Today is Friday, the twelfth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.
Peace be with you!
23 days until Resurrection Sunday
Yesterday was a wonderful day! After I finished blogging, C and I got bowling gear together and headed up to the local Bowlero house. I know. It’s a stupid name, and I hate it. But they pretty much rule bowling, now, having even purchased the PBA. I had a fourteen-pound ball that needed drilling, so we started at the pro shop. We had to wait a little bit, as there were people already in there, and a sign on the door said only two customers at a time. Masks were “suggested” at the front door of the bowling alley, but required in the pro shop.
We finally got inside the pro shop, and the young man inside took measurements and told me to give him around a half hour. We both figured he was being a bit liberal with that estimate, and it turns out, we were right. It took closer to an hour, but that’s okay. We went ahead and started our two hours of bowling with another ball I had brought along.
Ironically, I bowled a 235 in the first game, starting out with four straight strikes. With no warming up. It was crazy. And the thumb hole on my older ball was too big, because, you know, I’m down a hundred-plus pounds. We finished two games before the new ball was done. The second game, I bowled 166, which is more realistic. Then I got the new ball. It’s an Ebonite Nitro, and it’s pretty porous, even more-so than the Hammer I was using. But it fit perfectly! I bowled a 186 with that ball. It felt great.
However, by the end of that game, I had a muscle in my forearm that felt strained or pulled or something, so I only made it through about four frames of the last game, which C finished out. I think the pain was starting before I got the new ball, because I noticed some pain between my ring finger and pinky finger on my right hand, due to the way I was having to try to grip the ball, because the thumb hole was too big.
It was a great time, though, and I have a great new ball to use. And, bonus, my left knee never hurt at all. Oh. That reminds me. I remember mentioning the possibility of drilling the new ball for left handed. I decided not to try that.
After bowling, we ordered Applebee’s for whatever meal you want to call that (it was somewhere around 3:00 PM), and picked up Sonic. We ate our food, and then I settled in for some Playstation time.
Today, we plan to check out the Electric Starship Arcade, during the early afternoon. I have also done prep on a new recipe we are going to try for dinner tonight. From the Emily Bites website, it’s called “Crispy Onion Dip Chicken.” The “onion dip” is made from fat free Greek yogurt, onion powder, and chives. The chicken needs to marinate in the dip for a few hours (up to eight), so I’ve already prepped it and have it in the refrigerator. I will update tomorrow on how it turns out.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.
(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:7-8 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- For the wonderful day we had yesterday; thank you, C, for what is going to be a wonderful birthday weekend!
- For my beautiful and marvelous wife, and the wonderful marriage we have
- For bowling; that was great fun!
- That You extended the invitation to come to You
- That You gave me ears to listen to You
- That You caused me to seek You and call upon Your name while You can still be found
- That You have had mercy and have freely pardoned me
- For Your wonderful words of life!
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
LENT – DAY 21
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)
Spend a moment in silence, resting in the shadow of His wings, enjoying His presence.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)
To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
(Psalms 28:1-2 NIV)
Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:6-7 NIV)
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3 NIV)
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I sit in His presence, I see some beautiful words, this morning. The entire passage in Isaiah 55 is an invitation. It is threefold, at least. For the moment, I’m focusing on three words. You might be able to guess what they are.
First, is “come.” To all who are thirsty, and to all who are hungry, the Lord says “come.” Come to the waters; and if you have no money, it doesn’t matter. The word “come” appears four times in verse 1. The door is open, the invitation is given. God does not make Himself hard to find. It is human pride that makes God hard to find.
The second word is “listen.” Between verses 2 and 3, “listen” occurs three times, and a once, it is repeated immediately. “Listen, listen.” The fact that it is directly repeated like that adds emphasis. If you include “give ear” in verse 3, then that invitation is also given four times. The reason is found in verse 3. “Listen, that you may live.”
There’s another old hymn that I remember. I grew up Southern Baptist in a small town in north central Texas, minutes away from DFW. All we sang were hymns. Worship “choruses” and contemporary worship music didn’t come on the scene until at least eighties, at least as far as adult “church” was concerned. We had our youth songs, like “Pass It On,” and “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” But in “church,” we only sang hymns.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Here you go. By the great hymn-writer, Philip P. Bliss.
1. Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life; let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life; words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty. Refrain: Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life. Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life. 2. Christ, the blessed one, gives to all wonderful words of life; sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life; all so freely given, wooing us to heaven. (Refrain) 3. Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life; offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life; Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever. (Refrain)
I know some of you are singing this, right now.
I love that line, “wooing us to heaven.” God’s Word is life. The words that He speaks are words of life! And He bids us come and listen to Him, that we may live! To refuse to do so is simply and utterly foolishness!
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
(Psalm 14:1 NIV)
The third word is “seek.” Only used once in verse 6, we are encouraged/admonished to “seek the Lord while He may be found.” This, of course, implies that there will come a time when He will not be found. When will that be? After the final judgment, when everything is said and done. Then, and only then, will there be a time when humanity will not be able to seek and find the Lord. Until that day, there will always be a chance. As Led Zeppelin famously sang, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” I suppose I should clarify that it is also too late, once one has passed on from this life, at least as far as I understand things.
The final result of all of this coming, listening, and seeking is found in verse 7.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:7 NIV)
He will have mercy, and He will freely pardon.
FREELY!! Liberally! At no cost to us, because the high, high cost of salvation has already been paid!
Father, I praise You, this morning, for the truth of these words, these “wonderful words of life.” I thank You that You bid me come, so many years ago. I thank You that You gave me ears to listen to you (although they still fail to do so, at times). And I thank You that You led me to seek you and call on Your name, before it was too late. Thank You for Your great mercy, and Your free pardon! Thank You for Your Wonderful Words of Life!
True God, who can save? So many pretenders serve up hollow promises, but it's all foolishness. No one else can release me from my punishment; no program can set me right with you. Turn me again to Jesus, the only true deliverer, and clear me from my sin. Amen. (Heidelberg Catechism 14)
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.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 NIV)
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
(Job 22:27 NIV)
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
(Psalms 17:6 NIV)
“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
(Revelation 2:12-17 NIV)
The chapter of This Hallelujah Banquet that treats this letter to the church in Pergamum is called “The Test of Our Truth.”
We live in an age where “word making” is a huge enterprise. It’s one of the biggest businesses going. The computer age hastened this along a great deal, and, now that they are everywhere and small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, making words is even easier.
“Words are big business.”
Says, Peterson, “With this great emphasis on words, you might think they are studied and valued and understood more than ever before.” (Keep in mind that these words were part of sermons preached in the 1980s!) Unfortunately, that is not the case, and it is even more true than ever, today, in 2021. Social media has exacerbated this problem, along with the ignorance of the masses.
Words are used “badly, sloppily, carelessly.”
In fact, the actual words seem less important than the effects they can cause. “Words are used in order to influence, to sell a car or a candidate, to seduce, to persuade, to win for propaganda, or for advertisement. The skill of our times is not using words as words but using them as weapons, as tools.” (Emphasis mine)
“One of the large and persistent tasks of living the Christian life is learning to tell the truth.” Unfortunately, we continue to lie quite a bit, even when we don’t realize it. “Lies are not usually blatant falsehoods. In order to be successful, they have to be mostly truth.” And, the root cause of most lies is laziness. “Most people tell lies with the best of intentions. They think they are helping the cause of their country or company or their own fortunes and that this is the best way.” Lying is easier than doing the work to make sure we are telling the truth.
(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I pray earnestly for us, Your people, today. Help us discern truth. As we deal with people on social media, may we be more diligent to do the work to make sure that we are always telling the truth. Help us to stop spreading lies because of our affinity to a political party or candidate, or because of our support for some “cause” that is not You. We have fallen far, Lord, in the cause of truth. Jesus is The Truth! Help us to always remember this, and to make sure that we are not telling lies, even unintentionally.
Lord, I pray that, today, You might cause me to think seriously on the Cross of Jesus Christ, and its benefits to my life. I pray for all who are currently living in poverty and suffering injustice. May Your people rise up and help, Father, and may we send more than “thoughts and prayers.” I pray for all who face temptations today (that should be everyone, right?), that You would give us all the strength to withstand the temptation and find the escape route that You promise.
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!
Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
(Isaiah 51:11 NLT)
Grace and peace, friends.