Clothed by God

Today is Wednesday, the eleventh of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,435

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Summer Guilliams, friend and sister in Christ.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for making us into a community whose refuge and certainty is Jesus Christ. We thank you that he will not remain hidden from us forever; his life will be revealed, perhaps soon, in our times. Lord God, how long, how long have your children waited! Now a new time is coming, the end of this age, and we rejoice in this even if you must also judge and punish. No matter what happens, we are at peace. We live in your future, in the future of Jesus Christ, in the great day when humankind will receive the Spirit and their old works will come to an end. Be with us. Bless us this night and help us in what we have most on our hearts. We have so much on our hearts, but you see everything and you know our needs. Lord God, your grace will overcome all earthly troubles, and your name will be glorified on earth if only there is a church that believes and truly awaits your help. Praise to your name! You have done immeasurably much for us and you will do even more. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough)

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
(Colossians 3:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my life is hidden in Christ, who will soon reveal Himself to all
2. for people in my life that I have called "hero"
3. that God alone is who I worship
4. for the command to not pretend to love others, but to really love them (Romans 12:9)
5. that God will clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and, above all, love

And since no one dares to disturb [Leviathan], who then can stand up to me? Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.”
(Job 41:10-11 NLT)

Side note. If you keep reading Job 41, beginning in verse 12, to the end, it is my humble opinion that what is described (called “Leviathan” in an earlier verse) is nothing other than a dragon! As a lover of the fantasy genre, it gives me great pleasure to believe that they did, in fact, once exist.

Today’s prayer word is “hero.” There are a lot of ways in which this word is used. For most people, it is someone who has had a significant impact on their lives, and is, the majority of the time, a human. For example, I have a couple of people that I call “heroes.” One is Carl Yastrzemski, former MLB player for the Boston Red Sox. He has always been my favorite baseball player, since I began loving baseball in 1967. Yaz won the coveted Triple Crown of batting in 1967, having the most home runs, highest average, and most RBIs for the season. That feat was not accomplished again until 2012, when Miguel Cabrera finally did it. The Red Sox also won the AL pennant, that season, and were known as The Impossible Dream Team.

I also have a musical hero. His name is Terry Scott Taylor. Terry is the “front man” for alt-Christian rock group Daniel Amos, as well as a couple of other side projects, The Swirling Eddies, and The Lost Dogs, which is a sort of “Christian Supergroup.” I have been following his music since the early eighties, when a seminary friend introduced me to the Daniel Amos album called “Alarma.” I have met Terry, along with other members of The Lost Dogs. I have not met Yaz.

Do I refer to Jesus as a “hero?” Lola Garcia (I’m not sure who this is, but there is an actress by that name) is quoted as saying, “God has my admiration. I admire all He has done, is doing and will do. He is my Hero!” That’s all well and good, but I think God wants more than our admiration. He wants our worship; He commands our worship. In fact, He wants our all.

I struggle with the idea of giving God the same characterization that I give a couple of mere humans. “Hero.” I looked up “hero,” and here is what I found. The first definition most definitely does not fit God. “A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.” The second could, I suppose, “an illustrious warrior.” The third, though, “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities,” doesn’t exactly fit. And “one who shows great courage?” Maybe. However, I do not believe that God has “courage,” because when is He ever afraid?

There are a few other definitions, most of which involve literature. One of those is, “the central figure in an event, period, or movement.” I suppose Jesus would fit in that category. Then there is the odd one out, which involves submarines. And finally, “an object of extreme admiration and devotion : IDOL.”

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Is Jesus or God your hero? As I said, my only hesitation in calling Jesus “hero” is the fact that I also call a couple of humans by that designation. I will note, however, that I do not engage in “hero worship.” I realize that both of my “heroes” are but dust. I do not worship them. I do admire them, though, for their accomplishments, probably Terry Scott Taylor more so than Yaz, as Taylor has had much more of an impact on my life than a baseball player whom I have never met.

Father, at this point, I cannot, in good conscience refer to You as my “hero.” However, You are my God, and You, alone, are the One whom I worship. I will not give that worship to a human “hero,” as only You are worthy of that. I cannot flippantly refer to You in the same way that I use that word for any human being, or any cartoon comic book character. [I neglected to mention my love of Spiderman when I was a young lad.] I do pray that Your Spirit will continue to work within me that I might ascribe all glory and strength to You, and give You the full amount of my devotion and worship. Let my heart not be drawn to another, Father, at least in terms of worship and adoration. May I truly love You with my whole heart, Lord, as I walk in Your kingdom.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 NLT)

This verse comes up a lot in my devotions. I have to assume it’s because I haven’t perfected it, yet. In fact, I know very few people who have even come close.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13 NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 NLT)

Wow. That passage from Romans in the New Living Translation! “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” That sends shivers down my spine, my brothers and sisters. We do an awful lot of pretending, in this culture, these days. There is a lot of “posturing” or “posing.” But when the proverbial rubber meets the road, what happens? Are we really caring for the oppressed and downtrodden? Are we taking care of the widows and orphans? Or are we too concerned about ourselves and our own “freedoms” and “rights?”

Father, I pray that You help me to obey the commands in these verses. I pray that I am not a pretender, but that I really love people. And there doesn’t need to be a reason to love someone, other than the fact that we are supposed to love them. Love is supposed to be the primary identification of someone who calls the name of Jesus. The old youth song says it, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I find that to be laughable, today, Lord, because I don’t see a lot of love coming out of the “Christian camp.” God help us! God forgive us! Make us lovers, not fighters, Father!

I pray that You clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Let those be qualities in me that people can see right when the meet me. And let Your grace and mercy shine through me, so that the world can see You in me. Let me not do anything out of “selfish ambition,” but help me to be last; help me to consider others as more significant than myself, in all things. In short, I am nothing without You, and in the words of John the Baptizer, “He must increase; I must decrease. Above all, clothe me with love!”

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Trust and Hope

Good morning. It is Saturday, August 22, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is downwinder. This noun means, “A person who lives or has lived downwind of a nuclear test site or reactor, where the risk of being affected by radiation is greatest.” That doesn’t sound pleasant at all!

Today is Be An Angel Day. This is simply a day to try to make the world a better place by practicing kindness, putting others before yourself, and helping those in need.

I wound up having to work an hour over, yesterday, but it could have been a lot worse. It wasn’t that bad, and I got completely caught up from having a day off on Wednesday.

Stephanie wanted Lee’s Grilled Cheese for dinner, but we didn’t really want that. So Christi went there and picked up dinner for Steph (as well as finally getting those Krispy Kreme doughnuts), and I picked up naked breakfast burritos from O.C. Burger, along with our Sonic drinks. We both got home at almost the same time, and we were all set for the evening.

We finished watching the first season of How to Get Away with Murder (only six months behind on that one), and then spent about an hour listening to You Tube clips of Rod Stewart and Elton John. Not together. Some good memories there, as we went back to the seventies. One of my favorite Rod Stewart songs is this one.

On this date in 1770, James Cook’s expedition landed at Australia. On the same date in 1780, his ship, the HMS Resolution, returned to England after Cook was killed on Hawaii. On this date in 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen. In 1989, Nolan Ryan records his 5000th strikeout, becoming the first MLB pitcher to reach that mark. No other pitcher has yet reached that mark. Nolan ended his career with 5714. The closest pitcher to him, also retired, is Randy Johnson, with 4875. The closest active pitcher is CC Sabathia, with 2549. And, in other baseball happenings, on this date in 2007, the Texas Rangers set a modern-day American League record by beating the Baltimore Orioles 30-3.

Here is Ryan’s 5000th K.

And here are the highlights of that Rangers-Orioles game.

Today’s birthdays include Pope Leo XII, Virginia Clemm Poe (wife of Edgar Allan Poe), Claude Debussy (French composer), Dorothy Parker (American writer), John Lee Hooker (American musician), Ray Bradbury (American writer), Honor Blackman (English actress), Valerie Harper (American actress), Carl Yastrzemski (American baseball player), Bill Parcells (American football coach), Ron Dante (American songwriter/producer, The Archies), Cindy Williams (American actress), Debbi Peterson (American musician, The Bangles), Roland Orzabal (British musician, Tears for Fears), Tori Amos (American singer/songwriter), Ty Burrell (American actor), Ant (American comedian), and Kristen Wiig (American comedian).

John Lee Hooker was an American blues musician. He was born on this date in 1917, and passed away in 2001. Here is his song “Boom Boom.”

Carl Yastrzemski is a retired baseball player and is my all-time favorite baseball player. He won the triple crown for batting in 1967, and, until Miggy Cabrera won it a year or so ago, was the last player to do so. There have only been 17 batting triple crowns won in the history of MLB. Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby both won it twice. Oh. And Yaz, of course, played for the Boston Red Sox. Here is a clip of his 400th home run, which was hit at Fenway Park.

Isabella, Queen of England, Richard III, King of England, Sebastian Cabot, and Colleen Dewhurst are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Bible reading will be Exodus 6 and Matthew 27.

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 96.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

“Religion which meets with the approbation of the multitude is not necessarily the true religion, for then the judgment formed by the Psalmist must have fallen to the ground at once, if religion were a thing to be determined by the suffrages of men, and his worship depended upon the caprice.” (p 235) I’ll paraphrase this. Just because a “church” draws a lot of people doesn’t mean their theology is right.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Today, we look at John Calvin’s third and fourth “rules for prayer.” They really go together. The third rule tells us that we should have a “submissive trust of of God.” Calvin says, “Anyone who stands before God to pray . . . [must] abandon all thoughts of his own glory.” Jesus, when giving us the Model Prayer, told us that we should pray, “thy will be done.” A major purpose of prayer is “to bring our hearts to trust in his wisdom, not our own.”

The fourth rule is that we should pray with “confidence and hope.” Even when we are cast down and discouraged, we should pray with “a sure hope that our prayer will be answered.”

We might ask, in light of these things, why pray for anything at all? There are several reasons, the first and foremost being that God has invited us, nay, commanded us, to do so. He invites us to pray and promises that he will answer. Also, we may not get a particular blessing until we pray for it. Why? Because if we get something good that we have not asked for, it might “be interpreted by our hearts as the fruit of our own wisdom and diligence.”

These two rules or truths are not contradictory, but complementary. When we pray with submissive trust and the confidence and hope that God will answer, we live out the truth of Romans 8:28. We know that “God will not give us anything contrary to his will, and that will always include what is best for us in the long run.”

These two rules, held together, give us great incentive to pray. Jesus tells us, “Ask and you shall receive.” We should ask with confidence and hope. “Finally, where you do not get an answer, or where the answer is not what you want, use prayer to enable you to rest in his will.”

Father, help me to live out these rules in my prayers. Grant me this “submissive trust” in your will. I have been practicing praying through Jesus’s Model Prayer, focusing a great deal on that phrase, “your will be done.” This, I believe, has helped my prayers tremendously. Yet, I still struggle with how to pray for various needs. I also struggle with the confidence that you will answer. It’s not that I don’t believe that you can. It’s more of a doubt that you will. I believe, to the bottom of my heart, that you can do pretty much anything I could ask for. I have no struggle with your ability. What I struggle with is your will. It is a question of if you will give the answer that I am looking for, not if you can. So I pray that, in the near future, I will have a better understanding of this submissive trust combined with confidence and hope.

I pray for today, that we will get our errands done in a timely manner, but without a lot of stress and anxiety. May we be able to accomplish whatever is needed with joy and peace in our hearts. I pray for the afternoon’s activities, our prayer and worship gatherings, that they will be honoring to you. May you grant us peace today, as we worship you.

I pray for a good day tomorrow, as well, as we visit with my mother, and Rachel and Justin.

Your grace is sufficient. May we celebrate that, Father.

Remember to pray, when you pray, with submissive trust, hand in hand with confidence and hope.

Grace and peace, friends.

Celebratory Fasting

Good morning. It is FRIDAY!! August 23, 2013.

Today is “Hug Your Boss Day.” If you think you can get away with that, go ahead. I’m not sure I want to.


Stephanie came through her surgery really well. (Wisdom teeth removal.) Christi said she handled everything without any complaint, even when they wound up being about an hour behind schedule. They were on their way home before I left work, so they decided to go ahead and drive out to Lake Worth to pick up Trixie, who also did very well. Stephanie didn’t say a word until about 8:30 last night. Naturally, she is in some pain, but she didn’t want to take the pain medication last night. We strongly suggested that she do it anyway, so she did. She seems to be doing great, though. Thanks for everyone who sent up prayers on our behalf yesterday.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

This date in 1939 was one of those dark days in history. Joseph Stalin, of Soviet Russia, and Adolf Hitler, of Nazi Germany, signed a non-aggression pact, while at the same time agreeing on how they were going to divide up the rest of Europe. The book calls this “one of the unholiest alliances ever created,” and Churchill described it as “an unnatural act.” But the pact was, perhaps, best summed up by this David Low cartoon.

Russia and Germany over Poland
Russia and Germany over Poland

Nine days later, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. On September 15, Russia came from the east “to take her share.” The pact, agreed to last for ten years, actually only lasted 22 months. On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, invading Russian, “thus lending strength to the old adage that there is no honor among thieves.”


Before I get to today’s birthday, I have to say a little about yesterday’s, since I was running short on time yesterday. Of course, on a day that I didn’t have time to look at birthdays, I would later discover that August 22 is the birthday of my all-time favorite baseball player, Carl Yastrzemski, who turned 74 yesterday. “Yaz,” as he is lovingly called by his fans, had a pretty amazing career, getting over 3000 hits and over 400 home runs. Oh, and he played for, of course, the Boston Red Sox. Also on yesterday’s birthday list were Claude Debussy, 1862-1918, and Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012.

Now, on to today’s birthdays, which will pale in comparison. Gene Kelly, 1912-1996, Barbara Eden, 79, Keith Moon, 1946-1978, Shelley Long, 64, Vera Miles, 84, Sonny Jurgensen, 79, and Mark Russell, 81.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Psalm 28:1
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psalm 32:1-2

Father, as I call to you this morning, I am most grateful for your provision in my life. I pray that you be my rock and my fortress today, as I trust in your unfailing love. May my heart truly rejoice in your salvation today. Teach me your ways, as I read and meditate on your words.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Joyful Fasting.” The scripture reading is Zechariah 8:18-19.

And the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.”

When the book of Zechariah was written, the Jews regularly observed four different ceremonial fasts, as noted in this passage. These fasts were designated to be joyful fasts, rather than fasts of mourning, as other designated fasts were described. This is a combination of two disciplines that are rarely seen together, fasting and celebration. Others have described fasting as a joyful experience. Dallas Willard wrote, “In fasting, we learn how to suffer happily as we feast on God.” Augustine wrote, “In his fasting, therefore, let a man rejoice inwardly in the very fact that by his fasting he is turning away from the pleasures of the world to make himself subject to Christ.” I am challenged, as I approach the end of this ten-day fasting challenge (I have not revealed the nature of my fast here, nor have I really talked about it), to consider it a “joyful thank-you to God for a blessing” in my life. I will say that there have been times of joy during this challenge, as well as times of humility and intimacy with God.


Father, I am certainly grateful for all the provision and blessing that you have placed in my life over the years. During this time of fasting from that which I feel you led me to abstain, I have experienced great joy, profound intimacy, and great humility as I have reflected and prayed. Some of my times of prayer have been extremely intense over the past few days, and confidence in prayer has heightened. Let me not take this for granted, ever. I pray that the confidence and intensity of prayer will continue and even increase. I hunger for more and more of your righteousness and intimacy.

I pray for this day. I pray for Stephanie’s pain to be minimal today, as she recovers from her wisdom teeth surgery yesterday. May your blessing fall on her today, and may she rest well. I pray for Christi to have a good day at her work today, and that my day will go smoothly, as well. I pray that we might have a restful weekend, and that our time of worship celebration on Sunday will be pleasing and glorifying to you.


It is rare to consider times of fasting as joyful, but not impossible. Fasting does not always have to indicate mourning or sorrow.

Grace and peace, friends.