Today is Thursday, December 31, 2020, the seventh day of Christmas.
Peace be with you!
One more day until 2021! Will you stay up to say “good riddance” to 2020?
The above mentioned fact means, of course, that today is New Year’s Eve. And I have taken PTO (paid time off) for this last day of the year. As is, unfortunately, my custom, I was awake at shortly after 6:30, this morning. But that is still, technically, “sleeping in” for me.
As we finish off 2020, we have been greeted with yet more sad news, as Dawn Wells, who famously played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, passed away yesterday, at the age of 82, from complications due to Covid-19. I may or may not do a retrospective blog this evening. Probably won’t. But the idea did occur to me, so it’s floating around in my brain.
I will finish at least two more books today, for my 2020 reading list. I actually surprised myself by reading more than forty books. In the spirit of full disclosure, I include Audible titles on my reading list. At least, that is, if they are audio versions of real books. I do not include “Audible Originals” on my reading list. It looks like I will finish up with either 43 or 44 books, this year. Not too shabby. Two of those that I will complete today are devotional books.
In fact, I just had an idea. (Be careful, it’s in a strange place.) I think I will do a sort of “retrospective” for the year, but it will be a recap of sorts, running down all of the books that I have read this year. We will see how much I can remember about any of them. Hahaha!!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
This new day You give to me From Your great eternity This new day now enfold Me in Your loving hold You are the star of the morn You are the day newly born You are the light of our night You are the Savior by Your might God be in me this day God ever with me stay God be in the night Keep us by Thy light God be in my heart God abide, never depart. (David Adam)
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
CHRISTMAS – DAY 7
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)
BIBLE SONG: PSALM 90:1-6, 12, 17
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
(Psalms 90:1-6 NIV)
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 NIV)
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:17 NIV)
BIBLE READING: NUMBERS 6:22-27
The LORD said to Moses,
“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”‘
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
This is a wonderful passage to close out a year, especially a year like 2020. Looking back on this year, we can find, all too easily, so much about which to complain. Most of us probably have to work a little harder to find something to be thankful for or that we consider blessing.
But here’s the thing. It is much more healthy, physically, mentally, and spiritually, to be grateful and count blessings than it is to be downcast and complain.
I can think of at least a couple things, right off the bat, that I find to be blessings during 2020.
I have lost almost one hundred pounds this year. Perhaps by Saturday, when we officially weigh in, I will have reached one hundred pounds. I hope to. Together, the three of us who live in this house have lost almost two hundred and fifty pounds! (It looks like more if you write it out. Heh.)
C still has her job. In a year when countless tournaments were cancelled, when bowling leagues suffered, and others were laid off, she still has her job. Sure, she took a ten percent pay cut, earlier, but she still has her job, and we are doing fine, financially.
And guess what!! She got a bonus in this week’s check, and she gets her full pay back as of January 1! What a blessing! And totally unexpected.
I still have my job. Unlike many, I have had to go in to work every day of the pandemic. And, while we have had three reported cases of Covid-19 at our place, I have stayed well. My employer is doing a good job of enforcing protocols.
So there are blessings to be counted, and, even though I have been guilty of complaining about some of the madness of the year, I have also been faithful to note the blessings and continue my habit of gratitude throughout the year.
So, as I read this, the “Aaronic blessing” from the book of Numbers, I find that I can say, without hesitation, that the Lord has blessed me and my family throughout this year. He has blessed us and protected us; He has smiled on us and has been gracious to us; and I believe that He has kept His face turned toward us, and, above all, given us peace.
Father, I am grateful for these things, in this past year. I confess that there have been times when I allowed the presence of unpleasant events take hold in my spirit, and caused me to complain. But I also praise You for the fact that, when that did happen, Your Spirit was quick to turn me around and find blessing in our lives. I pray that, as a new year approaches, You will continue to bless us, and that we will find more ways to praise You and live out those blessings, allowing them to not stagnate in our own lives, but to overflow into those around us, “paying it forward,” so to speak.
"Covenant keeping God, at the end of another year I thank you for keeping me connected and at home in you through the Holy Spirit by your free, unchanging love and by the strong intercession of Jesus. In your faithfulness, continue to preserve and keep me and all your people from the power of evil throughout the coming year. In Jesus' name, amen." (Westminster Confession, 17)
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)
Side note: I’m way too distracted, this morning. Trying to get focused to finish this out.
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:11-18 NIV)
In the category of blessings in the past year, I can include a strange peace that has settled in my soul/spirit. The reason for this is in verse 14 of the above passage. “He (Jesus Christ) is our peace.” Note that this verse also says that Jesus has “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
We, the Church, need to rediscover that peace.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)
Father, what more fitting way to end the devotionals of 2020 than with “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord?” For truly, Father, everything that happens to us, during the course of a year, whether good or bad, happy or sad, must necessarily end with praise. So this year will end with praise. And 2021 will begin with praise. There has been so much in this year that has been out of sorts. Your Church has been torn down the middle by politics. I pray for restoration during 2021. I pray that we might set politics aside and realize that it truly has no bearing on eternity. We need spiritual healing.
But we also need physical healing. The world is hurting. Maybe not more than it ever has, but more than it has in my lifetime. Father, please deliver us! I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow morning and the pandemic be gone. I know that it could be, if that’s what You decide to do. I believe, with all my heart, that You could wave Your hand and Covid-19 would be eradicated. But I don’t believe that that is what will happen. Nevertheless, I pray that You would, Father, have mercy on us!
I pray for spiritual renewal in the coming year. Since we kind of see January 1 as an opportunity to “start over,” I pray that we can all approach the new year with a “clean slate,” and look for new blessings and for those new mercies that are new every morning. Grant us repentance and forgiveness for those times when we forgot to count our blessings and, rather, focused on failures. And I pray that we would find ourselves knowing and experiencing both Your presence and Your forgiveness more often in the coming year.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- That You have provided, financially, for us throughout 2020
- That our health has been maintained through this year
- That You have given us peace, in spite of the turmoil around us
- That You have put praise in my heart and on my lips
- For new beginnings and hope everlasting
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Grace and peace, friends.