“Talk No More So Very Proudly”

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Today is Friday, September 2, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Look at all those twos!

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,549

I’m late today, because of several things. First, I started playing a tournament round on Golf Clash, and I was playing so well that I dare not quit. In fact, I’m currently in first place. Unfortunately, it is only a qualifying round, so there are no prizes for this round, just the privilege of advancing to the weekend round.

Second, I needed to get a grocery order in, to be delivered later today. This required frequent trips back and forth to the kitchen, and multiple conversations with other members of the house. But that is done, and meals are planned for most of next week. Tonight, I’m planning to cook one of our favorites, Pecan Crusted Buttermilk Chicken, a WW recipe. I have a side dish planned, as well, that will be a surprise.

I don’t work today, and it may or may not be my last Friday off. That is TBD. The new computer center person starts today, though, so it will be soon.

It rained yesterday, and has rained on and off, this morning, as well. Our high, yesterday was 85, but when we walked out of the library last night at shortly after 8:00 PM, we all agreed that it was difficult to breathe, as the air seemed quite “moist.” “Swimmable” was one word that was used. Today’s high is expected to be 88, with the next two days being in the low nineties. This changes from day to day, but the rest of the ten-day forecast predicts temps in the mid-to-upper eighties, with slim to moderate chances of rain each day.

After starting pitcher Glenn Otto scored a career-high eight strikeouts, last night, the Texas Rangers bullpen erased a five-run lead, giving up four of those in the bottom of the ninth, to lose to the Boston Red Sox 9-8. As one might expect, I am always conflicted when these two teams play each other. However, for a number of years, now, my primary allegiance has been with the Texas Rangers. So I’m sad to see them lose, especially like that! The Rangers, now having lost five in a row, are 58-72 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, a game and a half ahead of the Angels. They are 25.5 out of first place (this is not the largest disparity between first and third place, but it is close), and 12.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their elimination number (my, it seems early to be seeing those), at least as far as the division goes, is only seven games. This means that any combination of Rangers losses and Astros wins eliminates them from any chance of winning the division. I gave up on that a long time ago, though. Their WC elimination number is 21. They have 32 games left.

The Red Sox are 64-68 on the season, and remain in last place in the AL East. They are six games behind the Orioles, 15.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division elimination number is 16, and their WCE number is 25. They have 30 games left. The Rangers and Red Sox play again tonight at 6:10 CDT. Dallas Kuechel will start for the Rangers, so I don’t expect much.

The Dodgers have lost two in a row, which makes their chances of breaking a wins record slimmer. They remain at 90 wins, and top MLB with a 90-40 record. They must win 27 of 32 remaining games to break the record. The Nationals are at the bottom of MLB, with 45-86. The Seattle Mariners have the longest current winning streak, at four consecutive games. The Giants still have the longest losing streak, at seven. The Rangers are apparently trying to catch them. The Dodgers have a league leading run differential, at +284, and the Nats maintain the lowest, at -214. The Pirates, however, are only 13 runs ahead of the Nats. The Rangers, in spite of that five-game losing streak, are still in the positive column, with +2, and the Red Sox are at -53.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, you are always near to us on earth, and we thank you for all the love you put into our lives so that we can be joyful, even in all kinds of temptations and struggles. How much you have given us and how often you have rescued us from distress! Again and again you have let the light of life shine out. You give us light not only for the moment but also for the future, enabling us to draw strength and assurance from the present, the past, and the future, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; . . . through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 
(2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that our Father in heaven is always near to us on earth
  2. that we Christians in at least this country have not experienced most of the things in that Scripture passage
  3. that, even if we find ourselves having nothing, we do, indeed possess everything in Christ
  4. that God loves us unconditionally; may I love you in the same way
  5. that when I miserably fail to do number 4, God continues to bless me, anyway, in order to teach me patience, humility, and compassion

“To Me,” by Daryl Madden

For nothing’s deserved
You bless all for free
Lord, Let me share
The grace given to me

Lord, never ending
Is your great mercy
Lord, let me forgive
As you’ve forgiven me

You love every soul
Unconditionally
Lord, help me to love
How you have loved me

We know I will fail
Miserably
And Lord you bless more
To teach patience to me

I find myself echoing this prayer, today, especially the last two stanzas. It is my desire to love all as God has loved me, yet I, too, fail miserably. Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above.


“New Every Day,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

Let songs rise on eagle’s wings
I will not fail to restore
I will not fail you…ever

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

It’s rare that I feature more than one poem, but this one spoke mightily to me, today, as well. God will not fail us; He will not fail to restore; He will not fail us, ever! Please visit Susan’s blog site, at the link provided above. She also includes lovely images with each of her poems.


Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
(John 9:39-41 ESV)

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
(2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV)


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


But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
(Psalms 94:22 ESV)

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:7 ESV)


There are a lot of different topics, seemingly, in the assortment of Scriptures that I read, today. It is sobering to think that one of Jesus’s purposes on earth was to give sight to the blind, and, at the same time, blind those who claim to be able to see. In some ways, not much has changed in a couple thousand years.

The scene in 2 Chronicles is seen more than once in the Old Testament. After certain prayers, the Spirit of God occupies the temple/tabernacle to the degree that the priests are unable to perform their duties. The Glory of God is so thick, in these instances, that humans cannot endure His presence. I, personally, have not experienced this in any worship service I have ever attended.

But, for me, the big message today is hope. Our God is the God of hope, and the verse in Romans is a prayer that He would fill us with joy and peace, so that, by the power of His Spirit, we abound in hope.

What is hope? The dictionary definition is, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Or, there is a more archaic definition, “a feeling of trust.” It can also, of course, be a verb, meaning, “want something to happen or be the case.”

Our hope, as believers and followers of Christ, I believe, is more along the lines of the archaic definition. We certainly have an expectation or desire for certain things to happen, but it is more than, say, “I hope the Rangers win tonight.” Our hope, in the Lord, is a strong sense of expectation that is built on trust. Hope sustains us.

There is a quote by Hal Lindsey (I really would not have chosen to quote him, but here it is) that says, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

An exaggeration, to be sure, but there is some truth to the thought. We can “live” without hope, but is it truly “living?”

And besides being my hope, the Lord is also my stronghold, my refuge, my fortress, and all those other kinds of words that we find over and over in the Psalms, probably my favorite book in the Bible.

And check that quote from 1 Samuel. We love to quote that bit about “there is none holy like the Lord.” But we always stop before verse 3, which commands us to “talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth.”

Oops.

I’m seeing a lot of pride and arrogance coming out of our mouths, these days. Way too much.

And, in addition to the pride and arrogance, there seems to be a lack of prayer, in general. Now, I cannot truly judge how much another person prays. I really don’t have a clue. But I can surmise, from the actions and public words of many people, that if they do pray, the content of their prayers is quite shallow.

“If we desire to grow from strength to strength and to experience God’s power in sanctification and blessing on others, we must be more persevering in prayer. . . . Unless we are willing to pay the price to sacrifice our time and attention along with the seemingly legitimate or necessary tasks for the sake of attaining to the spiritual gifts, we need not expect power from above in our work.” (Andrew Murray)

Major ouch, there.

To sum all of this up, I will draw your attention back to Psalm 61:1-4.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

Father, may we pray diligently, in all humility, and in all hope, expecting You to answer, expecting You to grow us from strength to strength. Lead us to that Rock that is higher than we. And in order to allow You to do that, we must confess that there is, in fact, a Rock that is higher than we, which also requires humility.

Strike pride and arrogance from our lips, especially in the public domain. Let our words on social media be tempered with humility and compassion; let us be seen as people who know and walk with Jesus Christ, that people may, indeed, know we are His disciples by our love, not by how hard we can throw a Bible at someone.

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wins, my God. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for I am truly a lowly servant. Teach me to pray more diligently, in more humility, and may my prayers reflect Your will on earth as it is in heaven.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

Humbled or Exalted

Today is Sunday, the seventh of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,523

Only twelve days until S turns 29!

We didn’t hit 100 for a high temp, yesterday. I knew that, when we were leaving the library, yesterday, one of my friends there commented that it had only hit 99 there. The official report closest to my house says it only got up to 98. Today’s predicted high is 100. Beginning next Tuesday, we might see four straight days of below-100 temps, and a possible high on Wednesday of only 94, along with some possible thunderstorms that evening.

Dane Dunning had a tremendous outing, last night, as the Texas Rangers defeated the Other Sox 8-0. He pitched seven innings, giving up no runs and only one hit. Adolis Garcia had five RBIs in the game. I started to say they won the series, but they have one more game with them this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, in Arlington. They are now 48-59 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, 21 games behind first place, and nine out of a Wild Card spot.

Boston lost another game to the KC Royals, 5-4 on a walk-off home run. They are now 54-55 on the season, still in last place in the AL East. They are 16.5 games out of first place, and now four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play KC again, this afternoon, at 1:10 CDT in KC.

The LA Dodgers are now decisively the best MLB team, with a 74-33 record. The Washington Nationals continue to be firmly entrenched in the cellar, with 36-73. The Dodgers also have the longest current winning streak, at seven games. The Nationals and the (hahahahaha!!!) YANKEES are tied for the longest current losing streak, at four consecutive games. The Dodgers also have the best run differential, at +222, while the Nats have the worst at -184. After last night, the Rangers are back in the positive column with +5, and the Red Sox continue to go backwards, now with -22.

The big news of the day, which I have avoided mentioning, is that I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow at noon. My diet has been moderately restricted since Friday (no raw fruits or vegetables, no high fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread, no nuts or legumes of any kind), and, as of noon today, I can have no solid foods at all. Oddly, Jell-o counts as a “clear liquid” (scratching my head over that one), but I don’t have any anyway, so I will be drinking lots of water today. I also have to start drinking the prep this evening at 6 PM. One dose then, and another dose tomorrow morning, at 6 AM (five hours before my 11 AM arrival time). After 8 AM tomorrow morning, I can have nothing even to drink.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we come into your presence so that you may lead us with the light that streams out from you. We come to your light seeking an inner birth to make us what your children ought to be. Bless us as we thank you for all your goodness and for the powerful help you have given many among us. Accept the thanks we offer you, and grant that we never forget the good you are doing for us. Help us to go forward, always forward, until your kingdom is completed. May it not be in vain that we live in the Lord Jesus and in love to you, the God and Father of all. May it not be in vain that we bring you our requests and prayers for your kingdom to come soon. Yes, Lord Jesus, come! Come soon to this earth so that all people may acknowledge the true God and may love you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
(John 12:36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the light, streaming out from God, that leads us into His Kingdom
2. that the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed
3. that "if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all"
4. that "everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened"
5. for the Holy Spirit, and His many ministries in the lives of the saints

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:9-10 ESV)

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 ESV)

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:9-13 ESV)

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.”

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

These are statements, truths, that would lead us to humility, if we are paying attention. If the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, we would do well to pay more attention to the oppressed and come to their aid. The words of Jesus scream in our ears about this.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

The body of Christ is in much need of humility, these days. Even when directed to ask, that we might receive, seek, that we might find, and knock, that the door might be opened, we need to do those things with great humility.

And it is far better to humble oneself willingly than for it to be forced upon one.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)

Today’s source was Daily Guideposts 2022


Father, I pray for more humility in my life. I realize the dangers of this prayer, as it is akin to praying for more faith, which brings about more testing. But I know that I need to be more humble in all things, so please make it so.

Help me also to have the faith (in humility) to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, that I might find You and be more intimately connected to You. May Your Spirit reign in my heart and in my life, that I might know You more.

I pray for this procedure coming up and for the preparations that come with it. I confess that I am dreading this, and pray that everything goes well for it. I also pray for good results from the procedure, itself.

But more than that, I pray for the body of Christ, that all we do in Your name will draw people toward You, rather than push people away.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

Love (Again)

Today is Sunday, the twenty-third of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,327

Our Hamilton show is today. I’m not sure what I’m going to count down to, next.

I had a pretty decent night’s sleep, last night. The new CPAP seems to be working pretty well. I’m getting more used to it. However, I have learned that I can’t use the humidifier feature in it, as it tends to clog up my nose. Fortunately, that feature can be turned off.

I learned a couple new things at the library, yesterday, the coolest being how to encode our RFID (I have no idea what that stands for) tags that are stuck in the back of the book. This is an electronic tag that is used to both check the book in and out, as well as provide security at the front door. So when I lay a book on the electronic pad at the circ desk, it checks the book out to the patron and unlocks the security feature so the alarm won’t go off when the patron leaves.

A patron was trying to check out a book that she had placed on hold, and the computer kept saying that the book was not in the system. I noticed that, when I scanned the book on the pad, the number that went in simply said “0.” The assistant librarian on duty helped me and showed me that the RFID tag had not been encoded with the bar code number, then taught me how to do that. Lo and behold, I had to do it again, later in the day, as I was clearing one of the book drops.

I also learned how to clear a patron’s charges from being billed for a “lost” book, after they returned the book to the library. This had not come up, yet, when I was on duty.

As previously stated, our show of Hamilton is this afternoon at 1:30. So we will be heading downtown as soon as we leave our church gathering, today. We will likely pick up Applebee’s on the way home for a mid-afternoon meal.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:1-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for music and all the joy it brings me, both in the realm of worship and praise, as well as entertainment
2. for brothers and sisters in Christ, and the opportunity to read God's Word together
3. for chocolate candy (all kinds, actually . . . I pretty much love candy, but chocolate is my favorite)
4. that God has been merciful to me, a sinner
5. for the beautiful innocence of children, and for Jesus's teaching that we must become like them to enter the Kingdom

In this morning’s Bible readings in You Version, I came across this passage.

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. 
And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 
But Jesus called them to him, saying, 
"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, 
for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 
Truly, I say to you, 
whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
(Luke 18:15-17 ESV)

As we were closing the library last night, a young family with two small boys were leaving. As they went out the front door, the two boys were waving and saying goodbye to everyone they saw. The circulation manager was standing by the front doors, as is customary at closing time. Suddenly, I heard one of the little boys shout, “I LOVE YOU!” to the manager.

My heart nearly exploded. Is it any wonder that Jesus told us that we need to become like children to enter the Kingdom? This is the kind of love we must have for others. This is the kind of love I have been striving for for at least five years, now, and more intensely every year, especially in the current political climate of our nation.

Folks, this is not negotiable, in my opinion. There are two “great commands” (here he goes again . . .) that Jesus speaks of. Love the Lord your God with all of your being, heart, soul, mind, and strength. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And then, love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus delved a little deeper into that second one when He told His disciples that they were to love one another as He had loved them.

This love transcends everything else, and, most importantly, it transcends our blasted opinions about everything!! We should be able to shout, “I LOVE YOU!” to anyone we meet, just like that little boy, last night, regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of the color of their skin.

Trust me, I’m preaching to myself as much as I’m preaching to anyone else. There are some who know me, who know my political leanings and opinions, but I try to keep them away from this place. You may think you know, but you might be mistaken. What I am striving for is to not “lean” in either direction, politically, but to lean toward Jesus. I am reminded of Psalm 146.

Praise the LORD! 
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man,
 in whom there is no salvation. 
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; 
on that very day his plans perish. 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD his God, 
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, 
who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed, 
who gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets the prisoners free; 
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
 The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
 the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the sojourners; 
he upholds the widow and the fatherless, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, 
to all generations. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 146:1-10 ESV)

My hope is not in a human prince, but, rather, the Prince of Peace. My hope is not in a human king, but, rather, the King of Kings. My hope is not in a President or any other human ruler. Hope is in Jesus Christ, Lord of Lord, Son of God, maker of heaven and earth.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
(Matthew 16:26 ESV)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
(John 3:19 ESV).

Today’s prayer word is “always.”

And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.
(Exodus 27:20 KJV)

Father, may my love for You and the Light that is within me burn brightly, consistently, and “always.” Father, my heart is aching this morning, as I consider how I have failed to be like a child in my striving to walk in Your Kingdom. Sure, I’ve gotten better, over the years, but I still let differences of opinions and attitudes affect the way I feel about people. I confess this . . . it is sinful . . . and I ask, not only for the forgiveness that You freely give, but that You . . . well . . . fix me. Embed that light of Jesus, that love that He has, within me so deeply that I know no other way. Help me to beat my breast like that tax collector and cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” I pray that prayer daily . . . “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” May it be so in my life. My hope is in You, Father. My hope is in no man. For only You can give us the resources and ability to execute justice for the oppressed, give food to the hungry, set the prisoners free, open the eyes of the blind, lift up those who are bowed down, love the righteous, and uphold the widows and fatherless. You watch over the way of the travelers and sojourners, Father. Protect us when we travel, but help us to look out for those who are fleeing oppression in another land.

Father, help us to start a love revolution.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Praying Without Ceasing

Today is Saturday, the eighteenth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,200

Only four more days until the Autumnal Equinox!

Both of the appointments went very well, yesterday. C saw a PA (Physician’s Assistant) who was very nice and we both liked her a lot. She was told that she no longer needs to wear the brace when up and walking around. She was also told that she had no business trying to completely wean herself from pain pills, only two weeks after surgery. Everything is progressing exactly as it should be. She can try lifting up to thirty pounds, as she feels like it. All the bending or twisting is also kind of up to her. If it hurts, don’t do it, is the general rule. She is scheduled to go back there the Monday after Thanksgiving. She is also cleared to drive, as long as she hasn’t taken any hydrocodone.

Cleopatra’s appointment also went very well, and took about thirty minutes. I was home less than an hour after I left, and that included stopping by Sonic for another round of drinks.

Nothing else much happened, yesterday. We had an old favorite recipe for dinner, which we had not done in quite a while, and it was quite delicious. We made pizza with cauliflower crust, turkey pepperoni, and turkey sausage crumbles. We also finished watching Clickbait on Netflix. It is an eight-episode “limited series,” and is pretty good, until the last episode. There are some really great plot twists, along the way, but the twist in the final episode is, in my opinion, completely implausible, and they left a huge loose end that was never explained.

Today, I’m working from 9:30 to 6:15 (only a forty-five minute lunch to make up for starting fifteen minutes later). I have our Walmart Neighborhood Market order set to pick up between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, this evening, so I will grab it right after work. We will likely either go to Albertson’s tomorrow or have a delivery scheduled for tomorrow, some time.

Anyway, I’d best get on with things, because I need to be done in time for a shower, by around 8:45.

No time for trivial matters today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalms 30:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for C's continued successful surgery recovery
2. for the positive steps we took this past week in saving money
3. for the saints who sing praises to Your holy Name
4. for the ability to "pray without ceasing"
5. that we can pour out our laments to You, which does help us feel better

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

let them praise Yahweh’s name, for his name alone is exalted. His glory is above the earth and the heavens.
(Psalms 148:13 WEB)

As I pause in this moment, I desire a greater sense of Your presence. I reflect on the greatness of Your Name, and Your glory, which is far above the earth and the heavens.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:1-4, 9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
(Judges 13:1-5, 24-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue my awareness of Your presence, I ask Your Holy Spirit to guide me through these Words of Yours, teaching me, helping me see where to pause and meditate, teaching me how to pray.

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans occurred in 70 AD, but this psalm of Asaph was written long before that. Either Asaph was prophesying or he was writing about the destruction at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Either way, the psalmist is bemoaning the destruction of God’s holy place; the holy temple has been razed.

Asaph is not telling God anything He did not know. Neither are we when we pray prayers of lament, telling God the terrible things that are going on, either surrounding us, or, perhaps, even being done to us.

I have, at times, been critical of prayers that are nothing more than giving God information. God doesn’t need me to tell Him how sick someone is. He already knows that so-and-so is having surgery on such-and-such a day. He already knows that our friend or relative has cancer or Covid.

The thing is, prayer isn’t always asking God to do something. Asaph gets around to that in verse 9. Sometimes, prayer is cathartic. “Cathartic – providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions.” Nothing wrong with that, is there.

So I repent of my criticisms. Go ahead. Tell God whatever you want to tell Him. Because it’s not for Him. Truthfully, He doesn’t need our prayers. He doesn’t need anything at all. God is fully self-sufficient, the only being in the universe who is. It is we who need the catharsis of unloading our emotional distress to the Lord. Time after time, we get this example shown to us in Psalms. Psalmists continually cry out to God with deep emotion. So let us do the same.

As we have seen in previous days, we can even, like Gideon, question God without fear of reprisals.

“Pray without ceasing,” Paul advises us in his epistles. If prayer is conversation with God, then it can happen at any time, in any place. And should. And it can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. God is infinitely smarter than we are, so we can’t confuse Him. And if we can’t quite make our words make sense, He understands what we are asking for.

Are there terrible things happening in your life right now? Goodness knows there are terrible things happening in our world, in our country, in our state. Going on the example of Asaph (and others), we can feel comfortable just telling God what’s going on. And, honestly, even if you are believing lies and “fake news,” you can spew those back to God, because He knows the truth.

Things were going terrible for Israel, once again, because, as previously noted, “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.” As I said, if you read through the book of Judges, you see that statement (or ones very similar) over and over again. Because people are people, and, in general, never change.

Judges 13 is the beginnings of the story of another of the judges, Samson. Now, I’m still at little bit miffed that I was led to believe, as a child, that Samson was a great, honorable hero of faith.

Man, Sampson was a horrible person! I could use worse words, but I’ll refrain. He wasn’t nice, he wasn’t honorable, and he was about as self-centered as they come.

But he accomplished the Lord’s purpose with his life, and that is really all that matters. We don’t need to try to imitate his personality, but he is one of the best examples in Scripture that God can use just about anyone for His purposes.

Father, there truly are horrible things going on in our world, in our country, and in our state. I’m sure that pretty much anyone in the world could personalize this. As we pray to You, Lord, help us to be honest with You. Help us to see truth as we pray. Help us to seek Your Truth, and know that only Jesus is the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life. May we truly find life in Him, as we try to walk this path of life that leads to You. Your Church (at least in the USA) is in tatters, right now, from my perspective, as it is as divided as the nation. I pray for unity among Your people. May we find things that we have in common, rather than trying to point out things that we don’t share in common. May we focus on truth, found in Your Words, rather than lies found in the mouths of politicians (and other humans). I pray, along with the psalmist, Asaph, “Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of Your Name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your Name’s sake.”

I pray, Lord, that You would give us courage in ministry, making us willing to take certain risks as we engage our communities. Again, I ask for unity, as well as holiness, within Your Church, especially in the USA. May Your presence be strong in the souls of all leaders within Your Church, as well.

"Extravagant God,
in the past You sprinkled Your Spirit on particular people or specific times for special tasks or roles.
Thank You for pouring out the Holy Spirit on all Your people,
making the Spirit's power and presence a normal part of following Jesus.
With my whole heart I ask for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in my life,
to stir up and disturb,
revive and renew.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 WEB)

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NIV)

Of David. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
(Psalms 25:1 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

I trust in You, Lord! May this day be full of the evidence. May I pray without ceasing.

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!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Delights in You

Today is Sunday, the first of August, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,152

Eighteen days until S’s birthday

We had a nice day, yesterday, albeit a shorter visit than usual.

C needed to do some work, so we had a choice. Either we needed to get home so she could get logged in by 4:00 PM, or we could stay in Mineral Wells, but we would have to be there until at least 5:00 PM. We elected to go ahead and leave, which was a tough choice.

It is likely that we won’t see R & J again before they leave for Indiana. They close on their house this week, and will be heading out next Saturday morning. They will be driving the distance on Saturday, carrying their two cats along with them.

We had a great lunch, though, from Natty Flat Smokehouse, there in Mineral Wells. It is another BBQ place, but I have decided that I believe it is the best restaurant in town. I had pulled pork and jalapeno sausage, along with a side of chili, and it was all delicious.

C is also working, already, this morning. It is her company’s year end/beginning, so there are many tasks that must be completed in their IT systems.

We will not be having our church gathering again, this morning. For the sake of privacy, I will not go into why, but the family who hosts our gatherings is having a health concern, at the moment. So we will be praying for them.

I have a “busy” day tomorrow, for my first real day of retirement. Tomorrow morning, I will go try to get the fingerprinting done for the bus driving job, and then I have the interview with the Hurst library at 2:00 PM. That’s really all that is on my schedule for tomorrow. I do plan to get in some house cleaning, and probably some laundry, as well. Whatever I can do to help take some of the load off of my wife, especially until I land a part time job.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
(Psalms 40:5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a wonderful visit with family, yesterday;
2. for the wondrous deeds you have multiplied to us, and Your gracious thoughts toward us;
3. that You delight in me;
4. that You surround me with songs of deliverance;
5. for mercy, peace, and love in abundance.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to reflect on wisdom and the precepts of the Lord, wondering if I do, indeed, have good understanding. I offer up my praise to the one to whom all praise belongs.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.
The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
(Genesis 25:21-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages, slowly, reflecting on the precepts found therein. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me through the reading, leading me into truth, drawing me into closer fellowship with the Holy Trinity.

My transgressions are forgiven, and my sins are more than covered, they are erased. Therefore, I am blessed. The Lord does not count my sin against me, and I certainly endeavor to make sure that there is no deceit in my spirit. Therefore, I am blessed.

We cannot hide anything from the Lord, as He knows all things. He is not surprised by anything we do, say, or think. He knows all. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So while my actions or thoughts may, at times, surprise me, they do not surprise Him.

And He loves me anyway. He does not count these things against me because of the work of Jesus Christ, which this psalmist did not know, yet, when he wrote this song.

When we acknowledge our guilt before Him, there is a fresh release . . . a feeling that is indescribable. He forgives us. And because of this, the psalmist encourages all people to pray to the Lord, while He may yet be found.

And then, in verse 7, this sweetness:

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:7 NIV)

I am surrounded with songs of deliverance. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You,” goes the worship song by Elyssa Smith of Upper Room. The result of this surrounding is peace and joy, the pervasive sense of well-being, the knowledge that things in the Kingdom of God are far better than we could ever imagine.

Consider the words of Zephaniah 3:17.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

“He will take great delight in you.”

I want to encourage you, just as I am doing right this moment, to soak that in. Just sit for a moment . . . read that sentence over and over. Say it to yourself, “He delights in me.” The LORD God is with you, and He delights in you!

Father, it is easy to echo the words of the psalmist, who said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalms 139:6 NIV) To sit here, this morning, and let Your songs of deliverance wash over me, and to know, deep in my soul and spirit, that You delight in me, is almost more than I can handle. I can only imagine that the feeling I am experiencing must be similar to that sense of security, love, and warmth that an unborn baby feels in its mother’s womb. Total protection, not a care in the world, as I know that You are taking care of me. My sins are forgiven, they have been washed away. You are my hiding place. In You, I rest in a place where my enemy cannot touch me, where YOUR enemy cannot touch me. Hallelujah!

May resurrection hope and joy fill my soul, this morning, along with all others who will be worshiping You, today, either in a group setting or by themselves. We are never alone when we are with You. May You give us the inspiration and strength, the motivation, to share the good news of the living Christ within our own little world.

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.

"Surprising God,
your electing love upends the ways I expect things to unfold.
I admit I have little clue about the mystery of your choices,
and explanations outrun my understanding.
Humble me to rest in your good pleasure,
the grace from beyond time that guards and guides my life and this world.
Amen."

BLESSING

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
(Jude 1:2 NIV)

“O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!”
(Jeremiah 32:17 NLT)

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
(Romans 1:20 NLT)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
(Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalms 139:13-16 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!

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

In Life, In Death, In Suffering, “Fear Not, For I Am With You”

Today is Saturday, the sixth of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,004

29 days until Resurrection Sunday

It’s the weekend! And, as is my custom, I find it hard to sleep past 6:30 in the morning, these days, even when I stay up until midnight playing games. So I’m up early, blogging. This doesn’t mean I will finish early, as I typically dawdle and get distracted by other things on weekend mornings. I’ll probably be hurrying to finish in time to go to our WW Workshop, which happens at 10:30, this morning.

We will also return to our practice of picking up the grocery order from Walmart Neighborhood Market immediately after WW, since C has returned to the office for work. Grocery runs, while she was was working from home, could occur at random times, usually dependent on our supply of grapes and bananas, our two favorite fruits.

Last night, we made our Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner. It’s been a while since we made that. We haven’t forgotten how, though, and it is still delicious. And, as always, we have leftovers for lunch today.

There are no other plans for the day, nor are there any for tomorrow, outside of our 10:15 church on Zoom gathering. We have been discussing plans for next weekend, as I seem to have a birthday coming up. Next Saturday is my birthday. We have not managed to come up with anything, yet, and, at this point, don’t even know what days we might plan to take off from work. The problem is two-fold (at least). One is that, in the past, celebrations and trips always centered around food and eating. Or at least that was a major part of the planning. Our eating habits have changed drastically in the past year, obviously, so there is not so much excitement surrounding that. The other thing is that I’m not terribly enthusiastic about going anywhere a few days after the Covid restrictions in Texas have been lifted. I have no desire to be around the masses of people who will, no doubt, be flooding places.

Also, the week after my birthday is Spring Break for most places, which is why we decided not to go to Glen Rose or Galveston for part of the week. So, we may just take off a few days and hang around the house. Maybe try to play a round of golf or go bowling, even. Of course, another issue (did I say “two-fold?”) is that, after sixty-something birthdays, they just don’t mean as much any more. I don’t even have a wish list for birthday presents. And, of course, the Friday after my birthday is the day I get part two of the Covid vaccine. So there’s a chance I will not be feeling well Friday night into Saturday of that weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.
(Psalms 98:7-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the weekend, to rest and refresh for the upcoming work week
  • That, when I am tempted, You always give me a way out
  • That I have been born from above, born of the Spirit
  • That You have shown me the path of life
  • That all suffering will eventually end

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

LENT – DAY 16

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Spend a moment thanking God for His trustworthiness and faithfulness.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
(Psalms 29:1-4 NIV)

The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:9-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There is a lot of depth in this passage from John. The phrase “born again” became very popular when I was a teen, in the mid-seventies. But even then, I don’t think we quite understood what it meant. It was just a euphemism for “saved.” What was “saved?” It meant that we had “invited Jesus into our hearts.”

At the risk of upsetting some folks, there are problems with that whole philosophy. For one thing, there is nothing in Scripture about “inviting Jesus into your heart.” But we are people who need formulas; we need things to be simple and “boxy,” so it’s easier to “sell.” It’s easier to market something that has one, two, three easy steps, and you’re done.

Unfortunately this does not reflect the truth of the Christian life. It may be “simple,” to a degree, but there are no quick and easy steps to it, as it is a lifetime of struggle, kind of like the ups and downs of a roller coaster ride.

But back to the Scripture above. The phrase “born again,” would be more literally translated “born from above.” Jesus even explains it, in verse 5, as being “born of water and the Spirit.” Being born of water is the first birth, the human birth. Being born of the Spirit is the second birth, “born again,” or “born from above.”

And there is a chilling pronouncement made by Jesus, here. First, in verse 3, as He says, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

One who is not born of the Spirit might be walking around in the middle of God’s kingdom, and never see it.

Then, in verse 5, He goes even further to say that, unless one is born of the Spirit, one cannot enter God’s kingdom.

This is why I have long believed that, without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to fully understand the Bible. Sure, there are parts that a non-believe could read and grasp. But the deeper things within, the deeper aspects of God’s kingdom, cannot be seen, cannot be grasped, cannot be entered into, unless one is born of the Spirit.

How, then, does this occur? If it doesn’t happen by inviting Jesus into my heart, as we were so fond of saying, then how?

That’s where it gets more complicated, and yet so simple. It happens by believing. Believing and embracing. If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved, says Paul, in Romans 10. And, there is the declaration that Jesus is Lord, as well.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
(Romans 10:10 NIV)

But even the faith to believe and declare is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Father, I praise You for the gift of faith and belief. Everything came together in my life to lead me to this point. I could have easily not been born into a family of faith, or even in a country where faith is encouraged. I shake my head and wonder, sometimes, at how You worked my life out. Forgive me for not being more serious about it, and for not living to my potential in Your kingdom. As I recall yesterday’s readings, I am, indeed, fully persuaded that You have the power to accomplish everything that You promise. Your will will be done, on earth as in heaven. How much involvement I have in that is entirely up to me, it seems. Strengthen me to do the right things; draw me closer into You, Lord, through the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I wait for You, Lord, my whole being waits, and in Your Word do I put my hope!

"God of new birth,
may the mysterious wind of your Spirit
blow in my heart today.
May new life,
born again in the womb of the Spirit,
grow in me,
as I live my life in the presence
and power of your kingdom.
Amen."
(Canon of Dort 3/4, 12)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.'”
(Jeremiah 21:8 NIV)

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
(Deuteronomy 30:15-16 NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 NIV)

And there it is. Life and death. There are two roads; two choices, and this is a choice that is made once, but it is also a choice that is made daily. For even though I have made the permanent choice to walk in the way of Christ, who is The Life, I must also daily choose to remain on that path.

Don’t misunderstand me . . . I don’t believe I can lose my salvation. I am, once again, fully persuaded that God is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him. But I can most certainly leave the path by making poor choices each day. He will always guide me back, sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently. I have, in my lifetime, experienced both.

But here’s the thing. 1 Corinthians 10:13. I have no excuse. “I couldn’t help myself,” is never a true statement.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NLT)

Christ tells the Christians at Smyrna the same thing that He has told us, time and time again, throughout the Bible, and throughout history. “Don’t be afraid.” But fear is part of suffering, is it not? “Fear of the unknown, fear of isolation, fear of death? But Christ is with us. Do not fear.”

What does the psalmist say in Psalm 56?

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
(Psalms 56:3 NLT)

Any suffering that we may encounter is temporary. “Ten days” is just an expression for a “brief time.” Our suffering is limited, temporary.

Even if it ends in our death, it ends. And our death is the gateway to our eternal existence. “Suffering has an end because Christ suffered, died, and lives again.” This is not a call to stoicism; it is not a call “just to grit our teach and carry on; it is a promise of a companion and a presence.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Thank you, Jesus, for Your promise to always be with us. This promise gives us hope, and gives credibility to Your command to fear not. I am less likely to be afraid when I remember that You have promised to be there. “Fear not, for I am with You,” the Father says. May You help me always remember this, no matter what I am going through in my life.

This morning, Lord, I pray that Your Church would work more intentionally for the common good and benefit of all people. Sadly, there are many, today, who insist on holding on to their “rights” to do whatever they want. Change our hearts, Lord, that we may surrender those rights to You and do what is best for all people. I pray that all who are part of Your kingdom would experience the deepest sense of love and community. And I pray that, as it is that time of week, that Your Word would be preached effectively wherever it is spoken over the next few days.

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!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Earth Angel

Today is Tuesday, the ninth of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,979

Only eight more days until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I hadn’t really thought about Lent until yesterday. Now, I’m thinking about it, pondering if I will do anything to observe Lent, this year. It’s not really a “biblical” season, per se. My understanding is that the forty days of Lent is supposed to mirror the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, being tested and tempted, before beginning his three years of ministry on earth. It is the season of preparation, leading up to the celebration of Easter, on which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Yesterday was somewhat challenging, but not necessarily in a bad way. I was mentally and emotionally drained at the end of the day, and I think I finally identified why.

Yesterday was a very heavy day, prayer-wise. There were a lot of responses to my daily Facebook prayer post, plus some that came to us via our little church group’s GroupMe app. And my regular readers may remember that I prayed, yesterday morning, to be more empathetic. This is not unlike praying for more patience. Any time we pray for something like, we had best “gird our loins” and get ready. The last request on my Facebook post, which came from someone who had never commented on it before, was probably the one that took me over the edge, emotionally.

There is so much heaviness in our world, right now. So much emotional weight and spiritual darkness. But Jesus is our Light, and He holds the darkness away, if we but let Him. And He is how days like yesterday don’t win. Once I realized why I was feeling the way I was, I was okay. Because it suddenly made sense.

The darkness will not win. We need to know this with every ounce of our being, in the depths of our heart and soul. Light wins. It is known. It is certain.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!”
(2 Chronicles 20:21 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That the darkness will not win
  • For my role in the prayer life, and for the strength to maintain it
  • That You have led my heart to trust You and delight in You
  • That You are still making all things new
  • For the mission of the “evangel”

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 35

INVITATION

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalms 119:103-104 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
(Psalms 37:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
(Matthew 7:21-29 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

We spend a lot of time, waste a lot of energy fretting over “those who are evil.” I know I’ve been guilty of that. But we are admonished to not do that. The answer? “Trust in the Lord.”

“Trust in the Lord and do good.” What could be more simple, right?

Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Live your life! Live it with gusto (you don’t have to drink Schlitz to do that). Live it with joy! Live your life in the delight of the Lord and His ways, trusting Him.

I know . . . it sure doesn’t look like those who are “evil” are getting what’s coming to them, does it? I’ve been guilty of focusing on that, as well. And I would be willing to bet that my group of “evil” might be vastly different from your group of “evil.”

That’s why we need to trust God, for only He knows who is truly evil and who is not. Remember that parable that Jesus told? The one about the wheat and the “tares?” Those are weeds, by the way, but weeds that looked almost identical to wheat.

The master told the servants not to worry about trying to weed out the tares until everything was fully grown and the harvest was ready. Why? Because they might accidentally destroy some of the good wheat in the process.

The point was made. Only the Lord knows for sure who are the good ones and who are the evil ones. We are not that wise. Oh, sure, we think we are. We think we’ve got it all figured out. But we don’t. I sure don’t. So I’m going to leave that bit up to my Father in heaven. I’m going to trust Him, and live my life, dwelling in the land, enjoying safe pasture, and doing good.

I will delight myself in Him, and, in the process, will discover that He has given me the desires of my heart.

Also, in the process, by following His teachings, I will be like that guy who built his house on the rock. When the rains come, when the storm hits, when deep darkness threatens, my house will stand, and my light will shine, because my light is the Light of the world.

All praise to You, Lord, for Your Light in this world! All glory to You for Your presence in our land, and in our hearts. For Your Light shines brightly, and the darkness cannot snuff it out. I will delight in You and in Your ways. And when I stray from the path, because I will, inevitably, Your Holy Spirit will draw me back, sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently. I thank You for restoring me from the spiritual and emotional exhaustion that I felt yesterday. You gave me the strength to make it through. Let’s do it again today!

"'Lord, Lord,' I often say -
but I'm easily fooled to take comfort
in my moral performance,
trusting it to be the source of my salvation.
But may the fruit of your grace in my life
be a deep humility for your 
undeserved choice,
a sustained adoration of your
fathomless mercy,
a lively resolve to resist sin,
and a heart of love for you
who first so greatly loved me.
In Jesus I pray,
amen."
(Canon of Dort 1.13)

BLESSING

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
(John 14:18 NIV)

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
(John 14:15-21 NIV)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:5-7 NLT)

We’re still thinking about this idea of “new,” and still noting how often the Bible doesn’t quite answer our questions the way we want. “Scripture is not an encyclopedia of information to which we go when we are curious or in doubt. It is God speaking to us his own word, telling us what he wishes to tell us and omitting what is of no significance.”

Revelation is also this way. While it does speak of the future, it doesn’t tell us what we think we want to know. (And, as previously discussed, our solution to that is to make it up.) “It is not prediction but perception. It is, in short, about God as he is right now. It rips the veil off our vision and lets us see what is taking place.”

God is constant. As we read the headlines, and watch the “news,” God is constant, and He is on the throne, and He continues to say, “I am making everything new! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end!”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

In today’s reading from The Book of Mysteries, Jonathan Cahn continues to point out little details that I have never noticed before.

He first points out that all “angels” are not necessarily “heavenly beings.” Haggai, the prophet, is described as a messenger, in Hebrew, malakh. Malakh is also another word for “angel.” John the Baptizer is called angelos, which is the Greek New Testament word for “angel.”

And angel, he says, “is a being sent by God, a messenger, an emissary on a divine assignment, bringing God’s message, especially to those who dwell on earth.”

Now. What do we call God’s message, ever since the New Testament was written? There is even a translation of the Bible with this name.

The Good News.

And the Greek word for “good news” is euangel. We call the process of telling this “evangel,” “evangelism.” And what word do we see smack in the middle of “evangelism??”

“Exactly. It is no accident. For if you will bear the message of heaven to those of earth, your life becomes angelic. So take up your angelic assignment and bring good tidings, the divine message, to those of earth. For you are His earth angel.”

The Mission: Today, start fulfilling your angelic mission. Bear the heavenly message to those on earth. Live this day as His earth angel.”

Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave the people this message from the LORD: “I am with you, says the LORD!”
(Haggai 1:13 NLT)

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
(Malachi 3:1 NLT)

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
(Mark 16:15 NLT)

After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’”
(Luke 7:24-27 NLT)

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, help me to fulfill my mission as Your “angel” today.

Lord, may You bring unity and holiness to Your Church, throughout the world. I pray for the people in my immediate church community, Father. May You give extra wisdom to those of us who are attempting to lead this little flock. May You give strength to those who are struggling. Bring encouragement to those who are weary of “doing church” via Zoom. And help us to not allow any to drift away, or at least not because we neglected them. I even pray that You would bring new people to our group, who might share our vision of what “church” is supposed to look like.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

As You Wish . . .

Today is Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,805

And today is day 9862 for S!! That’s right! It’s her birthday!!!!

Nineteen days until Labor Day, our next US holiday.

As has been previously mentioned, today is the big day! S, our youngest daughter, turns 27 today. We hope to have a grand time with her today, as both of us have taken the day off.

For any who are not aware, S is autistic and continues to live at home with us. She is a sweet person, with a huge, caring heart.

After my doctor appointment at 9:00 AM, I’ll pick up our Sonic drinks, and will probably cook us some breakfast at home.

I’m not sure when the present-opening will happen. But at some point, this evening, we will order Mexican food from Martha’s, one of our favorite places that we haven’t been to in many months, and probably pick it up. I doubt we will try one of the food delivery services, but who knows.

I don’t know what else the day will hold. We had planned to go get mani/pedis, but S has trouble wearing a mask, so we won’t be doing that. I think C plans to give S a home nail job at some point, though.

I’d better pick up the pace, as I should leave the house in a little over a half hour.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
(Psalms 96:2-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. To be able to celebrate a birthday with S
  2. To have a day off in the middle of the week
  3. For the love of family, near and far
  4. That You are helping me love my “enemies”
  5. For Your never-ending love

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!
(Psalms 79:9 ESV)

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
(Psalms 119:164 ESV)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
(Psalms 89:14 ESV)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
(Luke 6:27-31 ESV)

A Psalm of David.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
(Psalms 101:1-5 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)

Time is up. I will apologize for the lack of depth/content in today’s blog, but I have not been wise with my time.

The Scriptures above, though, have become somewhat of a theme for me during this pandemic. Love your enemies, do good to those who mistreat you. Pray for those who disagree with you, politically. Be kind to those who disagree with you about whether we should wear masks or not (who ever thought that that would become the biggest fight of the year??).

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

That’s the big idea.

Father, help me to be obedient to these words, today and every day.

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 the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Majestic and Tender

Today is Thursday, August 13, 2020. Pre-Friday! Peace be with you!

Day 22,799

SIX DAYS until S turns 27!!

I really don’t have anything personal to write about, this morning, so I’ll go ahead and jump into the devotions and prayers. Just a reminder, or information to anyone who is new to this blog, the passages that I quote first come from The Divine Hours, a series of books that utilize what is called “fixed hour prayer,” similar to Church Liturgy. From there, I move into one or more of the following sources; Our Daily Bread, Daily Guideposts, and The Songs of Jesus, a year-long devotional through the Psalms, by Timothy and Kathy Keller.

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
(Psalms 81:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the peace in my spirit, this morning, inexplicable peace
  2. That You are my refuge, my fortress, my God, in whom I trust
  3. That You are also my protector and provider, sheltering me as a mother bird shelters her young, under Your wings
  4. For the cross, which displays both Your righteous power and Your tender, compassionate, sacrificial love
  5. For this new day, fresh with Your new mercies

Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.
(Psalms 50:3 ESV)

I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.
(Psalms 52:9 NLT)

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
(Psalms 52:8 ESV)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-19 ESV)

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 147:12-20 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)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
(Psalms 91:1-4 NIV)

The two metaphors used for God’s protection in this psalm are drastically different. First, He is a fortress, a refuge, presumably made of stone and sealed up tight. Second, He is a bird, sheltering its young under His wings.

A fortress protects against spears and arrows and other implements of destruction. The wings of a bird give shelter from rain, heat, cold, and other forces of nature.

How is God both of these? There is no explanation. He just is.

“It is on the cross where we see the absolute righteous power and the tender, sacrificial love of God combine and shine forth brilliantly, both equally fulfilled.”

Some of my favorite passages in Psalms are ones in which God is described as fortress, refuge, stronghold, and so on. He is our strong tower, to which we can run. He is our hiding place.

But this psalm also displays so well the more compassionate, “motherly,” if you will, aspects of our Father’s protection over us. Somehow, he is both our strong tower, and the One who hides us under His wings with tenderness and love.

“Lord, I praise You for both Your majesty and Your meekness in Jesus Christ. ‘Let us wonder! Grace and justice join and point to mercy’s store; When through grace in Christ our trust is, justice smiles and asks no more: He Who washed us with His blood has secured our way to God.’ Amen.” (Italics from John Newton’s hymn, “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder”)

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

Father, I praise You for being my fortress and my refuge; my strong tower, to which I can run when I am in danger, or when my enemy pursues me. I praise You that You will hide me under Your wings of mercy and compassion when I am afraid. Help me to remember this, that I can always run to You. When I am tempted to stand alone and fight my battles, may Your Spirit remind me that that is not the best way.

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!

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.
(The prayer of St. Patrick)

Grace and peace, friends.

Leave the Outcomes to Him

“Only after I remind myself that it’s not my assignment to monitor my contribution toward God’s kingdom do I stop worrying about where the dewdrops fall, how many there are, or if they are absorbed. Instead, I realize it is mine to keep my eyes on the source of the eternal fountain, that continual well that flows through my soul, and let God do the rest.”
(Jacqueline F. Wheelock, Daily Guideposts 2020)

Today is Sunday, August 9, 2020, beginning the 19th week in Ordinary Time. Peace be with you!

Day 22,795

TEN days until S’s birthday!!

This weekend (technically yesterday), is the Feast of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order of Priests.

We had a most wonderful visit with my mother, yesterday. There was, unfortunately, no hugging; I don’t even thing we touched at all. But we talked a lot and had a nice lunch of Subway together. It was a great time, and uplifting for all, especially Mama. We had not seen her since some time in April, and that was only for a few minutes.

This morning, we have our virtual gathering of The Church at Brandon and Kristin’s. I just realized, about thirty minutes ago, that it’s my turn to lead. That’s rather embarrassing, but, since we are reading through Revelation as a group, I’ll be okay.

C went and got the groceries yesterday evening, right after we got back from Mineral Wells. That was good to get done and out of the way, so today can truly be a rest day. I’m sure there will be Sonic drinks, but we may have our traditional Saturday brunch for Sunday lunch today.

The Texas Rangers have a win streak! I think it’s the first one of the season! They have beat the Angels twice in a row, winning yesterday’s game by the score of 2-0, with Edinson Volquez as the winner. Hard to believe he is back with the Rangers, again. The Rangers are now 5-8 on the season, in third place in the AL West. They play again today, in Arlington, at 1:25 PM, with Lance Lynn starting. Lynn, in spite of some fantastic pitching, is still 1-0 for the season. The bullpen has not been kind to him.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays, 2-1, to make their record 5-9 for the season. They are currently perched in last place in the AL East. They will play again today at 1:35 (EDT) in Boston, with Nathan Eovaldi starting for the Sox.

The Colorado Rockies, on a three-game win streak, are currently the best team in baseball, with an 11-3 record, .786 percentage. The Cubs (10-3) and Athletics (11-4) are right behind them. The Pittsburgh Pirates are hanging on to the worst spot in baseball, at 3-12, .200 percentage.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

A Psalm.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
(Psalms 98:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For another opportunity for the body of Christ to devote herself to the Apostles’ teachings, prayer, and [virtual] fellowship.
  2. That Your Name alone is exalted
  3. That You have raised up strength for Your people (Psalm 148)
  4. That You don’t call us to keep track of our “works”
  5. That all of the outcomes are in Your hands

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)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
(Psalms 139:17 ESV)

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:24 ESV)

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
(Luke 2:22-35 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)

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
(Luke 1:46-47 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)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
(1 John 1:1-8 ESV)

The man who wrote this letter encountered the living Christ, personally. He saw Jesus with his own eyes and touched Jesus with his own hands. His testimony is good and acceptable. And he wrote these words so that all who read them may have fellowship with all the saints, throughout all time, and with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
(Psalms 80:8 ESV)

Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
(Psalms 80:14-15 ESV)

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 ESV)

“Only after I remind myself that it’s not my assignment to monitor my contribution toward God’s kingdom do I stop worrying about where the dewdrops fall, how many there are, or if they are absorbed. Instead, I realize it is mine to keep my eyes on the source of the eternal fountain, that continual well that flows through my soul, and let God do the rest.”
(Jacqueline F. Wheelock, Daily Guideposts 2020)

This is tremendous! How much precious energy is wasted trying to keep a tally of how many this and how many that we have done for the Lord? I remember, growing up in the local Baptist Church, the tally board to the left of the sanctuary entrance. How many members; how many attended worship; how many attended Sunday School; how much offering was given. All of these numbers. What was the reason for this?

There are folks to try to keep up with what they have done for God; how many people they have “witnessed to;” how many salvations they have been part of.

We are not called to this kind of accountability. We are called to, as Jacqueline has graciously reminded us, keep our eyes on the Source.

Leave the outcomes to God! He is the one in control of that. Notches on our belt aren’t worth anything, in the grand scheme of things.

Father, help us to keep our eyes you You, our Source for all things, and leave the outcomes to You. We can share Your truth with any number of people, but there is nothing that we can do that can change their hearts or make them follow You. That is entirely up to You, via Your Holy Spirit. Remind us of these things, Lord, and help us to make Your character and kindness the heartbeat of our souls, as we walk in Your kingdom, day by day.

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 do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.