Good morning. Today is Thursday, March 7, 2013. I woke up to the news that Alvin Lee, of Ten Years After, has died at the age of 68. Not a happy way to start the day.
Yesterday was a pretty typical day around here. Work, then home, then gym. Not much else to report. I had allergies pretty bad all day yesterday, after waking up sneezing at around 4am. It’s better this morning. I don’t know if the pollen is lower, or if my defenses have adapted, or it was the fake Nyquil I took last night (I have finally figured out that the difference between brand names and generics, when it comes to OTC medicines, is the difficulty in opening the package). Either way, I’m feeling much better this morning, so that’s good.
Today, I stop by and weigh in for the Biggest Loser contest. I’ve lost approximately 2 pounds since the last weigh-in. I guess I should be happy with that, but it’s not quite what I had hoped for. Any loss is a good loss, though, and my goal gets that much closer with each pound lost.
(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in AD 161, Marcus Aurelius succeeded Antoninus Pius as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. He was just a few weeks short of turning 40 when he became Emperor. His first act was to have the Senate make his “younger adoptive brother Verus co-Emperor.” He is, perhaps, most remembered for his Meditations, “a series of fragmentary musings jotted down over his years as Emperor.” Marcus was the last of the “five good emperors,” an era that came to an end when he died and his 18 year old son Commodus “(the villain of the film Gladiator)” took his place.
Today’s birthday is Maurice Ravel, born on this date in 1875. Ravel is most known for his one-movement orchestral piece, Bolero. Oddly enough, legend has it that the piece was originally called “Fandango.” The idea was to have a single line melody repeated over and over, with no development, simply increasing the orchestra each time around. It is, some might argue, quite maddening. Here is a very nice performance of the piece.
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23
My Father, I pray that you show me something this morning, as I read and meditate on your Word, that will inspire me to live this day looking to your grace.
Today, I am reading Isaiah 30:19-26.
19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures,
24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.
25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
Isaiah speaks of a time of great blessing for the people of God, a time when he is readily available to all who seek him, even though there may be adversity and affliction present. His guidance will be constantly present, as his people walk with him. Idols will be destroyed and scattered. There will be great blessing of crops and livestock. It will be a time of great healing for his people.
Today, in A Year With God, I begin a new segment on the discipline of Confession. Yesterday was the last reading on the discipline of study. Confession is defined as, “Sharing our deepest weaknesses and failures with God and trusted others, so that we may enter into God’s grace and mercy and experience his ready forgiveness and healing.” When Jesus died on the cross, he took upon himself all of our sins. All we must do is confess and ask his forgiveness, and this requires complete honesty. Sometimes, we attempt to hide our sins, out of shame, as did Adam and Eve. Sometimes, we are even unwilling to forsake our sin, so we even attempt to hide it from ourselves. We must have the courage to shine God’s healing light on our sin, else it can do much damage in our lives (as well as the lives of those around us).
Confession can be simply between the individual and God, or it can also involve another human, one who is trusted implicitly. There are three distinct parts to confession (as described in this book). First is the examination of the conscience, second is sorrow, and third is the determination to avoid future sin. I’m not sure I see the third as an actual part of the confession process, however, without that which is called “repentance,” confession does not accomplish much. We must seek the Lord’s strength, guidance, and courage to avoid further sin; we must love and desire his ways, and hate anything that keeps us from following his truth.
1 John 1:9, a rather famous memory verse, says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Today’s reading is simply called “Confessing Our Sins.” The scripture reading includes the above verse, found in 1 John 1:8-2:1.
1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Right off the bat, a challenge is issued, as is customary on the first day of a new segment. For this discipline, I am challenged, over the next ten days, to make time for confession during my daily prayer time. If this is already part of the prayer time, then I am encouraged to pay extra attention to that particular portion each day. It is suggested to go through the three steps listed above.
It might be necessary to ask God to “reach into the deepest recesses of our soul and show us our sin more clearly.” Believe me, this is a painful request, but God will most certainly honor it. There are other times when we are already burdened by sin, and the act of confession releases a weight from our shoulders that makes us feel as though we are walking on air, afterwards. In extreme cases, where a sin is particularly difficult to release, confession to another might be necessary. Great caution is called for in such cases. Great trust is needed in whoever is chosen to be the confessor. Richard Foster says, “Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin.” It also helps to be part of a church body that does not pass judgment on people for particular sins. My wife and I are blessed to be part of such a fellowship. We are both a fellowship of saints and sinners!
Father, over the next ten days, I pray that you would show me my sin as you see it! Reach down into the depths of my soul and show me where I have failed you (on some days, that reach will not need to be very far). Make me aware of sin, the moment I engage in it, that I might confess immediately. Make me sorrowful over my sin. One of the beatitudes tells us that those who mourn are blessed. I take that to mean mourning over sin. That is why I pray every day that you cause me to be mournful, both over the sin of our people, and my own sin. And then grant me repentance, as even the act of repenting must be a gift from you, lest I should boast that I have done anything of value in my own strength. My God, everything that I possess I have gotten from you. Even repentance for my sin, and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ to save me from my sin. Teach me your ways, O Father, that I may truly walk in your truth.
As this day comes our way, I pray for strength to meet it head on. I pray for Christi, that, as she works today, she might have relief from pain (it does seem to be getting gradually better). I pray that she might have healing in her bones and joints. I pray that her work day will progress seamlessly, without issue or drama. I pray the same for my own work day. I also pray that my company may receive some good news either today or tomorrow. And I pray that Stephanie may be drawn closer to your heart today. Show her the path that you have for her to walk.
I lift up special prayers for two on this day, who have lost their mothers. One named Dawn, a close friend of a lifehouse member, whose mother passed early this morning, and another, Mr. Reynolds, our favorite of Stephanie’s teachers, who lost his mother sometime yesterday. Give these comfort over their loss, and help them find solace in your grace and mercy.
“Confession is good for the soul,” seems to be an old Scottish proverb. Turns out, is also seems to be true.
Grace and peace, friends.