Today is Friday, the sixth of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.
Peace be with you!
I had a fine day at the library, yesterday. There were a couple of challenging patrons, but I always have help from at least one other manager or librarian during my time, there, and they were graciously helpful. As usual, I learned more about my job while I was there, and it is always good to learn new things, so that I can help the next person better.
The Rangers didn’t play yesterday, but the Red Sox did, and lost tremendously to the LA Angels, by the score of 8-0. The sad thing is, Boston’s starter, threw five shutout innings! It was the bullpen, once again, that blew the game and gave up 8 runs. The Sox are now 10-16 for the season, tied with Baltimore for last place. They begin a series with the Other Sox (11-13) tonight, in Boston.
The Rangers begin their series in NYC, against the Evil Empire tonight. Game time is . . . oops. No they don’t. Tonight’s game has already been postponed, and a double header is planned for Sunday. So there you go.
Those Yankees still hold the best record in MLB, at 18-7, but are only a half game ahead of Milwaukee’s Brewers and the Mets. The Reds have now lost nine consecutive games and are 3-22. There remain five teams who have yet to win ten games. The aforementioned Reds, the Washington Nationals, the Detroit Tigers, the KC Royals, and the Chicago Cubs.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen." (The Book of Common Prayer)
I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
(Psalms 34:1-5 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
1. for blue skies and mild weather, today 2. for all things that are lovely, and for the loveliness of the Name of the Lord 3. that God will show me the right path to follow; that His Spirit will lead me forward on firm footing 4. that God is rooting out all false gods from my life, any idols that may be in His place in my heart 5. for the hope that you will see these things and be inspired to practice your own gratitude
Today’s prayer word is “lovely.”
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
(Philippians 4:8 NLT)
We have the ability to choose what we allow our minds to dwell on. One of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes is in regard to this. “The ultimate freedom we have as individuals is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon and think about.”
The casual observer might be forced to think that the majority of US citizens are choosing to dwell upon the most negative things possible. Paul gives us this admonition in Philippians, a most wonderful encouragement, to think about, to dwell upon, whatever is “lovely.”
What are some things that are “lovely?”
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Interlude
(Psalms 84:1-4 NLT)
The dwelling place of the Lord is lovely. Now, we know that when the descendants of Korah wrote this psalm, they were speaking of a physical building. But we now think of the “dwelling place” of the Lord as the human soul. Therefore, I must believe that the soul of a human being is “lovely.” Believe me, that is extremely difficult, sometimes, especially when confronted with a human being who seems to have no soul.
The name(s) of the Lord is “lovely.”
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.
(Psalms 135:3 NLT)
There is a song that I like, called “Tremble.” It’s all about the wonder and beauty of the name of Jesus. The bridge says this:
Your name is a light that the shadows can't deny Your name cannot be overcome Your name is alive forever lifted high Your name cannot be overcome
The name of Jesus is lovely, indeed, and most worthy of the attention of our minds.
This is the value of meditation and contemplation, the classic disciplines. By practicing these disciplines (and there is a difference between the two), we train our minds to do exactly what Paul encourages us to do in Philippians 4:8, to think upon things that are “lovely.”
And what Dallas Willard said is true. As human beings, we have the unique ability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. The problem is, we simply fail to do that, most of the time. Just because a thought pops into our head, doesn’t mean it has to stay there, right?
(From Pray a Word a Day)
Father, help me, today, to dwell upon what is lovely. If a negative thought comes into my brain, help me to push it right on through, dwelling on the loveliness of Your name or Your dwelling place. May I look upon every human being as lovely in Your sight, because You created all of us in Your image. I pray that all of Your people would do the same, and treat others with dignity and respect, even if they don’t agree about things. Your Name is lovely. The Name of Jesus chases shadows away and will not be overcome. Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble! Hallelujah!
Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
(Psalms 25:4 NLT)
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
(Psalms 143:10 NLT)
As I reflect on the things that are lovely, meditating on and contemplating the name and characteristics of the Holy Trinity, then the Spirit of God can “lead me forward on a firm footing.” The Lord can “show me the right path,” and “point out the road for me to follow.” But this takes work on my part. Yes, I can pray for God to do these things, and He does answer prayer, but it’s not just automatic. I have to do the work required to learn these things. I must practice the disciplines in order to train my mind to think about the things that are pure and lovely.
Father, I praise You that You will point out the path, show me the road, and help me keep my feet on that path. But I ask You to help me practice the disciplines that will enable me to hear You when You guide me. Help me to learn how to pay attention. When I have trained my mind, heart, and soul to listen to You and focus on Your loveliness, then fear has no place in my life. Regardless of the circumstances that I see in the world around me, I will have no fear if I am simply focusing on the right things. So help me to focus on the right things. Help me practice those disciplines.
"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name, Amen." (From The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer)
Eugene Peterson expresses a wonderful sentiment in a reading called “Do It Yourself.” He relates a personal story, in which he attended a concert by Pete Seeger (I’m not at all jealous)(yes, I am, that was sarcasm), where Seeger played the banjo and sang folk songs. Peterson was inspired by Seeger’s banjo playing, to the point that he went and bought a second-hand banjo and found some used instructions books and tried to learn how to play, himself.
Here’s the thing. As much as he enjoyed the concert, and likely would have enjoyed another, the “distinctive thing in that experience was not that I wanted to go back and here Pete Seeger sing again but that I wanted to do it myself.”
And then, as he has a way of doing, Peterson applies this to the teaching and preaching of the Gospel. “That is what pastors should want to take place when they teach and preach the Scriptures–not to have people become dependent on them but to have people become eager to get the Bible in their own hands and become competent in reading it.”
I wholeheartedly agree with this way of thinking. Sadly, however, when I observe the world around me, I see a veritable plethora of people who have not, in fact, studied the Scriptures, themselves, but, rather, are spouting nonsense that they have heard from other people, who may or may not have studied Scripture, or have studied it wrongly.
I have several goals with this blog. One is simply nothing more than to have a record of my daily devotions. Years ago, I decided that keeping them online would take up a lot less space than writing them in notebooks, and would be quicker, as well. I can type a lot faster than I can write. But another goal (as well as a corresponding goal for my Facebook posts and TikTok posts) is to inspire people to 1) read and study the Scriptures themselves, and 2) practice daily gratitude.
Don’t read what I say and just believe it (or not believe it, for that matter). Be like the Berean Christians in Acts who “searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” And, for heaven’s sake, don’t just believe something because a pastor said it from a pulpit.
But more than anything, I want to inspire you to be grateful. I want to inspire you to think about things that are “lovely.” I want to inspire you to love God and love people, to take part in a Love Revolution.
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I pray that people will see this blog, read it, and then take it upon themselves to think about things that are pure and lovely, to love You and to love each other, and then to practice their own gratitude. I pray that people would see Your loveliness reflected in the way I live, not the ugliness of the world around me. Help me to reflect Your love and mercy and grace, rather than everything negative in the world.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.