Abide

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Today is Monday, the sixteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,440

C is home today, as she hasn’t been feeling well for a couple days. In fact, she is currently at Care Now, getting checked out. We believe it is nothing more than the usual sinu-bronchitis that rolls through every year. No fever, so far, just sinus pressure and chest congestion.

I’m taking Mama to a podiatrist, this morning, to deal with an ingrown toenail that flared up late last week. Otherwise, things are pretty good around here.

As noted below, I visited Living Word Lutheran Church, yesterday morning, and had a wonderful time of worship and communion with them.

The Texas Rangers won the last game of the series with the Red Sox, 7-1, behind the solid pitching of Martin Perez, who is now 2-2 for the season. He gave up one run in the top of the fifth, and the Rangers answered with a Cole Calhoun solo homer in the bottom. Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the score was still tied 1-1. The Rangers had two men on base when I said to my mother, “They need to get a run, here, so Perez can get a win.” El Bombe must have heard me, because he promptly hit a three-run homer, to put them ahead 4-1. Cole Calhoun, not to be outdone, followed up with another solo shot, to make it 5-1. Later in the game Garcia (the aforementioned “El Bombe”) hit another homer, this one for two runs. So all seven Rangers runs were the result of four home runs by two batters. Quite a day for Calhoun and Garcia. And Perez, who I believe I heard the announcers say has a 0.86 ERA over his last few starts. That’s pretty amazing.

The Rangers are now 14-19 for the season, back in fourth place, one game ahead of the Athletics. Their next game is today, as LA Angels roll into town for a series. Gametime is 7:05 CDT.

That loss put the Sox at 13-21 for the season, still in last place in the AL East, a half game behind Baltimore. Their next game is tonight, against the Astros, who have been winning a lot, lately. Gametime is 7:10 EDT, in Boston.

The Yankees (25-9) continue to dominate MLB, still having lost only nine games. The Cincinnati Reds (9-26) still haven’t won ten games, and to add insult to injury, pitched a combined no-hitter against the Pirates, yesterday . . . and lost 1-0. The struggling Detroit Tigers have the longest current win streak, at three games, and Baltimore has the longest current losing streak, also three games. The Dodgers still have the largest positive run differential, at +70, but are only one run ahead of the Yankees, who have +69. The Reds have a run differential of -65.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we thank you that you have revealed life in Jesus Christ. Grant that we may enter this life through the grace you have given us to recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord, to believe in him, and to hope for all the good still to come as the fruit of his suffering and resurrection. May the glory of the Living One be revealed to the dead throughout the whole world so that even the dead and the unbelieving may be awakened and see his life. Keep us true to what you have given us. Strengthen our faith and endurance in all our trials. Let your name soon be honored among all people so that hatred may cease and the coming of your great day may be foretold in changed hearts and changed thoughts. Protect us this night. Bless us and help us again and again as you have promised. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
(John 17:3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that through Jesus, we know the way to eternal life
2. that there is hope for all good things still to come as the fruit of Jesus's suffering and resurrection
3. that I am able to abide with Jesus, and He with me, and that, no matter what circumstances may befall me, I have the confidence that God is with me
4. for the call to humility, and the command to slander no one and avoid quarreling (Titus 3:2); Father please help me in this
5. that words like "abide" and "humility" are realities in which we are to walk, not just vague concepts to ponder

Today’s prayer word is “abide.” I love this word, and perhaps I can explain why.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
(John 15:1-8 ESV)

The reading only featured part of verse 4, but I felt the need to post eight verses, for context.

What does it mean to “abide?” The Greek word in this verse is menō, which means “to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.” In fact, the NLT uses the word “remain,” rather than “abide,” which is also true of the NIV. However, I really like the way Peterson puts it in The Message.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
(John 15:4 MSG)

So, to abide with Jesus, and to have Him abide with me, means that I dwell with Him, in Him, set up house in Him.

In 1847, Henry Lyte wrote a hymn, known as “Abide With Me.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Such comforting words for all possible circumstances, up to, and including, our eventual passing from this life. “Help of the helpless;” “O Thou who changest not;” “I triumph still if Thou abide with me;” and “In life, in death.”

Here is a beautiful arrangement of that hymn, one of my favorites, by Salt of the Sound.

Oh, my Father, You are, indeed, the “help of the helpless,” for that is truly what we are, in most cases. We think ourselves so strong, sometimes, and so “on top of things,” when in reality, we are largely clueless. But You, God! You have all things in Your hands and all things under Your control, no matter how chaotic things appear on the surface. Things seem to be “progressing” exactly how You said they would, and why would we be surprised about that? The sad thing is, there are different groups of people who will think different things when they read what I just typed. No matter. You know what is in my head and my heart, and You know that I am trying my best to promote love in this world.

So, I pray, along with my musical friends and Henry Lyte, “abide me!” I do need Your presence, “every passing hour!” Sometimes I am aware of Your presence, sometimes I am not. Life is much more sweet when I am aware of it, but I know that You are there, all the time. I believe that You are abiding with me, and I pray that You help me to also be always abiding in You, as well.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
(James 4:10 NLT)

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
(Psalms 95:6 NLT)

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NLT)

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”
(Romans 14:11 NLT)

I visited a Lutheran church, yesterday morning. Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine, TX. My good friend and former pastor has been attending there since the Christmas season, last year. He was also there, yesterday, so I sat with him. There were two significant things that happened. The first was when one pastor led the prayer of confession at the beginning. Here are the words that she read, at one point: “By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At that moment, not only did I get serious chill bumps, but I also wept a little bit.

But the other thing is more in line with the Scriptures I have shared above. When this (and I’m sure others as well) church observes Communion, which has, in recent years, become the central piece of the worship experience for me, the people go up to the altar and kneel to receive it. The pastors come around on the inside of the circle and hand out the bread and the wine. It is a tremendous experience for me. The first time I visited there, I was weeping as the pastor handed me the wafer.

It takes humility to kneel. We don’t like that, in general, especially in Western culture. But Jesus commands it. God desires it. All throughout Scripture we are commanded to humble ourselves, worship, and bow down.

Father, I pray for more humility in my life. Once again, I realize what a dangerous prayer this is, but only dangerous to my pride. I recognize the facts; I am nothing without You. I believe in the words of John the Baptizer when he said, “He must increase, I must decrease.” This should be the “mantra” for every single Christian on the face of the earth. It should be the chant of the saints everywhere. “He must increase; I must decrease.” As we abide more and more in You, in Christ, we know this truth, we are humbled.

Father, I also pray that we understand that words like “abide” and “humility” are not just words, but realities in which we are to live. The same is true for words like “love,” and “sin,” and even words like “Jesus,” and “Holy Spirit,” and “grace.” Too often, Lord, these become nothing more than words or hazy, vague concepts in which we claim to believe. But when we see these as realities in life, things become much more concrete. Jesus is real; He walks beside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, every day. As St. Patrick prayed, “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 . . .” This is reality, Lord! it is reality that I need to dwell, to abide, to remain in You and You in me. This is something that I desperately need to know, deeply within my soul.

So, today, Lord, help me to abide in You; help me to have humility, as I abide; humility that, when I see someone post something on social media that I don’t agree with, to simply pray and move on. Humility that gives me the capacity to not speak evil of anyone, no matter what they say the believe. And, above all else, the humility to truly love my neighbor as myself and love the community of saints in the way that Jesus loved us. Reality, Father.

(Above prayer inspired by words from On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

Abide

Good morning. (It’s morning when I write this. I have no idea what time anyone else reads it.) Today is Thursday, June 14, 2012. One day closer to whatever’s next. Today is “Flag Day.” We don’t have one. It’s also “Pop Goes the Weasel Day.” Really? That has its own day? Here’s an interesting interpretation of that song…makes me wonder why it was ever considered a children’s song.

Aha! The reason today is “Flag Day” is that, on this date in 1777, Congress adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the official flag of the United States. It was on this date in 1789 that Captain William Bligh and 18 other reached Timor (in the East Indies), after having been cast off the Bounty and traveling nearly 4000 miles in a small boat. Really? That’s a true story?? I remember a movie from when I was a young child…never knew it was true. And on this date in 1909, Burl Ives was born.

I remember that he was one of my favorite singers when I was a child.

Christi’s work building is still quarantined, at least through tomorrow (Friday). So she continues to “work” from. She has confessed to being rather bored.

I have forgotten to update the status on my arm (if you remember, I twisted it or something last Saturday at our church activity). It is much better, but there is still some pain, and there are certain motions which are still difficult. Over all, though it is better, and movements that caused severe pain on Saturday evening and Sunday are now relatively painless.

We’re praying for Stephanie this morning, because she seems to be coming down with a cold of sorts. She wasn’t feeling well at all last night, and didn’t go work out with Christi and me.


Father, I pray for some vision of you this morning, something that will help me follow you more closely.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 14. This one begins, The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” I have only seen a few people in my lifetime who made a definitive statement that, “There is no God.” There are many people who are not sure. There are even many who state that they don’t believe God exists. That’s different than making a bold statement such as, “There is no God.” There is no way that anyone could state beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God. That person is, indeed, a fool. Can I prove to you that God exists? No. Just as the atheist cannot prove that he does not exist. But I believe in my heart that he is real and that his Spirit lives in me. That’s why it’s called “faith.” You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. (v 6)


My Utmost For His Highest

Abide in me… John 15:4

The Spirit is placed within me by the Atonement, at the time of my salvation. Much of what happens next is up to me. “I have to construct with patience the way of thinking that is exactly in accordance with my Lord.” I’m the one that has to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). When Jesus says “Abide in me,” it is my duty to do this, my responsibility to abide in him, “in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is.”
One key thing is that we can abide in Christ during any circumstance of our life. I can abide in him in a crisis as well as I can during a prayer meeting. Jesus was at home with God where he was, whatever his circumstance. There was a serenity about Christ that is all too often missing in our lives.
“Think of the things that take you out of abiding in Christ–Yes, Lord, just a minute, I have got this to do; Yes, I will abide when once this is finished; when this week is over, it will be all right, I will abide then. Get a move on; begin to abide now.
“Determine to abide in Jesus wherever you are placed.”


Father, I thank you for the Spirit of Christ that was placed in me upon my salvation. I thank you that you chose me and created in me the desire to believe in you. You gave me the gift of faith. I pray now that you would empower me by the Spirit to do what is necessary to “get a move on,” and abide in you constantly. Yes, it is quite easy to “abide” during a powerful, inspiring prayer meeting. It is easy to “abide” during a worship service. It’s fairly easy to “abide” during my morning devotion (although I confess I’m easily distracted, sometimes). But I find it difficult to abide when something goes wrong at work, or when the traffic goes against me, making me late for work (or anything else I’m trying to get to). I find it difficult to abide when things don’t go right at home, when Stephanie gets in a “mood,” or when Christi’s work situation is in a mess. These are areas where I need to learn to abide at all times. Chambers is right…abiding is something that is not circumstantial. It should be something that happens inside me at all times, no matter what the circumstances. (Including when the computer just decides to reboot, which it did right in the middle of that last sentence…grateful for WordPress auto-save.) So, Father, as I go out to “face the world” this morning, I pray for the Spirit to show me how to abide in you, no matter what. The thing I don’t like about these prayers is that this kind of sounds like a challenge, and I don’t like what comes next. If you’re going to show me how to abide, then there must be trials, there must be challenges. So I’ll prepare myself for whatever will come today. Keep my faith strong, Lord.

I pray for this day. I pray that they would get Christi’s work site open, so she can truly begin working at the new job. I pray that Stephanie will feel better today. I pray for our lifehouse meeting tonight, and for decisions that we need to make about the summer. I also pray for the leadership and elders of our church, that you would give them wisdom and guidance, showing them the direction that you want our church to take. While I’m praying for the church, I also ask for wisdom as we seek a place to call home. We are still looking for some kind of building or permanent space so that we can have a more visible presence in the community.

Your grace is sufficient.


The word for today is “abide.” No matter what, we can abide in any circumstance.

Grace and peace, friends.