Joy Still Comes In the Morning

Today is Saturday, the fourth of June, 2022, in the seventh week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,459

This is the last day of the season of Easter, as tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, and the beginning of Ordinary Time.

This has already gotten quite long, and I don’t want to make it longer with trivial matters.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for guiding us, your children, here on earth. We thank you that whatever happens to us, we can again and again find joy because you give us what is good even when times are evil and when we go through sorrow. We thank you that your goodness and your faithfulness penetrate everything, and that at last, at long last, they penetrate our hearts. Then we can know and be glad that your Spirit guides us. We can know we are never alone but can receive strength to help us in the struggle and toil of our life. Through your help everything becomes fruitful – good and evil, life and death, health and suffering. Everything must serve you through the working of your Spirit. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! 
His mercies never cease. 
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; 
therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for God's great faithfulness and mercy, in that He gives us what is good, even during sorrowful and evil times
2. that I'm still alive and breathing; praise the LORD!
3. that a joyful or cheerful heart, the center of my being, is good medicine for my body and my soul
4. for the joy and praise that can be found in a church that is truly walking in Christ
5. for times that force me into humility, because we could all use more humility

Today’s prayer word is “expect.”

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
(Psalms 5:3 NLT)

This verse has long been a favorite of mine, and it is something by which I try to live each day. But frequently, I forget to do that bit about waiting expectantly. Too often, I “bring my requests” and walk away in total oblivion.

I need to remember these words of David, each day. I need to remember to wait expectantly to see what God will do. Maybe there won’t be anything immediate. But let me tell you this. I would rather wait and see nothing than miss something by rushing away.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
(Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

I know full well the truth of this.

So confession time: yesterday evening, I didn’t do so well in remembering everything that I blogged about yesterday morning. After taking my mother to the bank to deposit her oil royalty checks (would you believe there was another one waiting in the mail when we got home?), I decided to get the bank’s app on my phone. Mama doesn’t have a smart phone, so I figured, if we get it on my phone, then we can do mobile deposit for those checks. Then we don’t have to visit the bank so often.

I got the app downloaded, no problem. The first time I tried to log in, it said that either the username or password was incorrect. I used the combination that I had logged into my “bitwarden” (an excellent password keeper app for the phone, by the way), so I tried again. Same result.

I started spiraling. My wife will tell you, right away, that I don’t do well when technology doesn’t work right.

So I got on my laptop and opened the browser to the bank’s website, where I saw right away that I had the user name wrong, by a number. So that was my fault. I fixed the user name in the bitwarden app, and logged in on the bank app. Naturally, the first thing that happens is that it wants a verification code in order to register and recognize this new device. I was expecting that.

So I had it send the code to Mama’s phone. She got it, I entered it in the app, and it immediately said that either the code was invalid or expired, or that the account had been disabled. We tried again, different code, same result.

I was livid. Seriously, I was freaking out. But there was phone number to call, in the text message, so I called it. I spoke with a very friendly lady who had me send another code to Mama’s phone, but she said she would give it to me on the phone, rather than getting it from the text. For some reason, it worked just fine, that time. We got the app open, and also enabled mobile deposit, so it’s ready the next time we want to deposit a check.

There was something else that happened, I think, a few minutes later. But the bottom line is that I completely reacted wrongly about all of this. I totally forgot my whole thing, from yesterday morning, about “first world problems.”

So, you see, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, sometimes. This journey, as long as we remain in Jesus’s “easy yoke,” is not terribly difficult. But as soon as we step out of that yoke and forget who we are and whose we are, things get really tricky. And, like yesterday evening, we wind up looking somewhat foolish.

But enough about the broken spirit. What about the joyful heart? Or, as the NLT says, “cheerful heart.” I just realized something. There’s a gift shop in Glen Rose that C and I used to frequent, called Cheerful Heart Gifts. And if you click on that link, you will see that they quote Proverbs 17:22 right on the front page.

The KJV translates the word as “merry.” The Hebrew word is śâmêach, which can also mean “blithe” or “gleeful.” And the word translated “heart” is lêb which can also mean the “center” of something. So, when we allow ourselves to maintain joy or cheerfulness at the center of our being, it brings healing to our bodies. It’s “good medicine.”

Reader’s Digest (is that even still a thing?) used to have a monthly column called “Laughter: The Best Medicine.” As a child, I eagerly awaited that feature every month. Most of the time, in fact, I would devour all of the jokes in the magazine, and, for the most part, ignore all of the “serious” stuff.

I have always loved to laugh. And I do believe in the truth of that statement that laughter is good, if not the best, medicine. And who doesn’t feel better by just smiling?

Solomon was probably the author of this proverb. And, for most of his life, he knew the joy of the Lord. But, later in life, Scriptures says that his heart turned away from God.

The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
(1 Kings 11:9 NLT)

The writer of today’s Daily Guideposts 2022 reading, Carol Knapp, says this:

“For me, the biggest joy-stealer is this very thing – turning away from God or allowing something to interfere with my closeness to Him. Communion with God . . . is the source of gladness in my life. It yields the ‘good medicine’ of a joyful heart.”

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
(John 16:22 NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)

“Indeed, “joy still comes in the morning.”

It is very cool when there is a convergence of ideas from unrelated sources. The readings in Eugene Peterson’s On Living Well are not dated. The one I came to today is called “On Joy at Church.”

I wonder what God is trying to tell me, today?

“More praising goes on in church, more joy is expressed in the context of the Christian congregation, than anywhere else on the face of the earth.”

Where else do we spend our time, during the week? Grocery stores, department stores? These days, those are pretty grim places . . . not much joy there, as shelves continue to be sparse (at least for some products) and prices continue to rise. “People pushing their food baskets, anxiously comparing prices, complaints etched into their faces as they pay the clerks.” (This book, while published in 2021, is comprised of meditations that were written long before that year, as the author passed away in 2018, long before the pandemic hit us.)

We also spend a great deal of time on roads. Also not a very “happy” place. “Worried, compulsive people are behind the wheels of most of those cars.” Heaven forbid you should not react immediately when that light changes!

Even athletic events, places where we used to be more celebratory (at least if our team won) have become places of “complaining, arguing, and criticizing.”

As a place that contains a context for joy and praise, the church should be unequaled. It’s not perfect, for sure, and there are probably some local churches that resemble the grocery store or highway or athletic event more than they do a worship service. I’ve attended a few, in my life, that, sadly, had more arguing, complaining, and criticizing than they did worship.

But, in general, I would agree with Peterson, when he says, “I don’t find any other place in the world where there is such a consistent friendliness, such a steady joy, such a relaxed rejoicing in God’s love. There is more generosity when it comes to money in church than anywhere I know. Where else in this community can you find people giving their money away each week, then standing up and singing, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow’?”

When is the last time you walked up to someone at the grocery store and said, “Say, you’re new here. I’d like to get to know you better!”?

As previously mentioned, there is no perfect church. We acknowledge this. Some are far less perfect than others. Taking all of this into consideration, though, there is no place on earth where such joy can be found. And that is one reason that I keep “going to church.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I praise Your name, this morning, because You have, while giving me a good dose of reality, increased my joy, still. What a joy it is to worship You, to praise You, to sit and meditate on Your Word, to know You more. I thank You for the ability to do this, for the time that I have to do these things.

I confess my shortcomings as I failed, miserably, yesterday evening, and I am grateful for the knowledge of it, and grateful that I am able to acknowledge it, as well. I pray that You keep working on me, in this regard, that I might always know Your joy, and that I would not allow “first world problems” to steal or diminish that joy. Things like that always have a fairly easy solution. And even when they don’t, they tend to eventually work out fine.

Help me to remember the truth that You work out all things for our good, and are constantly at work to make things better in Your Kingdom. And, we would do well to remember that, in Your Kingdom, things are already far better than we could ever imagine.

I thank You for joy, for a cheerful or merry heart. I thank You for the idea that my heart is the center of my being, and that, when my center is joyful, everything is better, and the “bad” things don’t seem to matter as much. I thank You for laughter, that brings healing to our weary bones and tired bodies. Help us all to smile more, complain less, argue less. And I thank You that, no matter how “bad” things might seem, “Joy still comes in the morning.” Your mercies are new, every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

Keep our hearts focused on You; let not our hearts turn away from You, as Solomon’s. Help us to always look toward You and love You with all our being.

And I thank You for the Church, where we can and should be able to experience the most joy possible. While there is certainly joy to be had in the observance of a beautiful sunrise, there is still more joy to be found in the celebration of You, together with all the saints. All praise to You, Father, through the Son and by the Spirit. May we be able to gather with Your saints, somewhere, on each Lord’s Day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Open Heart; Open Hands

Today is Wednesday, the fourth of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter. May the fourth be with you.

More importantly, peace be with you.

Day 23,428

I had a good evening at the library, last night. There were no carts left for me to shelve, so I began working on a project for one of the Adult Services librarians. This involved pulling books from the New Bookshelf. Our “new books” have red dots on the spine label, and the number of the month that they were acquired is written on them. So I pulled any books that were marked from last December or earlier. These were all placed on carts, which wound up back in that librarian’s work area. (This area is affectionately known as “The Pit.” It’s like a large cubicle at the back of the library, shared by four of the most wonderful people I know.)

I was able to peel off the red dots from all the books on one of the carts, so that was also helpful. The librarian will get the rest of them done, and then all of those books will wind up in our regular stacks, later this week.

My “To Be Read” list increased by at least twenty books while I was doing this. Hahaha!

The Texas Rangers pulled off a good win against the Phillies last night (is there such a thing as a “bad” win?), 6-4. The Rangers did score first again, but fell behind just as quickly when the Phillies scored three in the bottom of the first. The Rangers came back, though, tying the game in the top of the fourth (on a solo home run by new dad Jonah Heim), and then going ahead in the top of the sixth. Brock Burke (3-0) got the win in relief.

The Rangers are now 9-14 for the season (this is their second three-game win streak, by the way), and are still in last place in the AL West. However, they are only a half game behind the struggling Athletics, who have lost five consecutive games. The Rangers and Phillies will play the last game of this series tonight, at 5:45 CDT (in Philadelphia).

The Boston Red Sox shut out the LA Angels, last night, 4-0, behind a strong start by Michael Wacha (3-0). The Sox are 10-14 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East. They are eight games behind the Evil Empire, who has won eleven consecutive games. The Sox will play the Angels again tonight, at 7:10 EDT.

The Yankees continue to hold the best MLB record, but only one game ahead of the Mets, who have lost two more than the Yanks. The sad Cincinnati Reds have now lost seven straight games and only won three for the year. They are the first team to lose 20 games, this season. The Rangers have improved a little, and are tied for sixth worst in MLB, and the Sox are tied at eighth from the bottom.

There are almost 140 games left, so there is still a lot of season left.

I’m off work today, and plan to get in some serious reading, today, and maybe a little music, as well. Hopefully, our lawn guy will be able to get the lawn mowed before the afternoon storms roll in.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, 'Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you:' Regard not our sins, but the faith of Your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly City, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Daily Devotions)

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
(James 3:17-18 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this new day, with new opportunities; may I make heavenly choices, rather than selfish choices
2. for the fruit of the Spirit; may it be evident in me today
3. for the ability to be honest and transparent, and, therefore, vulnerable
4. for a generous spirit; may all followers of Christ share all things, as opportunities arise
5. for the testimonies of saints that inspire me to live a better life

On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.
(Acts 16:13-15 NLT)

The Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the LORD.
(Judges 2:11-12 NLT)

The Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. They forgot about the LORD their God, and they served the images of Baal and the Asherah poles.
(Judges 3:7 NLT)

Once again the Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight, and the LORD gave King Eglon of Moab control over Israel because of their evil.
(Judges 3:12 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “honesty.” That’s a word that brings fear into the hearts of some men.

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” ~ Mother Teresa

I believe that this is a valuable admonition. I like to think that I’m an honest person; most of the time. I know that I’m pretty transparent, as my wife constantly reminds me that my feelings are written all over my face, even when I don’t express them verbally. It’s like I exude this aura that screams out that I don’t like something.

I don’t know if it’s true that “honesty is the best policy.” At least not always. There are definitely times when we should keep our feelings and opinions to ourselves. Especially when those opinions would create more division than already exists. I have lots of opinions about things. I lean away from sharing them here, because, as you already know if you are a faithful reader, my opinions about things are not in my job description. In the long run, in the big picture, they simply don’t matter.

Where you will see me being honest is in my imperfections; my humanity; my shortcomings. Because everyone needs to know that I don’t think I’m superman. Far from it. My understanding of things is very limited. While I like to think I’m a relatively intelligent person, I am also well aware that I don’t know it all. As is true for all of us, the amount of stuff that I don’t know is exponentially greater than what I do know. So, in areas like this, I choose to be honest and transparent, which, yes, make me vulnerable, and that’s okay.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, help me to make the right choices daily, when it comes to honesty and transparency. I believe that vulnerability is akin to meekness and eliminates any chance of being arrogant. I don’t want to be seen as arrogant, so help me to be more vulnerable and humble. I know how dangerous it is to pray for humility. It’s kind of like praying for patience. It always brings a testing, almost as if You say, “Okay, you asked for it, here it is!” Be that as it may, I’m still praying for those characteristics to be evident in my life. But I also pray for the ability to keep my mouth shut when my opinion is not needed or helpful.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
(Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

Daily Guideposts writer Carol Knapp points out that this verse is not so much a “to-do” list to be checked off, but more of a way of living. It is not as if I should get out of bed every morning and think, “Okay, today I have to love someone; I have to be joyful; I have to display peace; I must exhibit patience,” and so on.

Rather, Paul is simply stating a fact, here. If we are in Christ, we have “nailed the passions and desires” of our “sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there” (Galatians 5:24). And, if we are, therefore, living by the Spirit, this fruit will be evident in our lives. In addition, if you look carefully, you will see that this mirrors the characteristics of our Savior.

One other thing that Ms. Knapp said that I like. One of her daily priorities is to ask herself, “Did I benefit someone today?” I like this thought, although I might word it differently. Did I help someone today? Did I make someone feel better today? Did I leave something positive with them? Twice, recently, I have simply thanked restaurant employees for being there. You might be surprised at how much difference something that simple can make.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
(John 15:5, 8 NLT)

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
(Romans 14:17-19 NLT)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Father, I pray that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in me, today. As I do whatever I do, today, go wherever I go, may my countenance reflect the characteristics of Jesus Christ, and may I spread love all around. I also pray that I might find an opportunity to truly help someone today, even in a small, simple way.

As we attempt to work out these things, this “fruit,” we sometimes fall into a bad habit of trying to keep God to ourselves. But we cannot do that. “He is not a private acquisition.” God is a generous God. Only a fool would not know this, because all you have to do is look around you to see how generous God is. I mean, look at all He has given us!

And, if we are truly related to Him, truly His children, “we participate in the sharing. We join in the giving.” This truth speaks volumes, when we stop and consider the people who are not sharing and giving, who hoard God’s blessings and refuse to share because they deem the needy to be unworthy or even unclean. (My honesty is showing.)

“The Christian is not a person who hides in a bunker but a person who explores all reality. When Christians keep to themselves what they ought to generously give, they deny the spirit and command of their Lord.”

Dorothy Day once wrote, “I did not see anyone taking off his coat and giving it to the poor. I didn’t see anyone having a banquet and calling in the lame, the halt, and the blind . . . I wanted, though I did not know it then, a synthesis. I wanted life and I wanted the abundant life. I wanted it for others too.”

Dorothy found this life, became a Christian. “She went on to become one of the most effect apostles to the poor and oppressed that America has seen. She did it as an act of faith, through prayer and in love. She experienced the gift. In response, she gave. Will we?”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

I pray, Lord, that I will never be found to be one who hoards Your blessings. You have created a generous heart within me, over time. You have chiseled away the tendency to look at things and consider them “mine.” You have blessed us with plenty, with an abundance, and given us the willingness to share this abundant life with others. I pray that this may grow even more. May we glorify You through our generosity and sharing.

I pray even more so that Your Church would live in the same way. I pray for Your intervention in the hearts of those who claim to follow Christ but hold on to everything with a tight fist, instead of an open hand. May You soften the hearts of those who would love country more than people.

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.

Wisdom and Forgiveness

Good morning! Today is Friday, the fourth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,367

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other photography at the link provided.

We had a successful and uneventful trip to get Mama, yesterday, and she is safely back here in Fort Worth, with us, for a little while. We dropped off a mail hold form at the Post Office, and left her tax documents with her CPA, and I also grabbed a couple cases of Crazy Water while in town.

The only “incident” that occurred was that my tire pressure light came on, in the car, before I got out of Fort Worth. Everything felt okay, so I didn’t stop to check it until I got to Mama’s house in Mineral Wells. The lowest tire had 30.5 (after driving that distance), so I wasn’t terribly worried about it. I just checked it, this morning, and it has 26, which is about seven pounds low. I’ll keep an eye on it, and, unless it drops drastically more between now and then, I will put some air in it Sunday afternoon.

Today is a normal work day for me, at the Hurst Public Library, in the computer center. Tomorrow is my Saturday to work the circulation desk. Sunday, our house church is not meeting, so I am going to take the opportunity to attend a Lutheran church in Grapevine, with my friend and former pastor. I’ve never been to a Lutheran service before, so this should be interesting.

The Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. As expected, keeping critical comments out of my vocabulary has been much more challenging than not eating candy. I have not been 100% successful, but am being more aware of when they occur, and able to stop them in their tracks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Nothing Called My Own,” by Daryl Madden

I know I’m in danger
But need not of fearing
If I remember
That I am nothing

I’ll know that danger
Can take nothing from me
When I feel afraid
I forget, nothing I be

And If I remember
I’ve nothing called my own
That will not be lost
At the end of life shown

That only what’s not mine
But God’s will ever live
And free me from false fears
With a heart to give

(based upon words by Thomas Merton)

This poem really spoke to me, this morning, as I recall words from a little book by Horatius Bonar, called How Shall I Go To God? It opens with the line, “It is with our sins that we go to God–for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” Please check out Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the WordPress community; I am constantly encouraged and uplifted by my blogging friends
2. for the safe trip to Mineral Wells and back, yesterday
3. for the wisdom taught in the book of James, difficult as it is
4. for the lineage of faith that is in my ancestry
5. for the strength of God that is helping me in my Lenten journey

The book of James is a tough book to swallow. Every time I have to read it, I cringe, because it doesn’t just step on my toes. It crushes them.

But one thing we learn from this difficult book is that “Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior.” The outside world looks at that statement and gives out a hearty “Ya think??”

Part of the problem, though, is that 1) the outside world seems to have the mistaken idea that the Christian church should be a model community of good behavior; and 2) the Christian church often tries to deceive the outside world into believing that it is a model community of good behavior.

James would have us believe otherwise. And, as Eugene H. Peterson points out, “Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential.” This does not necessarily involve knowing truth, although that is helpful, because “what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it?”

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(James 3:17-18 MSG)

James was traditionally known as a man of prayer, spending much time on his knees. He lived what he wrote:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
(James 1:5-6 MSG)

“The prayer is foundational to the wisdom. Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.”

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.
(James 1:17 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:22 ESV)

Or, if you prefer:

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
(Matthew 18:22 NLT)

Speaking of wisdom, in this passage of Scripture, we see the wisdom of forgiveness. And we see Peter, thinking himself extremely righteous by offering to forgive someone seven whole times, having his toes crushed by Jesus’s James-like wisdom, telling him, essentially, don’t count how many times you forgive someone.

“God – on Whose repeated forgiveness I depend – requires that I do the same for others and that they do the same for me. Not grudgingly, but from a sincere heart. . . . Forgiveness is a wisdom near to the heart of God.” (Carol Knapp)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today’s prayer word is “link.” I almost passed over this one, but I got to thinking about it. Laurence Overmire, an American poet who is also a genealogist, is quoted as saying, “All of our ancestors give us the precious gift of life.”

There is not a word of Scripture in this reading, nor is there any reference to it. It is entirely about someone’s lineage.

And when I think about my lineage, I am blessed. God didn’t have to birth me into this family. But He chose to place me in it. (Remember yesterday’s prayer word?)

My family has a long history of God-loving people in it, and I am very grateful for this. My spiritual life would likely have been much different otherwise.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You and thank You for placing me where You did. What a blessing to have been born into this family. Random luck, some would say, but I don’t believe in “luck” or “coincidences.” It was part of Your plan, and I am very grateful for this. And You kept it going, even when I tried to leave (or at least wander off) the path. You always kept me on the path, sometimes nudging me, other times outright shoving. There may have even been a few times You had to tie me up and carry me over Your “shoulder.”

Father, as Your Church continues trying to survive these years, I pray that You help us in several things. Help us to forgive the way Jesus told us to forgive, not the way Peter tried to. It is unlimited. Jesus didn’t mean seventy-seven times or four hundred and ninety times, at least that is what we believe. He seems to have been indicating that the amount of forgiveness is as unlimited as Your love. And praises be that You don’t stop forgiving us at seventy times seven times!!

I also pray that You help us, as a Church, to get along in wisdom, the way James is trying to teach us. We are strongly divided, these days, and we need Your help. There are factions that are focusing on the wrong things. We need to be focusing on Your love, the love of Jesus, and our love for each other. Maybe it really is “all about love.” And, while I wouldn’t go quite as far as the Beatles, we definitely do need love and more of it. Help us to remember that our jobs are to love You and love people, not to judge people and condemn people. That is actually Your job, and Yours alone. But You also have promised that, in Christ, there is no condemnation. Thank You for that, as well.

We are broken, Lord, all of us. So we need Your “fixing.” Give us wisdom, give us love, give us one another. And help us, as brother Daryl reminds us way back at the beginning, that we really have nothing that we can call our own.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

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.

Peace In the Midst of the Storm

Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.
(Psalms 92:6-7 NIV)

Today is Monday, August 17, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,803

Only TWO MORE DAYS until S turns 27!!!

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. After our virtual church gathering, C went and picked up Subway and Sonic for lunch. While she and I ate lunch, we watched the season finale of The Umbrella Academy, season one. Cliffhanger ending. Fortunately, season two has already been released. I suppose we will begin that tonight. This is a Netflix series, and Netflix, unlike HBO and some other networks, releases their shows all at one time.

After that, C went to the extra bedroom, where we moved one of our older recliners, and I started playing Elder Scrolls Online on the PS4. I am enjoying that game. It’s been around for a while, but I just took an interest in it. Probably because of an email (they work, right??) advertisement about the newest installment.

Later in the afternoon, C went to pick up her new laptop (I won’t share what happened to the other one) at Wal-Mart. Then, the IKEA bookshelf that she ordered, recently, was delivered. We did not attempt to put that together last night. The packaging was interesting, I thought. I was surprised to see one box that obviously held the sides and back of the bookshelf, because it was about seven feet tall! The good thing about that is it means the sides are solid pieces. That should lend sturdiness to the bookshelf.

I’m still trying to change my way of thinking concerning the order of the day. That is very difficult. I’m trying to not think of right now as the beginning of the day. It’s going to take some work. I do, however, feel rested, so that’s good.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 ESV)

"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Amen."
(The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
(Psalms 147:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the morning, when I can sit with You and converse with You
  2. That I am part of “the sheep of Your pasture” (Psalm 79:13)
  3. That You are my Shepherd, and I lack for nothing (Psalm 23)
  4. For Your peace in the middle of the storm
  5. For the understanding and wisdom to know that, even though “evildoers” may thrive for a season, they will be forever destroyed

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.
(Psalms 28:2 ESV)

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
(Psalms 92:1-2 ESV)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
(John 10:7-9 ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.
(Psalms 70:1 DRB)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:6-9 ESV)

I’m sure there are many of us who feel that we are in the “refiner’s fire,” during these days, for varying reasons.

Hang in there, folks. Look at the result–“praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Indeed, “though [we] have not seen Him, [we] love Him.”

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

“Jesus can rebuke the storm, but to experience His calm in the storm is no less a miracle.”
(Carol Knapp, Daily Guideposts 2020)

How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts! Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever. But you, LORD, are forever exalted. For surely your enemies, LORD, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.
(Psalms 92:5-9 NIV)

“The worship of God does not only make us rejoice; it also opens our minds and makes us think. We are all naturally as blind to spiritual realities as a physically blind person is to his or her surrounding environment.”

This morning, in the midst of discovering this peace in the storm, referenced above, I am moved by verses 6 and 7.

Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.
(Psalms 92:6-7 NIV)

I’m not quick to call someone a “fool,” most especially right now. In face, that is one of the trigger words that will cause me to unfollow a person on Facebook, if they are incapable of sharing their opinions without deliberately insulting the “other side.”

But there is a truth here that bears repeating. There are many “Christians” out there who are losing their minds over what they perceive to be “evil.” Unfortunately, some of them are pointing fingers at a certain political party, declaring ALL of them to be evil.

I’m sorry, but that is preposterous.

But the point is, regardless of who is evil or not, God is exalted forever (verse 8). And whoever is an “evildoer,” even though they may seem to “flourish” for a time, “they will be destroyed forever.”

So all I have to do is stay calm and wait for God to act. I don’t have to lose my mind. I don’t have to freak out because the boat is rocking. Remember where Jesus was in that boat?

Asleep.

I know . . . that’s not a “where.” But wherever He was, He was asleep, full of peace and confidence that His Father had things well in hand.

And that’s where His disciples should be, as well. Not necessarily “asleep,” although a good night’s sleep is a very valuable thing. But we should be resting in the confidence of Jesus and His/Our Father.

“Lord, through Your Spirit’s work in my life I see things now in my heart I used to be blind to. I see wondrous, moving, captivating things in Your Word that I used to find uninteresting. Keep touching my eyes, my healer, until I see clearly. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I praise You for this peace, this morning. And even though it may dissolve in the face of job-related stress, later, help me to maintain it, especially in the light of current events. Your hand is sure and certain. I can trust You, even if I can’t really tell what You are doing. Keep my mind focus on this truth, and let me not join the crowd that is losing their collective mind over silly things in this world, “foolish controversies,” as it were. All glory to You, Lord!

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!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.