Pray Without Ceasing

Today is Friday!!! April 12, 2019.

Day 22,310

Thirty-eighth day of Lent

Twenty-seven days until our Vegas trip!

Quote of the Day

“We are no longer happy so soon as we wish to be happier.”
Walter Savage Landor, English Poet, 1775-1864
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Thole ~ endure (Merriam-Webster)

The Texas Rangers had the night off, last night. The Athletics come into town tonight. Smyly will take the mound for the Rangers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM CDT. The Rangers are 6-6, in fifth place in the AL West by .029 percentage.

The Boston Red Sox got a much needed win, last night, beating the Blue Jays with some clutch hitting in the bottom of the ninth. The had fallen behind 5-0 at one point, but chiseled their way back up to a tie in the bottom of the seventh. A solo home run from the Jays put them back behind in the top of the eighth. But in the bottom of the ninth, Mookie reached first to be driven in by a clutch double from Mitch Moreland. Nunez came in to pinch run for Moreland. Martinez was intentionally walked. Nunez promptly stole third base (there’s still only one out at this point). Bogaerts drew a walk to load the bases. Then Devers chopped a single into right field to drive in the winning run. I believe Moreland’s at-bat was the highlight of the inning though, as he kept fighting with foul balls until he got that perfect pitch. Red Sox win 7-6. They are 4-9, tied with the Jays for fourth place in the AL East. They will face Baltimore tonight, at Fenway, at 6:10 CDT. E. Rodriguez will take the mound for the Sox.

As the weekend approaches, we are preparing for tomorrow night’s Night of Worship. That’s the main thing we have going on this weekend, other than our usual Sunday worship gathering. I don’t think we have anything planned for Sunday afternoon, which is good, because I’m usually exhausted after our Saturday Night of Worship.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22:4-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day to walk in his kingdom
2. For nice, spring-like weather today (currently 42, with a high of 74)
3. For the hope of some rain tomorrow
4. That praying without ceasing is posssible
5. For the desire to constantly commune with God

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us true repentance;
to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances;
and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers,
and to turn their hearts,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand;
to comfort and help the weak-hearted;
to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed eternal life and peace,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant that, in the fellowship of The Exchange Church and all the saints,
we may attain to thy heavenly kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “A Vital Part of Our Christian Life,” by Dallas Willard

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Acts 10:9

“Frank Laubach wrote of how, in his personal experiment of moment-by-moment submission to the will of God, the fine texture of his work and life experience was transformed. In January of 1930 he began to cultivate the habit of turning his mind to Christ for one second out of every minute.”

I’ve heard and read about this, before, and have read Laubach’s Letters from A Modern Mystic. It’s a truly amazing story. “God raised Frank Laubach from a lonely missionary post in the Philippines to the status of Christian world statesman and spokesman for Christ.” This practice of “constant conscious interface with God” brought him to a place where he felt that God simply carried him along from moment to moment. “This sense of cooperation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never have felt it this way before. I need something, and turn around to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.”

This kind of communion with God is, as the title of the reading says, vital for our lives. I don’t know how successful most of could be at Laubach’s “game of minutes,” but we can truly, as Paul tells us, “pray without ceasing.” This does not mean that we are praying every single second. That would be quite difficult, perhaps impossible for most people. But we can pray constantly and frequently throughout the day. We don’t have to only pray during planned blocks of time, devoted solely to that activity. We can pray at any given moment, driving down the road, walking through a store, doing our daily work. All it takes is simply turning our eyes, heart, and mind to the Lord for a second or two.

A perfect example was in today’s Facebook comic, “Coffee With Jesus.”

“Hey, Jesus. I’m stressin’ out over here.”

Yes. That’s a great place to start!

Thank you, Father, that we can pray at any moment. I thank you for the desire to commune with you throughout the day. I confess that I didn’t do that so well, yesterday, and ask for your Spirit’s help in reminding me, today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Repentance and Regeneration

Today is Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Day 22,309

Thirty-seventh day of Lent

Twenty-eight days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”
Martin Luther, German leader, 1483-1546
BrainyQuotes

Word of the Day

Alacrity ~ cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness. (Dictionary.com)

The Texas Rangers scored in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth to beat the Diamondbacks 5-2 last night. Lance Lynn got the win for the Rangers, and Kyle Bird notched a save. Logan Forsythe made a magnificent catch to end the game. Hunter Pence got his first home run of the season. The Rangers are now 6-6 on the season, tied for fourth place in the AL West. They have the night off, and will play Oakland tomorrow.

The Red Sox were off last night, so they didn’t lose. They resume their first home series with Toronto tonight at 6:10, with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.

The KC Royals are currently the worst team in baseball, at 2-9. However, there are three teams, including the Boston Red Sox, that are 3-9. That list also includes the Rockies and the Marlins. The Mariners continue to roll and top MLB with a 12-2 record.

C had a checkup with her cardiologist a couple days ago, and everything is good. If you recall, she has a small aneurysm, but it has not grown. He told her to come back in October, and if it hasn’t grown any, she won’t have to go back.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Psalm 21:13

Today I am grateful:
1. For leftover Subway sandwiches to take to work
2. Milder weather and temperatures
3. For love
4. For the God-given desire to repent
5. For the great salvation provided by our Lord

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for,
all women in childbirth,
young children and orphans,
the widowed,
and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely;
to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit;
and to comfort with thy presence those who are failing and infirm,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “No Regeneration without Reformation.”

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1:16-18

The offer of pardon for sins in the Bible is conditioned on the intent to reform on the sinner’s part. The word “intent” is the most important word in that sentence. We don’t want to give the false message that you must reform before you can be forgiven. Nothing could be further from the truth. But there is a popular “theology,” popular when Tozer was alive, and popular today, that seems to think that our pardon “depends upon faith alone.”

While faith is certainly necessary, repentance is also necessary. Repentance means to change your thinking about your way of life. It means that you desire to change. Can you imagine a church full of sinners, claiming to be forgiven and regenerated, who still love sin and haven’t changed their ways?

“The converted man is both reformed and regenerated. And unless the sinner is willing to reform his way of living he will never know the inward experience of regeneration.”

Before we can get to Isaiah 1:18, we must deal with verses 16 and 17.

But, once again, we must emphasize that it is the intent that matters. Do I intend to forsake my sin? Do I desire to change? That is enough to get it started. I don’t have to be perfect to be saved. But I do have to want to forsake my sins.

Father, I thank you for giving me the desire and willingness to repent and forsake my sinful ways. I thank you, as well, for the regeneration that you have given me through the life and blood of Jesus Christ. Please empower me to walk in your kingdom today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Pay It Forward

“Loving your neighbor as yourself is a matter of who you are, not primarily of what you decide to do.”

Today is Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Day 22,308

Thirty-sixth day of Lent

Twenty-nine days until our Vegas trip

Quote of the Day

“It’s a dangerous business going out your front door.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, British scholar and novelist, 1892-1973
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Flimflam ~ to trick, deceive, swindle, or cheat. (Dictionary.com)

The Texas Rangers managed to lose a game that they had well in hand, last night. They gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose 5-4. The closer, Leclerc, took the loss. They are now 5-6, back in last place in the AL West. They play again tonight at 8:40 in Arizona.

The Red Sox lost their home opener to the Blue Jays, 7-5. Chris Sale got his third loss in the game as the Sox fall to 3-9, in last place in the AL East. They play again Thursday (that seems weird, to have a day off in the middle of the series) at 6:10.

The Seattle Mariners continue to rule baseball, at 11-2, with a percentage of .846. The Cincinnati Reds and KC Royals are holding the bottom at 2-8 (.200), with the Red Sox and Rockies just barely ahead of them. The Rangers are tied with the Yankees, just south of the middle of the pack.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.

Psalm 21:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For an opportunity to be with Jesus
2. For time for God to calm my spirit and point me in the right direction
3. For the hope of opportunities to serve someone today
4. That God has had love and compassion for me
5. That I have the ability to pay that compassion forward

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world;
to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord;
and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives,
the homeless and the hungry,
and all who are desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the bountiful fruits of the earth,
so that in due time all may enjoy them,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to inspire us,
in our several callings,
to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of heart as thy servants,
and for the common good,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Pay Forward God’s Compassion,” by Dallas Willard.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12

“A person of compassion is one who feels the needs of others and whose compassion is not something that can be turned on and off like a water faucet.” The person who feels this kind of compassion is constantly burdened for others. That is why so many people reject Jesus’s commandment to love others. It takes “resources of personal strength and wisdom in action. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a matter of who you are, not primarily of what you decide to do.”

That’s an important statement, I believe . . . let’s take another look at it.

“Loving your neighbor as yourself is a matter of who you are, not primarily of what you decide to do.”

The thing is, though, that we can only be compassionate if we have, within ourselves, a sort of “well” of compassion that we have received from another person or being. That being, of course, is God. Consider 1 John 4:19. “We love because he first loved us.” And if he had not loved us, we would be unable to love. Keep in mind that the context of 1 John 4:19 is not love God, but loving others. Also, verse 18 says, “perfect love casts out fear.” Consider the role of fear in the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Our experience of God’s love is what allows us, empowers us, to set aside anger, selfishness, lusting, and so on in our relationships to others.”

So let us, indeed, pay forward God’s compassion to us.

Father, I read words like this and I feel so lacking. I have so much work to do in this area. You have had great compassion on me and great love for me. Your lovingkindness toward me has been immeasurable. Yet, I have been so stingy in paying that forward to others. Release my inhibitions, Father. Destroy my fear in the presence of Jesus. Send me out to show compassion on others, that I might demonstrate your great love for me and them, both.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Triumphed FOR Us

Today is Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Day 22,307

Thirty-fifth day of Lent

Thirty days until our Vegas trip!

Nothing much happened, yesterday. There was no baseball (at least for my two teams). It was Mama’s birthday, and I called her to wish her Happy Birthday. We worked, we came home, we ate chili and watched Good Girls and Speechless, we went to bed. See? Pretty dull day, huh?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 20:7

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day to walk in his Kingdom
2. That C continues to feel better as the healing continues
3. For the great mercy and lovingkindness (hesed) of the Lord
4. That, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
5. That Jesus triumphed over sin and death, for us

That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace to hear and receive thy Word,
and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred,
and are deceived,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us a heart to love and fear thee,
and diligently to live after thy commandments,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants,
the President of the United States,
and all others in authority,
that they may do justice,
and love mercy,
and walk in the ways of truth,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

(From Daily Guideposts 2019)

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:10

There’s an old Easter hymn that I always loved when I was growing up.

“Low in the grave He lay–
Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day–
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

Ginger Rue, today’s Guideposts writer, points something out that I have never thought of, in regard to those words. Actually, her husband pointed it out. He said he didn’t like that line that says, “He arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.” In her husband’s words, “That’s not what happened. We were all His foes, because our sinful nature puts us at enmity with God. In spite of that, Jesus loved us enough to die for us. So when He arose, He wasn’t triumphing over us. He was triumphing for us.”

I will echo Ginger’s response.

“Wow.”

Perhaps the hymn writer had this idea that Jesus rose from the dead, stepped out of the tomb and said, “So there!!” Or, “I told you so!”

But, truthfully, that is not what happened is it? No one, with the possible exception of a couple of Roman guards, who fainted, saw the resurrection. There was an earthquake, that much we know, and somehow that giant stone was rolled away (uphill, based on all accounts I’ve ever read) from the mouth of the tomb, and Jesus quietly came out of the tomb. By all accounts, he was not seen by anyone else until Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb.

It was a triumph, but not over his foes. “He didn’t see His glorious resurrection as a triumph over those who put Him in the grave, because no one had the power to put Him there. He chose to go. The triumph was over death, sin, and our separation from Him. We were God’s enemies, yet He died for us!”

Ginger’s husband was right. We were his foes! See Romans 5:10. Jesus did not triumph over us, he triumphed for us!

Addendum: It occurred to me, while I was showering, that the hymn writer could very well have intended that sin and death were the “foes” over which Jesus was victorious. If that was the case, most of my post is wrong.

Father, thank you for the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin and death. Thank you that, by grace, you loved us enough to die for us, even while we were yet sinners, even while we fought against you. In the words of the Psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends!

The Lord is My Refuge

Today is Monday, April 8, 2019.

Day 22,306

Thirty-fourth day of Lent

Thirty-one days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
Ray Bradbury, U.S. Science Fiction author, 1920-2012
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Funemployed ~ without a paid job but enjoying the free time. (Dictionary.com)

We had a great day, yesterday. The worship gathering was good, and then we had some awesome fellowship as we gathered to pay tribute to one of our young adults who is soon leaving us. He has been a valuable servant to us, helping with youth, and being quite instrumental in our weekly setup and tear-down. He’s getting married in a couple of weeks, and they will be living in Lewisville, which is quite a ways away from our gathering place. It’s actually quite close to where I work.

A real quick recap of yesterday’s baseball scores:
The Rangers lost another one to the Angels Mike Trout, 7-2. They are 5-5, tied for second place with the Astros.
The Red Sox finally won their third game, squeaking by Arizona 1-0. They are 3-8, tied for last place in the AL East.

Both teams are off today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 
May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

Psalm 20:4-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For my Godly mother and the influence she has had on my life
2. That my childhood and adolescent years were marked by the influence of Godly parents
3. That the Lord is my rock and my salvation
4. That the Lord knew me while I was still in my mother’s womb
5. That, even though I fail him, I am walking in his Kingdom

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God;
and that it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church Universal in the right way,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to illumine all bishops, priests, and deacons,
with true knowledge and understanding of thy Word;
and that both by their preaching and living, they may set it forth,
and show it accordingly,k
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy harvest,
and to draw all mankind into thy kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! 
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! 
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. 
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. 
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. 

Psalm 71:1-6

Anyone who has known me for very long (or read this blog for very long) knows that Psalms is my favorite book in the Bible. Yes, even more than the books of the New Testament, that tell me of the glorious life in Christ that I have. Why is that? I think it is because the Psalms show me how to pray. And the Psalms, at least most of them, are passages that I can pray, verbatim, back to God.

Just like this one. “In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!” I couldn’t come up with a better prayer on my own!

You see, the Lord has been my refuge, all of my life. Sure, there have been times, too many times, when I stepped out of that refuge and ignored God. Not for very long, mind you. But it still happened. I went my own way for a brief season. I “followed my heart,” as it were. By the way. Don’t listen to well-meaning people who would tell you that. Don’t ever follow your heart. That’s bad advice. Follow the Holy Spirit. Follow Jesus.

God always draws me back to the path. Sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently. He is my refuge; my lifelong rock and fortress. My favorite Psalms are the ones that proclaim this, as well as other mysteries of God. The biggest mystery to me is how he could still love me after all the times that I failed him. But he still does. He never lets us go.

He is “a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come.” And where did I learn all of this? Look at verse 6. Because of the faith of my parents, I leaned on God “before my birth.” He took me “from my mother’s womb” and began to teach me through her and my father. As you look around the world, you will see that this is not always the case. If you knew my parents, you would see it as no surprise that I follow Jesus (or at least I try to). There are some folks out there, it’s a miracle that they found Jesus. But it’s because Jesus finds us, isn’t it?

Anyway. Today is my mother’s birthday. I’m honoring her by acknowledging her faith (and my father’s, whose faith is now fully realized) and influence upon me. Happy birthday, Mama! I hope you have a lot more of them.

I pray for whoever reads this, that the Lord would be your refuge, too, your rock and your fortress.

Father, thank you for being my rock and my fortress for all of my life. Thank you for knowing me while was still in my mother’s womb. Thank you for knowing me long before that. Such knowledge is a mystery to me. Nevertheless, I celebrate it. You are good, Father, so good. Help me to know you more and to know your presence with me today, as I go about my normal duties of the day. May your blessings fall on my mother today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord!

Today is Sunday, April 7, 2019.

Day 22,305

Thirty-third day of Lent

Thirty-two days until our Vegas trip!

This may become a regular Sunday morning thing, as I am going straight to the devotion. We don’t get up as early on Sundays, and I need to do better at getting finished and to our YMCA earlier to help set up. So this morning, and potentially all Sundays, going forward, I will dispense with the trivial matters.

I will take a moment to say that we had a marvelous day with my mother yesterday. We took her to eat at Boo-Ray’s in Weatherford for lunch. Then we took her to a furniture store where we helped her pick out a new recliner (came very close to buying one, ourselves) and bought it for her as another birthday gift. It was a great day.

Love to all of you!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah.

Psalm 20:1-3

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship God with the Body of Christ
2. For a wonderful day with C and Mama, yesterday
3. For opportunities to praise God
4. That he has done might deeds, both in my life and in this world
5. That I have the ability to praise him with musical instruments and voice

From all evil and wickedness; from sin;
from the crafts and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy;
from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections;
and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism;
from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood,
from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion;
from violence, battle, and murder;
and from dying suddenly and unprepared,
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation;
by thy holy Nativity and submission to the Law,
by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial; thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension;
and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity;
in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 
Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Psalm 150

Then is the last time that you spent some time praising God and giving him thanks for your life? Sure, I come up with five things every morning, for which I am grateful. You would think it would be easy. But it’s not always. Part of that, I suppose, is that I am trying to come up with meaningful things, and not just pencil-whip it.

I think it would be safe to say that none of us spend enough time being thankful. Probably, none of us spend enough time praising him. I have gotten into a habit of thanking God for seemingly insignificant things, such as getting through a traffic light that I have to stop at every single morning on my drive to work. “Thank you, Jesus,” I might say as the light stays green long enough for me to get through. It’s not flippant at all. I am sincere.

When’s the last time your church (or my church, even) gathered for prayer and thanksgiving, outside of the normal Sunday morning worship time? How much time do our churches spend, during those normal Sunday morning worship times, giving thanks and praising him?

I know we don’t do it enough. I’m guessing your’s probably doesn’t either. I do believe, however, that my pastor is out to change that. And I’m right beside him as we do. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. But I’m excited about it.

Take some time to praise God, this morning, ala Psalm 150. Add to it whatever you can think of for which to praise him. Praise him for his mighty deeds in your life. Praise him for his “excellent greatness.” You may not be able to play a trumpet or a guitar. You may not have a tambourine, and maybe you can’t dance your way out of cardboard box. Maybe you can’t play a violin or a flute. But you can make a joyful noise. And if you are breathing (I assume that’s the case if you are reading this), praise the Lord!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Father, I praise you, this morning! I praise you for your mighty deeds in my life, in the life of my family. Even in the midst of the recent trials we have experienced, I praise you. Those trials, even though they were troublesome to us, still pale in comparison to the trials of many on this planet. We can praise you and know that you are in control of all things. I pray that, during our worship gathering this morning, we will be more aware of your presence and that we will pray to you and sing to you and praise you like never before.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends!

Jesus Is Not Aladdin’s Genie

“A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent or win over a competitor. He would not wish to succeed if to do so another man must fail.”

Today is Saturday, April 6, 2019.

Day 22,304

Thirty-second day of Lent

Thirty-three days until our Vegas trip!

Quote of the Day

“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”
Zelda Fitzgerald, American writer, 1900-1948
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Plasticity ~ the capability of being molded, receiving shape, or being made to assume a desired form. (Dictionary.com)

Well, it’s been a busy morning, already. I woke up around 6:30, got some coffee and started writing this review of The Cloud of Unknowing.. Then, around 8:15, I headed to our local tire place because I had noticed, about a week ago, that I had a screw in my left front tire. There was no observable air loss, as yet, but, since we were planning a trip to Mineral Wells today, I wanted to get that taken care of, rather than risk a flat out in the middle of Hwy 180 between Weatherford and Mineral Wells.

I got to the tire place (Hamm’s Tires, if you are close to Watauga . . . we love that place) and the guy took my keys and went out to look at it. He turned the wheel so that he could get to it easier, pulled it out with some pliers, then went and got his wet brush to brush water over the hole. Apparently, it did not puncture the tire, as no air was leaking. “You’re good,” he said, and waved me away when I asked if I owed him anything.

I came back home and started this blog entry at about 8:45. At 9:00, I stopped to go pick up our grocery Click List at Kroger, which we set up last night. We got that put away, I filled up with gas on the way home (the car . . . filled up the car), and here I am, back at it.

I feel like it should be, like, 1:00 or 2:00 PM already, and it’s not even 10:00!

The Rangers lost to the Angels, last night, long after I was asleep. The final score was 3-1. So it wasn’t a bad game. They just came out on the losing end of it. Lance Lynn took the loss, giving up only five hits and two runs over seven innings. But the lone Ranger (no pun intended) run was on a Joey Gallo home run in the top of the fourth, which actually tied the game 1-1. Justin Anderson got the win for the Angels, and Cody Allen picked up a save. The Rangers are now 5-3, in second place in the AL West, 1.5 games behind Seattle. They play the Angels again today at 3:05, in California.

The Red Sox continue to baffle their fans. They scored enough runs to easily win, last night, but gave up almost twice as many. The final score, against the Diamondbacks, was 15-8. Seven of those eight came in the last two innings. Rick Porcello took the loss and Zack Godley got the win for Arizona. The Sox are 2-7, still in last place in the AL East, 4.5 games out. They play again today at 7:10 in Arizona. Their home opener has yet to happen, and is scheduled for next Tuesday against Toronto.

The Milwaukee Brewers are currently the best team in baseball, at 7-1 (.875). The Cincinnati Reds picked up where they left off last season and are currently the worst, at 1-6 (.143). Actually, they are tied with the . . . Cubs??? Wow. And the Red Sox are only just barely better.

As already mentioned, we plan to head to Mineral Wells around lunch time. We are going to celebrate Mama’s birthday, which is Monday. We’ll take her out to eat at a place of her choosing. Who knows? We might even watch some baseball.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

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

Today I am grateful:
1. That I didn’t have to get a tire repaired (or replaced)
2. That I have been deemed worthy, by the blood of Christ, to be a part of the body of Christ
3. That the Lord does not treat us according to our sins, but according to his mercy
4. For my family
5. For another opportunity to visit with my mother

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers;
neither reward us according to our sins.
Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood,
and by thy mercy preserve us for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “That Utilitarian Christ.”

Tozer reminds us, in this reading, that we must be careful that we are not following a false Christ. He also reminds us that a false Christ doesn’t necessarily come from outside the Church, but “may arise within the sanctuary itself.” There is also a danger that we may be following a made-up Jesus, “one conjured up by our imagination and made in our own image.”

Consider the things that Jesus is said to be able to do for people.

“Christ has been popularized by some so-called evangelicals as one who, if a proper amount of prayer were made, would help the pious prizefighter to knock another fighter unconscious in the ring. Christ is also said to help the big-league pitcher to get the proper hook on his curve. In another instance He assists an athletically minded person to win the high jump, and still another not only to come in first in a track meet, but also to set a new record in the bargain. He is said also to have helped a praying businessman to beat out a competitor in a deal, to underbid a rival and to secure a coveted contract to the discomfiture of someone else who was trying to get it.”

Don’t get me wrong, here. I see nothing wrong with praying for God to help me be my best at whatever I do. And I believe Tozer would see nothing wrong with that. But here is the gist of Tozer’s belief: “A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent or win over a competitor. He would not wish to succeed if to do so another man must fail.”

Seriously. Read that again. Take some time to process it.

“A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent or win over a competitor. He would not wish to succeed if to do so another man must fail.” (Emphasis mine)

This is a tough word for our culture, where people see nothing wrong with asking God to help them beat someone else. And, honestly, it is why I have never been comfortable praying for my favorite team to win, or my least favorite team (coughcoughYankeescoughcough) to lose! Seriously, there are, more than likely, Godly people on both teams! One of those was a guy named Mariano Rivera, one of the greatest (and, perhaps, most hated) closers of all time.

I find it difficult to believe that God cares very much about who wins a baseball or football game. Even less about a basketball game.

Just kidding! Just kidding!

But that’s kind of my point, too. I don’t like basketball. But why would I assume that because I don’t like it, that must mean God doesn’t like it. Do you see the absurdity of that line of thinking? But we fall into that all the time. I love God. God loves me. I love the Rangers. God must love the Rangers, too. I don’t like the Yankees. God must not like the Yankees, either. How do we even come up with this stuff??

Back to Tozer: “The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.” (Emphasis mine)

Father, I pray that you would always prompt me if my prayers are for selfish ambitions and “cheap and unworthy prizes.” I also pray that our churches would see the truth in this. May we take you and Christ more seriously, and regain our respect for what is sacred and holy.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.