Grace Cannot Be Earned Or Won

“We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it.”

Today is Monday, November 28, 2016. Twenty-seven days until Christmas.

Quote of the Day

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” – André Gide

Word of the Day

Vicissitude – the quality or state of being changeable.

Today is French Toast Day. Some people really like French Toast. I’ve never been crazy about it, myself. I would just as soon have pancakes or waffles.

Yesterday was a mixed bag. We had a good worship gathering in the morning, then stopped by Slim Chickens for lunch, a place we had never tried before. It was pretty good, basically, just chicken tenders and “wings.” (Ever since I discovered that “boneless wings” are just chicken nuggets, I have seriously believed that they should not be allowed to call them “wings.”) They serve up dinner boxes with three to five tenders, a side of your choice (they have mac and cheese, which is good for S), two dipping sauces, and a drink. It was pretty good; better than Chicken Express. I don’t think it’s a place we will go very often, though, as we are not frequently in the mood for chicken tenders.

After finishing season 2 of iZombie on Netflix, we started looking at some of those genealogical DNA tests that you can get. After doing some research, I think I’ve decided that they may just not be worth the money. They can’t really pinpoint what country your ancestors are from, just “European” or “Asian” or “African,” basically just what continent. We are already pretty confident that my father’s ancestors are European, so what’s the point in paying $60-200 to find that out? Also, we read that the Ancestry DNA test is frequently wrong. And since I’m almost 60 years old, I don’t really care to know what diseases I might get. By this time, if I’m going to get them, I’m going to get them. “Que sera sera,” as it were.

We closed out the weekend with an unexpected hospital visit, as C got a call from her step-dad’s daughter. It seems that her step-dad dreamed he could walk and tried to get up out of bed, which resulted in him falling (he had a leg amputated a couple years ago). In mid-fall, he realized what was happening and tried to catch himself, which resulted in two broken elbows and a broken knee. We visited with him for a bit, and he is in fairly good spirits, all things considered. There will be surgeries, but when and how many at one time is yet to be determined.

89 days until the first Spring Training Game
126 days until Opening Day


My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Psalm 71:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. Psalm 71:17

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  Psalm 118:23

(From Praying With the Psalms)

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, 
  and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. 
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
Psalm 138:4-6

Our praise should not be kept private; it is not a hobby to only be indulged in at home. Praise is “a public affirmation, a powerful witness to God’s ways and a celebration of his goodness.”

“‘Mighty God, while angels bless Thee, may a mortal sing Thy name? Lord of men as well as angels, Thou art every creature’s theme. Lord of every land and nation, ancient of eternal days, sounded through the wide creation be Thy just and endless praise’ (Robert Robinson, ‘Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

. . . and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . Romans 3:24

“We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it.” Until we arrive at a point where we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we are destitute, God can do nothing with us. If we believe that we are, within ourselves, sufficient, we will receive nothing from God. We must realize our spiritual poverty, and only then can we receive God’s gift of grace. It cannot be earned; it cannot be won.

Father, I praise you for this truth. I am nothing without you. In the words of Horatius Bonar, in How Shall I Go to God, “It is with our sins that we go to God, for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” You have taught me this over the past couple of decades, and to this, at least, I have listened and learned. I am supremely grateful to you, Father, for your salvation, and all that you have given me. I still have much to surrender in my life, so I beg you to keep working in and with me, teaching me to walk in the Kingdom, joining in the easy yoke of Christ.

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.

Soul and Body Resting Together

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”~~Andre Gide

Today’s word of the day, from, is pandiculation

Today is Small Business Saturday. Many people braved the crowds to feed the capitalist giants yesterday. Let’s give a chance to the small business owner today.

We had the most marvelous day, yesterday. While I was finishing yesterday’s entry, Christi took Rachel and Just over to the local Payless Shoesource (on Black Friday–*gasp*), and bought some shoes. Boots, actually. As for it being Black Friday, she said there was one other customer in the store. Afterwards, we drover over to my mother’s house. I took my mother to The Booksatchell, a local used book store. It has been a favorite place of ours for many years, but they are closing their doors on Christmas Eve of this year. My mother had about $40 of trade credit there, so she wanted to be sure and use it up before they close. We spent about an hour there, while Christi, Rachel, and Justin went in search of coffee and/or hot chocolate.

They wound up at a place called Jitterbeans, which is a coffee shop that is part of a movie rental store. They are located in a building that was Calhoun’s Furniture store when I was growing up. The movie store has been there for 27 years, and the coffee shop for almost 10. While we were shopping in the book store, Christi texted me that we really needed to get over there, because it was really good. So we finished up our shopping, and headed over. I got a cup of what they call “Aztec Spice Hot Chocolate” (Justin had gotten a cup of it and said it was really good). Let me tell you, and I am not exaggerating, it was the best cup of hot chocolate I have ever had in my 57+ years on this planet! So good that I bought a tin of the mix to take home. We will definitely visit the shop whenever we find ourselves in town. The owners, Brian and Laura Marsh, are very friendly people and a joy to talk to.

After all of that, we went home for some leftovers for lunch. Then Mama, Justin, and I looked at books at the house. As my mother went through them, Justin and I picked out books that we were interested in. Some of them, we will take home today, others will stay in the house until later. There are many that my mother will not part with, just yet. And there are some that she wants to read before letting them loose for me to read.

Today, we check out of the hotel, after which we will take my mother to the grocery store for a few things. We will probably all have lunch together (Stephanie really wants to go to Pastafina), and then head back to Fort Worth, while Rachel and Justin head back to Denton.

It has been a most wonderful weekend.

On this date in:

1582–William Shakespear and Anne Hathaway bought a marriage license. Funny, she doesn’t look that old!
1814–The London Times was printed by automatic, steam powered presses for the first time.
1843–The Kingdom of Hawaii was recognized by the UK and France as an independent nation.
1895–The first American automobile race took place over a 54 mile stretch between Chicago’s Jackson Park and Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea was the winner; only took him 10 hours.

Today’s birthdays include John Bunyan (Enlish cleric and author), Jean-Baptiste Lully (French composer), William Blake (British poet), Berry Gordy, Jr. (American record company owner), Hope Lange (American actress), Randy Newman (American composer), Paul Shaffer (Canadian orchestra leader), Ed Harris (American actor), Judd Nelson (American actor), Jon Stewart (American comedian), and Stephnie Weir (American comedian).

William Blake was a British poet and artist. He was born on this date in 1757. I don’t know which of his poems is most well known, but I am most familiar with two of them. One is The Tyger, and the other is either known as And did those feet in ancient times, or, simply, Jerusalem. Long before I knew it was a William Blake poem, I was very fond of a musical arrangement of Jerusalem by Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Washington Irving, Enrico Fermi, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Jerry Edmonton, Jerry Rubin, and Leslie Nielsen are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

There are two great examples of the two different purposes of petionary prayer, both found in the Psalms. If you remember, there was the external purpose of prayer, in which our prayers have an effect on our physical surroundings. Then there is the internal purpose, in which we receive peace and rest from God, as we give up control of our lives to him.

Psalm 4 is a great example of the latter of these purpose. It is an “evening prayer, oriented toward accepting what has happened that day and reflecting on it in light of God.”

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah.
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

In this case, the “submissive, heart-at-rest” prayer of Psalm 4 comes before the assertive, straightforward requests of Psalm 5.

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.
Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

The purpose of the evening prayer of Psalm 4 can be found in the phrase in the final verse, “in peace.” The purpose of this kind of prayer is to give the soul the same kind of peace that a good night’s sleep gives the body. “The soul and body rest better if they do it together.” With this kind of prayer, we attempt to hand our daily burdens and concerns over to God “so our souls do not go weighed down into the night’s sleep.”

Jonathan Edwards once summarized these ideas in a sermon outline that went like this:
“1. Our bad thins will turn out for good (Rom 8:28)
2. Our good things can never be taken away from us (Ps 4:6-7), and
3. The best things are yet to come (1 Cor 2:9).”

If we find ourselves becoming depressed or despondent as we lay our requests before God, perhaps we should spend a little more time in Psalm 4.

Father, I pray for the kind of peace that David requests in Psalm 4. May I go to sleep each night with this kind of peace in my heart, laying my burdens and concerns down at your feet, that my soul and body might rest together.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.