The Face of Jesus

It is Monday, the twenty-fourth of May, 2021, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,083

Seven days until Memorial Day.

I’m struggling with WordPress, this morning. For some reason, the page to write a new blog post would not load on MS Edge browser. It does work, however, in Google Chrome, so that’s what I’m using, this morning.

Needless to say, this has put me way behind, this morning, so I need to move on in to the devotional. I will reiterate what a marvelous weekend we had, and that our piece of pie was totally worth the extra points, yesterday. We must not have done too badly, because I was about four pounds down from last Wednesday, when I stepped on the scale, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

It makes no sense.
Why should this happen?
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your plan.

My prayers are so dry.
It feels as if you're not there.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your faithfulness.

I have been hurt.
I am so bitter.
And I fall . . . 
into your arms, and I learn of your humility.

I make the donation.
I cannot afford it.
And I fall . . . 
into your arms, and I learn of your generosity.

It is so beautiful.
I am filled with awe.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your beauty.

I read of your Word.
I sit in your silence.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your love.

I lend a hand to my brother.
I see the smile on his face.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your joy.

Your body is lifted up before my eyes.
I say amen.
And I fall . . . 
into your arms, and I learn of your passion.

I cherish my memories and regret my mistakes.
I close my eyes at last.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your glory.
(Daryl Madden, "And I Fall," cont., from On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the wonderful weekend we had, the refreshing and renewal that took place
2. that we have jobs to which to return, this morning
3. that You have given me a thankful and generous heart
4. for the church community we have
5. for Your care for me, that I might care for myself, and then care for others; help me to see Your face in everyone I meet today

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

ORDINARY TIME – DAY 1

INVITATION

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV)

I pause briefly to contemplate the “new heart and new spirit” that I believe I have received over the past four days, and pray that it was a permanent transformation, to be carried over into this week of work.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD— small and great alike.

May the LORD cause you to flourish, both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 115:12-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I pause to remind myself that I am in God’s sweet presence, I re-read these passages, asking, inviting, the Holy Spirit to point me to any particular word, phrase, or thought in them, to teach me something about my life in Christ, this morning.

In truth, there is nothing “new” that I find in today’s readings. This is not always a negative thing. It doesn’t mean that I am not paying attention or “listening.” What I do see is reaffirmations. The reading in Acts affirms what our current church model consists of. We meet together, in a home, and we are devoting ourselves to the Word of God, the fellowship, the breaking of bread together (the Supper) and to prayer. Each of those elements of worship is represented every Sunday morning.

Sometimes, there is more fellowship than Word. Sometimes, there is more prayer than anything else. And sometimes, the precious Word of God takes the bulk of the time. But each one happens every time. And this, regardless of the setting or place, is what worship should be. This is what the community of faith should look like. We could, honestly, do better, during the week. We don’t see each other very often, outside of Sundays. Perhaps we need to pray for the Spirit to help us with that.

Father, I thank You that we have this model to follow in our worship times. I thank You for a group of people who believe in Your Church, and want to observe Your commands as simply as possible. Help us to be more of a community outside of the Sunday morning event. Help us to reach out more to one another, to seek out needs to meet, and help one another with whatever is needed. I believe you have given us all thankful and generous hearts, Father. May Your blessings fall on us.

God of wind and fire,
whoever would have guessed that a ragtag band of Jewish Jesus-followers could be bound together into a movement that would turn the world upside down?
Only because of your Holy Spirit,
who is fully God.
Do that work again in our day,
take wildly diverse people who don't naturally fit together,
and make a peculiar and compelling community,
beautiful because of Jesus.
In his name we pray,
amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 53)

BLESSING

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
(Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)

While I realize that the passage from Matthew 25, the “least of these” passage, speaks of caring for other people, there was an interesting quote in a book I finished over the weekend. The book is called Embracing the Love of God, by James Bryan Smith.

The epigraph for chapter 8, which is called “Caring for Ourselves,” went like this: “What if you discovered that the least of the brethren of Jesus, the one who needs your love the most, the one you can help the most by loving, the one to whom your love will be most meaningful — what if you discovered that this least of the brethren of Jesus . . . is you?” (Carl Jung)

Just something to think about. How can we care for our brothers and sisters if we do not care for ourselves?

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
(Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)

Today’s mission: “Live like the sun today, as the light. Shine God’s love on all, regardless of people and circumstances. Shine rather because you’re the light.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Oh, yes, Father! Help me to shine with Your light, today. Help me to see Your face (the face of Jesus) in everyone today, regardless of the circumstances. May I care for others as I care for myself, and may I care for myself (and others) as You have cared for me. Thank you, O my Father! All glory to You!

Lord, give Your people a capacity to see You in all things, “every creature a word or book” from You. I pray for the Spirit to work a mighty work in me, in my brothers and sisters, and in the world. I specifically pray, this morning, for all who are “in the forefront of caring for creation.”

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. Shalom Aleichem!

What Is Idolatry?

Today is Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Day 22,248

FOUR DAYS until Spring Training!!!

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist, 1875-1961
BrainyQuote

No one really wants to hear that, do they? But have you ever stopped to consider the traits in others that are so irritating? Perhaps I will try to stop and consider why I am irritated by someone instead of just letting the irritation run away with my brain and emotions.

The word of the day is inculpate. It means, “to involve in a charge; incriminate.” Also, “to charge with fault; blame; accuse.” (Dictionary.com)

So C wound up not getting the lasik adjustment done, after all. She arrived at the center and that eye was checking out just fine. The issue, it turns out, may be that she just can’t do the “monovision” type of lasik surgery. Each eye checks out great, as long as the other one is closed or covered. But together, she has vision issues, such as double vision. So she wound up going to Lenscrafters and getting a pair of distance/driving glasses that help the right eye work better with the left eye. She said she could see perfectly driving home. She’s trying to be happy about the whole thing, but is very frustrated about the way it all turned out. I’m not concerned about the money spent, as long as she can see well. Her close-up vision seems to be a lot better, so that’s good.

Of course, I also got to leave work early, yesterday, because I had scheduled the PTO to leave at 2:30 and go pick C up at the surgery center. Instead, I went home, practiced the wedding music, got my new printer set up in the study, and took out the trash and recycling. Very productive me, don’t you think?

Today, I have my vision appointment at 11:45. I’ll probably pick up lunch after that, and then the groceries are set for pickup between 2:00 and 3:00. Funny story. We were watching an episode of Silicon Valley last night, and two of the characters were in the local grocery store. One of them said that she was probably the only person in the store buying stuff for herself. As the camera panned out, everyone else around them was working for “Instacart,” one of the grocery pickup and delivery services. I thought that was hilarious. We tried Instacart once. I much prefer Kroger’s Click List. It’s cheaper and much more efficient. Plus I’m not expected to tip anyone (says so right on the web site). I have, of course, but only when it was, like, twenty degrees outside and raining or something. The click list people are not supposed to even accept tips. I’ve never had one turn me down, though. 🙂

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

Today I am grateful:
1. For a weekend to rest in preparation for another work week.
2. The C was able to at least get some resolution for her vision, even if it meant a new pair of glasses.
3. That my wedding music practice continues to have positive results.
4. That God is God and I am not.
5. That “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”

Grace to you and peace
from God our Father
and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Philippians 1:2)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Idolatry: Unworthy Ideas of God,” by A.W. Tozer.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 1:21

“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than he is and substitutes for the true God one made after his own likeness.”

I daresay most of us, when we hear the word “idolatry,” think of a carved image. You know, like the “golden calf” that Aaron made for the people when they all decided that Moses wasn’t coming back.

But we must expand our thoughts on this. Idolatry is much more than bowing to an image of some false god. It’s even more complex than, say, worshiping money or fame. The “god” in question will always “conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of mind from which it emerges.”

We might also make the mistake of assuming that only primitive peoples are still guilty of idolatry. I’m going to step out on a limb, here (not much of a stretch, since it seems to agree with Mr. Tozer), and say that it is even possible for a Christian to engage in idolatry.

For example, have you ever heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is this a true statement about God? I say it is not. The Bible most certainly does not support it. Therefore, the person who believes this about God is guilty of idolatry.

What about, “Well, MY God wouldn’t _______!” Fill in the blank with whatever bigotry you want. The problem with this statement, to begin with, is the word “my.” He is not “my” God. He is God. Period.

“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place.”

Here is the most important statement in this reading. “Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.”

I have grown to be very careful with declarations about God, as time goes on. If the Bible doesn’t say it, or at least imply it (and I’m extremely careful with implications, too), then I will not say it about God. In the words of the Psalmist, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) We had best think twice before saying, “MY God wouldn’t do thus and so.” We had best be cautious about thinking anything about God that may not be true.

Father, I pray for right understanding and wisdom concerning who You are, that might not entertain idolatrous thoughts about You. I desire to worship You in truth, as You truly are, not some idea that I have manufactured about You. I pray for Your Church, that all who call themselves by the Name of Jesus would do the same.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Enemies

Loving and praying for our enemies is not a “strategy that will turn them into good friends. Love is the last thing that our enemies want from us and often acts as a goad to redoubled fury.” Keep in mind that “the enemies that Jesus loved and prayed for killed him.”

Today is Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Hump Day. Day 21,643.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is sibylline, an adjective meaning, “mysterious; cryptic.”

Today is International Bath Day, so designated because it was allegedly this date on which Archimedes made his famous discovery in a bathtub, and, in his excitement, ran naked down the street, yelling, “Eureka! Eureka!”

After missing a week while on vacation, C and I will get back into our bowling tonight. The league starts at 6:30, so we’ll just have time to get something for S to eat and bring it home to her. We’ll probably wind up ordering food from the bowling alley snack bar. The actually have some decent sandwiches, so it won’t be all pizza and wings or stuff like that. Hopefully, we can keep up the averages we set a couple weeks ago.

The Texas Rangers kept up their winning streak, last night, beating the Astros 4-2. Their streak is now five games, and they are eleven games out of first, tied for second. The Boston Red Sox won another game in extra innings, beating the Phillies 4-3, they, too, are in second place, three games behind the Yankees.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
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
Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
Psalm 68:28
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
John 9:4-5
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.

John 93:3-5

(From Living the Message)

Jesus has the last word on “the enemies.” Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). However, in order to do this, we have to be aware that we have enemies and know who they are. “Enemies, especially for those who live by faith, are a fact of life. If we don’t know we have them or who they are, we live in a dangerous naivete.” We may not understand what we are saying when we pray, “deliver us from evil.”

We hate sin and we hate evil, and this provides motivation for compassion for their victims. However, this hatred is “the wrong fuel for the engines of judgment; only love is adequate to sustain these passions.”

Let us not be deceived, however. Loving and praying for our enemies is not a “strategy that will turn them into good friends. Love is the last thing that our enemies want from us and often acts as a goad to redoubled fury.” Keep in mind that “the enemies that Jesus loved and prayed for killed him.”

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and GOD will look after you.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (The Message)

Father, help me be aware of who my enemies truly are, that I might love them and pray for them. Perhaps I walk in this dangerous naivete, not being completely aware that I have enemies. But, in truth, I know that there are enemies out there that hate the faith that I profess and that hate you or even deny your existence. Help me to identify these and pray for them, showing them love from the depths of the love that you have provided for us. Help me to walk in the words and ways of Jesus today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Remember

Today is Saturday, July 30, 2016. I’ve been corrected . . . the trade deadline is Monday, since the 31st falls on Sunday, this year.

Quote of the Day

“The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” – Carl Jung

Word of the Day

Littoral – of, relating to, or situated or growing on or near a shore especially of the sea. So I guess it could be possible to be “literally littoral.”

Today is Paperback Book Day. Do I even need to say anything more? Here is one blogger/artist’s representation of Paperback Book Day . Please note that the books in the picture are miniatures. Amazing work!

Yesterday, while driving home, I was playing my iTunes music on shuffle, and this song came up.

As I listened to the lyrics, I realized that, outside of the fact that Rich had 4 brothers and sisters, and his dad was a farmer, this song relates to me and my family. These lyrics spoke most clearly to me:

“Never picture perfect
Just a plain man and his wife
Who somehow knew the value
Of hard work, good love, and real life”

“And they worked to give faith hands and feet
And somehow gave it wings”

We miss my dad terribly, still, but this is the legacy that my parents gave me. And for that, I am eternally grateful to both them, and our Father in heaven.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5

“Forgetfulness atrophies the muscles of praise and leaves them flabby and passive. Remembrance internalizes a history of grace and strengthens praise into blessing, so that we act in a renewing way on our environment.”

“What blessings I have experienced! What benefits I have been given! I will compile my own list of goodness through the hours of this day and give you praise, O God, for each item. Stir my memory and quicken my tongue, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Father, help me to remember. Don’t allow my muscles of praise to atrophy! Help me to internalize the history of grace that has gone before me. What a history it is! I thank you, my Father, for the “plain man and his wife” who raised me to love you, worship you, and serve you. I pray that I will never disappoint them.

Come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.