Forever Faithful

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the twenty-third of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog!

Day 23,266

Two days until Thanksgiving!

Yesterday was largely a day of rest and recuperation. At least for me. C was a “busy bee” for a good part of the day. Not being content with just sitting around, she put up most of the Christmas decorations in the house, as well as some of the outside decorations. The tree is up, but not decorated. We will probably put the ornaments on tomorrow night after I get home from work at the library.

We plan to put up the outside house lights after I finish blogging, this morning. So I will try to get finished this “morning.” Some are aware that there are some days where it is not posted until noon or later.

There will also be another trip to the grocery store today, to get some things that we either forgot or didn’t know we needed, yesterday. And I’m thinking we will probably have Subway for lunch.

Today is my half-day at the library, 4:15-8:15 PM.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

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

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence here, this morning
2. for Your glorious name, worthy of all our praise
3. for Jesus, the Way, Truth, and Life
4. that You remain faithful forever
5. that You alone satisfy my every longing

“Let not your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms.
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may be also.
And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him,
“Lord, we do not know where you are going.
How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me,
you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:1-7 ESV)

Jesus said to him,
"I am the Way, Truth, and Life.
If you had known me . . ."

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY THREE

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, also enjoying the affection of a favorite cat, I enjoy the presence of God. I am still, and know that He is God.

BIBLE SONG

I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
(Psalms 146:2 NIV)

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 146:6-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.”
(Amos 8:9-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly mull over those words and phrases, and pray my thoughts, meditations, and desires, and feelings back to the Lord, enjoying His presence.

One word in Psalm 146, that catches my attention, is the word “faithful.” Verse 6 declares that the Lord “remains faithful forever.”

Forever. Infinitely. Never-changing. Faithful.

And in that faithfulness, the Lord does some things.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
He gives food to the hungry
He sets prisoners free
He gives sight to the blind
He lifts up those who have bowed down
He loves the righteous
He watches over the foreigner
He sustains the fatherless and widows
He frustrates the ways of the wicked

In the middle of all of that are two words that I believe may be misunderstood by some.

Righteous and wicked.

It is my opinion (and I believe that opinion to be based on wisdom from the Word of God) that “righteous” defines people who do the same things as God does. In other words, if a person is “righteous,” he upholds the cause of the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over the foreigners, and sustains the widows and orphans.

It is also my opinion that the word “wicked” defines people who do the opposite of what God does. They are the oppressors, they withhold food from the hungry, imprison people, blind people, force people to bow down, ignore the foreigners (or worse), and do not care for the widows and fatherless.

The “righteous” may also be involved in frustrating the ways of the “wicked,” but I think that is largely the job of the Lord.

And here’s the thing. Do I consider myself “righteous?” With as much honesty and transparency as I can muster, I would say it depends on what day it is. There are days when I try really hard to do all of those things as much as it is up to me. I may not be directly involved in all of them, but my prayers are toward those objectives, and if I have resources to share (which I do), I try to send them out in those directions.

But truthfully, there are, no doubt, days when I lean more toward the “wicked” side. And that is where the biggest truth of this passage comes into play.

God remains faithful forever.

Praise the Lord.

I’m not going to speak much about the Amos passage. It is, as far as I can tell, explicitly directed toward Israel. It speaks of a dire need and lack of any word from the Lord, which is something that was fulfilled in the period between the end of the Old Testament and the coming of Jesus Christ. Today, my focus is on the forever faithfulness of our Lord God Almighty.

Father, You are faithful forever. Your faithfulness never changes; it never wanes; it never fails. Our brand of faithfulness is fickle, at best. Some days it is nonexistent. I pray that my faithfulness will more closely resemble yours. But I’m real enough to acknowledge that it likely will not, at least most days. I pray for more of a heart that will work to uphold the cause of the oppressed, to give food to the hungry, to set prisoners free, to give sight to the blind, to lift up the bowed down, to watch over the foreigner, and to sustain the fatherless and the widow. If, in working toward all of those, the plans of the wicked are frustrated, all the better. But mostly, I want to be more like You, in Your righteousness and Your faithfulness.

I pray for the ability to follow Your calling to walk with Jesus in our neighborhoods and work places. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities.

"God Almighty,
I am hungry for You and famished for life.
When I'm tempted to gorge on spiritual junk food,
work up my appetite for Your nourishing word,
more than enough to fill me up.
Thank You for Your words,
but also for the Word,
Jesus,
who alone can satisfy my deepest hungers.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test
he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 ESV)


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!

Grace and peace, friends.

God Can

Today is Wednesday, the first of September, 2021. Welcome to September.

Peace be unto you!

Day 23,183

Five days until Labor Day.

And only one more day until C’s back surgery. I believe we are supposed to be at the surgery center by 7:30 tomorrow morning. So there may not be a blog entry tomorrow, or it may be later than usual, and may look quite different than usual.

I work, today, from 1:00PM – 5:00PM. Yesterday, I spent time in the computer center, learning about helping patrons scan documents, send faxes (apparently, people still do that?), make copies, and use the library computers. Oh, and printing documents. People who don’t have access to personal printers can print documents from a variety of sources, for a small fee.

I’ve got a few things I want to get done before going to work today, so I’d best get a move-on.

Today is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day. We don’t have a “ginger” cat, these days, but we did, once upon a time. Her name was Ginger. Isn’t that original? But any day that has “cat” and “appreciation” in it, I’m a fan of. We have four cats, now. A grey and white mixed breed (Trixie), a Russian Blue, possibly full blood (Rachmaninoff, “Rocky” for short), a Tuxedo mixed breed (Luna), and the newest, a full-blood (no papers) Applehead Seal Point Siamese (Cleoapatra).

The word for today is alma mater (hey, that’s two words). The given definition is, “a school, college, or university at which one has studied and, usually, from which one has graduated.” In addition, it means, “the official anthem of a school, college, or university.” I don’t know if this is still the case, but the official anthem of Mineral Wells High School, when I went there (1972-1976) was sung to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree.” I swear I’m not making that up. The literal meaning of alma mater is “nourishing mother.” I’m sorry, but I don’t think of my high school or my college as my “nourishing mother.”

Today’s quote is from the great Samuel Clemens, whom we know best as Mark Twain. “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” I agree 100%.

The following people (and many others) share September 1 as their birth date:

Johann Pachelbel, 1653-1706
Engelbert Humperdinck, 1854-1921 (the real one)
Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter of Mars), 1875-1950
Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster), 1922-2007
Seiji Ozawa (conductor), 1935 (86 today)
Lily Tomlin, 1939 (82 today)
Yvonne De Carlo, 1922-2007
Lily Tomlin, 82 years old today

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
(Psalms 55:22 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You will not allow the godly to slip and fall
2. for the protection and peace that You provide
3. for the confidence that encourages us to cast our burdens upon You
4. for Your deep, deep love, that stretches higher than the heavens
5. that in You, alone, my soul finds rest
6. that You can

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I’m thanking you, GOD, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.
(Psalms 57:9-10 MSG)

During this moment of quiet, I give You thanks, Father. It’s quiet, though, not “out loud in the streets,” but I will be singing Your praises later. I thank You for Your deep, deep, love that stretches higher than the heavens.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down— this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
(Psalms 62:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
So at the LORD’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
(Numbers 13:1-3, 26-33 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord, I linger over the words of these passages, searching for truth and inspiration for my soul. My soul remains slightly anxious, over the events still to occur during the rest of the week. My soul needs to be quieted and calmed, because anxiety solves nothing, ever. It is mild, but it is still there.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.
(Psalms 43:5 MSG)

It is only in the Lord, and Him alone, where my soul can find true rest. It is only in our Father that I can find true peace. So, when I am not experiencing peace and rest, it stands to reason that I am not trusting explicitly in Him. This is true for all humanity.

There are people who have severe mental conditions, in which they experience severe anxiety or depression, which completely immobilizes them. I’m not speaking of that kind of anxiety. I am speaking of the every-day kind of worry and anxiety. My anxieties, this morning, concern not only C’s surgery and well-being tomorrow, but the timing of everything, and the after care of both C and the kitten.

I am sure it will all work out fine. But there is a disconnect somewhere between my brain and my soul.

But it is only in the Lord that I can find rest. So, my soul, find rest in God. Find your hope in Him. Stop worrying about things over which you have no control.

You are my rock and my salvation, Lord. You are my fortress; in the end, ultimately, I will not be shaken. These anxieties are nothing more than bumps in the road.

I will not be like the people of Israel, when Moses sent them into Canaan to scope out the land they were to be given. They came back with wonderful fruit, but they also saw “giants.”

“Here’s the beautiful fruit! The land flows with milk and honey. But the people are really big and scary! We can’t do this!!”

Caleb, alone attempted to stop the insanity. But the men who went with him insisted. “We can’t attack these people; they are stronger than we are!”

The mistake that these people made was in the first word of that sentence. “WE.” It was true, what they said. Those people were stronger than them, bigger than them. But were they bigger and stronger than the God who just delivered them from the Egyptian army, which was also stronger and bigger than them??

When I take my eyes off of the Lord, who alone is my rest and hope, who alone is my rock and my fortress, and begin to fix my eyes on me and my own inadequacies, the same thing happens. I tend to believe that I can’t do it. My “enemy” is bigger and stronger than me! Well, yes. It’s true. My “enemy” is, indeed, bigger and stronger than me.

As is the task in front of me, which is not necessarily my enemy, but simply something that I must navigate through and endure. Maybe I can’t do it, maybe I can. But I know one thing, and I am fully persuaded of it.

God can.

You need no more words than that. Maybe the subtitle of the Bible should be “God Can.” That may be my new favorite combination of words. I don’t know if that exact combination is in Scripture, verbatim, like “But God” is. But over and over and over, the stories in the Bible prove that, even if the exact combination of words is not there, God can!

So take whatever you are facing today and apply these two simple words to it:

Father, You have done it again. I never stop being amazed at the way You come through in moments of doubt and anxiety. I love the way You can work through Your Word, actively, while I am typing away at these blogs. I never know where You are going to take me, but it is always a good place, and a better place than when I started. Thank You for reminding me, this morning, that no matter what is facing me, You can. I can’t. Many times I can’t. There are times when I can, but even then, that is only because of You in my life. It’s all because of You. Thank You, Father, I love You!

Lord, there are many governments and nations that are in need of miracles, today. Immediately, my mind and heart are drawn to Haiti and Afghanistan, as well as the area affected by the recent devastation of Hurricane Ida. I pray for Your presence to be strong in those areas. Move Your available people to rise up and work on behalf of the suffering and oppressed. And show us, who are not in a position to help directly, how we can help remotely, if possible, by some other means than “thoughts and prayers.” But if praying is all we can do, then may Your Spirit enable us to pray with all of our might, that You might hear us.

"God on the move,
teach me how a reckless disobedience originates in mere lack of trust.
Forgive my unbelief that I prefer to call prudence,
my fear that's often masked as good sense.
You call Your church on a world-transforming mission;
give me the eyes of faith to trust You and follow in fearless obedience.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
(2 Timothy 1:7 MSG)


We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
(1 John 4:19 MSG)

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!

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
(Hebrews 10:23 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

From Eternity to Eternity

Today is Saturday, the seventh of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,158

Twelve days until S’s birthday!

It’s a bittersweet Saturday, for several reasons.

First, and foremost, R & J are embarking on their new life, driving to Indiana with their kitties. Of course, we are praying for their safety as they travel, and for their new adventure in a new city and state.

Second, we have made a decision, this morning, to cancel our WW memberships, at least for the time being. This will take some serious discipline as we challenge ourselves to continue the journey without the support of the app and meetings. C will remain a member, as she is at “free” lifetime status. She will go weigh in once a month and be a sort of “lifeline” for S and me. We do not have any intention, whatsoever, of returning to old, unhealthy habits!

We are cutting back on expenses, at least for now, until we get a clearer picture of what our finances will look like. We are not worried about anything, but there will not be as much coming in, since I am retired. However, my SS benefits are still in progress, and it will likely be at least another week before I start work at the Hurst Library.

I did get a call yesterday from their HR department, and a follow-up email with documents for the drug screen and the background check. I did my part for the drug screen (peed in a cup), and sent back the background authorization forms, so now, I’m waiting again. There has been a lot of that, during these past few weeks, it seems.

We have also taken a step toward what is known as “cutting the cable.” At some point, later today, we will be shutting off our DirecTV account, and going to Internet with ATT TV. That is a strictly streaming service that requires no additional equipment. Unfortunately, it seems that the TV people conspire in such a way that it is virtually impossible to totally shut off any paid subscription service in order to watch channels such as HGTV, OWN, and TLC (all channels that C likes). Even with a separate app, you have to sign in with a TV service.

And, the only service out there that would allow us (and by “us” I mean mostly S) to watch the Texas Rangers on Bally Sports is ATT TV. Well, besides having a satellite, I mean. So we activated an account with ATT TV earlier this week. For some reason, the app for that is not available on S’s TV, and the TV in the spare bedroom (usually called R’s room, still), is not a smart TV, so we ordered two more Amazon Fire Sticks for those TVs. That is what we have on our main TV, and we have the ATT TV app on it.

So, with that and just Internet, we will be saving over $100 dollars a month.

I guess that’s enough “news” for now, so I will move on to the day’s devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
(1 Chronicles 16:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for our family, and the love felt between us all;
2. for Your wonderful deeds among Your people;
3. for encouraging things learned about the retirement process and SS;
4. that our salvation comes from You, and a future awaits those of us who seek peace (Psalm 37:37, 39);
5. that Your love for us goes from eternity past into eternity future.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. All those who do his work have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
(Psalms 111:10 WEB)

I pause, briefly, in the quiet moment, to consider the Name of the Lord, and His presence in my life. The potential is endless; the possibilities infinite.

BIBLE SONG

Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
(Psalms 37:34-40 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
(Genesis 45:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord, during these quiet moments, I read these passages again, slowly. I covet the whisper of the Holy Spirit, as I read them, hoping for His guidance as I meditate and pray over these words.

We continue in Psalm 37, today, reading the last few verses in the song. The message is similar. “Hope in the LORD and keep his way.” There is also more encouragement to not worry about the “wicked.” The psalmist states that he has seen the wicked flourish, but soon, he will pass away and will be no more.

Instead of worrying about the prosperity of the wicked, he says, we should “consider the blameless, observe the upright.” And then this blessed truth: “a future awaits whose who seek peace.”

We are guaranteed that the wicked will have no future, at least in terms of any kind of reward from the Lord. But those of us who seek peace are promised a bright future.

God is our stronghold in times of trouble, says verse 39. But what it doesn’t say there is that God is also our stronghold in times of prosperity and peace. Let us not forget this. Do we only look to the Lord for our protection and deliverance when things go badly?

The brief passage from Genesis 45 is, in my opinion, the climax of the Joseph story. It is the “big reveal.” Joseph can stand it no longer. He tosses all the Egyptians out of the room, and with wailing so loud that people outside the room heard it, Joseph, with great love, reveals his identity to his brothers.

And the first question he asks them is, “Is my father still living?” I confess that the next sentence makes me laugh. “But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.”

If there is a Hebrew equivalent of “Oh, crap!” I’m sure they were saying that, at that moment.

But then Joseph seems to almost shrug off the way they treated him with these words:

“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
(Genesis 45:5-8 NIV)

There is the wisdom that comes from the fear of the Lord, mentioned in the invitation verse for this whole week.

Joseph held no grudges. Even so, we learn, if we keep reading, that they didn’t completely trust him, so they made up a lie about their father sending a message that he should forgive his brothers.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”
So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.”
When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”
And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
(Genesis 50:15-21 NIV)

Father, I pray for the kind of wisdom that Joseph had. He grew so much during those years, and Your strength, power, and wisdom was obviously with him. My prayer is that my life would reflect the kind of life that is exhibited in Psalm 37. May my life be one that is worthy of consideration; only You can make me “righteous,” and only that through the sacrifice of Jesus, His righteousness imputed unto me. Help me to not focus on any “wicked,” or their seeming prosperity, which will only be temporary. May I, rather, focus on the future that I have as one of Your children, one who seeks peace.

This morning, I specifically lift up a prayer for the safety of our children as they travel northeast, toward Indiana. May they arrive safely at their new home, and may their belongings also arrive in a timely manner, safe and intact. I pray that this whole experience would be positive for them. And may You draw them closer to You through it, as well.

I pray that Your Church would work for the common good and benefit of all people in our world. I also pray that “deep care, bold love, and rich community” would be experienced in the Church. May You be close to any who have departed from our church community.

"Debt-canceling God,
my capacity to forgive others is a measure of how well I know you.
Remind me every day that both I and those who have hurt me together form a community of debtors to your grace.
May my determination to forgive display how deep the gospel lives in me.
Amen."

BLESSING

Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.
(Jude 1:2 WEB)


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
(Psalms 19:1 NIV)

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:31 NIV)

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
(Proverbs 10:12 NIV)

Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.
(Proverbs 10:12 MSG)

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
(Psalms 103:17 ESV)

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
(Jeremiah 31:3 ESV)

I could write another whole blog entry just based on Proverbs 10:12. Then another one from the thought in Psalm 103:17. I’ll just leave this here:

“‘You can’t fathom eternity,’ said the teacher, ‘nor can you fathom His love, except to know that His love for you is greater than eternity . . . and to know the answer to the question . . . Will God’s love for you ever cease or give up? The answer is no. God’s love for you has already spanned the length of eternity. It has already lasted forever. For the love of God is, to you who reverence Him . . . from everlasting to everlasting . . . from forever to forever.'”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Thinking about God and time makes my head spin. Remember what Jesus said in John 8. “Before Abraham was, I am.” God loves you and me before we were born. You might think that I should have said “God loved,” rather than “God loves.” But it is more accurate the first way. Before I was born, before my grandparents were born, God IS there, loving me. He loves us with, not only an everlasting love, but a love that goes backward into all eternity. God’s love is retroactive, all the way to the “beginning.”

Head now spinning.

Father, my love for You pales in comparison to Your love for me. Fortunately, it is not a contest to see who can love more. Your love for me is unfathomable, both in length and scope. How can anyone love from eternity to eternity? But I don’t need to understand it; I don’t need to comprehend. I just need to accept it and embrace it. So I do. Thank You for this great love, my Father. And help me to display just a fraction of that great love to my fellow humans.

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!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes Fixed

Today is Friday, the second of July, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,122

Two days until July 4th!

It’s Friday, and C and I both have the day off! Our four-day weekend is officially here.

And of course, I was awake at 5:30 AM.

Part of that was probably because I am looking forward to meeting up with an old friend, this morning, and knowing that I needed to be sure and have time to get this blogging thing done beforehand.

The other part of it is because I’m getting older and sleeping is becoming something with which I struggle. At least getting enough. The quality of my sleep, when I’m sleeping, is fine.

Anyway . . . that’s the only thing in the works for today. I’m toying with the idea of getting the grocery shopping done, though. We’ll see about that.

The Texas Rangers beat the Athletics again, yesterday afternoon, taking the series 2-1. They won by a score of 8-3, and Joey Gallo hit yet another bomb, making this, I think, five games in a row in which he has homered. The Rangers remain in last place, 16.5 games behind the Astros, who must be cheating again. Or still. I’m not sure they ever stopped. They (the Rangers) will take on the Mariners tonight, in Seattle.

The Boston Red Sox continue their streak, now having won seven in a row. They mercilessly destroyed the Royals, yesterday afternoon, beating them 15-1 at Fenway. The KC team didn’t score until the top of the ninth. The Sox continue to hold first place in the AL East, 3.5 games ahead of the Rays. They have to play in Oakland tonight. I always feel bad for AL East team fans when they have to play on the west coast. It’s bad enough for us, in Texas, when the games start at 9:00 PM or later. For people on the east coast, their games don’t start until 10:00 PM.

I suppose I should rephrase that. I only feel bad for Boston fans. I don’t ever feel bad for fans of any of the other AL East teams.

Boston is in a virtual tie with the Giants for best team in MLB, with SF being ahead by .003 percentage points. The Giants are on a four-game losing streak. The Dodgers are right behind them both. And wait . . . who’s that in fourth place over all?? The Other Sox?? Where did that come from?

The Diamondbacks managed to win a game, but that didn’t help them much, in terms of their bottom of the heap status. They remain in last place over all with a paltry .277 percentage. Our Rangers are fourth from the bottom, at .395.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

The LORD frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes.
But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.
(Psalms 33:10-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You do frustrate the plans of the nations, and teach us to not put our hope in human beings.
2. for this long weekend; may it be restful and enjoyable.
3. for a visit with a good friend, this morning.
4. for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us.
5. that fixing my eyes on Jesus will enable me to run my race with perseverance.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIX – DAY SIX

INVITATION

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.”
(Daniel 2:20 NIV)

I pause to think about the presence of the Lord, and the impact this has on my daily life. He is always here; always surrounding me and always filling me. I’m praying that I might more often realize this truth and know His presence.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.

From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
(Psalms 3:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the knowledge of the presence of the Lord, to rest in Him. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me into truth that I might carry into my day, that would have a positive impact on my walk in the Kingdom.

I find difficulty identifying with today’s Psalms passage. I don’t have any “foes,” that I know of. Sure, I have challenges each day, especially at work. But none of the people through whom those challenges come can seriously be considered “foes” or “enemies.”

Nevertheless, I do believe that the Lord is a shield round me, and He does lift up my head. I do lie down and sleep, and I wake up again, because He truly does sustain me. And most days, I can feel the truth of verse 6, and do not fear anything.

So maybe I can identify with it more than I thought. I just don’t find comfort in praying for the Lord to strike anyone on the jaw or break anyone’s teeth.

The Hebrews passage is one of those more famous Bible passages. The encouragement therein is tremendous. The “great cloud of witnesses” of which the writer speaks can be found in chapter 11, the “Faith Hall of Fame.” We are truly surrounded by this great cloud, by the witness of the community of saints from throughout history. There are literally hundreds or thousands that have come after the Bible was written, as well.

For example, we know of one of John the Revelator’s own students, Polycarp, who was martyred for his faith. John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, John Huss, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, and many others surround us as part of that great cloud of witnesses.

So since we are surrounded by this great cloud, the Hebrews writer encourages, let us “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” and run our race with perseverance.

The way to do this is found in verse 3. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? And some days it is definitely easier than others. How do we run this race? We fix our eyes on Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

That’s how to run this race. It’s the only way to run this race effectively and successfully. Many (myself included) have tried other ways . . . it never works. Jesus is the only Way; the only Truth; and the only Life. He is the only way to succeed.

Father, I praise You for the life of Jesus, His death and resurrection, and all that this means for us. Help us all, beginning with me, to throw aside all of the garbage that we get stuck in, the sin that so easily entangles, or, as the KJV puts it, “doth so easily beset.” For it truly does beset me, when I allow it to. Help me to turn my eyes on Jesus, keeping them fixed on the light of His glory and grace, that the things of the earth will grow and remain dim and out of focus. I want to focus on His face, Lord.

Pioneer and perfecter of my faith,
I need help when troubles come,
faith flags,
and I feel like giving up.
As you kept focused on the joy set before you,
keep my eyes fixed on you.
You were forsaken so I might be accepted,
and you were delivered to death so I could be given life--
may that rich hope keep me steadfast.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 44)

BLESSING

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
(Philippians 1:9-10 NIV)


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
(Isaiah 43:2 NIV)


Lord, go with me today; if I pass through any waters or rivers, keep my head above them; if I walk through the fire, protect me from burning. Be my provider and protector throughout this day, and all of my days.

Father, give me the deepest gratitude for the cross of Christ. I pray for relief for all who are living in poverty and who suffer injustice. I also pray for all who suffer with some form of physical illness and those who care for them.

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!

Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, would die for me
Amazing love, I know it's true
Now it's my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You
Jesus, You are my King

Grace and peace, friends.

Nothing Is Lacking; God Is Enough

Today is Tuesday, the thirtieth of March, 2021, in Holy Week.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,028

Five days until Resurrection Sunday!

I don’t have any newsworthy items, this morning, and time is rapidly getting away from me. Actually, this is not correct. Time is moving at the same pace it always moves. Apparently, I am dawdling. Anyway, on to:

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!
Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
(Psalms 68:3-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • to be alive and breathing
  • for the joy in my spirit, as I exult before You
  • for prayer, my best defense against temptation
  • that the way of Jesus is not the way of violence
  • that nothing is lacking; You are enough

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

LENT – DAY 36

INVITATION

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
(John 1:29 NIV)

I am pausing, here, to quietly reflect on our Lord, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows.”

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
(Psalms 22:1 NIV)

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
(Psalms 22:15-19a NIV)

BIBLE READING

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
(Luke 22:39-53 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in the presence of the Lord, this morning, there are portions of these readings that move my spirit.

Once again, I am struck by the accuracy of David’s psalm. Hundreds of years before the crucifixion, he wrote of hands and feet being pierced. Then he wrote of clothing being divided between people, and dice being rolled for some of that clothing. We know from the Gospel accounts that Jesus had a robe that had no seams. The soldiers did not want to rip it to divide it among themselves, so they “cast lots” for it.

There are two things in the Luke passage to which I am drawn. First is Jesus’s admonition to His disciples to pray, so that they will not fall into temptation. I believe this admonition stands with us, today. One of our primary defenses against temptation is prayer.

It is not a formula, of course, and prayer does not necessarily guarantee that we will not fall into temptation, but it is our best defense, I believe, followed closely by meditation on and memorization of God’s Word.

The second thing is Jesus’s response to Peter cutting off the servant’s ear (Peter is not named in Luke’s narrative, but, as far as we know, he is the only one who had a sword).

In all of my favorite translations, Jesus says, “No more of this!”

Enough violence. It is not necessary. For one thing, this had to happen, in order to fulfill what had to be fulfilled. For another thing, it simply was not Jesus’s way. And it should not be our way.

Violence is never the answer. There will be times when action is necessary. But even in those times, prayer must always come first. Then action, and the action must not be violent.

Father, I praise You for the truths presented, this morning. Thank You for the privilege and responsibility of prayer. I thank You that it is my primary defense against temptation. I confess that I do not use this defense often enough. I also praise You that the way of Jesus was/is the way of peace. I know that Paul commands us to, as far as it is possible, be at peace with all men. Help me to live that out today, and walk in peace in Your kingdom.

Crucified Lord,
this week help me to remember how you sustained,
in body and soul,
the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.
Thank you for standing in my place,
setting me free from eternal condemnation,
and gaining for me God's grace,
righteousness,
and eternal life.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 37)

BLESSING

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12 NIV)


The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
(Psalms 23:1 NIV)

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
(Matthew 6:26 NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 NIV)

I’m going to spend some time, this morning, meditating on these Scriptures. Nothing is lacking; God is enough.


Father, You are enough; Jesus is enough for me. Is this really true? Sadly, there are times in my life when it is not true. But it is my heart’s desire that this would be truth for me every minute of every hour of every day in my life. Make it so in me, today, that Jesus is enough for me. Christ is enough for me. Nothing is lacking; You are enough! You are my Shepherd, and there is nothing more that I need.

I pray, this morning, Lord, that we would heed Your calling to serve and follow Jesus in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces. May we let Your light shine! I pray that we would have more and more capacity to selflessly serve the “common good.” I lift up those who work in service to others, today.

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!

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Fifth Day of Christmas

Today is Tuesday, December 29, 2020, the fifth day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,937

Three days until 2021!

Yesterday, as expected, was a rather quiet day at work. Our client basically shuts down for the week between Christmas and the new year, so activity from them is sparse. There are a few working, but not many. So I was able to completely focus on one area of my job responsibilities without being bothered by the others. It was quite nice, and I almost got completely caught up again. Hopefully, today and tomorrow will be the same, and then Thursday, which I have off for my last PTO day of the year, will be no issue for the person who is my backup.

There is nothing else, really, to talk about, this morning, so on to the real reason I’m here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 5

INVITATION

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 101:1-4, 6

I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
(Psalms 101:1-4, 6 NIV)

BIBLE READING: LUKE 2:25-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
(Luke 2:25-35 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

In this passage, I am moved by the activity of the Holy Spirit on this man named Simeon. This is his only appearance in the Bible, and it appears that he exists for one reason only, and that is to make this proclamation on the baby Jesus.

As Simeon waited for “the consolation of Israel,” it is said that the Holy Spirit was “on him.” This was before the Spirit was sent to dwell within us, which happened after the ascension of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit had also revealed to him that his death would not occur before he laid eyes on the Messiah. And that particular day, the Spirit moved him to go to the temple courts. The timing was perfect, as Joseph and Mary had entered to comply with the laws/customs regarding newborn babies.

Father, as I read this passage, I find that my heart desires the activity of the Holy Spirit in my life. I know You are present in my life, I do not doubt that. Well, at least not seriously, and not very often. But I long for the Spirit to move me in the same way that He moved Simeon. I yearn for the Holy Spirit to be “on me” in such a way that He directs my life, even to the point of telling me to go to a certain room at a certain time.

This is not a desire, Lord, for every step to be directed by You, per se. This is a desire for my life to be so in tune with You that I feel Your direction, leading my life, showing me Your path, guiding my heart, not like a “robot,” but like a faithful servant who loves You so much that every move is according to Your plan and purpose for my life.

I pray that the joy of salvation be experienced, not only by me, but by everyone who knows You. May Your children have a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and available for us to walk in it. And make us more faithful to pray for friends and family who do not enjoy this relationship with You.

"Faithful God,
in our world,
where evil is serious,
pain is no illusion,
and our guilt is real,
open our eyes to see 
how justice and mercy take the shape
of a Savior dying on a cross for us.
With Simeon,
may all people see that your justice and mercy
meet when Jesus is born for our salvation.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession, 20)

BLESSING

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
(Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)


I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Romans 8:15 ESV)


Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 148:7-14 ESV)

When you are brought into praise, singing songs and shouting to the Lord, you enter into that praise with all of creation. It matters not if you are alone in your room or in your car on your way to wherever. Know that when you praise Him, you are praising Him in concert with all of creation, and with all the saints, past, present, and even future!

Praise the LORD!


Father, there are things that I need “motivation” to do. Maybe I’m afraid. Maybe I’m lazy. I’ve never quite pinned it down. But the reason is irrelevant. There are things that I need to do for You. Strengthen my spirit with Your Spirit. Save me from myself, Lord!

Remind us daily that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Help us to take this battle seriously. May we run to Your strong tower and not cower in fear.

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!


For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You brought me into Your presence, this morning
  2. For the revelation of Jesus Christ in my life
  3. For the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, past, present, and future
  4. That when I praise You, I am not alone, but praising You in the company of all creation, and all the saints
  5. For Your strength, in which I can do all things

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

No Harm, No Disaster

Today is FRIDAY!! August 14, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,800

FIVE DAYS until S turns 27!! Yesterday, she sent us a recipe for a WW peanut butter pie. 🙂

Today is the Feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic Priest who died on this date in 1941, in Auschwitz.

I’ve had a fairly respectable week, one in which I have actually remembered to practice some of the things that I have written about. Not very often, mind you. Yesterday afternoon, I was conversing with God and confessing that I always forget. The problems and stresses of the day always seem to push Him aside. I know He is there, but somehow I allow my mind to not let my heart think on it. I remember commenting a few months back about how difficult Dallas Willard’s idea of spending “a day with Jesus” is to accomplish. It takes some real discipline, and unlearning habits that have been developed over many years. But I am determined to do so, in whatever time I have left on this planet.

The Texas Rangers have managed, on the strength of a three-game win streak, and now a two-game win streak, to work themselves into second place in the AL West. They are still below .500, but only one game, at 8-9. They play the Rockies tonight, in Colorado, at 7:40 CDT. Lance Lynn will start for the Rangers, hoping for his third win of the season. I was talking with one of our managers, yesterday, who is a fan, and he said that he had heard some radio people saying that a three-game win streak in this “season” is akin to a 12-to-15 game win streak in a normal season. I had not really thought about that, but he’s right. That weekend series against the Angels was huge for them. Winning three games in a row in a season that only lasts sixty games is pretty big.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
(Psalms 31:23 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You hear us
  2. For Your beauty
  3. That no amount of struggle, trouble, or trial can harm the “real me”
  4. That, for those of us who dwell in You, no harm or disaster can come near us
  5. That gazing upon Your creation can bring joy to my spirit

Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!
(Psalms 30:10 ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
(Psalms 42:1 ESV)

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalms 27:4 ESV)

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
(Mark 8:34-38 ESV)

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.
(Psalms 103:1-5 ESV)

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

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)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:1-4 ESV)


And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 ESV)

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
(John 1:16 ESV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)


You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
(Psalms 91:5-13 NIV)

“These verses seem to promise that nothing bad will ever happen to believers.” Some folks are aware that verse 11 is part of what Satan quoted to Jesus when he was tempting Him after His forty-day fast in the wilderness.

Satan, whose biggest tool against God’s children is deceit, wants us to believe that “God’s promises have failed if He lets us suffer.”

But if we keep reading (to the place we will get to tomorrow), verse 15 is clear that God will be with us “in trouble.” There are other passages in Psalms that promise God’s deliverance OUT of trouble, not that He will keep us from ever getting into trouble.

Even one of Jesus’s promises in Luke seems contradictory.

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
(Luke 21:16-19 NIV)

It is a mystery, indeed. But, “the only things faithful people can lose in suffering are things that are finally expendable. The real you, the one God is creating, cannot be harmed.”

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

I have “hung my hat,” so to speak, on verses 9 and 10 for decades. I memorized those two verses a long time ago.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
(Psalms 91:9-10 NIV)

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


Father, there was a time when I valued worldly things more than grace, love, and holiness. I was more discouraged by trials and troubles. Today, though, while not nearly perfect in this, Your Spirit within me reminds me daily that You are in control of all things, and that whatever I have in You is much more valuable than any worldly thing. My status in You, as Your child, is much more important than any social status I might have. Thanks to Your grace and mercy in my life, I have long given up the idea of having to maintain an appearance before others. Thank You for these truths, Lord, that no matter what kind of trouble or trial I find myself in, nothing can harm the “real me,” the one whose identity is found in You through Jesus Christ. My physical life may be destroyed, but the worst that anyone can do to me is send me Home.

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!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Do the Right Thing

Today is Monday, July 6, 2020, in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you!

Day 22,761

44 days until S’s birthday!!

Not much to talk about from yesterday. We had a great virtual worship gathering, reading some Scriptures about hope (who doesn’t need a little hope right now?), and praying for each other. C went and picked up Subway and Sonic drinks for lunch. We watched an episode of The Valhalla Murders on Netflix. We are three episodes in on this mystery show that originates in Iceland. It’s pretty good, as long as you can handle the character’s mouths not saying the same things as the overdub/subtitles. Yes, it is in the Icelandic language with English overdub. It’s a good story, though, so we’ve stuck with it.

I continued playing The Last of Us, Part 2, after that. To be honest, I’m not terribly happy with the game, right now. But that’s a story for another day.

Back to work today, though, after that extended weekend. I’m sure not ready for it, but here it comes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You are my rock and my fortress (Psalm 71:3)
  2. That Your words are pure (Psalm 12:6)
  3. That You give us the real “good life”
  4. That Your Spirit helps me to do right
  5. For Your patience with me when I don’t

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
(Psalms 71:3 ESV)

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
(Psalms 12:6 ESV)

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
(Psalms 12:5 ESV)

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
(Luke 6:36-38 ESV)

Of Solomon.

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
(Psalms 72:1-8 ESV)

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.
(Psalms 72:12-14 ESV)

May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!
(Psalms 72:17 ESV)

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

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)

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it. Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.
(Proverbs 11:24-30 ESV)

A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.
(Proverbs 11:28 MSG)


Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
(1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalms 139:23-24 ESV)

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
(1 Timothy 4:12 ESV)

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
(James 4:17 ESV)


In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe. So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.
(Psalms 78:32-37 ESV)

This is not very encouraging, is it? But sometimes, we don’t need encouragement. Sometimes, we need conviction. Do we know the right thing, but still fail to do it? Do we continue to disregard God’s great promises, and go on living the way we want to?

There’s a pattern, here, seen over and over in the Old Testament (and maybe in my own life, too). The people sin. Then God punishes, and they repent; they “remembered that God was their rock.”

But it doesn’t last.

“For example, they may be honest, but only out of fear of being found out or from a desire to appear moral and upright. Ironically, all their morality is based on deep selfishness. They come to God to avoid pain for themselves, not to give honor and joy to Him.”

Why do we live decent lives? Is it for appearance, or because we want to bring joy to our Father in heaven? Are we in the business of flattering Him with our mouths?

“Lord, your Word says that the heart is deceitful and no one can know it (Jeremiah 17:9) without the radical help of Your Spirit. Give me that help now. Lay bare the motivations at my foundation. Show me Your love and glory in prayer so my obedience becomes more and more a grateful, willing gift. Amen.”

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

Father, I pray for the help to always do the right thing, even when it hurts. I pray that my obedience to You is not even a “grateful, willing gift,” but, rather, something that simply happens out of the joy of my heart to serve You. Help me to know Your ways and to walk in them because I love You, and for no other reason.

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.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

“The evil of this is that we reverse places with God. We put Him on probation, making our relationship conditional on how well we think He performs. But God created the universe with a word of His power, and even the galaxies are like dust before Him. Is this the kind of person you ask into your life to be your personal assistant?”

Today is Saturday, the Fourth of July, in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you!

Day 22,759

46 days until S’s birthday!

Yesterday was quite busy for a “day off.” After finishing my morning routine, C and I cooked up a new Weight Watcher’s recipe in the crock pot. It’s called “Basque Chicken with Chorizo and Peppers.” We accidentally put too much of the fire-roasted tomatoes in it, but that certainly didn’t hurt it. Made it more soup-like. Anyway, after we got that prepared and going in the crock pot, I cooked some eggs and toast for breakfast for us (S and I had sausage with ours), and we settled in to watch the Hamilton movie on Disney+.

We were not disappointed. It is a fantastic recording of a a great live performance of the Broadway show. It was great to see the original players in the show. There are a lot of emotional moments in the production, such as the ending of “Yorktown” when the chorus begins singing “The world turned upside down,” The duet, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” with Alexander and Eliza, and Eliza’s closing song and tragic sob/scream that concludes the show. Anyway . . . it was great.

After that, I went to the grocery store because C wasn’t feeling great. She doesn’t have fever or any symptoms related to Covid-19. It’s more of a stomach/intestinal thing, plus she was experiencing some upper-body pain. She said she feels a little better this morning, but still not great. I also took Luna (cat) to the vet, yesterday evening, for her first round of shots. They said she is a “healthy kitty.” She’ll be going back on July 24th, at which time I think we should be able to schedule her spaying/chipping procedure.

By the time I got home, our crock pot recipe was ready. It was delicious!! We may actually like it better than our traditional chicken taco soup that we make once a week or so. Very tasty!

There are no plans whatsoever today. I would venture to guess that the only time any of us will exit the premises is to go get Sonic drinks.

And we probably will watch the Downton Abbey movie, because we keep forgetting to watch that. And maybe a few episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, in honor of Carl Reiner.

Speaking of that, we watched the pilot of the series last night. Did you know it was originally called “Head of the Family?” Carl Reiner played Rob Petrie (they pronounced it “Pea-tree”). I didn’t recognize any of the other actors/actresses, but the character names were all the same. Laura was blond, and the house was all wrong. Rob, Sally, and Buddy were writing for the “Allen Sturdy Show,” and, while Allen was in the program, we never saw his face.

It was so weird.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
(Psalms 29:2-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the life that I have in Christ
  2. For the awesome deeds that You have done for Your people, throughout history
  3. For Your patience with us/me
  4. For giving me this heart of gratitude
  5. For helping me see needs around me

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 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.
(Psalms 63:1-4 ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.
(Psalms 44:1-3 ESV)

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
(Psalms 82:8 ESV)

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
(Luke 17:20-21 ESV)

As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness. Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments! Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.
(Psalms 48:10-14 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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)

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
(Luke 7:11-17 ESV)

It is worth noting that no one (at least not as recorded) asked Jesus to intervene, here. He observed, He “saw her,” and “He had compassion on her.” The result was the proclamation of the people, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” (v. 16, The Message)

Is it possible for us to be this observant? This compassionate? I believe that, in Christ, we have the power, authority, and ability to be able to see a need and act on it, even before assistance is requested. I’ll confess that I have not been very good at this, but I will be praying for God to help me see those needs and act on them when I am able to help.

I think there is great depth and meaning in the simple (on the surface, at least) statement, “the Lord saw her.” You can bet your bottom dollar that when Jesus “saw,” He saw into the depths of her soul and her circumstance. We may not be able to do that .

Or can we?


But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
(Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)

The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
(Psalms 33:13-22 ESV)


But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?

True, he struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can he also give us bread? Can he supply meat for his people?” When the LORD heard them, he was furious; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.
(Psalms 78:17-25 NIV)

“They continued to sin against Him,” is probably one of the most tragic sentences in the Bible. That coupled with the often-repeated sentence in multiple chapters of the book of Judges. “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2:11; 3:7; 3:12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1 . . . I may have missed one). In Judges 8, there is a variation of that same sentence. “As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god” (8:33)

And, if rebelling against God weren’t enough, the people of Israel demanded signs from Him, such as water gushing from a rock. Seriously, see the disrespect in this passage! “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” (Verses 19-20)

“‘Put[ting] God to the test’ (verse 18) is one of the essential impulses of the human heart.” It is as though, after everything God has done for us, we are saying back to Him, “Yeah, but what have You done for me lately?”

“The evil of this is that we reverse places with God. We put Him on probation, making our relationship conditional on how well we think He performs. But God created the universe with a word of His power, and even the galaxies are like dust before Him. Is this the kind of person you ask into your life to be your personal assistant?”

“Lord Jesus, how can I obey and love You conditionally when You loved me unconditionally? You looked down from the cross and saw us betraying, denying, forsaking You, and yet You stayed. Help me to cling to You and obey You, no matter what. Amen.”

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


Father, the readings over the last two days have spoken deeply to me. Today, I feel convicted of my need to be more observant of the needs of people around me, to “see” them as Jesus “saw” the widow of Nain, and to meet (or at least help meet) needs that You have gifted me to meet.

And this business of putting You on probation, of our relationship with You being based on Your performance is outright absurdity!! How dare we think like this! But we do, don’t we! Forgive us, O Lord! Forgive me! Help me to obey You and love You unconditionally, as I walk in Your kingdom. Help me to walk worthily of the calling with which You have called me!

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!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Do We Love God, or the Thing We Want?

“When we say to God, ‘I’ll serve you only if X happens,’ then it is X that we love, and God is just a necessary apparatus for obtaining it.”

Today is Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you.

Day 22,742

Four days until Father’s Day

Our new mattress was delivered shortly before I got home, yesterday. The only difference I can tell is that it is slightly taller than the old one. It might be softer. C says it is. I slept fine on it, last night, very comfortably.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah. because they do not change and do not fear God.
(Psalms 55:16-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For a loving family
  2. For a variety of forms of worship
  3. That You fill my heart with praise
  4. That Your love is better than life
  5. That You are changing my heart, every day

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
(Psalms 67:1 ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
(Psalms 31:1 ESV)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
(Psalms 66:16 ESV)

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
(John 5:44 ESV)

. . . things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
(Psalms 78:3-8 ESV)

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)

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
(Mark 14:1-9 ESV)

“Different forms of worship–informal, formal, quiet, exuberant–represent a sincere outpouring of love for Jesus. He’s worthy of all worship that comes from a heart of love.”

(David H. Roper, Our Daily Bread)


And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
(Luke 5:26 ESV)

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
(Isaiah 66:2 ESV)

And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
(Acts 2:43 ESV)


Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
(Psalms 73:10-14 NIV)

The psalmist is continuing his “meditation” on the seeming success of the wicked. He has come to the conclusion that his life of “innocence” has been for naught. It has not brought him wealth or freedom from troubles.

“But this unmasks his heart. His obedience was not a way of pleasing God but rather a means of getting God to please him.” This next phrase is extremely important.

“When we say to God, ‘I’ll serve you only if X happens,’ then it is X that we love, and God is just a necessary apparatus for obtaining it.”

I’m going to repeat that to let it sink in.

“When we say to God, ‘I’ll serve you only if X happens,’ then it is X that we love, and God is just a necessary apparatus for obtaining it.”

Fortunately, we will see, in tomorrow’s reading, that this is not the end of it.

“Lord, I resent my service to you when my life isn’t going as I wish. I don’t love you as much as I love the good things I hope to get from you. Oh, illumine my mind and heart to see your beauty and love you for yourself alone. That is not only right to do but also my real joy. Amen.”

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


Father, I have been guilty of desiring Your gifts and blessings more than I desire You. But I also believe that, over the course of the past few years, You have been changing my heart in that regard. My heart’s desire, the joy of my soul, is to know YOU and to be near YOU, regardless of my circumstances. Yes, I still fall into the trap of attempting to bargain with You, but there is less of that than there used to be. I pray that, for all of Your people, the desire to simply have You in our lives will far outweigh the desire to receive the gifts that You bring us. After all, if knowing You is enough, if being near You is enough, if we seek Your kingdom first, all of the other things, at least the ones we need, will follow.

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!

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
(Psalms 63:3 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.