Today is Monday, December 30, 2019. The sixth day of Christmas. The Feast of the Holy Family. Peace be with you!
Two days until New Year’s Day, 2020.
Today is Bacon Day. “There’s nothing in this world that doesn’t taste better with Bacon. Whether it’s chocolate covered bacon from the confectioners shop, bacon cheeseburgers, bacon wrapped tater tots, or even bacon covered chapstick, you can’t deny that it’s a delicious tasty treat that’s truly gotten it’s fingers in everywhere.”
Bacon Day. Yes.
Did I mention that it’s Bacon Day? Well it is. Bacon Day.
C didn’t go to church with us, yesterday, and is still coughing quite a bit. Still feels like it’s just a bronchial/sinus kind of thing. I hope that is true. I feel fine. Except that my stomach was angry with me, last night. Something I ate, maybe? I’m still not exactly hungry, so not eating breakfast, this morning.
I have tomorrow off for my last day of PTO, so I will be off two days this week, just like last week. Next week is going to be tough. Haha!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Today I am grateful:
1. For another shortened week, with two days off.
2. For the good church meeting we had yesterday morning. There was a lot of good discussion on the Scripture passages we read.
3. That, in spite of the things that we see around us, the Lord reigns.
4. That God gave us two ears and one mouth, indicating that we should listen more than we talk.
5. That God has placed in my heart a desire to be a better listener.
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)
and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,
he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
“Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.”
The Common English Bible translates this verse to say, “Human one, listen closely, and take to heart every word I say to you.”
The key word and concept in the verse is “listen.” The English Standard Version says to “receive” the words. I like that, too. We can “hear” a lot of things, but when we truly “listen,” we “receive” what we hear.
We have lost the art of listening. In the days of Jesus, not everyone had a copy of the Scriptures that they could read for themselves. It wasn’t a control thing, like the Catholic Church in the time of the Reformation. It just wasn’t simple to get a copy of the Scriptures. They were hand-written. It took a long time to transcribe them.
So they listened to the Scriptures being read to them. The letters that Paul (and others) wrote, that became our New Testament, were read out loud to the various churches that they were sent to. People listened to the words.
Our culture simply doesn’t know how to listen any more. In a conversation with someone, do you listen when the other person talks, or are you thinking about what you are going to say next? Even worse, are you just waiting for that person to stop to breathe so you can jump in with your two cents worth?
We are quick to give advice and slow to listen. James, the brother of Jesus, had different advice for us. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1.19-20)
The writer of Ecclesiastes, in the famous passage that would become a sixties pop hit, says that there is “a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
And Jesus explained his reason for parables in Matthew 13.13-16. “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.”
Time after time, the Lord laments the fact that Israel would not listen to him. And over and over, Wisdom calls out in the book of Proverbs: Listen, listen, listen, listen, LISTEN!
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have something in mind for 2020. There are a few things I want to accomplish in this new year. One of those is to be a better listener. I don’t call it a “goal,” because it’s not something you can measure. But I want to do a better job of listening, both to God, and to other people.
Father, thank you for bringing this to my attention, this morning. I desire to be a better listener, both you your words, and to people, as well. Remind me, when I am in conversation, to shut up and listen. Two ears . . . one mouth. Listen twice as much as talk. And, as I listen to your word, each day, may I receive it into my heart, into my soul, that it may reap the harvest it is intended to reap.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
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
Grace and peace, friends.
Did I mention that today is Bacon Day?