Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

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

Peace be with you!

Day 22,932

Today is Christmas Eve. One more day until Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

Whew. I’m suddenly very tired.

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

— Pope John XXIII

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

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

Today, I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

Once again, I come around to peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Love, Yet Again

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

Peace be with you!

Day 22,931

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

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

Today, I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Christmas Thanksgiving

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

Peace be with you!

Day 22,930

Only three more days until Christmas!

And only two more days to work, this week.

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

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

Today, I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

God With Us

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

Peace be with you.

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

Day 22,929

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

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

Today, I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Twenty-three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or again,

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

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

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Look For the Green

Today is Sunday, December 20, 2020. The Fourth Sunday in Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,928

Only five days until Christmas!

Sadly, we must leave this place, this morning, and return to life as we know it. But at least it will be another short work week, as we are both off Thursday and Friday again, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

We have not yet nailed down what those are going to look like, but have a couple of phone calls planned today.

Yesterday was pretty relaxing. C spent time in the hot tub, and we both spent some time sitting down by the river. At one point, I said I had “peace like a river.”

Peace like a river

I could do that every day.

We tried a couple more geocaches around the Glen Rose town square, but the only one we found was a virtual cache. One appeared to be in an area that was surrounded by “Private Property” signs, and the other was related to a place inside the state park. But the virtual one was cool.

We also discovered a new book store on the square, that just opened last week. That was very exciting. C was even willing to buy some books, just to support them!

We ordered some chicken and shrimp fajitas from a local restaurant, sans tortillas and cheese, and took them back to the cabin. They were delicious! And I’m pretty sure they had cactus in them. 😎

This morning, we have decided to not cook breakfast. We will be packing up to leave by 11:00AM, so we’ll have less to clean up. Plus we will be stopping by Applebee’s on the way home, for our Sunday lunch.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭96:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

TODAY I AM GRATEFUL

  1. For the songs of the birds outside our window
  2. For the serene setting of the Paluxy River below the cabin
  3. That I do not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:5)
  4. That, in Your kingdom, things are far better than I could ever imagine
  5. That You are my Shepherd, and I lack for nothing

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭90:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭65:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭113:1-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Cry of the Church
“O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come unto you. Thanks be to God.”
THE SHORT BREVIARY

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

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


ADVENT: PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF THE WORD

Day Twenty-two

“Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in?”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:8-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭16:25-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:26-38‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭119:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 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. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭143:1-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬


As the Psalms wind down, Psalm 143 is in stark contrast to what we will see in the final chapters.

This morning, however, I want to point out the contrast between Psalms 143 and 23. Perhaps it is no coincidence that I was led to read both of them today.

Psalm 23, along with John 3:16, is probably one the most well-known passages in the Bible. And rightfully so, as it is one of great comfort.

In Psalm 23, the Lord, our Shepherd, is said to make us lie down in green pastures, and restore, or refresh, our souls.

In Psalm 143, our enemy pursues our soul, crushes its life, and makes us “sit in darkness like those long dead.”

In Psalm 143, the psalmist lifts his hands to God, for whom he desperately thirsts. In Psalm 23, God leads him to still, quiet waters, from which he can drink, satisfying his thirst.

In 143, the psalmist prays that God will show him the way to go. In 23, he declares that the Lord leads him “in paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake.” In between those, we have Psalm 32:8, which says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Unfortunately, there will be times when either Psalm will fit what we are going through. May we remember, when we feel our enemy (who is NOT flesh and blood) crushing the life from our souls, to pray in the way David prays in Psalm 143. Then, when we find that green pasture, in the middle of the chaos, we can celebrate with Psalm 23, and boldly proclaim, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”


Father, I know there are times when our enemy would crush my soul and try to make me sit in darkness. But You will always lead me to the light, to the paths of righteousness, for the sake of Your great name. I praise You for this, and I praise You that, because You are my Shepherd, I will lack for nothing, and that, in Your Kingdom, things are far better than I could ever imagine.

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Not Wishful Thinking

Today is Thursday, December 17, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,925

Eight days until Christmas!

It’s a PTO day, as is tomorrow, as C and I will be heading down to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, later today, a Christmas gift to each other. In terms of pandemic safety, I dare say we will be much more safe than we were in Oklahoma, and more isolated than a typical day. We don’t plan to leave the cabin very much, and when we do, we will be seeking places to walk, preferably away from anyone else. We won’t be eating in at any restaurants, and we may not even visit the beloved Pie Peddlers shop. That is still a bit undecided, at the moment, but leaning toward not.

This is a pure relaxation, self-care trip, to get away from everything, and spend a lot of time in the hot tub. I’ve got plenty of books to take, some paperback, many electronic. My Kindle is loaded up. I’ll be taking the iPad along, from which I can also read Kindle books.

There may also be Geocaching.

We still haven’t figure out what Christmas is going to look like, this year. We badly want to see family, and we will have gifts for all. But we haven’t sussed it out, yet. (My browser spellchecker does not like “sussed.” I suppose I could go to the trouble to add it to my dictionary.)

I have my therapy session in a little bit, and will likely have to interrupt my writing for it. After that, between 11:00 and 12:00, we have a small grocery order to pick up, a few things S requested, as well as some more grapes to take with us, and eggs and bread for our breakfasts in the cabin. C may make a quick trip to the library to grab a few books. Then, this afternoon, we will be on our way.

Oh. I’m not sure if there will be a blog entry for the next three days. I always take my devotional materials with me, and I will have the iPad, which is more conducive to blog writing than an iPhone. If I do, it will look different, as I won’t have the same tools available that I have on my home computer.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 51:15 ESV
(15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Today, I am grateful:

  1. For some time away, to relax and refresh, to take our minds off of things
  2. To hopefully use said time for spiritual refreshing, as well
  3. That You calm us with Your love and delight us with Your songs (Zephaniah 3:17)
  4. For Your provision, as You cause rain to fall on the earth, and food to grow
  5. That our faithful prayers can have an impact on the world around us

Psalms 86:1-2 ESV
(1) Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
(2) Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalms 90:1-2 ESV
(1) Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
(2) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalms 85:9 ESV
(9) Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.

Mark 1:1-4 ESV
(1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
(2) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,
(3) the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”

(4) John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Psalms 66:5 ESV
(5) Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

Psalms 66:7-9 ESV
(7) who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
(8) Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
(9) who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

“Be, Lord, my helper and forsake me not.
Do not despise me, O God, my savior.”
(The Short Breviary)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Nineteen

Zephaniah 3:14-18 ESV
(14) Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
(15) The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
(16) On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
(17) The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(18) I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

Luke 1:39-45 ESV
(39) In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,
(40) and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
(41) And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
(42) and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
(43) And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(44) For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
(45) And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”


Leviticus 23:22 ESV
(22) “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”


Psalms 147:8 ESV
(8) He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.

Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV
(10) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
(11) so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Acts 14:17 ESV
(17) “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”


Psalms 140:1-13 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men,
(2) who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.
(3) They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah.
(4) Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet.
(5) The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah.
(6) I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
(7) O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.
(8) Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah.
(9) As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
(10) Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise!
(11) Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!
(12) I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.
(13) Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

There’s a theme that I see flowing through this morning’s Scriptures. The passage read in Our Daily Bread finishes with the verse in Leviticus, in which the Lord told His people to leave the corners of the field unharvested, so that the poor could come along behind and gather food for themselves. This was known as “gleaning,” and it is what Ruth was doing in the fields of Boaz.

This kind of practice would be unheard of in today’s culture of greed and “me, first.” The idea of not collecting every single possible penny of profit and leaving something behind for the poor would be considered a terrible business practice.

Yet, it is what our Lord expects from us. Generosity. Hand open, not closed. Compassion for the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, these are things the Lord desires from us.

And, in order to help us along in that regard, the verses from Daily Guideposts 2020 remind us of His provision in our lives. God blesses us with rain and crops, with food, that we might have enough for ourselves, but that we might also have enough to share.

I don’t grow crops or animals. Jolly good thing, too, because we would starve if we had to rely on that. Nevertheless, the Lord has provided for us by making it “rain” in different ways. We have plenty. We have excess. And He has given us generous hearts and open hands that we might share that with others, graciously and willingly.

I don’t keep track of the times when we help people. I believe that would be wrong. I think God does, though, and His “book” would be more accurate than mine, anyway. I dare say there will be entries in that book that would surprise me. That kind word I shared with someone who was discouraged. The challenging questions I asked someone to make them think about their beliefs, to solidify them in their hearts. There is more than just economical and physical generosity.

But we have, figuratively speaking, not harvested our corners.

The last piece is from Psalm 140, which doesn’t seem, at first glance to go along. However, if you look more closely at the latter verses of the psalm, you see the proclamation that the Lord maintains “the cause of the afflicted and will execute justice for the needy.”

This goes hand in hand with attitudes of generosity. In addition, there are some prayers in the middle of the psalm that say a great deal about our attitudes in our culture.

We should pray, along with David, that the desires of the wicked not be granted. Unfortunately, many of us have different ideas about who those “wicked” might be. I’m not going into that, today. Except to say that, for me, the “wicked” are those who would deny the poor, needy, and afflicted what they need.

“David prays to change the world. He prays that the plans of the exploitative and violent will not succeed and that the poor and downtrodden will be lifted up – and we should pray for the same thing. Affecting world events through prayer is not wishful thinking; we influence the course of current events through appealing to our Father in heaven to intervene.”

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


Father, help me to be more faithful to pray in these ways. Cause me to be more ready to pray for my world to change. I do pretty well, or so I think, at praying for those things that people ask me to pray. But there are things that I don’t pray intensely or frequently enough. And one of those things is for the desires of the wicked to fail, and that my world be changed toward more generosity and care for the afflicted and needy, those to whom Your heart leans.

Thank You for Your bountiful provision in our lives. Thank you that our jobs continue to hold up and that we have money coming in. Thank You that You have turned our hearts toward generosity. When I boast about this, I boast in You, Lord, because I have done nothing other than to do what You command, to love You, and to love others.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Created For A Purpose

Today is Wednesday, December 16, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,924

Nine days until Christmas!

In what must be the strangest week of the year, so far, I am back to work, this morning, only to be off, once again, tomorrow and Friday. Yesterday, I did not go to work, as we celebrated the life of C’s step-brother.

It was an interesting day for me. Emotionally/mentally, I began struggling on the trip to the funeral home. However, I recognized what was happening, and managed to stave it off. It would have been really ugly had I remained in that state of mind through a funeral.

There were moments in the funeral where I teared up, for sure. However, I can’t say that any of those moments were for the step-brother. Don’t get me wrong, we loved him, and we are sad to lose him, and most definitely sad for his wife and kids.

But one of those teary moments happened early on, as they played a number of recorded songs throughout the proceedings. The first was “I Can Only Imagine,” by Mercy Me, a very appropriate song for a funeral. I wept a little as I worshiped through that song. The second song was some country song I didn’t recognize. But the third song! “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. Again, I worshiped, deeply, through that song, and the tears flowed.

And what this made me realize is how much I miss worship. It has been way too long since I was able to simply sit and worship like I did yesterday afternoon. I don’t know what the answer/response is to this, though.

Later, they played another Mercy Me song, “Homesick,” which the front man wrote about missing his father. Actually, according to wikipedia, it was written when the band experienced the loss of nine different people close to them, in a short period of time. At any rate, anyone who knows me can guess where my spirit and heart went during that song. Those tears were for my own father, lost five and a half years ago.

Over all, it was a good experience, as many memories were shared by family members. Two daughters spoke, a son sang a song, and his wife sang a song, as well. I have no idea how either one of them made it through their songs.

We were exhausted afterward, and went to bed quite early last night. But I have to say that it was a pretty good day. Oh, and S went with us! She discovered that she could wear the facemasks made by WW. They are built with a little more space in them, making it easier to breathe. S did very well. But she reached her limit, so we did not try to attend the graveside service.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 145:21 ESV
(21) My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Today, I am grateful:

  1. For life and breath; grateful to be alive and breathing, this morning
  2. For my family, and the love shared among us
  3. For Your steadfast love that reaches to the heavens (Psalm 36:5)
  4. For creating me “just as I am”; may I honor that within me today
  5. That I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Psalms 36:5 ESV
(5) Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalms 145:1 ESV
(1) I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

John 19:25-27 ESV
(25) but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
(26) When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
(27) Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Psalms 138:1-8 ESV
(1) Of David.
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;
(2) I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
(3) On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
(4) All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth,
(5) and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.
(6) For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
(7) Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
(8) The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Eighteen

Isaiah 7:10-14 ESV
(10) Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz,
(11) “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
(12) But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.”
(13) And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?
(14) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Luke 1:26-38 ESV
(26) In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
(27) to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
(28) And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
(29) But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
(30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
(31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
(33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

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

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


Hebrews 1:1-9 ESV
(1) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
(2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
(3) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
(4) having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

(5) For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?
(6) And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

(7) Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

(8) But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
(9) You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”


Ephesians 2:10 ESV
(10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

“We would be so much more at peace if we simply accepted how God made us and tried to be the best ‘us’ we could be.” (Erika Bentsen, Daily Guideposts 2020)

Deuteronomy 14:2 ESV
(2) For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV
(9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.


Psalms 139:13-24 ESV
(13) For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
(14) I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(15) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
(16) Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(17) How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
(18) If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
(19) Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
(20) They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.
(21) Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
(22) I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
(24) And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head, right now, but I’ll filter it down to this: Once again, the Holy Spirit has brought together passages from totally independent sources that fit together like fingers in a glove.

God has created me, “just as I am.” I find that I am strangely satisfied, in this. That does not contradict, I believe, my current need for therapy. Yes, therapy/counseling is an attempt to change something in me that I am not fond of. But it is something negative; feelings, emotions that I don’t believe are honoring to my Creator; things which result from the effects of sin in my life.

There are characteristics that I have that God gave me, that do not need to be changed. I need not worry about physical appearance. The reason I am losing weight is not so much about physical appearance as it is health and how the extra weight prohibits activities that I want to do.

I don’t need to be taller or shorter. I don’t need to rub hair restorer on my balding head. I don’t need to have talents that God did not give me. I need to be satisfied with how God created me.

Why?

Because, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

I was created for a purpose. You were created for a purpose. We may not have quite figured that out, yet, but you know what?

That doesn’t matter! You don’t have to know your purpose in order to fulfill it! If we simply go about our daily lives, doing what God puts in front of us to do, no matter how “mundane” it may seem, we just might be fulfilling that purpose, and not even realize it.

Just some simple words of wisdom for the day. Go out there (or stay in, depending on your circumstances), and do what God gives you to do, and, in doing so, honor Him with all your being.


Father, I praise You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that You created my inmost being, forming me while still in my mother’s womb. I will honor that today, doing my best to be the best “me” I can be. And, as Oscar Wilde once said, I need to be myself, because everyone else is taken. Help me to honor You today, by faithfully doing whatever You put in front of me to do. Give me the wisdom to know what that is. But also remind me that I don’t necessarily have to understand my purpose in order to accomplish it.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

You Have Searched Me and Known Me

Today is Tuesday, December 15, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,923

Ten more days until Christmas. There’s a pile of packages, waiting to be wrapped, on the desk at the front of our house.

We still have not quite sussed out how we are going to share those with the rest of the family, though.

You will notice that today’s blog is slightly later than normal. I am not going to work today, as the funeral for C’s step-brother will be this afternoon. They are having the “visitation” piece this morning, around 11:00, so I took the whole day off. I’m out of PTO for the year, so it will be without pay, but my site manager was very gracious to work with me on this. We have a bereavement policy, but it does not extend to “step” relatives. I could have said that my wife’s “brother” had passed, but I chose to be completely honest about it.

So, even though it will be a day away from the stress and anxiety of work, it will be a day fraught with emotional distress, which will result in just as much exhaustion as a day at work. Prayers are coveted.

I can’t really think of anything else to write, so I will move on to

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 95:1 ESV
(1) Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Today, I am grateful:

  1. To be alive and breathing
  2. For the peace that passes understanding
  3. For the generous spirit You have given me
  4. For the guidance of the Holy Spirit away from being quarrelsome
  5. That You know everything there is to know about me
  6. That, no matter where I find myself, Your right hand holds me

Psalms 144:5 ESV
(5) Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!

Psalms 71:23 ESV
(23) My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

Psalms 89:1 ESV
(1) I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

Revelation 3:10-13 ESV
(10) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
(11) I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
(12) The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
(13) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Psalms 103:10-14 ESV
(10) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
(11) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
(12) as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(13) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
(14) For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Seventeen

Judges 13:2-7 ESV
(2) There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children.
(3) And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.
(4) Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean,
(5) for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
(6) Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name,
(7) but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'”

Judges 13:24-25 ESV
(24) And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him.
(25) And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Luke 1:5-25 ESV
(5) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
(6) And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
(7) But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

(8) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
(9) according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
(10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
(11) And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
(12) And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
(13) But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
(14) And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
(15) for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
(16) And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,
(17) and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

(18) And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
(19) And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
(20) And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
(21) And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.
(22) And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute.
(23) And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

(24) After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying,
(25) “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”


2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV
(22) So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
(23) Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
(24) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
(25) correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
(26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

This is related to what occurred in my spirit, yesterday. If you recall, I was convicted, yesterday, of harboring some hatred (mild, perhaps, but still a form of hatred, nonetheless) toward some folks who have different political beliefs than I. Repentance happened, along with restored joy, which continued throughout the day.

This topic is similar. First, we are forbidden (seriously, folks, forbidden) to engage in “foolish, ignorant controversies” that “breed quarrels.” They may not seem foolish or ignorant to you or me, but if we would step back from the ledge, we would, perhaps see that, in the grand scheme of things, they truly are.

And why must we resist that temptation? Because “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.” Period.

That’s a big bite to chew on, especially for someone who has spent a large part of his adult life with a love for arguing. No. We must not be quarrelsome, but “kind to everyone.”

“For all who love God and seek to tell others about Him, may we speak His truth in love. With every word, the Holy Spirit will help us.” (Patricia Raybon, Our Daily Bread)

Note that she said, “HIS truth.” There is a whole lot of “truth” being proclaimed out there, these days, even by followers of Christ, that is not God’s truth. We really need to be more careful what we proclaim as truth.


Psalms 139:1-12 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
(2) You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
(3) You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
(4) Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
(5) You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
(6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
(7) Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
(8) If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
(9) If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
(10) even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
(11) If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
(12) even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

I’ve been waiting all year for this Psalm to come up. It is one of my favorites of the 150. I can’t say it is my absolute favorite. I love too many of them to make a claim like that about any one of them. It is definitely in the top five, though.

The truths proclaimed in this psalm give me great comfort. God knows everything about me. Everything! He is “omniscient.” Even down to knowing what I’m going to say before the words are on my lips. To some, this would be terrifying, I know. But I get great comfort from this.

Why? Because I know that I cannot hide anything from God. Therefore, I never try. I might hide things from other people. But I am completely transparent with my Father in heaven, because I know He knows it all, already.

He is also everywhere. He is “omnipresent.” He hems me in, behind and before. I’m reminded of one of the prayers of St. Patrick.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.
(The prayer of St. Patrick)

Where can I go? Where can I flee? Nowhere! There is nowhere that God is not! This is also something that can either be comforting or terrifying. But it is only comforting for me.

Because of these things, when my wife points out a flaw of mine, or that I’m acting particularly weirdly, at any given moment, I am free to listen to her and heed her advice. I can “bear to let God expose [me] and to overcome [my] distorted self-views, which are so confused and biased.” And trust me, we all have “distorted self-views.”

Also comforting is verse 10. Wherever I go, wherever I may find myself, God’s hand will lead me, His right hand will hold me. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses of the past few years.

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

“Lord, I confess that when things go wrong in my life, I seldom stop to consider whether you are lovingly trying to show me something that needs to change. Friends tell friends the truth, even when it hurts. So help me to be open to your friendship and critique. Amen.”

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


Father, You have given me a lot, this morning. Thank You for guiding my heart away from being quarrelsome. This past year, for sure, has been somewhat groundbreaking in that arena, as I strive to maintain an attitude of love and thankfulness, trying to form a “love revolution” in my small sphere of influence. I still have a lot of work to do in that area. Or should I say “we” still have the work to do, for I cannot do it alone.

I praise You for the truths that You are always near me, and that You know everything about me, before I know it myself. I find this quite comforting, and it encourages me to be completely open before You. I am not afraid to confess to You when I have thoughts that I should not entertain. And in that area, I am also thankful for the therapy that I have recently been involved in. It has been very helpful, even after only a few sessions. Wherever I am, Your right hand holds me. Therefore, I will not fear, even if the mountains tumble into the sea.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Comfort Ye My People

Today is Sunday, December 13, 2020, the third Sunday of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,921

Twelve days until Christmas

That thing up there that I say every morning. “Peace be with you.” I’m not just saying that to say it. I mean it. To all who stumble across this humbler (or sometimes not-so-humble) effort, I wish you peace. I intensely desire that you find peace.

The reason for this blog is two-fold. First, it is simply a record of my own reflections, and years ago, I decided it would be better kept in an online place, “in the cloud,” if you will, rather than paper notebooks cluttering up the study.

Second, I thought that, just maybe, someone else might benefit from my reflections.

There is peace to be had. You wouldn’t know it from reading the Facebook posts of some of my more conservative friends. They seem to think the world is coming to an end because their candidate didn’t win. They are looking in the wrong place for peace. I intensely desire that they would find peace, too.

So, yes. Peace be with you, my friends.

When I weighed in at WW, yesterday morning, I was pleased to find that I had lost two pounds over the past week! So I am now at 95.2 pounds lost since we started this journey, back in February. I have 4.8 pounds to go to reach my goal of losing one hundred pounds by the end of 2020. There are three weeks left in the year, so I want to reach that on or before our weigh-in on January 2, 2021.

C was also successful, yesterday, losing around three pounds and passing her seventy-five pound mark, which got her another charm for her key ring. We have been told, repeatedly, that we are an inspiration to others. I’m definitely not used to that.

Today, we have our Zoom church gathering, at 10:15. I will be leading the discussion again, as the guy who was supposed to lead today will be out of town. We will be out of town, next Sunday, as we will be in Glen Rose. When it is “church time,” we’ll be packing up to come home.

I have no idea what will happen for the rest of this day. It’s raining and cold outside, today, so C may not be able to get her walk in. I imagine, we will order Applebee’s for lunch, as this seems to be our practice, recently. Maybe even a “tradition,” although it is a relatively new habit.

I just realized it’s only thirty minutes until our Zoom session. Better get moving!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
(Psalms 146:1-2 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  1. That You have put praise in my heart
  2. For the rain we are getting, this morning
  3. That You have helped me keep this daily gratitude habit up for over a year, now
  4. For the comfort You give to the broken-hearted
  5. That we can turn around and comfort others with the comfort You have given us

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
(Psalms 141:3-5 ESV)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
(Psalms 115:1 ESV)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
(Luke 2:33-35 ESV)

Psalms 13:1-6 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
(2) How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
(3) Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
(4) lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
(5) But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(6) I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalms 70:1 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering. Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Fifteen

Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV
(1) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
(2) to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;

Isaiah 61:10-11 ESV
(10) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
(11) For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ESV
(16) Rejoice always,
(17) pray without ceasing,
(18) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(19) Do not quench the Spirit.
(20) Do not despise prophecies,
(21) but test everything; hold fast what is good.
(22) Abstain from every form of evil.
(23) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(24) He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

John 1:6-8 ESV
(6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
(7) He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
(8) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

John 1:19-28 ESV
(19) And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
(20) He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
(21) And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
(22) So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
(23) He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

(24) (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.)
(25) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
(26) John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know,
(27) even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
(28) These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


Psalms 34:18 ESV
(18) The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Matthew 5:4 ESV
(4) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Here is more talk of peace, although these verse don’t specifically mention that.

But there are many, many people in our world who are broken-hearted today.

My wife lost a step-brother, this past week, who left behind a wife and some grown children.

My mother’s music minister lost his wife to cancer a few weeks ago.

I Facebook friend, with whom I used to work, lost a sister last week.

Popular celebrities have passed away, the most recent being country legend Charley Pride, yesterday.

And some are still broken-hearted over loss from years ago. My father passed away in 2015.

I lost a best friend to suicide over forty years ago, and I almost burst into tears, last Thursday, when I told my therapist about it.

I believe there is myth out there. Time does not heal the wounds of the heart. A broken heart doesn’t heal. It stays broken. But we can live with it, and we can, in turn, comfort others whose hearts are breaking, too.

And we get that comfort from our Father in heaven, through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV
(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
(4) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(5) For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
(6) If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
(7) Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.


Father, I pray for those who are broken-hearted today. May Your grace and mercy fill their souls as they grieve for those who they have lost during these days. This are so hard, right now, and the sorrow of losing a loved one during these times is compounded by the pandemic. So I pray for peace to fill the souls of those who are grieving today. And for us who still grieve losses after so many years, please continue to give comfort, and help us to know how to comfort others.

Isaiah 40:1-5 ESV
(1) Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
(2) Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
(3) A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
(4) Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
(5) And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Peace

Today is Saturday, December 12, 2020, in the second week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,920

Thirteen days until Christmas

The weekend is upon us. I’ve been up since around 6:40 AM. It wasn’t necessarily my choice to wake up that early, but awake I was, so up I got. And I feel fairly well-rested. Maybe I don’t really need as much sleep as I think. The quality of sleep that I got in just under six hours seems to have been pretty good. According to my Fitbit, my sleeping heart rate was under my average resting heart rate 95% of the time. My average resting heart rate is 72 bpm. Last night, the average sleeping heart rate was 65 bpm. Apparently that’s a good thing.

Today will be pretty normal. We have WW Workshop at 10:30, after which we will pick up our grocery order. Then we will cook our brunch of eggs and accessories, and who knows, after that.

Thursday evening, right after work, C and I took a walk around the neighborhood, primarily for exercise, but also to observe Christmas decorations in the area. There were several that were quite pretty. My favorite was probably one which involved no colored lights, and was made up of seemingly handmade figures gathered around the front porch and corner of the house. The only lighting was floodlights that were pointed toward the scene. I didn’t take a picture, but it was quite lovely.

It’s a cool day, here in DFW, with a high of 56 degrees. Tomorrow will be even cooler with a large chance of rain. Monday morning could be below freezing, but just barely. The forecast for our weekend trip to Glen Rose looks lovely. Lows in the upper thirties to mid forties, highs in the low sixties. It will be beautiful porch/hot tub sitting weather.

And in case anyone is concerned, there will be no socializing on this trip. We will be even more isolated than usual, as we will stay in or around the cabin, only going out to possibly pick up a food order somewhere. We may venture out to some isolated place for a walk or two, but will try to stay as far away from other humans as possible.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
(Psalms 103:20-22 ESV)

Today, I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend, to rest and refresh for the upcoming work week
  2. That the upcoming work week will only be three days long
  3. For peace in the midst of tribulation
  4. That You are still in control of all things, no matter what happens
  5. That Your will will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

“Show me the light of your countenance, O God, and come to me.”
(Based on Psalm 67:1)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
(Psalms 42:1 ESV)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Psalms 118:22-23 ESV)

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
(Matthew 3:13-17 ESV)

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.
(Psalms 37:10-17 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word – Day Fourteen

(I just realized that, by creating a reusable block and editing it every day with the new day, it changes the heading in every single blog post to be that day. In other words, had I used the reusable block, today, which I did not, it would have changed all thirteen posts before this one to “Day Fourteen.” Argh. In addition, I have come to the shocking realization that the same thing happens with my “ending prayer.” It’s both horrifying and hilarious, all at the same time.)

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
(Matthew 17:9-13 ESV)


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
(Philippians 4:4-8 ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

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

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 ESV)

I don’t have much commentary on this, today, and I don’t think it needs it. These are Divine words that all of God’s people need to heed, right now. So I will end this with my prayer.


Father, help us all to focus on the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Help us to keep our minds stayed on You, that we might have peace. You can give us peace in the midst of our tribulation. And we are most definitely in the midst of tribulation, right now. Grant us peace, Father!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.