You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-first of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today.

Day 23,203

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox, the first official day of Fall.

I got everything accomplished, yesterday, that I intended to, which is always a good feeling. The ATT Internet modem was delivered to Fed Ex, and once it is in their hands, it is officially out of mine. I already have email notification that it has been returned. All of the bed linens, including the comforter and two blanket/throws, got washed and dried. It took three runs through the dryer to get the comforter dry. And the floors got swept. It had been so long since I swept the floors that it looked like we had a dog again.

Today, I’ve already had an order from Albertson’s delivered. That was because I wanted to make our Chicken Taco Soup in the crock pot, but I didn’t have any diced tomatoes. So that is now cooking for tonight’s dinner.

I work from 11:15 to 8:15 today, so C and S will go ahead and have their soup, and I will eat mine after I get home. That is late to be eating, but I will likely stay up a bit later tonight, since my shift tomorrow doesn’t begin until 1:00 PM.

Today, and the following two days, we get some fall-like weather. The high today is supposed to be only 84 degrees, with 82 tomorrow, and 87 Thursday. This will be followed by a stretch of lower nineties for highs, still not too bad. Best of all is that October is on the way.

I will also mention that, since yesterday morning, C has been experiencing some pretty bad pain, and hasn’t been able to get a lot of relief. We can’t tell if it is related to the surgery or not, and it is acting like sciatica. Any prayers would definitely be appreciated.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

In This Stilling, by Daryl Madden

In this stilling
Something stirs
Beyond the known
Of grace occurs

In this stilling
Something deep
Surrendering
As Spirit seeps

In this stilling
Something prays
A flowing through
Of divine ways

In this stilling
Something above
A blessing of
Your word of love

Holy Spirit, please stir, in this stilling.

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 63:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the way You move and stir during these moments
2. for Your provision in our lives
3. for the shadow of Your wings
4. for Your calling on the life of Samuel
5. for Your incredible patience in our lives when we don't realize that it is You speaking to us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(Psalms 139:14 ESV)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider the way my soul clings to the Lord. For over sixty years, my soul has clung to God. It has never let go, and He has never let me go. I rejoice in this, and breathe deep the breath of God.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:

“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
(Psalms 82:1-5, 8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.
(1 Samuel 3:1-5, 10-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, Lord, please direct my meditations and prayers, drawing me closer and closer to You, into more and more intimacy with You, the Son, and the Spirit.

Who are these “gods” of whom Asaph sings? What is this great assembly over which the Lord is presiding? Based on the question that is asked, I can imagine that it might be politicians, world leaders. After all, who is more apt to be defending the cause of the unjust than a politician?

But God demands the opposite. “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.” The “gods,” it seems know nothing.

I can’t help it. When I read verse 5, I get this image in my head.

Some of you will get that, some of you won’t.

It is said that these “gods” are walking around in darkness, and all the foundations of the earth are shaken. Again, I’m only guessing at the meaning of these words. But I don’t have to guess at Asaph’s final words in Psalm 82. He prays for Yahweh to rise up and judge the earth.

Things were not going well for God’s people when Samuel came on the scene. 1 Samuel 3:1 is a tragic verse. “In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.”

I love the story of Samuel’s calling; I always have. God calls him; he doesn’t know who is calling, so, naturally, he runs to Eli. “Here am I,” was how I learned it, when I was a boy.

God: Samuel!
Samuel, running to Eli: Here I am! You called me!
Eli: What are you talking about? I didn't call you! Go back to sleep!
God: Samuel!
Samuel, running to Eli again: Here I am! You called me!
Eli: I didn't call you! You must be hearing things! I said go back to sleep!
God: Samuel!
Samuel, running to Eli a third time: Here I am! You called me!
Eli, finally understanding what is happening: Aha! Okay. Go back to bed, and the next time this happens, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'"
God (miraculously not losing His cool): Samuel!
Samuel: Speak, for your servant is listening!
God (whispers under his breath): About time

So maybe that’s not quite exactly how it went down, and, of course, I mean no disrespect in that little vignette. But who among us has not laughed a little bit at this story?

Samuel had an excuse. He had never encountered (as far as we know) the living God before this night. He had no idea where this voice was coming from. Eli, on the other hand . . . it should not have taken him three times to figure out what was going on. But look back at the first verse. Eli wasn’t exactly the best priest. We see that God’s voice, His Word was seldom heard, and that there weren’t many visions. If you dig a little bit, you also see that Eli’s sons were pretty awful human beings, and this is one reason that God brought Samuel into the picture.

God tells Samuel that He is going to do something that is going to make the peoples’ ears tingle. And part of this is judgment against Eli and his sons. Later in the chapter, Eli makes Samuel tell him everything that the Lord said. Eli’s response is honorable: “He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.”

Would that we would all respond this way when we receive unfavorable news from the Lord or from His Word. Instead, we fight against it; we say, “that didn’t come from God! He would never say or do that!”

See the picture above and put your own name there.

For, in comparison with God Almighty, we truly do know nothing. And when we set ourselves up as gods, we know less than nothing.

Father, I praise You for Your incredible patience with us. We are, too often, like Eli. We can only be like Samuel the first time. Every time after that, when we don’t realize it is You calling us, we are like Eli, as though we have forgotten Your voice. May it never be! Father, do not ever let me forget the sound of Your voice. Of course, I am speaking figuratively, here, as, as far as I know, I have never audibly heard Your voice. However, I have “heard” You speaking to me in many ways over the course of my 63 years. And I pray that never stops. These days, I seem to “hear” something most mornings, during these times, and I rejoice over that. It is not always something positive and uplifting. Sometimes, it is something that I need to work on, something convicting. But that is always balanced with times of refreshing and comforting; times of closeness when I rest under the shadow of Your wings. And, truthfully, even when the thing is convicting, I am still allowed to rest under the shadow of Your wings, which is why You are so beautiful!

Lord, please give us a love and commitment for the communities in which You have placed us, both physical and spiritual, for I have a neighborhood, in which I live, and a church family, as well. I pray that You help me find ways to get to know the people in my community (that’s a risky prayer, there, and it takes me waaaaay out of my comfort zone). Equip us, Father, to serve in our communities in unique ways. Give us great imaginations. I specifically lift up those who work in service to others.

"Calling God,
whether in a dream or some dark night,
in the hunger for beauty or the cry of the hungry,
in our weakness or in sensing our potential - 
it was You calling out to us.
Today we pray for those who have no clue what or who might be speaking to them;
reveal Yourself to them so they can answer and embrace You.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
(Matthew 5:4 ESV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
(1 Chronicles 13:8 ESV)

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!
(Psalms 20:4 ESV)

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
(Psalms 81:10 ESV)

My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
(Psalms 25:15 ESV)

With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
(Jeremiah 31:9 ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

How do you walk in a straight line? You don’t look down at your feet; you don’t look to the right or to the left; you keep your eyes fixed on your destination.

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!

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
(Psalms 119:5-6 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

With the Prairies I Am Calling Out Your Name

Today is Monday, the twentieth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,202

Only two days until the Autumnal Equinox!

I’ve been sitting here listening to Rich Mullins songs, and reflecting on some other folks’ reflections on his life. I get a weekly email from Carolyn Arends, Christian singer/songwriter from Canada, and she shared some reflections, as well as an article or two from others. She even shared a piece that Rich had written, comparing renovating his apartment to renovations of the heart.

I replied back to Carolyn . . . I always cry on September 19. This year, it bled over into September 20. Man, I miss Rich Mullins.

I’m off work today. Which is probably obvious, because I would be at work already if I were working today. Plans for today include laundry (already started), sweeping the floors, and taking that ATT Internet gateway to Fed Ex, because they are closed on Sunday. Hah. Didn’t even think to check on that. Fortunately I had a couple other things to do on that trip out of the house.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name
(Rich Mullins, Calling Out Your Name)

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.
(Psalms 63:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the legacy of the ragamuffin, Rich Mullins
2. that, along with Rich, and the prairies, I am calling out Your Name
3. for the great and wonderful blessings in my life
4. for Your provision for my life and for my family
5. for the faithfulness of Your promises, and the truth that, if we but listen to You, You will fill our mouths with the best and richest foods

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
(Psalms 139:14 NLT)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I consider Your ways, and how You have made us, each one of us “wonderfully complex.” Your workmanship is, indeed, marvelous.

BIBLE SONG

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
(Psalms 81:8-16 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”
“Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.
(1 Samuel 1:21-28 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself that I am in Your presence, and ask You to show me wonderful things from Your Word, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

In the psalm, another of Asaph’s psalms, it is written in the voice of God, as He speaks to His people. It is a warning to listen. While specifically addressed to Israel, this is one instance where I think it would be acceptable to insert the word “Church” in place of Israel. The Lord would have us heed Him, listen to Him.

First and foremost, we are to have no other “gods” before Him. Truly, there is no other God. But many of us, at many different times, fall prey to having other “gods” that we worship in our lives. That god could be any number of things, and, for most of us, will not be any kind of statue or “golden calf.” We fall into the trap of worshiping things that are more intangible, like money (you might think money is tangible, and that’s your prerogative, but I believe “money” is an idea more than a real thing; I can certainly touch a dollar bill, but that “dollar” is an imaginary idea that is represented by the paper), sports, family, patriotism, politics, sex, and so on.

The Lord makes a very simple promise in verse 10. “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” When I read that, the picture in my mind is of baby birds, eagerly awaiting food from their mother.

The danger of not listening is that we get left to our own devices, and allowed to follow our own stubborn hearts. It’s as if the Lord says to us, “Okay. You want to go that way? Then go that way.”

I have no idea why we do that. I cannot answer why, when we have the massive promises of Almighty God before us, promises to fill our mouths, overflow our cups, send our enemies running, why we would choose our own path. Hear me well, I have done it, too. I’m no different than any other human being.

It is nothing short of ridiculous; asinine. By the way, that word means “extremely stupid or foolish.” Synonyms include the two words in the definition, along with pointless, brainless, mindless, senseless, doltish, idiotic, imbecilic, and so on.

Asaph is warning us, speaking as God in the first person. Listen. Heed. The promises of fulfillment are there, and they are trustworthy.

Trying to figure out why we choose to go our own way is part of that complexity of which Psalm 139 speaks, I suppose.

Hannah, the mother of Samuel, experienced God’s answer, His provision, firsthand. He answered her prayer in a big way. And she kept her own promise to God, which is rare. As soon as Samuel was weaned, she delivered him to Eli and proclaimed that she was, in honor of her prayer and promise, giving Samuel to the Lord. The Hebrew word in verse 28 produces some interesting translations. NIV and NLT render it “give,” while KJV and ESV say “lent,” as though it were temporary. MSG says “dedicated.” As for the versions that say “lent,” there is a stipulation that this is for as long as Samuel lives, so it is not temporary.

As we call out His name, along with all the saints, throughout all history, and with the prairies and the rocks, I think we can see the value in proclaiming the great and precious promises of the Lord. Hannah was quick to give God credit when she brought Samuel to Eli. There is no doubt in her mind or heart that Samuel is a gift from God, an answer to her prayer, and she has no qualms whatsoever in surrendering this child to God for lifelong service.

We should follow her example. She was not, likely, well-versed in theology. She was, by all probability, a simple woman. But she preached a message to us that is holds more truth than some of the most theologically correct messages I’ve ever heard. So when we gather together, whether it be over zoom, or in person, or even watching a streaming worship service, let us be faithful in proclaiming the great gifts and blessings of God in our lives.

Father, I worship You, this morning, calling out Your Name with the prairies, with all of creation, as all creation sings Your glory. I call out Your Name along with every saint that has ever existed, throughout all time. I call out Your Name alongside Hannah, who worships You because of Samuel. I call out Your Name with Asaph, who begs us to listen to You, and open wide our mouths, that You might fill them. I thank You, Father, for the many blessings and gifts and provisions with which You gift us, for everything that I have received is a gift from You. Help us to listen to You, Lord; teach us to hear Your voice, and may it ring loudly and clearly over the noise of the world, that we may recognize when it is You instructing us and guiding us. Satisfy me with honey from the rock; feed me with the finest of wheat.

I praise You, Lord, for music, for color, for beauty, and for all of my senses with which I can take all of these in. I praise You for the wonder, beauty, and complexity of creation, of which we are the crowning glory. May we do a better job of caring for creation.

"God who speaks and listens,
if I waited to feel in the mood,
I fear You wouldn't hear too much from me.
I need prayer to keep me freshly aware that I depend on You for everything,
and that everything I have is a gift from You.
And so here I am,
with open hands and grateful heart.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NLT)

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
(James 2:8 NIV)

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)

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 God, You are my God and I will ever praise You.
O God, You are my God and I will ever praise You.
I will seek You in the morning, and I will learn to walk in Your ways,
and step by step, You'll lead me, and I will follow You all of my days.
(Step by Step, by Beaker and Rich Mullins)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pour Out Your Heart

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,201

Only three more days until the beginning of Autumn!!

Twenty-four years ago today, we lost Rich Mullins. Here is one of his songs that I like.

I especially like the following verse:

Now the Lord said Church you better love
‘Cause it’s a wounded world that needs a healing touch
And He gave us a promise and He gave us a job
He’ll be with us but the work is up to us
It’s up to us
And the Lord is sure speaking to you
So set aside your pride and your anger too
To say that time is short just means the time is now
Every tongue will confess and every knee is going to bow
Every knee is gonna bow to the truth and say it
Alrightokuhhuhamen say it
Alrightokuhhuhamen

I had a great day at “work,” yesterday. It was relatively quiet at the library, yesterday, with brief flurries of activity. There was also minimal staff on hand, as well, so it was even quiet in that way. I spent most of my day at the circulation desk, but did a little shelving, and helped out the computer center for a bit, giving someone a lunch break. And the highlight of my day was reuniting a little girl with her stuffed rabbit that she had lost.

I successfully picked up our grocery order, right after work, then cooked burgers for S and me, after I got everything put away. We have a supplemental order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning. The one thing I haven’t managed to find, yet is another cauliflower pizza crust. Both Walmart and Albertson’s seem to be out of them.

We have our church gathering on Zoom, this morning at 10:15. I’m sure we will have Applebee’s for lunch, and, at some point, I need to return the ATT Internet gateway to a FedEx location to be shipped back to ATT. We have been happy, so far, with our Spectrum Internet. We had a brief moment, yesterday morning, when it was interrupted, but it came back quickly. I’m consistently still getting three times the speed that I was previously getting from ATT.

There are no other plans, today. My next scheduled work shift is Tuesday, from 11:15 to 8:15.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

On this Sunday, day of rest,
Teach me, Lord, Your ways.
Fill me to fullness, with joy.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God,
I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalms 30:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have clothed me with gladness
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for the fullness of joy found in Your presence
4. that You will answer our prayers of desperation, when we pour out our hearts before You
5. for the trumpet call that will one day sound

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(Psalms 139:14 NIV)

I pause, momentarily, to lift up prayer needs to You, focusing on the joy that comes from being in Your presence. Your works are, indeed, wonderful, I know that full well.

BIBLE SONG

Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
How long, LORD God Almighty,
will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:3-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah . . . He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh . . .
Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”
(1 Samuel 1:1-3A, 9-17, 20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I look for ways in which the Holy Spirit has moved me through them. I meditate on what He has shown my heart, and pray concerning what moves me. I turn my thoughts to Him and rest quietly in His presence.

Asaph, the psalmist for Psalm 80, sings a prayer of restoration. Again, as we have seen recently, questions are asked of the Lord. How long will Your anger smolder against Your people (or against their prayers, actually)?

Father, I know that there are many and more, within Your Church, who are praying for relief and restoration of Your favor. We are living in times that are unlike any we have ever seen. There is division; there is suffering; and there seems to be no end in sight to this pandemic. As I pray about these things, I focus my prayers on Your people, the Church. I do not focus my prayers on a country, a nation, a race, or a state, with political boundaries. When Asaph prays that You would “restore us,” he is speaking of Israel, Your people. When I pray that same prayer, I speak of Your Church, the New Covenant equivalent of Israel. We have, it seems, become the object of derision “to our neighbors,” as many and more, within us, have made foolish choices. “Restore us, God Almighty; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

In the passage from First Samuel, we see the origins of Samuel. whose name means “heard of God.” A desperate mother prays for a son, making promises to the Lord. He hears her and gives her a son, who becomes one of the greatest prophets Israel has ever known. Hannah, Samuel’s mother, prayed so desperately that Eli, the priest, thought she was inebriated, having drunk too much wine.

Have you ever poured out your soul to God in such a way that someone thought you were drunk?

Father, help us to be more diligent in pouring out our hearts to You, with no regard to what others might think of us. Hannah cared not what Eli thought of her murmurings, as she poured out her heart to You, desperate for a son. Help us also to honor any promises we might make to You, as we express our desires, and may we not be frivolous or capricious as we make those promises. Help us to be more faithful to You, in love, both to You and our fellow man, and in obedience to the commands that You have given to us. And then, as we walk in obedience and love, may we find that fullness of joy that we get in Your presence, and pleasures forevermore, at Your right hand.

I’m reminded of a worship song lyric:

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
And great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

(Great Are You, Lord, by All Sons & Daughters)

Father, I pray for resurrection hope and joy to fill my life. Enable and strength me to share the Gospel of the living Jesus as I walk in Your Kingdom.

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.

"Heavenly Father,
when I come to the end of my rope,
my strength,
my self,
I'm finally open to the help You offer.
Teach me then,
God,
the basics of prayer,
like 'help,'
'please,'
and 'thank You.'
In the name of Jesus,
amen."

That reminds me of a book title. Help Thanks Wow, by Anne Lamott. I haven’t read it, yet, but it’s on my list.

BLESSING

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NIV)

“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.
(Leviticus 23:24 ESV)

And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
(Matthew 24:31 ESV)

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV)

Waiting for those trumpets . . .

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.

Praying Without Ceasing

Today is Saturday, the eighteenth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,200

Only four more days until the Autumnal Equinox!

Both of the appointments went very well, yesterday. C saw a PA (Physician’s Assistant) who was very nice and we both liked her a lot. She was told that she no longer needs to wear the brace when up and walking around. She was also told that she had no business trying to completely wean herself from pain pills, only two weeks after surgery. Everything is progressing exactly as it should be. She can try lifting up to thirty pounds, as she feels like it. All the bending or twisting is also kind of up to her. If it hurts, don’t do it, is the general rule. She is scheduled to go back there the Monday after Thanksgiving. She is also cleared to drive, as long as she hasn’t taken any hydrocodone.

Cleopatra’s appointment also went very well, and took about thirty minutes. I was home less than an hour after I left, and that included stopping by Sonic for another round of drinks.

Nothing else much happened, yesterday. We had an old favorite recipe for dinner, which we had not done in quite a while, and it was quite delicious. We made pizza with cauliflower crust, turkey pepperoni, and turkey sausage crumbles. We also finished watching Clickbait on Netflix. It is an eight-episode “limited series,” and is pretty good, until the last episode. There are some really great plot twists, along the way, but the twist in the final episode is, in my opinion, completely implausible, and they left a huge loose end that was never explained.

Today, I’m working from 9:30 to 6:15 (only a forty-five minute lunch to make up for starting fifteen minutes later). I have our Walmart Neighborhood Market order set to pick up between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, this evening, so I will grab it right after work. We will likely either go to Albertson’s tomorrow or have a delivery scheduled for tomorrow, some time.

Anyway, I’d best get on with things, because I need to be done in time for a shower, by around 8:45.

No time for trivial matters today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalms 30:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for C's continued successful surgery recovery
2. for the positive steps we took this past week in saving money
3. for the saints who sing praises to Your holy Name
4. for the ability to "pray without ceasing"
5. that we can pour out our laments to You, which does help us feel better

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

let them praise Yahweh’s name, for his name alone is exalted. His glory is above the earth and the heavens.
(Psalms 148:13 WEB)

As I pause in this moment, I desire a greater sense of Your presence. I reflect on the greatness of Your Name, and Your glory, which is far above the earth and the heavens.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:1-4, 9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
(Judges 13:1-5, 24-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue my awareness of Your presence, I ask Your Holy Spirit to guide me through these Words of Yours, teaching me, helping me see where to pause and meditate, teaching me how to pray.

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans occurred in 70 AD, but this psalm of Asaph was written long before that. Either Asaph was prophesying or he was writing about the destruction at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Either way, the psalmist is bemoaning the destruction of God’s holy place; the holy temple has been razed.

Asaph is not telling God anything He did not know. Neither are we when we pray prayers of lament, telling God the terrible things that are going on, either surrounding us, or, perhaps, even being done to us.

I have, at times, been critical of prayers that are nothing more than giving God information. God doesn’t need me to tell Him how sick someone is. He already knows that so-and-so is having surgery on such-and-such a day. He already knows that our friend or relative has cancer or Covid.

The thing is, prayer isn’t always asking God to do something. Asaph gets around to that in verse 9. Sometimes, prayer is cathartic. “Cathartic – providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions.” Nothing wrong with that, is there.

So I repent of my criticisms. Go ahead. Tell God whatever you want to tell Him. Because it’s not for Him. Truthfully, He doesn’t need our prayers. He doesn’t need anything at all. God is fully self-sufficient, the only being in the universe who is. It is we who need the catharsis of unloading our emotional distress to the Lord. Time after time, we get this example shown to us in Psalms. Psalmists continually cry out to God with deep emotion. So let us do the same.

As we have seen in previous days, we can even, like Gideon, question God without fear of reprisals.

“Pray without ceasing,” Paul advises us in his epistles. If prayer is conversation with God, then it can happen at any time, in any place. And should. And it can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. God is infinitely smarter than we are, so we can’t confuse Him. And if we can’t quite make our words make sense, He understands what we are asking for.

Are there terrible things happening in your life right now? Goodness knows there are terrible things happening in our world, in our country, in our state. Going on the example of Asaph (and others), we can feel comfortable just telling God what’s going on. And, honestly, even if you are believing lies and “fake news,” you can spew those back to God, because He knows the truth.

Things were going terrible for Israel, once again, because, as previously noted, “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.” As I said, if you read through the book of Judges, you see that statement (or ones very similar) over and over again. Because people are people, and, in general, never change.

Judges 13 is the beginnings of the story of another of the judges, Samson. Now, I’m still at little bit miffed that I was led to believe, as a child, that Samson was a great, honorable hero of faith.

Man, Sampson was a horrible person! I could use worse words, but I’ll refrain. He wasn’t nice, he wasn’t honorable, and he was about as self-centered as they come.

But he accomplished the Lord’s purpose with his life, and that is really all that matters. We don’t need to try to imitate his personality, but he is one of the best examples in Scripture that God can use just about anyone for His purposes.

Father, there truly are horrible things going on in our world, in our country, and in our state. I’m sure that pretty much anyone in the world could personalize this. As we pray to You, Lord, help us to be honest with You. Help us to see truth as we pray. Help us to seek Your Truth, and know that only Jesus is the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life. May we truly find life in Him, as we try to walk this path of life that leads to You. Your Church (at least in the USA) is in tatters, right now, from my perspective, as it is as divided as the nation. I pray for unity among Your people. May we find things that we have in common, rather than trying to point out things that we don’t share in common. May we focus on truth, found in Your Words, rather than lies found in the mouths of politicians (and other humans). I pray, along with the psalmist, Asaph, “Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of Your Name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your Name’s sake.”

I pray, Lord, that You would give us courage in ministry, making us willing to take certain risks as we engage our communities. Again, I ask for unity, as well as holiness, within Your Church, especially in the USA. May Your presence be strong in the souls of all leaders within Your Church, as well.

"Extravagant God,
in the past You sprinkled Your Spirit on particular people or specific times for special tasks or roles.
Thank You for pouring out the Holy Spirit on all Your people,
making the Spirit's power and presence a normal part of following Jesus.
With my whole heart I ask for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in my life,
to stir up and disturb,
revive and renew.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 WEB)

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NIV)

Of David. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
(Psalms 25:1 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

I trust in You, Lord! May this day be full of the evidence. May I pray without ceasing.

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.

Love One Another

Today is Wednesday, the fifteenth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,197

Seven more days until the end of Summer!

Some weeks, it is harder to remember what day it is. This week, it seems like today should be at least Thursday, but I have worked two full eight-hour days, so far. Today, I go in at 1:00 PM, and work until 5:00 PM. Then I’m off tomorrow and Friday, and work 9:30 to 6:15 on Saturday.

The October work schedule is out, and I will be working every Friday, 9:15-6:15, every Tuesday, 4:15 PM – 8:15 PM, and then alternating Wednesdays (9:15-6:15), and Saturdays (9:30-6:15). Except for the week of October 11, when I will work Thursday, from 12:00-9:00, instead of Wednesday. There is some kind of special “open house-ish” thing going on that evening, and I have been re-scheduled to work that. I’m not sure what I will be doing that evening.

Going by calendar days, I will still be working 3.5 days on alternating weeks, and 1.5 days the other weeks. Looking at the Hurst city pay calendar, though, the will look like this:

One week will be Friday, Saturday, Tuesday
The other week will be Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Since the first of October falls on Friday, for that first week of transition into October, I will be working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, for a total of thirty-six hours. But, it will still only look like twenty hours per pay week. Confused? Me, too. Makes my head spin.

And it’s still the best job I have ever had. I’m just going to be really tired on Sunday, October 3. Hahaha!

C is continuing to get more activity in her schedule. Yesterday, she rode the recumbent bike for little bit, and then walked all the way around our block. She is hurting pretty bad, this morning, though, so she took a pain pill. Her PT guy advised that she keep taking at least a couple of those a day. Of course, she was trying to not take any at all. Her follow-up appointment is this Friday morning, at 10:30. I will be driving her to that, since I won’t be working. She may decided to return to working, from home only, next Monday.

Today is Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie Day. I have never heard of this pie, and, while I’m not normally a fan of butterscotch, I am intrigued by this pie, especially its origins. You see, it comes from a popular video game called Undertale. The recipe for the pie can be found in the link on the name of the holiday. I doubt that we will try it, because it looks like it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of a gazillion WW points. But who knows?

The word for today is repentance. Pretty heavy for a WotD. The given definition is “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like.” However, the etymology of the word defines it as more the changing of direction. The Hebrew word means to turn back, while the Greek word used by Jesus in Mark 1:15 means “think differently; reconsider.” So the idea of being sorrowful became the meaning much later in history.

Today’s quote is from Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Significant birthdays on September 15:

Marco . . . POLO!!!! Italian explorer, 1254-1324
James Fenimore Cooper, 1st major American novelist (Last of the Mohicans), 1789-1851
Max Factor, Polish-American make-up artist, 1877-1938
Agatha Christie, English mystery writer (Murder on the Orient Express, Hercule Poirot), 1890-1976
Roy Acuff, American country fiddler, singer (Wabash Cannonball), 1903-1992
Nipsey Russell, American comedian, 1918-2005
Norm Crosby, American comedian, 1927-2020
Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, American jazz saxophonist and bandleader, 1928-1975
Gaylord Perry, American baseball pitcher, 1938 (83)
Merlin Olsen, American football player and actor, 1940-2010
Tommy Lee Jones, American actor, 1946, born in San Saba, Texas (75)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Sense, by Daryl Madden

In air that surrounds
We smell with our nose
We feel with our skin
From our head to our toes

With vision were blessed
As we see with our eyes
In our mouth and our tongue
A tasty surprise

In song and in sound
With ears we can hear
With a drawing beyond
Something more does appear

In closing our eyes
Through wisdom God shares
In silence, we still
With a sense of a prayer

Let’s use our five senses
To become aware
In knowing God’s love
That is found everywhere

I chose this poem, today, because of the message of the last stanza. The idea of using all five senses to become aware of God’s love is truly wonderful.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your righteousness, displayed in all that You do
2. for Your faithfulness to Your children
3. for the ability to sing praises to Your Name
4. that if we love You, evidenced by us keeping Your commands, Your fullness will dwell with us
5. that, no matter how bad things look out there, there is hope in You

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Let them praise the name of GOD— it’s the only Name worth praising. His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky;
(Psalms 148:13 MSG)

I pause in this quiet moment to reflect on the radiance of the Lord, that exceeds anything in earth and sky.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.

From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.
(Psalms 76:1-3, 8-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. . . . In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
(Judges 2:6-8, 10-11, 14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, asking the Holy Spirit to direct me in my meditations and prayers.

The psalmist, identified as Asaph, speaks of the renown of God. His name is great, throughout Judah and Israel. He writes of the great works of the Lord, which are what causes His name to be renowned throughout the land.

I am intrigued by verse 8. “From heaven You pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet.”

I simply don’t see that happening today. Even among the people of God, there is little fear of His name; there is little reverence. I’m as guilty as anyone. There is so much noise in our world, how can we possibly hear the “gentle whisper” or the “still, small voice” heard by Elijah? Does God still pronounce judgment from heaven? If so, does the land fear and become quiet?

Again, I see little fear of God, at least not in Western culture.

“He breaks the spirit of rulers; He is feared by the kings of the earth.”

I am going to begin to pray more diligently to see these things come to pass. I fear that we have become too much like ancient Israel, in the book of Judges. After Joshua died, things went downhill, quickly. After Joshua’s generation was “gathered to their ancestors” (that’s a fancy way of saying “died”), “another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what He had done for Israel.”

Just pause and consider the tragedy of that statement, and then compare it, perhaps to the USA culture, today. Does the generation that is currently growing up know God and what He has done for us?

This generation in Judges began a tragic habit that is voiced in verse 11: “Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.”

If you keep reading in the book of Judges, you will see this stated over and over and over and over (get the picture?). It’s a vicious cycle. Israel does evil; God turns His back on them; Israel “repents” and cries out; God delivers them; Israel does evil, and so on, ad nauseum.

The Church of God is in a sad state, right now. That’s the “nation” we need to be concerned with. I have said it before, and will say it again. I am much more concerned with what is going on in the Church than I am with what is going on in the USA. The USA will pass away, maybe sooner than later. The Church is supposed to be eternal. We are the Bride of Jesus Christ, and that “marriage” is going to take place, with our without us.

How sad would it be to believe that we are part of this, only to find out we aren’t, because we were following a human being, rather than God’s Holy Spirit?

I am fully persuaded that God will not abandon His Church. There is no “plan B.” There has only been one plan, since before the foundation of the earth. And the Church has two jobs. Anyone who has read my blog in recent weeks knows what those are. For that matter, anyone who is paying attention to Jesus should know what those are.

Love God; love people (love your neighbor as yourself; love your brothers and sisters in Christ as Christ loves us).

That’s it. All of those opinions that so many “Christians” are so proudly proclaiming and defending are useless and pointless, if we are not being obedient to the Lord and performing those two tasks.

And here’s some wisdom from the little book of 1 John. If you aren’t loving your brother, if you aren’t loving others, then you haven’t done the first job.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
(1 John 2:9-11 NIV)

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
(1 John 3:11 NIV)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
(1 John 3:16 NIV)

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
(1 John 3:23-24 NIV)

Father, I pray for Your people, today. I pray that we would sit up and take notice, that we would begin to act on Your commands and love one another; that we would forsake meaningless opinions and do what is needed in regard to loving our fellow man. My “rights” are nonexistent in Your kingdom. I surrendered those to You when I gave my life to You. Why is this so hard for some to understand? Have mercy, Lord! Show us the way; teach us Your path; teach us Your truth, that we may walk in Your ways. Restore the joy of Your salvation to Your Church, Father, and do away with all of this awful anger that I see everywhere. Help us to not be like Old Testament Israel in unfaithfulness.

"Glorious God,
the moment I give my heart to someone or something apart from You,
I'm breaking the first command,
and all the others soon topple, too.
Keep me looking to You alone,
loving,
fearing,
and honoring You with all my heart.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
(Matthew 5:3 MSG)

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
(John 14:23 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.

Learning To Live

Today is Tuesday, the fourteenth of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,196

Eight more days until the beginning of Autumn!

We wound up having to get a new Keurig, yesterday. We replaced the pod holder, because the bottom needle had broken off of the existing one, but that didn’t fix the problem, as it only worked for a few cups. We actually downgraded ours, though, and didn’t spend quite as much. We got a “K-Select” for ninety-nine dollars. It’s basic. Power switch, a “strong” button, and four cup size buttons. No screen display or clock. C was concerned, at first, because she likes having the coffee maker on when she gets up (whenever she returns to her “normal” routine), but I convinced her that it only takes, at the absolute longest, three minutes to warm up when you turn it on. I think it’s more like two. My first cup, this morning, tastes as good as the ones that the more expensive model made.

Today is my late day. I work from 11:15-8:15. The first half of the day will be spent in shelving, and the second half in the computer center, so I will be going through the closing routine in the CC. Yesterday was probably the most challenging day I’ve had at the circulation desk. I felt less than adequate a few times, but the assistant librarian assured me that I was okay, acknowledging that is so much to learn, and there are a lot of circumstances that aren’t going to come up but once in a blue moon, so remembering those every time is unlikely. She also encouraged me in that there is always someone on hand who can answer my questions. It wasn’t that I made any mistakes, at least that I know of, but it seemed like I needed more help than usual.

It’s mostly me, I know. I want to be perfect, so when I’m not (which is, of course, always), it discourages me. All that being said, it is still the best job I’ve ever had, so it wasn’t that discouraging. I also have to take note of the fact that one lady who has been working there for twenty-four years still has to go ask questions of the manager and assistant librarians.

We apparently got a good, strong rain, yesterday at the house. I have no idea if it rained at the library, as I was inside the whole time, and never heard any rainy sounds. There is a twenty-one percent chance of more today, with a projected high of only eighty-eight degrees.

Today is Gobstopper Day, fascinating, since yesterday was Roald Dahl Day. Of course, jawbreakers have been around much longer than the Gobstopper brand, which was introduced by Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’m a fan of them, myself. One of those things can last for quite a while, in your mouth. Unless, of course, you start chewing, like the owl in the Tootsie Pop commercial.

The word for today is camion. Not real exciting, unless you’re into trucks and stuff. It’s “a truck, as for military supplies.”‘

“It was a wicked, blowy day, and I crept into a wrecked ‘camion‘ and sheltered there, and ate some lunch and slept a little.” (My War Experiences in Two Continents, by Sarah MacNaughton)

Today’s quote is from Honore de Balzac, French Novelist. “It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”

Significant birthdays on September fourteenth:

Margaret Sanger, American nurse and early feminist, 1879-1966
Clayton Moore, American actor (The Lone Ranger), 1914-1999
Walter Koenig, American actor (Chekov - Star Trek), 1936 (85)
Walter Koenig as Chekov
Joey Heatherton, American dancer & actress, 1944 (77)
Sam Neill, New Zealand actor (Jurassic Park), 1947 (74)
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant

Ed King, American rock guitarist, bass player, and songwriter (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Lynyrd Skynyrd), 1949-2018

Ed King, playing guitar on the left in the gold suit
Barry Cowsill, American bassist (The Cowsills), 1954-2005
Amy Winehouse, British singer/songwriter, 1983-2011

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Distances, by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Between here
and there we
learn to live
 
©2021 S. Michaels
Simplifying
(Retro Haiku/3-3-3)

Nine simple syllables that nail, so well, the whole purpose of this life . . . learning to live as a citizen of an eternal kingdom, a “country of life.”

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.
(Psalms 138:2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your unfailing love and faithfulness; I cannot express enough gratitude for these
2. for Your great and precious promises, backed by "all the honor of Your Name"
3. that You are not on any human's side, but on Your side, acting and speaking for the glory of Your great Name
4. that Your Name is near to all people, regardless of nation, tribe, race, sex, or class
5. that You have drawn me into a place where my heart's desire is to sing Your praises forever

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
(Psalms 148:13 ESV)

I pause, briefly, during the quiet moment, to praise Him for His unfailing love and faithfulness. Simply praying back the words of Psalm 138:2 provides a sense of well-being that is indescribable. Joy abounds.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly.'”

No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
(Psalms 75:1-7, 9-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:13-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages a little longer, finding fuel for my life, for my day, that I might walk in His presence and learn to live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

The Name of the Lord is near; this is always true, for any person, regardless of who they are, where they are, or even what they believe. The deepest, darkest soul of the most bitter atheist would find that the Name of the Lord is near, would they simply open their eyes to see.

When we question God, “How long?” He answers, “I choose the appointed time.” When we try to exalt ourselves, arrogantly, He declares, “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.”

And then verse 9, which I have copied and pasted into an image, and will say, along with Asaph, “As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.”

The passage from Joshua brings home something that is needed for us all to understand, especially those who elevate themselves, arrogantly, to proclaim that God is “on their side.” When Joshua saw this “angel” (Matthew Henry believes that this “man” was actually the Son of God), he asked Him, are you on our side or our enemy’s side?

The answer is very important. “Neither.”

God is not on any human’s side. God is on God’s side. And I will, again, declare this forever, that I will sing praises to Him, and do my dead-level best to be on HIS side.

Father, thank You for these stories that show us Your truth, that You are not on my side, or my enemy’s side, but You are on the side of the Holy Trinity. I pray that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will always stand on Your side. When I stray, when I begin believing, foolishly, that I know better, smack me up side the head until I think straight. Don’t let me stray from Your path, from Your promises, from the glory of Your great Name. Thank You for the songs that You put on my lips, to sing Your praises forever. I look forward, with great anticipation, to the day when I can sing Your praises to Your face.

Lord, help me to follow Your calling into my neighborhood and work place, that I might live a life that shows Your great love to everyone with whom I come in contact. I pray for the peace and well-being of my community, both faith and physical. I pray, specifically, today, for all first responders and people who put their lives on the line, daily, for our protection.

"Sovereign God,
I want to claim You for my cause,
but You will not be made a mascot for my squad;
You call me to Your kingdom.
Rule me by Your Word and Spirit so that more and more I may stand on the holy ground of obedience to You.
In the name of Christ,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3 ESV)

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Luke 18:16-17 ESV)

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
(Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV)

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 ESV)

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Mark 10:29-30 ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:1-5 ESV)

Father, prune me until there is nothing left that does not love You the way a child loves.

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.

Who Is In Control?

Today is Monday, the thirteenth of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today!

Day 23,195

Only nine more days until the Autumnal Equinox

There’s a 41% chance of some light rain, today, with a projected high of only ninety degrees. Things are cooling ever so slightly. I look with great anticipation toward September twenty-second (the last day in the extended forecast), when the projected high is eighty-eight degrees.

We had a nice long conversation with R, Saturday afternoon, and during that time, she revealed that the highs in Indianapolis had been in the upper seventies. Sigh.

Today, I go back to “work” at the library, from 9:15-6:15. I believe I am scheduled to work circulation today, and it has been a couple weeks since I have done that. I hope I haven’t forgotten everything. I believe tomorrow is the day when the city meeting occurs that will finalize the new year’s budget and confirm the opening of the library on Fridays, beginning October first.

C’s back is hurting her a little more, this morning. She was also experiencing some aching, yesterday. Hopefully, this is just a slight hiccup in the healing. She did have a slight “fall,” the other day, but only fell into her chair, so it wasn’t too bad, but it might have jerked something. She is due for a follow-up doctor visit a week from this Thursday. We are still only eleven days out from the surgery.

We have a few extra things going on, this week. Thursday, we are getting new Internet service installed. We are switching from ATT to Spectrum, just for Internet, for pricing. Then on Friday, at 3:30 PM, I take Cleopatra back to the vet for her surgery follow-up. She seems to be doing quite well.

There are a total of at least eleven different “holidays” being celebrated today. I’m not going to list them all, but we have both Supernatural Day and Defy Superstition Day falling on the same day, which seems slightly contradictory. We also have Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day (no way that’s happening) and Roald Dahl Day. But my favorite for today is Hug Your Boss Day. Unfortunately, my boss is on vacation this week. I’m not sure she would want a hug, either. Don’t know her that well, yet. I did ambush a previous boss, a few years ago. Just walked up to him and hugged him. He was like, “What? What’s going on??” It was rather funny.

Today’s word is testudinate. I swear I’m not making that up. The featured definition is an adjective, meaning, “formed like the carapace of a tortoise; arched; vaulted.” It can also be a noun, simply meaning, “turtle.” I don’t foresee an opportunity to work that into a sentence today, but you never know. “That book display is rather testudinate?”

Today’s quote is from poet John Keats: “Love is my religion – I could die for it.”

Significant birthdays on September thirteenth:

Daniel Defoe, English novelist (Robinson Crusoe), 1660-1731
Milton S. Hershey, chocolate (do I need to say anything else?), 1857-1945
Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-American composer, famous for creating his own version of the twelve-tone system of composition, 1874-1951
Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass, 1911-1996
Roald Dahl, British author (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), 1916-1990
Roald Dahl wrote the book that inspired this movie
Mel Tormé, American singer, 1925-1999
David Clayton-Thomas, Canadian singer (Blood, Sweat & Tears), 1941 (80)
David Clayton-Thomas on vocals
Peter Cetera, American singer and bassist (Chicago), 1944 (77)
Peter Cetera shares vocals with the late Terry Kath in this song.
Fiona Apple, American singer-songwriter (Criminal), 1977 (44)
Ben Savage, American actor (Boy Meets World), 1980 (41)
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japanese pitcher (Boston Red Sox), 1980 (41)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Investment of Time, by Daryl Madden

In the Word written
We know this is true
That resting in God
Is so good for you

What we all need
This treasure revealing
Letting God love us
Is such a great healing

Being in silence
Stilling the heart
To let Spirit flow
Such gifts he imparts

With the gift of our time
Let us choose well
So wise the investment
With our God to dwell

The one thing I ask of the LORD—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music.
(Psalms 27:4-6 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. for my job at the library
3. for shouts of joy, singing, and praising You with music
4. that You still control all things, regardless of how things may appear
5. that You used harlots and donkeys in Your story

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
(Psalms 148:13 NLT)

I pause during this moment to rest in His presence and allow His love to flow over me.

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of Asaph.

O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.
(Psalms 74:1-2, 9-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
“Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”
(Joshua 2:1, 8-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of God’s presence, even though my thoughts are distracted, and I find myself having to rush a little bit, I linger over these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts and prayers for these remaining moments.

I can easily find myself in the same frame of mind as Asaph in Psalm 74. I wonder, sometimes, at the fact that we do not see great wonders from God, the way His people did, during Old Testament times. We have no true “prophets” (although there are plenty of presumptuous humans who claim to be prophets and apostles) in our land, and we, of course, have no idea how long our current circumstances will linger. How long will it be until Jesus returns?

We wonder why God seems to be sitting back and not acting. How long, we wonder, will He continue to hold back His hand? Nevertheless, we also declare, along with Asaph, in verse 12, that God is our King and our Lord, and that, even though we may not see Him acting (at least not overtly), He does continue to bring salvation on the earth.

Meanwhile, God uses a prostitute to further His cause in the Promised Land. Some people try to water this down by claiming that the word just means “innkeeper.” Those people also try to claim that the wine Jesus made from water was not fermented.

Whatever.

God uses who He chooses to use, and we have nothing to say about that. Rahab was instrumental in Israel’s taking of the Promised Land. Also, she lied and was rewarded for it.

I’m not saying that we should all go out and tell lies and be harlots. What I am saying is that we have nothing to say about who God decides to use in His story. I have had inspiration come from the most unlikely sources, such as “secular” rock songs. God speaks when He will through whom He will, and we had best not judge that.

Father, I thank You that You used people like Rahab in Your story. I’m even thankful that You spoke through a donkey, to Balaam. This tells me, once again, that You can always use someone like me, who sometimes has the morals of a harlot and the sense (and stubbornness) of a donkey. Praises be to You, Father! I believe that You continue to control all things, even though I can’t always see that. I do wonder, along with Asaph, how long You will continue to allow things to deteriorate the way they are. But that is not for me to be concerned with. You have given me two jobs, so help me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to do those jobs as best I can, today.

May we be able to see You at work in everything around us; open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.

"King Jesus,
thank You that Your church is not confined to the people we think should populate our pews and fill our Bible studies.
You call scandalous saints and surprising sinners marked not by sterling moral credentials but by a brazen faith in the gospel.
Give me the eyes to see those unlikely people who recognize Your kingdom when they see it.
Amen."

BLESSING

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
(Matthew 5:3 NLT)

He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT)

He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.
(Job 5:9 NLT)

“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”
(Jeremiah 32:27 NLT)

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”
(Luke 18:27 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!

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 Strength of My Heart

Today is Sunday, the twelfth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,194

Ten more days until the beginning of Autumn.

There isn’t a whole lot on today’s agenda. We are having our church gathering, this morning, via Zoom. I sent out a query on our group chat app, last night, and we are going to take at least a small break from Psalms and read through 1 John, beginning this morning. As far as anyone remembers, we have not read through that book, yet, in this group. It’s a short one, only five chapters, and centers a great bit on love, which, as any faithful reader knows, is a pet topic of mine, here.

I’m sure we will have Applebee’s for lunch, as is our tradition, and the rest of the day will be spent doing whatever we feel like doing. I did practice a little music, yesterday, and may do so again, today. I also managed to read for a little while, yesterday, as well. I need to spend more of my free time doing that. Especially since I’m still only three hundred pages into a one thousand page George R.R. Martin book.

Uhoh. Today is Video Games Day. Heck, that’s every day around here.

The word for today is spelunk, a verb which means, “to explore caves, especially as a hobby.” Some of my readers might remember an old ride at Six Flags over Texas that was called the “Spelunkers Cave.” Later, it was shortened to simply, “The Cave.” It was a ride in which we sat in little boats and floated along a little river, through a cave filled with little spelunkers.

Later, while the boats and river course remained constant, the inside theme was transformed to a Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam theme. I am, however, quite excited to announce that the park has plans to revive the old spelunker theme in 2022, with a Pirates of Speelunker Cave ride!

Today’s quote is from Confucius: “The object of the superior man is truth.” So he did actually say some things that were not jokes.

Significant birthdays on September 12:

Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer, 1888-1972
George Jones, American country singer/songwriter, born in Saratoga, Texas, 1931-2013
Sir Ian Holm, English actor (Lord of the Rings, Alien), 1931-2020
Mickey Lolich, American MLB pitcher, 1940 (81)
Barry White, American singer (You're the First, the Last, My Everything), born in Galveston, Texas, 1944-2003
Neil Peart, Canadian rock drummer (Rush), 1952-2020 (this one makes me sad)
Nina Blackwood, American actress and original MTV VJ, 1955 (66)
Rachel Ward, English-Australian actress (Against All Odds), 1957 (64)
Hans Zimmer, German film score composer, 1957 (64)
Tarana Burke, American activist, founder of #MeToo, 1973 (48)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
(Psalms 142:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have, indeed, released us from our prisons, that we may praise Your Name
2. that the righteous (not perfect, but righteous by the blood of Jesus) regularly gather together because of Your great goodness
3. for times of worship, praise, and devotion
4. that You are good to all people, even those who do not acknowledge You
5. that, though all else fail around me, You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
(Psalms 148:13 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I pause to reflect on the splendor of the Lord, exalting Him with meditation, prayers, and praise.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:1-3, 21-26 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. . . . No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:1-2, 5-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I read them again, looking for words or phrases that speak to me. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my reading, my meditations, and my prayers.

I can say, along with Asaph, that God is good to all people. Asaph only mentions Israel, but I can see the goodness of the Lord as it applies to all humankind. He is even good to those who refuse to believe that He exists. Otherwise, the rain would never fall on those who denied him, all of the crops would fail, and they would cease to exist. His favor, in some ways, falls upon all who live.

Like Asaph, I can also say that I have, from time to time, strayed dangerously close to the precipice of being envious of the prosperity of the wicked. Is it possible that I have, in fact, wished that the Lord would not be so kind to the wicked? I’m sure that those times have happened, and if you claim they haven’t for you, you might be lying. If, however, you can truthfully say that you have never felt that way, I salute you. You are a better person than I.

But, along with those times, I also admit to the Lord that I was “senseless and ignorant,” like “a brute beast” before Him. Nevertheless, He is always with me, and always guides me with His hand. And, ultimately, as verse 25 (25-26 are a couple of my favorite verses) says, who do I have in heaven besides the Lord? What on earth would I desire besides Him?? Everything around me may fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Moses is gone; Joshua is taking over. And God becomes the strength of his heart. Verses 5-9 of Joshua 1 are somewhat famous. Verse 8 was a memory verse for me, back in my college days, and I still somewhat remember it.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
(Joshua 1:8 KJV)

Twice in the passage, Joshua is told that meditating on and obeying God’s Word will make him successful. He is told thrice to be “strong and courageous,” and to not be afraid (one of the most repeated commands in the Bible). Then there is that promise in verse 5: “No one will be able to stand against you.” And we will see that the only reason that any group of people were able to stand against Israel was because of the disobedience of just a few people.

In the story of Israel and Joshua (and other leaders in the following historical narratives) we see how importance obedience is, even for just a few people. We find out that what one person does can matter to the spiritual (and even physical) health of the whole body.

To me, this all ties in with the psalm, as well. When it is true in my life that I have no one in heaven but God, and that my earthly desires focus entirely on Him, then I will meditate on His commands and obey Him and be “successful.” We must, of course, be careful on how we define “success.”

Father, I am grateful for Your care and blessing in my life. I am thankful that You have put me in a place where I know that I have nothing and no one in heaven but You. Perhaps I am not quite in the place where “earth has nothing I desire besides You,” but I do believe I am progressing in that area. Thank you for our church family and the relationships that we have developed therein. I pray for each of them, this morning, and their various struggles, that You would prove Yourself strong and mighty on their behalf. Please give us “success” as we meditate on and obey Your commands to love You and love one another. You truly are the strength of our hearts.

May the risen Christ dwell in our hearts as we walk through this world, and I ask that You would give us all deep spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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.

"King of heaven and earth,
today there is a clash of kingdoms,
and as I share in Christ's anointing,
I have a holy calling -
to confess the Prince of Peace,
offer every day of my life for Your service,
and fight against sin and the devil.
Holy Spirit,
anoint me with boldness and courage to live out this calling wherever I am today.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 NIV)

with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
(Psalms 89:1 NIV)

The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!
(Psalms 22:26 NIV)

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.
(Ecclesiastes 5:4 NIV)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
(John 17:3-5 NIV)

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:27 NIV)

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
(Galatians 5:16 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:6 NIV)

Father, as I step away from this blog, today, please remind me that it is not my job to reproduce Your works in this world. My job is to allow You to work through me and do the works Yourself. Any attempt that I make to copy Your work will only result in a shambles and a disaster. All glory to You in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit!

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 the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Justice, Mercy, and Righteousness

Today is Saturday, September 11, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,193

Eleven more days until the Autumnal Equinox, the official beginning of Autumn

Temperatures are beginning to drop a bit, already, as Fall approaches. Over the next ten days, today’s projected high of 94 (the upper limit of “warm,” in my view) is the highest temp predicted. We have a couple of days that may not reach 90, with possible rain and/or thunderstorms on those days. Yesterday morning, around ten or so, C and I went out and walked up and down our street, and it was rather nice out.

Speaking of C, she is experiencing a bit more pain, this morning, but hasn’t taken any pain meds since mid-day, yesterday (I think). I commented to her, yesterday, that this has not gone anything like I had envisioned, pre-surgery. I seriously had this picture of her being completely immobile for, like, at least a week. Little did I know that they stress getting up and moving around for quicker recovery, which is awesome.

There isn’t much on the agenda for today. Grocery pickup between 11 and 12, and probably either a delivery from or trip to Albertson’s to get things we don’t get from Walmart Neighborhood Market. I cooked Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner, last night, so the leftovers from that will be lunch, today.

Today is No News is Good News Day. It would probably be a good idea to not look at any news for a day or so, every now and then. I saw a great meme yesterday that talked about how news was pre-Internet. Back in those days, we only got hit with “bad news” once or twice a day. Now, with Internet access and 26/7 “news” sources, we get barraged with bad news constantly. It’s bad for our mental health, and I believe that this is evident in the state of the world around us. People are simply going mad all over.

Speaking of bad news, our Keurig coffee maker just broke. Fortunately, I had one cup already. The second attempt made a nice mess, and we discovered that the bottom needle, that punctures the bottom of the K-cup, was broken off. Also fortunately, we discovered that we can buy a whole new cup-holder insert thingy (technical language, there) for less than $20, and for a mere $2.99, have it delivered this afternoon. Cheaper than paying $200+ for a new coffee maker!

The word for today is yclept. This one is a little strange. On the actual definition page, it says that it is a past participle of clepe, which means “to call; name.” It’s an archaic word, seldom used in today’s world.

Today’s quote is another from Oscar Wilde: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” More and more, I find this to be true.

Significant birthdays on September 11:

O. Henry, American short story writer (William Sydney Porter), 1862-1910
Tom Landry, American NFL player (NY Giants) and coach (Dallas Cowboys), 1924-2000
Virginia Madsen, American actress, 1961 (60)
Kristy McNichol, American actress, 1962 (59)
Moby (Richard Hall), American musician, 1965 (56)
Harry Connick Jr, American singer, 1967 (54)
Ariana Richards, American actress (Lex in the original Jurassic Park), 1979 (42)
Jacoby Ellsbury, Native American MLB player (first full-blooded Navajo in MLB; debuted with Boston Red Sox), 1983 (38)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

As I Am, by Daryl Madden

Lord, let us pray
As I am, where I am

For you love me
As I am, where I am

Receive Your love
As I am, where I am

And share Your love
As I am, where I am

A life divine
Where I am, As I AM

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that wherever I am, You are, and always have been
2. that You love me just as I am, and always have
3. for the example of people like Moses, in Your Word
4. for the admonition to pray for justice and righteousness in our leaders
5. that You work mercy for the afflicted and oppressed

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Yahweh is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who take refuge in him.
(Nahum 1:7 WEB)

This morning, as I pause during this quiet time, I consider Your loving presence in my life, the fact that You are always, and have always been, present with me, and loving me, just as I am.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
(Psalms 72:1-4, 18-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land . . . Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
(Deuteronomy 34:1a, 4-7, 10-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are some biblical passages that are always more challenging than others, especially when it comes to meditation. As I linger over these selections, this morning, I’m leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit to show me what I should be learning from them.

Right off the bat, I see, in the passage from Psalm 72, that this would be a good prayer to pray for the leadership of any nation. We don’t have a “king,” but we have a President and Vice-President, as well as other elected leaders. So it is good to pray for the Lord to “endow” these leaders with justice and righteousness. It is good to pray that our court’s judges, all across our land, would judge people with righteousness and equity, and especially treat the afflicted and oppressed with justice.

It is good to pray for prosperity in our land, whether it come from the “mountains” or the seas or the plains. And then, in verse 4, we see the prayer that our leaders would defend afflicted, rescue or save the children of the needy, and “crush the oppressor.” I love this prayer, as I would love to see oppression cease all over the world.

The ending of the psalm is simply a hymn of praise, requesting, finally, that the whole earth be filled with the glory of the Lord. A wonderful prayer for any time and any place.

In the Deuteronomy passage, we see the ending of an era in the history of Israel. After Moses’s lengthy farewell speech, which takes up most of the book of Deuteronomy (the word “Deuteronomion” literally means “the second law”), he is allowed to view the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, and then he died in Moab. According to verse 6, the Lord, Himself, buried Moses in Moab, and no one knows where his grave is located. So even the bones of Moses were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

We also learn that Moses lived to be 120 years old, and maintained full vision and bodily strength. Whoever tagged on the last couple of verses made note that there was never another prophet in Israel who equaled Moses, “whom the LORD knew face to face.”

We learn a lot from following the life of Moses, but the thing that I am most grateful for is that we see his faults. Even though he performed some pretty miraculous deeds (or, rather, he was the vessel and channel for those deeds, as it was truly the Lord who did them), he was flawed in many ways. As previously noted, it is always good to see that the people that God used were (are) human in every way, possessing the same kinds of flaws that you and I possess.

Father, I thank You for the examples of the people in the Bible, people like Moses and Aaron, who, while they did some pretty great things, also had some pretty great faults. This gives me encouragement and hope, and helps me to not focus so much on my faults, but, rather, on the things that You are able to do in spite of those faults. Help me to pray more effectively, following the examples given me in the Psalms. Solomon’s Psalm today, encourages me to pray more fervently for the leaders of my country and state, and even my local leaders. I do pray, Lord for the just and righteous treatment of those who are afflicted and oppressed, and relief for their children. I also pray that You would, indeed, crush the oppressors, both in our own land, and around the world.

I pray that Your Church would work for the common good and benefit of the communities in which she resides, all over the nation. May “deep care, bold love, and rich community” be experienced within the walls and boundaries of Your Church, wherever and however she meets. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to be active in the elders and leaders within the churches.

"Ancient of Days,
I don't have enough days in my lifetime to see the complete fulfillment of Your kingdom vision.
But give me the faith to embrace and act on Your promises for this life and the world to come,
whether or not I see its fruit.
By faith,
help me to invest the days You have given me for the good of the world,
with a living hope for Your coming kingdom.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 WEB)

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
(Psalms 123:1 ESV)

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
(Psalms 123:2-3 ESV)

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.
(Song of Solomon 2:16 ESV)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:10-19 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.

Choose Life

Today is Friday, the tenth of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today.

Day 23,192

Twelve more days until the official end of Summer, the Autumnal Equinox.

I have scheduled Cleopatra’s follow-up visit to the vet clinic for next Friday afternoon. At that appointment, we will also complete her vaccination boosters, as well as the micro-chipping. We took the “cone of shame” off a couple days ago, and the incision spot looks great.

As of 8:00, this morning, C had not taken any pain meds since last night. So she went through a complete overnight without any, which is great. There is still pain, of course, but not so bad that she can’t tolerate it. But, then, C has been living with pain for so long that she has a pretty high threshold.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I could wax eloquently for a while on that. One of my best friends took his life when we were juniors in high school. I know I’ve mentioned this before. But you simply never get over something like that. I probably should have sought therapy at some point, but never did. Almost fifty years later, and the overwhelming sadness can still strike out of nowhere, with no warning. The national suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you are considering suicide, please think it over and get help. If you think someone you know is considering it, please find a way to intervene.

The word for today is exclave, a noun which means, “a portion of a country geographically separated from the main part by surrounding foreign territory.” I couldn’t think of any, off the top of my head (what does that even mean??), so I looked it up. Apparently, Point Roberts, Washington, can only be reached by traveling through British Columbia.

Today’s quote is from Elizabeth I: “The past cannot be cured.” That’s somewhat profound, and worthy of consideration.

Significant birthdays on September 10:

Isaac Kaufman Funk, American publisher (look that up in your Funk & Wagnall's), 1839-1912
Rin Tin Tin, dog, 1918-1932
Ted Kluszewski, MLB All-Star 1st baseman, Cincinnati Reds, 1924-1988
Arnold Palmer, American pro golfer, also tea and lemonade, 1929-2016
Roger Maris, MLB All-Star right fielder, New York Yankees, 1934-1985
Danny Hutton, singer, Three Dog Night, 1942 (79)
Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter, 1945 (75)
Egad
Charlie Waters, American football safety, Dallas Cowboys, 1948 (73)
Barriemore Barlow, English drummer, Jethro Tull, 1949 (72)
Joe Perry, American rock guitar player, Aerosmith, 1950 (71)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.
“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
(Isaiah 12:1-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my salvation, my strength, and my song
2. that I can trust You and not be afraid
3. that You have never forsaken me, even when I wandered pretty far off of Your path
4. that You have been my hope since my birth
5. that You, Jesus, came to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives and oppressed, and recovering of sight to the blind

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

The LORD is good. He protects those who trust him in times of trouble.
(Nahum 1:7 CEV)

I pause during this quiet moment to reflect on the goodness of the Lord, my salvation, my strength, and my song.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.
(Psalms 71:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
(Deuteronomy 30:11-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself of the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages, taking them in, word by word, phrase by phrase, allowing the Holy Spirit to draw me deeper.

I am especially moved by verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 71. Indeed, it does seem that I have trusted in and relied upon the Lord since my birth. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not love Jesus. I have no memory of a time when I did not follow Him. Surely, there are times when I was “following” at a greater distance, but He has always been a part of my life. I can truly say that the Lord “brought me forth from my mother’s womb.”

My mouth has been filled with His praise for decades. And I believe in the prayer that we see if we keep reading beyond today’s selection.

Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
(Psalms 71:9 NIV)

On this, I am fully persuaded that the Lord will not, in fact, “cast me away when I am old.” As long as I have breath, He will have use for me, and when He is done with me on this plane, He will carry me through to the next.

It is also true that the commands given us are not, in fact, “too difficult” or “beyond our reach.” The Word of God is not beyond our grasp; it is not too high for us, nor is it across the sea. It is readily available, and quite easily. For those of us who are Christ-followers, His Word is truly in our hearts and in our mouths.

He has placed a choice before us: life and prosperity, or death and destruction.

Once again, I like to keep reading a little beyond the selection for the day.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV)

Again, I acknowledge that these words were originally spoken specifically to Israel by Moses. But those same choices are placed before every person on earth, today.

I join Moses in challenging/inviting you to choose life. Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.

Father, I praise You for the examples that we have set in front of us in Scripture; examples of life and prosperity, over death and destruction. Examples of faithful people who, though You chose them and empowered them, they were still flawed imperfect, and You used the in mighty ways, anyway. I praise You for bringing me out of my mother’s womb and for being my God for these many decades. You have never forsaken me, even though my walk with You has wandered far off the path, at times. And I thank You for the truth that Your commands are not too difficult and burdensome for us, especially when we walk in the easy yoke with Jesus.

I pray that all people would have the inspiration and strength to choose life over death, Your prosperity over destruction. Help me to be a harbinger of life in this country of death.

Father, please give all of Your children the ability to be like Jesus in denying ourselves and serving others. Give us the commitment to do justice and show mercy. I lift up all who are homeless this day, along with all who care for them.

"God who is very near,
You never insist we show our spiritual mettle by going on epic journeys;
we're never asked to accomplish heroic feats to prove our worthiness.
You've given us no ladder to climb up to Your heavenly heights,
because You came near to us.
Help us grasp the life You offer in the One who came down from heaven for us and our salvation.
Amen."

BLESSING

Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.
(Matthew 11:29-30 CEV)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
(Psalms 56:3 ESV)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
(Philippians 4:6 ESV)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.