Today is Friday, January 22, 2021.
Peace be with you!
Yesterday, I noticed a problem with WordPress. Some of my “reusable blocks” had been corrupted, or something. I was able to edit the ones that were affected, last night, but I had to delete one of them. The problem with that is that it deletes that block in every past blog in which it was used. This is a definite flaw in their system.
I also just noticed that some of the text was gone from my “footstool” entry a couple days ago. That’s sad, because I won’t be able to recreate that. If I continue to notice issues like this, I may be forced to go back to the old “classic” editor for the blog, which will mean more actual html coding. Or I may just stop using reusable blocks, altogether. We shall see.
Friday has arrived, our last day of work for the week. So far, there are no unusual plans for the weekend. We have been collecting socks for homeless people, and I think tomorrow is the day we are supposed to gather all of those up, but at this point, I have no idea how that is supposed to happen. We may all need to drop ours off at one person’s house.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"O Lord, you have mercy on all. Take away my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit. Take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake. Amen." (Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:11-12 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
- For the miracle of my heartbeat
- For the food I am eating for breakfast
- For the true fear of God, which is driven by reverence and awe, rather than guilt or punishment
- That every breath I take is a gift from You; may I breathe deep Your grace and mercy
- For You, Elohim, and that all that I know about You is infinitesimal, compared to what there is to know.
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
EPIPHANY – DAY 17
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:3 NIV)
The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:7-14 NIV)
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:1-8 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
For many years, I have loved the words used to describe God’s Word in the second half of Psalm 19. But this morning, for perhaps the first, I noticed that verse that says the fear of the Lord is “pure.” This helps us understand what it means to fear the Lord, in the right way.
Fear that comes from guilt, that is, fear of punishment, is not “pure.” It is driven by sin. If I am afraid of God in the same way I was “afraid” of my parents after I had disobeyed them, that is not “pure” fear.
The true and correct fear of God is driven by reverence and awe, mostly awe, I would think. For example, if we are smart, we fear the amazing power of a lion or tiger. We may feel safe when viewing them at the zoo or other wildlife preserve setting, but we know their terrible strength, and that they would just as soon eat us. This example, of course, fails just as any earthly example that attempts to define an infinite God . . . I’ve referenced Daniel Amos’s song, “Darn Floor Big Bite” here before. The idea behind the title is a gorilla attempting to describe an earthquake. Terry Scott Taylor’s idea is that man attempting to describe God is pretty much the same.
“You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight,” says the song of God.
So, if I am fearing God properly, purely, it is not a fear driven by guilt. And why should it be? Several days ago, I wrote about my past being erased . . . the sins that I have committed, forgiven and erased. Not just covered up; not just pretending they never happened; truly and eternally erased!
Father, I thank You for these truths, and for the psalmist’s descriptions of Your Word, and his demonstration of what true, proper fear looks like. Help my fear of You to be like this fear, pure and everlasting. Help me to remember that You have erased my past sins, like chalk from a chalkboard, gone forever. There is no guilt, there is no more need for shame. There is no need for the kind of fear that Adam felt when he hid from You in the garden. Thank You Jesus! And I thank You that I am, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, born from above, by the Spirit. Now let the Spirit’s wind blow in me as Jesus described!
"Faithful God, I confess that I'm hopelessly lost trying to justify my life, a posture of heart that leads me to all sorts of evil, unable to do good. But thank you for the joy of new birth through your Holy Spirit. Empower me to live as your beloved child today. Amen." (Heidelberg Catechism 8)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
(Psalms 73:26 NLT)
Some words to ponder, from Daily Guideposts 2021:
“I was arrogant before the phone call. I had forgotten that I am powerless and God is limitless. I had forgotten that every breath I take is provided by the One who designed and formed me. I do nothing on my own.” (Logan Eliasen)
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”
(Matthew 6:26 NLT)
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 NLT)
“In a world defined by anger, our lives are narrowed into bitterness and violence. In a world defined by fear, our lives become anemic and timid. In a world defined by God’s love, the result is eternal life.” (Eugene Peterson, A Month of Sundays)
Today’s wisdom from Jonathan Cahn goes hand in hand with my discussion about God from the Psalms passage.
“The reality of God is so transcendent, so awesome, and so beyond, that there’s no word in any language that can express it. Not even the word God can express the reality of God. The word Elohim is letting you know that whatever you think God is, He’s more than that. No matter how good you think He is, He’s better. No matter how beautiful, majestic, and amazing, He’s more beautiful, He’s more majestic, and He’s more amazing. No matter how awesome you think He is, He’s more awesome than that. And no matter how beyond you think He is, He’s even beyond that. What does Elohim reveal? It reveals that no matter how much you think you know of God, there’s always more to know, so much more . . . and so much more than so much more. So never stop seeking Him. For His Name is Elohim, and of His awesomeness, there will be no end.”
It’s worth noting that the word Elohim, the first word for God used in the first book of the Bible, in Genesis 1:1, is plural.
“The Mission: Today, seek to know God as one who doesn’t know the half of Him. Seek to know Him more, and afresh, as if for the first time.”
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 NLT)
For more reference, read Job chapter 38. I won’t quote the whole chapter here.
(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)
Father, I thank You for these mysteries that continue to have such an impact on my life. Whatever I know of You, compared to what there is to know, is infinitesimal. So, today, I ask that I might know You a little bit more, that I might know more of Your beauty, Your majesty, Your amazingness, and Your awesomeness. May I know You as beyond as You are, as Other as You are, and may I feel comfortable in this. While my fear of You will be driven by awe, let my love for You be just as powerful. And then let that love for You drive my love for others and my service to them.
Lord, I thank You for the call on my life to serve You. May I be faithful to do so in all aspects of my life; in my home, in my community, and at my workplace. Help me, along with all of Your children, work harder to serve the “common good.” I also lift up, today, anyone who might be starting a new career, a new life of some kind. May You show them Your face and kindness in their new venture.
Lord, have mercy on us Christ, have mercy on us Lord, have mercy on us
Grace and peace, friends.