Like A Thief

Today is Tuesday, December seventh, 2021, the second Tuesday of Advent.

The peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,280

Eighteen days until Christmas.

I got a lot of Christmas presents ordered, yesterday. Our presents for R & J, we will have delivered directly to their house. I guess they’re on an honor system to wait until Christmas to open them. Hahaha! I don’t have a list from C, yet, and I certainly don’t know what to put on my own Christmas list. I’ve reached that stage of life where I don’t need anything. I don’t even want much.

Today is my evening work day, my four hour shift from 4:15-8:15. Then, tomorrow, we have our staff Christmas Luncheon, I think from 12:00-2:00. That gives everyone ample opportunity to attend and still have stations covered. I’m not sure when the gift exchange piece of that will be happening, though.

I don’t have much else going on, so on to the devotional.

Except that I was just reminded that today is the anniversary of C’s and my first date. December 7, 1984. We went to a midnight Laser Magic show at the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It was most definitely magic.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Parousia, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Stillness,
the presence
of peace

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government
 and of peace 
there will be no end, 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, 
to establish it and to uphold it with justice 
and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. 
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of peace
2. for the child, born to us, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace
3. for Your great patience, as a thousand years are like a day to You, and vice versa
4. for the hope and promise of a new heaven and new earth, "where righteousness dwells"
5. for Your Church, the bride of Christ, broken down as She is; revive us, O Lord!

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ADVENT – DAY TEN

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear?  
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

I pause in the quiet to consider the peace of His presence, to celebrate the Prince of Peace, both in His first arrival and the hope of His return.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of "The Lilies of the Covenant." Of Asaph. A psalm. 

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock. 
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Awaken your might;
 come and save us. 
(Psalms 80:1-2 NIV)
You transplanted a vine from Egypt; 
you drove out the nations and planted it. 
You cleared the ground for it, 
and it took root and filled the land. 
The mountains were covered with its shade, 
the mighty cedars with its branches. 
Its branches reached as far as the Sea, 
its shoots as far as the River. 

Why have you broken down its walls 
so that all who pass by pick its grapes? 
Boars from the forest ravage it, 
and insects from the fields feed on it. 
Return to us, God Almighty! 
Look down from heaven and see! 
Watch over this vine, 
the root your right hand has planted, 
the son you have raised up for yourself.
(Psalms 80:8-15 NIV)

BIBLE READING

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
(2 Peter 3:8-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages over again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. I pray my life to God, through these meditations, and rest in His presence.

Father, I struggle with interpreting some of these Psalms. Today’s looks, on the surface to be mainly about Israel, but I can see elements of Christ within it. Yet Jesus does not have walls that are broken down, and has not been ravaged by boars and insects. At the same time, though, I can see similarities between Israel and Your Church in today’s world.

We, the Church, are a sort of “transplant,” made possible by the infusion of the righteousness of Christ. And it does seem as though the walls of the Church are being ravaged by “boars” and “insects.” I pray for restoration, that we might put the entirety of our faith and trust in Jesus, our Redeemer.

We wait, Lord. We wait for the revelation and return of our glorified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have waited for thousands of years. And we continue to wait. Some are waiting more patiently than others. I’m more patient some days than I am other days. Sometimes, the news gets to me, and I wish You would hurry up. But then I read this passage from 2 Peter again, which tells me that these last couple thousand years were, in effect, equivalent to a couple days to You. The point is not a correlation of days to years, though. The point is that You exist outside of time, and that You are in no hurry, partially because the plan is already in place, and You are working it, according to how You want to.

It’s times like these that I am reminded of this verse:

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
(Psalms 115:3 NIV)

And, Peter tells us, You aren’t being slow, You’re being patient. And we should be most thankful for that, because it gives us time to get our act together, right? You don’t want anyone to perish, but desire all to come to repentance. So You are patient, waiting for the “fulness of the Gentiles” to happen. Yet, at the same time, I realize that “waiting” is not a concept that You are involved in, because, once again, You exist outside time. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. I can’t grasp this, it makes my head hurt.

Help me to be ready and watchful, knowing that Your return could happen as a thief in the night. It will be obvious when it happens; obvious, and, apparently, loud. Help me to live a holy and godly life, as though by doing so, I could “speed its coming.” And, as Peter said, I will be “looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

May You equip us to serve in unique ways in the communities and public in which You have placed us. Give us the capacity and desire to serve the common good, as much as it is possible for us to do so.

"Cleansing Lord,
when You come again as a judge of the living and the dead,
You will be like a furnace of judgment that will consume everything evil and ungodly.
But You will be a refining fire too,
with a glowing,
purified creation coming from the flames.
Make this world beautiful for You and fitted for Your kingdom;
purify my heart so that I may envision that coming day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD;
 be strong, 
and let your heart take courage;
 wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 27:14 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Utterly Meaningless

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of October, 2021. It is Halloween.

Day 23,243 (the number of days since I was born)

Seven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back . . . you can’t say you weren’t warned!)

There are a number of reasons that today is significant. As already mentioned, it is Halloween. I really enjoy this “holiday” (I don’t really consider it a holiday, because we don’t get the day off from work, if it falls on a work day.), and the celebrations have been going on for a few days, already. I saw some very cool costumes at the library yesterday, as we had a family event yesterday afternoon. My favorite was the son of one of the other library aides (who, next week, will no longer be an aide, but a part time assistant librarian!) who came dressed as a dalek from Dr. Who.

That’s not his costume, of course . . . that’s just an image to show you what a dalek looks like.

Another reason this day is significant is that, 504 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, today is deemed “Reformation Day.”

But, for us, today is the most special because, twelve years ago, today, our oldest daughter, R, got married to J. So we wish them a “Happy Hallowversary” every year on this day!

I think I already mentioned that our church group is not gathering this morning. At this point, I don’t have any plans to attend elsewhere. We will also not be home to hand out candy, this evening, which is probably a good thing, because it means we did not buy any candy, and the last thing we need is overflow Halloween candy laying around our house. Those bite-sized candy bars find a way of always falling in my mouth, you know. Yesterday, at the library, I “accidentally” ate three giant Lemonheads.

We will be going to a friend’s house for “Halloween chili” tonight. That’s one of our favorite events of the year. I think S might even be planning to dress up as a kitten. I might wear my “wizard costume,” which consists of a black trench coat, a felt hat, and a walking stick. Impressive, eh?

There are no other plans for today. And my next shift at the library is Tuesday evening. Did I mention that I got my Covid booster last Thursday? I can’t remember if I did. But I was really tired all day yesterday, and felt a little icky Friday night. But at one point Friday night, I finally got up and took some Advil, so I felt pretty normal yesterday, but just really tired. My left arm is still marginally sore, but not too bad.

The Braves won again, last night, to take a 3-1 lead over the Astros, in the World Series. I’m hoping they can put it away tonight. I suppose I should be more interested in it, if I’m truly a fan of baseball. But I’m not, and it is what it is, right?

I may have forgotten this, yesterday, but I’m still reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. I’m close to finishing and should finish it this afternoon.

On to what’s truly important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Finding Light, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

October ending
seasons come and go,
the River winds on
 
Selah (Psalm 19:8)
©2021 S. Michaels
Strong Tower(Haiku/5-5-5 & Psalms/Proverbs Faith Notes)

I will give thanks to you,
O LORD,
among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, though seasons come and go, Your love remains steadfast and sure
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You are my God and will be my guide, "even to the end" (Psalm 48:14)
4. that the earth is filled with Your love; remind me to look for it every day
5. that I'm not stuck living in the past, but am freely moving forward with You; all praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY ONE

INVITATION

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
(Psalms 48:14 NIV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on my life. It is filled with love, both Yours, and that of family and friends. When I forget about that love, and focus on self and negativity, please remind me of the love.

BIBLE SONG

You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
(Psalms 119:57-64 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2-5 NIV)

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart. I either silently, or possibly out loud, repeat them, meditating, forming prayers in my spirit.

I do love Psalm 119, as long as I am not expected to read the entire chapter (176 verses!) in one sitting. Almost every verse in the psalm mentions, in some form or fashion, the Word of God. It is a symphony of praise, and epic poem, to God’s Word. If you have a version in which the chapter is broken up into groups of eight verses, you see a Hebrew letter designated at the beginning of each group.

If you could read Hebrew (I can’t), you would notice that each verse of that group of eight verses begins with that Hebrew letter that is at the top of the section or stanza. Oddly, we do not know who wrote this psalm.

In the section I’m reading today, although the NIV does not feature this, the Hebrew letter is Heth. The KJV shows it as CHETH, which may be more accurate, because each of the verses begins with a word that starts with ch.

I love the thought of God as my “portion” (v. 57). To me, this indicates that God is enough. He is all I need.

I don’t know that I could ever honestly say that I have actually sought the face of the Lord “with all my heart” (v. 58). It is most definitely something to which I aspire, though.

Verses 63 and 64 also speak to me. I consider anyone who fears the Lord and follows His precepts to be my friend. That does not mean that everyone who claims to be “Christian” will be my friend. There are many who use that label who obviously do not either fear God or follow His precepts. And the statement that the earth is filled with God’s love is something that we all need to be reminded of, frequently. I make mention of this in the prayer following today’s invitation.

I always love getting into Ecclesiastes. It’s a fun book to read, even if it is a bit confusing, sometimes. While its authorship is commonly attributed to Solomon, I am not 100% convinced that this is the case. To me, it is not clear who wrote it, and I have no guesses at all as to who else it might have been, other than Solomon.

And you know what? I really don’t care who wrote it. “The Teacher” wrote it. Some (the respectable Matthew Henry included) would argue that the fact that it says “Son of David,” and “king in Jerusalem” prove that it is Solomon, as he fits both of those descriptions. However, the words “king in Jerusalem,” may describe David, not “the Teacher.”

If read in the wrong spirit, one might immediately find Ecclesiastes to be an exercise in futility, and somewhat depressing. I mean, the thought that “everything is meaningless” can be somewhat discouraging, right?

Some translations, such as KJV and ESV, use the word “vanity,” rather than “meaningless.” The Message uses the word “smoke.” I rather like that. The Hebrew word literally means “emptiness” or “vanity,” so those translations are pretty much correct. But another word could be “unsatisfactory.” I like that, too. It could even be said to mean “transitory.”

Why does the Preacher/Teacher say this? He gives examples. We go to work every day. What gain do we get from this? In our modern day, we get paid with the currency of the land. What do we do with that? We pay bills, we buy things. But, ultimately, it is nothing. In fact, in these days, it’s all pretty much pretend money, anyway. I hardly ever see cash, and the only think I use it for, any more, is to tip my Sonic carhop when I’m at one of the few Sonics that won’t turn on mobile tipping.

We have reached an era that, for many of us, cash is “meaningless” or “vanity.” That scares a lot of people who take Revelation way more literally than they should.

The Teacher looks at generations that come and go, while the earth just keeps on turning. I am alive today. I have lived twenty-three thousand, two hundred and forty-three days (it looks a lot longer when I type it). That’s a lot of days. Or is it?

If you take the creation story literally (which I both do and do not . . . don’t hurt yourself trying to figure that out), the earth has been in existence for somewhere between six and eight thousand years. If you believe some scientists, it has been in existence for billions of years.

I’m just going to go with the six thousand number. If that is correct, and it would be the minimum time that the earth and universe have been in existence, that is more than two million days.

That kind of makes my 23,243 pretty petty, doesn’t it?

So I’m alive today. I might live another twenty or thirty years. Or less or more. Only God knows. But then I will be gone. No one knew me before 1958. And very few will remember me after I’m gone. A handful, likely. And when they’re gone, no one will remember me.

Meaningless. Vanity. Everything is utterly meaningless.

The sun comes up; the sun goes down, and then it runs back around so it can come up again. It’s a meaningless cycle.

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . into the future.”

And then, the Teacher nails the coffin shut by telling us that there is, quite literally, “nothing new under the sun.”

Hah! He never got to see iPhones, right?

See?? Are you depressed yet??

I’m not, actually. Because I kind of understand where he is coming from and where he is going. But you have to read it all in context, and, frankly, it’s rather unhealthy, mentally, to read only the few verses that are highlighted today, and just stop. That really does leave us in a dark, dark place.

If I look only at these things, then, yes, it can be very depressing. But I do not only look at these things. I can honestly, and happily, in fact, look at all the devices of this world, both physical and not, and proclaim, along with this Teacher, that they are “utterly meaningless,” nothing but “smoke” and mirrors.

In the grand scheme of things, in the broad picture of eternity, everything in this room, where I am sitting, that I can see with my eyes . . . all meaningless. “It’s all gonna burn!” Perhaps these words that I am typing are even meaningless.

Unless, one day, someone happens to stumble across this blog, and it miraculously leads them into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. At that point, it will mean everything in the world to one person.

And that’s kind of why I’m doing it. One of the reasons that I keep it up. That, and my mother enjoys reading it.

So, while we don’t come up with any firm purpose from today’s reading, we must know that knowing God and His wisdom is what provides the only real meaning in life. What is the meaning of life? As much as I like to say it, it is not, in fact, “42.” It is to know God, and to fear Him. To spread His love to everyone . . . to “pass it on.” It is to follow Jesus Christ into territories that make us uncomfortable, and to set aside many of these things that truly are meaningless and vanity, that we might walk in His Kingdom and follow in His steps.

Father, I praise You, even for the meaninglessness of the material world around me. I do thank You for many of these material things; things which can, in fact, be used to provide meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. But let us not get too attached to these things, which will not survive us for very long. Some of these things may outlast me, physically, but as we live with You for eternity, they will, in fact perish. May we use them wisely and “hold on loosely” to them, always being aware that someone else may need them more than we. Keep me aware of any needs that I might be able to provide with the resources You have provided us. And let us not think to heavily on the thoughts that all is vanity or utterly meaningless, as we might truly find ourselves in a dark place, mentally and emotionally. There is really no reason for us to go there, in light of the fact that our world, our universe, is filled with Your love!

May we, Your people, be filled with resurrection hope and joy. May we all be equipped to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whenever opportunities arise.

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.

"God of heaven and earth,
what is the purpose of it all?
The endless cycle of life brings with it questions that don't find answers in the available light under the sun.
With You,
however,
I get the larger view beyond this world.
I trust You,
God in heaven,
for everything I need for life under the sun -
including intellectually satisfying answers to my biggest questions.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17 NIV)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(John 16:13 NIV)

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
(Matthew 27:26 ESV)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
(Luke 6:37 ESV)

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
(Luke 13:12 ESV)

There’s a common word in these three verse, at least in the Greek text. The word that is translated “released,” “forgive/forgiven,” and “freed,” is all one Greek word, “apoluo.” Literally, it means, “to free fully, relieve, release, dismiss.”

So from this fact, we can get the following truth.

“If you don’t forgive, you won’t be released. You’ll stay bound and imprisoned.” But the same word speaks of healing. So forgiveness is linked to healing and the lack of forgiveness to the lack of healing. Those who cannot forgive cripple themselves. And the same word speaks of moving on and being sent forth for the purposes of God. If you don’t forgive, you won’t be able to move on or to let go of the old. Nor will you be able to be sent forth and fulfill God’s calling for your life.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I read those words, and I think of the many people that are close to my age who do nothing on social media other than moan and complain about how things used to be. They are constantly mocking younger generations, thinking themselves to be superior because they know how to write in cursive and can drive a stick shift.

These folks need to wake up! They are stuck in the past, unable to move on, to let go of things that simply don’t matter any more! And they appear so very hateful and angry all the time, with no hint of forgiveness or release. I pity them; my heart hurts for them. I am so very grateful to God that He has allowed me to not get stuck in that mode. I frequently skip over a lot of those “Who remembers _______?” posts that I see on Facebook. Yeah. I remember. But I don’t live there any more. I live in 2021, where nobody needs to know how write in cursive any more. Where the only reason to drive a stick shift is if you have a fancy sports car.

And just to prove I’m not stuck in the past, here is some really nice music that I discovered, this morning. I’m not one of the “old guys” who are constantly saying that all of today’s music is “crap.” Thanks to Derri Daugherty of The Choir, for the recommendation.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Reigns

Today is Sunday, the tenth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,222

Only two more days until our anniversary!

I believe I mentioned, previously, that I’m working the evening of our anniversary, so we are going out to a celebratory dinner on Wednesday night. I’m off Wednesday, this week, and working Thursday, because the library is hosting its annual “showcase” event. We are planning to try Sweetie Pie’s Rib Eyes for dinner on Wednesday.

Yesterday, we kicked off our anniversary week with a trip to Winstar in Oklahoma. It was C’s first major venture out of the house since her back surgery, which was on September 2. We had a nice time, and had lunch at the El Fenix in Winstar Casino. There are quite a few eateries inside the casino, and we decided Mexican food was what we wanted. It was pretty good. Their chips are excellent, and their salsa was fresh. The queso was a bit watery, though. Our taco salads were delicious.

We didn’t win much. Well, ultimately, we walked out empty handed. But we had a good time. We had spurts of “luck,” C having much more than I. But it was fun, and that was the reason we went.

Today, after our church Zoom meeting, C and I will be heading to Hurst Conference Center for the Mid-Cities Fall Arts and Crafts Show. Entrance fee is $3, but I’ve been told that if I flash my City of Hurst badge, I get in free. We will shop around there for a bit, then pick up our “lunch” on the way home.

Busy weekend for us, busier than usual. But C is enjoying it. She feels pretty good after yesterday’s walk around Winstar. A little “achy,” she said, but okay.

In yesterday’s baseball playoff games, the Braves evened up their series, beating the Brewers 3-0. The Dodgers gave the Giants a beating, 9-2, to even that series, as well. Today’s games are Rays v. Red Sox at 3:07, in Fenway, and Astros v. Other Sox at 7:07, in Chi-town. I believe Nate Eovaldi is getting the mound for Boston, this afternoon.

Oh, and this is kind of important. I do believe that C is planning to go back to the office tomorrow. She hasn’t driven, yet, since the surgery, so we don’t know what that will be like. But she usually works from home on Tuesday, anyway, so she will have a day off to recuperate from the strain of going in Monday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Waiting for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard me,
and lifted me up.
(Psalm 40)

And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
(2 Chronicles 20:21 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that C is recovering enough to be able to get out of the house and be a little more active
2. for Your steadfast love and mercy that endures forever and ever
3. that, when I wait on You, You hear my cry and lift me up
4. for a legacy of faith in my family
5. that You reign, which is cause for both rejoicing and trembling

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – DAY ONE

INVITATION

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
(Psalms 40:1-2 NIV)

Thank You, Lord, for hearing my cry, and daily lifting me up, out of the mud and mire that is typical human existence. Thank You for setting my feet on THE Rock.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy.

The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.
(Psalms 99:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
(2 Chronicles 1:7-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in Your presence, I seek wisdom and truth, just as Solomon did, not so that You would bless me with riches, as You would see through that in a heartbeat. I sincerely seek the wisdom of the Spirit, as I read, meditate, and pray over Your Word, this morning. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Jesus is Truth; Jesus is Life; Jesus is Way.

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble,” begins the anonymous Psalm 99. He does, indeed reign. But the nations have grown oblivious. It appears that they do not, in fact, tremble.

Skeptics would argue that it is because mankind has outgrown his need for God. Those of us who walk in Him, long for the day when He will rise up and make Himself known, in His power.

There’s a thing in the Bible, known as “The Day of the Lord.” There are, of course many different interpretations concerning when this will occur and what it will look like. Frankly, I’m not sure where I stand on those. But most of those diverse interpretations seem to agree on at least one thing: it won’t be pretty.

It will be devastating. Because it appears that this “Day of the Lord” will be, if not the totality of, at least the beginning of the judgment of God’s wrath on humanity. Jesus, in Luke 23, speaks of a time when men will cry out, asking the mountains to fall on them. This appears to somehow be a quote of Revelation 6.

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
(Revelation 6:15-17 NIV)

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble.” I have to question us. Do we tremble at the thought of God’s reign? As His children, I think we still should, but not necessarily constantly. Let’s take an earthly example.

I loved my father. I did not tremble when he walked in the room. I was not afraid of him. Unless he had to exercise his authority over me. Then I was, and rightfully so, afraid. I had misbehaved. Punishment was imminent.

We don’t have to fear punishment from God. There are multiple places in God’s Word where that is taught. Nevertheless, when we know that judgment is imminent, we should be afraid, not for ourselves, but for those upon whom this judgment is falling.

I fear that there are those among us who would mock when they see unbelievers cowering in fear at the wrath of God. I think there are some who might be cheering God on, shouting joyfully at the misfortune of the wicked. Now, I know that David (and other psalmists) wrote songs, asking God to punish the wicked and eradicate them from the earth.

But I truly believe that, should I still be around when the Day of the Lord arrives, that I will be shedding tears at the desolation that will occur. At least I hope that I will be. I hope that the love and compassion of Jesus would win out over the arrogance and celebratory nature of my humanity. Human beings will be losing their souls for eternity. Eternal punishment awaits. It is said in Scripture that the Lord takes no pleasure in the punishment of the wicked.

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”
(Ezekiel 18:32 ESV)

Why, then, would I take pleasure in something in which my Lord takes no pleasure?

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble.”

We are called upon to exalt Him and worship at His footstool. Where is His footstool? The earth is His footstool. We who are on earth are called to worship Him and exalt His name, for He is holy.

Oddly enough, just two chapters ago, we were told, “The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice.”

I do not believe that these thoughts contradict one another. For an explanation of this, just jump back up a paragraph or three to my explanation with my earthly father.

We can both rejoice and tremble at the Name of the Lord. We rejoice, because we know that He is just and kind. Psalm 99:4 says, “The King is mighty, He loves justice.” The psalmist may be speaking of an earthly king, but I believe this can be applied to our God, who is King over all the earth. He is mighty, and He loves justice. I love justice, and desire to see it take place throughout the earth. So I can rejoice to know that the LORD, who also loves justice, reigns. But I can also tremble, because He is mighty. And I know that, one day, great desolation will fall on this planet because of the rebelliousness and wickedness of humanity.

Father, I praise You for Your might and justice. I praise You that we can rejoice because of Your reign. However, I also bow the knee before You, trembling at Your great might and power. I exalt You, O Lord, who has made both heaven and earth, and who rules over all. I rejoice at Your steadfast mercy and love, which You have lavished on all who call Your Name. I also rejoice that, when I wait upon You, You hear my cry and lift me up out of the muck and mire of this world. Forgive me for falling back into it so frequently. I am truly like a sheep, which sometimes has no sense.

I pray for Your wisdom to fill my spirit, like Solomon. I desire this wisdom, so that I might know how to react when I am in conversation with people, how to defend Your truth in a loving manner; how to love people as You have loved me; and how to love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Father, may the risen Christ dwell in my heart, that His love may flow through me. Give us all spiritual and refreshment, Father!

"Inviting Father,
You have laid down the invitation of a lifetime:
to ask You for anything.
A long list of things I think I want easily comes to mind,
but let my prayers wisely be for what You want - for all that I might never dare ask and couldn't even dream of wanting but trust is good because it is from You.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 NIV)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
(Genesis 12:1 NIV)

And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with people.
(1 Samuel 2:26 NIV)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

Growth is not always easy or painless. Sometimes it takes separating ourselves from things/people we love. But we must be willing to grow, to do whatever and go wherever He wants.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Grace

Today is Saturday (right?), the ninth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,221

Only three days until our 36th wedding anniversary!

I had another great day at the library, yesterday. I helped one patron with her employment application website, although “helped” may be stretching it. We were both confused when she left, as the site said she had submitted an application, but nothing was showing up when she clicked to review it. It was too close to closing to keep going, though. I had never used the particular site she was on, so I didn’t know much about it.

We have a regular patron who seems to be helping people with things like citizenship applications and what-not. I initially thought he was some kind of legal counsel, but the other librarians said no, that he is a pastor who is helping people with things, and doesn’t get any money from them. That’s pretty cool.

Then I helped several people with printing needs, from resumes to pay stubs. The young woman who printed her resume seemed somewhat desperate. That made me sad.

We had our homemade pizza with cauliflower crust for dinner last night. That’s always good. C and I watched one of the new episodes of Leverage: Redemption, via Prime Video. It’s featured on IMDB TV, but is available through Prime.

I got my first Interlibrary Loan, yesterday. It’s a collection of stories by one of the SF Grand Masters, Jack Williamson, called Spider Island, and includes a story called “The Blue Spot,” which was published in 1935. I have been unable to find that story, and the collection, even though published in 2002, is out of print and very hard to find. At least hard to find for less than $100, which I’m not willing to pay for a book. I just want to read it, not collect it. So one of my new friends at the Hurst Library found it for me. At the TCU Library, of all places! I was quite surprised at that. I have a couple weeks to get it finished, so I will get right on it as soon as I finish the book on the Hamilton musical. I’m about a third of the way through that one.

Today, C and I are going ahead with our plan to drive up to Oklahoma, to Winstar Casino. Between us, we have $100 of bonus play and $50 of meal vouchers, so that should be a good time. Tomorrow, we may go to a craft fair at the Hurst Conference Center. That, of course, depends on how C feels after going to Winstar today.

My next library shift is Tuesday evening 4:15-8:15, in shelving.

Oh! I almost forgot. Baseball! The big news (at least for me) is the Red Sox trouncing the Rays, 14-6. It started of with a bang (and the Sox being down 5-2 after one inning), and never let up. Home runs galore, on both sides. One thing for sure, Chris Sale is not up to snuff. Don’t know what’s wrong with him, but he never had control of that game. So the teams will head to Fenway for game three tomorrow, series tied 1-1.

The Astros beat the Other Sox, 9-4, to take a 2-0 lead in that series. Their next game will be in Chicago, tomorrow. The Brewers beat the Braves 2-1, to take 1-0 lead in that series, which will continue in Milwaukee today. And the Giants shut out the Dodgers 4-0, to also take a 1-0 lead in their series, which will also continue in San Francisco today. If I’m pulling for a NL team, it’s the Brewers. I have no reason to like the Braves, and plenty of reasons to not like LA or SF. And, frankly, if the Red Sox lose their series to the Rays, I’m out for the season, because I don’t want any of those AL teams to win.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Letting Soul, by Daryl Madden

Soaking of the morning
Of senses here to fill
To be fully present
Letting the soul still

Psalm of song in silence
Caress of a soft breeze
Fragrance to awaken
Setting soul at ease

Blessed within the light
A drifting of above
Receiving sacred gifts
To shower soul in love

Heart of preparation
Aware and fully here
So grateful is our being
To offer soul in prayer

With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:41 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Twisted Pine Highlander Grogg coffee
2. for Heman and Jeduthun and "the rest of those chosen," who had one job, to give thanks to the LORD
3. for the call on my life to have a heart of gratitude and live a life of kindness (pray for me, because I don't always succeed in those tasks)
4. that I'm a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than what you think I am
5. that salvation is purely of grace, totally worked by the right hand and holy arm of God

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

He loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of the loving kindness of Yahweh.
(Psalms 33:5 WEB)

As I pause for quiet reflection I wonder if the earth is really full of His loving kindness. I suppose it depends upon your perspective. You have to look beyond its inhabitants to see it.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm.

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
(Psalms 98:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!
He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me,
who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.
“He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”
(2 Samuel 22:47-51 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Another quiet pause of reflection. What is the Holy Spirit saying to me, this morning?

In Psalm 98, another “orphan psalm” (it has a title, but no author), I take note of the line that says, “his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” As well as the next line, that says that He has made His salvation known, and that His righteousness has been revealed to the nations.

Paul the Apostle testifies to this truth in the first chapter of Romans.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
(Romans 1:20-21 NIV)

Who has worked salvation? God. Not man. Again, in Ephesians, Paul testifies to this truth.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

My salvation is in the hands of God and God alone. It has never been, nor will it ever be, in MY hands, nor is it in the hands of any other human being.

When I was an adolescent, there was a common myth being taught in “witnessing training” classes, that if I failed in my responsibility to “witness” to person X, person X might die and go to hell, so I’d better do my duty.

With all due respect to whomever respect is due, that’s a crock of you know what.

For one thing, we should never, EVER use guilt and/or shame to induce people to witness to others. There is no place for manipulation in the kingdom of God. And you can’t “manipulate” someone into the kingdom, anyway.

For another thing, why would anyone believe that God would leave our salvation in the hands of imperfect, totally fallible, humans?? If your salvation, your “ticket” for that “train” is in my hands, you’d better run, my friend. Because I’m a sinner, just like you. Probably worse than you. I’m reminded of a great line from one of my favorite Christian bands, The Choir. It’s in this song, “What You Think I Am.”

I'm a dedicated minister,
And a downright sinister man;
I'm a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am.

This has become my all time favorite song by The Choir, because I see myself in it. There’s a meme I’ve seen circulating on Facebook lately. It says something like “Everyone has chapters that they don’t want read out loud.” Yes, sir. That’s me.

I'm a good Samaritan,
And a very, very bad man;
I'm a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am.

And it is the right hand and holy arm of the Lord Almighty that has worked His salvation in me. In me, in you, in everyone who enjoys the great salvation of our God. I had nothing to do with it.

“But you accepted it!” some might object. “You had a choice!”

Even that ability to choose and accept was a gift from God. My salvation is not of works, lest I should boast. That’s a very important idea in that Galatians verse. Like Paul, the only thing I have to boast about is the grace and power of our God. The only thing, as Horatius Bonar said, that I can bring to God, is my sin, because I have nothing else that I can call my own.

I might preach kindness and love to you, and then turn around and judge you because of something you do or say. Hear me well . . . I despise that about myself, and am constantly on my knees (at least figuratively), asking the Father to grant me repentance and give me more kindness and compassion toward my neighbors and my brothers and sisters.

When I enter my eternal inheritance, my reward, it will not be because of anything I have done. It will be solely because of what Christ has done on the Cross, which was the right hand and holy arm of the Lord God Almighty, working His salvation and revealing His righteousness to the world.

I kind of went down a rabbit hole, there. But I was looking for what the Spirit was saying to me, and that line stood out immediately. What follows the full realization that salvation is of God, and God alone, is the verses that tell me to shout to the Lord, for joy, and burst into jubilant song. And why wouldn’t I?? What glorious truth! In spite of myself, God has saved me!

In the words of John Newton:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see!

And in the words of Isaac Watts:

Alas! and did my savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Well-meaning folks would later change “such a worm” to “sinners such as I.” I have long rejected that change. I am, and have been for many years, quite comfortable in recognizing my “worminess.” But glory, glory, Ralph Hudson came along later and added:

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away (rolled away).
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Yes, it’s true. I’m a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than you think I am. I’m a good Samaritan, and a very, very bad man. But Jesus saved me, thanks to the right hand and strong holy arm of God, and because of His grace, no thanks to me, no “work” on my part, my eternal inheritance is secured. And it was secured “At the cross,” not on that day when I was nine years old and walked down the aisle of Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, Texas. That was just icing on the cake, my friends. The “cake” was already mine.

So I will sing along with David when he writes:

"The LORD lives, and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation,
the God who gave me vengeance and brought down peoples under me,
who brought me out from my enemies;
You exalted me above those who rose against me;
You delivered me from men of violence.
For this I will praise You, O LORD, among the nations, and sing praises to Your Name."

Most blessed Savior and Lord, I thank You and praise You for saving me. The work was done thousands of years ago on the Cross; work done by You; nothing was required of me, other than to give what You had given me and believe in Your work. The grace was all Yours; the work was all Yours; everything a gift from You, that I would have nothing about which to boast. Thank You, Jesus, for Your grace and mercy and compassion. Now work this salvation out in me, through Your Holy Spirit, as I grow in You, daily. Teach me the compassion that You showed to all people, that I might display Your love in this world, today. Take away the part of me; chisel it out; that part that judges others, that part that makes me a “very, very bad man.” Leave in me only the “good” parts, that goodness that comes only from You, Lord.

I pray for Your Church, that we would, collectively, work for the common good of all people while sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that “deep care, bold love, and rich community” would be experienced in Her. And I pray, specifically, for teachers, schools, students, and administrators during this difficult times.

"Father in heaven,
worship makes a missionary of me.
I worship You,
great God,
and long for Your goodness to be known in all the earth,
for all people to know Your glory.
Send me so that Your Name is honored and praised everywhere,
a life or praise for Your renown.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 WEB)

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
(Romans 15:14 ESV)

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
(1 Corinthians 8:2-3 ESV)

I love that last verse. It really produces humility. If you think you know something, you don’t know anything. “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Do It

Today is Wednesday, the sixth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,218

Six days until our 36th anniversary! The anniversary gift is supposed to arrive today. It will be too big to hide.

The Boston Red Sox are going to the American League Division Series! They defeated the Evil Empire 6-2 last night, in a game where they dominated the entire game. The Yankees were barely in the game. Yankees pitching walked quite a few Sox batters, while Nathan Eovaldi and company walked zero Yankee batters. The first Yankee run was on a Rizzo home run. A base running error probably cost them another run, mid-game, but the error is on the third base coach who waved Aaron Judge around third toward home. Two perfect throws, by the centerfielder and Xander Bogaerts nailed Judge at home plate. He was probably at least ten yard away when the catcher had the ball. Not even close. The second run came in the top of the ninth on a Stanton solo homer.

Next game is tomorrow night, in Tampa Bay. I’m already pleasantly surprised that they got this far, so everything else is bonus. Tampa won 100 games this year, so they are a formidable opponent. But if the Sox play like they did last night? They could win.

Tonight, the Cardinals take on the Dodgers for the NL Wild Card. I don’t normally care about NL games, but this is interesting because the Dodgers won 106 games and only got a wild card birth. How frustrating is that? I’ll be mildly cheering for the Cards, though, because C’s company CEO is a Cardinals fan, and his fiftieth birthday was yesterday. Oh, and because I don’t like the Dodgers. There’s that.

Last night’s shift went pretty well, but I messed up a little bit. I’m supposed to begin the shelving cleanup process forty-five minutes before closing. I got confused and waited until 7:45, which is actually only fifteen minutes before closing! Oops. This resulted in me leaving a stack of books/DVDs/magazines in a bin by the staff computer, that will need to be marked “used” this morning. I’ve already had communication with my manager, and her response was, “No worries. Time gets away from all of us, sometimes.”

It’s so hard to let go of the anxiety that my old job produced, and be okay with the idea of, “It’s okay, someone will do it tomorrow.” That simply wasn’t acceptable in my old world. The environment in this job is so much more relaxed. But next Tuesday, I will get it right. I’m still not perfect.

What’s on the schedule for today? Got some laundry to fold, and I plan to make a trip later this morning (or early afternoon) to a couple of grocery stores. Why two? Because we can’t get everything we need at a single store, because of the Vast Grocery Store Conspiracy! Only Walmart has the fat-free shredded cheese that we use. Only Alberton’s (and Tom Thumb) has the Nick’s ice cream that we love. Also, Walmart’s produce is quite mediocre, so we get fruit from Alberton’s. But Walmart is cheaper on most items. Oh, and Kroger has the center-cup bacon that lets you eat two slices for one WW point!

Today is Mad Hatter Day, celebrating the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. This date is chosen because of the tag on the Mad Hatter’s hat, which said, “In This Style 10/6.”

The word for today is gramarye, a noun which means, interestingly, “occult learning; magic.”

Today’s quote is from George Eliot, British author. “Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”

Significant birthdays on October 6:

George Westinghouse, American entrepreneur and engineer (air brakes, alternating current system), 1846-1914
Walter Ray Williams, Jr., American bowler (current record holder for all time PBA titles), 1959 (62) 
"Oil Can" Boyd, American MLB pitcher (Boston Red Sox), 1959 (62)
Darren Oliver, American MLB pitcher (Texas Rangers), 1970 (51)
Amy Jo Johnson, American actress (the pink Power Ranger), 1970 (51)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I Cannot, by Daryl Madden

I cannot force
His gifts to bestow
But to Spirit can pray
An let His treasures flow

I cannot make
The scriptures run deep
But can savor the Word
And let It seep

I cannot cajole
God to proceed
But I can trust
He gives what I need

I cannot persuade
God to love me
But to know that He does
Eternally

All of these truths translate into effective prayers of faith, as I know and understand that my words don’t convince or manipulate God into doing something or loving me more.

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:8-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we can rejoice in Your presence
2. that You have drawn my heart to seek Your face and Your strength
3. for strength You give in temptation
4. for music and song
5. that You do not dwell in a physical house or building

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

He loves it when everything fits, when his world is in plumb-line true. Earth is drenched in GOD’s affectionate satisfaction.
(Psalms 33:5 MSG)

BIBLE SONG

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
(Psalms 95:1-7A NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, . . .
(2 Samuel 7:1-5A NIV)

. . . I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.'”
(2 Samuel 7:11B-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in Your presence, this morning, I rejoice. I give You thanks for your strength in me as temptation attacks, attempting to distract me from this purpose. Show me Yourself, Lord, as the Holy Spirit guides me through the next few minutes of meditation and prayer.

The unnamed composer of Psalm 95 is clearly in a mode of exultation and rejoicing. He encourages us to sing for joy, to shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. He desires that we come before the Lord, first with thanksgiving, and then with music and song.

Why? Because “the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.” I am still not sure who all of these other “gods” are, but does that really matter? Yahweh is King! He is the Rock of my salvation! All creation belongs to Him, the sea is His, the mountain peaks are His. For these reasons, let us worship and bow down before Him, for we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

David longed to bring glory to God by building Him a house. But in the part of the chapter that our reading for today skips, God is not concerned about having a house. “I have not dwelt in a house,” He says (2 Samuel 7:6). “When have I ever asked you to build me a house,” He asks in verse 7 (my paraphrase).

Then the Lord assures David that his offspring will build a house for His Name. In the meantime, though, God promises David that he will have rest from his enemies, and that “

Then the Lord assures David that his offspring will build a house for His Name. In the meantime, though, God promises David that he will have rest from his enemies, and that “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (verse 16)

As we know, Solomon did, indeed build the Temple. If you pay attention, though, Solomon’s own house was bigger.

The Lord still does not dwell in a manmade house, a house of brick and mortar or wood and nails. He dwells in the “temple” of the human heart (or stomach of kidney, depending on the culture). His Spirit dwells in our spirit. Truthfully, “churches” did not gather in large buildings until Emperor Constantine institutionalized Christianity in the 4th century AD.

How cluttered is my “house?” Is my spiritual house as cluttered as my physical house? Is there room in my “heart” for Jesus? That’s a bit of a trick question, isn’t it? It would be very easy to get carried away with legalistic thinking if we begin to try to answer those questions. And this, in turn, would make it difficult for us to follow the advice of the unnamed psalmist of Psalm 95. Or the passage from Chronicles before my gratitude list. How can my heart rejoice if it is full of anxiety over whether there is ample room for its Lord?

Let us simply seek Him and rejoice. He really makes it simple. We are the ones who complicate things by adding all of these dos and don’ts to the equation. We have two “dos.” Love God and love people. If we focus on those, I don’t believe we have to worry about the “don’ts.”

Father, I thank You that You have made me part of the sheep of Your pasture. I know that I am so much like a sheep, who runs off from time to time, seeking some flight of fancy (look, a butterfly!) or some softer, greener grass. Then, before I know it, I’m stuck, feet up, unable to move until You come rescue me. And You do it. You do it with great love and compassion.

I am also grateful that You do not dwell in a physical place. Your people do not have to make pilgrimage to find You. You are as close as a whisper. All we have to do is call out Your name, and You are there. To paraphrase James Taylor’s song, all we have to do is call, and You are right there . . . we’ve got a Friend. And oh what joy fills my soul to be able to call You, my Father, Friend. What a Friend we have in Jesus!

I pray right now for the students of Timberview High School in Arlington, as they have just had a school shooting at the campus. Father, I pray that no lives were lost, and I pray for the parents who are living in anxiety until they know if their children are safe.

"Faithful God,
You made an extravagant promise to David and kept it through generations of rebellion and failure,
until You sent Your Son as David's true descendant.
Keep us from ever thinking that we can build Your kingdom by our programs or efforts,
but call us to live out of the kingdom You have built in the death and resurrection of the son of David,
Jesus Christ,
our Lord,
amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
(Matthew 5:6 MSG)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 ESV)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
(1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Undignified

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,217

Seven days until our anniversary!!

The biggest news since yesterday is the Great Facebook Outage of 2021! It crashed somewhere around 10:00 CDT, yesterday morning, while I was in the middle of composing my blog, and didn’t come back up for at least six hours. But it turns out the only reason I missed it was because I was unable to share my blog post and prayer request post and gratitude list until late afternoon.

It turns out that we can actually live without Facebook.

The other big news is that I FINISHED A DANCE WITH DRAGONS LAST NIGHT!!!

Seriously. That was a true “slog.” If you care, you can read my review on Goodreads. So now, I’m moving on to another book I checked out from the Hurst Public Library, Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. This book contains the entire libretto of the musical, along with notes and stories about its creation and production. I plan to listen along as I read, whenever possible.

Tonight is the Wild Card playoff game between the Red Sox and Yankees, at 7:08 CDT, in Boston. The only place to watch the game, apparently, is ESPN. I work from 4:15 to 8:15, tonight, so I won’t get to watch the beginning. I may actually tune in as soon as I get home.

Today is World Teachers Day. Say a prayer for all the teachers you know, today.

The word for today, appropriately, is inculcate, a verb which means, “to implant by repeated statement or admonition; teach persistently and earnestly.” (emphasis mine)

Today’s quote is from Milton Berle, American comedian. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

Significant birthdays on October 5:

Jonathan Edwards, Christian preacher, philosopher, and theologian, 1703-1758
Chester A. Arthur, 21st U.S. President, 1829-1886
Larry Fine, American actor and comedian (3 Stooges), 1902-1975
Ray Kroc, American fast food entrepreneur (McDonald's), 1902-1984
Allen Ludden, American gameshow host (Password) and husband of Betty White, 1919-1981
Bil Keane, American cartoonist (Family Circus), 1922-2011
Bill Dana, American comedian (Jose Jimenez), 1924-2017
Steve Miller, American rocker (Abracadabra, The Joker, Fly Like an Eagle), 1943 (77)
B.W. Stevenson, American singer (My Maria), 1949-1988
Bob Geldof, Irish singer (Boomtown Rats - "I Don't Like Mondays"), 1951 (70)
Clive Barker, English author (The Damnation Game, Hellraiser), 1952 (69)
Guy Pearce, British-Australian actor (Memento), 1967 (54)
Kate Winslet, British actress (Mare of Easttown, Titanic), 1975 (46)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace to you, and peace;
Giving thanks to God for you;
Love is increasing.
(2 Thessalonians 1)

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
(2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I finished A Dance with Dragons last night (egad)
2. for all the saints, as we grow in faith together
3. that our love for one another increases as we walk in Christ
4. that You care nothing for appearances, but examine our hearts
5. that You are my rock and fortress, and bring me the comfort of joy when I experience anxiety

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY THREE

INVITATION

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
(Psalms 33:5 ESV)

I pause, now, to reflect on Your steadfast love, and how it feeds us, the saints, enabling us to love one another and grow in our faith. Thank You, Father!

BIBLE SONG

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Can a corrupt throne be allied with you— a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?
The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them.
(Psalms 94:16-23 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.
(2 Samuel 6:12-16 NIV)

David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
(2 Samuel 6:21-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself of Your presence, this morning, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me through the reading and meditating of Your Word. Teach me, Father, as I read Your Word.

I believe that the question posed in Psalm 94:16 is coming from the unnamed psalmist, not the Lord. In fact, the implication is that it was the Lord who, in fact, helped the psalmist stand against evil. And, as the psalm continues, I believe it is important to note the last verse. It is God that repays them for their sins, not humans.

There are many well-meaning people in the Church who believe it is their mission to rid the world of evil. I don’t see any Scripture that corroborates this opinion. And I see the quest to remove evil from the world as a serious hindrance to the completion of one of our two main jobs, that of loving people.

If we live and walk with the Lord as our fortress and Him as our Rock, we have nothing to fear from evil. This was discussed at some length in our church gathering, this past Sunday, as we discussed 1 John 4:18.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18 NIV)

Psalm 94:19 also seems to give us this message as we find joy in the consolation we get from God when we experience anxiety. And, in regards to verse 20, asking if a corrupt throne could possibly be allied with the Lord, we can certainly apply this to any form of human government, and I believe that all human governments of the twenty-first century are corrupt. There is no “throne” in our world today that is allied with God.

Our reading in 2 Samuel picks up where yesterday’s left off. When David saw that the household of Obed-Edom the Gittite was being blessed by the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, he decided to go ahead and have it brought home.

One of the first things we see is that it appears to have been carried correctly, this time. I can only assume that, but it looks to be true, as the verse speaks of “those who were carrying the ark.” This implies to me that it was being properly carried by staves, on the shoulders of footmen.

David was so excited that, before they had walked ten steps, even, he was making sacrifices. And then he danced. David danced so hard that he exposed himself. Verse 22 makes it clear . . . David cared not one iota what anyone else thought or how he appeared to any people. He was dancing before the Lord Almighty, and He was the only One who mattered.

David did not care at all that he appeared to be “undignified.”

We create our own anxieties over appearances. Professional workplaces don’t help. If I live to be a hundred years old, I will never fathom why anyone thinks that wearing a suit has any effect whatsoever on your job performance. In fact, I think there should be a special hell for whoever invented the necktie. It serves absolutely no purpose, whatsoever, other than to choke you and make you sweat a little bit more.

God doesn’t care about our appearances. What I wear “to church” has no bearing on my standing before God. We do have the caution in Scripture to not be a stumbling block to weaker brothers and sisters, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

Any energy that I would spend in anxiety over what another human being thinks of me or my appearance, would be better spent in prayer and meditation of Scripture, and in loving my neighbor as myself.

Incidentally, Michal’s reward for being critical of David was that she remained barren to the day of her death. That’s what caring about appearances will get you.

Father, I pray for the same kind of joy that David had, that cares not how it appears to others. Let me look like a fool to others . . . I don’t care. Please replace any anxiety, that might come from worrying over appearance, with joy. I believe I can say, like the psalmist, that, if it were not for Your help in my life, I very well may have dwelt in the silence of death. I’ve made some pretty foolish decisions, along the way. But You have spared me from some of the consequences. I believe that You still have work for me to do, here, and that, as my fortress and my Rock, You will provide the strength in which I can perform that work. As for the wicked and evil in the world, I will rely upon You to take care of them. Give me dancing feet that most certainly can grow from a praying knee.

I pray for a love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed me. Please equip us to serve in unique ways in our communities and workplaces. I pray that You grant strength to any of Your people who serve in the news media.

"Joyful Jesus,
forgive me for the ways I can reduce life with You to fine worship or stately buildings,
dignified gatherings or efficient organizations,
influence or importance.
I pray that Your church and my life would be reckless with love for You,
captive to the rhythm of Your kingdom joy,
glorying and enjoying You.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:13-17 ESV)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Dwelling

Today is Monday, the fourth of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,216

Only eight more days until our 36th anniversary!

We had an awesome Zoom worship gathering, yesterday morning. Our former pastor surprised us with his presence (he was hunting at the ranch with Brandon and Terry), and his knowledge of the Bible is so much better than any of ours. He has been sorely missed. We read through and discussed 1 John 4, and hashed out some difficulties in the passage, most of which largely related to cultural context and the period in which the letter was written.

After church, we had our usual lunch from Applebee’s. They got one of our orders wrong, but fixed it quickly. It was fortunate that the wrong one happened to be on top and I was able to see it. Otherwise, I would not have noticed until I got home with it. Personally, I think it’s because of the recent change in their menu and how it looks when you substitute an item. It looks confusing to me, so it probably does to the kitchen staff, as well.

Here’s how the baseball season ended. The Red Sox came from behind to beat the Nationals in the final game, 7-5, and the Yankees scored a run, I believe, in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Rays 1-0. Because of that, it didn’t matter that Toronto won their last game by a pretty big margin. The Seattle game wouldn’t matter, either, but I believe they lost to the Angels.

So the Red Sox and Yankees will play in the Wild Card game at Fenway Park tomorrow night. I guess the Sox won more head to head games, so they get home field. For the NL, the Cardinals and Dodgers will play the WC game on Wednesday night. How sad is it that the Dodgers won 106 games and only get a Wild Card spot?? But the Giants won 107. What a crazy season! Everyone else in the NL West was under .500 for the season!

Tampa Bay will play the Wild Card winner in the AL division series, and the White Sox will play the Astros in the AL division series. The Braves will play the Brewers in the NL division series, and the Giants will play the WC winner.

Because of the way they ended the season, I don’t have high hopes for the Red Sox, but maybe they will step up and beat the Yankees tomorrow night.

The Rangers finished the season 60-102, third worst in MLB. It’s like we’re back in the seventies again, only with worse management.

I have a few plans for the day. I plan to finish A Dance with Dragons (about 150 pages left). I will likely make a grocery run, maybe to Winco. It’s a little farther from home, but we like the selections they have. I haven’t yet checked to see if they have a curbside pickup option. They apparently don’t (I just looked), but in the process, I discovered that the store is open twenty-four hours a day. That is mildly surprising.

I also have a little bit of laundry to fold and floors to sweep. I’m sure all of this information is terribly interesting and engaging.

Today is my first Monday of the new library schedule, and I will be off every Monday until the schedule changes. Monday Off. There is a jazz vocal group called Monday Off. I tried to find some video of them. But they only have one published album from back in 2006. I might be able to share a track here.

I honestly don’t know if people who don’t have a Spotify account will be able to hear that.

Oh, and today is my official WW weigh-in day, even though I’m digital only and not attending workshops at this time. I managed to lose 1.8 since last Monday. I’m still up around ten pounds from when I retired from my old job.

Today is Vodka Day. I may or may not “celebrate” this. A shot of vodka (or pretty much any other whiskey or liquor) is 3 WW smartpoints. And it is true, vodka is, in general, made from potatoes.

Today’s word is Weltanschauung. I promise you that a cat did not just walk across my keyboard. I’m not making this up. It means, “a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.” It is pronounced [ velt-ahn-shou-oong ]. Okay, I think I understand. It basically means “worldview.” Not any particular or specific worldview. As a Christ-follower, I have a certain Weltanschauung. An atheist has a different Weltanschauung.

Today’s quote is from Henry Van Dyke, American poet: “Love is the best thing in the world, and the thing that lives the longest.” I believe the Apostle Paul would agree.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV)

Significant birthdays on October 4:

Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1626-1712
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th U.S. President, 1822-1893
Buster Keaton, American actor and comedian, 1895-1966
Charlton Heston, American actor (Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes), 1923-2008
Alvin Toffler, American author (Future Shock), 1928-2016
Anne Rice, American author (Interview with A Vampire), 1941 (80)
Tony La Russa, American baseball HOF player and manager, 1944 (77)
Susan Sarandon, American actress (Bull Durham, Thelma & Louise, Rocky Horror Picture Show), 1946 (75)
Andreas Vollenweider, Swiss new-age harpist, 1953 (68)
Mark McLemore, American baseball player and broadcaster (Texas Rangers), 1964 (57)
Alicia Silverstone, American actress (Clueless), 1976 (45)
Caitriona Balfe, Irish actress (Outlander), 1979 (42)
Dakota Johnson, American actress, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, 1989 (31)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Pray without ceasing;
Be joyful no matter what;
This is the Lord's will.
(1 Thessalonians 5)

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Mondays off
2. that I have so much for which to be grateful
3. that true joy is not based on circumstances
4. for these daily pauses, to allow God's Word to dwell in my life
5. for the spiritual sustenance that God's Word gives me

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY TWO

INVITATION

He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the LORD fills the earth.
(Psalms 33:5 NLT)

I pause to regain focus and concentration after being interrupted. Nothing serious at all, but interruptions do disrupt the flow of things. Sometimes it is hard to regain. I focus on the presence of the Lord and His unfailing love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
(Psalms 94:1-3 NIV)

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.

Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law;
(Psalms 94:8-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.
Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
(2 Samuel 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I center into these passages, reading them again, I intentionally ignore distractions from other sources, such as notifications about new Facebook posts or emails. My purpose is to seek the Lord’s face and His truth and wisdom. May the Holy Spirit guide me.

We only read a few verses of Psalm 94 today (there will be more tomorrow), a psalm that has the sub-heading, “The Lord Will Not Forsake His People.” The beginning speaks of vengeance, something that stayed heavy on the hearts and minds of ancient Israel. But it makes proper note of the fact that vengeance belongs to God, and we are not to take it upon ourselves. The psalm begins with a prayer for God to take vengeance, for Him to pay back what is deserved.

The danger of such a prayer, of course, is that I would never pray for God to give me what I deserve. Therefore, I am hesitant to pray such a prayer about anyone else. I would rather pray for Him to show mercy. Yet we find such a prayer in Scripture, so we must recognize that it is proper. But we must examine our hearts and motivations.

In this case, the psalmist (unnamed for Psalm 94) asks how long the wicked will be allowed to “be jubilant.” And, like any true believer, I will confess that there are times when I shake my head, wondering at the fact that “the wicked” seem to always be partying down, having a good ol’ time, and never suffering any consequences. Sometimes, we just have to rest in the knowledge that “they will get theirs.” The will get what’s coming to them.

Or, perhaps, even better, they will repent and believe.

Tell the truth . . . which would you rather see?

I like the turn that the psalm takes in verses 8-12. The psalmist begins asking rhetorical questions. Essentially, in my own way of thinking, he is asking, “Do you think God is stupid??” The truth is, He does, indeed, know our plans. He knows them all, even before we do, and He knows that the plans of humans are futile.

We are blessed if God chooses to discipline us, and teach us from His laws.

In the passage from 2 Samuel, we see a rather severe case of the Lord’s discipline. Uzzah touches the Ark of the Covenant, and he is struck dead. Just like anyone else who reads this, I see it and think, “Whoa! That’s pretty harsh!” I mean, he was just trying to keep it from falling off the cart.

Here’s the thing. Based on the research I have done, they weren’t carrying the Ark properly. And only priests were allowed to touch it. It was supposed to be carried by staves, on the shoulders of two men, not riding in a cart pulled by oxen.

This whole sequence of events upset David so much that he was afraid of the Lord and wouldn’t even continue to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. Instead, he left it at the house of “Obed-Edom the Gittite.”

He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.
(2 Samuel 6:10-11 NIV)

I’m willing to make a big leap here and get all figurative with the Word. What we see here is a household being blessed when the Word of God dwells within it. Maybe that is too big a reach, I don’t know. But I don’t think I need to find a specific passage of Scripture to validate that truth, either.

This portion of the morning’s devotional is called “Dwelling.” To dwell means, as a verb, to live in or at a specific place. But there is also another meaning, in the operation of machinery. It means, “a slight regular pause in the motion of a machine.”

Interesting. In the motion of the machine of my life, there is a “dwelling” each morning. It is a “slight regular pause” in the motion of my daily life.

If, during that pause, I allow the Word of God to live in or reside in me, I am blessed. That Word, that the Lord speaks, permeates my being, just like drinking a glass of water or eating a piece of bread sustains my body. I believe this to be the reason Jesus used phrases like “living water” and “bread of life.” I need Him as much as I need real water and real bread. I cannot live without either of them.

Father, as I go through the motions of my life, as this “machine” operates, I am grateful for the regular pauses that You have initiated in my life. I am often torn, Father, between the desire to see the wicked suffer for their crimes and the desire to see them brought to life. We are a people who love to see vengeance. Yet, You call upon us to love our enemies. So how can I love someone, yet desire to see them harmed by Your wrath? I cannot reconcile the two. Help me to lean toward the compassionate side. I see the prayers of the psalmists, when they ask You for vengeance, so I acknowledge that this is acceptable. However, I would rather follow in the path of Jesus, seeking the restoration of all people, spiritually. Your heart’s desire to to see all men come to repentance, to know You intimately. Therefore, I will pray toward that end.

Thank You for the sustenance of the living water and bread of life. Help me to see You in all things around me, wherever I may direct my gaze.

"Holy God,
keep me from dishonoring You,
boxing You into tidy formulas I can take hold of,
taming You into something I can manage.
Let me really know You so I never trivialize You but make the glory of Your name the concern of my life.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
(Matthew 5:6 NLT)

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain . . .
(Revelation 3:2 KJV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Adorned with Holiness

Today is Sunday, the third of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,215

Nine days until our 36th anniversary!

I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to baseball season, lately, and am a bit surprised to see the scenario on this, the last official day of the 2021 season. The Texas Rangers have been out of the picture since the beginning of the season. It’s been a terrible season for them, which reflects the horrible management in the organization. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. My other favorite team, though, the Boston Red Sox have bounced around all season, having been in first place for a little bit, and now finding themselves in a quite precarious situation.

Sadly, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays have clinched the division title, and have the best record in the AL, having won 100 games. But here’s the thing: on the last day of the season, the Red Sox and Yankees (I suppose this is fitting), are tied for the two AL Wild Card spots. And the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays are tied, one game behind the Yankees and Red Sox. There are several different ways this could play out, as none of those four teams is playing any of the other. The Red Sox are playing the Washington Nationals, who are in last place in their division. Not necessarily a gimme. The Yankees, on the other hand, are playing Tampa Bay. But that also doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because Tampa has no reason to try to win this game.

Toronto is playing Baltimore, the second worst team in MLB, but that is not necessarily a gimme, either. The really bad teams always have a tendency to mess up seasons for good teams. Seattle is playing the Angels, who aren’t that great this season, either.

If all four teams win their games, nothing changes. The Red Sox and Yankees will play one Wild Card game to see who gets to the real playoffs. If the Sox lose and the other three win, there apparently will be a three-way tie for the second spot, and a series of playoff games will occur. I’m getting this from the Bleacher Report, by the way. The best thing is for the Sox to win, and it won’t matter what the other three do. But if they win, and the Yankees lose, and the Mariners and Blue Jays both win, there will still be a three-way tie for the second spot.

Does your head hurt, yet? It’s been a while since I’ve seen a WC race like this, so it’s rather exciting. On the other hand, the way the Sox have been playing, going into this time, they don’t deserve a playoff spot. First, they got swept by the Yankees last weekend, then they lost a series to the Orioles. But we’ll see what happens. I might watch, or at least listen to, some baseball today.

My day at the library was good, yesterday. Most of the day was spent at the circulation desk, with an hour processing new books, and another hour (a little more, actually) clearing the book drops. I also found out that I’m still not perfect (that’s a joke . . . I’ll never be perfect, but I certainly want to be). Several scenarios occurred in which I needed help from the assistant librarian, who was more than happy to help me. I like this lady. She can be intimidating if you don’t understand her, but she is just very direct with her answers. It’s not personal. It’s just the way she is. You ask a question, and you get an answer. It might sound like she’s being impatient, but she really isn’t.

Oh, and I was also given a nice shirt, yesterday. There’s this patron, a lady who comes in pretty much every day and spends a great deal of time in the computer center. She apparently has a history of being very appreciative towards the library staff, and she already likes me. So she gave me a rather nice polo-style shirt, yesterday. I checked with the circulation manager to make sure it was okay for me to accept it. In some companies, that’s not allowed. But she said as long as I was comfortable accepting it, it was okay.

My next work shift is Tuesday evening, 4:15-8:15.

Today, we have our zoom church gathering. Last week, some people actually met in person at the host home. But this week, the other two leaders are at “the ranch,” and it is one of their turn to lead, so we will be zooming, only, today.

Today is Change A Light Day. I realize that the concept represented is switching from incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient sources. But it does remind me that we have a few bulbs, in our house, that are burned out.

The word for today is fetching, an adjective that means, “charming; captivating.” Harold thought himself quite fetching in his new corduroy jacket.

Today’s quote is from Winston Churchill: “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

Significant birthdays on October 3:

James Herriot, English veterinarian and author (All Creatures Great and Small), 1916-1995
Ken Berry, American actor (F Troop, Mayberry RFD), 1933-2018
Eddie Cochran, American rock musician (Summertime Blues), 1938-1960 (car crash)
Lindsey Buckingham, American rock musician (Fleetwood Mac), 1949 (72)
Dennis Eckersley, American baseball HOF pitcher, 1954 (67)
Stevie Ray Vaughan, American blues guitar player, 1954-1990
Gwen Stefani, American singer/songwriter (No Doubt), 1969 (52) (SEVEN years older than Blake Shelton)
Shannyn Sossamon, American actress (A Knight's Tale), 1978 (43)
Stevie

I did not remember to sing a song of praise, last night, before going to bed. But I did sing one, this morning. I played and sang this one:

“Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Thy Will Be Done, by Daryl Madden

A lesson to pray
Taught by His Son
When we say our Father
Let Thy will be done

What is this will?
It’s Gods’ concrete ways
Of how He loves us
For all of our days

And as we pray more
In many ways shown
The will of His love
To us is made known

Begin now to see
The beauty within
The small, hidden life
That Jesus dwells in

Let Your will be my will
May actions align
Knowing in the finding
We live a life divine

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.

Today I am grateful:

1. for a time to worship You with other saints, if only by reading Your Word and pondering it
2. for songs of praise, declaring the infinite worthiness of Your holy Name
3. that You love righteousness and justice and that the earth is filled with Your unfailing love
4. that I can say, along with Jesus, "Thy will be done"
5. that holiness dwells within the saints
6. for the ocean and its representation of Your awesome power

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY ONE

INVITATION

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
(Psalms 33:5 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I pause and consider the worthiness of Jesus Christ, to receive blessing and honor and power and glory from every human being and all of creation. Is He worthy? He is!

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days.
(Psalms 93:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”
When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.
David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
(2 Samuel 5:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of Your presence with me, this morning, I ponder these Scriptures, seeking Your face within them, looking for Your truth and a path to follow. Holy Spirit, guide me!

Psalm 93, attributed to no author that we know of, stands as a majestic hymn of praise to our God. The theme is stated in the first three words, “The LORD reigns.”

The word pictures are tremendous. “He is robed in majesty.” And again, we are reminded of the timeless nature of our God. His throne was established “long ago,” and He is “from all eternity.”

Anyone who knows me for very long knows that I am a fan of the ocean. I love the ocean. I had a conversation with a new friend at work, last week, where we discussed our like or dislike of the beach. She is not a fan of the beach, primarily because of sand. At first I said I love the beach. But I amended that. It is not the beach I love. I can take it or leave it. It’s the ocean that I love.

The sheer enormity of it; its vastness and power; it is truly intimidating. Yet we puny mortals bravely venture out into it, sometimes on foot, to play. And sometimes, tragedy reminds us of our mortality, just as the ocean reminds us of its power.

The psalmist reminds us that, as powerful and majestic as the ocean is, our God is mightier. “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty.” (Verse 4)

Maybe that is why I love the ocean so much. It’s the closest thing I can see, on earth, to the power and majesty of God.

The psalmist then closes out with a simple truth. The statutes of our God stand firm, they will never be moved. And His house is adorned with holiness.

One thing to consider . . . where is God’s house? It is not a building made with brick and mortar, or with timber and nails.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
(Revelation 21:3 NIV)

The dwelling place of God, by the Holy Spirit, is within the heart and soul of humans. Consider, too, then, that this “house” is adorned with holiness. We may not act very holy, sometimes, but it is there. Holiness is within us, because holiness dwells within us.

Father, I praise You for this truth. I pray that You would help me remember it more often. Like every minute of every day, so that I would stop acting in unholy ways. I thank You for the ocean, and its representation, faulty as it is, of Your awesome power. And, as powerful as it is, we can see your rule over it, as it has a line that it generally does not cross, even though there is no wall to stop it. And, at the same time, when man attempts to stop it with walls, it laughs at us, just as You laugh at mankind when we try to box You in or thwart Your plan. You are worthy, Lord, of all blessing and honor and glory!

May resurrection hope and joy fill our lives today, Father, and may we be faithful to share the good news of the Gospel of Christ.

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.

"Son of David,
throned on a cross,
crowned with thorns,
and coronated amid tears and taunts,
You appeared nothing like a king.
But through Your obedient sacrifice,
You are my eternal King,
my selfless Sovereign,
my loving Lord.
Willingly I bend the knee,
asking You to govern me by Your Word and Spirit,
to guard and keep me in the freedom You have won for me.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 NIV)

He said to [the Pharisees], “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”
(Luke 16:15 NIV)

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 NIV)

Verses like this call for humility, as we tend to get all puffy and self-righteous. Yes, as the “house of God,” we are adorned with holiness, but this does not give us cause to flaunt this in self-righteousness. We need to be careful what we value.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
(Matthew 13:44 NIV)

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Luke 18:22 NIV)

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
(Philippians 3:7-9 NLT)

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
(2 Peter 1:4 NLT)

“But the treasure is so great, that if you truly receive it, if you realize what you have, it will lead you to do everything you can, to use everything you have, and to give everything you can in response to having found it. If you’ve truly found this treasure, then it must lead you to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love others as yourself, to forgive as you have been forgiven, to give as you have been given to, to make your life a gift of love, and to do all this in joy in light of the treasure that has now come into your life. “

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I truly love the contrast of Philippians 3:7-9 with Luke 16:15.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Morning and Evening

Today is Saturday, the second of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,214

Ten more days until our 36th anniversary!

I woke up early, for some reason, this morning, between 5:30 and 6:00. I did go to bed a little earlier, last night, than I have during the rest of the week. I was tired and sleepy, so I turned off my game and went to bed.

The library was rather slow, yesterday, which is not surprising. However, the computer center was occupied by a few people for most of the day. At one point, I think there were as many as five patrons in there at once. I gave assistance to several patrons who needed help printing things, but the majority of them already knew what they were doing and didn’t need my help. Over all, it was a nice, peaceful day. I also helped out circulation by covering a lunch break at noon, as they only had two people for the first half of the day. I think the other new part timer, the guy who started at the same time as I, worked four hours, because he was there at closing time.

Today, I work 9:30-6:15 in circulation. The whole time won’t be at the desk though. I like how they do that. Each employee gets at least one hour away from the front desk in a full day shift, either processing on-shelf holds for patrons, or clearing out the automatic book drops. If there is nothing else to do, we also process “deaccessions,” books that are being removed from the library and given to the Friends of the Library for book sales.

After today, I don’t work again until next Tuesday.

I have a grocery pickup order at Kroger, today, scheduled to be picked up right after work, and then a small order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A new day awaits,
Drawing strength from the Spirit;
Opportunity

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
(Psalms 91:14-16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that because of Your great grace and mercy, I know Your Name
2. that You have satisfied me with long life
3. that You have given me the gift of song, that I might sing Your praises, morning and evening
4. that You give us the ability to love our enemies
5. that my sins have been removed from me, as far as the east is from the west, from vanishing point to vanishing point

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing to the glory of his name! Offer glory and praise!
(Psalms 66:1-2 WEB)

During this quiet moment, I rest in Your peace, confident of Your presence in my life, many times, in spite of myself. Thank you, Father!

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!
(Psalms 92:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites.
(2 Samuel 1:1A NIV)

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):
“A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!”
(2 Samuel 1:17-19 NIV)

Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

“Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

“How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.

“How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!”
(2 Samuel 1:23-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages over, meditating on the words and the meanings (as the Spirit leads me). I seek only God and His wisdom, more than HIs blessing. I just want to know Him and His presence.

I’m moved by the psalm, this morning, moved by the idea of singing praises to the Lord, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. Now, obviously, I can’t go cranking up my “lyre” or “harp” while the rest of the house is asleep. So this idea can be modified, of course. For example, C is awake, now. She woke up in the middle of this paragraph. So I could now, very easily, either grab my “lyre” (I would play the guitar), or turn on my “harp” (I’ll substitute my Nord keyboard), and sing a song of praise. In fact, I believe I will do that. I’ll be right back.

I’ll share what I sang with you (not my singing, but the original recording).

So, at the inspiration of God’s Word, I have praised the Lord and made music to His Name, this morning. If the Spirit reminds me (and I listen), I will endeavor to do the same, sometime this evening, after work and dinner. The psalmist even breaks it down to proclaiming God’s love in the morning and His faithfulness at night. However, I do not think it necessary to be legalistic about that.

And for what reason do we sing? Because He has made us glad by His great works! (Verse 4) We sing for joy because of the works of God’s hands. His works are great and His thoughts, far beyond what we could ever think, are vastly profound.

I want to touch briefly on the Old Testament reading, as well. What we see today is David’s lament over the deaths of Saul (yes, Saul) and Jonathan. It is certainly easy to comprehend that David would mourn and lament over the death of the best friend he had ever had (“you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (verse 26).

But here is a lesson for a large portion of “Christendom.” David mourned and lamented the death of . . .

his mortal enemy!

We should all ponder that for a bit.

Saul had repeatedly tried to kill David, for no other reason than sheer jealousy. Yet David consistently honored Saul, and refused to seek vengeance, and even, as discussed, I believe, yesterday, felt guilty over cutting a corner off of Saul’s robe (when he could have easily slain him).

Yet David mourned and lamented his death, saying repeatedly in 2 Samuel 1, “How the mighty have fallen!”

I believe this is a lesson for all of us to consider. I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t, as far as I know, have any enemies. But there are certainly people out there that I don’t like very much. Nevertheless, I am called upon, by God, to love them as myself, and if they are my brother in Christ, I am commanded to love them as Christ has loved me. If I should dare be glad when something “bad” happens to them, I deserve the worst of hells.

Father, I praise You for the works of Your hands, for the depths of Your love to me, and the profundity of Your thoughts. I am constantly amazed at the idea that I might be included in those thoughts. What am I that You are mindful of me?? This is not false humility, Father, a contrivance to get You to be kind to me. It is the way my heart feels. You are the Creator of all I see around me, the origins of the entire universe. I cannot even fathom Your existence in eternity past and eternity future, because my feeble brain is captured in time. But You are. Before the foundations of the earth, You are, and after everything we know ceases to exist, You are! I thank You for Your love to me and mine. I thank You for Your love to my “enemies.” Help me to love them as my neighbor, as myself. And please, Father, by Your Spirit, enable me to love all the saints as Christ has loved me, with total abandon to my own welfare.

God, You are good, You’re so good to me! And You are truly worthy; You are the only One worthy of my praise and worship. Lead me to worship You more and more, Lord, in the morning and in the night, and throughout the day, as well.

Father, I pray that You would give Your Church a deep understanding of her mission. Give us “kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization.” I lift up all church staff members, this morning. May You fill them with Your Spirit and lift them up to do the work that You have given them to do.

"God of life,
it's tempting to avoid facing death and experiencing grief because it seems so dark and bottomless.
Because Christ faced death and defeated it,
help me to face this last enemy courageously and honestly,
with sorrowful tears and sure faith,
because I know I belong,
in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior,
Jesus Christ."

BLESSING

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 WEB)

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
(Hebrews 1:3A NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 NIV)

These are some very important words. The writer of Hebrews wanted his readers to understand the significance of Jesus, in regard to God. The Son, Jesus, is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”

In Jesus’s own words, He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. He is the only way to the Father. And if we know Him, we know the Father.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
(Psalms 113:3 ESV)

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
(Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT)

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
(1 John 1:9 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Wonderful, Mighty;
To us a Son is given;
Everlasting, Prince of Peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Time Is, Most Definitely, Not On Our Side

Today is Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,212

Twelve more days until our anniversary!

Today is the last day of September! My favorite month begins tomorrow!

Today is my day off, this week. I have a few errands to run, during the day, such as a Kroger run, mostly for bananas and grapes, but I’ll probably pick up some bread and a few other things while there. C has a couple of prescriptions at the CVS right across the street, as well. And, of course, Sonic is just up the road from both of those places. Depending on the time, I will probably pick up Subway for lunch, as well.

For dinner tonight, I’m planning to cook a recipe that S picked out from a WW cookbook. It’s a mac and cheese recipe that is a bit complex, but doable. It’s 6 points per serving, so C and I will likely have some tuna with it, or make sandwiches to go along with it.

It is currently 73 degrees in our area, with a projected high of 88, and a less than 30 percent chance of light rain today.

I’m down to about 250 pages left in A Dance with Dragons, book five in A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin. I really want to get it finished by the end of the weekend. It is truly quite a “slog.” What the non-readers don’t realize is that the series is not called “Game of Thrones.” That is the name of the first book, and HBO chose to call the whole series by that name. The series is and has always been called A Song of Ice and Fire. This makes perfect sense, because the main character groups revolve around winter, along with terribly harsh cold conditions, and dragons, which, of course, produce fire.

The next book that I plan to read is a large book, size-wise, but won’t take long to read, as it is basically the libretto for Hamilton, the Broadway musical. It’s always good to read something easy and light after something as long and cumbersome as a George Martin book.

Today is International Podcast Day. I don’t listen to as many podcasts as I used to, because I’m not driving as much. I do still love them, though. It’s a great means of entertainment and information. Of course, just like any other source of media, they can be great sources of misinformation, depending on which ones you listen to.

The word for today is aureate, an adjective meaning, “golden or gilded.” “The golden statue veered in the changing breeze, menacing many points on the horizon with its aureate arrow.” (Sixes and Sevens, by O. Henry)

Today’s quote is from Thomas Merton, an American author: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Significant birthdays on September 30:

Buddy Rich, American jazz drummer and band leader, thought by many to be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time), 1917-1987
Truman Capote, American author (In Cold Blood), 1924-1984
Johnny Mathis, American singer, 1935 (86), born in Gilmer, Texas
Marc Bolan, British guitar player and singer (T-Rex, Bang A Gong), 1947-1977
Jack Wild, British actor (Oliver!, H.R. Pufnstuf), 1952-2006

About halfway through the writing of this blog, I realized that I have lost my wedding ring! I just happened to look at my left hand and it was gone. I had known that it was getting dangerously loose. I mean, I’ve lost over a hundred pounds in the last eighteen months. We’ve looked in the bed, I’ve checked the laundry . . . I honestly can’t remember the last time I noticed it, but I usually touch it several times a day. I may be taking a trip to a jewelry store today. It’s not really that big a deal. C has had a new one for a couple years, now. It’s just alarming to look down and realize it’s missing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

May the Lord make you
increase and abound in love
for one another
(1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
(1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You created me with a love for reading
2. that You created me with a love for music
3. that I have all of my senses, with which to enjoy Your creation
4. that You exist outside of time; from everlasting to everlasting, You ARE God
5. that Jesus takes in all who are in debt, in distress, or discontented and becomes their refuge and deliverer

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

Praise God with shouts of joy, all people!
Sing to the glory of his name; offer him glorious praise!
(Psalms 66:1-2 GNB)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I reflect on, and then give thanks for the fact that I am blessed to still have full use of all of my senses, with which to enjoy the creation of our Father. I also thank Him that He gave me a love of music and reading, further enhanced by the life I had with my parents.

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of Moses the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
(Psalms 90:1-6 NIV)

If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:11-12 NIV)

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.
But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
(1 Samuel 22:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of Almighty God, dwelling in His creation, living by His grace and kindness, and benefiting from His great goodness, I read these passages again, looking for things that catch my attention. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

Psalm 90 is a rare Moses psalm. It is worth noting that the subtitle heading calls Moses “the man of God.” I believe it to be a worthy aspiration to have people say that about me, years after I have left this plane. But the emphasis should be on God, not me. If I can be considered a “man of God,” it is not because I have done godly things, but because the grace of God abided in me, strengthened me, and enabled me to do His work.

Moses speaks of the infinite nature of God. He has been the place of our dwelling “throughout all generations.” And Moses also uses the present tense in his description, not unlike Jesus, who later said, “Before Abraham and Isaac, I AM” (my paraphrase). Moses wrote, “Before the mountains were born . . . from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (emphasis mine).

Before I ever existed, God is. Not “God was,” but “God is.” And this is even further illustrated in verse 4 when Moses writes, “A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” God is not contained in time. I’m not sure when “time,” as we know it, was invented. I realize that in the poetic story of creation, days are mentioned as “evening and morning,” but that is the only designation of “time” that is used. There are no “hours” or “minutes.”

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABOUT TO GET PHILOSOPHICAL!

All of this makes me ponder a question of life after death. When we all get to heaven (what a day of rejoicing that will be . . . ), will we still experience “time?” In our current, fallen state of being, we experience time in so many different ways. I have heard it said that there is a huge difference between spending five minutes sitting on a hot stove and five minutes with your best friend. Both are only three hundred seconds, the exact amount of time. But one seems much longer than the other.

We also experience time as boredom, if we perceive that we have nothing to do. This is never true, of course. There is always something to do. Yet we get bored, and this is usually caused by the way we experience time. Usually when I am bored, I am waiting for something to happen, or waiting for a specific time to pass. It almost always involves “waiting.”

Another experience of time that involves waiting is anxiety. We get anxious about things. We might be waiting for test results; we might be waiting for news about something; we might be waiting for an event to happen. And anxiety can be over something exciting that we are waiting to happen, or the fact that we are dreading something that is imminent.

And all of these things involve an aspect of time simply known as “waiting.” Isaiah speaks of waiting in a favorite Bible verse.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

I do like how verse 28 prefaces this with the questions, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” Those should have multiple question marks after them, as the sense seems to be a kind of amazement that we haven’t known or heard these things?

The Hebrew word for “wait” in this verse (again, I don’t know a bloody thing about Hebrew . . . I’m simply using the tools I have at my disposal) is actually a word for the phrase, “wait upon,” or “wait for.” In fact, the NIV uses the phrase “hope in,” and the NLT says, “trust in.” In Hebrew, it is qavah. The meanings presented are interesting. “A primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), that is, collect; (figuratively) to expect: – gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).”

But the point is that involves time. Without time, there is no such thing as “waiting.”

So back to the philosophical (perhaps it’s even theological) question concerning the “hereafter.” Will we have to “wait” in heaven? Before you jump in with a resounding, “yes, of course,” consider that time, as we know it, will likely no longer exist there. The Bible says that we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. And He is timeless, existing outside of time.

The very fact that I cannot even begin to imagine the concept of “eternity” says a lot. Have you ever just sat and tried to comprehend the fact that God has always existed?? I have. It is a mind-blowing thing. As is the act of trying to conceive of myself never existing.

If you’re still reading, remember I warned you.

I have convinced myself, because of Bible passages like Psalm 90:4, that we will not experience time in eternity. Have you ever heard someone opine that heaven might be boring if all we did was sit around and sing hymns “all day?” If there is no time, there will be no waiting, and, therefore, boredom will not be possible.

Can you even imagine never being bored? If you can, I salute you, because you’re accomplished something I can’t accomplish.

My train of thought has been effectively derailed, as it was precisely at this moment that I realized that my wedding ring was missing from my left hand. I was in the middle of trying to explain my brain on the subject at hand, to C. I’m not even going to try to regain the momentum, and it’s probably for the best.

Suffice it to say that the truth of Psalm 90:4 is very important in our understanding of all things involving our heavenly Father. He exists outside of time, which is why a thousand years would be no different than a day for Him. It is also why Moses could say, “from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” And all of this helps me appreciate or better understand what we will experience in heaven.

The only thing I will say about the 1 Samuel passage also involves waiting, and, more than likely, anxiety. David is running from Saul, now. Saul knows that David is going to replace him as king, and has frequently tried to kill David. But look at verse 2 of 1 Samuel 22.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
(1 Samuel 22:2 NIV)

Doesn’t that sound similar to what we experience with Jesus? All of us who follow Him are, or have been, in distress, in debt, and discontented.

Father, I pray for more understanding of this concept of time and how it affects our being. I do hope that I’m getting this right, and that, when we enter eternity, to spend it with You, being able to see You as You are, that time as we know it will cease to exist. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of time. I believe it causes many and more of our issues. But while we are here, we must navigate it, so I pray that the Spirit will help us with that task.

Lord, please give us an ever increasing understanding of the Gospel. May we have the full experience of adoption as Your children.

"God of grace,
I know a place like Adullam -
it's my church!
And I thank You for it -
that I am accepted as I am,
a living member of this community of grace,
not because of my record but because of the gospel.
Gather Your church,
Jesus,
protect it from those who would make it a holier-than-thou body,
and preserve it in the gospel.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!”
(Matthew 5:5 GNB)

Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
(Psalms 121:4 NLT)

(Yet more evidence of His existence outside of time)

But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
(Psalms 31:14-15 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

By Your grace I breathe;
Because of Your love, I love;
Love abides, love rules.

Grace and peace, friends.