Today is Wednesday, the fourth of August, 2021.
Fifteen days until S’s birthday! The presents have begun arriving!
This new life I am in continues to be weird. Last night, I stayed up later, so as to, hopefully, not be awake at 3:30 in the morning. I had also planned to not get up at 5:15 when C gets up. I did manage to sleep through most of the night without any huge awake times. However, I was wide awake at 5:15 (actually even a few minutes before). So I am up. It is what I am used to, and it will take some time to get “un-used” to it.
But there is certainly no hurry, is there?
Yesterday, I went out and spent my Barnes & Noble gift card (and a little bit more, unfortunately) and bought three books. I got Ann Rule’s book The Stranger Beside Me, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted A Faith and Fractured A Nation, by Kristin Kobes du Mez, and Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, by Andrew Peterson. I’m excited to read all three of these books, and find it interesting that I didn’t even look in the fiction section.
I did a little more cleaning, around the bedroom area, and cooked lunch and dinner for everyone, keeping the kitchen clean, at the same time. That’s about all that I did that was productive, yesterday.
I did look into and set up an appointment to get Cleopatra “fixed,” but we have decided, upon further review of the facility, to cancel that one. The reviews of the place are somewhat terrifying.
Plans for today: get dinner started in the slow cooker, look into what it would take to cancel our satellite account, and research other places to take the kitten for her spaying and shots and microchip.
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.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
(Psalms 40:16 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I am alive and breathing, with all kinds of potential on the horizon; 2. that You are my salvation (Psalm 35:3); 3. for my confidence that I will give You thanks in the great congregation (Psalm 35:18); 4. that You use flawed individuals, not perfect people, for Your purposes; 5. for silence
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY FOUR
The good life begins in the fear of GOD— Do that and you’ll know the blessing of GOD. His Hallelujah lasts forever!
(Psalms 111:10 MSG)
I pause, briefly, to reflect on what “good life” means. We have discussed this here, before. The “good life,” to me, is the same as “life without lack,” which is what I have in Christ, as I walk in the Kingdom of God, in His “easy yoke.” “His Hallelujah lasts forever!”
Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.
I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
(Psalms 35:1-3, 17-18 NIV)
Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
(Genesis 29:16-25 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I read these passages a second time (at least), I become more aware of God’s presence with me, surrounding me. I look for words, phrases, or thoughts that speak to me. One of the things I love about God’s Word is how the same passage can speak different things to you on different days, all depending on where you are in your life. It is, indeed, living and active, just like Hebrews 4:12 says.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
(Hebrews 4:12 NLT)
The psalmist calls out for protection against those who “contend” with him. I looked up “contend,” even though I believe I have a good understanding of the word. It means, “struggle to surmount,” or “engage in a competition.” The NLT translates that particular word as “oppose.” That makes sense, too.
The Bible app that I have on my PC (e-Sword), has a “KJV+” tab, which gives the King James Version, paired with Strong’s numbers that correspond with Hebrew and Greek words. In this verse, there are actually two different words that are translated as “contend.” The first one is rîyb or rûb, which literally means to grapple or wrangle with. The KJV translates it as “Plead my cause.” The second one, translated “strive,” is yârîyb, and literally means “he will contend.”
Then the word that is translated “fight against,” in both NIV and KJV, is lâcham, which literally means, “to feed on,” “to consume,” with implications of “to battle.” Here is the verse in KJV.
Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
(Psalms 35:1 KJV)
Why did I go into all of that? I wanted to see exactly what David was asking of God. Plus I have this cool Bible program that will do that.
But David asks the Lord to fight for him. That’s the easy version. We can do the same. If we have people or forces that are contending with us, fighting against us, trying to consume us, we can certainly ask the Lord to plead our cause, to fight against them.
We can also ask the Lord to remind us, as David did in verse 3, that He is our salvation. This is a great reminder that we could all use every single day.
Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
(Psalms 35:3 NIV)
I thought that maybe the “I am” part of that verse would be YHWH in the Hebrew, but it is not.
The result of David’s prayer to the Lord, as it usually is, comes in verse 18.
I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
(Psalms 35:18 NIV)
I find it interesting (and meaningful) that David does not say, “If You do all these things, I will give You thanks . . .” He simply says, “I will give You thanks.” He is confident, just as Abraham was confident that Isaac would return from the sacrificial location.
Speaking of confidence, in today’s Genesis passage, we see the beginnings of a battle between two over-confident deceivers. Jacob has met his match in Laban, but Laban has also met his match in Jacob. The next few chapters of Genesis are amusing, yet tragic, all at the same time.
It all starts with Jacob falling in love with Laban’s younger daughter and agreeing to work sever years so that he can marry her. Then, the trickery begins. Some people try to explain this by saying that Jacob is being punished for his deception of Isaac, back home. I can’t agree with this at all. If that were the case, I fully believe that God would have told him so.
However, there does, in a way, seem to be such a thing as “karma.” While God probably didn’t “cause” this or bring it to pass, He certainly did nothing to prevent it or disrupt it. It is simply a case of two master deceivers and manipulators duking it out.
And does anyone really win, in such a situation?
Personally, I think that every time you set out to deceive and/or manipulate someone in such a way, part of your soul dies. Nobody wins.
Jacob did wind up leaving there a wealthy man, but at what cost? His uncle was furiously chasing after him, and their parting words were anything but amicable. If you read on, there is this word (or place), “Mizpah.” The simple definition of it is “the Lord watch between you and me while we are separate.” It sounds nice, but it truly isn’t. It’s more like the signal one person gives another to say, “I’ve got my eyes on you.”
At some point, though, I’m sure that Jacob prayed to the Lord, asking Him to contend with Laban, or to fight against Laban on his behalf. In fact, if you keep reading the story, in chapter 31, it is the Lord who advises Jacob that it’s time to head back home.
And he left with great blessings. You see, Jacob, regardless of his deceptive, cunning nature, was still God’s man. He was chosen by God to live out a purpose, and that purpose would eventually become the nation of Israel. Once again, we see God using flawed individuals, not perfect people, for His purposes.
Fast forward a few thousand years. Look around at the people God is using today. Some of them might be considered to be “good people,” although Jesus, Himself said that there is no one good but God. But our standards are quite a bit lower than His.
But some of them are real jerks. I’ve known some pastor/preachers who were really good at preaching the Gospel, but simply weren’t very nice people. And let’s not forget that God made a donkey talk.
We often say that people who are not for us are against us. But Jesus once said the opposite when His disciples wanted Him to make some people stop speaking in His name, because they weren’t part of their little group. He said,
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
(Luke 9:50 NIV)
So what is my “big idea” today? That’s a super good question, because I’m not sure it’s the same as it was when it started. This has rambled a bit. Just being honest, here.
Let’s go back to the title of today’s post, which I typed up there several minutes ago. “I Am Your Salvation.” This is what I want God to remind me of daily (at least). God is my salvation. He was Jacob’s salvation, in spite of Jacob’s flaws. He is my salvation, in spite of my flaws, and trust me, I have an overabundance of those.
Father, thank You for being my salvation. You are my Rock and my Fortress; You are my hiding place. But most importantly, You are my salvation, provided by the work of Jesus Christ, which is complete, as He sits down at Your side. “It is finished,” He proclaimed, and it is. There is no more work to be done, at least not along that line. But You still have work for me to do, here, obviously, because I am still here. Help me to see that work; help me to focus on it and do it. Lead me in the right path, for Your Name’s sake! Whatever You do, Father, protect Your Great Name!
I thank You for the examples of people like Jacob. He wasn’t a very good person. But You used him, and it gives us all hope. You used all of those flawed people, back in the OT days, and even on into the NT. People like Matthew, the cheating tax collector, Peter, the over-ambitious, fickle coward, and Thomas, the doubter. I can, at some point in my life, identify with all of them.
"One true God, my disappointments reveal the shrine of idols I carry in my heart. When trophy spouses, promising careers, or picture-perfect families fail or are taken away, my heart's true trust and affection are laid bare. Forgive me for all the things I've chased after in place of you. May the love of Jesus keep my mind, will, and heart fully set on you. Amen."
Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
(Jude 1:2 MSG)
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:4-5 ESV)
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
(Psalms 63:3-7 ESV)
She: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;
(Song of Solomon 1:2 ESV)
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:18-19 ESV)
Father, Your love truly is better than life, itself. Because of this, “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.” As I rest in the shadow of Your wings, I will sing for joy, and I will be still, and know that You are God. In the sweet, sweet, silence, I will know Your presence and joy, for in Your presence, there is fulness of joy, and at Your right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.
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!
“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the Christian life and should, therefore, be the subject of our most personal attention.” – Henri Nouwen
Grace and peace, friends.