Chesed

Today is Thursday, the twenty-second of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,569

I’m up early, this morning, because I’m due at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:00 AM for the annual Hurst Way Conference for all city employees. If I have time, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after I finish my devotional, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we lift our hearts to you, for you have given great promises to those who fear you. Let your Word strengthen us in faith, patience, and hope. Be with all those who call upon you, pleading for help in our time. For these times must work for our good, and in spite of sin, death, and all evil we can find joy in what you are doing. We call to you, O Lord our God. Let your hand be revealed, that something may be seen besides human striving and the efforts of human hands. Let the work of your hand be visible to many, to all peoples on this earth. May your name be honored, O Lord our God, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve 
or repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:10-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God does not treat us as our sins deserve
  2. that His love for us is as high as the heavens are above the earth
  3. for the steadfast love, the chesed, of the Lord
  4. that God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4); He is always watching, always listening
  5. that Jesus Christ did not seek to enjoy the Father’s love for Himself alone; He passed it on to us” (Andrew Murray)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)


Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
(John 21:20-23 ESV)

Here is a good argument that we are not supposed to be so concerned about other people, but to take care of our own business. We are not to be “pointing fingers” at those around us. We need to pay attention to our own relationship with Christ, especially as it concerns our own sin. One of my Facebook friends posted something yesterday, with which I heartily agree. “The TRINITY is more concerned about how you deal with your sin than the laws you support to deal with the sin of others.” (Aaron Smith, professional drummer) Jesus’s answer, when we say, “What about this guy?” is “What is that to you?”

I love the last verse of John’s Gospel.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(John 21:25 ESV)

I don’t think it unreasonable to add “and said” at the end of the first sentence. Certainly, Jesus said more than just the words that are included in the Gospels.


Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
(2 Chronicles 33:9-13 ESV, emphasis added)

I find great encouragement in this passage of 2 Chronicles. Manasseh was likely the most evil king that Judah had. And even though he waited until he was in desperate trouble before he cried out to God, God heard him and was “moved by his entreaty.” You see, it doesn’t matter how evil and wicked we might be. If we cry out to God, He is compassionate and merciful. His chesed will be shown.


Speaking of chesed . . .

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; 
with my mouth I will make known 
your faithfulness to all generations. 
For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; 
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness."
(Psalms 89:1-2 ESV)

Both times it says “steadfast love,” the Hebrew word is chesed. Many are familiar with the KJV of verse 1 that says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever.” I seem to remember an old Sunday School song from that verse.

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, 
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? 
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, 
and awesome above all who are around him? 
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, 
with your faithfulness all around you?
(Psalms 89:5-8 ESV)

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalms 121:4 ESV)

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
(Psalms 28:1 ESV)

Most of the time, Psalm 121:4 is referenced when speaking of God’s protection. He is always watching over us; He never sleeps.

But Rick Hamlin, in today’s Daily Guideposts, brings another perspective to this. God is also always listening. He never “shuts off” His listening. He doesn’t “mute” us. Comforting, yes, but it means He also hears all of our rants and complaining. And He continues, nevertheless, to rain down His steadfast love on us.

Just something to ponder, this morning.


Father, as I consider Your Words, this morning, I am comforted and encouraged. I am glad to remember that You never slumber nor sleep; that You are always watching, always listening. The very thought that You care enough for us to extend Your steadfast love and mercy to us, even when we bitterly complain, is astonishing. Were we You, we would have given up on us long ago. I fear some of us have, actually.

I pray for Your people, Father, especially those who have lost their way. For those who might be stumbling or wandering, Father, I pray for Your Spirit to guide them back to Your loving arms, to experience Your glorious chesed in ways that they never imagined. Help us all to know this steadfast love every single minute of every day, Father!

Oh, Lord, You do not treat us as our sins deserve, and have cast our sins as far as the east is from the west! What glorious thought! What wonderful news! Help us to embrace this, Father, as we consider Your great love for us, today!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
(Job 10:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Watches of the Night

Today is Tuesday, the twentieth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,567

Only two more days until Autumn begins!! (Which, as has been duly noted, means absolutely nothing in Texas, as it is still 90 degrees outside.)

And, once again, the high temperature for yesterday was two degrees below the predicted high of 95. We are running about six degrees higher than the average for this time of year.

Today’s high is projected to be 96. The record high for this date occurred just last year, at 100 degrees.

C and Mama are currently at Mama’s doctor appointment, as she is seeing a new doctor here in Fort Worth, for the first time. I hope they like him.

I’ll be working my half-day, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, doing shelving. C will be working from home the rest of the day, after the doctor appointment, and I will probably go out and pick up Subway for lunch today.

There were only nine baseball games, yesterday, none of which involved my two favorite teams. However, the Mets, I am told, clinched a playoff berth, yesterday, when they beat the Brewers 7-2. I read that this was their first playoff appearance since 2016. Comparatively, though, six years isn’t such a long time. According to one source, the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, and they are on track to get a Wild Card spot, this season.

The Astros clinched their division, yesterday, to be the second team that has clinched a division, this season. However, I’m confused, because Seattle has sixteen games left, and they are fifteen games out. So that “clinching” shouldn’t happen until Houston wins their next game or Seattle loses one, as Seattle’s E# is 1. If Houston has clinched, there should be an “E” next to Seattle.

Update: I’ve dug a little more deeply into that situation. If Houston lost the rest of their games (not likely) and Seattle won the rest of theirs (also not likely) they would be tied, in which case the head-to-head record would be used to determine the record. Houston beat Seattle 12-7 this season. So there you go.

The Dodgers won again, so their chance to beat the win record is still alive. They must win fifteen of their last sixteen games. They are, of course, still atop MLB with 102-44. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nats are still on the bottom, at 51-96. The Mets have a five-game win streak going, and the Pirates, Phillies, and Diamondbacks all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a run differential of +332, and the Pirates are at -214 (the Nats are at -213).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our Helper, we thank you for walking among us and for letting many experience your protection. Even when we are dying, you protect and help us so that we need not pass into death but may enter into life. So may our hearts be lifted up to you. Grant that the light in us remains undimmed, and that we may come before you in sincerity. Lord God, create good out of evil. Let light dawn in the darkness. Fulfill your promise, for our hearts are not concerned with human desires but with your promise. You will carry it out, and we will be able to say, "Our faith was not in vain, our hope was not in vain. Lord our God, you have blest us a thousandfold." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts. 
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— 
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
(Psalms 145:3-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the love of family and friends
  2. for the wonderful works of God, past, present, and future
  3. for my soul that desires to meditate on the Lord in the watches of the night
  4. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which is better than life
  5. for the admonishment to “be still before the Lord”

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; 
my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
 beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live;
 in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
 and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
 when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
(Psalms 119:148 ESV)

“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”
(Lamentations 2:19 ESV)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
(Luke 6:12 ESV)

Initially, I am drawn, once again, to the “steadfast love,” or chesed, of God. In this case, the psalmist (reported to be David) says that the steadfast love, or mercy, of God is better than life. This stands to reason, because without that steadfast love, there would likely be no life.

But then I am drawn to the middle verses of this psalm; verses 5-7.

I have been physically satisfied (even beyond satisfied) by “fat and rich food.” This is the comparison that David gives for his soul when he remembers the Lord in his bed at night. He speaks of meditating on the Lord during the “watches of the night.”

This made me remember one of the prayers for Compline from the Book of Common Prayer.

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

I remember reading a great book about that prayer, by Tish Harrison Warren, called Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep.

I really want to get into the habit of practicing Compline and “examen” before I go to sleep each night. Tragically, I keep forgetting. Examen is the practice of a detailed examination of the conscience, typically done at the end of the day. As a spiritual discipline, though, it goes deeper than just checking the conscience. It examines the day; what went well, what didn’t go well? What could have been better? How did I react to certain situations?

These are the kinds of things that I think about when I consider the “night watch,” or remembering God “upon my bed.” I’ve gotten out of the habit of the “bedtime prayers” that I grew up with. It is something that I really need to get back into.


“Release yourself from the bondage of your own judgment. Love yourself without condition. Love yourself through the walls of defensiveness and the darkness of your deeds. Love yourself beyond whatever you deserve for such is the love of God.” ~ Adolfo Quezada, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalms 37:7 ESV)

“Be still” is translated “rest” in the KJV. The Hebrew word is damam, which can be translated “to be dumb,” or “to be astonished,” but also means “cease,” “hold peace,” “quiet self,” “rest,” “be silent,” and so on.

Is this not the same sort of thing that happens when we remember the Lord upon our beds, meditating on Him during the watches of the night?

How many of us go to sleep at night worrying about current events or things that happened during the day that trouble us? And how many times do these worries cause us lack of sleep?

This is one of the purposes of Compline and Examen. To quiet the soul before trying to sleep. One thing I do every night (now that I think about this) is to turn on a meditation app that I have on my phone. It’s called “Abide.” They have great, Scripture-based sleep meditations. I have a set of headband-headphones that I put on (so that it doesn’t bother my wife), and I start one of the meditations. They allegedly last up to forty minutes, but I have yet to make it to the end of one of them.

This isn’t the same thing as purposeful examination of the conscience and the day that preceded, but it certainly can’t hurt anything to fall asleep listening to Scripture.

This verse, though, instructs us to not worry about evildoers or those who prosper. Eugene Peterson translated that verse this way:

Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.
(Psalms 37:7 MSG)

In this, we are shown patience and endurance by the Holy Spirit. Waiting requires great patience; resting in the Lord requires great patience and faith.


Father, help me to wait and rest better. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to remind me, each night, to examine the day, to check my conscience, to see how I could have done better, and also how I could have done worse. Help me to remember You on my bed, and meditate in the watches of the night. If I have trouble going back to sleep, simply draw my thoughts and meditations toward You in prayer.

Thank You for these words of worship and wisdom, and help me to apply them to my life today.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” ~ Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer

Grace and peace, friends.

Today Forever

Today is Monday, the nineteenth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,566

Only three days until Autumn begins!

The Queen’s funeral is going on, as I type this, and S is in the living room watching it. I suppose it is fitting that it is happening on September 19, which is already a sad day for me, as it is the day that Rich Mullins was killed in an auto accident, twenty-five years ago. This all rather overshadows “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

We had a nice day, yesterday. The church gathering was good, and we had Applebee’s for lunch afterward. We watched an episode of Call the Midwife (C and Mama have been watching them, but I hadn’t seen any, yet) during lunch, then spent the rest of the day relaxing (after taking out the trash bins).

The high temperature yesterday wound up being three degrees below the predicted high of 95. Does that count as a cold front? That’s four degrees higher than the average for the day. Today’s high is projected at 95 again, as is tomorrow’s. Saturday’s high is 97, and then it begins to drop, going down below 90 for the last three days of the ten-day forecast. Unfortunately, Saturday is the day we plan to take the truck to Mineral Wells to move furniture. Hopefully, the truck doesn’t fall through, this time.

The record high temp for today is, once again, 98, back in 2005.

The Texas Rangers, after losing again to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3, have been officially eliminated from any hopes of playoff contention for this season. They are 63-83 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are 32.5 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. And they dropped back to fourth place, a game behind the Angels. They are off today, and begin a series with the Angels, in Arlington, tomorrow.

The Boston Red Sox came back with a vengeance and beat the Royals 13-3, yesterday. This puts them at 71-75 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are still in last place in the AL East, 5.5 behind the Orioles. They are 17 games out of first place and are now officially eliminated from the division race. They are 9.5 out of the Wild Card race and their WCE# is 8. They, too, are off today, and begin a series in Cincinnati tomorrow.

The Astros and Dodgers are still the only two teams to have clinched playoff berths, and the Dodgers are the only team to have clinched their division.

The Dodgers kept their chances alive with another win, yesterday, to make their MLB-leading record 101-44. They must win sixteen of their remaining seventeen to break the win record. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nationals remain the worst, at 51-95, 1.5 behind the A’s.

The Mets have the longest current win streak, at four games. The Pirates and Phillies both have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a run differential of +329, and the Pirates are at -214. The Rangers are at -22, and the Red Sox gained back the nine runs they lost yesterday (plus one) and are now at -34.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the light you let shine on earth to gladden our hearts. Your light shows us how to live in your creation with open eyes and open hearts, accepting in a childlike way all the good gifts from your hand. How much good you send to many sorrowful hearts, and how much strengthening to those in weakness, poverty, and sickness! Grant that we may recognize what comes from you, that we are not cast down in spirit but mount up again and again on wings like eagles. May we learn to say at all times, "Through how much need has not our merciful God spread out his wings to protect us!" Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
(Exodus 19:4-6 ESV)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light from God that shines to gladden our hearts and strengthen us in our sorrows and weaknesses
  2. that the Lord abounds in steadfast love (mercy) to all who call upon Him
  3. that He is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (shouldn’t we be the same??)
  4. for every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of lights
  5. that my thoughts are drawn toward eternity

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
(John 19:16-22 ESV)

I have frequently wondered about the eternal destiny of Pilate. He was very close to believing, I think. He knew there was something more to Jesus than what was visible.


Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 
Gladden the soul of your servant, 
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 
In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. 
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, 
nor are there any works like yours. 
All the nations you have made 
shall come and worship before you, O Lord, 
and shall glorify your name. 
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
 unite my heart to fear your name.
 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever. 
For great is your steadfast love toward me; 
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
(Psalms 86:3-13 ESV)
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 
Turn to me and be gracious to me; 
give your strength to your servant, 
and save the son of your maidservant.
(Psalms 86:15-16 ESV)

This has long been a favorite psalm of mine, and I can’t remember how long ago it was that I chose verse 11 as my “life verse.” That’s the verse in italics, above. It’s probably been a little over twenty years, because I seem to remember being in this house when I did that, and we have lived her for 23 years, now.

I’m still working, or should I say He is still working, on that united heart bit. And as for giving thanks with my whole heart, I’m still working on that one, too. What I want to focus on this morning, though is that steadfast love that is mentioned in this psalm. The word that is used in the Hebrew language is chesed. The KJV translates that word as “mercy.” The Strong’s entry on that word is as follows: “kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty:—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.”

Then verse 15 also tells us that God is merciful and gracious and slow to anger. As I read this psalm, this morning, my thoughts were drawn to questions about our own behavior in this world. If God shows mercy, steadfast love, and is merciful and gracious and slow to anger, are we not directed to be like Him?


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)


And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
(1 John 5:11 ESV)

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:28-30 ESV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

“Eternal life.”

How often do we consider the words “eternal” and “eternity?” The first definition of eternity is somewhat oxymoronic. “Infinite or unending time,” it says. The fact that it includes the word “time” makes me chuckle. I prefer the second definition, which, to me makes it clearer: “a state to which time has no application; timelessness.”

The first thing I always type in this blog is the date. Many people are interested in what “holiday” is featured for the day. Some holidays are official, some not so much. For example, today is “Talk Like A Pirate Day.” Shiver me timbers. I also remember this as the day that Rich Mullins died. It will, from this day forward, be remembered as the day that Queen Elizabeth II was buried.

We remember birthdays. We mark years. I remember significant years in my life.

In eternity, none of those will matter. Eternity will be one infinite day. It will be “today” forever. There will be no more tomorrow, and there will be no more yesterday. Or, perhaps “yesterday” will be remembered as a vague time when we were walking on earth. I have no idea if we will remember this life.

Great. Now my brain hurts.

The burdens of time, these “light momentary afflictions” that we must endure, are temporary. When we worry about them, we do ourselves a grave disservice (no pun intended). We steal joy from ourselves by allowing ourselves to be ruled by them. Yes, we must pay attention, and we must, to a degree, abide by them. It would be to my best interest to be at work on time on days when I am scheduled.

I find some words of Paul in Galatians to be quite interesting.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years!
(Galatians 4:9-10 ESV)

But, then, it is also important to note that, when Paul was writing these letters to the churches, they were all quite sure that Jesus would be returning in a couple of years, at the most.

“Eternal life.” Today forever. My soul rejoices at the hope!


Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 ESV)

Andrew Murray focuses on meditation, from this passage. He says, “Through meditation the heart holds and appropriates the Word of God.” The intellect takes in the words when we read, but they must get into the heart, and the way this happens is through meditation.

It is important to meditate on God’s Word because “whatever the heart truly believes, it embraces with love and joy and thus influences the life.”

Meditation was a lost art, for a long time, in modern Christianity. It is still shunned by many well-meaning Christians because of its Eastern implications. But meditation was encouraged, even demanded, as far back as Old Testament times.

But before we try to meditate, we must “present ourselves before God.” You see, the words on the pages of a Bible mean nothing without His presence, without the influence of the Holy Spirit. They are just words. “It has no power to bless apart from Him.” As it brings us into His presence, then we can begin to meditate on it and hide it away in our hearts. This is done in “quiet restfulness,” during which our minds need not expend energy, as we do in “study.”

And then, meditation leads to prayer, as it, by nature, “provides subjects for prayer.” I can attest to the truth of this, as I have many times been led into prayer by meditating on a specific passage of Scripture. In fact, every day, in this blog, I am led to prayer by the passages on which I meditate.

Today, I’m meditating/contemplating/pondering eternity.


Father, my soul rejoices, this morning, as I consider eternal life, and the implications within. Much of what we believe about eternity is speculation, as You have not provided an abundance of information about it. You have told us that there would be no pain, no sickness, and no tears, which is what causes me to question whether we will, in fact, remember our lives on earth. Such knowledge is too high for me, I cannot attain it.

All I know for sure is that I look forward to it with great anticipation. And I know that this eternal life comes from Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All praise to You for giving us this life, Father, and for drawing us into it as You have.

As we grow closer to the time when this will come to pass, I pray that You draw us away from earthly things that do not matter, special days, years, and even memories. Not that I want to forget loved ones or anything like that. I just don’t want to be focusing on things that relate to time, which will no longer be a factor in our lives. I love the concept that was brought into my mind today, the idea that, when we enter eternity, it will be an endless day, it will be “today” forever.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Toward More Humility

Today is Sunday, the eighteenth of September, 2022, in the 25th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,565

Only four more days until Autumn begins!

We had a great time, last night, as we celebrated a friend’s birthday. There were people there whom we have not seen for quite some time, so, as S commented, it was like a reunion. The food was good, but the fellowship was “gooder.” Our friend loved my gift to her, which was all of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files books that I owned. Four of them were special editions, signed and numbered. I didn’t have quite all of them in physical form, as I had read two or three in ebook form. I believe she has only read the first one, so that should keep her busy for a bit.

Today, we have our church gathering at 10:15-ish, although I’m not sure how many of us will be there. I guess we shall see. As far as I know, there are no other plans for today.

Yesterday was pretty busy at the library. There was a steady stream of patrons, especially in the afternoon, and, at one point, I turned to my co-worker and opined that it sounded like a mall in there. It’s good for the library to have that much traffic, and it makes the day go by faster.

Yesterday’s high got up to 91, the first day over 90 in almost ten days. True to form, though, that was two degrees lower than the predicted high of 93. Today’s high is projected to be 95, and eight of the next ten days have expected highs of over 90.

The Texas Rangers failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities, last night, and lost to Tampa 5-1. This puts them at 63-82 for the season. With seventeen games left, they are in third place in the AL West, 31.5 out of first place, and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. Their WCE# is 1. They play Tampa again today, at the Juice Box, at 12:10 CDT.

The Bost Red Sox were embarrassed by the KC Royals, last night, losing 9-0. The Royals. A team that is thirty games below .500. Oh, well. The Sox are 70-75 for the season, and with seventeen games remaining, they are 17 games out of first place, which puts their division E# at 1. They are 10.5 out of the Wild Card race, with a WCE# of 8. But if they keep playing like it no longer matters (and it kind of does, still), that won’t last very long. They play the Royals again today, in Boston, at 1:35 EDT.

Houston has now joined the Dodgers in clinching a playoff berth. However, they still haven’t clinched their division, as Seattle still has a slim chance.

The Dodgers won game number 100, yesterday, keeping their chances of breaking the win record alive. Their MLB-leading record is 100-44. They must win seventeen of their last eighteen games to break the record. The Nationals won again, but so did the Athletics, so the Nats stay on the bottom, 1.5 behind the A’s. The Mets, Cardinals, and Guardians all have three-game win streaks going. The Reds, Phillies, Pirates, and Twins are all on three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a +328 run differential, and the Pirates are back on the bottom with -210. There are now eight teams eliminated from any chance of playoffs, the Cubs being the most recent.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us your glorious future as the basis for our lives. We thank you that on this foundation we can forget our present troubles and believe that the power of good can move us today to oppose sin, death, and everything evil. Free our hearts from all burdens, and grant that we may have courage to wait patiently for the great help which is to come. Grant that what is happening in the world today may somehow help toward the solution of all the problems. We praise your name, our Father in the heavens. We praise you for the good you do for us each day and for the light you will shed one day on everything on earth, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
(Revelation 21:21-23 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the hope of our future inheritance, that great city that needs neither sun nor moon because the Glory of God gives it light
  2. for the hope of future grace
  3. that God keeps teaching me about humility (obviously, I haven’t gotten it right, yet)
  4. that I have no righteousness of my own, nothing that I can call my own; all belongs to God; all comes from Jesus
  5. for friends and family, and reunions

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
(John 19:10-12 NIV)

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, 
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; 
but let them not turn back to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, 
that glory may dwell in our land. 
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, 
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
(Psalms 85:8-11 ESV)

Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)


It is interesting to me, how often I keep coming back around to these Scriptures about humility and seeking the good of others. Pride and arrogance are equated with evil and perverted speech. But humility is equated with the fear of the Lord.

How do we get to a place where we can, as Paul encourages us, “pray continually,” or, as the more popular phrase reads, “pray without ceasing?”

“If we seek to pray without ceasing simply because we want to appear very pious, we will never attain to it. It is by forgetting ourselves and yielding our lives to God that our heart’s capacity is enlarged to know God’s will.” (Andrew Murray)

People want to know God’s will for their lives. They don’t know because they aren’t looking for it. It’s right there. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s God’s will for our lives. Or at least part of it.

But we can’t get to that place of praying continually until we embrace the previous Scriptures that instruct us toward humility; until we can “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

This comes back to that idea of confusing the struggle, too. When our whole life becomes wrapped up in God, in looking to Christ for our life and righteousness, when we truly realize that we have nothing to call our own, then we are close to being able to grasp the concept of humility and seeking the good of others instead of our own “rights.” Then, maybe we can be successful at the idea of praying continually.

“To forget oneself and to live for God and His kingdom among men leads to prayer without ceasing.” (Murray)


Father, this keeps coming around, and I have to consider the implications for myself. I can’t just point fingers at others without applying the lessons to myself, as well. There is always more that I need to be learning in regard to this journey, and this relationship. You are always here, always near me, always pointing me toward greater humility.

But self gets in the way, so often. I fall to the temptations of pride and arrogance, and begin to think that I am better than someone else because of my beliefs and my practices. But I’m not. I’m no better than anyone. I am not better than the “vilest offender.” I have no righteousness other than the righteousness of Christ in me, and that is pure grace, a gift from You, that no one should haven anything about which to boast.

So keep bringing it up, Father, because I haven’t gotten it right, yet.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
(Proverbs 8:12-13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Whole-Hearted

Today is Friday, the sixteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,563

Only six more days until Autumn begins!!

I had a great time having lunch with C, yesterday afternoon. We wound up going to Fred’s Phillies, as expected. This time, we tried, their cheesesteak fries, which were amazing. They could have been a meal by themselves. I also brought sandwiches home to Mama and S, and they both really liked them.

Today being Friday, my new (which is really back to my old) schedule has me working from 9:15-6:15 in the Computer Center today.

There were only eight baseball games, yesterday, none of which included my two favorite teams. There were some important games, though. The White Sox, who are still in the running for the AL Central, beat the Guardians 8-2. The Rays, who are in a Wild Card spot, but behind Toronto, beat said Blue Jays 11-0. That’s right . . . I did not mistype that. And, in doing so, they also did something that has never been done before. On Roberto Clemente day in baseball, the Rays fielded a starting team in which every player was Latino. In addition, they all wore number 21 in tribute to the great Clemente.

I see, this morning, that the MLB website developers brought the E number column back. So now I can tell you that the Rangers’ WCE# is 2 and the Red Sox’s WCE# is 9. Yes, I’m saying there is still a chance.

The Dodgers are still the only team that has clinched a playoff spot. Albert Pujols still has 697 home runs.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Great God and Savior, you want to lead us by the hand so that in communion with you we learn how to live a true life. We thank you for everything we have already received. Guide us still, we pray. Through your Spirit lead us in all areas of our life. Grant us the Spirit, who can illumine our hearts to help us find new courage and new strength and new recognition of the truth. All our praise belongs to you, for you alone can quicken us. You alone free us from the pain of death and from all burdens, so that in spite of toil and struggle we may always be lifted up to you, our God on high, to the glory of your name on earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
(John 15:26-27 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the “Advocate,” the Holy Spirit, who helps us daily
  2. for communion with God, in which we learn how to live this life
  3. that if we delight ourselves in God, He will make our steps firm
  4. for the testimony and example of Simon Peter
  5. for the hope of wholeheartedness, may the Holy Spirit help me to seek the Lord with my whole heart

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
(John 18:15-18 ESV)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NIV)

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
(Psalms 37:23 NIV)

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
(Proverbs 16:3 NIV)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)


There’s some good stuff in those last four verses.

As humans, we tend to, as stated in a previous blog, put the cart before the horse. We are always making our plans, and then praying for God to bless them. I’ve served on staff in a handful of churches in my adult life, and the typical course of action was to have a staff meeting and sit around and brainstorm what we should do next.

There was no question at all brought up as to whether or not we should be “doing something.” There has always been this idea that we have to be busy doing something. And if we don’t feel any strong leadership from the Lord, we must make something up.

And then we pray diligently for God to bless those plans that He didn’t make.

Three of those verses up there have something in common. It is the Lord who establishes the steps, the Lord who makes firm the steps, the Lord who establishes the plans.

Two of them make clear that it is when we delight in Him or commit to Him whatever we do that this happens.

Looking back, I wonder if we were “wholehearted” when we were doing these things. I have no doubt that the pastors had good intentions. But my goodness, for the most part we were so very young. As I’m typing this, I begin to wonder if our churches should allow people who are under forty to be “senior” pastors.

I’m not one of those “never trust anyone under a certain age” kind of people. Don’t misunderstand me. These days, I see more wisdom from younger generations than I see from many people my age.

But a person who has just graduated from seminary (or who even might still be in school) doesn’t have the kind of experience needed to be an effective pastor. But I’m also remembering the practice we had of sticking brand-new church members in children’s Sunday School classes as teachers. Egad.

But I digress.

I want to talk a little bit about the idea of being whole-hearted.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

We know that when we engage in any earthly task with less than our full attention, or less than wholeheartedly, we tend to not be successful, or, at best, do a mediocre job. “Wholeheartedness is even more essential in spiritual work, and above all, in the high and holy task of prayer and of being well-pleasing to a holy God.” (Andrew Murray)

When we consider this in the context of prayer, Murray says that “Prayerlessness is not an isolated thing to be overcome. It is related to the state of the heart. It is a way of life. True prayer depends on an undivided heart.”

This reminds me of my “life verse,” which is Psalm 86:11.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

And there we find our dilemma. We cannot give ourselves a whole heart, an undivided heart. Only God can do that for us. But He will. God, by the Holy Spirit, will enable us to seek Him with our whole heart. And then we can commit to Him whatever we do and He will make our steps firm and establish our plans. But it must go in that order, not the other way around.

I’ve heart it said that we should be looking around to see what God is doing, and then join in. I think that is great advice.


Father, I know that I have been less than whole-hearted, probably most of my life. I’m honestly not even sure that we humans are capable of being entirely whole-hearted about anything. We sure love our pet causes and projects, though. Would that we could muster the same energy when we begin to pray.

I want to be whole-hearted for You. And that wholeheartedness must be tempered with love and compassion. There is a difference between being whole-hearted and being obsessed with something.

What I desire in my life is to be seen as one who loves You with all my heart, and in doing so, also loves those around me with that same attitude. There is a calmness, I believe, that comes with this. Activity is not frantic or panic-driven. It is steady and calm, with the confidence that You are there and that You are working Your plan, which should also be our plans.

Father, as the psalmist prayed, I too pray, unite my heart to fear Your name. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Help me to seek You with my whole heart, that I might find You, that I might commit my ways to You, that You would make my steps firm.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
(Psalms 25:4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Wrong Struggle

Today is Thursday, the fifteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,562

Seven days until Autumn begins!

I’m going to have lunch with C, today, since I don’t have to work today. I’m not sure what we will have, but it might be Fred’s Phillies.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 8-7, last night. The sad thing about that is that they were ahead 5-1, at one point, and then 7-4. But their two most inconsistent pitchers struck again, and they lost another one run game. They are now 62-81 for the season, but still managed to stay in third place in the AL West. They are 31 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. For some reason, the MLB standings page is no longer showing elimination numbers, so I don’t know what the WCE# is for Texas. They are off today, and will be in Tampa Bay, in the worst stadium in the history of baseball, tomorrow. They have nineteen games left.

The Boston Red Sox lost both games in a two-game series with New York, losing 5-3 on three unearned runs, last night. They are 69-74 for the season, and will likely finish in last place in the AL East. What a disappointing season. I can’t remember, but it seems like they were at least close to first place, at one point in the season. I know they at least were in the running for the Wild Card race, at one point. They are 18 games out of first place and 10.5 out of the Wild Card race. They are also off today, will face KC tomorrow, in Boston. They also have nineteen games left.

The current playoff picture looks the same as it has for a while, now. In the AL, we have Houston, New York, and Cleveland leading their divisions. The three Wild Card spots are currently occupied by Toronto, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, in that order. Baltimore, with twenty games remaining, is four games out. The White Sox are 6.5 out, and the Twins are 7.5 out. The White Sox and Twins, however, have a slim chance of winning the division, still.

In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, with Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego holding the three Wild Card spots. Milwaukee is only two games out, while the Giants are a whopping nine games behind. Atlanta is only a half game behind the Mets, though, so that division is still up in the air, so to speak.

Albert Pujols still has 697 home runs. There’s another cool story in St. Louis, though. Last night, Adam Wainright and Yadier Molina started the game against the Brewers, which was the 325th time that pitcher/catcher combination played together. That surpassed the previous duo of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (1963-1975).

The Dodgers lost a game, but still lead MLB with their 98-44 record. They are also not only the only team to clinch a playoff spot, but are also the first team to clinch their division. With twenty games left, they must win nineteen of them to beat the win record. I’m not betting on that. The Nationals remain on the bottom, with 49-94. With Oakland’s win over Texas last night, the Nats are now three games behind the Athletics.

The Guardians continue to streak, pushing for that division win. They have won six consecutive games, now. The Reds continue to streak, as well, but the bad kind, having lost six in a row. The Dodgers’ run differential is at +318, and Nationals are now at -211. The Pirates have won four in a row, so they are twelve runs ahead of the Nats, now. The Rangers are at -17, and the Red Sox are at -36.

Weather-wise, we continue to have mild days, and the highs keep coming out to be a degree or two lower than predicted. You won’t get any complaints from me about that! Yesterday’s high was 88, and was projected at 90. The low was 66, which is the average for that date. Today’s high is predicted at 88. After today, we have nine days of low-to-mid nineties, with 89 on 9/24, which is the day we are now planning on taking the truck to Mineral Wells.

The record high for today is 97, back in 2019, and the record low, from 1993, is 41! Wow. That’s pretty chilly for a September morn.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for allowing us to come to you and to stand before your face. We thank you for helping us throughout our life on earth, for strengthening our faith in you and our trust in all you do. Bless us and give us courage. May your light shine out among the peoples so that they recognize your will. May your light shine out so that your name may be praised and we can rejoice in the new time you give us. For you will be at work and you will accomplish it. Even when we do not know what will become of our time, you know what our time needs, and you will carry out your will. You will let your name be honored. You will bring your kingdom, and you will change everything for the good. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. This is the very word of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
(Isaiah 55:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the ways and thoughts of the Lord, infinitely higher than mine
  2. for the help and strength God gives me in this life, and for His light that shines out among all people
  3. for the confidence that, even though we do not know what will come in our time, that God’s will will be accomplished
  4. that God thought of me and planned my life before the very foundations of the earth
  5. that, together with God, we can do all things

“For You This Day,” by Daryl Madden

More than 10,000
Years ago
I thought of you
And loved you so

And I adored
You, everyday
A joy to craft
Your DNA

I took my time
Your soul, prepare
Blessed each cell
Count every hair

And all has led
Unto this place
And in this time
You’re sent with grace

Come find the joy
Within my way
What I’ve prepared
For you this day

This poem gave me chill bumps, this morning. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided.

“Joy Is Rising,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

You can do all things through Me
together, let us do this…
with great joy, the time is now

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

Another mention of joy. Such encouraging words. Consider . . . with God all things are possible. “Together, let us do this.” Please check out Susan’s site at the link provided.


When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
(John 17:1-3 ESV)

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”
(John 17:9-10 ESV)

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
(John 17:20-23 ESV)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(Psalms 82:3-4 ESV)

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:25 ESV)


What is Jesus Christ to you? What is He to me?

If He is not everything to us, then He is not enough. If we see Him as everything, He is more than enough.

“The Christian life is not a struggle to live rightly but rather resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.” (Andrew Murray)

I love that quote. Read it again. And then read it again, and think on it, ponder it, consider it.

And while we are thinking on that, let’s also consider that mention of intercession. Jesus “always lives to make intercession . . .”

Did you know that Jesus prayed for you? Not only do we have this verse in Hebrews, which puts it in present tense, but we have His very words in John 17, in that “high priestly prayer,” which I like to call the “real Lord’s Prayer.”

Note that Jesus said He was not praying for the “world.” He was praying for His disciples. First, He was praying for the eleven that were remaining after Judas had done his “job.” But then? Then He prayed for you and for me!

And He continues to do so, according to the writer of Hebrews.

Now, back to this idea from Andrew Murray. If we consider what he says about the “Christian life,” then prayer becomes “not a matter of strain or anxious care but rather an experience of what Christ does through us. It is a participation in the life of Christ, which ascends to the Father as prayer. We can begin to pray not only trusting in the merits of Jesus and in the intercession by which our unworthy prayers are made acceptable, but in that union by which He prays in us and we in Him.”

This is all truly mind-boggling, if you think about it.

We (humans) have made the struggle in the Christian life to be all about doing and not doing. We have made it about “right living.” We are no better than the Pharisees in the New Testament, who made “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” into literally thousands of petty little rules to follow.

This is not to say that “right living” isn’t important. But it is not the primary struggle. When we make the struggle about that, we become legalistic. We stand in the pulpit and condemn Christians who would dare to view an R-rated movie (I’m not making that up, I heard it said in a sermon). We shout from the pulpit that “you can’t be a Christian and vote Democrat in America!” I’m not making that one up either.

The last time I checked, the only qualification for being a Christian is believing in Jesus. My opinion about anything else doesn’t figure into that, whatsoever.

I shudder to think what the response might be if I were to try an experiment on social media and post, “You can’t be a Christian and _________.”

But I digress. You see, this is not the struggle, even though we seem to have made it so. As Murray so eloquently stated, the struggle is abiding in Christ, resting in Him, and finding our life and righteousness to be in Him. If I can succeed in that, the “right living” will take care of itself. But, alas . . . we westerners have, as usual, put the proverbial cart before the horse.

Take encouragement, as I am, this morning, that Jesus, our Savior, not only interceded for us a couple thousand years ago, but continues to do so, as He sits at the right hand of the Father. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us!

That’s it. There is nothing else to say after that.


Father, my heart is full, this morning, as I consider these truths. I confess that, all too often, I have fallen prey to the legalism that comes with making the struggle of our lives be about following rules and right living. But then I read these words that remind me that my Savior prayed for me! And that my Savior continues to pray for me! And the Holy Spirit prays for me!

Father, thank You! I praise You! And, at the same time, I hang my head in shame, because there have been too many times when I have failed to remember these things. It’s not like I’ve never read those verses before. I’ve probably read John 17 literally hundreds of times. And I’m sure that I have made note of the fact that Jesus prayed for all of us who would believe because of the testimony of that handful of disciples with which Jesus started the Revolution.

Help us, Lord! We are in desperate need of Your help, today. We are fractured and splintered, and have been for centuries. People have made plenty of excuses for the many “denominations” into which Christianity has been divided. But it is tragic. We have not succeeded in being “one.” We need Your Spirit, Lord, to intervene. Now, more than ever, it needs to be seen that Your Church is united. Yet it seems to be more divided than ever before. Help us, Lord. May the prayers of Jesus Christ be answered in their fullness.

Give us the wisdom to make our struggle be about abiding and resting in Christ, and receiving our life and righteousness from Him, not from trying harder to live right.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.
(John 15:7 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Pattern for Abiding

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ unite us all in harmony and love!

Day 23,560

There are only nine more days until my favorite season begins. The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22, this year. And soon, it will be my favorite month, the month of October. Our wedding anniversary falls in October, and C and I have a weekend planned, back in Glen Rose at our favorite cabin on the Paluxy River. We will be there, October 7-10.

The temperature reached 85, yesterday afternoon, a degree shy of the predicted 86. There was no rain, and there is none predicted over the next ten days. The highs are all 90 or above (none higher than 93), until September 22, when the predicted high is only 87. The record high for today’s date is 105, back in 2011.

The Texas Rangers split the double-header with Miami, yesterday. They won the first game 3-2, but lost the second 10-6. That makes them 61-80 on the season, and it got them in a tie with LA for third place. They are 30 games out of first place (eliminated from division contention), and 18 out of the Wild Card race (WCE# is 5). Today, they are back home to play the Athletics, at 7:05 CDT. Cole Ragans, who threw three innings of no-hit ball last time, will start. The Rangers have 21 games remaining.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and will begin a series with the Yankees tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 PM EDT. The Red Sox are 69-72 on the season, 16 games out of first place (E# 6), and ten games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 13). They also have 21 games remaining.

The Dodgers, at 97-43 (MLB leading), are still the only team to have mathematically clinched a playoff berth. They have not clinched the division, yet, but the E# for San Diego, the second place team, is only 2. The Nationals are at 49-92, trailing MLB, but only two games behind the Athletics. The Cleveland Guardians have a four-game win streak going, while the Nationals, Braves (uh-oh), Rays (YAY!), Twins, and Reds all have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers lead the run differential column, with +316, while the Pirates still have the bottom, with -211. The Rangers dropped to -17 with that second game, yesterday, and the Red Sox remain at -33.

Today being Tuesday, I will be at the library, shelving, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. This is also my “busy” week, so I will be working eight hours in circulation both tomorrow and Saturday. My Computer Center day is now Friday, every week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we know that we are your children, and in this certainty we gather in your presence as a community. Grant us your Spirit, the Spirit who works in us and frees us from the many evils that still torment us. Be with us and let the power of your great grace and mercy be in our hearts so that we may gain the victory and lead joyful lives on earth in spite of our many shortcomings, blunders, and sins. For your grace is great, much greater than all our failings. You are our God and Father, and we want to keep our consciences clear today and always through your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For it is by his grace you are saved, through trusting him; it is not your own doing. It is God's gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of. 
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the power of God’s great grace and mercy in my life, that I might lead a joyful life here on earth, in spite of my imperfections
  2. for God’s gift of grace, by which I am saved
  3. for the unspeakable love that invites me to come and converse freely with God
  4. for the privilege of abiding in Christ
  5. that His power is made perfect in my weakness, about which I will gladly boast

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."
(John 15:4-14 ESV)

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV)

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)

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 ESV)


“Abide in me,” says Jesus. I’ve discussed what “abide” means, in previous entries. It means to dwell, or live, in something, usually for an extended period of time. The NIV translates it “remain,” which isn’t a bad rendering of the word, either. The idea is to stay, to remain, to dwell, for a long time, in this case, preferably, permanently.

What joy it is to abide! What a privilege to be invited to do so! “As you enter a time of private prayer, let your first focus be to give thanks to God for the unspeakable love that invites you to come to Him and to converse freely with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

What I am attempting to do, every morning, here, is exactly that; to abide. My ritual remains relatively constant, although the appearance in this forum may change, from time to time. I begin with a prayer. Then I enter into a time of Bible reading/study. I seldom do any literal “study,” these days, as I have come to believe that that isn’t as important as I used to think. I realize that may sound like heresy to some . . . “study to show thyself approved,” and so on.

I rather enjoy the closing words of Ecclesiastes:

Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 ESV)

I will also point out that the word translated “study” in 2 Timothy 2:15, is only rendered so in the KJV. Both the NIV and the ESV say “Do your best.” The NLT says “work hard,” and the MSG says “concentrate.” All of these are acceptable translations, based on what I can tell from the Greek word in the text.

What I believe is that meditation and contemplation are as good as or better than literal “study,” whatever that means. Most people, when they speak of “study,” think it means to sit down and look at a passage of Scripture and read tons of commentaries about it and try to learn everything about it that they can. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this. However, I know one person who has studied very hard and probably knows the Bible better than anyone that I know. His heart, however, does not reflect intimate knowledge of the Trinity. He is not a very nice person. That, to me, is tragic, and it is why I believe that meditating on the Scriptures is at least as helpful, if not more so, than “study.” And you can work hard at meditation and contemplation, too.

Here’s what Murray says:

“Prepare yourself for prayer by Bible study. Read a few verses. Take what you readily understand and apply it. Then ask the Father to enlighten all of the passage to your heart and make it applicable.” (Emphasis added)

What he calls “Bible study” sounds a lot like meditation and contemplation to me.

And that’s what I try to do, here. After reading the Scripture passages that I quote above, I then spend a few moments sussing them out, generally typing while I’m thinking. Sometimes I use material from the various devotional books, but, lately, outside of those quote from Murray, it’s my own thinking emerging from my fingertips.

That may or may not be a good thing. But I tend to look at it as a form of meditation.

Then, I turn to prayer. The prayers that I type in here are generally related to what I have contemplated. There are also prayers from individuals that I lift up, as they have requested. I should probably do more of the bit where Murray suggests that we “Remember His greatness, holiness, and love.” He also recommends that prayers be specific. I try to do that, as well. “Let your prayer be specific, originating either from the Word you have just read or from spiritual needs that you are sensing at the time.”

One thing that is important, though. This prayer that begins in the private place should be carried out into the world. This does not, in my opinion, contradict the words of Jesus. Remember, in context, Jesus is warning His disciples against praying for show, as “the hypocrites” do. When we take the spirit of prayer out into the world, we are doing what Paul tells us at the end of 1 Thessalonians, praying “without ceasing.” We begin here, in the private room. But we don’t leave it there; we don’t stop there.


Father, it is truly a joy to be able to do this; to abide (help me to be more consistent at this), to pray (help me, there, also), to meditate on Your Word and to consider the greatness of Your mercy, love, and grace. When I consider all of these things, along with the moon, the stars, the magnificent heavens, along with the mountains and oceans that dwarf us on earth, I sing, along with the psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

It is truly amazing that You, the Creator of all things, condescend to fellowship with us, Your creation. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

I thank You that You have placed it in my heart to desire to delight in You. And this desire for delight is not totally driven by the desire to get whatever I want. Sure, I would love for my prayers to be effective, to be answered the way I pray them, so that everyone who gives me a prayer request gets what they want.

But that is not the driving force behind my abiding. You are. Christ is. The Holy Spirit is. It is a sincere desire to know You as fully as I can. Help me to abide better. Help me to pray better, to pray without ceasing, and to take this spirit of prayer out of this room with me. Let that color and influence everything that I do in my life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Have the patience and courage to begin again anew each day, and trust in God’s help; his mercy is new every morning. Then you will understand that life is always a matter of becoming or growing, and that you must always look forward to the greater things. Even though you stand in battle with dark powers, the victory will be yours, since in Christ every evil is overcome."
(Eberhard Arnold, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Them Know . . .

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of September, 2021. ‘Tis the first day of Autumn, my favorite season of the year!

Day 23,204

Twenty days until our 36th wedding anniversary!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, a wonderful Romanian photographer. My gratitude to Paul for allowing me to use his photos.

Fall has finally arrived, and has arrived in great style, as it is currently below sixty degrees in DFW, and the projected high is only 82 today. Tomorrow should be similar. There’s a little rain in the forecast, in about a week, but things could always change between now and then.

Yesterday was a great work day. I spent the first four hours in shelving, putting away some new books and DVDs, then pulled some large print books that are slated for probable “deaccession.” That means they will be pulled from library stock and placed in the next Friends of the Library sale. The second half was spent in the computer center, where my role is basically to sit there are wait for people to have questions or problems. There are occasional tasks with which I can assist, as well. I am also thinking about signing up to help with the library’s subscription service, a brain child of one of the media/tech people during the pandemic, while the library was closed to inside service. Each month, three books are chosen by library staff for subscribers, based on a survey they fill out, along with their check-out history (only made available for this service), then the patrons get to rate the books that they are given by the staff. I’ve not only considered signing up to help pick books, but I’ve also considered signing up for the service, itself. Sounds like fun.

Today, I work from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, and then I’m off for the next four days. Next week will be the “tough” week, tough only because of the number of hours I will be working during the calendar week, as my schedule changes to the new schedule I will have, going forward from October 1.

I’ve got a grocery order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning, with some needed things, mostly watermelon and bananas. Can’t keep a banana in this house! It’s crazy.

At some point, I may have to break down and mow the yard. Maybe tomorrow. Also, in regards tomorrow, C received a text message on Monday, confirming that the Social Security folks will be calling her Thursday morning, in regards to to S’s benefit from my record. That should be interesting.

Today is Hobbit Day, as, apparently, it is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The word for today is muliebrity, a noun, which means “womanly nature or qualities.” This is appropriate, as today is also Business Women’s Day.

The quote for today, from Eleanor Roosevelt, is “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

Significant birthdays on September 22:

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, 1290 (did he ever die?)
Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, 1515-1557
Michael Faraday, English scientist, 1791-1867
Charlotte Cooper, British tennis player, 1st female Wimbledon champion, 1870-1966
Tommy Lasorda, American baseball manager, 1927-2021
Toni Basil, American singer (Mickey), 1943 (78)
David Coverdale, British rock singer (Deep Purple, Whitesnake), 1949 (Wikipedia says 1951, making him 70)
Andrea Bocelli, Italian tenor, 1958 (63)
Scott Baio, American actor (Happy Days), 1960 (61)
Catherine Oxenberg, American actress (Dynasty), mother of India Oxenberg, victim of Keith Ranier's NXIVM cult, 1961 (60)
Bonnie Hunt, American actress (Cheaper By the Dozen, Rain Man), 1961 (60)
Tom Felton, English actor (Draco Malfoy), 1987 (34)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Beginning of Fall is here;
Cooler air outside;
Refreshing and renewing.

In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 29:18-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Autumn, and the cooler temperatures it brings
2. for the grace that floods my soul, this morning, even though I am undeserving of it
3. for the coming day when all people, all over the world, will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that You are Most High over all the earth
4. for the promise of rest and strength as we return to You in repentance
5. for my life in You, in the truth of Your Gospel, and the strength to share it with others

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
(Psalms 139:14 MSG)

As I pause here, in the quietness, I consider that You are, indeed, breathtaking! This body, this soul, so marvelously and wonderfully made! I watch my fingers move. I pay attention to my breathing. What marvel; what wonder!

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof,
O God.
See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you,
whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:1-4, 17-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
(1 Samuel 5:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct my meditations and prayers, and teach me something for my life today.

I do like the prayer at the beginning of Psalm 83. We should always be praying, I think, for God to not be silent, to not stand aloof, to not turn a deaf ear to us. It’s one of those prayers that seems superfluous, because God has already promised to not do any of those things.

It is we who are fickle, and I believe that praying prayers like this can center our souls, cause us to focus better on the Almighty. If we are asking Him to pay attention, it means we are speaking to Him. It’s a simple though, really, but it is similar to the idea that prayer, in itself, is an exercise in faith. If I had no faith, I would not be bothering to pray. But the fact that I pray indicates that there is at least a grain of sand worth of faith in there somewhere.

It is also interesting that Asaph phrases this psalm in such a way to indicate that it is GOD’S enemies that he is praying against, not his own. “These people are Your enemies, because they are trying to wipe out Your people.” In our day and time, the enemies of God have a different tactic. Mostly, I think, they simply ignore Him or try to prove that He doesn’t exist. All to their own destruction, eventually.

The last verse of the psalm is one of those great prayers that we can always pray, kind of like “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD— that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 NIV)

The Lord let the Philistines know that He was Most High in this mildly amusing story from 1 Samuel. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. They thought they had won, right?

Silly Philistines.

Even their idol, their false God Dagon, bowed before the ark! That piece of stone or wood was found face down before the ark, the morning after they set the ark next to the idol. They even set it back up, but found it face down again, the next morning, with the head and hands broken off. Interestingly, their superstitions continued to rule them, as the head and hands were laying on the threshold, which caused the worshipers of Dagon to never step on the threshold of the temple again.

What does it say to us when a “god” that isn’t even real bows down to the Most High God? One also wonders why the Philistines continued to worship Dagon.

And then the “bad stuff” started happening. We don’t know the exact nature of it, other than “devastation” and “tumors.” Some wise people among them figured out that all of this was happening because they had the ark.

Ya think?

So they decided to move it. To Gath, another Philistine city. If you keep reading, the people of Gath dumped it on the city of Ekron, who immediately cried out, “”They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” Word gets around.

The amazing thing to me is that there is never any indication that any of these people thought to cry out to the God of Israel for mercy! They just kind of “shooed” Him off, dumped Him on the next town. Actually, today’s reading, in the devotional book, stops before any of the moving around, with the question, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

A similar question looms, today. This God, the Most High God over all the earth, has revealed Himself in many ways. Paul, in the book of Romans declares that He has revealed Himself sufficiently in nature, to the point that no one on earth has any excuse for not believing in Him.

I lean toward agreeing with that thought. I do not, for the life of me, understand how anyone can look around at the beauty of this world (even the dry, arid, desolate places are beautiful in their own way) and not believe in a creator! Personally, I think it takes a lot more “faith” to believe that all of this is just serendipity.

The looming question is “What are you going to do with the God of Israel? What are you going to do with Jesus Christ?” You only have two choices. You can believe in Him, or you can not believe in Him. You can’t just ignore Him. You can try, but it has the same effect as not believing.

C.S. Lewis, I believe, was the first person to propose the idea, concerning Jesus, that you have three choices about Him. Either 1)He is who He says He is, which is God incarnate, the Savior of the world, 2) He is a bald-faced liar, making claims that simply aren’t true, or 3) He is a raving lunatic, a mad-man.

You simply do not have the choice to think that He was a “good teacher.”

He claimed to be God.

He was crucified, He was buried, and He rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. There are eye witnesses to all of those!

I will proclaim these truths until my dying day.

Father, I pray that someone who does not believe in You will read this blog today. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will surround them as they read, and that they will be drawn into a believing relationship with You, by the power of the blood of Christ. I praise You that You drew me in so many years ago, that You caused me to be born into a believing family, and that You chose me to be one of Your children, before the foundations of the earth. I pray that You will, indeed, let them know that You, whose Name is Yahweh, that You alone are Most High over all the earth!

"Living God,
You are the one true God,
eternal,
almighty,
everywhere present,
filled with compassion,
knowing all things,
most wise,
perfectly holy,
always patient,
overflowing with goodness and truth.
All my idols are reflections of my broken self,
and only as I fall down and worship You do I find myself whole again.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
(Matthew 5:4 MSG)

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 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!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.