It’s Wednesday morning. Hump day. The middle of the week. My eyes don’t want to work this morning.
Yesterday went okay, I guess, for a day full of doctor’s appointments. My checkup was not totally positive, as I had managed to put on 5 pounds since the last time I saw her. she was not happy about that. Also, I guess my BP seems a tad high (she said it was 150 over something), so she increased the dosage on my lisinopril or whatever it’s called. But the really great news? I get to have a colonoscopy! TMI? Yeah, I thought so… The date on that is pending… Oh, and I also got shots. Tetanus (good for 10 years) and pneumonia, which I’ve never had. Both of my arms are KILLING me this morning!! (Not literally, but they hurt…)
Stephanie’s psychiatrist appointment went pretty good though. More just a sort of “maintenance” session, to get all the meds refilled. Over all, I would say things are going pretty well with Stephie. Most days are good, with the occasional fight over something like what we’re having for dinner or what day we are going to do something, or even what time we’re going to bed. We aren’t sure what this new school year is going to bring. They are changing the schedule from an A/B block schedule to a straight, seven-period day, with the same class schedule every day. In some ways, I think that’s better, but it’s a lot more moving around and class changing every day. That could be a challenge.
Baseball? There was no baseball last night. Just that silly All-Star game. Didn’t watch it. But I keep up enough to know that C.J. Wilson was the game loser! Of all the luck… And the only AL run was the homer by Gonzo? Hah. Oh, and I just found out a few minutes ago that Derek Jeter wasn’t there because he’s TIRED???? I won’t go into how I feel about THAT in this blog. It might totally invalidate everything below the two lines underneath here. Perhaps that will be a subject for my other blog.
Today’s vinyl record being ripped to digital is “All Together Now,” by Argent. (Apparently, if I post pictures of the album covers, the automatic publicizer to Facebook decides to put that picture next the title of my blog. I just don’t think it would look too good if I have a blog title about God and a picture of an album by, say, Steppenwolf, right?) Anyway, this album contains one of Argent’s two hits, “Hold Your Head Up.” I don’t have the album with “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” on it. How many of you thought Petra recorded that first? Hmmm?? How many of you even know who Petra was? Geez, I feel old.
On to the devotions.
Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
2 Corinthians 7
1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
Whoa! Wait a minute! What promises? Oh, it’s another bad chapter division, isn’t it? We have to look back at the last few verses of chapter 6. 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” THOSE promises! We are told by God to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them.” We are supposed to be different. Different from who? (Should that be “whom?”) Different from the rest of the world; different from the unbelievers. I fear that we are failing that command. I’m not sure I’m doing a very good job of that. Paul tells us in 7:1 to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” This should be taken seriously.
2 Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn–fighting without and fear within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. 13 Therefore we are comforted.
And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15 And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because I have perfect confidence in you.
I believe the main point of this passage is that Paul is comforted by the fact that, even though his previous letter grieved the Corinthians, that grief was a godly grief that led to their repentance, and apparently to the repentance of the one mentioned, as well. It looks like Titus had visited them, and then met Paul in Macedonia to give him a good report from Corinth, which also made Paul very glad, because he had, apparently, boasted about the church in Corinth. So Paul is rejoicing as he writes this portion of the letter, and he has “perfect confidence” in the church at Corinth.
The Lord proclaims his great love for Israel, even though they continually walk away from him. In spite of their disobedience, he proclaims mercy. 9 I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. 10 They shall go after the LORD; he will roar like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west; 11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD. Even so, in chapter 12, the Lord still proclaims judgment. 14 Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds. What we have seen here is God’s great blessings taken for granted as self-deception appears. 12:7-8 says, 7 A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, he loves to oppress.
Hos 12:8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, but I am rich; I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.” We might think that we have made ourselves “rich,” but, in reality, all that we have and all that we are is due to the generous blessings of the Lord. I have nothing that was not given to me. I have earned nothing.
1 A Psalm of David. O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!
5 Let a righteous man strike me–it is a kindness; let him rebuke me–it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
8 But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.
David speaks of daily worship at the beginning. I do believe it is daily, as he speaks of “the evening sacrifice.” It is important for us to pray and worship the Lord daily. I’m convicted as I type this…do I pray enough? Do I actually “worship” God every day? Sure, I type a prayer at the end of this blog, and I do believe that typing can be just as much praying as saying words. We can even think prayers without speaking. But is it enough? Is it ever enough?
David asks for a guard to be set over his mouth. Not a bad idea, eh? My mouth has gotten me into more trouble than I could recount here. In fact, it’s probably why I’m not leading worship at the moment. My tendency to speak my mind (regardless if I’m right or wrong) got me in trouble with the “powers that be” at a previous church. Maybe I should have been praying David’s prayer. He also asks that his heart not be allowed to incline toward evil. David knows the condition of man very well. He knows that our hearts naturally incline toward evil. But he’s asking God to change his heart. He even goes so far as to ask for someone righteous to strike him; to rebuke him! Let someone more righteous than I rebuke me if I head down a wrong path!
I can easily echo verse 8. “But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless.” It’s a tough world out there. Our best defense is God Almighty. We must keep our eyes on him as we fight the good fight.
I want to get back into sharing the prayers from The Valley of Vision. I was almost through with the book, and got out of the habit for some reason. The titles may not seem relevant, but there will still be inspiration to be found in the body of the prayers.
THE MINISTER BEFORE SACRAMENT
Teach me the nature of a sacrament as a seal and pledge of love,
that Christ is faithful to make himself a present reality to his own who are guests at his table.
Assure me by it
that his Word is made good to my faith,
that he by sacramental union is given to me,
that I shall have strength not to fall into sin,
that his life begun in me will be perfected hereafter,
that my covenant with him is confirmed,
that he gives himself to all who take him thankfully.
As I come to the feast, help me to recall
my neglect of duties towards myself, my family, church, friends,
by not instructing, exhorting, being an example.
Grant me to see my ignorance, not knowing how or what to pray,
my unsavoriness, not delighting in, but loathing to speak for you,
my pride, because I would not speak what I could from fear of not doing it well,
my lukewarmness, in not reaching for your glory,
my idleness and sloth,
my want of tender love,
my apprehension of unfruitfulness in case I should attempt and do no good, and hence sow seed upon rocks.
Let me know
that even if I have done right, yet I must lament the principles that caused my neglect,
that good duties might be done or omitted out of ill principles or motives,
and only when these are dealt with shall I know what is my duty and its extent.
Heal me now, as I approach the table, and fill me with all grace, with yourself.
Father, there has been much that has spoken to me, this morning. I am convicted by the prayer above…convicted that there has been neglect in my life. I know that the life begun in my with Christ will, indeed, be perfected. Help me to trust continually in that truth. I do pray that you help me see my ignorance, Lord! So many times, my tongue is silent because I know not what to pray, or even how to pray. Teach me, Lord. Examine my heart for false motives; false principles. Cleanse me of any wrong motives as I look forward in this life. Teach me my duty, Father.
Inspire me to worship you more; to pray to you more. Lord, I spend close to 90 minutes a day in the car, driving to and from work. This time could easily be used to pray to you, to worship you.
Help me to be separate, Lord. Let me not be too entangled with the things of the world. I will avail myself to things that you have given me, for rest and relaxation, but let me not become addicted to the offerings of this world. Let nothing hold sway over you, Lord!
I pray for this day. I pray for Christi, Lord. Give her peace today. Relieve the stress that she is feeling, both from work and personal life. It is not good for her. I pray that Stephie and I will be able to help her more to be less stressed.
I pray for comfort for my parents, at the news of the loss of good friends from their past.
May our worship and prayers rise up to the Lord today. And let us remember his blessings in our lives.
Grace and peace, friends.