Today is Saturday, the twenty-third of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today!
We almost got a break from the heat wave, yesterday, but as we know, “almost” only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons. It hit 100 in my area (at least the closest airport . . . my app said 101 at around 4:30 yesterday) to make our 27th day of triple digits and seventh consecutive. There was no rain. Today’s forecast calls for 101 with little to no chance of rain. July 29th (next Friday) remains the next forecast day below 100.
It’s my Saturday to work, so I’ll be at the library from 9:30 to 6:15, today. Since we don’t start until 9:30, we only get 45 minutes for lunch on Saturday, which is still more than I got at my old job, so that’s fine.
The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 5-4, last night. This makes Texas 42-50 for the season, still in third place in the AL West. They are 19 games out of first place and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play Oakland again, tonight, at 8:07 CDT.
Apparently a fake Red Sox team took the field, last night at Fenway Park, and lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 28-5. The fiasco included an inside the park grand slam home run. I have no words. The Sox are now 48-46 for the season, dangerously close to dropping below .500. They are in fourth place in the AL East, only a game and a half ahead of the Orioles. They are 16.5 out of first place, and three games out of the Wild Card race. The three Wild Card spots are currently held by Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Seattle.
The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 31-64. Seattle finally lost a game, so the current longest win streak now belongs to the LA Dodgers, at six consecutive wins. The KC Royals and LA Angels are tied with four straight losses. The Nationals also remain in last place for run differentials, with -158. The Rangers dropped to +6, and with that ridiculous loss, the Red Sox have dropped to +5.
And, while we weren’t paying attention cases of COVID-19 have crept back up around 100,000 per day in the United States.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have revealed to us the name Jesus Christ, the name of your Son, who leads us to you as your children. May your hand be plainly seen over all the suffering and dying people of our time. May your hand soon bring in a new age, a time truly of God and of the Savior, fulfilling what has long been promised. Watch over us this night. Bless us. In suffering, continue to uphold us with your mighty hand. In grief, may your name still be honored. May your kingdom come, breaking into all the evil of the world, and may your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us. (Acts 4:12 TEV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for my cats; may I be as good a person as they think I am 2. for the Kingdom of God, available now for all who want to walk in it 3. that God will never leave or forsake us 4. that it is perfectly okay to let God know when I feel forgotten or abandoned 5. that, when I am tempted, there is always a way of escape; God will not allow me to be tempted beyond my ability to resist
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)
This does not say, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” That is a false statement, made up by humans. What it does say is that everyone is tempted, and there’s always a way out. “I had no choice,” is never a true statement.
"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:23-33 ESV)
The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is build.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)
I’m intrigued by this, a little. The word “build” can be found in Scripture over a hundred times. Almost 150, actually. Yet we don’t get a verse that includes it. And the reading itself only includes a form of the word (“building”) in the first sentence.
So I’m going to improvise. It’s a good word, I believe, to be included in our prayers. We are constantly trying to build something (I’m talking spiritually, here). The material we use will dictate the efficacy of what we build. The foundation must that of Jesus Christ, otherwise the building will fall. And here are some words from Paul:
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV)
So we must ask ourselves . . . are we building with wood, hay, and straw, or are we building with gold, silver, and precious stones?
There is another meaning to the word, as well. Paul admonishes us to “build up” one another. I think the KJV uses the word “edify.”
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
(Romans 15:2 ESV)
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)
So here’s the thing, as I attempt to tie all of this in with the Scripture verse included at the top. We know (or should know) the love God has for us, and we know that “God is love.” Therefore, we need to abide in this love, and, as we abide in this love, it should be automatic that we love one another and build one another up in Him.
I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
(Psalms 42:9 ESV)
I have no idea why the Sons of Korah felt compelled to write this. It comes in the middle of the Psalm that begins with the phrase that was made into a popular worship chorus decades ago, “As the deer . . .” But the psalmist doesn’t stop there. He (they?) finishes up with verse 11.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 ESV)
No matter how bad things look, God has not forgotten us. I have felt that, before, I won’t deny it. I have stood in my living room and declared that God has abandoned us. But that wasn’t true statement, and it didn’t take long for Him to demonstrate that.
God has promise to never leave or forsake us (again, the reason I don’t like the song, “Reckless Love”). He loves us with an everlasting love. And when we feel, as the psalmist did, in Psalm 42, that He has forgotten or forsaken us, it is perfectly fine to pray a prayer like this one:
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
(Psalms 25:16-17 ESV)
And then, it is good to remind ourselves of Psalm 42:11, quoted above.
Father, I am so grateful for Your love, and that I have knowledge of this love. I don’t fully comprehend it, I don’t believe anyone truly does, at least no one who still walks on this planet. I do believe that when I finally see You “face to face,” I will comprehend it, and it will blow my mind. But, for now, I can say that I am grateful for that which I do not fully understand. I know that, without Your love, I would cease to exist.
I thank You that I can pray what I feel to You, and You will not chastise me for it. You may correct me, and certainly I would hope for that. If I am feeling something that isn’t right, and I acknowledge it to You, then I fully expect You to set me straight, and I would accept that joyfully. Because when I do acknowledge those feelings to You, they come out of a place of great frustration and aggravation, and are more questions than declarations.
I’ve been experiencing such feelings lately. I am frustrated with the shape of things on earth, right now, especially in the country where I live. You know my frustrations, so I don’t need to air them here, again. I pray for resolution and unity. I pray for Your children to be able to obey the commands to think of others as more important than ourselves, and to not seek our own good, but the good of our neighbors. In short, help us to love others as Christ (You) have loved us!
I pray that I would build with gold, silver, and precious stones, rather than wood, hay, and straw. Even so, though, I rejoice that my name is written in the Book of Life, and, even if what I build is destroyed by the consuming, purifying fire, I, myself, will survive.
Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!
Let us go forward quietly, forever making for the light, and lifting up our hearts in the knowledge that we are as others are (and that others are as we are), and that it is right to love one another in the best possible way – believing all things, hoping for all things, and enduring all things.…And let us not be too troubled by our weaknesses, for even he who has none, has one weakness, namely that he thinks he has none, and anyone who believes himself to be so perfect or wise would do well to become foolish all over again. (The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Daily Dig, from Plough.com)
Grace and peace, friends.