Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the eighth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.
May the peace of Christ be with you!
Yesterday was an interesting day. I had scheduled a grocery delivery (a rather large one) to be delivered between 10-11 AM. This was set up the night before, as C, Mama, and I sat around discussing the grocery order. The order arrived right on time, but as I brought everything in, it appeared that some things might be missing. So I checked items off of the receipt as I put them away. Sure enough, it appeared that the driver (or a store associate . . . I will never know exactly whose fault it was) didn’t get a couple of bags. All of the cat treats were missing (oh, the horror!!), and none of the items that would be from the area by the pharmacy were there (toothpaste, ibuprofen, and so on). I was also missing one of the three Healthy Choice meals that I ordered.
I found a customer service number on one of my emails and called them. They helped me quickly and courteously, and said they were going to process a refund. After finishing my blog for the day (the grocery delivery interrupted that), I was getting ready to go to a grocery store and pick up the items that were missing, and I got a text telling me that my Albertson’s order would be delivered in a few minutes.
Apparently, they found the missing bags at the store and immediately arranged for them to be delivered. Everything was there except for the Healthy Choice meal. So I took off my hat and shoes and had some lunch. As of this moment, I have seen no evidence that the refund was ever processed, so I’m glad about that. I don’t want to have to deal with trying to get me to charge me again for those items.
In the meantime, I was also wondering if a scheduled appointment with Milestone was going to happen. When the electrician made the repairs last week, he set up an appointment for a plumber to come by, yesterday, to look at my outdoor faucet in the back yard. The window as 11-2. By noon, I had heard nothing at all, not even a confirmation of the appointment, so I had assumed that they weren’t coming. But around 12:30 or so, I got a text and a phone call telling me that someone was on the way.
He arrived, and was extremely professional and friendly. However, after going over what needed to be done, and then giving the estimate, we elected to not have them do the work. They are outrageously high on their prices. We probably won’t be calling them again. They wanted over $500 to fix the outdoor faucet, and C found an average price of around$150-$300. I think, when the A/C folks are here tomorrow, I will ask them if they have any plumbing recommendations. Or I may check with our “handyman,” who doubles as a Walmart store manager. Hahaha!
Today, I don’t have much going on. It’s a normal Tuesday for me, which means I work this evening, 4:15-8:15. I’ll run out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and pick up stuff for them and C to have for dinner. I might get something for me to have for a late dinner, as well.
Winter is giving a final gasp (I hope?) at the end of this week, as we will have yet another bout of freezing temperatures overnight on Friday to Saturday morning, with chances of rain and snow showers. Actually, some of the snow could occur while I’m at work on Friday afternoon. Yuck.
My Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. On the physical side, I have had no candy. On the spiritual/emotional side, I have not been perfect, but have made progress. Last night, in fact, I stopped myself, mid-sentence, just about to say something critical about someone. C and Mama both approved, and also stopped talking about what we were talking about. It was a cool moment.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that today is a new day; none of yesterday's anxiety is welcome; none of tomorrow's worries are allowed; it is today, and it is the best day; it is all we have 2. for the power of worship 3. for the scenes of worship in the book of Revelation, especially those that include people "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" 4. for the pauses that God places in my life 5. for the wisdom He gives me to notice those pauses and to pray through them
John Henry Newman gives us three examples of Old Testament fasting. First, he mentions Jacob, whose account occurs in Genesis 32. Jacob had separated his entire camp into several groups, in preparation for meeting up with his estranged brother, Esau. Jacob was scared. He was sure that Esau was out for revenge.
After crossing the Jabbok, with his wives, children, and a few servants, Jacob spent the night wrestling with “a man.” It doesn’t specifically mention fasting in this context, but if he was wrestling all night, he was fasting. And the end result of this was a blessing.
Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
(Genesis 32:28 ESV)
The next example is Moses, who, after coming down the mountain to find Israel worshiping a golden calf and generally partying, went back up the mountain for forty days and nights, to intercede for them.
“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.'" (Deuteronomy 9:25-26 ESV)
The end result of this fast was that God didn’t wipe out Israel. Would He have done that, anyway? I don’t know. You don’t know. None of us know.
Tomorrow, we will look at the third example, which is Daniel.
(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)
The final chapter in Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation is, rightfully, on the book of Revelation, and called, “Worship.”
“The Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. The rush of color and sound, image and energy, leaves us reeling. But if we persist through the initial confusion and read on, we begin to pick up the rhythms, realize the connections, and find ourselves enlisted as participants in a multidimensional act of Christian worship.”
It starts with the four “living creatures” in chapter 4, who are said to be chanting night and day, never taking a break,
Holy, holy, holy Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong, THE WAS, THE IS, THE COMING.
And, with the twenty-four elders joining in,
Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power! You created it all; It was created because you wanted it. (Revelation 4:8, 11 MSG)
By mid-book, all the “saved ones” have joined in:
Mighty your acts and marvelous, O God, the Sovereign-Strong! Righteous your ways and true, King of the nations! Who can fail to fear you, God, give glory to your Name? Because you and you only are holy, all nations will come and worship you, because they see your judgments are right. (Revelation 15:3-4 MSG)
Regardless of everything you have ever read about the book of Revelation, the central theme of John’s book seems to be worship. I love how Eugene Peterson has brought this out, in his different writings about Revelation. John was worshiping when he received the vision, and is responsible for “a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship.”
“Our times are not propitious for worship. The times never are. The world is hostile to worship. The Devil hates worship. As Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians are even killed because they worship.”
Consider this scene from chapter 19:
I heard a sound like massed choirs in Heaven singing, Hallelujah! The salvation and glory and power are God’s— his judgments true, his judgments just. He judged the great Whore who corrupted the earth with her lust. He avenged on her the blood of his servants. Then, more singing: Hallelujah! The smoke from her burning billows up to high Heaven forever and ever and ever. The Twenty-four Elders and the Four Animals fell to their knees and worshiped God on his Throne, praising, Amen! Yes! Hallelujah! From the Throne came a shout, a command: Praise our God, all you his servants, All you who fear him, small and great! Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of mighty rapids, the sound of strong thunder: Hallelujah! The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong! Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen. The linen is the righteousness of the saints.
And Peterson doesn’t even mention on of my favorite Revelation passages:
I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb! All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing: Oh, Yes! The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, The honor and power and strength, To our God forever and ever and ever! Oh, Yes! (Revelation 7:9-12)
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15 NLT)
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:16 NLT)
Today’s prayer word is “comma.” Another good one, when taken in context, here. Obviously, the word is likely not in the Bible anywhere. I’m not going to go to the trouble to verify that right now, but I don’t think it is.
The quote at the beginning of the reading is from Christian musician TobyMac.
"Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray."
Commas are interesting. I remember an English class I had in college, taught by a TA. I would write an essay for an assignment, and there would be a note written in the margin, “Comma not necessary.” Then, the next time, “You could put a comma there.” I was, like, “MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!”
But that’s the funny thing about commas. I’m a staunch supporter of the “Oxford comma,” so I use more commas than some. I was going to launch into this long, drawn out example, but there’s nothing spiritual about that, so never mind. But a comma in a sentence is a place to pause, perhaps to breathe.
Sometimes, God puts commas in our lives. Sometimes, those commas are at very inconvenient places. Over the last couple years, we have had a very large comma, haven’t we?
As written by one who is only referred to as “Barbranda,” “[God] inserts a comma in various spots in my life because He wants me to stop and rest or learn a lesson. Sometimes I recognize it as such; other times I think I’m facing a defeat or the end. But it’s only the Lord’s comma – a pause, not a period.”
We would all do well to ponder this, especially the next time a “pause” is forced upon us. I’m not necessarily an “everything happens for a reason” person. But there are times when those things do happen for a reason. Side note: that reason is, in my opinion, never to make you feel guilty or helpless or anything like that. But that’s a discussion for a whole ‘nother day.
(From Pray a Word a Day)
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” (Psalm 46:10 MSG)
Father, thank You for the pauses. I’m even grateful for this gigantic pause we have had since the beginning of 2020. That doesn’t mean that I am thankful for the million deaths we have had in our country. It doesn’t mean I am thankful for Covid-19. There are, unfortunately, some who would read that that way. But I am grateful for the “reset” that has been forced upon us, the opportunity to step back and realize that there are most definitely things that we can live without. And, when some of the things we like are not available, we survive . . . we can adapt and get by. We can do without! Thank You for showing us that.
Thank You for the magnificent displays of worship that we see in the book of Revelation. And I thank You for the work of Eugene Peterson, who, at this moment, is likely enjoying one of those scenes of worship, in helping us to reframe our perspective on the difficult book of Revelation. It isn’t quite as difficult after hearing Eugene talk about it. You know, Father . . . I love worship, and I miss the act of worship in my life. This past Sunday was, for me, a great time of worship. I know that not everyone responds to the kind of worship setting that we were in, but my soul resonates with it. Help me to get back into the habit of worship, especially in my daily life. And that’s not a call for more music or singing, although I could definitely do more of that. It is a call for my life to be worship. For I believe that worship is something that are, more than something we do.
Thank You for the way my fast is going, and I pray for strength to continue it and to improve. Thank You for adopting me as Your son, through Christ Jesus. I believe that this adoption is permanent, and that no man can snatch me out of Your hands, per the words of Jesus. I praise You for this. Keep me growing in You, and learning more about You.
By Your Spirit, help me to pause and pray more often, today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.