms. For Melody who is anxious about playing piano at church, this Sunday; for Cindy, who is anxious about a diagnosis and some test results that are coming; for several who are seeking new jobs and anxiously awaiting notification on interviews; for parents who are anxious about their children; for many, many people in our land who are needlessly upset and anxious over politics . . .

Father, in heaven, I entreat You, please declare over all of these situations:

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Joy of Being in the Light

Today is (I had to stop and thing) Saturday, August 27, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,543

It’s going to be a busy, but fun, day today. We start out with C’s company “picnic,” from 11:00 – 2:00. I put picnic in quotes because it is mostly inside, this year. They are having it at the ITRC facility, and will have food trucks outside (all free for us), bowling available, as well as tours of the museum and Hall of Fame. And, for additional treats, Steel City Pops will be there. I’m sure we will have a limited amount of choices, but I do hope they bring some peach pops.

After the picnic, we will be home for a couple hours, after which we will head to a good friend’s house, where we have been invited for dinner. Mama will be going with us for that. We don’t know what’s for dinner, but feel confident that it will be delicious.

Weather continues to be pretty mild, here, especially for this time of year. Yesterday’s high was 93, which is just shy of the average for that date. The record high for the date is 104. I’ve started looking at multiple sources, and will, going forward, use the record highs and lows from a different source, because it gives a year. But I can only see the current date for that, so today’s record high is 106, back in 2011. I don’t remember much about that year, but it must have been hotter than this year, or at least hotter later, because a lot of the record temps seem to be coming from that year.

The forecast for the next ten days shows three days in the mid-nineties, three in the lower nineties, followed by four days in the upper eighties.

The Texas Rangers won a rare one-run game, last night, beating the Detroit Tigers 7-6. Texas scored all of their runs in the first three innings. As is par for the course, the bullpen (mostly Leclerc) tried to blow it. I really wish they would stop giving the ball to Leclerc. The Rangers are now 58-67 (nine games below .500), still in third place in the AL West. They are 22 games out of first place, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. At this point, I think we are just hoping they can get up to .500 before the end of the season. They play the Tigers again, today, at 6:05 CDT.

The Red Sox ended the Rays’ winning streak, in spite of the Rays surging with four runs in the top of the eighth inning. Final 9-8. Go figure. The Red Sox are now 61-65, still in last place in the AL East. They are 17 games out of first place, and eight out of a Wild Card spot. They play Tampa again today, at 4:10 EDT.

The Dodgers won again, making their MLB-leading record 87-37. The Nationals lost, making their record 42-84, 3.5 games worse than the struggling Oakland team. The Yankees (BOO) and Phillies are both enjoying a five-game winning streak. The Rangers have a two-game streak, currently. The Pirates are finally alone in the losing streak column, having lost six in a row. Nothing has changed in the differential column, other than the numbers on both ends getting higher. The Dodgers are now at +279, while the Nats are -213. The Rangers are now at +17, and the Red Sox at -44.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We thank you, dear Father in heaven, that you let the light from your face shine into our hearts. Look upon our time, we pray, with your clear, penetrating eyes, and let all people sense that they are watched over by more than they are able to see. Let them realize that a strong God and Father is watching over them. Protect us on our way, and let your light shine ever more brightly, so that in all we do your name is glorified. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Hear my voice when I call, LORD; 
be merciful to me and answer me. 
My heart says of you, 
"Seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, I will seek. 
Do not hide your face from me.
(Psalms 27:7-9a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of God, the Light of the world, that shines brightly in our lives
  2. that the Lord hears when I call; He is merciful!
  3. for this pilgrimage, this journey into the heart of God
  4. for the ministry of Renovare and their inspirational writings
  5. for the joy of simply being

“As Never Before,” by S. Michaels/Lightwriters

Expect divine reversal
a coming into Promise
a whole new joy in being

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

As I read this little poem, this morning, I was struck with the line about “joy in being.” Such a simple, yet complex thought. Simple, because we should all be blessed with that joy, the joy of simply being. Complex because it’s not as easy as all that. But as we seek His face, as encouraged by Psalm 27, that joy becomes easier to find.

One of my favorite verses in Psalms is 16:11.

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)

You see, as we seek His face (which He is not hiding from us), we will experience that “fullness of joy,” that is found in His presence, and those “pleasures forevermore” at His right hand. These are not at all dependent upon circumstances; in fact they transcend circumstances.

Please check out more of Susan’s beautiful poetry at the link provided above.


I came across an article from Renovare, this morning, written by Rev. Laura Rasmussen. The article is called “Always Look for the Light.” In it, among other things, Rev. Rasmussen talks about pilgrimage. I found this to be very enlightening.

“As a pilgrim, I am journeying to the heart of God. To journey to the heart of God is to journey to that divine spark of light, of life, within me. Pilgrimage is not about arriving quickly and efficiently to the destination, it is about giving space and time, attention and love to the actual journey towards an intended destination.”

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

“To walk in the light of Christ,” says Rev. Rasmussen, “is pilgrimage—navigating us to the heart of God.”

Jesus also understands our vulnerabilities, as we walk through this world. There are things that are going to distract us from the Light. Daily life, daily tasks, unexpected circumstances. “It’s not Jesus’ nature to shame us and alienate us in our vulnerabilities. Instead, his nature is to light our way through our vulnerabilities and into the abundance of his life. Jesus is all about bringing us back to the heart of God, to our true self. On the way we are met, loved, healed and transformed in this divine light.”

May the Light of the world illuminate your pilgrimage!


So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
(John 7:16-18 ESV)

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10 ESV)

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
(James 1:26 NIV)

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 NIV)

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
(Proverbs 21:23 NIV)

In light of the last three Scripture references, I want to share some words from Henri Nouwen.

"In Jesus, no division existed between his words and his actions, between what he said and what he did. Jesus’ words were his action, his words were events. They not only spoke about changes, cures, new life, but they actually created them. In this sense, Jesus is truly the Word made flesh; in that Word all is created and by that Word all is re-created. 
"Saintliness means living without division between word and action. If I would truly live in my own life the word I am speaking, my spoken words would become actions, and miracles would happen whenever I open my mouth."

And, to kind of wrap all this up, here are some words from Andrew Murray: “We are continually praising or thanking God by our actions and by the manner in which we treat others. At times God cannot hear the prayer of your lips because the worldly desires of your heart cry out much more loudly and strongly.”

Our life, indeed, exerts a profound influence over are prayers. But if we walk in the Light of the world and allow the light from God’s face to shine into our lives, we are delivered from this, and we can pray without hindrance. In that, as we journey on this pilgrimage, we can truly experience the simple joy of being.


Father, I am thankful for the words of all of these people that have been represented here, today. From the poetry of Susan Michaels, to the writing of Rev. Rasmussen, to the words of Andrew Murray and Henri Nouwen, all of it seen through the lens of Scripture and illuminated by the Light of the world, Your Son, Jesus.

I pray for this “joy of being” to be displayed in my life, today, and every day, going forward. Whenever circumstances threaten this, help me to remember that I am on a pilgrimage into Your heart, with the way illuminated by Your light that shines from Your face, which I am constantly seeking. Your face will I seek, O Lord! Do not hide Your face from me!

I praise You for the everlasting nature of Your covenant with us. We walk in the confidence that Your covenant will never be removed from us, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
(Acts 2:42 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus in Gethsemane

Today is Friday, the 26th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,542

I’m getting closer to going back to working Fridays at the library, rather than Thursdays. The new computer center person has been hired and is going through the HR processing. She could possibly begin next week. In spite of the fact that I will lose my alternating four-day weekends, I am okay with this. I would rather not be working two evenings a week. If it starts next week, however, I could possibly wind up working five days in a row, next week, since Thursday and Friday fall in different pay weeks for the city. It’s all good, though.

The Texas Rangers didn’t play yesterday, and begin a home series with the Detroit Tigers tonight. They have 38 games left.

The Red Sox lost again to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-5, completing a sweep and increasing their losing streak to four games. And, to make matters worse, they face the streaking Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The Sox are now 60-65 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place and eight out of a Wild Card Spot. They have 37 games left.

The current Wild Card standings have Tampa, Toronto, and Seattle still in the three AL Wild Card spots. Houston, New York, and Cleveland lead their divisions. In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, and Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego hold the Wild Card spots.

The Dodgers didn’t play last night, and still have the best MLB record, at 86-37. They are 7-3 in their last ten games. In order to break the all time season win record of 116, they would have to win 31 of their remaining 39 games. Certainly doable, but not likely. The Nationals, on the other end of things, are the worst MLB team, with a 42-83 record. With 37 games left, they would have to lose all of those games to tie the worst record in modern history, which is the 1962 Mets, at 40-120. At least they won’t do that, probably.

As previously mentioned, the Tampa Bay Rays lead the league with a six-game winning streak, and are heading to Boston, who currently has a four-game losing streak. They aren’t the worst, though, as the Twins and Angels are both “enjoying” a six-game losing streak. In the run differential department, the Dodgers will likely finish the season on top, with +275 currently. There will likely be no records broken, though, as the best run differential in history is by the St. Louis Maroons in 1884 (+458). It is possible, however, that the Nationals might not end on the bottom. They currently have -209, but the Pirates have -192, which isn’t that far behind (ahead?). The worst in history is the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, with -723. They also have the worst season record in history, at 20-134. As for individual games, the Texas Rangers still have the best single game run differential in modern times, when they beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 on August 22, 2007. The current Rangers are still at +16 for this season, while the Red Sox have fallen to +45.

There are a few tasks in the day ahead, but not much, so I’ll get on to what’s ultimately important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, be our Father and care for your children here on earth, where it is often bitterly hard and where everything seems to turn against us. Keep us faithful in our inner life, drawing all our strength from you, the eternal power of life, and from Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. For Jesus has promised to come to us, and you will send him in our time of need. Let your strong hand be with those who often do not know where to turn. Show us paths we can follow, to the glory of your name in all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, 
and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s strong hand of love
  2. that the Lord will show me His ways and teach me His paths, and my hope is in Him, “all day long”
  3. that the more I soak myself in Jesus and His words, the more I can see that I, as well as all of my neighbors, are beloved
  4. for all the saints, brothers and sisters in Christ, that are in my life and have ever been in my life and ever will be in my life
  5. that Jesus, when faced with the ultimate crisis in Gethsemane, surrendered to His Father’s will, procuring the power and authority to ask anything of the Father; we, His brothers and sisters, share in that power

“Beloved,” by Daryl Madden

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
You’re the beloved one
I praise you as my Savior
For everything you’ve done

Soaking, soaking, soaking
Claim my treasure, true
Through your gracious mercy
I’m the beloved too

Seeing, seeing, seeing
In each neighbor aware
They are the beloved
In this binding share

Grateful, grateful, grateful
Let our binding be
In our belovedness
Loving joyfully

As we soak ourselves in Jesus, our Beloved, we can more easily see the “belovedness” of our neighbors, and be grateful that we are beloved, as well. Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poems at the link provided above.


"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
(John 6:63-69 ESV)

I thank my God every time I remember you.
(Philippians 1:3 NIV)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:35-36 ESV)


Jesus speaks to us words of spirit and life. The flesh is of little consequence. This does not mean, however, as some would have us believe, that the flesh is totally evil and only the spirit is good. This results in heresy known as Gnosticism.

After Jesus’s teachings in John 6, some left Him. His true disciples, however, recognized that there was nowhere else left to turn. “You have the words of eternal life,” they acknowledged.

And, “Because of the entire surrender of His will in Gethsemane, the High Priest on the throne had the power to ask what He would. He also has the right to let His people share in that power and ask what they will.” (Andrew Murray)

Murray further says, “if He had to say, ‘Yet not what I will,’ how much more do we need to say it? . . . it is precisely here that we have sure ground and an open way to assurance of an answer to our prayers.”

As I pray for various saints (and for some who may not be “saints”), I keep this in mind. There are times when I admit that I do not feel quite comfortable praying exactly what someone has requested of me. There are other times when I am not sure how to verbalize their prayer request in my own prayers. Those are times when “Thy will be done” is a phrase that is very close to my heart.

I find myself echoing Jesus’s Gethsemane prayer frequently. Not that I have a “cup” that I am asking God to take away from me. Rather, though, I would prefer God’s will over my own in any given situation. I also ask Him, frequently, to let me know if my own “will” is simply wrong. I am always open (unlike a lot of folks, apparently) to the notion that any of my opinions might be wrong.


Father, when I think of the saints in my life, I thank You. I have not always been able to echo Paul’s words in that passage from Philippians, but I am closer to it today, than I have ever been. I am grateful for the presence of Your saints in my life. Help me to see Your face in all of them; help me to observe Your Holy Spirit working in all of them. And help me to love them authentically, and “on purpose.” That is a phrase that someone brought to my attention today, and I like it. When we love people, it should always be “on purpose.”

Father, I pray, in all circumstances, that Your will would be done, on earth as in heaven. Whatever is supposed to take place will take place, of that I am sure. You are working Your plan, and it will be carried out. I don’t know the details; I may not want to know some of them, to be honest. I’m not sure that I desire to be around when Your final Day arrives. I have confidence and faith that my “life” will continue on beyond that Day, though. I only pray, though, that, should true persecution arise in my country, that I will be faithful to stand with You in all circumstances.

Help me to echo the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: Not my will, by Yours be done. May that be true of all of my prayers. I thank You for the responsibility and privilege that You have give me, that of praying for others. I confess that I am not always as faithful to carry that out as I should be. But You have been impressing that upon me, more and more, of late, and for that I am also grateful. Just yesterday, I saw an earnest prayer answered for a beloved sister in Christ. All glory and honor to You, and I continue to pray for that specific situation, that Your presence would be on that family and things would go well for them.

May I be as surrendered to You as my Savior was in Gethsemane. May I know the power that comes in prayer from that surrender, that I might receive anything that I ask for. Just help me to not be asking for frivolous things or things that are not part of Your will for me or others.

I thank You for the words of life that come from Jesus. Truly, as His disciples said, we have nowhere else to turn, for He has the true words of spirit and life. “The flesh is no help at all.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Like A Child

Today is Tuesday, the sixteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,532

THREE DAYS until S turns 29!!

Surprisingly, we had another day when it didn’t hit 100 degrees! That’s six in a row, and we may be close to the end of the heat wave. It hit 99 again, yesterday, in spite of the predicted 100. Keep in mind that I’m tracking temperatures from Meacham Field Airport, rather than DFW, because it is closer to my house. DFW might be hotter. The record for yesterday’s date is 105.

For the ten-day forecast, today and tomorrow are predicted to be over 100, followed by eight days of below-100 temperatures, half of those possibly below 90! Bring it on! There is potential for rain on Thursday of this week, and several days next week.

We experienced something new, last night. While I was trying to get S’s cookie cake ordered from the “Great American Cookie Company” yesterday, I looked into the cookie company known as Crumbl. I had heard of them, but I don’t believe I had ever had any. I did, after much inconvenience, manage to get a cookie cake ordered online, for C to pick up on her way home from work Thursday evening.

But later in the evening, I decided I really wanted to try those Crumbl cookies. So I ordered a dozen. And they were delivered in about an hour.

I didn’t get a point of reference for size, there, but those cookies are at least four inches in diameter, maybe larger. So far, we’ve each had half a cookie. I had the raspberry cheesecake, last night. What we have there is milk chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed, raspberry cheesecake, peanut butter blossom, french silk pie, and caramel popcorn. There are four of us in the house, and we agreed that we would cut them all in half, so that everyone could try each kind. I’m going to try to trade my caramel popcorn for a lemon poppy. I might trade my peanut butter blossom for something, as well. I’m sure S would like to have that one.

Oh. I almost forgot. My half of the raspberry cheesecake was pretty amazing.

The Texas Rangers fired their manager, yesterday. In my opinion, this needed to happen a long time ago. Chris Woodward is out. Tony Beasley, who had been (I think) third base coach (?), will take over as interim manager, for now. And they won his first game, beating the Oakland Athletics 2-1. Granted, it’s just Oakland, but they always struggle with Oakland. They have now won three in a row, and are 52-63 for the season. They’re still in third place in the AL West, but are now 1.5 ahead of the Angels. They are 22 games out of first, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They play Oakland again, tonight, at 7:05, in Arlington. They have 47 games remaining.

The Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and begin a series in Pittsburgh tonight.

The Dodgers won again, and now have become the first team to win 80 games, this season. At 80-34, they have the best record in MLB. The Washington Nationals won a game, but remain the worst team, with a 39-78 record. The Atlanta Braves still have the longest winning streak, at seven games. The Oakland Athletics continue to have the longest losing streak, at nine games, and hopefully the Rangers can help them make it longer. The Dodgers, with a run differential of +251, are almost sixty runs ahead of the next team in that category. They are the only team with higher than 200 (in the plus, that is). The Nationals are the only team with higher than 200 in the minus, with -209. The Rangers are now at -1, and the Sox remained at -32.

It’s Tuesday, so I will be at the Hurst Public Library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving whatever there is to shelve.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I was struggling, a bit, this morning, before I got around to this. I’ve been in the process of changing my email address, for several reasons, and was experiencing some difficulties, this morning, with various websites. Then I read this, from Lightwriters:

All of Your Times,” by S. Michaels

Seek My beautiful places
let all else fall away, let
all your times rest in My Care

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

The timing was perfect, and such great advice. Seek the beautiful places of the Lord, and let everything else fall away. That is so difficult, especially in these days of high technology and social media. But, upon reading this, I virtually felt weight rolling off of my shoulders like a cool, refreshing, summer rain. (Not that I know what that feels like!) “Let all your times rest in My care,” says the Lord.

Thank you, Susan!


Dear Father in heaven, we come before you to receive what we need as your children who cannot find help and guidance on our own, but only through your Spirit. Enlighten us by your Word, which you alone can give. You will give us your Word so that we can know with absolute certainty and clarity how to serve you. Your Word will show us the truth that is to be revealed on earth in Jesus Christ. Shelter us in your hands. Strengthen us especially during suffering, and free us from fear and trembling. Fill our hearts with patience and joy. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Believe God, and he will recover thee: 
and direct thy way, and trust in him. 
Keep his fear, and grow old therein. 
Ye that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy: 
and go not aside from him, lest ye fall. 
Ye that fear the Lord, believe him: 
and your reward shall not be made void. 
Sirach 2:6-8 Douay-Rheims

Today I am grateful:

1. that I can daily come before the Lord to receive what I need
2. for grace, which is God acting in His power to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves
3. for Jesus's teachings on humility; may I learn to be more humble
4. for the progression of asking, seeking, and knocking, that leads to a deep abiding in the presence of the Lord
5. that, above all, God's purposes will stand and be accomplished

The verses quoted above are from an apocryphal book that is included in the Catholic Church canon.

And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
(John 2:16 ESV)

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
(John 2:18-22 ESV)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
(Matthew 18:3-6 NIV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)


Humility is something we all struggle with. And if you don’t think you’re struggling with it, then you need it worse than anyone else. Jesus tells us that we must enter the Kingdom like children.

Obviously, we cannot become young again, as hard as some marketers want us to believe we can. So what does Jesus mean? It’s a position of lowliness, for starters. Over and over, Jesus tells us that, if we want to be first (and who doesn’t?) that we have to be last.

But there’s a catch, here. Kind of like Catch 22. You know . . . you have to be certified crazy to get out of the Army, but if you want out of the Army, you’re not crazy. This catch is a little different. In order to be first, we must be last. But if we try to be last, just so we can be first, we’re missing the point.

We might be able to fool (we can, in fact, fool) our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we cannot fool God. He knows the heart, so if you’re working real hard to be last because you really want to be first, He knows the motivation behind your actions.

John the Baptizer nailed it when he said, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

Children are honest and authentic. They are, to a degree, naive, innocent. Until they learn otherwise from a nearby adult.

So we have to learn humility. I’ve found several ways to learn this. One is on the freeway. I have adopted the philosophy that it doesn’t matter if someone gets ahead of me on the freeway. I always drive with at least enough room for a couple of cars in front of me. In fact, my car has this cool feature that uses some kind of radar to determine the distance between me and the car in front of me. I have it set for the maximum possible distance, when my cruise control is activated.

I have to resist the temptation, when someone is driving like a jerk, to retaliate and refuse to let them in. But that is neither Christlike nor humble. It doesn’t matter if someone gets in front of me.

Now. When we read that passage about asking, seeking, and knocking, it threatens our humility. How do we reconcile Jesus’s promise and teaching in that passage with the need for humility. I have seen pride swell up when people quote that verse.

The requirement is that we must ask, knowing our status before God, knowing that we are not entitled to what we are asking for, and that, if we do receive it, it is not because we deserved it, but because of mercy and grace. It is strictly because of the generosity of the Giver.

There is a progression of events, here, as well, and I have Andrew Murray to thank for this. Asking, refers to the gifts for which I am praying. But I can ask for gifts with the Giver. So I have to seek the Giver. The word “seek” is used in Scripture to refer to looking for God. We are encouraged to seek Him while He may be found. “But,” says Murray, it is not enough to find God in a time of need without also coming into an abiding fellowship with Him.” And here is where “knock” comes into play. When we knock, we are “admitted to dwell with Him and in Him. Asking and receiving the gift thus leads to seeking and finding the Giver. This again leads to the knocking and opening of the door to the Father’s home and to His love.”

But there is one thing that is certain. Jesus wants us to know for sure that our asking, seeking, and knocking will not be in vain. But He also wants to be sure that we are asking, seeking, and knocking in humility.

It does not take a genius to see that humility is in short supply in this world, right now.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day (Scripture verse only)
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, humility is something that I struggle with, greatly. Some days, the struggle is harder than others. And there are some days where I probably don’t even bother to struggle with it. I pray for Your grace and guidance in this. And I know full well that praying for humility is about as safe as praying for patience, knowing that the only way to grow in humility is to have it tested.

But I am willing, Father, because I want to walk in humility; I want to decrease, so that You/Jesus/the Holy Spirit can be seen to increase.

I pray for Your Church, Lord, that we might all see the need for a deeper humility in these times. We must learn to be last, rather than struggling to be first. We must allow ourselves to decrease, that You might increase. There are many ways in which we can do this, and they differ with each individual. So show us all, Lord; teach us humility.

And teach, us, too, Lord, that it is Your purposes that will stand. When our own purposes butt up against Yours, it is we who will lose; we who will suffer. Your purposes will stand, so I pray that mine line up with Yours.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Sheep or Goat?

Today is Friday, the twelfth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,528

Only SEVEN more days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday was quite busy in the computer center. There weren’t a lot of patrons, but, at least early in the day, there were quite a few who needed assistance. This, of course, kept me busy, which made the day go faster. It slowed down significantly after my lunch break, and I had a nice conversation with the manager during the last hour of the evening.

The high temperature yesterday only hit 97, which was what was predicted. There was no rain yesterday, and not really any predicted today, either. Today’s high is also predicted to be 97. Yesterday’s record high is 106. I do wish the site would tell me when that occurred. Over the ten-day forecast, there are only four with 100 or higher, and the highest is 102. S’s birthday is predicted to be 96.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Houston Astros 7-3, yesterday. It was probably worse than the score suggests, as it was 7-0, at one point. The new pitcher, Ragans, was the loser. The Rangers are now at 49-62, still in third place in the AL West, 22 games out of first place, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They begin a weekend series with the Seattle Mariners tonight, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox won their single game against the Orioles, last night. Is anyone else surprised?? Final score was 4-3. Newcomer to the team, Eric Hosmer provided the game-winning RBI. The Sox are now 55-58, still in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. The O’s have moved to within a half game of a Wild Card spot, now. And, honestly, if the Rangers or the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs, if the Orioles do, I would probably pull for them. On the other hand, Tito still manages the Cleveland Guardians, so I might root for him, too. There are still approximately fifty games left, though (it differs from team to team). A lot can happen in fifty games.

There were only eight games played, yesterday, so the only stats that changed were the run differentials for my two favorite teams. Everything else remained static. The Rangers now have a -3 differential, while the Red Sox improved by one run, to -35.

I’m off today, since it is Friday. That will likely change, soon, however. One of the other part time aides is leaving us, his last day today. He had been one who only worked in the computer center (I’m a “floater,” working in three different departments). I have been informed that, once someone is hired and trained to replace him, I will be moved back to my old Friday schedule for the computer center, which is perfectly fine with me. While I have enjoyed the every-other-week four-day-weekend, I would prefer to not have to work two nights a week. Fridays would be the same schedule as Wednesdays, which is 9:15-6:15. So, on my “heavy” weeks, I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, with Thursday off in the middle. A little more balanced.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Though,” by Daryl Madden

Come to watch the light shine
Though nothing’s there to see
Only through reflection
The colors come to be

Come to feel the wind blow
Though nothing’s really there
Only through the movement
It’s affects appear

Come listen to the silence
Though nothing to be heard
Only through our faith
Will we hear the Word

Come seek the divine
Though there’s no human way
Only through the Spirit
With vision, let us pray

I simply love this poem. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided above.


Lord our God, you are our strength and shield. Our hearts hope in you and we are helped. Accept us from among all the nations as a people who want to serve you. Strengthen our hearts, especially when we must be tested in every way and must face the many hardships that will come when we take up our task of proclaiming your name and witnessing to you. For you are strong and can protect us. You can fill us with light and with joy to proclaim again and again the salvation that is coming through your all-powerful goodness and mercy, salvation in Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord is my strength and shield, and that my heart trusts Him, and He helps me
2. that the Body of Christ is made up of people from all nations
3. for the light and joy we receive that enable us to proclaim the message of His love and salvation
4. that Jesus sums up the entirety of the law and the prophets with the two greatest commands
5. that God continues to drive my heart toward love

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; 
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; 
the mighty man cries aloud there. 
A day of wrath is that day, a 
day of distress and anguish, 
a day of ruin and devastation, 
a day of darkness and gloom, 
a day of clouds and thick darkness, 
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
 against the fortified cities 
and against the lofty battlements. 

I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, 
because they have sinned against the LORD; 
their blood shall be poured out like dust, 
and their flesh like dung. 
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. 
In the fire of his jealousy, 
all the earth shall be consumed; 
for a full and sudden end 
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:14-18 ESV)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
(Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

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

“May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.” ~ Edward Grinnan, Daily Guideposts 2022

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

“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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)


I don’t have a lot of my own words, today. I got some emotional chill bumps from Edward Grinnan’s prayer, today, as well as from the content of his reading for the day. The prayer seems to paraphrase Jesus’s words in that “parable” about the sheep and the goats. I put parable in quotation marks because I’m not so sure it’s an actual parable. In fact, the ESV does not call it a parable.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

There may be some serious surprises on this day, when some people who believe they are “righteous” get their due reward.

Today's sources:
YouVersion daily Bible reading plan
Abide meditation
Daily Guideposts 2022

Father, in heaven, as we pray, sometimes in vain repetitions, but, nevertheless, for Your kingdom to come and Your will be done on earth as in heaven, is it the words of Jesus that we are considering? For I truly desire Your will on earth as it is in heaven. And, if I read the words of Jesus correctly, that will is for the hungry to be fed, the thirsty to be given water to drink, the strangers, immigrants, and refugees to be welcomed, the naked to be clothed, and the sick and in prison to be visited and cared for.

I can’t help but wonder what the self-righteous among us think they are praying for when they repeat those words? I can’t help but wonder what the bigot means when he prays for Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done. I don’t think he really wants Your will at all. I think he wants his own misguided vision of what he thinks Your will must be.

Have mercy, Father! Show Yourself in our midst! Show Your power in our land. Mold our hearts that we might share in believing the truths that Jesus proclaimed when He was walking the earth, that His teachings about the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, would become our core beliefs as we strive to walk in His steps and in His words.

Because this is what love looks like. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” And I will echo brother Grinnan’s prayer. “May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.”

Even so, come soon, 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.

What Is Fruit?

Today is Thursday, the fourth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,520

Fifteen days until S turns 29!

We hit a high of 104 yesterday (predicted 105), for our 38th day of 100+ for this summer, and fourth in the current streak. It looks like it was a new record high for the day, as the previous record was 102. Today’s high is predicted to be 104, as is tomorrow’s. However, Saturday is currently forecast at 99, and there are three days next week that may be below 100. There is also a chance of rain, possibly, next week.

The Texas Rangers were swept by the Orioles, as they lost, yesterday afternoon, 6-3. Martin Perez did not get the loss in the game, as that was accomplished by bullpen pitcher, Jose Leclerc, who has been disastrous, lately. So the Rangers are now 46-58 for the season, but somehow still in third place in the AL West, now 21 games out of first, and nine games out of the Wild Card race, which is slowly moving out of reach, I believe. Frankly, I sincerely believe it is time for a new manager. They begin a four-game weekend series with the Other Sox tonight.

The Red Sox lost to the Astros, yesterday, 6-1, but won the series. It was the first series win in over a month. They are now back at .500, 53-53, seventeen games out of first, and three games out of the Wild Card race. They begin a four-game series with the Royals tonight.

The Dodgers remain the best MLB team, with a 71-33 record, and now have the most wins of any MLB team. The Nationals are still the worst, at 36-70. The current win streak belongs to the Padres, at five straight wins, and the worst losing streak belongs to the Rockies, also five straight games. The Dodgers have also overtaken the Yankees in run differential, now at +208. The Nationals are still the worst in that category, as well, at -172. The Rangers have dropped to -3, and the Red Sox to -20.

It’s Thursday, so I will be at the library computer center from 11:15-8:15, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Look, Listen, Be, Pray,” by Daryl Madden

Look until you see
Become fully aware
Through the light to view
All surrounding here

Listen ’til you hear
A whisper deep within
To the still small voice
Of stirring to begin

Be until you feel
His grace to impart
His overwhelming love
Let it fill your heart

Pray until you know
His calling to reveal
How God is blessing you
With His love to share

I love the order, here. I really like how “pray” comes after all of the other actions. We are so quick to simply start talking before we look or listen, or even take time to just “be.” Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided above.


Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the blessings you give us on earth, for it is through your gifts and work, and through the work of your children, that we can believe and be saved. Protect us here in our household. Let us make allowances for one another in love and spare no effort to maintain unity in the Spirit through the bond of peace. Grant us new strength and new gifts whenever we need them on the path you have set for us. Grant that we may rejoice and trust in you until we reach the goal. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the blessings we receive from the Lord on earth, so many of which come from our brothers and sisters in Christ
2. for the protection of God in our lives
3. for the bond of peace in the unity of the Spirit
4. for the "light momentary affliction" that is "preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4)
5. for the fruit of the Spirit; may I be faithful in exhibiting that

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
(2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 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 6:6-8 ESV)

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:10 ESV)

“Serve nobly, wish for nothing else, and fear nothing else: and let Love freely take care of herself! For Love rewards to the full, even though she often comes late. Let no doubt or disappointment ever turn you away from performing acts of virtue; let no ill success cause you to fear that you yourself will not come to conformity with God. You must not doubt this . . .” (Hadewijch of Antwerp)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
(John 15:16-17 ESV)

What is “fruit?”

When I was younger, it was hammered into me that “fruit” meant new Christians. To the “evangelical” mindset, the only way to “bear fruit” is to go out and talk to people about Jesus. I’ve even heard people claim that the Bible says we are supposed to tell “everyone we meet” about Jesus.

No. It certainly does not.

And that mindset creates a pressure on an individual that I am convinced God never intended. The Gospel is not about peer pressure. The Gospel is not about checking off a box so that we can feel as though we have fulfilled a requirement.

The Gospel is about walking in God’s Kingdom, which is here, now (ever since Jesus arrived on earth), and available to anyone who desires to walk in it.

“Fruit” can mean a number of things. It certainly can refer to new disciples. Jesus did tell His disciples to go make disciples. But a “disciple” is more than just a new convert. Making disciples is hard work. It takes relationship, which telling “everyone we meet about Jesus” does not. Modern-day evangelism seems to think that just ambushing someone with the information that they’re going to hell and Christ died for their sins is all they need to do.

Andrew Murray would not agree, either. Of course, Murray was a huge proponent of intercessory prayer. He wrote a number of books on that subject, and believed that “intercession is the primary power by which God moves and opens heaven.”

I believe that intercession is “fruit.” I also believe that an individual’s character is “fruit.” Up there, Paul said, in Galatians, that we should “do good to everyone.” That is fruit. Paul also gave us a list, in Galatians, of what he called the “fruit of the spirit.”

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Gentleness
Faithfulness
Self-control

Right there is some very attractive fruit, beloved.

And if we were to exhibit that fruit to “everyone we meet,” and “do good to everyone,” we might see a lot more disciples as a result.

That verse up there, from 2 Corinthians 5 should scare us. Paul declares, there, that we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. ALL. I distinctly remember hearing people proclaim, back in my college days, that Christians would not have to face judgment. That’s not what I see in Scripture.

And it is there, that our fruit will be examined, I believe. I don’t believe it will be about whether we “get in” or not. That’s already been decided. That verse is talking about reward, or receiving “what is due” for our actions . . . for our fruit.

Did we do good to everyone? Did we, as Micah prophesied, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly? Did we exhibit, consistently, the fruit of the Spirit?

Or did we complain about every little thing? Did we demand our “rights” and “freedoms?” Did we cast hatred toward everyone we didn’t agree with? Were we abusive toward people?

There’s another little passage in 2 Corinthians 4 that I didn’t share yet. I think now is a good place for it.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
(2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)

Jars of clay are easily broken; they are very fragile. They have imperfections. To say that we are “jars of clay” is not a compliment, just as when Jesus called us “sheep.” But it’s fair and true.

I am easily broken. I am imperfect. And all of this is to keep me humble. And to help me to remember that the “surpassing power belongs to God.”

Today's sources:
YouVersion reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray for Your help to bear more acceptable fruit in Your Kingdom. I acknowledge that, while fruit is definitely more disciples, it is also character traits that I could most definitely do a better job of portraying.

But it pains me, daily, to see the kind of attitudes and actions being displayed by people who claim to belong to You. Conversations that I have had with people who are either not believers at all or struggling believers have been good examples of the truth of this. The attitudes and actions of people who claim to belong to Christ are not drawing people to You; not creating new disciples; not bearing good fruit.

We simply are not being a sweet aroma to You in Christ, not as a unified body. So I pray that Your Spirit would surround us and teach us, Father. I pray that the Spirit of Christ would inhabit Your people and show us how to live and bear good fruit, and produce that pleasing aroma to You.

And if I am wrong, please show me, Father! I am humbly open to correction. All of my thoughts and opinions, though, are coming from reading Your Word and reading others’ commentary on it. As well as from observations in the world around me.

Help us, help me, to do the things that Micah said, to do justice, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly before You. Remind us, daily, that we are but jars of clay, that we are dust, and that we are merely sheep.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

Opportunity Knocks Constantly

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,513

22 days until S turns 29!

My weather chart for yesterday looks a lot like the day before. The high temp was 103 again. That’s three straight days of 103 for a high. Keep in mind that I am getting my information from the nearest airport which is not DFW Airport, but Meacham Field in Fort Worth. I saw other information, yesterday, which had one more day of 100+ temps than I am showing. I have 32 days total, with a current streak of twelve. Today’s high is predicted to be 102.

We have now had no rain for 54 days. The ten-day forecast promises no relief.

The Texas Rangers kept Jon Gray in the game one inning too long, yesterday, and they lost 4-2 to complete the sweep by the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers are now 43-54, eleven games below .500, somehow still in third place in the AL West. They are still twenty games out of first place (the cheaters lost again), and 9.5 out of the Wild Card race. They begin four-game series in LA with the Angels today.

The Red Sox, after going ahead 6-5, couldn’t hold the lead, and lost to the Cleveland Guardians, 7-6. They are now 49-50, and remain in last place in the AL East, seventeen games out of first place and 4.5 out of the Wild Card race. They have another game with Cleveland today.

The Dodgers have overtaken the Evil Empire (I have been waiting to be able to say that!) by .003 percentage points, with a 65-32 record. While the Yanks have won one more game, they have also lost one more, which accounts for the percentage difference. The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 34-66. The Chicago Cubs now own the longest win streak, at six games, and the Giants continue to have the longest losing streak, now at seven. The Yankees maintain the highest run differential, at +196, and the Nationals keep the lowest, at -160. The Rangers are now at +3, and the Red Sox are at -16.

Today being Thursday, I will be working from 11:15 to 8:15 in the computer center at the library.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come into your presence, pleading with you to bring the world what it needs, so that people may be freed from all their pain and enabled to serve you. Let the power of Jesus Christ be revealed in our time. For he has taken on our sin that justice might arise on earth, that all might have life and might see your salvation, which you will bring when the time is fulfilled. Let your power be revealed in the world, and let your will be done, your name be kept holy, and all wrongs be righted in this turbulent and difficult age. O Lord our God, you alone can help. You alone are the Savior of all peoples. In your great mercy you can bring peace. We look to you. And when we consider your Word, we remember the mighty promises you have given, promises which are to be fulfilled in our time. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Now we find that the Law keeps slipping into the picture to point the vast extent of sin. Yet, though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his grace is wider and deeper still! 
(Romans 5:20 Phillips)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the senses, which allow me to have enjoyment in things in this life
2. for poetry . . . there are many poets who inspire me in this world
3. for the many opportunities that will come my way, to serve the Lord, today; may I be faithful and keep my eyes open for them
4. for the intricate connection between prayer and God's Word
5. that our Father will always be accessible to those who walk in Christ

On This Day, by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Let there be a change
the north west wind speaks
the willows drink deep

©2022 S. Michaels
A Season of Singing
(Haiku 5-5-5)

That’s an example of one of the poets who inspires me. Please check out her website for more beautiful imagery and poetry.


So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
(1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 KJV)

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)

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

And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.
(Numbers 7:89 ESV)

Opportunity is the word of the day. Opportunity is defined as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”

In the Scripture passages above, there are opportunities galore. Opportunity is something my day is full of. It has been said by someone that “Opportunity knocks but once.” That may be true in some cases, because some great opportunities may only come to us one time. But opportunity, in general, happens constantly. Everywhere I look, if I’m paying attention, opportunity presents itself.

For example, in the Isaiah 55 passage, we are told to “seek the LORD while he may be found.” It’s not like He is hiding from us. He is available for us to find Him. For a season, at least. Seeking the Lord is one way of “making the most of every opportunity.”

Another way of making the most of those opportunities is in prayer. Now, we must be careful to note that that passage in 2 Chronicles, the one that well-meaning Christians love to quote when things are going bad in the nation, is directed to a specific people for a specific time. “My people,” in this case, is Israel. It is fair, as well, to say that “My people,” in this day and age, is the Church (capital C). What is not accurate or true is to think that “My people” represents a particular country, today.

Nevertheless, the encouragement to pray goes out to all people, to everyone who calls the name of Jesus. One of the ways that we seek the Lord (while He may be found) is through prayer. Side note: God will always be found by His own people. The Psalmist recognized that opportunities to pray were constant. In Psalm 55, he speaks of praying “evening, morning, and noon,” which is a way of saying “all the time.”

In Psalm 119:164, the psalmist says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” That information led the Church, through history, to implement “fixed hour prayer.” By the sixth century, the monastic orders had implemented seven fixed times of prayer. Benedict added an eighth time in the sixth century. So they had Matins at midnight, Lauds at 3 AM, Prime at 6 AM, Terce at 9 AM, Sext at noon, None at 3 PM, Vespers at 6 PM, and Compline at 9 PM. Consequently, there was “opportunity” to pray every three hours.

Needless to say, the average Christian who works for a living cannot follow such a rigid schedule. However, it gives us the realization that we can truly, as Paul admonished us, “pray without ceasing.”

And we are not restricted, as Moses was, to a specific place to speak to God. Isn’t that wonderful? We can meet with God whenever and wherever we want, as well as whenever and wherever He wants.

Prayer and God’s word are inseparable. Attempting to experience one without the other will diminish both.

“A prayerful spirit is the spirit to which God will speak. A prayerful spirit will be a listening spirit waiting to hear what God will say.”

“The Word gives you a subject for prayer. It shows you the path of prayer, telling you how God would have you come. it gives yu the power for prayer – courage in the assurance that you will be heard. And it brings you the answer to prayer as it teaches what God will do for you.”

But prayer also prepares our hearts to hear God through His Word.

God should be the aim of my heart, the one object of my desires. Through prayer and His Word, He abides in me, and I in Him.

"Lord, make me willing to be used by Thee. May my knowledge of my unworthiness never make me resist being used by Thee. May the need of others always be remembered by me, so that I may ever be willing to be used by Thee.
"And open my eyes and my heart that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee."
(Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country)
Today's sources:
Pray A Word A Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I praise You that You are always right there, ready for me to find, and waiting for me to both speak and listen to You. While there will come a time when those who do not believe will no longer be able to find You, You will always be found by us who call the name of Christ.

I thank You for the many, many opportunities that will come my way today. I pray for the readiness to utilize them, and pray for the willingness, as Alan Paton prayed, to be used by You. Every day that I walk into that library, I will be faced with dozens of opportunities to serve You by loving someone. May I be faithful to fulfill that responsibility.

I thank You for Your Word and for prayer, and the way that they are inextricably linked. It is true that prayer prepares me to receive Your Word and all of its benefits, but Your Word also prepares me to pray and gives me subjects for prayer, as well as answers my prayers. I really praise You for the book of Psalms, as it constantly gives me material for prayer, as well as a source of praise to You.

I pray for Your healing in the Church, Father. I pray that You would heal the division that has been brought on by people seeking peace in men rather than You. I pray that we would stop aligning ourselves with politicians and start loving You with all our being and loving one another the way Christ has loved us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“When opportunity knocks a pessimist dials 911;
when opportunity knocks an optimist sets the table.”
Matshona Dhliwayo

Grace and peace, friends.

Courteous and Considerate in EVERYTHING

It is Monday morning, the twenty-fifth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,510

25 days until S turns 29!

As the world-wide (seemingly) heat wave continues, we reached 102 in our area, yesterday, for the 29th day of 100+ temps and the ninth consecutive. I have had communication from a blogger in Romania that says it is reaching 42 degrees Celsius in the shade, there. The average temperature for yesterday is high 96, low 73. Yesterday’s low was 81. The record was 104/65. We are still looking at the possibility of two days below 100, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. There is as much as 35% chance of rain on Saturday, perhaps overnight Friday night. It has now been 51 days with no rain in our area.

C is working from home today, as she has a morning doctor appointment. It is always nice to have her at home. I’m off all day, as I am always off on Mondays, which is also nice.

The Texas Rangers won a game, yesterday, in spite of the bullpen’s efforts to lose it. They were ahead 11-1, at one point. But Garrett Richards gave up four runs in the eighth inning, only managing to get one out, and Brett Martin gave up three in the ninth. Miraculously, Martin Perez managed to get the win. The Rangers are now 43-51 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and seven out of the Wild Card race. They are currently seven games behind Seattle, and they begin a series in that city tonight.

The Red Sox got swept by the Blue Jays. I’m not sure what’s going on, there, but the Sox are now 48-48. Baltimore lost, so they were spared dropping into last place. They are in fourth place, 17.5 out of first, and three games out of the Wild Card race. They begin a series with Cleveland tonight, in Boston.

The Nationals continue to hold the worst record, at 32-65. They did manage to win a game, though. The LA Dodgers still have the longest current win streak, now at eight consecutive games. The Red Sox are the proud owners of the longest current losing streak, at five games. At least they are the best at something. The Nationals also still have the worst run differential, at -162. The Rangers improved to +7, and the Sox dropped to -12.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, Creator of what is good, beautiful, and full of joy so that all may work in harmony with you, we thank you for all the good that comes to us. May we be your children, joined together to serve you. May our life bring joy to others, and may we do good without ceasing through your great, strong love, which moves us, strengthens us, and helps us every day, however hard life may be. May your name be praised throughout the world. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
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.
(Psalm 90:17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all that is good and beautiful in the world; Lord, help me focus on these things rather than what is bad and ugly
2. for Mondays off
3. for the amazing things that God has done for us
4. for gravity, because without it, I would fly off into space and die
5. for the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi 

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
(1 Corinthians 11:27-30 ESV)

I used to believe (and I think this still may be taught in some places) that this passage meant that you’d better not have any “unconfessed sin” in your life when you take the Supper. That is not what this means. This passage is about unity in the Body of Christ, and these four verses must be interpreted in context. A note in the Bible I am reading says “Because some of the believers in Corinth were celebrating the Supper in a way that destroyed the unity it represents, God had brought judgment upon the community.”


Today’s word, in Pray A Word A Day, is “amazing.”

Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!
(Psalms 126:3 NLT)

Amazing. How many times do you use that word in a day? I, just like the writer of today’s reading, probably need to confess that I overuse that word. I’ve lost track of how many books I have given a five-star Goodreads rating, this year. Five stars means “it was amazing.” Yesterday, C and I saw a musical show and it was “amazing.”

Sometimes I think I should stop using that word so much, because the “amazing” things that God does for us cannot be compared with Irving’s Main Stage production of “Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Maybe we need “tenses” of amazing. “Amazinger.” “Amazingest.”

The things that God does for us are the amazingest.

I woke up this morning. C woke up this morning. Mama woke up this morning. S woke up this morning. I have been able to hear music this morning. I can see colors today. Gravity is keeping me from flying off into space. There is air for me to breathe.

Many of God’s amazing works are overlooked daily, aren’t they? That’s one of the reasons that I started my daily gratitude list. And it’s also one of the reasons that, some days, you might see me being grateful for waking up, or for cats, or for coffee, or for air to breathe.

I think this is a good place for this poem.

Beautiful Things, by Daryl Madden

Blessed are they
Who see beautiful things
For its God that they
See everywhere

Blessed are they
Who give beautiful things
For its God’s gift of love
That they share

Blessed are they
Who pray beautiful things
For its God’s way of
Making things clear

Blessed are they
For they’re beautiful things
For its God’s Presence
They’re bringing here

Please check out more of Daryl’s poems at the link provided above.

And when I read that poem, I thought of this song.


But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
(1 Corinthians 14:40 NIV)

This doesn’t necessarily mean that there has to be a strict order to everything. The word translated “fitting” in the NIV is translated “decently” in the KJV, and is from a Greek word (euschemonos) that literally means “decently, honestly.” Huh. KJV got it right, eh? This lends itself to attitude, not structure.

Now the context for all of this is a lengthy discourse on spiritual gifts, which I won’t get into today. And I rather like Eugene Peterson’s take on it.

Be courteous and considerate in everything.
(1 Corinthians 14:40 MSG)

I mean that really sums it up, doesn’t it? “EVERYTHING.”


Alan Paton (Cry, the Beloved Country) on praying the prayer of St. Francis:

“So majestic is this conception that one dare no longer be sorry for oneself. The world ceases to be one’s enemy and becomes the place where one lives and works and serves. Life is no longer nasty, mean, brutish, and short, but becomes that time that one needs to make it less nasty and mean, not only for others, but indeed also for oneself.”


If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
(John 15:7 ESV)

Andrew Murray, in Power in Prayer, says that “Prayer is both one of the means and one of the fruits of our union with Christ.” And, rather than seeing prayer as a means of getting what we want, we should see prayer as “one of the primary channels of influence by which, through us as workers together with God, the blessings of Christ’s redemption are dispensed to the world.”

And the reason for answering prayer, according to Jesus in John 14:13, is “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Seriously, this is what everything should be about for us; bringing glory to God. What a life-changing difference it would be if we could all adapt that mindset.


Father, help me to think about prayer the same way Andrew Murray does, here, as well as the way Jesus thought about it, as a way to glorify You, and as a fruit of the union that I have with Christ. And, as I consider the prayer of St. Francis, may my mind be focused on making the world “less nasty and mean,” at least as much as I can in my own little “kingdom.”

And, in doing this, or as a means of facilitating this, help me to obey the words of Paul when he said to “be courteous and considerate in everything.”

Help me to see the beautiful and good things in the world, rather than the mean, nasty, and ugly things. This takes work, because I have, over the years, been trained by our society to see the worst. Lately, it seems that the “church” is taking over that responsibility. Help us to crawl out of that pit, Lord.

You have truly done amazing things for us, and I am beyond grateful for them. Help me to remember these things every day, especially when my mind and heart begin to drift over into the negative things.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Grace and peace, friends.